While there’s no such thing as a bad episode of Veronica Mars, some are definitely better and more beloved than others. Consider this the definitive ranking of the best Veronica Mars episodes of all time.
Before we jump into our list, let’s take a moment to define exactly what qualities we look for in determining the best Veronica Mars episodes:
- The episode must be heart-warming and/or heart-pounding.
- The snark and humor must be on point.
- The episode must be one that stands out in our minds immediately when we just think about and reflect on the series as a whole.
- The episode must include at least one memorable or iconic scene.
As we mentioned, there truly is no such thing as a bad episode of Veronica Mars. After all, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Creator Rob Thomas is a genius. And Kristen Bell? Perfection. Jason Dohring? *SWOON*
You get the idea.
So what are the best Veronica Mars episodes of all time? Read on to find out!
10. ‘Normal Is the Watchword’ (season 2, episode 1)
The end of “Leave It to Beaver,” the season 1 finale, leaves quite a few questions unanswered while also posing new ones. What makes the first episode of Veronica Mars season 2 so notable is the way it plays with audience expectations by taking a leisurely stroll through the months between the two seasons, refusing to reveal any answers to the questions fans are dying to find out.
While love triangles can be exhausting, “Normal Is the Watchword” expertly handles the Logan/Veronica/Duncan situation to its advantage, jumping back and forth between the pairings enough to frustrate but still entertain. Then, when it feels like all of the upcoming season’s character elements have been laid out, it introduces the bus crash in the episode’s final moments. What a perfect way to kick off a new season of a show.
9. ‘Spring Break Forever’ (season 4, episode 1)
The Veronica Mars season 4 premiere is everything an episode of our favorite television show should be: Witty but emotional, light-hearted but not without its dark shadows. It’s the perfect comfort food television for devoted Veronica Mars fans. “Spring Break Forever” feels like a true return to the show we all know and love so fiercely, but with all of the necessary updates for the modern day climate and character evolutions.
Its structure closely mirrors that of “Normal is the Watchword” with how it catches the audience up on what has been going on, lays out tantalizing breadcrumbs for things to come, and introduces the horrific event that sets off the season’s overarching mystery at the very end of the episode. “Spring Break Forever” is definitely going to make the re-watch lists of Marshmallows everywhere.
8. ‘Mars vs. Mars’ (season 1, episode 14)
Though he’s lovely and plays this writer’s favorite character in Parks & Recreation, thanks to this episode, Adam Scott will always have a creepy vibe to him in the minds of Marshmallows everywhere. Pitted against Leighton Meester’s outspoken and protective character Carrie Bishop, Scott does a great job portraying a character that can be both charming and predatory. His character twist, in addition to watching Keith and Veronica work so adamantly against each other, makes for an addictive episode of television.
7. ‘Spit & Eggs’ (season 3, episode 9)
We can all agree that the third season, as a whole, wasn’t the series’ best. However, the conclusion of the first overarching mystery of the season is a heart-stopping, wild ride from start to finish.
Reminiscent of the final minutes of “Of Vice and Men” where Mercer Hayes stalks a drugged Veronica into a parking lot only to be deterred from raping her by the appearance of Logan, “Spit & Eggs” is anxiety-inducing in its relentless chain of horrifying events. True to mystery finale form, the twist in this episode (where the RA is actually in on the rape scheme with Mercer) doesn’t disappoint. This episode is a true high point of Veronica Mars season 3 (well, as much of a high point as a story about a serial rapist can be).
6. ‘Weapons of Class Destruction’ (season 1, episode 18)
LoVe’s first kiss and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. What other explanation is really needed to cement this as one of the best Veronica Mars episodes? What starts as a pretty run-of-the-mill high school bomb threat episodes evolves into so much more once Logan gets involved in the investigation.
Up until this point, Logan and Veronica’s chemistry was pretty apparent, but the moment the unexpectedly two kiss, it’s like their chemistry evolves from smoldering embers to a raging fire. Add that in with guest star JTT, who’s throwing massive shade as a douchebag ATF agent, and you’ve got the makings of quite a memorable episode.
5. ‘An Echolls Family Christmas’ (season 1, episode 10)
There’s so much to love about this episode from the first season. The central mystery surrounding the poker night is cleverly done and leads to a surprising but really satisfying conclusion. Watching Veronica interact with so many guys with large personalities and who all dislike her for one reason or another, and yet best them all by the end is nothing short of gratifying.
This episode is also great in how it primes the audience for the crazy twist at the end of the season, demonstrating just how terrible and abusive Aaron Echolls can be. While many shows’ holiday episodes are a bit of an unnecessary farce, this one uses the holiday season as its backdrop rather than its reason for existing, which makes all the difference.
4. ‘Pilot’ (season 1, episode 1)
As far as pilots go, Veronica Mars‘s is definitely one of the most well-done. The first episode of the series does a masterful job of not only introducing the audience to all of the characters as well as the unique setting and mysteries, but doing it in a way that makes us care about all of these aspects immediately. Given how many threads and characters are presented in the pilot, that’s no small feat. Plus, it’s always wonderful to go back and revisit all of the baby versions of our favorite characters as well as one of the most famous lines of the whole series: “You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars.”
3. ‘A Trip to the Dentist’ (season 1, episode 21)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more emotionally-packed episode in this series. Mainly focused on one of the first season’s two overarching mysteries, “A Trip to the Dentist” explores what happened the night Veronica was raped in a way that’s both heart-breaking and liberating.
This episode could have been incredibly painful to watch given its subject, but it’s so well-done and handles its sensitive subjects (both rape and potential incest) with such care that it’s an episode that dedicated Veronica Mars fans can’t help but re-watch often. And then, on top of all of that, the hidden camera reveal at the very end? Genius.
2. ‘Not Pictured’ (season 2, episode 22)
It was difficult to imagine any other Veronica Mars season finale being of the same caliber as that of the first season. However, the season 2 finale truly delivers. The expert writing, incredible performances, and ties in to the first season make “Not Pictured” one of the best Veronica Mars episodes of all time.
The twist around Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas being a twisted mass-murderer and rapist took us all by surprise (especially those of us here at Hypable). Veronica’s desperate pleas to Beaver to save her father and the reveal that Beaver, not Duncan, raped her at the 09er party still haunt the most dedicated Marshmallows.
1. ‘Leave It to Beaver’ (season 1, episode 22)
For those of us who worship the show, this is the best of the best episodes of Veronica Mars, hands down. It’s the one we’ll always remember and will never be able to forget. Aaron Echolls going fully off the rails is nothing short of terrifying and watching Veronica fear for both her life and Keith’s is heartbreaking. Though the season made it clear a twist would be coming at the end, it still comes as a complete surprise. “Leave It to Beaver” is truly one of the most compelling hours of television in history.
Bonus: ‘Play It Again, Dick’!
Okay, so Play It Again, Dick, the short-lived and absolutely hilarious meta comedy web series that focuses on Ryan Hansen and his campaign to get a Veronica Mars spin-off featuring his character Dick Casablancas greenlit, isn’t technically canon in the world of Veronica Mars. Hell, it isn’t even technically canon in the real world as all of the actors involved are playing heightened and ludicrous versions of themselves.
However, this miniseries (which, if you add up the series’ total runtime, amounts to about an episode or so of Veronica Mars) is one of the most entertaining things a Marshmallow could ever watch in their entire life. It has the perfect blend of humor and heartfelt Veronica Mars nostalgia. We can’t recommend Play It Again, Dick enough.