Ranking the 10 Best Episodes of 'The Golden Girls'

by Shawn Laib

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday October 10, 2022
Originally published on September 30, 2022

From left to right: Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Betty White
From left to right: Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Betty White   (Source:IMDb)

"The Golden Girls" is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time for a myriad of reasons. Between the brilliant writing, the uncanny chemistry of the four lead actresses (played by Bea Arthur, Betty White, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan), and the brave ability to discuss societal issues that other shows never dared to touch in the 1980s (with several episodes still holding up in 2022), the whole viewing experience still feels like a warm embrace from a friend (or a nice spoon of our favorite cheesecake).

With 180 episodes to choose from, it's nearly impossible to narrow down a list to the 10 best in the series, but that's exactly what we're going to do. Here's the absolute finest half-hours in "The Golden Girls," the types of episodes we can pop in and laugh at over and over again, often while gleaning something completely novel.

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10. Season 3, Episode 3, "Bringing Up Baby"

When Rose's uncle leaves his pet pig to her after he passes away, the girls aren't all that keen on taking care of the animal — that is until they learn it's four years past the average lifespan of a pig and get $100,000 after it dies. The scene when Baby is introduced to the girls is filled with classic "Golden Girls" irony and laughs, and the rest of the episode is equal parts silly and solemn. Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia actually grow quite fond of the pig and are sad when it passes away, showing the way their moral intentions are always more pure than they originally let on.

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9. Season 3, Episode 16, "Grab That Dough"

The girls compete in a fictional game show called "Grab That Dough," leading to some of the funniest shenanigans in the series. From the contestant introductions, to Dorothy trying to grab as much money as she can with her "meat hooks" (the words of the game show host), this episode doesn't have any touching moments, but it never allows you to breathe. The humor pops off suddenly, quickly, and with great creativity!

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8. Season 1, Episode 13, "A Little Romance"

An early series episode in which Rose dates a man with dwarfism is equal parts funny and important to discuss. The relationship ends up not working out but not because Rose isn't accepting of her boyfriend, but rather because he's not accepting of her for not being Jewish. It shows the ways in which people who are part of minority groups also discriminate against others, and that the world would be better if we were all accepting of our differences.

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7. Season 4, Episode 24, "Foreign Exchange"

The mother-daughter relationship between Dorothy and Sophia is a special one. They bicker and they tease each other, but viewers know how dearly they love one another. This is why this episode is a defining one in their lives. A friend of Sophia's claims that Dorothy might be her daughter instead, and Dorothy takes a DNA test to confirm. When the results come back, Sophia doesn't look at them, knowing that what her and Dorothy have goes beyond blood.

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6. Season 4, Episode 15, "Valentine's Day"

Did we include this episode simply because of the condoms scene? Yes! Is it deserving of being in the top 10 because of one scene? Also yes! The whole episode is good though, as the girls reminisce about some of their biggest Valentine's Day mishaps with the only people who truly matter in their lives: themselves.

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5. Season 3, Episode 1, "Old Friends"

Sophia often got some of the most serious storylines in the series despite being the character most likely to crack a joke at the most inopportune times. This was clearly intentional, and this classic episode in which she befriends a man who is showing signs of Alzheimer's is heartbreaking and valuable to watch years later. It's another instance of the show discussing something that none of us really understand until a family member or friend in our own lives is experiencing it.

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4.Season 7, Episode 2, "The Case of the Libertine Belle"

While most shows start running out of ways to stay relevant by their final season, "The Golden Girls" popped out some of their best episodes in the home stretch, with this episode of the season standing out. The girls go to a murder mystery weekend that turns into a real crime scene, and the way they get out of the whole mess is something to behold.

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3. Season 2, Episode 2, "Ladies of the Evening"

The characters of a sitcom going to prison was one of the most reused plot lines in almost every show from the 1980s, and there's a reason for that. If it's executed properly, there's a calming chaos to the storyline. Seeing Bea Arthur go from fearing for her life that she's going to be beaten up, to making the bullies in the prison turn tail and run is as brilliant as it is satisfying.

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2. Season 5, Episode 7, "Not Another Monday"

Suicide is not something that was discussed very often on sitcoms 35 years ago, and it's still often only talked about in our media when it relates to youth depression. Elderly suicide is a pressing issue, and this episode in which Sophia's friend wants to end her suffering is powerful and poignant. Estelle Getty delivers an awe-inspiring monologue on what it means to fight for another day, which is especially rewarding when you find out she was afraid of death in real life.

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1. Season 7, Episode 23, "One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest"

Series finales are always hard to pull off, but it's no surprise "The Golden Girls" was able to put together a really special final episode. When Dorothy moves out to get married, it's the most fitting ending for her character, as she was always the one who struggled the most with romance. The final scene of the girls hugging goodbye multiple times is a heartbreaker, and it's hard to watch on repeated viewing.