“It’s crude!” “It’s disgusting!” “It’s utterly and totally offensive!” “It’s misogynistic, sexist and degrading to women blah blah blah!” These cries are the typical way some refer to Married… with Children. While others will call it one of the boldest, most groundbreaking and wildly funny sitcoms of all time. Well, I’m here to tell you that both sides of the argument are correct. Anybody who loves and still laughs at this show loves it for all those qualities equally. Married… with Children is truly a landmark tv series that moved the sitcom into a new plateau and changed family sitcoms forever. Without Married there would be no Roseanne or The Simpsons, two shows that got much more credit than Married but neither one would’ve came to be or even survived without it. There would be no Seinfeld, no Malcolm In The Middle, no The Middle, no Futurama, no South Park, no Family Guy, no It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia etc. without this series paving the way for edgier comedy and lovably dysfunctional and realistic characters and paved the way for tv families that were far more imperfect and human than The Huxtables, The Seavers, The Cleavers or The Bradys. Ironically for all the controversy the show stirred up in its day it still holds up perfectly and even more than most other shows that were airing in its time period. In honor of this hilariously politically incorrect sitcom that knew what it was and only ever tried to make you laugh and not teach moral lessons. I’m listing the top 25 greatest episodes of Married… with Children that were 25 favorites of mine that were in my opinion the funniest and most memorable episodes of not only the show but in television history, and also showed the Bundys and their neighbors at their very best and worst. And hereeeee we go!
25. Pilot. Season 1, episode 1.
Not many tv shows can boast about being a flagship for a whole new broadcast network and changing the course of sitcoms for eternity, but this show certainly can. It all started with this pilot episode that we meet The Bundys and the world was in for a shock and a hardy laugh at the antics of television’s most dysfunctional family. The creators Michael Moye and Ron Leavitt had it up to here with what was known then as Cosby mania, in fact the original title of Married… with Children was “Not The Cosbys”. In the 80’s television was full of family sitcoms featuring perfectly happy and well to do families, so imagine what the audience tuning into the brand new network FOX back in 1987 were in for when this pilot premiered and gave us a totally unique family on screen. While not one of the funniest episodes of the series its significance to the series is unmistakable, and it had plenty of hilarious moments while also establishing the characters and their dynamics fairly well, which is hard to achieve for a pilot. It’s also worth nothing that such detail was also put into casting, with the producers dropped the original unremarkable choices for Bud and Kelly and rightfully got Christina Applegate and David Faustino in the roles. This pilot set the tone well and began a legacy in television history.
This scene alone perfectly illustrate the classic type of relationship between Al and Peg: The battle of the sexes that all men and women have, especially in a marriage. We also get the first of the iconic exchanges between Al and a fat female customer at the shoe store, truly hilarious stuff:
24. Poppy’s By The Tree parts 1 and 2. Season 2, episodes 1 and 2.
This two part season 2 premiere is very notable as the first episodes that the show started finding it’s absurd and outlandishly funny sense of humor, also notable is how the actors started gelling in their roles as well as the chemistry between them all seeing some growth as well. Although Bud and Kelly are still not exactly the Bud and Kelly that we all know and love yet, it is these episodes where Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal’s portrayals as Al and Peg Bundy see vast improvement and are more recognizable as the lovable nut cases they become later. Penned by series creators Ron Leavitt and Michael Moye, these episodes are just fun, perfectly enjoyable horror parodies that helped plant the seed of the show’s true greatness. And if that’s not enough, there’s always the man who met Andy Griffith.
23. Earth Angel. Season 2, episode 25.
When Bud brings hot art student Tiffany home to stay with the family hilarity and horniness ensues. A very funny episode that gave us many classic moments and gave guys a very gorgeous young woman to gawk at as well. The ongoing gag of Peggy and Al’s sex life got some great spotlight here and Ed O’Neill once again gives a hilarious performances of Al entranced by Tiffany and using her “charms” to scam money from the neighbors.
22. Get the Dodge out of Hell. Season 9, episode 16. (The 200th!)
The cast and crew of Married… with Children brought pulled out all the stops for this very special episode that aired right after the show got an Emmy Nomination and more important than that this was also the historic 200th episode. We got a hilarious story about Al’s beloved Dodge being missing at the car wash, some of the greatest one liners in the history of the show, another return from Steve Rhodes and classic exchanges between Steve, Marcy and Jefferson and a rare but very good sweet moment at the end where Al reveals the “stuff” in the Dodge that was so important to him, and it ain’t BIG ‘UNS. All and all, one of the best efforts of this series and one of the most memorable.
21. Eatin’ Out. Season 3, episode 11.
A classic and fan favorite episode where The Bundys finally get to eat! And on someone else’s dime too! Many hilarious jokes and moments in this episode and you can tell how much fun the cast and writers had on this particular episode.
20. All In The Family. Season 2, episode 22.
Al’s miserable life gets worse when Peg’s country relatives come for a visit. This episode featured pro wrestler King Kong Bundy, the family’s namesake, as one of Peggy’s uncles. Poor Al never gets to watch Hondo, but we get 22 minutes of hilarious hillbilly family dysfunction out of it.
19. Breaking Up is Easy To Do Part 3. Season 11, episode 16.
It’s no secret that season 10 of Married with Children fell off a bit from glory, but season 11 was a return to form and was pretty great as a final season(although we got screwed out of a final episode, arrrgh!) and this three parter was something we weren’t used to after 11 years, a more dramatic and emotional episode, which is notable enough to be considered one of the show’s better efforts, and you best believe there was still some hilarious moments in this one, a lot of that thanks to the late great Alan Thicke whose portrayal as Peggy’s new boyfriend the wonderfully obnoxious, egotistical and utterly pompous Bruce was a master stroke. I remember as a kid when I first watched these episodes I was genuinely distraught that Al and Peg were really done forever, but the reconciliation moments brought tears of joy to my eyes and my wonderfully dysfunctional couple were back together in the end.
18. Hi, I.Q. Season 6, episode 20.
Another fan favorite, this episode features some hilariously over the top looney tunes type gold with Al and Jefferson trying to build a work bench and failing miserably while their wives watch with glee. The heart of this episode is the Kelly\Bud story, when Kelly is invited to join Alpha (Fictional version of Mensa) and is actually there as a joke. Bud and Kelly team up and beat the crap out of everyone, a truly wonderful episode for the bitter siblings that really do love each other despite their countless insults.
17. The Godfather. Season 5, episode 13.
This episode is on here for this clip:
But seriously, the whole episode is a treat and a true classic in the MWC fandom, and every actor was at his and her best in this one.
16. The D’arcy Files. Season 8, episode 20.
One of the best episodes that centered on Ted McGinley’s Jefferson D’arcy. This is a personal favorite of mine and I really loved that the writers came up with the backstory of Jefferson being an ex CIA spy turned gigolo. The epic friendship between Al and Jefferson is spotlighted here as well which adds to this episode’s special place in the series’ history.
There’s also a hilarious and classic scene between O’Neill and McGinley that is still quoted to this day.
15. Business Sucks(Part 1) and Business Still Sucks (Part 2). Season 9 episodes 5 and 6.
This classic two parter is all about NO MA’AM vs. FANG. When Al and Griff refuse public breastfeeding in the shoe store Marcy and her feminist group protest, Al and No Ma’am fight with a counter protest. The results are stuff of comic legend!
We also get one of Kelly’s finest moments proving how Christina Applegate is truly one of the greatest comic actors ever!
14. I Want My Psycho Dad parts 1 and 2. Season 9, episodes 12 and 13.
Let’s face it, the No Ma’am episodes are gonna keep popping up on this list because they’re always so freakin’ good! This adventure sends No Ma’am to Washington DC to try to save their favorite tv show Psycho Dad.
This is another episode that had some of the funniest and most memorable scenes in the entire show:
13. I’ll See you In Court. Season 3, episode 10. Unaired until June 18th 2002.
This episode is considered “the lost episode” because it never aired until the show was in syndication on FX in 2002. At the time during all the controversy the network was scared to air this one because of the (at the time) risque storyline. Of course nowadays this could air on the Disney channel.
Whether it was “too risque” or not, it is a hilarious episode and David Garrison’s Steve Rhodes particularly shines here as he plays Perry Mason in court. Some truly classic moments in this episode.
12. No Ma’am. Season 8, episode 9.
This is a landmark episode that introduced us to the iconic men’s group NO MA’AM. Al and his buddies start this group to combat the feminization of the world and how the women are taking over their entire lives, even the nudie bar has been co-opted. This episode is another one of the great Al\Marcy feuds that gave the show extra life as it went on in years and the chemistry between O’Neill and Amanda Bearse was a beauty to behold. Although the two couldn’t stand each other in real life, it worked so perfectly well for their characters and the show. Al and Marcy became the 90’s equivalent to Fred Sanford and Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son.
11. Married… with Who? Season 5, episode 12.
Speaking of landmark episodes. This is not only the introduction of fan favorite character Jefferson D’arcy, but is also a soft reboot of the show, a second pilot, of sorts. Season 5 is arguably considered the best and funniest season of the entire series and it’s hard to argue with that with so many iconic and memorable episodes coming from this season, and Jefferson’s debut episode is a big part of why the season is so well regarded. Ted McGinley was just a perfect fit for the show and I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like had they not brought him on to replace David Garrison. Add meeting Jefferson then take some truly hilarious and memorable scenes and you got a recipe for a perfect episode.
10. Hot Off The Grill. Season 4, episode 1.
If you ask most fans what their top 5 all time episodes are, chances are this episode will be in every single one you ask, heck, a lot of them might put this one at the top. Of course written by Moye & Leavitt, this episode was everything iconic and hilarious about Married with Children in one glorious half hour. It’s Labor day Bundy style.
9. The Egg and I. Season 6, episode 17.
Another monumental episode of the series that featured the first of many returns of Steve Rhodes. I can imagine how excited fans were with anticipation at the time when the promos for this episode aired because finally Marcy’s two husbands finally meet and it’s just plain gold!Perhaps Amanda Bearse, David Garrison and Ted McGinley’s finest hour on the show as their performances were stuff of magic.
8. What Goes Around Comes Around. Season 4, episode 18.
While Al and Peg had great moments, this episode was completely carried by Kelly and Bud. The brother\sister duo shined so bright in this episode, showing just how much both young actors had grown into their roles over the years and grew as comic actors in general. Like everyone else I always love when the Bundys stick up for each other on occasion and the ending with Kelly was one of the best examples of that as well as one of Kelly’s most iconic moments period.
7. How Green Was My Apple. Season 8, episode 16.
One of the wildest, zaniest and over the top absurd episodes in the series and It’s just the best! The Bundy and D’arcy feud is pure entertainment and never fails to make me laugh. You can tell how much fun everyone had doing this and the cherry on the top is a special appearance by the legendary Gary Coleman.
6. The Desperate Half-Hour. Season 11, episode 22.
Another gem from the final season that was so perfect a story for these characters that we’ve come to know and love for 11 years that it only ever could’ve come after 11 years. Every character shined in this episode and if I had to choose an episode to introduce someone new to the series, this one would be a great choice because you really see every character’s personality and relationship with each other shine through. I don’t know who came up with the comic genius of the Bundys and D’arcys being taken hostage in a home invasion but thank you so much because I always laugh my tail off the whole episode. But like some of the other best episodes of the series there is that tiny smidge of heart grounding all the absurdity and crudeness and it’s when Al takes a bullet to protect his family. It’s super quick and not really talked about, but, that tiny moment showed that despite his ranting and raving about his family that he actually loves them and will protect them in a heartbeat like a real man should.
5. We’ll Follow The Sun. Season 5, episode 1.
Like I said before, season 5 is widely considered to be MWC at its peak and it all started with this iconic episode that was the only choice as the season 5 opener. Another hellish Labor day for The Bundys as they get stuck in traffic and tension and rage builds. It all explodes on an unsuspecting family of snobs who made the fatal mistake of messing with the wrong family. It results in the first of many brutal and iconic fight scenes that became a staple of the series. It’s brutal, it’s bloody and it’s glorious!
4. You Better Shop Around parts 1 and 2. Season 5, episodes 21 and 22.
I don’t know if any other sitcom has had a better run of two part episodes in their series run than Married… with Children, because here’s another fantastic two part episode where due to their air conditioning going out The Bundys move into the supermarket, then end up competing with The D’arcys in a grocery shopping competition. Another fun Bundy\D’arcy feud puts this episode over the top for sure.
3. It’s a Bundyful Life parts 1 and 2. Season 4, episodes 11 and 12.
Down to the final 3 and this is where we’re really getting to the truly great and most hilarious episodes the show ever did in all 11 seasons. Starting us off here is the classic It’s a Bundyful Life. This episode is as near perfect as any sitcom episode has ever gotten, first off you got a wonderfully Bundyful twist to the classic story of It’s a Wonderful Life, one of my all time favorite holiday films, second you got great jokes throughout, and third, we got one of if not THE greatest and funniest guest star in MWC history, the one and only Sam Kinison, the loud mouthed, hilariously crass comedian from the 80’s who some might not know was the inspiration for Al Bundy as Roseanne Barr was the inspiration for Peggy Bundy. Sam may have been the only person on the planet outside of the main cast that could compete in scenes with Ed O’Neill and even steal some moments from him. I make a point to watch this episode every Christmas, because Christmas without these episodes is like Thanksgiving without Pizza.
2. Movie Show. Season 7, episode 21.
Let me tell you, it was absolutely brutal trying to choose which episode would get the number 1 spot because in my opinion both of them are the greatest episodes of the whole series but of course because I could only choose one I had to weigh it and the number 1 choice edged this one out just a smidge. But, either way this episode is almost as iconic and memorable to those who never even watched or liked this show as much as die hard fans. The Bundys at the movies was pure bliss as a fan and this episode, perhaps more than any other one made me forget that this is a tv show and that these are a group of actors playing roles, but that I’m literally watching a real genuine family going to the movies and being as dysfunctional as they wanna be. There are three specific iconic scenes that to this day fans quote every day and they’re so great and hilarious that I literally bow down to the writers and actors that made such genius.
And this final one is perhaps the greatest and most beloved moment of the entire show. Al Bundy Vs. Angel and Seely Booth defending the honor of his Pumkin. A true dad moment.
- The Proposition. Season 7, episode 26.
This episode had so much going for it to take the number 1 spot: 1. Vanna White. 2. Amazing one liners and facial expressions from Al. 3. Vanna White. 4. Some wonderfully funny jokes by every character, the sex jokes and innuendos in particular this episode were amazing. 5. Perhaps the best Marcy\Al exchange of insults and 6. Did I mention Vanna White? The episode also has such a bold and unique storyline for a sitcom or any tv show at the time, but also had perhaps the greatest Al\Peg story out of the series because it proved in the end that no matter how much they go at it and act as if they can’t stand the other Al and Peg were meant to be together and not even a large sum of money could split them.
Her Cups Runneth Over. Season 3, episode 6.
This landmark episode put the show over the top in popularity, all thanks to the boycott by one infamous Conservative housewife named Terry Rakolta. This boycott caused such an uproar that it made headlines everywhere and ended up getting the show the super high ratings that kept it on the air for another 8 years. It’s also the first episode that really pushed the boundaries of good taste, a hallmark of Married with Children.
Married with Prom Queen parts 1 and 2. Season 3, episodes 17 and 18.
Another grand two parter featuring Al and Peg at their high school reunion. The brutal insults exchanged between Peg and Connie and Al and Jack were truly legendary. This was a very fun episode that did what MWC did best.
All Night Security Dude. Season 5, episode 16.
The whole episode was great but the final scene with Al vs. Spare Tire Dixon was out of this world! Truly one of the most memorable and iconic scenes of the show. R.I.P. Bubba Smith.