The episodic nature of television series makes the medium a fundamentally inconsistent one. Even with the very best shows, some episodes will be better and more memorable than others, which is why we still talk about, say, the Teddy Perkins installment of Atlanta rather than the one where Paper Boi is booked to play a college. But the plus side of that reality is that any show — even one that isn’t generally considered among the best of the best — is capable of leveling up in individual episodes where everything comes together just right.
Any attempt to make a list of the best TV episodes of 2021 would naturally include work from a lot of shows that made our top 20 series list for the year — from that electric Succession finale to the Atlantic City heist episode of What We Do in the Shadows. But, rather than revisit excellent series whose praises we’ve already sung, we thought we’d compile a list of great episodes from the rest of the year in television (presented here in alphabetical order). Some of these will be highlights from shows that were serious contenders for the top 20 series list, while others are from shows that weren’t great overall, but had a shining moment this year that we just can’t forget.