Those who work in the television industry are under immense pressure to maintain a high level of quality throughout a show’s run. Successful TV shows that aren’t miniseries will naturally run for multiple seasons across numerous years. If one of those long-running shows is generally beloved, there’s every chance that an occasional episode that misses the mark will stand out all the more.
This is the case for the following episodes, as each one’s the lowest-rated from a highly acclaimed show inside the IMDb Top 250 TV list. As IMDb lets users rate overall shows and individual episodes, it’s easy to make such findings. Not all of these episodes are bad necessarily, as some come from incredibly strong shows where even comparative missteps still make for compelling TV.
10 “Fly” (2010) from ‘Breaking Bad’
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Funnily enough, Rian Johnson has the distinction of directing Breaking Bad’s highest-rated episode (season 5’s “Ozymandias”) and its lowest-rated, season 3’s “Fly.” The former sees Walter White’s life crumble around him in a devastating and visceral fashion, while the latter sees him hunting a fly in his meth lab, as he fears it will contaminate his product.
The seemingly low stakes of “Fly” likely explain its similarly low rating (compared to most Breaking Bad episodes at least), but it doesn’t deserve the backlash. While it doesn’t propel the plot forward explosively or anything, the obsession Walt conveys here says a great deal about his character, and the contained nature of the episode is a breath of fresh air. Additionally, once Jesse gets involved, the conversations he and Walt end up having are surprisingly tense and engaging.
9 “Ebb Tide” (2003) from ‘The Wire’
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
When it comes to The Wire, one of its quotes that neatly summarizes the whole show is “All the pieces matter.” It’s a show that continually builds, adding new characters and subplots, and even if there are a few slower or less engaging episodes here and there, they all matter to the overall show, which adds up to even more than the sum of its parts (and there are a ton of great parts).
As such, it’s the opening episode of season 2 which has the lowest rating of any The Wire episode, with a still respectable 7.8/10. The sudden introduction of a storyline set around the Baltimore docks may have thrown viewers watching this episode, but again, it builds well and pays off in the long run.
8 “Christopher” (2002) from ‘The Sopranos’
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
The Sopranosis absolutely one of the greatest shows of all time. This crime/drama/dark comedy series about a middle-aged man juggling his family and “work” life made for great television across six seasons, and even if some episodes weren’t perfect, the show as a whole essentially was as close to perfect as TV can get.
About as far from perfect as the show ever got was season 4’s “Christopher,” which tackles an interesting topic (the controversy around Columbus Day) in a fairly clunky fashion, unfortunately. It’s still polished from a visual standpoint, and the acting is generally decent, but the episode’s screenplay – while not abysmal – feels noticeably weaker than just about every other episode in the show’s run.
7 “Rickdependence Spray” (2021) from ‘Rick and Morty’
IMDb Rating: 5.7/10
For its first two to three seasons, Rick and Morty was quite the critical darling. It had a certain style of humor that blended perfectly with the show’s surprisingly strong sci-fi plotlines, and its main characters revealed themselves to have additional layers that made them unexpectedly complex as the show went on.
Later seasons have been a little more sporadic when it comes to quality, which is demonstrated well by the individual episode ratings throughout season 5. The lowest of those, “Rickdependence Spray,” goes a little far with the crude, gross-out humor, and represents a low point for an animated show that had few – if any – notable low points for its first several years.
6 “The Six Thatchers” (2017) from ‘Sherlock’
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Despite running for four seasons, there are surprisingly few episodes of Sherlock, seeing as each season was only three episodes long. One special in 2016 takes the total episode count for the mystery/drama series to 13, with the lowest rated of those being the first episode of the show’s fourth season, “The Six Thatchers.”
To be perfectly blunt, it’s probably the premise that makes this episode have a lower rating than most of the others. The episode involves the title character needing to solve a mystery concerning various statues of ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher being destroyed, and develops in a way that divided viewers with some questionable story choices. Four seasons of Sherlock might have been pushing this once-beloved series a little far, with “The Six Thatchers” signifying this explicitly.
5 “The Iron Throne” (2019) from ‘Game of Thrones’
IMDb Rating: 4.0/10
Several years on from the end of Game of Thrones, the final season lives on in infamy. Its rushed storytelling and decreased stakes meant that overall, it paled in comparison to earlier seasons (even seasons 5-7, which weren’t without their flaws), and didn’t exactly conclude the show satisfyingly.
The lowest-rated episode on IMDb is ultimately the final episode of the show’s final season, “The Iron Throne.” It does have to be stressed that a 4.0/10 rating on IMDb is exceptionally low, and a far cry from the earlier seasons, where it was rare to see an episode get an average rating under 8.5/10.
4 “Left Behind” (2023) from ‘The Last of Us’
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
Overall, The Last of Us has been a hugely successful video game adaptation. The high points of the show so far have captured the spirit of the first game in the series very well, with the budget sparing no expense when it comes to the look of the show and its special effects. Additionally, having Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey doing great work in the lead roles has added greatly overall.
The first season has been well-received, but some episodes were more acclaimed than others. The show’s lowest-rated so far was “Left Behind,” which wasn’t terrible, but suffered from implementing its flashbacks in a surprisingly clunky fashion. Again: nothing that seriously hurt the show overall, but it definitely wasn’t The Last of Us’ finest hour.
3 “Get the Girl” (2012) from ‘The Office’
IMDb Rating: 6.4/10
It’s not a bold claim to say the U.S. version of The Office overstayed its welcome. It stayed fairly strong throughout its first five to seven seasons, but naturally, things just weren’t the same after Steve Carell left the show towards the end of its seventh season.
To no one’s surprise, the show’s lowest-rated episode comes from one of the Michael Scott-less seasons: its eighth. It’s a show that puts the spotlight on two of the show’s least popular (or at least most divisive) characters, Andy and Nellie, placing them at the center of both the episode’s two main storylines to underwhelming – and arguably frustrating – effect.
2 “Alpine Shepherd Boy” (2015) from ‘Better Call Saul’
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
It’s a testament to Better Call Saul’s consistency that its lowest-rated episode still has a solid rating of 8.0/10. That episode is only its fifth overall, “Alpine Shepherd Boy,” airing right around the middle of the show’s first season.
In its first year or two on the air, Better Call Saul was still finding its feet, and hadn’t quite built up the level of acclaim that has some fans feeling as though it was even better than its parent show, Breaking Bad. “Alpine Shepherd Boy” is well-made but naturally a little aimless compared to episodes from later seasons, ensuring it doesn’t quite have as high an IMDb rating as the other episodes of this beloved Breaking Bad spin-off/prequel series.
1 “Remember the Monsters” (2013) from ‘Dexter’
IMDb Rating: 4.7/10
There’s no nice way to say it: Dexterended disastrously. Its eighth and final season killed the show’s legacy in a fashion that was more brutal and harder to watch than any of the show’s gory murders, as it was aimless, flat, dull, dreary, and barely even felt like Dexter anymore.
Say what you want about Game of Thrones’ final season, but at least the cast and everyone working on the show’s visuals/special effects were doing their best, even if the writing wasn’t fantastic. During the last season of Dexter, no one seemed interested; even star Michael C. Hall’s heart didn’t really seem in it. An underwhelming final season concluded with an irredeemably bad final episode, “Remember the Monsters,” which deservedly holds the “honor” of being Dexter’s lowest-rated episode on IMDb.
NEXT: TV Protagonists Who End Their Series in a Worse Place Than Where They Started