Golden Girls is considered one of the best television shows, starring the quirky ensemble of Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty. The entire series was highly rated and critically acclaimed, having won two Emmys and three Golden Globes during its runtime. It is also one of the only three shows whose four main stars have each won an Emmy for their performances.
So if you’re planning to re-watch the entire seven seasons, here are our picks for the best episodes of the Golden Girls.
Top 25 Golden Girls Episodes of All Time
1. One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest Part 1 & 2 (Season 7, Episode 25 and 26)
The two-part series finale ranks as our favorite episode. It is beautifully heartwarming yet heartbreaking at times because we know it’s the last we’ll see of the Golden Girls.
The episode starts with Blanche dumping her Uncle Lucas (played by Leslie Nielsen) with Dorothy on a blind date, as she had a date planned prior and could not accommodate him. Blanche’s uncle and Dorothy start unsure, but as they get to know each other, they find out that Blanche has been telling them untrue stories about the other. The two seek revenge on Blanche by pretending to fall in love with each other.
Blanche is furious that Dorothy might end up being her aunt, and while the ruse is happening, Lucas and Dorothy develop romantic feelings for real. Lucas and Dorothy decide to be truthful to Blanche, not wanting to hurt her any longer, and Blanche gives her uncle and her best friend her blessing.
Two months later, Dorothy and Lucas get married, and Dorothy gets Blanche and Rose as her bridesmaids. Sophia tearfully lets her go and promises to stay and take care of Blanche and Rose in Miami.
Guest star Leslie Nielsen delivered a powerful performance in this episode, and we wish we’d seen more of him!
2. Letter to Gorbachev (Season 3, Episode 6)
Letter to Gorbachev tells the tale of how Rose touched the heart of Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. She decides to send the Russian president a letter about ending the nuclear war. It is one of the most imaginative episodes of the Golden Girls.
An official of the Russian Embassy named Alexi Bovanov came to their home to look for Rose Nylund and told her that a press conference would be held in her honor to talk about world peace. They also wished to invite her to Russia so the president could formally meet her.
The Embassy suspects that a young girl may have written the letter due to its naivete, and the press conference ends with a shock when Rose reveals that she wrote it.
Betty White was beautifully innocent yet still totally believable in this episode.
Also Read: What's the Best Golden Girls Gift For Fans?
3. Before and After (Season 2, Episode 15)
In this episode, sweet Rose faces a near-death experience that leaves her determined to change her entire lifestyle and, consequently, her friends. She realizes that it’s a miserable life without true friends and decides to move back to the girls’ home.
4. Mrs. George Deveraux (Season 6, Episode 9)
Mrs. George Deveraux was one of the sitcom’s best episodes. Blanche receives flowers from a secret admirer, who turns out to be her late husband, George Deveraux (played by George Grizzard). Blanche is shocked -- after all, her husband had been dead for nine years in a car crash. George tells her that he faked his death because he found out that his business partner had been stealing from their company and was blaming him.
They share a touching kiss, but the audience soon discovers that everything was something Blanche concocted in a dream. Dorothy overhears the younger woman talking in her sleep and goes to console her.
In the episode’s subplot, Dorothy finds himself in the midst of a love triangle between Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner!
Rue McClanahan was wondrous in her performance in this episode.
Also Read: Golden Girls - Ages and More
5. Family Affair (Season 2, Episode 7)
In this Golden Girls episode, Rose’s daughter Bridget and Dorothy’s son Michael choose the same time to pay a visit to their parents’ home. The gal pals get shocked when they discover their children having a little romance!
6. In a Bed of Rose's (Season 1, Episode 15)
When Rose discovers that Al Beatty, a man she had been seeing casually, died from a heart attack after having sex with her, Rose is convinced that she has a death jinx -- after all, her late husband died similarly! She tracks down Al’s sister to tell her what happened, but she discovers that she was his wife instead and that he had sadly been unfaithful for many years.
7. To Catch a Neighbor (Season 2, Episode 24)
The four Golden Girls get two new neighbors in To Catch a Neighbor, which they invite over for dinner. The McDowells are nice and sweet, but when two detectives show up at their door, the girls discover that they are actually dealers in stolen gems!
8. Ladies of the Evening (Season 2, Episode 2)
Ladies of the Evening is one of the funniest episodes of the sitcom! Three of our girls (minus Sophia) are mistaken for prostitutes when they stay at a hotel bar to attend a Burt Reynolds movie premiere. This lands them in jail when the police arrest the real prostitutes. Sophia comes to their rescue, convincing the police that the three ladies had been mistakenly arrested.
Burt Reynolds guest stars as himself in this episode!
9. Never Yell Fire in a Crowd Parts 1&2 (Season 6, Episode 24 and 25)
In the penultimate episode of season 6, Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche fear that Sophia might get sent to jail when a former Shady Pines Retirement Home resident dies and pins her and Sophia as the culprit of the fire. Sophia struggles to remember the day in question, and she’s hardly exempt from jail time because of her age. Guess who swoops in to save the day? Rose!
10. Sick and Tired Part 1 and 2 (Season 5, Episode 1 and 2)
The series was considered way ahead of its time when they tackled mental illness in Sick and Tired, one of their best episodes. Dorothy had been to several doctors; however, they all but dismissed her. They all told her “it’s all in her head” when she asked them for a reason as to why she felt sick and tired all the time. The last straw came when one of the doctors told her that she just needed to try something new to “break the cycle,” like color her hair blond.
Hopeless, Dorothy tries one last time to get another doctor’s opinion; this time, she is advised to go to a specialist. The specialist diagnosed her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a real illness -- the series creator Susan Harris was afflicted by it when she co-wrote this episode.
Bea Arthur’s performance in this episode was truly remarkable. Here are our favorite quotes from Golden Girls!
11. Dorothy's Prized Pupil (Season 2, Episode 21)
One of Dorothy’s students, a Cuban immigrant named Mario, submits an essay about his first day in America. Dorothy feels it would win him an award should she submit it to a writing contest. Mario wins, but an agent from the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services spoils their celebration by revealing that the young boy is in the country illegally.
Both Mario and Bea give heartwarming performances at the episode’s unhappy ending, when the student gets deported. Also, fun fact: a young Mario Lopez  -- the now-famous talk show host -- stars as Mario!
12. The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present (Season 5, Episode 23)
The wedding of Jenny, Dorothy’s goddaughter, is fast approaching. Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche are frustrated because they can’t get dates; on the other hand, Sophia is determined to show up looking good because a beau from her past, Giuseppe Mangiacavallo, is expected to be there. She holds a grudge against him for leaving her at the altar 70 years ago.
Since then, Sophia has put a curse on Mangiacavallo, and tells him at the wedding that she has planned for all the happiness of the day to “come crashing down on your head.” Mangiacavallo scoffs and doesn’t believe her until the newlyweds get into a fight that threatens to ruin the reception.
Mangiacavallo asks Sophia to forgive him, and she lifts the curse off.
13. The Case of the Libertine Belle (Season 7, Episode 2)
“The Case of the Libertine Belle” is a known fan-favorite episode due to its gripping mystery feel. Blanche invites the rest of the Golden Girls over to her company’s murder-mystery weekend outing. Dorothy solves the puzzle single-handedly, and everyone applauds her.
Meanwhile, Blanche gets involved in a real murder mystery weekend, and it’s up to Dorothy and her sleuthing skills to clear her name.
14. The Sisters (Season 2, Episode 12)
Sophia’s birthday is coming up, and Dorothy struggles to find the perfect present for her. When the idea of having Sophia’s sister Angela over comes to her, she thinks she’s concocted the perfect surprise! However, the girls soon learn why the sisters have not spoken for the past 30 years -- because of a huge fight and suspicion of betrayal. It’s now up to Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche to bring peace to the fighting sisters.
15. Witness (Season 6, Episode 21)
In the episode “Witness,” Rose is trying to move on with her life with her new boyfriend, Karl, when a past flame who worked undercover in the Witness Protection Program attempts to get back together with her.
16. An Illegitimate Concern (Season 5, Episode 18)
Sophia takes Dorothy to a mother-daughter competition in Shady Pines to beat an old rival, which they won runners-up to. Meanwhile, a mysterious young man shows up at the door of their Miami home, looking for George Devereaux. After Blanche confronts him, he reveals that he is an illegitimate son of her late husband, which hurts her, as she had remained faithful to George while they had been together.
17. 72 Hours (Season 5, Episode 19)
“72 Hours” episode features a progressive take on a sensitive subject that was considered taboo at the time: HIV. Rose is afraid that she may have gotten HIV from a blood transfusion she had undergone several years ago and has to wait 72 hours to receive the result.
Blanche comforts Rose and tells her that she went through the same thing, but she’s learned her lesson and makes sure to know about her partner’s sexual history and to use protection. Rose is stressed and insults Blanche’s sex life; she claims she is “too good” to have gotten this virus. Blanche reminds her that getting HIV is not a punishment from God and that having the virus doesn’t mean you are a bad person.
18. Sophia's Wedding Parts 1 and 2 (Season 4, Episodes 5 and 6)
In “Sophia’s Wedding,” Sophia learns of her late husband’s business partner’s wife’s death and heads over to Brooklyn to pay her respects. She remains antagonistic to Max Weinstock (played by Jack Gilford), who she believes had squandered away all of her husband’s fortunes. She finds out that it had been her husband and not Max who was at fault, and he was merely covering for him. The two hook up… and decide to get married right then and there, much to Dorothy’s dismay.
They get a house by the beach and turn it into a pizza and knish stand, which their late beloveds had always wanted. When the store catches fire and burns down, the two realize that they didn’t want to run a pizza and knish stand, much less stay married to each other... and the two amicably part ways.
19. Mister Terrific (Season 3, Episode 24)
Rose meets television star Mr. Terrific at a local mall, who asks her out on a date the same evening. When he comes over to the girls’ house that night, he offers Dorothy an excellent opportunity: to become a consultant on his show!
Dorothy shows up on her first day of work and makes brilliant suggestions to the show’s producer, ultimately getting Mr. Terrific fired. It isn't her intention at all, but seeing how her actions affected Mr. Terrific, she convinces the producer to bring him back on air. The episode takes a turn for the worse when she is chosen to replace Mr. Terrific as the host of the program!
20. Brother, Can You Spare that Jacket? (Season 4, Episode 8)
The Golden Girls are ecstatic when they discover that the lottery ticket they bought cost $10,000, which they hide in Blanche’s jacket. Sophia mistakenly puts the jacket inside a box meant for goodwill, and the four girls race around the state on a “follow that jacket” course.
21. Old Friends (Season 3, Episode 1)
Estelle Getty, who played Sophia Petrillo, showcased her acting chops and won an Emmy for her performance in “Old Friends” (aside from that episode when Sophia’s son dies). Sophia establishes a friendship with Alvin (played by Joe Seneca), a man she meets at the beach, with whom she quickly shares a unique bond as they relate to each other over their children and late spouses. After spending more and more time together, though, Alvin’s erratic behavior leads her to conclude that he might have Alzheimer’s disease, and he will need to be taken to a special care facility as soon as his condition worsens. Sophia knits him a scarf as a symbol of their friendship.
The episode’s subplot shows Rose’s teddy bear held hostage by one of her Sunshine Cadets.
22. Three Friends on a Couch (Season 3, Episode 11)
The girls decide to seek a therapist when the cracks in their friendship begin to manifest. This is a hilarious flashback episode as the girls recount the problematic points (like Rusty Anchor nights, St. Olaf stories, and the Nudist Resort) in their relationship. This entire episode just shows how deeply they care for one another.
23. Break-In (Season 1, Episode 8)
After the girls attend a Madonna concert, they find that their home has been broken into. Dorothy loses her fur and Blanche her jewelry. They try unsafe yet hilarious ways of making their home safer, such as installing a burglar alarm and even bringing home a guard dog from the shelter, all to no avail.
24. Dorothy's New Friend (Season 3, Episode 15)
Dorothy makes a new friend, Barbara Thorndyke (played by Bonnie Bartlett), in this episode. Rose and Blanche don’t like Barbara as they feel that she treats everyone else condescendingly and uses her intelligence to make everyone else look stupid. Dorothy makes the difficult choice of attending the exclusive Mortimer Club at Barbara’s request, or the Masquerade Ball, which means so much to Rose.
25. Till Death Do We Volley (Season 4, Episode 19)
A childhood friend named Trudy (played by Anne Francis) visits Dorothy in Miami. The old friends -- and occasionally, rivals -- play a spirited game of tennis when Trudy suddenly drops dead on the court. Dorothy is in shock, and so is everyone else when Trudy gets up and reveals that she was only playing practical jokes.
How many episodes does Golden Girls have?
Golden Girls has a total of 180 episodes spanning seven seasons. The pilot aired on September 14, 1985, and ended with the season finale on May 9, 1992. The series featured plenty of holiday-themed episodes, such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas Day.
What’s the highest-rated episode in Golden Girls?
The highest-rated episode of Golden Girls is the show’s finale, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It was the perfect mix of absurd and adorable, with heartwarming and touching scenes throughout its run time. Fans say it was the perfect way to end such a phenomenal show.
What’s the funniest Golden Girls episode?
Each Golden Girls episode is chock full of laughs, but we have to say that nothing tops “Ladies of the Evening.” Our sides were definitely splitting when the three ladies were mistaken for prostitutes, and we couldn’t deny that we were thinking exactly what Sophia was thinking: “I can't believe these dumb cops would think anybody would pay money to sleep with you!”
There isn’t a shortage of laughter and lessons to be shared when it comes to the best episodes of the Golden Girls. Fans actually clamored for more Golden fun that there even was a spinoff right after the show ended, aptly named the Golden Palace! Sadly, the pilot episode did not receive the same warm welcome from viewers, and it only lasted one season.
Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite Golden Girls episode? Let us know! And oh, if you’re looking for Golden Girls merch, we have that right here!