From auspicious debuts (hey, Jane the Virgin, The Affair and Transparent) to gut-wrenching twists (why, Hannibal, why?), we were spoiled with fantastic hours of television in 2014. TVGuide.com has compiled the top 25 episodes of the year. Which ones made the cut?
Here are the first five in our countdown.
25. "How Your Mother Met Me," How I Met Your Mother
Regardless of how you feel about HIMYM's weekend-set final season and its polarizing series finale, it's hard to deny the sheer delight of the show's 200th episode, which traces and seamlessly weaves in The Mother's life, her own tragic love story and her near-misses with Ted over the past eight years. A much-anticipated showcase for the criminally under-utilized Cristin Milioti, who winningly employs her charm and musical talents, the episode is also a nostalgic reminder of HIMYM's unparalleled dexterity in melding heart and screwball into one big, lovely enigmatic puzzle. It's the kind of episode the show should have ended with — and be remembered by.
24. "Episode 1," The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon kicks off the anticipated, pressure-filled premiere the way he knows best: with music and dancing. Instead of following the tired format set before him, Fallon freshens up the late-night space by creating a fun, more intimate setting, and letting viewers know immediately you either bring your A-game to the show or don't come at all. Case in point: The episode features a long list of celebs — from Kim Kardashian and Joan Rivers to Lady Gaga and Stephen Colbert, who all have to make good on a bet — a perfect follow-up to his "Evolution of Hip-Hop" (that has Will Smith doing The Carlton) and ends with an incredible U2 performance on the Rockefeller rooftop. Fallon's premiere set the bar high and he hasn't fallen since.
23. "Get the Rope," The Knick
More than any other episode in The Knick's excellent first season, this one is a pure grab-your-popcorn thrill ride. The hour, which features the employees of the Knick attending to patients while a race riot grows outside (and eventually works its way inside), plays like the best disaster episodes of ER and is another reminder how just how dangerous it was to live in those times. Although the episode climaxes with the hospital being overrun (and the great image of the brutish Cleary pulling the ambulance by hand to move patients to a safer black hospital), the episode's quieter moments have the most impact. Not only do Thackery and Edwards each end up in the bed of their long-desired lovers, but the two doctors finally begin operating on equal footing.
22. "The Sign of Three," Sherlock
Never has an episode of Sherlock brought home the friendship between the famed sleuth and his sidekick John Watson in such a heartfelt way. On Watson's wedding day, Sherlock delivers the best and worst best-man speech ever, which we have a sneaking suspicion is just how he devised it. Beginning with a condemnation of love and marriage, and backhanded compliments of John's mental acuity, the speech somehow morphs into the most perfectly lovely tribute. The wedding guests, like viewers, are rendered virtual puddles. Oh, and there's a nifty locked-room mystery that's coincidentally related to a second mystery that Sherlock later solves in order to save someone's life. That, my friends, is a wedding gift that can't be topped!
21. "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried," Orphan Black
Let's just get this out of the way: CLONE! DANCE! PARTY! On one hand, having most of the sister clones — Sarah, Alison, Cosima and Helena — getting their groove on in one fantastically edited scene can be interpreted as fan service (we'll take it!). On the other hand, it's a visceral celebration for what the characters and the show itself have accomplished: a partial victory in the battle to re-establish female agency. Season 2's complex finale not only tackles the theme of women's ownership of their bodies, but also gives Rachel the "pro clone" a soul, introduces a new face from Project Leda and then flummoxes viewers with the concept of Project Castor. That's right, there was also a male clone project, and we've already met one of them in Mark, the Prolethean. We can't wait to meet his brothers!
Check back to see the rest of the list!
Jingle Brawls! Check out 8 of our favorite Christmas fights: