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The 25 Best Glee Episodes, Ranked

High school might either suck or be defined as the “glory days.” Boy meets girl, nerd ends up having a makeover, the cheerleader/jock hierarchy. This narrative is as old as time, but portraying the high school reality with a musical twist and a knack for ahead-of-its-time storytelling? Call that groundbreaking! Glee aired in 2009, highlighting never-seen-before representation in television mixed with sing-alongs from the latest hits to the old-school classics. Yes, the songs your parents listened to could well enough be in your Spotify playlist after listening to the covers.

The truth is, whether you’re watching Glee for the first time like Olivia Rodrigo or revisiting the show years later, you will feel seen! Now, you might as well be aware that it is not all rainbows and butterflies here. In a first attempt to bring underrepresented groups to the screen and tackle social issues, Glee often could have done better. However, on this list, you will find all the times that Ryan Murphy’s production succeeded and reminded viewers: “Don’t stop believing.”

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25. “2009” (Season 6, Episode 12)


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Season 6 was arguably the worst way to end Glee, but it had a few good moments. This episode is one of those notable exceptions. The show throwbacks to a prequel of its pilot episode and fills in the gaps about how Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Artie (Kevin McHale), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Will (Matthew Morrison), and Sue (Jane Lynch) were like before the Glee Club was reinstalled at McKinley. Not only do we notice how much the characters evolved throughout the seasons, but we also come to understand why they chose to audition in the first place. It is also heart-wrenching to rewatch the last scene of the first episode knowing that Finn (Cory Monteith) wasn’t able to make it to the end.

24. “Girls (and Boys) on Film” (Season 4, Episode 15)


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A soundtrack is a movie’s best friend. And that’s probably why this episode deserves a bit more recognition. Will is desolate after Emma (Jayma Mays) leaves him at the altar and he only finds solace in old Hollywood films. Inspired by their soundtracks, Will assigns the New Directions a girls vs. boys competition with mashups that include unforgettable songs on the big screen. The music numbers are all brilliant and we just can’t help but feel emotional when Will attempts to win Emma back just like John Cusak in Say Anything.

23. “Glease” (Season 4, Episode 6)


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There were many ups and downs coming from the New Directions’ second generation, but we have to admit that their drama production of Grease was on point! Although Marley (Melissa Benoist) is clearly fit to portray Sandy before the makeover, she still deals with a lot of insecurities regarding her appearance. Perhaps unexpectedly, having to embrace the tight black outfit is what it takes for her to feel good in her own skin for once. An honorable mention here is the scene in which “You Are the One That I Want” begins to play and the OG couples reminisce on their star-crossed romances.

22. “Rumours” (Season 2, Episode 19)


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There are a lot of moments when Glee was able to introduce classic 70s and 80s rock to an audience that wasn’t into the original tunes. Before the Tik Tok skateboard guy brought “Dreams” back to the Billboard Hot 100 while sipping on cranberry juice, there were the New Directions, covering every song from the classic Fleetwood Mac album. Amidst the rumors circulating in the school paper, we were able to witness the first of many editions of Brittany’s (Heather Morris) hilarious video interview series “Fondue for Two.”

21. “Duets” (Season 2, Episode 4)


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Finally, a duet competition that doesn’t have Rachel and Finn as the obvious choice. Even if they weren’t really trying their best to nail the assignment of the week, it was great to see Santana (Naya Rivera) and Mercedes bring the house down with Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High.” They deserved the Breadsticks prize, but it was cute to see Ken and Barbie, a.k.a. Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron), attend their first date after their sweet “Lucky” duet.

20. “Mash-off” (Season 3, Episode 6)


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The “Troubletones” were simply a highlight, am I right or am I right? Mercedes, Santana, and Brittany quit the New Directions in order to have more solo opportunities, which is something we all know the characters struggle with if they aren’t Rachel or Blaine (Darren Criss). Gladly, they get the chance to show everyone their wasted potential in the notorious Adele mashup of “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You.” This episode also ends on a harsh note when Finn outs Santana before she is ready to speak about her feelings aloud. It’s a pivotal moment for Santana’s character arch in the series.

19. “New Directions” (Season 5, Episode 13)


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After the OG cast came to celebrate the last few moments before the choir room is shut down (temporarily), they enjoy their last moments together with some reconciliation. Rachel and Santana had a series of unnecessary confrontations throughout season 5, but for our relief, they finally solve the problem with a “Be Okay” sing-along. This episode also brings back two iconic guest stars, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristin Chenoweth, as they try their best to save the glee club from its fated end. We’ve listened to “Don’t Stop Believing” a million times on the show, but it never hurts to listen to it again.

18. “Guilty Pleasures” (Season 4, Episode 17)


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This episode is no-pun-intended, a guilty pleasure for the fans. When Blaine and Sam share their secret music obsessions with each other, they convince the rest of the New Directions to do the same. Many might disagree, but “Mamma Mia” is one of the most underrated covers on Glee. It kind of makes you sad that the writers decided to not do the whole musical.

17. “Blame it on the Alcohol” (Season 2, Episode 14)


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It’s alcohol awareness week at McKinley, which means this is the episode with the greatest amount of drinking on-screen. Yet, there isn’t a better way to send a message across than showing everything literally out of control. From Rachel wearing the most horrendous dress ever and saying that her drink tastes “like pink”, to the “Tik Tok” number becoming a throw-up party, this crazy combination became legendary. And yes, at some point we did root for Rachel and Blaine, even if we don’t openly admit it.

16. “Dance With Somebody” (Season 3, Episode 17)


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The tribute episodes have always stood out in Glee because they demonstrate the impact that pop icons have on the younger generation. For instance, in this Whitney Houston homage that takes place two months after her passing, we notice how her songs reflect the mixed feelings that the characters are going through both in their romantic relationships and interpersonal thoughts. While the memorable Brittana cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is filled with joy, we also encounter the contrary when Kurt and Blaine fight and Blaine sings “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK.” In addition, here is an honorable mention to Quinn and Joe (Samuel Larson), a couple that deserved a little more time together after the chemistry-driven performance of “Saving All My Love.”

15. “100” (Season 5, Episode 12)


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Having almost all the OG cast walk into the McKinley halls after graduation is in itself a tear-jerking moment. In the 100th episode of the series, the former New Directions come back to say goodbye to the choir room after the announcement that Sue would hijack the glee club definitively. They also end up revisiting their favorite songs from the previous seasons, leading viewers to instant nostalgia. Although the rest of the season went downhill after this episode, just listening to the “Defying Gravity” diva-off or Puck’s (Mark Salling) acoustic version of “Keep Holding On” helps remind the viewers what made them fall in love with the show in the first place.

14. “Never Been Kissed” (Season 2, Episode 6)


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Those that have witnessed the girls vs. boys’ mashup competition in season 1 know that these performances are iconic. In “Never Been Kissed,” it is no different. This time the girls and boys must sing tracks from performers of the opposite gender. The idea came after Will noticed the impact of Karovsky’s (Max Adler) bullying towards Kurt, making the character feel no longer protected from harassment in the school. Kurt then pays a visit to Dalton Academy, the place in which the second-best show choir group (according to the fans) comes from. Just like Kurt, everyone fell head over heels with the new addition to the series: Blaine Anderson. Darren Criss, Katy Perry might have come up with “Teenage Dream,” but you took it to a whole other level! No wonder this was the first Glee cover to land on the top of the Billboard Digital Chart.

13. “On My Way” (Season 3, Episode 14)


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Glee has many light-hearted moments, but it also brings up some heavy subjects that were often perceived as taboo. “On My Way” is a great example of this. Up to this moment, all the viewers are aware of Karovsky’s sexuality, but only a few people inside the show actually know about it. When the secret is revealed to his school, Karovsky decides to die by suicide. The scene accompanied by Blaine’s take on “Cough Syrup” is one of the most painful ever to air on television. It is not graphic like the one in 13 Reasons Why, but it serves the purpose. This issue was raised with so much care in this episode, displaying the importance of a teen show addressing this topic.

12. “Journey to Regionals” (Season 1, Episode 22)


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“Don’t Stop Believing” is probably the song that fully represents the essence of Glee. It is also the song that inspired Mr. Schuester to convince the glee club to not give up before Regionals. When Sue announces that she will be one of the judges of the competition, it seems like all the hope is gone. Yet, the New Directions take a stand with what they do best: singing covers of Journey. Despite the loss, the audience finds out that Sue votes in favor of them. There is a lot to unpack in this episode. From the amazing Vocal Adrenaline performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to Quinn giving birth, “Journey to Regionals” was a perfectly structured season finale.

11. “Furt” (Season 2, Episode 8)


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Ahhh, weddings! They bring people together. Literally! As Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) and Carol Hudson (Romy Rosemont) head to the altar, there is an obstacle. Their sons. Kurt is constantly threatened by Karovsky, and in response, Rachel calls out on all the glee club boys to defend him. However, Finn does not feel comfortable confronting his football teammates and is afraid of diminishing his reputation as the Quarterback. This behavior makes Burt almost step away from marrying Finn’s mom, given that his family comes first. Throughout this episode, Kurt and Finn reconcile and the New Directions sing two memorable Bruno Mars hits.

10. “The Power of Madonna” (Season 1, Episode 15)


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The Madonna special was the first of many tribute episodes in Glee. Despite the “Vogue” singer having left the spotlight at the time, her exulting power and significance inspires each character in a different way. Especially Sue! The cheerleading coach always criticized Mr. Schue’s music selections, but this was not the case here. In “The Power of Madonna,” Sue opens up about her insecurities as she embraces Madonna’s looks in a remake of the “Vogue” music video. “Like a Virgin” is also a highlight, since each couple makes a conscientious decision of how their relationships will proceed.

9. “Goodbye” (Season 3, Episode 22)


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If Glee hadn’t been renewed for three more seasons, this episode would have been the perfect wrap-up. After being defeated for two years in a row, the New Directions come back to McKinley with a trophy and popularity. With graduation right around the corner, half of the glee club members have to say goodbye to their peers. Rachel Berry ends up leaving to New York without Finn, a moment that was necessary for her personal growth, but also let fans imagine how she and Finn would get back together in the future. Unfortunately, little did we know what lied ahead. Aside from the tears rolling at the sound of “Roots Before Branches”, it is sweet to see Mercedes, Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.), Santana, Quinn, Kurt, and Puck in pursuit of their dreams.

8. “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” (Season 2, Episode 5)


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There were three musicals featured in the series, but one of them stands out. “Rocky Horror” is not exactly the type of musical you envision in a high school drama production. However, there isn’t a musical that makes more sense to the glee club than this one. Mr. Schuester’s intent was to win Emma back, but he soon finds out that “Rocky Horror” is the perfect fit for the New Directions, because it exalts the outcasts and embraces each person’s identity. Finn and Sam deal with body image struggles, while Mercedes finally feels good in her own skin. “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” is eccentric and the soundtrack is worth the repeat.

7. “The Break-Up” (Season 4, Episode 4)


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Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is already a sad song, let alone after a break-up. In this case, three break-ups! Finn feels out of place in New York and on top of that, he can detect Rachel and Brody’s chemistry from miles away. Blaine misses spending time with Kurt so much he opts for cheating on him instead. Santana states that her relationship with Brittany is no longer working, since her priorities have changed. Three break-ups with three iconic covers. Here is a shout-out to “Teenage Dream” (piano version), “Mine,” and “The Scientist,” of course!

6. “Nationals” (Season 3, Episode 21)


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It took three seasons, but they made it! The New Directions won their first trophy in the Nationals, and this one was well-deserved. The singing and dancing was on-point this time and there was no surprise kiss to ruin it all (cough cough Finchel). Rachel’s performance of “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” even wowed Carmen Tibedoux (Whoopi Goldberg), landing her the dream spot in NYADA. The win was emotional for the fans, but it hit a bit harder when Mr. Schuester won Teacher of the Year, and everyone in the auditorium sang “We Are the Champions.” A killer Queen track for a long-awaited Glee occasion.

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