22. “Can’t Buy Me Math”
(Season 5, Episode 11)
“Can’t Buy Me Math” has a classic Bob’s Burgers plot. When Tina needs math tutoring, Darryl (voiced by Aziz Ansari) agrees to help her, as long as she goes to the Valentine’s dance with him. He’s under the assumption that whoever wins cupid’s couple at the dance can then date whoever they want after breaking up. However, as Tina teaches Darryl how to be a boyfriend, she begins to fall for him—or at least the version of him she’s creating. This was the first episode of season five that I dubbed an all-time great for the show, and while I don’t completely stand by that—it’s more flawed than I thought at first—it’s definitely one of the season’s finest.
Best moment: When Bob does a striptease for Linda.
21. “Easy Com-mercial, Easy Go-mercial”
(Season 4, Episode 11)
Desperate for customers, Bob decides to film a family commercial to air locally during the Super Bowl. When the commercial turns out awful, he brings in an NFL legend, Sandy “Can-Can” Frye (voiced by Jordan Peele), for an endorsement. A personal favorite, this one is highlighted by the Belchers’ commercial and Peele’s performance.
Best moment: When Tina is supportive.
20. “O.T.: the Outside Toilet”
(Season 3, Episode 15)
“O.T.: the Outside Toilet” may be the episode most effective in letting you know if Bob’s Burgers is for you. It’s an E.T. parody in which Gene finds an expensive and super-intelligent toilet (voiced by Jon Hamm) in the woods and befriends it, trying to keep it away from the sinister Max Flush (voiced by Neil Flynn). Meanwhile, Bob gets a new suit, which results in him getting a lot more respect.
If any part of that description made you ask, “Why?” then this show isn’t for you. If it made you say, “I need to watch this,” then you should, right now.
Best moment: When Teddy is confused about Bob’s name.
19. “Ear-sy Rider”
(Season 3, Episode 1)
“Ear-sy Rider” has one of Bob’s Burgers‘ most overwrought plots. Here’s the gist: a biker gang has a funeral at Mort’s mortuary, and they go over to Bob’s for drinks afterwards, giving him a card that he can cash in for a favor whenever he needs one. Louise gets her bunny ears stolen by bully Logan (voiced by Kurt Braunohler), and continuously fails in her attempts to get them back. She cashes in the card from the bikers, who then get her ears back by threatening Logan. The town’s parents angrily march into Bob’s Burgers, calling it a “biker bar,” before Logan’s mom Cynthia (voiced by Lindsey Stoddart) angers the bikers by ripping their leader’s jacket. The bikers prepare to attack the parents, but then their one female member goes into labor. Luckily, Logan’s dad is a doctor, and he helps deliver the baby, resolving the situation.
The first time I watched the episode, I definitely thought the plot went in too many different directions and, through several re-watches, I still do. But it’s definitely ambitious, revealing where the show would go in season three. Even better, it’s a tremendously funny episode, and that it makes you laugh throughout makes the plot easier to take.
Best moment: When Tina is out of control.
18. “Mazel Tina”
(Season 4, Episode 13)
Tina, desperate to go to Tammy’s bat mitzvah, offers her family’s catering. But when Tammy gets trapped with Louise inside a giant replica of her own head (it makes sense when you see it), Tina takes over the party, using it to become the center of attention for once. Episodes that offer a bit of wish fulfillment for Tina are usually great, and “Mazel Tina” might be the funniest episode of season four (although not the overall best, as you’ll see).
Best moment: When Tina is not kidding around.
17. “The Unnatural”
(Season 3, Episode 23)
“The Unnatural” has undoubtedly the best B-plot in Bob’s Burgers history, in which Tina develops a heavy espresso addiction (as a fellow espresso lover, I definitely relate). This secondary story completely overshadows the somewhat typical main plot, in which Linda enlists Gene in a fraudulent baseball camp, but it’s still enough to make this one a classic.
Best moment: When Tina takes her first trip to espresso heaven.
16. “Eat Spray Linda”
(Season 5, Episode 18)
As Bob and the kids prepare a spa day for Linda’s birthday, which she doesn’t even like to celebrate anymore, she heads out to the store. Things get continually worse and, eventually she ends up getting stuck in the wilderness, trying to get back home. At the same time, the family goes searching for her with Teddy, and Bob learns more about Linda’s life outside of the house and the restaurant. While it’s not fun seeing awful things happen to Linda, “Eat Spray Linda” is still a celebration of her, and anyone who loves her character should like this episode a lot. In the end, when Bob tells her that he’s glad she can still surprise him after all their years together, he’s basically speaking for the audience.
Best moment: When Louise is adorable yet again.
15. “The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene”
(Season 3, Episode 8)
As I’ve said before, Gene is the main character the writers have focused on the least and, as a result, there are few classic Gene-centric episodes. “The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene,” in fact, is the best one, with the writers handling his preteen emotions here as well as they’ve always handled Tina’s teen emotions. Not yet as far into puberty as Tina, Gene’s problem is a desire to not hurt anyone’s feelings, which becomes a major obstacle when he’s asked out by Courtney Wheeler (voiced by David Wain), an annoying girl he doesn’t like. Now in a relationship with her, he can’t bring himself to call it off, which becomes even more difficult when he meets her jingle-writing dad Doug (voiced by John Michael Higgins), whose recording studio entices Gene.
While dealing with feelings that everyone can relate to is an advantage, “The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene” works so well mostly because it’s hilarious, highlighted by Wain’s performance as Courtney, one of the show’s great guest appearances.
Best moment: When Doug writes the greatest song of all time.
14. “The Belchies”
(Season 2, Episode 1)
After season one stayed relatively grounded, “The Belchies” began season two by showing that the show could branch out and try new things. A Goonies parody, “The Belchies” features the kids searching for treasure in an abandoned taffy factory that’s set to be demolished. Louise then gets trapped in a pit with a man made out of taffy, and the family has to work together to get her out. An adventurous episode, “The Belchies” proved that Bob’s Burgers could succeed just as well outside of the restaurant.
Best moment: When Tina accepts who she is.
13. “Boyz 4 Now”
(Season 3, Episode 21)
“Boyz 4 Now” comments on boy band fandom with a mixture of parody and understanding—the show is great at that. Tina convinces Louise to go with her to a concert for Boyz 4 Now, her favorite boy band. Louise is disgusted by all the teen concert goers’ obsession with boys, until she gets her first crush on one of the group members (voiced by Max Greenfield). This one features some brilliant Tina lines, like “My heart just pooped its pants” and “I’m no hero, I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.” But its true power comes from its exploration of Tina and Louise’s relationship, and by the end of the episode, Louise has a newfound respect for her sister.
Best moment: When Gayle’s cat has to wear goggles.
12. “The Runaway Club”
(Season 5, Episode 16)
“The Runaway Club” has the feel of an earlier episode, complete with a clever storyline that parodies The Breakfast Club, a strong B-plot, and one of the all-time best Tina fantasies. This one revealed what had been missing in much of season five, kicking off the amazing run of episodes that ended the season.
Best moment: When the Belcher kids are self-deprecating.
11. “Art Crawl”
(Season 1, Episode 8)
The town’s art festival is shaken up when Gayle hangs up her paintings of animal anuses in the restaurant. Bob at first wants the paintings gone, until art store owners Edith and Harold Cranwinkle try to force him to take them down, leading to his pride taking over. Featuring a genuinely weird plot and the introduction of several series regulars, “Art Crawl” is a masterful first season episode.
Best moment: When Gayle reveals the darkness within her.
10. “Bad Tina”
(Season 2, Episode 8)
While The A.V. Club’s grades for Bob’s Burgers are typically pretty solid, I have to call out the B- “Bad Tina” received. This episode is a stone-cold classic, introducing Tammy (voiced by Jenny Slate), Tina’s erotic friend fiction—which has become hugely associated with her character despite only really appearing here—and Cake, the patty-cake performance art that Bob becomes obsessed with.
Best moment: When Linda gives a voice to moms everywhere.
9. “The Oeder Games”
(Season 5, Episode 21)
Five seasons in, it’s difficult for Bob’s Burgers to feel ambitious anymore. They’ve done everything, including wilderness episodes, anthologies, musicals, and film parodies. What else is there for them to do? How about a Hunger Games parody that makes a water balloon fight actually feel intense?
The reason “The Oeder Games” works so well is because of the stakes it sets up. If it were just a water balloon fight, it wouldn’t elicit much of a reaction. But, because it’s a group of people fighting for lower rent, you want to see the Belchers win. Even more, you want to see everybody win and rise up against Mr. Fischoeder, but even he has been developed so much that you don’t want to see him lose completely. And with all of that emotion coming from a water balloon fight, the writers find a way to tie everything up perfectly, delivering an ending that only a show that has developed its characters this well can pull off.
The ending credits features a water balloon fight set to the cast singing “99 Red Balloons,” a beautiful way to close a season that I underestimated.
Best moment: When Mr. Fischoeder is tired of being the bad guy.
8. “The Equestranauts”
(Season 4, Episode 17)
It’s bizarre that it took so long for a show to make fun of the Brony phenomenon, but I’m glad it’s this one that got to it first. Along with the fact that “The Equestranauts” is one of the funniest episodes of possibly the funniest adult animated comedy currently on TV, Bob’s Burgers also has a fitting outlook for taking on the Brony community. The show’s perspective on weird characters has always been a loving one, so where a show like Family Guy or South Park would handle the material with a certain amount of loathing, Bob’s Burgers looks at Bronies (or “Equesticals”) with respectful intrigue. You don’t have to be a Brony or even like the community to find this approach more likable and funny than a crueler approach would have been.
Best moment: When Tina has a moment every fan fiction writer must experience once in a while.
7. “Two for Tina”
(Season 3, Episode 17)
Tina is always the one chasing boys, so “Two for Tina” is extremely satisfying. Anyone who loves this character wants to see her get what she wants sometimes and, even if giving her an official boyfriend would take away some of the show’s conflict, an occasional episode like this can be a relief.
When Tina asks Jimmy Jr. to the school dance, he gives her a maybe. She’s then asked out by Josh (who first appeared in “Lindapendent Woman”), which causes Jimmy Jr. to desperately want her. (Seriously, Jimmy Jr. is an asshole.) As with “Mazel Tina,” it’s a lot of fun seeing Tina get what she wants for once, even if it falls apart by the end.
Best moment: When Jimmy Jr. sings Tina the most romantic song ever.
6. “Hawk & Chick”
(Season 5, Episode 20)
The last two episodes of season five aired on the same night, an idea I didn’t care for but also one that was made less off-putting by the fact that they were easily the two best episodes of the season. And while you’d expect that “The Oeder Games,” the biggest finale Bob’s Burgers has done, would be the better of the two, “Hawk & Chick” was my personal favorite.
When Bob and Louise spot the star of their favorite Japanese action movie series, they invite him to lunch at the restaurant. When they find out that he’s in town to reconcile with his daughter, who starred in the movies with him as a little girl, they decide to help him. While the plot isn’t as big as that of “The Oeder Games,” “Hawk & Chick” works because of how it connects the relationship between Hawk and Chick to Bob and Louise (who, as I’ve said, have my favorite relationship in the series). In terms of pure emotion, this works better than any other episode.
Best moment: When Louise gets it out of her system.
5. “Mother Daughter Laser Razor”
(Season 3, Episode 10)
While Bob’s Burgers has dealt plenty with Louise’s closeness with her father, her complicated relationship with her mother has often been pushed to the side. The terrific “Mother Daughter Laser Razor” goes right into it, though, beginning with Louise’s disrespect towards her mother, causing Linda to bring her to a mother-daughter seminar. Of course, the episode ends with a sweet moment between Linda and Louise, but because it’s between two characters who rarely have sweet moments together, it works. The B-plot, which involves Tina’s decision to shave her legs due to peer pressure, is very funny.
Best moment: When Gene does what he wants.
4. “Turkey in a Can”
(Season 4, Episode 5)
“Turkey in a Can” isn’t the funniest episode of season four, let alone the whole series. But, in terms of plot structure, characters, and originality, few have topped this one. When somebody puts Bob’s Thanksgiving turkey in the toilet, he buys another, which ends up in the toilet as well. The episode then follows Bob’s increasingly obsessive attempts at making Thanksgiving perfect, coupled with the mystery of who the culprit is—a mystery that, surprisingly, has a solid conclusion.
Best moment: When Bob gets defensive.
3. “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?”
(Season 1, Episode 6)
I’ve never seen a show get this good this quickly. The first great episode of Bob’s Burgers, “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?” is also one of its absolute greatest, revealing the true heart of the show after five episodes of hesitance. Along with its original plot and numerous memorable quotes (not to mention the not-atrocious portrayal of trans people and the first appearances from Jimmy Pesto and Jimmy Jr.), the father-daughter relationship between Bob and Tina is what makes this one an absolute classic.
Best moment: When Tina has a wordgasm.
(Season 2, Episode 4)
Most Bob’s Burgers episodes have some variant of a good story, funny dialogue, catchy music, and/or visual gags, but few episodes nail all of these elements down like “Burgerboss” does. When Bob gets an arcade game put in the restaurant, Jimmy Pesto proves to be much better at the game than Bob and, for his high score, enters the name “BOB SUX.” Bob becomes obsessed with getting Jimmy’s score off the machine, to the point where he’s forced to take pain pills for a messed-up wrist. He then enlists the help of nerd/video game enthusiast Darryl (in his first appearance).
So much is right with this episode, from Bob’s painkiller meltdown to “Groping for Glory,” the funniest montage song parody since South Park’s “Montage” itself. In fact, it was one of only two episodes I considered for the No. 1 spot. But it never really had a chance…
Best moment: When Bob can’t even handle how high he is.
1. “Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks”
(Season 3, Episode 7)
If “Burgerboss” is an A, “Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks” is an A+. If “Burgerboss” is an A+, this one is an A++. It stands high above all other Bob’s Burgers episodes, which isn’t an insult to the show—most TV shows can’t even manage a single episode this masterful.
When Bob lets Tina drive the car in a nearly empty parking lot, she (of course) crashes. From there, the episode ventures into fraud, guilt, and blackmail, as the family becomes inadvertently involved with slimy insurance agent Chase (voiced by Bob Odenkirk). There’s also a B-plot where, with the Belchers’ car in the shop, Mort offers to drive Gene and Louise around and comes to regret it. But the true greatness of the episode comes from the way the family is brought together in their effort to take down Chase, which gives the main cast a lot of room to work off of each other. The main problem with much of seasons four and five was that they separated the family too often, because the show is truly at its funniest and most effective when the Belchers all come together.
Best moment: When Tina has a fender bender.
Thanks for reading.