Getting To The Bottom Of The Bottle: 25 Best Bottle Episodes

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Photo: AMC

Here’s an (almost) comprehensive list of television’s best bottle episodes. Here’s what’s great when shows are largely confined to one place.

In order to understand the best bottle episodes, you have to know what a bottle episode is. By its most conservative definition, it’s an episode of a television series that is produced cheaply, set in one location, and restricted to its primary characters.

Although some of these episodes adhere pretty strictly to this format, some take some pretty generous liberties with the technical explanation. For me, a good bottle episode needs to focus tightly on character development and there needs to be some sort of revelation. Bottle episodes are often used as footnotes for characters or major plot arcs, and can be a handy tool for audiences to get a peek into something the showrunners want us to know.

However, they can also turn into gimmicky messes with too much camp to be taken seriously – I have a handful of those on the list too. Terrible TV, in retrospect, can also make for excellent entertainment after a little time and space. You’ll see what I mean the deeper you get into the list. Every single episode represents a remarkable moment in our shared popular culture, and they left their mark in one way or another.

Here’s my picks for the 25 best bottle episodes on television.