It was a great year for TV, which made it very difficult to choose the top 25 episodes of 2010. Recalling and, in some cases, rewatching the stand-out moments was a holiday treat. We got our first glimpse of a bespectacled Clark Kent and saw Snooki pummel Angelina. We wept as Jack Shephard took his final breath and cheered as Leslie took down a mischievous rodent wreaking havoc in Pawnee. Here's the first batch of TVGuide.com's weeklong countdown of the year's best episodes.
25. Finale, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
It would've been easy to be bitter, but Conan O'Brien is too classy for that. After NBC asked O'Brien to start his show a half-hour later and he refused, O'Brien vowed to have fun during his final days on the air. But his Tonight Show tenure culminated with the sincerest of goodbye speeches. "Please do not be cynical," he pleaded to fans. "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." Then an amazing thing happened: O'Brien strapped on a guitar and played "Free Bird" with Will Ferrell, members of ZZ Top et al. Getting screwed out of a job never looked more fun.
24. "Homecoming," Smallville
The 200th episode, which delved into Clark's past, present and future, gave us an extended look at Clark's future. There he was, decked out in Daily Planet apparel and his soon-to-be iconic eyeglasses, confident about saving the world and with Lois Lane by his side. In 10 seasons of Smallville, this is the closest we've ever come to seeing Superman, and it knocked us out.
23. "Gone Baby Gone," Jersey Shore
Fistfights and drunken debauchery are important components of a typical episode of Jersey Shore, but Snooki and Angelina's throw-down was different in that it convinced Angelina to move out of the house. So who won the fight? The audience.
22. "Help Me," House
Hear us out, all you "Huddy" haters. After more than six seasons of flirting, House and Cuddy finally kissed — this was no hallucination — and it was a welcome shakeup. The whole love-hate bit was starting to get stale, and the last thing we needed was another overhaul-of-the-team twist.
21. "Modern Warfare," Community
This was the first episode that showed us just what this talented ensemble was capable of. The show took all the right shots at action blockbusters, hilariously lampooning the genre with a campus-wide game of paintball. And even though the stunts were big, the episode was also able to focus on small moments: Jeff and Britta finally hooked up! Most importantly, the episode's success freed the show creatively, paving the way for an ambitious Season 2 that featured clever takes on space travel, zombies and stop-motion Christmas classics.
Check back all week as we count down to No. 1. What were your favorite episodes of the year?