Don’t Touch that Dial: The Brilliant TV References in WandaVision

The MCU has given us an abundance of entertaining and thrilling movies and TV shows from Iron Man and The Avengers to Agent Carter and Agents of Shield. When they announced the slew of MCU shows for Disney Plus, I was beyond excited with WandaVision being the most intriguing of the bunch, especially after the concept and promo teasers were released. It looked so fun and creative but also very emotional. Now with 4 episodes released I can safely say that this show is absolutely brilliant in its creativity, attention to detail and poignancy. 

I’m not here to point out all the comic book references and Easter eggs as well as theorize (at least in relation to these details). I’ll leave that to others with more knowledge on that. Instead I will offer one of my areas of expertise with the show’s meta concept and use of sitcoms because not only does to this appeal to my taste and knowledge, but because I am blown away by the level of care, intricacy and intelligence by which this concept is employed aesthetically and thematically. I am part of the Nick at Nite generation who grew up watching classic sitcoms on repeat so diving into WandaVision in this sense is a treat.

Taking a look at all of the television references in WandaVision’s set design and architecture, fashion, plot and character beats, each of which is obviously well thought out, these homages are both complex and original with perhaps deeper meanings. Loving homages, parodies and spoofs are quite prevalent in film and we can see the influence for certain. A film like Enchanted is a cross between a loving homage and a parody as it is self referential and self deprecating in its humor while still remaining true to its heart and sincerity. The same can be said for The Brady Bunch movies, although these skew a bit more towards spoof. And there is definitely that kind of feel with this Marvel show. But what makes WandaVision so brilliant is that it’s all of these things combined with something entirely different. Let us dive into all the incredible classic TV homages and references.

– Set Design and Architecture 
Episode 1: The most prominent influence for the set design for Wanda and Vision’s house is The Dick Van Dyke Show. The floor plan is nearly identical to Rob and Laura Petrie’s home specifically the living room and kitchen. The sofa, dining table, door and window frames to the kitchen, as well as the left side of the kitchen with its island, stove and sliding door leading outside are the same.

The are some differences however. The metal stove and brick fireplace and detail is on the opposite end of the living area instead of right by the kitchen, and there is no door leading to a bedroom like in the Petrie House. The WandaVision home also has more space in the kitchen. While very similar, the Vision’s kitchen is definitely larger. 

What’s interesting to me is that generally speaking Episode 1 is said to be influenced by the 50s when actually it seems to be both the 50s and early 60s in terms of the architecture (and some character traits that I will discuss) as The Dick Van Dyke Show ran from 1961-1966.

Episode 2: This episode has a few influences but the most prominent is Bewitched with part of living room and dining room identical to the 60s magical sitcom. The door way and entry is also similar to the home of Samatha and Darren Stevens but the front part of the living room is quite different. 

Wanda and Vision’s bedroom seems to have multiple influences. It’s similar in its design to the Steven’s home but the separate beds and more akin the Petrie’s on The Dick Van Dyke show as well as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s bedroom on I Love Lucy. When Wanda first moves the beds together it resembles the Ricardos bedroom early on which had 2 beds pushed together before censors required them to be separated in later seasons. 

And when she makes them into one bed the Bewitched comparison is complete as not only does this resemble that home’s aesthetics but Bewitched was the first sitcom to show a couple sleeping in the same bed that were portrayed by actors who were not married themselves, which was a big milestone in the history of television. 

For the first two episodes the look of the neighborhood is definitely akin to to the look of typical TV suburban neighborhoods we saw in the 50s and 60s. Interesting enough another show feels referenced here as the neighborhood of Westview most closely resembles Mayfield from Leave in to Beaver.

Episode 3: Now in color with another different set design, the most prominent influence is most certainly The Brady Bunch. We see a similar entrance, steps down into the living room, the iconic tile work, staircase and planter, and a similar living area with sliding glass doors that leads onto a patio.

Although the overall layout is quite different the influence in the design is obvious from the large dining table, to the bright colors in the kitchen and various things that decorate the home. There’s a television and record player as well as giraffe and lion statues reminiscent of the Brady family room and infamous horse statue by their staircase.

The opening credits also features Vision constructing a swing set that he and Wanda are then seen swinging on. Both the yard and this play structure are near carbon copies of that of The Brady Bunch.

The WandaVision home also features a similar architectural element found in the Brady home: brightly colored glass in a rectangular design. These are called Mondrians as they are influenced by the artist Pier Mondrian. 

The home itself is given a 70s look and out of all of them so far had the most obvious influences to me. Their home looks like a combination of the Brady Bunch home as well as Major Nelson’s house from I Dream of Jeannie.

Episode 5: Shifting into the 80s the Vision home now most closely resembles the Keaton household from the popular sitcom Family Ties. Their living room and kitchen are very nearly the same, but just like in the previous episodes some things are flipped and in different positions. In this case, in the living room, the entry and kitchen doors are in opposite positions, while in the kitchen the dining room table is on the left instead of the right. But the similarities are deliberate and striking. Both kitchen even have a Kiss the Cook sign in the exact same place.

The questions that arise when analyzing the set design is why are there both similarities and differences? Why not be completely the same or something entirely different but still set in the proper time period. I believe this a reflection of what this world or “reality” Wanda and Vision are living in truly is. If much of this is Wanda’s creation or influence it would make sense for things to not be identical and a strange combination of many different sitcoms. Wanda as we know is from Sokovia and it’s not uncommon for those in other countries to learn English and about the Western world from television, especially classic television such as sitcoms. If taken from Wanda’s memories and impressions growing up, these design elements being close but not exactly like the shows makes a great deal of sense when considering Wanda’s character. This would also account for the ways Episode 1 had influences from both the 50s and 60s. This is not a straightforward parody show. What we are looking at is a construct that we as an audience can recognize as simultaneously a loving reference and an illusion for the characters reside in.

For a real treat I highly recommend visiting to YouTube channel Marina Coates- Mockingbird Lane. There she creates computer renderings of classic tv homes and more and they amazing in their accuracy. Plus it’s simply fun to tour these classic abodes. Her channel can be found here: https://youtube.com/c/MarinaCoatesMockingbirdLane

– Fashion:
Episode 1: Wanda’s fashion in episode 1 “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” definitely is 50s influenced. Although the set design was very much The Dick Van Dyke Show, the dresses Wanda wears are not very Laura Petrie at all, although the character did wear them. Instead Wanda’s attire is on par with the atypical 50s housewife. Her shirt dress, apron and pearls most closely resemble the fashion of June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver, Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy, Margaret Anderson from Father Knows Best, and Donna Stone from The Donna Reed Show as these ladies wore similar attire throughout the runs of each of their respective shows. 

The evening cocktail dress she magically transforms into is also very 50s inspired, reminding me especially of the cocktail dress Lucy wears in the Season 5 Episode of I Love Lucy “Housewarming.” 

These dresses are perfectly fitting for the era reflecting Wanda’s desire to fit into this new town. While filmed in black and white we know that her dresses are light blue as opposed to her signature striking red color, driving home that idea of Wanda wanting to blend into her surroundings and not stand out

Similarly, Vision’s attire is the timeless suit and tie that works both at the office and at home and is reminiscent of every tv husband of 50s and 60s sitcoms from Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy  and Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show, to Darren Stephens in Bewitched, Ward Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver and Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best. 

What’s interesting to note is the tie Vision wears is very similar to one Ricky wears in many episodes of I Love Lucy, both featuring a dot design. What’s brilliant is that it’s both a homage and reference to another character’s attire as well a reflection of the state of Vision’s character. The design is changed. Instead of a long string of dots there are two dots inside a rectangle with a few on the outside, reflecting how he and Wanda and enclosed inside this TV world with others on the outside.

Episode 2: In “Don’t touch that Dial” we see a clear cut 60s influence for Wanda reminiscent of two characters. The first is the episode’s main homage. Samantha Stevens on Bewitched wore Capri pants and fitted shirts and sweaters on many occasions, even in the same color scheme as Wanda does as we see the switch from black and white to color at the end of the episode. Unlike the 50s episode, Wanda is being more herself. She wants to fit in but is incorporating more of her own sense of style in color and form. 

The fact that she is dressed differently than all the other women is mentioned on more than one occasion. First by Agnes, and then by Geraldine/Monica who calls her pants “peachy keen.” Wanda expresses her worry over this stating that all the other women are in dresses. This actually is two fold in its meaning. Firstly, it represents the ever changing nature of this reality and Wanda’s attempt to adapt while still being true to who she is. Whether this is on a subconscious level remains to be seen.  It’s also a direct reference to another character who dared to wear pants on the regular despite censors objecting. Mary Tyler Moore fought and hard and won for her character Laura to wear pants regularly in The Dick Van Dyke Show as it reflected a realistic look at how women’s fashion is varied and more relaxed while at home. 

Wanda’s outfit therefore is not only cute, appropriate for the era and strikingly similar to classic sitcom characters, but also reflects both her characters’s strength and the rising era of feminism in the 1960s. It’s a simple detail but brilliant in its multiplicity. 

Vision’s attire may not have multiple meanings but is in direct comparison to sitcom characters of the era. Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show definitely wore cardigans like one Vision wears. But unsurprisingly this sweater looks just like one Darren Stevens on Bewitched wore, and this episode’s main influence is indeed Bewitched

Episode 3: While the fashion that we see in episode 3 “Now in Color” is most assuredly of the 70s era, the fashion feels more fast and loose with the specificity. Instead, the fashions we see in the opening theme and the episode itself are simply reflective of 1970s attire and sitcoms in a general sense with influences including The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Three’s Company, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. I will say that it’s interesting how Wanda’s striped dress matches the Mondrian art glass in her living room. Is it a reference to the Infinity Stones which were the source of her power?

Episode 5: “On a Very Special Episode” takes up into the 80s in full force as far as fashion, from Wanda’s high waisted jeans and suspenders, and turtleneck and vest ensemble to Agnes’s Jazzercise workout clothes., not to mention their very big curly hair. While not specifically influenced by any one character, much like the 70s gar, it is simply reflective of the era. Vision’s wardrobe on the other hand is most certainly influenced by Stephen Keaton’s from Family Ties.

– Plot and Character
The general concept of the series of people with powers that want to lead an everyday life or knowing someone as such and keeping it a secret is not only the perfect compliment to Wanda and Vision’s characters, but also something seen in television, most especially sitcoms throughout the decades. As we saw in Avengers: Infinity War, Wanda and Vision were hiding away in Scotland seeking peaceful moments and normalcy. Sitcom wise, in the 50s there was My Favorite Martian, in the 60s there was Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, in the 80s there was Alf, Small Wonder and Out of this World, and in the 90s was Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. I am also reminded the Disney Channel movie trilogy from the 80s Not Quite Human, about a man who build a android son. There is obviously a more meta and complicated aspect to WandaVision, but the basic structure is an obvious starting point. Beyond this set up, each episode has references and illusions to sitcoms with the character dynamics and plots of each episode.

Episode 1: This episode is said to represent the 50s, but as stated already there is both a 50s and 60s influence. The plot of the episode where Vision’s boss and his wife come over for dinner and troubles, shenanigans and hilarity ensues is very much like The Dick Van Dyke Show Season 1 episode “Sol and the Sponser.” In that episode an army Buddy of Rob’s invites himself over for dinner, causing issues with his behavior and like Wanda needing to get dinner together quickly, he and Laura must find a way to stretch dinner for 4 to 6 people. Mr. and Mrs. Hart are even very similar to the Sponsor and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Bermont. There also some similarities in plot to I Love Lucy. The Heart drawn on the calendar is similar to when Lucy draws a circle on the calendar in the Season 2 episode “The Anniversary Present” as a subtle hint for Ricky to remember their wedding anniversary. This is of course interesting as Wanda and Vision do not have one. The dinner shenanigans are also similar to the season 2 episode “Lucy’s Schedule” especially with the scrambling to get dinner and the gruff boss.

Moreover, the commercial break for the Toast Mate 2000 toaster is a clear homage to Lucy and Ricky. Not only do those in the commercial bear a striking resemblance to Lucy and Ricky, but there was also a running joke about Lucy always burning the toast. There is also Lucy’s propensity to buy new fangled gadgets like the Toast Mate seen in “Sales Resistance” when Lucy cannot resist buying Handy Dandy products.

One of the most interesting moments of the episode is when the carefree sitcom vibe briefly disappears and is replaced with a more eerie feeling. When Mr. Hart is choking and his wife repeating says “stop it” notice how the camera movement and shots drastically change, and that black and white hue is even slightly altered to a cooler more blue tone. This surreal and serious moment is very much akin to The Twilight Zone.

The character comparisons for Episode 1 are also a mixture of 50s and 60s sitcoms. Wanda has similarities to Laura Petrie, Lucy Ricardo and Samantha Stevens. How often were there things floating through the air in Bewitched like Wanda does in kitchen? Practically every episode!

Vision is very much like Rob Petrie. The opening credits even pays homage to Van Dyke either tripping or side stepping an ottoman in the opening credits with Vision going straight through a chair.

There is also a bit of Ward Cleaver thrown in when it comes to his workplace. This is definitely interesting as it’s actually a bit of a Mandela effect, which is something that is commonly known but not truly accurate. Over the years there’s been the common conception that we never know what the sitcom husbands of the 50s and 60s did for work. Vision questioning this is an illusion to that and could be an homage to Ward Cleaver as his job, was never perfectly clear. However, in actuality we do know what most of these characters did: Ricky Ricardo was an entertainer and band leader, Rob Petrie was a comedy writer, Father Knows Best’s Jim Andersen worked in insurance and Darren Stevens in advertising. The fact that they took the approach they did makes sense since this world is am imaginary construct made up of many different elements.

Their neighbor Agnes is being closely compared to Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from Bewitched. But she is really a combination of Mrs. Kravitz, Millie Helper, the Petrie’s neighbor on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Betty Ramsey, the neighbor to the Ricardos when they move to Connecticut in I Love Lucy. Betty even has a husband named Ralph just like Agnes. And Like these women Agnes is instantly chummy and always nearby to offer her two cents. Watch the season 5 episodes of I Love Lucy “Lucy Gets Chummy with the Neighbors” and “Lucy Raises Chickens” and the comparisons will be obvious.

When it comes to Vison and Wanda together, their romantic and comedic chemistry is quite similar to Rob and Laura Petrie. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were natural and wonderful together and portrayed Rob and Laura as being very affectionate and flirty with each other. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany bring that same romantic, sweet and flirtatious chemistry into Wanda and Vision’s characters perfectly as they most assuredly fit into this world but still feel true to character deep down. A specific comparison was obvious to me initially. Vision commenting on the negligee Wanda is wearing with gusto and appreciation reminds me of the Season 2 episode “Don’t Trip Over the Mountain” in which Rob and Laura have a fight about him going skiing and when he returns she is wearing a beautiful negligee- a signifier that she wants to make up and Rob, like Vision, is intrigued but frustrated because he can’t do anything about it at the moment. Vision must entertain his boss and Rob has injured himself.

This dynamic is something that continues in the subsequent episodes as well. The way they dance in the opening credits and at the end of episode 2 is very similar to the way the Petries would often dance together in their living room.

Episode 2: Plot and character wise we still see the influences of The Dick Van Dyke Show but the most prominent one is Bewitched. The plot of the episode is similar to the Season 1 episode “It’s Magic” where Samantha assists in a magic act in a way that astounds the audience much like Wanda and Vision’s Magic act.

While there are still Rob and Laura vibes for Wanda and Vision together, there is most definitely Samantha and Darren ones too. Wanda wants to fit in and be a part of the community but not let her magic be known much like Samantha. Vision’s confusion and frustration, especially with the gum, but in the end acceptance and reaffirming his affection for Wanda is very much like the way Darren would be exasperated at the use of witchcraft but in the end all that he cared about was his love for Samantha.

Paul Bettany once again was influenced by Van Dyke in his performance in the opening scene where Vision and Wanda are frightened of a noise outside their bedroom window. The way Vision fearfully tugs the bed sheets towards his face and bites them is just like Rob watching a scary film in the Season 2 “It May Look Like a Walnut.”

The eerie- ness and change in tone and camera movements away from the sitcom style in the moment where a bee keeper emerges from the sewer once again had the surreal and uncertainty seen frequently in The Twilight Zone

The way the color changes from black and white to color at the end of the episode is not only a signifier of another change in decade coming but a clear allusion to sitcoms who changed their filming during their run. The most obvious is the episode’s main influence Bewitched; but this also occurred in many other sitcoms including I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show and Get Smart.

Episode 3: Although the plot and character influences are not that specific, there are still obvious homages to 1970s shows like The Partridge Family, Three’s Company and most especially The Brady Bunch. The plot has no direct connection as I far as I can tell but the humor and hijinks have that 70s feel. The doctor making a house call feels very much like instances where that occurred in the Brady house. Seeing the washing machine overflow is akin to Bobby overflowing the machine with too many soap suds in the Season 4 episode “Law and Disorder.” And Vision practices changing a diaper on the doll Kitty Karryall, Cindy Brady’s favorite doll that she adored. 

The song heard at the end of the episode had a bit of a double meaning and usage. “DayDream Believer” is performed by the Monkees and lead singer Davy Jones is Marcia Brady’s favorite, even promising he would sing at a school dance based on a fan letter she received back. He if course does indeed fulfill that promise.

The lyrics to “Daydream Believer” are also reminiscent of the concept of this alternate reality Wanda and Vision are living in. They are in a bit of a dream world and when things get serious, Wanda reverses things or eliminated threats to this illusion. Although not exactly the same as, this is comparable to the man in the song trying to cheer up and make things perfect again for his girl. 

Episode 5: The most notable thing about “On a Very Special Episode” is the mix of classic family sitcom humor and more serious moments. The title and this plot element signifies that this episode is reflecting something that actually began in the late 70s but really took off in the 80s and into the 90s. When these normally carefree and humorous sitcoms began to include more serious subject matter, these became known as very special episodes. This episode of WandaVision reflects this trend with the ways death, marital fighting and other things were brought into the episode much like other sitcoms who tackled such serious issues such as alcoholism and sexual harassment in Family Ties, drug use and the consequences of drunk driving in Growing Pains, pedophilia in Different Strokes and Mr. Belvedere, rape, domestic abuse and the aids epidemic in Designing Women, eating disorders, peer pressure and child abuse in Full House, and teenage sex, drugs, alcoholism and eating disorders in Blossom, the show in which the phrase “A Very Special Episode” was coined.


– Additional Details and Questions: I found it humorous how the meat tenderizer that Wanda hands to Vision resembles Thor’s hammer. He is worthy after all. Does this mean Wanda is too?

The opening and end credits each feature a different theme song written by award winning song writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and composer Christophe Beck . They each reflect the era perfectly and are in direct comparison to other sitcoms of those decades. The episode 1 music has a 50s vibes feel much like I Love Lucy although it’s more of an overall vibe of that era. The others however are obvious. The 60s feel of episode 2 is clearly a take off of the opening credits of Bewitched.

Watch a side by side comparison here: https://youtu.be/AqEpIola9Sg

And the 70s vibes in episode 3 are very much in the Brady Bunch style with the use of shapes, with other influences including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Three’s Company.

Moreover the theme song music at the end of the beginning and end of the episode sound very similar to the theme song from The Partridge Family. And this isn’t the first time this this theme song has had a connection to the MCU. In Ant Man and the Wasp we see Scott Lang singing this song during a montage of his house arrest. Interestingly, this film is also the first appearance of WandaVision’s Agent James Woo. Watch that sequence here:
https://youtu.be/LzXywwT9fI0

And the opening credits for “On a Very Special Episode” are very much like of two 80s sitcoms. The drawing and animated painting are just like the credits for Family Ties, while the use of photos showing the characters growing up is just like Growing Pains. There is also a clever meta nod to Full House which starred Elizabeth Olsen’s twin sisters Mary Kate and Ashley.

And the theme song sounds a great deal like a cross between the song from Family Ties theme “Without Love” and the Growing Pains theme “As Long as we Got Each Other”, with also some influences for the theme songs from The Hogan Family and The Torkelsons: Almost Home. Additionally, the end title music sounds like those with a dash of Greatest American Hero.

Speaking of the credits, it’s interesting how the plot of Episode 3 “Now in Color” and the opening credits contradict each other. In the credits Wanda and Vision are happily and seemingly very openly preparing for their baby over a period of time. But in the episode they are keeping it a secret as her pregnancy is accelerated so much that she has her babies within a day. The same can be said with Episode 5 “On a Very Special Episode” as we see something that never existed- Vision as a child.

The way Wanda tries to hide her pregnant belly from Geraldine/Monica with large coats and a bowl of fruit is an obvious reference to the numerous times television shows have tried to hide the pregnancies of their actresses because their characters weren’t meant to be so. Anywhere from tables, large pillows, purses, coats and what not, this practice is commonplace in the world of TV. 

Each episode’s filming style reflects the era it’s meant to depict from the types of shots and angles, to the musical scores to the style of humor, each decade is perfectly represented. 

In the first 3 episodes, Agnes is seen wearing plaid. And low and behold I found an instance (and I am sure there are more) of one of her influences in character Millie Helper wearing plaid as well. Is this simply a stylistic choice or is there a deeper meaning to it? Is it a reflection of her jumbled and mixed up consciousness.

Interesting though how this shifts in Episode 5. Agnes is no longer wearing plaid, and seems aware that what they’re doing isn’t completely real when she suggests they start a scene over again and doesn’t bat an eye when the twins age themselves up. But who is wearing plaid, and who seems somewhat aware but still confused about what’s going on- Wanda.

The way the twins Tommy and Billy age themselves up is an obvious homage to the trope that’s seen numerous times in sitcoms- child characters who age up with no explanation. We saw this occur in I Love Lucy, Family Ties, Growing Pains, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Modern Family among others.

The town of WestView is a very apropos name for this town. Not only does it suggest this a very “western” or American viewpoint, but it also sounds very reminiscent of other towns from classic sitcoms fictional or otherwise including Westport, Connecticut in I Love Lucy, Mayfield in Leave it to Beaver, and Springfield in Father Knows Best.

The times when color is seen in the black and white episodes is reminiscent of a film about people who are also trapped inside a sitcom: Pleasantville. And similarly, any time there are cracks in this seemingly pristine and perfect reality in references and intrusion from the outside world, either in influence or directly, color emerges. It’s a striking similarity and I am certain this film provided a great deal of inspiration for WandaVision

All of the questions that FBI agent James Woo writes on the white board in episode 4 are ones we’ve been asking since the beginning. 

– Why the hexagon shape usage? It’s everywhere. Is it a reference to the Infinity stones or something else. I find it interesting how in Captain Marvel the plates in Maria Rambeau’s kitchen, the ship where Carol’s powers fully emerge and the windows in her home are this same shape.

– Why sitcoms? And why does the decade keep changing. As stated earlier I believe a great deal had to do with Wanda’s character, not only her background and likelihood of growing up and learning English through sitcoms, but because of what sitcoms represent. Although they have realism than they are given credit for, they are an idealized conceptual construct where problems are easily fixed and life is happy, warm and peaceful. After all the trauma Wanda has experienced losing her patents, her twin brother Pietro, her home and Vision, wouldn’t she want to escape into a world like that. One that represents a typical and idealized family life. The time period keeps changing because try as she might things always get serious in a moment, threatening this ideal existence. The shift and decade represents her desire to keep changing the setting until all is well. This is most especially seen at the end of Episode 5 where she tries to end her fight with Vision y rolling the credits, but the conversation continues and she says she doesn’t know how everything got started. It suggests she has some control but not completely.

– Is Vision dead? That’s the number one question and I truly have no idea. Obviously I would like him to be alive because like Darcy Lewis I am invested in these two. I am however prepared for him not to be, especially after the shocking image of him in Episode 4 which simultaneously scared me and broke my heart.

Conclusions
Although there is still much to be revealed and more tv homages to be seen thus far, I am thoroughly impressed and completely blown away by the level of care that has gone into the creation of this series. These references are not haphazardly included. They are extremely well thought out, and a true feast for any classic television fan. And they execution is absolutely brilliant from the direction by Matt Shakman, the writing by Jac Schaeffer, Cameron Squires, Megan McDonnel, Laura Donney, Gretchen Enders, Bobak Esfarjani, and Roy Thomas, production design and costumes by Mark Worthington and Mayes C. Rubeo , music by and performances by Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, and the rest of the cast. WandaVision is a absolute tour de force in creativity.

What I Loved in 2020 in Television

When times are crazy and uncertain, it’s important to find things that will bring you joy, peace, escapist fun, hope and many other positive intangibles that make life worth it. 2020 was a tough year for us all, and I was no exception. It’s probably why it’s already well into January, 2021 and this is now coming to you all. Television and movies became even more of a staple in my household and I consumed a great deal, from new shows that captivated and delighted me, to re-watches of some all time favorites which brought a sense of comfort and reinvigorated my love for them. The world may be uncertain but the television I loved this year brought a sense of normalcy and happiness whether it be a fictional, documentary series, TV movie or what not. These were my favorites…

Drama or Comedy Series

Virgin River (Netflix)

Without a doubt my favorite fictional series of the year was Virgin River. Beautifully filmed and performed, this show follows a Nurse practitioner who goes to work in the small town of Virgin River after some tragic and traumatic events in attempt to revitalize herself and her life. She must deal with the old fashioned doctor who does not want her there, finds kinship with a charming bartender, and learns to rekindle her heart and soul through her work and the small town cast of characters. This gentle natured, often sweet and romantic, while still serious original Netflix series may deal with some dark issues such as death, abuse and drugs, but it is never too melodramatic nor too saccharine. It’s slow pace is welcome and soothing in times like these, while the chemistry between leads Alexandra Breckenridge and Martin Henderson is palpable, natural and gentle. There are definitely some similarities to the show Hart of Dixie, particularly with the concept and in Tim Matheson’s character of Dr. Mullins who is very similar to his Hart of Dixie character Dr. Breeland, but there are differences for sure. However in both instances Matheson is wonderful, as is his on screen sparring partner Annette O’Toole. There is so much to love from the Zen like beautiful scenery, to the characters that are salt of the earth, good people. But what is truly exceptional is the compassionate, realistic, thoughtful and sensitive way it handles the grief and trauma of Mel and Jack’s characters especially. Virgin River is about healing and second chances and it  thoroughly captured my heart.

Fuller House (Netflix)

Bringing its series run to a close, the affable, unabashedly corny and sweet natured reboot Fuller House ended on a lovely and often hilarious note with a finale I actually enjoyed more than the original series finale. Further misadventures of the Tanner, Fuller, Gibbler extended family which included a delightful musical proposal that was 20+ years in the making, and a triple wedding for the She-Wolf pack and their true loves, I love every minute in abundance, so much so that once finished, a few weeks later, I restarted and binged the entire series over again. And it not only improved upon with repeat reviewing but it was the balm my soul needed during a rough time. What I love is that it normalizes close knit families who choose to spend their lives together and raise their families as a unit, and that affectionate and loving relationships are not only romantic. Friendship and family are just as important for our souls and I think living in a Fuller House is something to aspire to.

Emily in Paris (Netflix)

Another welcome balm was the frothy, colorful, and delightful Emily in Paris, led by the lovely and amiable Lily Collins. From the creator of Sex and the City I like to call this a lighter version with similar aesthetics and mindsets, but we trade in New York for the gorgeous Parisian life, from sidewalk cafes , to Classic architecture, to the Eiffel Tower herself. When we see Paris in films and TV, it often will spark that desire of wanderlust and have us dreaming of falling in love, eating delicious French pastries and wandering luminous cobblestone streets of the City of Lights. Emily in Paris certainly makes the city look like an incandescent dreamy painting of France’s jewel. But beyond this beauty, what I loved about this series was its familiarity in its romantic, comedic and feminist tropes. It’s not groundbreaking storytelling and that’s okay. What it does is show a relatable young woman who is learning to navigate a job she is more than capable of doing in a place she is completely unfamiliar with. She’s a combination of naïveté, confidence, intelligence. And while romance is a key player, (the French are known for their amorous people after all), it is the friendships that are superlative and sometimes complicated, that make the show, especially with the first friend Emily makes portrayed by the wonderful Ashley Park. Moreover, it’s Emily who is effervescent and feisty who works hard at her job no matter what’s thrown at her, all of which strikes a chord because of the actors, especially Collins. Emily in Paris explores the often shallow nature of social media and influencers, but never completely mocks them either. Rather, it highlights and exposes the authentic and artifice of the modern world and that we should find a way to enjoy our lives in happy and genuine ways, which can include taking that perfect photo for Instagram.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC)

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “I’ve Got The Music In Me” Episode 102 — Pictured: (l-r) Skylar Astin as Max; Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke; John Clarence Stewart as Simon — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

Creative and effervescent, brimming with talent and color, as well as real and relatable emotions and issues surrounding the pain of loss and grief, insecurities, and love unrequited, long lasting and otherwise, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a breath of fresh air. Any lover of musicals will adore this show about a girl who, after an earthquake during an MRI, can suddenly hear people’s inner most thoughts through song. It causes many wacky moments as well and ones of sorrow, and uses this concept as a way of expressing how universal a language music can be. Zoey hears everyone’s “heart songs,” and it makes you believe in the power of music, and how it can deeply help us cope with whatever we are feeling: love, joy, fear, sadness. There is also this question to ponder: what would be on your playlist at any given moment? And for the record in case you were wondering: I am Team Max!!

Dash and Lily (Netflix)

Dash & Lily provided some adorable, cozy and sweet Christmas comfort at the end of the year for certain. Undoubtedly modern in its style and wonderfully diverse cast, it’s also filled with classic rom com tropes and sensibilities. The characters are young but I would venture to guess that The Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail-esque story involving a pair of would be lovers who write letters, notes and scavengers hunts in a red notebook, helping each other heal and be brave, is relatable to people of all ages. Fair warning- it’s the type of show you could watch in one sitting. I did it in two. But it’s addictive and a sweet cup of Yuletide romance.

Bridgerton (Netflix)

The show that was all the Buzz at the end of 2020 and continuing into the new year, Bridgerton was another fun, frothy and gorgeous looking romantic romp that again may not be the most groundbreaking storytelling but does offer new and exciting diversity and vitality into the Period Drama genre while giving the audience all the romantic tropes we love to indulge in and get swept away by. Highly addictive, well acted, and a beautiful feast for the eyes that could feed an entire village. Although I think some loved it more than I, and it’s more racy and explicit than my typical viewing, that didn’t prevent me from being captivated by the complicated and tantalizing love story of Simon and Daphne filled with fake dating, deception and loving desire, the complicated but swoon worthy Anthony as he struggles with letting go and finding his true place in the world, the sublime wit of Eloise and  sweet earnestness of Penelope and their sweet friendship, the divineness of the likes of Lady Danbury and the Queen Charlotte herself, to speculating who town gossip Lady Whistledown truly was. From the  wonderful cast, to the lovely rainbow colored costumes, to the landscape and cinematography, breathtaking with a fluidity and movement that was glorious to watch, there was an abundance to admire in Bridgerton. And the reveal of Whistledown was truly a great twist!

The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)

The Haunting of Bly Manor was not something I planned on watching as I am a self proclaimed “scaredy-cat,” but I do enjoy gothic mysteries and spooky stories such as The Others, and I couldn’t help but be drawn into this story that was loosely based on the works of Henry James, most notably The Turn of the Screw. It was mysterious and scary with a wonderful cast, especially its child performers (and my personal favorites being Rahul Kohli and T’Nia Miller), with a surprisingly touching love story that ended the mini-series on a very poignant note.

Will and Grace tribute to I Love Lucy (NBC)

WILL & GRACE — “We Love Lucy” Episode 316 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Dave Bjerke/NBC)

Admittedly I fell behind on the Will & Grace reboot and have yet to catch up, but when I heard they were doing a tribute episode devoted to my all time favorite show I Love Lucy, I knew I had to tune in. And it did not disappoint as a part hilarious homage, part spoof, part spot on recreation of famous moments from the comedy series, while bringing in touches that only the Will & Grace characters can do. Who played Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel changed and Lucy and Desi’s daughter Lucy Arnaz made a special appearance in the delightful tribute.

Documentary Series

The Imagineering Story (Disney+)

While many of you may have watched this extensive, fascinating emotional series right away, I savored this show during 2020. Directed by Leslie Iwerks (the daughter of Disney legend Ub Iwerks), each episode tackles a different era of Disney Parks, from the inception of Disneyland, to the parks in Asia, all the way up to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. If you are a fan of Disney history and seeing all the creative ingenuity it takes to make some of the most innovative and breathtaking pieces of living art there is, then you will easily become engrossed in this captivating and very honest six part documentary. I admittedly cried and was moved a great many times, as well as surprised and in awe of  not only the very revealing details, stories and footage unknown to me previously , as well as marveling at the masterful creative of these individuals. Lovers of Disney and theme parks alike will no doubt be completed mesmerized by The Imagineering Story.

Prop Culture (Disney+)

Like The Imagineering Story, Prop Culture is thoroughly engrossing, interesting and taps into nostalgia and emotions, but possibly even more so. As someone who devours behind the scenes footage and documentaries about the making of film and television (I have The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions Appendices DVD sets to thank for sparking that love), and someone who is fascinated with the research and artistry of props, textiles, etc, Prop Culture is the ideal show. Each episode features collector Dan Lanigan as he travels around the world meeting with creators, artists and actors alike connected to whichever film the episode is devoted to including Mary Poppins, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and The Muppet Movie. Engrossing and funny with the ability to make you shed some tears, this show reached into my heart and took up permanent residence.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Disney+)

Another Disney+ docu-series that brought such joy to my household was The World According to Jeff Goldblum with each episode being about something simple, or some may even say mundane such as denim, bicycles, pools or ice cream. But using each broad topic as a jumping off point, we are treated to both a history and modern exploration with the unique and quirky way that only Goldblum could do. He is one of a kind. But each experience is not only interesting but also sweet, informative, entertaining and featuring good natured, hard working, creative and joyful everyday folks.

TV Movie

Psych 2: Lassie Come Home (Peacock)

After the dramedy/mystery show Psych ended in 2014, I was completely satisfied but knew there was always a possibility for more. After the success and love for the first Psych movie in 2017, I was thrilled when a second was announced. Although we had to wait for Timothy Omundson to recover so they could include Lassiter the way he deserves, it was more than worth it. Psych 2: Lassie Come Home picks up right where the first left off with Shawn and Gus and their antics, but now Shawn and Juliet are now happily married, while Gus has finally found his other half in the formidable Selene. The dynamic crime solving duo aid in the search of who shot Detective Lassiter, and we see the hilarious one liners and silliness we’re used to and love, while the story involving Lassiter’s recovery involving remembering the lessons his father taught him including never giving up despite our struggles was deeply touching.

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings “JJ Sneed”(Netflix)

Dolly Patton’s Heartstrings TV movies, each one based on one of her songs is something I want to tackle more of in 2021. But in 2020 I only got to “JJ Sneed” for one unsurprising reason- it stars Once Upon a Time’s Colin O’Donoghue in the title role of the handsome and charismatic outlaw. As someone who loves a good classic western and O’Donoghue as a performer, especially when he shows his range which he did here as someone who can be charming and witty one moment and then ruthless, selfish and dangerous the next, “JJ Sneed” was quite entertaining especially seeing that Sneed meets his formidable match in the clever woman who literally gives him a run for his money. There’s room for more story here and I do hope we see it.

TV Christmas Films

Each year we see many Christmas films on television but most especially, The Hallmark Channel has become a staple in Holiday entertainment providing an abundance of films that are no doubt formulaic and full of common tropes- and that’s what we love about them. They are cozy, happy fare and their consistency in storytelling can provide a tremendous source of comfort. And when we combine that with likable performers it’s a lovely combination. Although there were some I didn’t manage to get to, those I did were all excellent and some of the best I have seen in years.

The Christmas Waltz paired Hallmark Channel darling, the immensely talented Lacey Chabert, with Reign’s equally talented and charming (not to mention handsome) Will Kemp in a sweet and inspiring story of how dance, kinship and belief in yourself can help your heart heal and inspire you to reach for your dreams and be your best self. The chemistry between the two is lovely and the nods to classic musicals made this one sheer delight from curtains to the final bow.

Speaking of natural and lovely chemistry, this was beautifully exemplified between Broadway veterans Laura Osnes and Aaron Tveit, two exceptionally talented performers whose talents shined through in the sweetly romantic One Royal Holiday. This type of story between your average girl meeting a prince of some fictional kingdom had been seen a lot, but this may be the gentlest and dare I say most natural, cozy and funny of them all as we see a royal family spend time with a dedicated nurse at her Father’s Bed and Breakfast for the holidays. We see how love, compassion and kindness are the most beautiful and magical things in this world, and the strength they can bring us. It is an unabashedly romantic gift wrapped with sparkling paper and tied with a shimmering bow complete with snowball fights, carriage rides, perfectly choreographed waltzes and one clever nod to Cinderella whom Osnes portrayed on Broadway. One Royal Holiday is a treat I want to indulge in every year.

Holding the spot of the funniest of the year, and one of the funniest Hallmark has ever produced, Five Star Christmas, which stars Bethany Joy Lenz and Victor Webster actually had me laughing out loud as a family masquerades as guests at a bed and breakfast in order to impress whom they think is a renowned travel writer. It is funny for sure, but the quieter moments are wonderful too, with a little Elvis Presley tribute that left me grinning from ear to ear.

Christmas by Starlight paired Paul Campbell and Kimberly Sustad once again in a sweet natured and extremely relatable love story with the plot being one of trying to save a family business that we’ve seen before but with the great chemistry and likability of Campbell and Sustad who bring something special to the table.

The Christmas Carousel is another royal story but the lovely Rachel Boston and Neal Bledsoe have gentle banter between them, and the carousel that grants wishes helps bring them together as well as push them to find their path in life. Perhaps it’s my love of carousels and these actors that drew me in the most.

Christmas Comes Twice was another familiar story of the chance live and redo a part of your life over again- to fix your mistakes and get your life back on track. The difference is a more diverse cast including Tamera Mowry-Housley  and Michael Xavier who were fantastic together. Mowry’s character is driven, kind and smart but also willing to admit her mistakes. And the way she is able to find her heart and have a second chance to tell her mentor how she changed her life, as well as find love in an unexpected place with her childhood rival was all a beautiful package.

A Timeless Christmas was a sweet and more unique concept with the handsome and underrated Ryan Paevy as the inventor and man out of time who meets lovely Erin Cahill as the kind and intelligent woman who helps him discover where he truly belongs, finding the right path for herself along the way. If you love Kate & Leopold this charmer is for you.

Cross Country Christmas
was a funny romp through a winter wonderland as two former high school acquaintances fall in love while trying to back to their home town- many a difficultly thrown their way. The always cheery but feisty Rachel Leigh Cook soars well with Grayston Holt were wonderful in this adorable flick.

Lastly, A Little Christmas Charm with Ashley Greene and Brendan Penny has an old fashioned, for lack of a better word, charm to it, showcasing the true beauty of love stories, the great fun of solving a mystery, the craftsmanship of jewelry making, and the importance of finding, as they say in Tangled, your new dream, whatever it is and whoever it’s with. And if you can find it at Christmas then it’s all the more magical.

Re-watching and Rediscovering Classic Shows

There was also television that wasn’t new to me but brought a sense of comfort, joy, stability and anticipation. Starting with shows I hadn’t watched since they originally aired, I started two teen dramas that I loved back in the day: Felicity and Dawson’s Creek. I haven’t gotten through them yet but hope to this year.

A show I did finish, or more accurately quickly consumed with gusto was Alias, a show I remember loving but except for a few plot points, did not retain much of. So it was almost like watching it for the first time and I loved every thrilling moment. It would be fun to go in depth sometime but for now my few key takeaways are: Sydney and Vaughn are one of my favorite couples and definitely have OTP status, but I must admit to liking Bradley Cooper’s Will a bit more and a part of me would have been good if they explored a Sydney and Will relationship. Also Will’s character deserved better. RIP Francie, #NoCoffeeIceCream and Merrin Dungey is amazing! David Anders is so good at being swarming yet charming jackass. Can Greg Grunberg be in everything? The Sydney and Dixon friendship is one of the greatest ever and Dixon is low key my favorite on the show besides Sydney. Jack Bristow is one of the greatest and most badass TV Dads ever and I weeped during so many of his moments. On the opposite end, Irina and Sloane and two of the worst parents ever and show the dangers of obsession with power. #NadiaDeservedBetter. And lastly, Alias is what made me a fan of Jennifer Garner which I still am one today, and Sydney Bristow is a remarkable woman. She is a kick-ass, kind and intelligent superwoman and I want to be her when I grow up!

Similarly to Alias, the other show I rewatched for the first time was The Mentalist, a show that was high on my list of Favorites of the Decade, with one of the greatest characters ever in Patrick Jane. Like Alias, watching it in quick succession not only seems to improve the quality of the show, but makes it easier to follow and therefore more enjoyable. The last two seasons after the discovery of Red John’s identity made big changes, and I definitely missed Rigsby and Van Pelt, but it ended on such a high note with Jane and Lisbon’s happily ever after as one of the most satisfying finales ever.

Other shows I rewatched were ones that go to frequently because I love, love, love them and all had too short of a series run: Timeless, Smash, Pan Am, Forever and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, each bringing such joy to revisit.

Cast Reunions and Fun

The Cast of Chuck Virtual Table read of “Chuck vs. the Beard”

The year 2020 brought many casts back together for virtual reunions, and this one where the Cast and Crew of one of my all time favorite shows Chuck came back together for a table read of the episode that was star Zachary Levi’s directorial debut was an absolute delight as these individuals clearly all still adore each other, but also haven’t missed a beat, stepping right back into their characters like it was yesterday. If you love this show and want a heartfelt laugh, check out their reunion here: https://youtu.be/ZAZfE6OHSb0

Parks and Recreation Reunion and New Episode reading

Speaking of not missing a beat and stepping right back into stride, the cast and writers of Parks and Recreation brought us a brand new episode of the sitcom that focused on how each character was handling the social distancing that was required during the pandemic and bringing the heart and silliness we expect from this loveable group of characters from Pawnee, Indiana. This warmed my heart and was like seeing an old friend we’d early missed and got right back into normal conversation. This was adorable. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/FxX6snjZB2c

What were favorite you watched on television in 2020? Did I mention any here!! Let me know in the comments!

Top 30 Once Upon a Time Characters

To celebrate Once Upon a Upon a Time coming to the Disney Plus streaming services I thought it would be a good time to revisit the series and countdown some favorites. Here, we rank the Top 30 Characters from the fairy tale series. Of course any kind of ranking is all relative. The following list could be very different from you the reader, or it could be strikingly similar. And of course there is a difference between personal favorite characters and ranking them in other terms. If that was the case my list would look a little different. For this list it was a difficult process but I ranked them by a combination of the following categories (in order):

  • Character dynamics and likability, whether they be hero or villain
  • How well the character was written
  • Importance to the plot
  • Development or growth (if applicable)
  • Acting
  • Legacy and importance to the series overall

So, let’s take a look back at a wide array of wonderful characters, varied and beautiful enough to fill any number of magical storybooks.

30. Tinkerbell (portrayed by Rose McIver)

Smart, spunky, and sweet, this fairy who once lost her wings, learned to believe in herself with just a little faith, trust and pixie dust. She forgave Regina for her betrayal and encouraged her to go after love. She also killed Pan’s shadow which restored the Blue Fairy’s life and was one of the contributing factors that helped the heroes to escape Pan’s curse, proving instrumental in one of the show’s most crucial moments. Above all she just wanted to help those in need and for them to find their happy endings, a lovely quality that defines what it means to be a fairy.

29. Sheriff Graham Humbert/The Huntsman (portrayed by Jamie Dornan)

As the Huntsman he was a sensitive and compassionate soul, as Sheriff of Storybrooke he was a charming and strong man who decided to find his heart and choose his own path. In the Enchanted Forest, he helped Charming escape Regina’s castle, and as Henry sweetly points out, he spared Snow’s life. Without both of these moments, Emma would have never been born, solidifying a connection between them that was established in Storybrooke in an emotional and heartbreaking moment. We were able to see the type of man Emma would be attracted to while showing us a brief flicker of hope that her heart could open to someone worthy. His death was an early game changer and showcased the gravity of the curse, how we could lose anyone and how precious life is, making each subsequent time he showed up extremely satisfying.

28. Ursula (portrayed by Merrin Dungey and Tiffany Boone)

Once a mermaid full of sadness over the loss of her mother, but kindness in her heart, she loved to sing and bring people joy. After a betrayal from Hook and her father, she turned herself into another sea creature after losing her singing voice, not wanting to ever let her father use it to lure sailors to their doom. As an adult she lost her way, but with the help of Captain Hook and a reconciliation with her father, both she forgives, her voice and beautiful spirit were returned and restored, leading to crucial information for the heroes to defeat the latest threat. She was fun as one of the Queens of Darkness, but it was lovely to see her return to the light.

27. Grumpy/Dreamy/Leroy (portrayed by Lee Arenberg)

When it comes to Dwarfs, their pick axe will choose their name. This dwarf was born as Dreamy, but a broken heart turned him Grumpy. Despite that, both in the Enchanted Forest and in Storybrooke as Leroy, he as he says need his pain, it’s only because it’s a reminder of what in life we fight for. Grumpy is loyal  and stubborn, gruff but sweet. And if there is any gossip that needs repeating he is just the Dwarf for the job.

26. Lancelot (portrayed by Sinqua Walls)

A former Knight of the Round Table, Lancelot was a courageous man with honor, selflessness and a kind and loving heart. Not only did he perform the wedding ceremony for Snow and Charming, making sure Charming’s mother’s final moments were happy ones, he made sure Snow received the water which would break her infertility curse. Without him there would be no Emma, and therefore no Savior, making him one of the show’s most important characters. On his own, he loved Guinevere truly, and looked after her when Arthur was obsessing over Excalibur, while also being willing to sacrifice himself to the darkness for her. Hopefully he found her again and they are living happily ever after in a restored and no longer broken kingdom.

25. Granny Lucas (portrayed by Beverley Elliot)

Granny Lucas is tough as nails, sassy, overcame tragedy, is fiercely protective, loving, supportive of her granddaughter, and never takes guff from anyone-especially over her cooking. A former wolf herself, she sheltered Ruby from the truth, but learned to help her embrace it, while she wanted nothing more than to leave Granny’s Diner to her. She loved her family, blood and otherwise and whether she was wielding a knitting needle or a cross bow, Granny was a force to be reckoned with. 

24. Merlin (portrayed by Elliot Knight)

As a stroke of genius and in a great form of subversion, the iconic wizard who traditionally was an old man with a long white beard, here is a young and dynamic man of color who was brilliant and disarming. As Emma once told him he was the greatest Sorcerer that ever lived and indeed, Merlin was so powerful he was able to break free from the darkest and strongest control when he needed to most. As a young man and founder of the Holy Grail, his immortal life gave him wisdom and a peaceful nature. Although he was often cryptic and had moments of failure, it gave the wizard a relatable, human quality, on top of being charming and brave. His loss was a great one, but his legacy remained.

23. King Arthur (portrayed by Liam Garrigan and Webb Hayes)

One of the more complex and interesting villains the show ever did, the traditionally heroic King Arthur character became a man consumed by prophesies and his destiny. As a child he was sweet despite being made to feel inferior. But as an adult he was a good man who let a quest darken his soul so much that he lost sight of what really mattered- his love for Guinevere and his purpose to lead and restore a broken kingdom. A corrupt king, showcasing charisma and vitality, in the end, although quick, he found one of the show’s most satisfying and believable paths to redemption. After his death, he found his true destiny. Restoring peace to the kingdom he was meant to repair- the Underworld.

22. Cora Mills (portrayed by Barbara Hershey and Rose McGowan)

A woman obsessed with power and getting what she thought she deserved, Cora was manipulative and often frightening in her cruel behavior and demeanor, but it made her one of the most realistic villains of the show. Believing love is weakness, she never let her emotions get in the way of her grand ambitions. She betrayed Rumple, abandoned her first child Zelena, and when she married and had her daughter Regina, ripped her own heart out, so she would always stay true to the path of gaining royal power. She was unflinching, devious and twisted, and we loved to hate her.

21. Mulan (portrayed by Jamie Chung)

Mulan was a brave and fierce warrior who wore strong armor literally and figuratively. Guarded with her emotions, she also showed moments of vulnerability and wisdom when it came to matters of the heart and life. Strong, often headstrong, but so, so caring, Mulan was also incredibly clever, helping our heroes multiple times, becoming a member of Robin Hood’s gang, a guide and mentor to Merida, and faithful friend to Ruby. She would sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of others and felt the deep pangs of an unrequited love for Aurora. But despite never seeing it on screen I hope she found her own happy ending somewhere.

20. Dr. Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket (portrayed by Raphael Sbarge and Adam Young)

Perhaps the purest character of the series, literally playing a conscience without coming across preachy or self righteous is a tall order. But the opposite is true of Dr. Hopper, who showcases such wisdom, sweetness and non judgment no matter the person. Not free from his own tragic backstory, he was tricked and inadvertently and irrevocably hurt Gepetto’s parents, and so wished nothing more than to be a cricket and dedicate his life to helping and guiding others. In Storybrooke he was a healthy and wonderful example of the benefit self reflection and therapy. The fact that he also became a wedding officiant, rejoicing in the happiness of the people he helped was a beautiful addition to an already wonderful character.

19. Ingrid (portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell and Brighton Sharbino)

Also known as the Snow Queen, the Aunt to Anna and Elsa had even more tragic backstory than that of her nieces. As an young girl Ingrid discovered she had ice powers, and while she became even more reserved and hid from the world, she and her sisters remained dedicated to each other’s happiness. It was only when a devastating accident led to one of her sister’s death with the other trapping her for years in an urn, that Ingrid became the monster she thought everyone would call her. With an icy and chilling demeanor, this was merely masking a heart that was deeply wounded, and underneath it all, true. Determined to find sisters that will love her unconditionally, all it took was knowing her sister’s deep regret, belief and love for her, for Ingrid to realize her grave mistake, reverse her spell of Shattered Sight and sacrifice herself in the process, leading her back to her sisters in the end. And despite the deception, her affection for Emma was sincere and she proved an important figure in her life. Ingrid’s character was poignant and her sacrifice was a moment of true redemption that was deeply emotional and beautifully moving.

18. August Booth/Pinocchio (portrayed by Eion Bailey, Jacob Davies and Rustin Gresiuk)

Emma once described August as a “typewriter wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in stubble.” And that’s definitely a fair assessment. He’s enigmatic, charming, and a writer. But he’s also much more. A friend and protector of Emma, he strayed from this path and much like the true Pinocchio character, inherently and deeply struggled with being truthful and unselfish. But he paid the ultimate price, and worked hard to make up for his mistakes and find redemption, for his friend, to make his father proud,  but also for himself.  Much like the Pinocchio of the original novel, his desire and penchant for less than honorable and deceiving behavior was an inherent quality he had to constantly battle. As a young child he leaves Emma alone, but deeply regrets it and so keeps tabs to makes he she remains on her path and not lose faith. And when he fails as an adult in that, he tries everything to make up for his failings and be the friend and guardian angel Emma deserves. With a magnetism, warmth and mystery to the character he was such a source of mythology and knowledge, as well as a true believer. August W. Booth made mistakes, but like Pinocchio learned how to be selfless, brave and true.

17. Belle French (portrayed Emilie De Ravin)

A true beauty inside and out, what was so beautiful about Belle’s character was that it demonstrated heroism in unconventional, but poignant ways that are not seen nearly enough. Her strength, beauty and heroism came in the form selflessness, compassion, forgiveness, intelligence and cleverness. When her kingdom needed her, she agreed to be Rumplestilskin’s servant so her people would be saved. When another kingdom was at the mercy of the Yaoguai, this intelligent bookworm single handedly tracked it down in a day, realized this so called “monster” was in pain, understood it and saved it as it was truly a cursed Prince Philip. She forgave those who hurt her, always endeavored others to follow their hearts, saw the good in Rumplestilskin and encouraged him endlessly, had the courage to banish him when he reached one of his lowest points, and although Rumplestilskin was often undeserving of her love and forgiveness, she bestowed it with belief and conviction. Some may disagree with her choices, and indeed her end was very sad, but her unfailing faith in others proved the depth of her compassionate heart. She remained a kind soul, loving wife and mother until the very end.

16. Ariel (portrayed by Joanna Garcia-Swisher)

Sweet, optimistic, naive but courageous, Ariel was an absolutely delightful character and as wonderful a depiction as any Little Mermaid fan surely dreamed of. On land she literally was a fish out of water not knowing or understanding certain human things calling forks “mini tridents” and not being afraid of a gun because she didn’t know what is was, resulting in adorable moments. But these moments of humor were matched by her moments of wisdom and belief in true love not only for herself with the handsome Prince Eric but for the friends she meets along the way such as Snow White and Captain Hook. She saves Snow from the Evil Queen twice, is instrumental in helping rescue Henry in Neverland, rescued Hook from drowning and from himself as she helped open his eyes on more than one occasion showing him how True Love does indeed mean more than a ship ever could, and never fill the void left from a broken heart, and importantly that villains will never find happiness until their attempts to find happy endings must change for the better, becoming his friend in the process, and helping him communicate with Emma when they needed it the most. Whether on land or under the sea, Ariel, was a sweet, unassuming and beautiful part of the series.

15. Zelena Mills (portrayed by Rebecca Mader and Isabelle Blake-Thomas)

The infamous Wicked of Witch in the Once of Upon a Time universe is a great depiction of the iconic character as she is layered and interesting, evoking moments of terror, hatred, amusement and even sympathy. Abandoned as a baby, bullied for being different and abused by her father as a child, these sufferings led her to seek some place and someone who would love and accept her. Sadly, her suffering turned to envy and resentment towards others (especially her sister Regina) having what she was always deprived of, leading her down a dark path of revenge. And as that infamous villain she was captivating to watch with a cool demeanor one moment and maniacal tirade the next. Her wicked ways only changed when she found people willing to forgive her and let her try to be a mother to her daughter. The one blemish on the character was the troubling way she became a mother which was never properly and rightly addressed. But overall, when she learned to live her life unselfishly and be the mother her daughter deserved, she found that seemingly illusive, happy and peaceful place where bluebirds fly, no broomstick required.

14. Elsa (portrayed by Georgina Haig)

If there ever was a timely addition and example of characters who feel like they leapt off the silver and into the small screen in the Once Upon a Time universe, it would be with the characters of Frozen. The arrival of the Ice Queen of Arendelle Elsa was a surprise for both the character and the audience and she could not have been more perfectly cast, nor beautifully and seamlessly integrated into the story. Elsa was kind, reserved, but warm, ironically, and a faithful sister and friend. A natural and relatable kindred spirit for Emma, they formed a fast friendship when Elsa creates an ice wall around town as leverage to help find her sister Anna and accidentally traps Emma inside. Unbothered by the cold, she was able to save her new friend’s life, finding strength within herself and gaining control of her magic. The beauty of her character is that her own struggles, wisdom, and belief give Elsa a richness and sweetness while also mirroring and guiding those in Storybrooke, most especially Emma. She helped Emma learn to accept every part of herself in the same way she had to, giving our Savior a moment of self True Love. And she never gave up on finding her sister, her pure heart saving both Anna and Kristoff from a watery grave, giving us two of the most beautiful moments of the series. Although a return to Arendelle was imminent, her indelible impression on Storybrooke was everlasting, making it possible to believe she would remain friends with Emma forever, and may even be a certain baby girl’s Ice Queen godmother.

13. Anna (portrayed by Elizabeth Lail)

Spunky, incessantly adorable chatterer, sweet-natured Anna is just as lovely and perfect a characterization as her sister Elsa in the Once Upon a Time story. Nearly identical to her animated film counterpart, this Anna had all of her fine qualities while also bringing equal parts gravitas, pathos and beauty to the role. When the sisters discover that their parents had journeyed to the Kingdom of Mist Haven to hopefully learn more about Elsa’s powers, but ultimately perished, Anna takes it upon herself to finish what her parents began, wanting nothing more than her sister’s happiness, even delaying her wedding to Kristoff. She faced off against Rumplestiltskin, Ingrid and Prince Hans proving herself brave and resourceful even when he felt like she failed because it was her pure heart and constant support of Elsa’s that made her sister return that support in kind. Their bond saved Anna’s life because she is willing to die for those she loves. She even taught our beloved Prince Charming not only how to wield a sword but to stand up to his persecutors, relaying the profound truth that it’s not just about surviving; You have to live. A lover of sandwiches, her sister and man named Kristoff that she finally married at the end of this story arc, Princess Anna of Arendelle is a shining example of Once Upon a Time’s most prominent theme: to always have hope.

12. Cruella De Vil (portrayed by Victoria Smurfit)

The sardonic, gin soaked reckless driver with an inherent propensity for evil, Cruella lived up to her name in spades and was the most fabulous villains that ever was! Once Upon a Time almost always portrayed their villains with sympathetic lives making their turn towards evil understandable. With Cruella, it was a refreshing change of pace to see a villain be evil for evil’s sake. With one of the most creative and interesting backstories, Cruella lived in a 1920s land of flappers and jazz, where the silver tongued tale of being abused she told to the Storybook’s author, was the opposite of the gruesome twist. Cruella was cold and evil since childhood, poisoning her father, tricking the author into giving her power to control animals, killing her step mother and then her dogs and sewing their fur into a coat- all in one chilling night! Her treachery proved to be her downfall as her appearance and ability to kill was forever taken from her, making her threat to Henry moot when Emma killed her to save her son. But she was such a delightfully viscous and fun villain to watch that when we saw her again in the Underworld, it was a fabulous surprise for all us darlings.

11. Henry Mills (portrayed by Jared Gilmore and Andrew J. West)

One of life’s most precious gifts is the privilege of seeing a child grow up, discover the world and mature into the person they will become. When the series began little Henry Mills was a 10 year old precocious and sweet child determined to make his mother Emma break the curse so she can bring back all the happy endings to the people of Storybrooke. His belief in the curse and in Emma proved so strong that his greatest hope came true. Possessing the Heart of the Truest Believer, Henry truly became the heart of the series in that he brought characters together through their love for him inspiring many an “Operation” that our heroes embarked on to defeat villains, break curses and save lives. And we bore witness to this brave boy growing into a kind, forgiving, wise young man who never ever lost hope in any of his family. He became the next author of the Storybook earning the lofty job through his pure heart, courage and conviction, overcame mistakes by helping others find hope and wanted nothing more than both his mothers to be happy. And although the plot point to have adult Henry stay in the Enchanted forest for years instead of returning to Storybrooke felt out of character, his finest qualities remained as he was a loving and faithful man- a devoted son and step son, gentle and kind father, loving husband, sweet big brother and valiant warrior just as he always dreamed of becoming as a child. Family is everything to Henry.

10. Regina Mills/The Evil Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla and Ava Acres)

Regina Mills, known in the Enchanted Forest as The Evil Queen, is a character that is undeniably complex. When the series begins, she is a bitterly vengeful villain with a flair for the dramatic, as the Queen of misplaced anger, living what she thought would be her happy ending with an entire kingdom cursed in Storybrooke where time was frozen and its residents couldn’t remember their true selves, Regina being the only one aware of that fact. But when her adopted son Henry brings his birth mother Emma to town, who also happens to be the only one who could break this curse and miraculously does, Regina had to begin a path towards change for the better, learning to love her son in healthier and more supportive way, to stop relying on dark magic and underhanded and manipulative ways, and put away her evil tendencies. It was a huge struggle for her character but she eventually began to put aside her revenge on Snow and Charming, who compassionately let her back in, stopped trying to separate Emma and Henry, gave her sister a second chance at family, no longer ran from the possibility of love, embracing her destined soulmate Robin Hood, and tried to be a better mother to Henry. If only judging on the first 4 seasons the character would be ranked higher, but after that unfortunately the redemptive storyline became inconsistent, most especially a misguided story of splitting herself in two and remaining that way, as well as, like Zelena, some crimes and atrocities never being addressed and dealt with as they should have been. While early on the Evil Queen was fun in a love to hate way, this eventual inconsistency with her progress was a disservice. However, in the end the “Evil” moniker was no longer truly applicable with her finest moments being where she finally realized (and showed others like her sister) the strength love and hope can give you if you truly believe in it.

9. Robin Hood (portrayed by Sean Maguire and Tom Ellis)

The legendary character of Robin Hood is one of the most beloved ever and one that’s been depicted countless times. On Once Upon a Time we see one of the finest characterizations. Originally played by Ellis for one episode in Season 2, the role was then recast by Maguire (the difference in appearance cleverly explained in a Season 4 episode.) This Robin of Locksley and Sherwood Forest was just as one would expect as the iconic thief and leader of a band of Merry Men who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, fought against injustice and tyranny in the Enchanted Forest, and then becoming a protector Storybrooke when a curse brings them to the sleepy town. Robin is noble, brave, cheeky and charming. He’s a lovable rogue who is a decent man who follows his heart and his beliefs, steadfastly and until the end, without being saccharine or unbelievable as he falters and makes mistakes in his romantic entanglements. Ultimately, this charming archer, had a heart of gold, with a deep and unending love for his children and his soulmate Regina, whom he sacrificed his life for, making him the one loss in the show that I personally will forever deeply lament. Robin Hood left an indelible impression that always hit the bulls eye.

8. Jefferson/The Mad Hatter (portrayed by Sebastian Stan)

Never before has the classic Alice in Wonderland character of The Mad Hatter been as complex and captivating as Once Upon a Time’s Jefferson. Charismatic, obsessive, and extremely intelligent, this deeply layered character was not only brilliant individually but his choices, abilities and interactions with key characters proved to be integral to the plot of the series, so much so that nothing would be the same without his presence. Neither a fully fledged villain nor a virtuous hero, Jefferson was once a procurer of difficult to find items and the master of a magical hat that can help you to travel to any realm. He was key to Regina embracing her dark side, and his presence in Storybrooke created a kernel of belief in the validity of the curse in Emma’s mind. Without him, and therefore his magical piece of millinery, the poison apple would have never came to Storybrooke, and therefore the curse would not have been broken in the way it was, Emma never would had met Killian Jones, while him finding a crystal ball for Rumple helped the would be couple make sure another couple, Snow and Charming, fell in love. A good man who only wanted to give his daughter everything, he feared after leaving her, she would never forgive him even though he was tricked. His time in Wonderland drove him mad, and in Strybrooke his curse was having both sets of memories, seemingly like a maniac one moment, kidnapping Mary Margaret and Emma all so Emma could get his hat to work, to a hero to Belle the next, releasing her from her asylum prison, to a sweet and sympathetic father who is reunited with his daughter Grace, embracing her and finally finding his happy ending. The magnetic and brilliant Jefferson left an indelible impression to marvel at. No pun intended.

7. Ruby Lucas/Red Riding Hood (portrayed by Meghan Ory)

A classic, iconic and rich fairy tale tradition as there ever was, the tale and character of Little Red Riding Hood is a cautionary one to be weary of strangers and be smart and safe. But Once Upon a Time gave us another subversive twist on the tale by making Ruby not only a sweet girl in a red hood who loves her Granny, but also the dreaded wolf herself, who cannot remember those she kills when she turns into the creature. In doing so it not only was one of the show’s greatest twists ever, but Ruby also became one of the show’s most interesting and relatable characters. With a beauty inside and out, her warmth, bravery, and gentle vulnerability, as well as the journeys she went through were very poignant as she learned to control her time as a wolf, a emotional and prescient metaphor to not be afraid of who we are but instead embrace it and celebrate it. Her cursed Storybrooke persona was one of a boldness and defiance, but when things change and the curse is broken we see that was partly a mask to hide her insecurities which transform into courage to fight for herself. As she tells her Granny, she found someone in herself and it was more than she expected. Loyal and ever protective of her best friend Snow, she helped her in immeasurable ways, which Snow returns when Ruby is frightened of love and encourages her to open her heart to Dorothy. Ruby was a true friend, funny, sweet, courageous, and relatable in the ways she found herself through the love for others and herself. 

6. Peter Pan/Malcolm (portrayed by Robbie Kay and Stephen Lord)

When we imagine Peter Pan, chances are we either imagine the mischievous but ultimately good hearted boy who never grows up from the 1950’s animated film, or the 1990’s version, portrayed by Robin Williams, of the boy who grew up, had a family and now must rescue them by remembering who he is. Both are heartwarming tales. What Once Upon a Time does is take elements from the original character that could be twisted and upsetting and make them even darker and more sinister. This Peter Pan was once a man: a cowardly one who abandoned his son Rumplestiltskin because he couldn’t deal with being a father, using Pixie dust to turn himself into a boy who never ages. He is the ruler of Neverland, who uses his shadow to lure children who feel neglected away from their homes, essentially kidnapping them and turning them into The Lost Boys, who more closely resemble the murderous boys from Lord of the Flies, rather than cute ragamuffin orphans. This Pan is truly the darkest villain in the sense that he hunts down the innocent for his own gain and amusement, eventually setting his sights on Henry, needing the Heart of the Truest Believer to save his own dying organ. He manipulates Henry, tortures his family with needless riddles and pain, and does it all with a cool and sinister smirk on his face, and magnetic villainy. And it’s engrossing to watch. He takes pleasure in the evil he does, and is so selfish that it makes the moments his son gets the best of him so incredibly rewarding. As admirable a foe as the heroes ever faced Pan was a bloody demon with the face of a seemingly innocent boy.

5. Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin and Bailee Madison)

One of the most timeless characters of all time is given an iconic and remarkable characterization in Once Upon a Time as a woman who is not only beautiful, but incredibly strong, wise, forgiving, and endlessly caring. She is a loyal friend, a loving wife and mother, is inherently protective and self sacrificing, and has an ability to hope and forgive that is very poignant, with the ability the give the appropriate speech of hope when some need it the most. As a child, she had to learn humility and that sacrifice for your own gain will only turn your heart dark, not to mention how the evil can manipulate us. She was innocent and while these moments led to pain, they helped shape her into the good person she is. And although she had moments where her sense of morality and hope waivered, and struggled with how to be a mother to Emma, in the end she overcame these moments. When she was cursed as Mary Margaret , her true self was stifled but she remained under the surface as she found herself in love with David, physical strength coming through, and felt a profound familial connection to Emma almost instantly. As her true self of Snow White, her love for others is boundless, literally sharing her heart with her husband, forgiving and welcoming Regina into her family regardless of the past, and giving her daughter the only cure for her shared sleeping curse to help Emma reach Hook, deeply lamenting how Emma grew up without her and not wanting to take any more from her, displaying both a beautiful moment of motherly love and hope in her daughter to find another way to save them. Snow is sweet and strong and as capable with a bow and arrow as she is with her steadfast hope speeches. She is the fairest of them all in every way possible.

4. Rumplestliskin/Mr.Gold (portrayed by Robert Carlyle and Wyatt Oleff)

The classic fairy tale trickster, obsessed with the unborn, with the ability to spin straw into gold, is certainly seen in that way on Once Upon a Time, but there is so much more to the impish and flamboyant Rumplestiltskin  who has the penchant for making unbreakable deals and calling others “dearie,” in turn creating the most iconic version of the character we’ve ever seen. This Rumplestiltskin is known in Storybrooke as Mr. Gold,  but in truth is also the Beast to Belle and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, as well as infamous and ever feared Dark One, who is the most powerful dark wizard of them all. Abandoned as a child, he grows up to be a man so scared of losing his life in war, when he finds out he was to be a father that he purposefully injures himself, losing the respect and love of his wife. Letting fear bring out his worst qualities when he becomes The Dark One he allows that darkness to take hold of him, completely succumbing and controlled by the power he had felt denied of all his life. Plagued with self loathing and cowardice, he always struggles with choosing power over love, and is so often the master manipulator and puppeteer of everyone’s lives. And yet still we see how much he wants to love and be loved, often garnering empathy, particularly when he came to his quest to find his son and his deep love for Belle. One moment he is vindictive and dishonest, the next he shows true vulnerability and honesty. With the ability to be heroic he sacrificed himself to save everyone from Peter Pan, while he also proved to be dark and manipulative, even without the power of the darkness inside of him, when he transfers all of the darkness inside of Hook and Emma back to himself, betraying them and making Hook die, at least in that moment, in vain. It took the death of his wife for him to fully overcome his constant desire for immortality and power. No matter what, Rumplestiltskin is an endlessly complex and dynamic character that is always fascinating to watch.

3. Prince Charming/David Nolan (portrayed by Josh Dallas)

A classic Disney Prince if there ever was one, this Prince Charming, real name David Nolan, wanted to be known for more than awakening a sleeping Princess, even if doing so brought him great happiness. Indeed, this charming prince is so much more, with more complexities in both his origin story and personality. When he was cursed he literally was unable to overcome his confusion and bad choices but when that curse was lifted the wonderful Prince finally shined through. Perhaps not as flashy as the villains on the series, David, as the traditional leading man successfully showcases amazing qualities and captivating moments in ways that are both traditionally heroic and epic as well as understated and quiet. Raised as a shepherd he learned the value of hard work and true love from his mother, and when he became a prince it was to save her and his entire kingdom, determined to not let anyone suffer. Only when he meets Snow White does he realize the that he can stand up against the tyrannical King George and fight for and always find his True Love Snow. Stubborn and often hard headed one moment, he is also kind, brave, heroic, selfless, caring, and honorable. His traditionally heroic moments of fighting a dragon, or palace guards with his newborn daughter in his arms, are matched not only in the beautiful romantic moments with Snow White such as sacrificing himself on more than one occasion to keep her safe or putting himself under a sleeping curse, but also in his moments with Emma proving to be a gentle, protective and truly understanding father, as well as grandfather to Henry, offering advice, guidance or comfort whenever it was needed. He also learned to overcome prejudice and past wrongs and forgave the likes of Hook and Regina. This Prince Charming is the ideal combination of masculine strength and sensitive tenderness, brilliant in both moments of quiet wisdom and love and brave heroics, proving that the traditional fairy tale prince can be a modern, inspiring and relatable character.

2. Killian Jones/Captain Hook (portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue and Oliver Bell)

The character of Captain Hook has seen countless interpretations since the original iteration and none have ever been quite as extraordinary as Once Upon a Time’s Killian Jones. As a boy he and his older brother were sold into indentured servitude, suffering years of abuse but retaining a sense of honor along with his idolization of his brother Liam. When a treacherous King’s lies leads to Liam’s death, the young man who dreamed of a hero’s journey became the infamous pirate, and Captain of the Jolly Roger, one day falling in love and running away with Rumplestlskin’s wife, who, now as the Dark One, kills Milah, and cuts off Killian’s hand, leading to the birth of his more colorful moniker, Captain Hook; and a long and dark path of villainy and revenge against Rumple, spanning a century, with fate leading him towards another path: one of love, heroics and redemption. Killian Jones is an old fashioned, swashbuckling, sexy, charming, handsome, flirtatious, and adventurous pirate, who deems himself a dashing rapscallion, but is also sincere, loving, gentle and tender, as well strong in his motivations and convictions. When he met Emma it was as if he was seeing the sun again for the first time in centuries and she inspired him as he learned to hope again, to move past vengeance and tread the path of good. Although he falters and letting go of his revenge proved difficult, once he decided that revenge is not the way, he worked hard to prove himself worthy of Emma’s love, letting his feelings be apparent but letting her lead the way, showcasing an earnest respect.  

Indeed, meeting Emma Swan changed his life in a remarkable way and he found that love was not only possible again, but that it could be the most beautiful and extraordinary love imaginable and inspire you to be a better person. But importantly, though he had hope and confidence, he wanted to be a better man regardless of whether she ever returned those feelings. He supported and encouraged Emma to be her true and miraculous self, helped David find a cure for Dreamshade and find Henry in Neverland, gave up his ship so she could return home to her family, sought forgiveness and often protected Belle from harm after he hurt her deeply in the past, protected Henry from harm numerous times, and made sure Charming did not follow a path of revenge himself, knowing the pain it causes. When he realized he had been turned into a Dark One, he faltered and let it consume him, but soon turned around and made the ultimate sacrifice. When Emma is unable to bring him home he makes sure she will let him go, and proves crucial in the defeat of the villainous Hades, his sins forgiven by Zeus, allowing him to be resurrected, reborn, and returned to where he belongs: with Emma. Killian Jones will always retain the dashing pirate charm, but he also became a devoted husband, caring father and step father, loyal friend, and true hero. He is truly the greatest version of Captain Hook to ever sail the seven seas.

1. Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, Mckenna Grace and Abby Ross)

When it came to choosing Once Upon a Time’s finest character, the most apropos choices had to be Emma Swan, the heroine and main character for the show’s first six seasons, and the one whose legacy, inspiration, and spiritual presence remained until she returned in the beginning and end of the final season, closing out the series in a beautiful, satisfyingly profound way that brought the series, and her character full circle. Emma is the lens for the audience and in turn the most relatable character as she grew up in the real world and dealt with real world struggles, pain, and heartbreak. A beautiful, complex, intelligent, resourceful, determined, empathetic, kind, and loving woman, she began the series very lonely and guarded, terrified of being truly vulnerable with anyone. But over the course of the series she found courage to open her heart with her son, her family, her friends, and the man she falls truly in love with. Born as the Savior, and the one who could bring back the happy endings, she was spared from the curse and sent to the Land Without Magic and grew up with a sense of abandonment and unworthiness, that only continued with painful experiences with both Ingrid and Neal which perpetuated her reluctance to trust, leading to a strong sense of self reliance and thick skin, but never hardening her heart completely. Through all the pain, she remained guarded but deep down never lost that kindness or desire to help others, adopting early on the surname Swan, which became a metaphor for her journey from the ugly duckling rejected as a child and feeling as she didn’t matter to anyone, to the person she truly was an wanted to be- the beautiful swan and the Savior, a destined hero but one whose choices and true goodness made her such. The magic that resides inside her takes times to hone but that is just another example of how Emma is like us all in the ways we must learn to not only find our place in the world but become our best selves.

Through her tears and her smiles, you feel every single heart beat of Emma’s journey of self discovery as she embraces her role as the Savior, begins to learns magic, and most importantly begins to heal the wounds she had carried with her all of her life. It takes a while for her to believe in magic and who she is but the love she forms for her son Henry breaks the first curse of Storybrooke, her True Love saving her son’s life and awakening the town from its 28 year sleep. But it is not smooth sailing from then on. She remained guarded around her parents but in time she learns to forgive, embracing Storybrooke and her family as the home she always wished for- a place you know when you just miss it. Her journey towards true romantic love is a rocky one, but when she opens her heart and begins to believe in hope, and believe in Killian’s sincerity, her heart awakens from its long sleep, and they find a deep and everlasting bond that survives both succumbing to the Darkness, and a test of True Love ordained by the Gods. In the final step in her journey and the final battle she overcomes her fears and makes the ultimate sacrifice, solidifying her position in the series as its greatest hero and Savior as she sacrifices her life for everyone, only to be resurrected with love. Despite the magical aspects to Emma’s character, she remained the most grounded character of the series. And importantly, Emma Swan is emblematic of the kind of inspiring hero, as well as showcasing qualities that many of us face every day. She is a beautiful depiction of a woman who exemplifies what it means to be human. Like all of us, she is neither all tough and hard, nor all soft and gentle. Emma Swan indeed is a hero, but she is more importantly a woman who taught us all that we decide the kind of person we are no matter what the world may tell us, and that strength comes not just from physicality and defeating monsters, metaphorical or otherwise, but by being vulnerable enough to open your heart to forgiveness and love. And that is why the woman with red leather jacket and yellow bug, the metaphorical color that arrives in Storybrooke, is such a profound character. And it is why Emma Swan, the lonely soul who becomes the strong, resilient, triumphant hero, Princess, Savoir, Sheriff of Stoybrooke, caring daughter, gentle and wise mother, and deeply loving wife, who realizes that her happy ending is truly a happy beginning, is Once Upon a Time’s greatest character.

Honorable Mentions: Ruth, Dr, Whale/Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Isaac (The Author), The Blue Fairy/Mother Superior, Sidney Glass/Magic Mirror, Tiana/Sabine, Merida, Alice/Tilly, Blackbeard.

Special recognition: Alice, Cyrus, Will Scarlet, Anastasia and Jafar from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (These are all wonderful characters and although Will and Jafar both appeared in the main show, their true greatness lies with Wonderland along with the other main characters of the series.)

Best of the Decade: Top 40 Favorite Television Shows

The Best Television of the past decade, the favorite shows from 2010 to 2019 were varied to say the least. These were often brilliant and beautiful, funny and poignant, captivating and intriguing; some shows that appear on this list will not be surprising with their inclusion as they are beloved here at The Girly Nerd. Others, and especially the ordering, might take you by surprise. The criteria was simple. The series had to have spent the major of its run in the decade. This excluded shows such as The Office and Lost, or the add on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which did air in the decade but most of its run was out of that time frame. But all in all there was so much television to love from long running sitcoms, to bingable thrillers, to short-lived, but incredible dramas. They were all a wonder to behold.

Before delving into the Top 40 we must take note of some honorable mentions, many of which could be worthy enough to be included in the top 40 but were not simply because I have either just begun them, or fell behind and will need to revisit them at some point. Soon to be started is Netflix’s The Crown, along with Dolly Parton’s musical catalog inspired Heartstrings. Just began is the irreverent and quirky Schitt’s Creek, while I’ve fallen behind on was the touching and funny Speechless, thoughtful and steadfast Blue Bloods, intriguing and slick Lucifer, and the beautiful period drama Poldark. I look forward to revisiting and getting back into each of these. other shows that deserve not recognition are Happy Together and Happy Endings. But the purpose this is to highlight the best of this past decade. Without further ado here are the Top 40 favorite Television shows of the Decade.

40. Ringer (2011-2012) ringer
Dark and sexy drama, this tale of a woman who takes over the life of her selfish twin sister starred the amazing Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd and was full of twists and turns, and soapy dramatic intrigue and I loved every minute. The show ended with many things left unresolved which is a shame because it was a ringer in terms of sexy mysteries of the time.

39. IZombie (2015-2019)izombie
Often brilliant, always poignant, the only reason the show isn’t listed higher is I fell behind on the series by about the season. But regardless this zombie drama which is, thankfully for a viewer like myself, never too violent or glory, but rather a more thoughtful and even fun take on the concept as the amazing Rose McIver literally becomes a different person in each episode. It may be fantasy, but the heart is about human morality and love in all its forms.

38. About a Boy (2014-2015) about_a_boy
Based on the British film of the same name, the Americanized version is lighter and a bit softer in terms of the main character and his quirky neighbor who begrudgingly becomes friends with him after her son takes a shine to him. Its heartfelt and silly fun.

37. Galavant (2015-2016) galavant
This goofy, colorful unique breath of fresh air musical comedy show was bursting at the seams with talent from its amazingly talented cast which included Karen David, Joshua Sasse and Timonthy Omundson to the musical composer of the illustrious Alan Menken. The Monty Python-esque storytelling, Galavant was a niche show but beloved by those who discovered it’s hilarious greatness.

36. The Astronaut Wives Club (2015) ERIN CUMMINGS, DOMINIQUE MCELLIGOTT, JOANNA GARCIA SWISHER, AZURE PARSONS, YVONNE STRAHOVSKI, ZOE BOYLE
This wonderful mini-series, tightly crafted with an incredible cast, took a new angle at the depiction of NASA in the 1960s. Seen mostly from the perspective of the wives of NASA top astronauts, we see just what they endured as they watch their husbands embark on historic but extremely dangerous missions. But this isn’t an all hearts and flowers saccharine look at doting and meek happy housewives. No, we see real, very loving and intelligent women, all very different and dealing with every day trials and their husband’s work, and sometimes infidelities, as well as personal aspirations of their own. It’s equal parts fond remembrance and inspiring encouragement and hope for a better life then and now.

35. Reign (2013-2017) reign2
Perhaps not the most historically accurate, but one of the most enthralling, sexy, and exquisite looks at the life of Mary Queen of Scots, this series showcased all the drama, tragedy, and escapades of the Royal, romantic, sexual and wartime intrigues of France, Scotland and England in the 16th century. Fine cast, gorgeous production, and captivating storytelling, this show was for anyone who loves royal dramas rich with intrigue.

34. The Mysteries of Laura (2014-2016) laura
Two seasons wasn’t long enough for this engaging crime procedural with Debra Messing and Josh Lucas, Messing being Laura Diamond, one of the best homicide detectives in the NYPD, juggling being a single mother and sparring with her ex-husband Lucas who is now her partner. What really made this show was Laura’s character, a very real and relatable woman, who it amazing at her job, but still fallible in her everyday life, intelligent and strong, stubborn but loving, open and forgiving. These mysteries were grounded and wonderful.

33. Emily Owens M.D. (2012-2013) emily
This is short-lived but overall excellent medical dramedy wasn’t overly serious and bombarded with medical crisis. Instead while it did deal with these things, rather it more keenly focused on a group of young doctors, its lead being Emily, the perpetually teased but extremely hard-working young woman juggling her awkward social life with the pressures of a competitive and stressful workplace. It was well acted with a wonderful cast that included Maime Gummer, Justin Hartley and Michael Rady, and it was fresh and poignant and so enjoyable.

32. Manifest (2018-present) manifest
Part of my “Best of 2018,” as said Manifest is, “Intriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. [wanting] to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years.” It’s a mysterious and thoughtful journey so far that leaves us wanting more.

31. A Discovery of Witches (2018- present) A Discovery of Witches
Another that was part of the “Best of 2018,” in this fantasy show, ” Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by, most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds.” based on Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, it’s chilling and romantic, and the upcoming seasons are sure to be just as thrilling.

30. The Goldbergs (2013-present) goldbergs
Anyone who grew up in the 80s, or indeed lived in the 80s in any way should love this silly and good-natured look at family life in this formidable decade focusing on a young boy obsessed with movies, wanting to be the next big filmmaker, and the trials of being an awkward teenager, with a popular but equally awkward brother, Queen bee sister, smother for a mother, and tough but well-meaning father. It’s laugh out loud funny and so, so heartfelt.

29. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present) DSC00208.ARW
Witty, fast talking, delightful, colorful, meaningful, poignant, funny, effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series, each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Sherman-Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life.” And in the third season it was a rich vignette style sense of storytelling. A smoke-filled, gin and tonic soaked nostalgic gem with a wonderful continuation of Midge’s journey. Where she heads to next is anyone’s guess, but it’s sure to be a simply marvelous.

28. New Girl (2011-2018) new girl
You can describe this comedy in the same way you can describe its leave protagonist Jessica Day played by the incomparable Zooey Deschanel – sweet, a little silly, quirky, but ultimately strong, wise and heartfelt. Jess was definitely a lovable character; she’s someone whose quirks and awkwardness was endearing and so relatable to anyone he was ever felt a little weird, but is smart and strong willed enough to not let that dim that special light that burns inside them. That is New Girl’s greatest takeaway as we see that with all the characters and relationships. They grow and love and learn, but never compromise their unique individual selves. It’s a triumph of showcasing goofiness and wisdom in a way that was always engaging.

27. Royal Pains (2009-2016) royal
There was so much to love about this dramedy from the cast, to the characters, to the fact that there wasn’t anything else like it on television. Dr. Hank Lawson loses everything when he acts with his conscience instead of his pragmatism, forcing him to look for work elsewhere. Begrudgingly with the partnership of his brother Evan, and the help of a physician’s assistant Divya (who was a refreshing depiction and an Indian woman breaking tradition to be her own fulfilled person), Hank becomes a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. A sort of MacGyver medical drama, patients offered interesting things to behold, while the drama that unfolded for the characters and their relationships remained rewarding to watch, with a truly satisfying conclusion.

26. The Good Place (2016-present) good place.png
Another winner from Michael Schur, what makes this absurd and unique comedy work, and indeed set it apart from other shows in lovely ways, are the interesting and vastly different cast of characters, and the way they all come together with love, friendship and teamwork on a profound level, looking at philosophy and morality of life in ways that are both funny and thought-provoking. This “Soul Squad” and their adventures are good for our souls.

25. Modern Family (2009-present) mod fam
Taking a cue from The Office in it’s format by speaking to the camera about what they are going through throughout each episode, the comedy and heart of this show works thanks to an incredible cast and great writing that showcase the humor of every day family life in universal ways with 3 families, all different and more modern in appearance. Sometimes silly and absurd, often heartwarming and poignant, Modern Family will be a classic for years to come.

24. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)The Change Constant/The Stockholm Syndrome
This long running comedy spent the majority of its run in the decade and it’s a prime example of a show simultaneously remaining true to its core concepts and heart will also improving and evolving. And evolving is the keyword when it comes to all of the characters who end in better, happier, more enlightened places. All while remaining so funny and sweet. These nerds learned so much without losing themselves.

 

23. Fuller House (2016-present) fuller-house-season-2
This reboot of the original series is sweet hearted, goofy but like the original has some poignant moment, perhaps left less often but still lovely and affecting. Seeing sisters DJ and Stephanie and best friend Kimmy grown with families of their own, navigating the ups and downs of adulthood, mirroring the concept of Full House, brings forth some wonderful moments and a lot of heart, with the proper dose of nostalgia there any fan of the original would delight in. Romantic entaglements, the ups and downs of parenthood, High School reunions, Weddings, musical numbers, New Kids on the Block, there is so much to delight in!

 
22. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-2014)wonderland
The spin-off of Once Upon a Time may have had only one season and 13 episodes, but it was an exciting and heartfelt series, was indeed connected to the original with crossover characters and settings, but was amazing in its the singular story with a small and select amount of characters, that still had that ever present intertwining and fun blend of stories. Alice falls in love with a Genie from Agrabah and fights the evil Jafar, is best friends with one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet who loves someone himself, The Red Queen who is also the step sister Anastasia. The writing was tight, characters wonderful, and story lovely and enthralling with a beautiful satisfying, tear inducing ending showing the power of true love and friendship.

21. The Middle (2009-2018)the-middle
Life in the middle of America for an average middle-class family was endlessly relatable in this sweet and always funny, often touching comedy. What makes the show is the characters in the Heck family which feel so real, relatable and endearing. The scenarios are sometimes presented in wacky ways, but make no mistake, the situations are ripe with truth. At the end of the day, The Middle is anything but middling, but rather a look at people who could be your friends and neighbors, and indeed happily so.

20. Trophy Wife (2013-2014) trophy
Absolutely hilarious, sweet natured comedy series that should have run much longer than its single season, don’t let the title throw you off. This is a modern family comedy about a man who is on wife number three, much younger than him, but they are a sweet couple to behold. And their crazy and unconventional lives which includes three kids, and both ex-wives showcases them navigating this life together with bits of silliness and heartwarming moments. Fantastic cast, with the characters all so different, the ex-wives are a bit extreme opposites but still likable, the kids feel like real kids and are all, again, different, but sweet and endearing, and the main couple in question is believable in their love and relationship. Worthy to note, this show bolstered two of the most relatable moments ever – asking someone to look up an actor’s filmography online because they seem so familiar, and trophy wife Kate wanting her wedding to have the same vibe and feeling as Kermit and Miss Piggy’s.

19. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019) a-series-of-unfortunate-events-season-2
As said in the Best of 2018 series, ” The Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. A steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, it features intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast. The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well.. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing.”

18. Hart of Dixie (2011-2015) hart
A sweet, funny, gentle, dramedy, Hart of Dixie is a guaranteed pallet cleanser for those who need it. A bit Gilmore girls esque, in this story of a young New York Doctor who moves to the small Alabama town of Bluebell, complete with a colorful cast of real characters, we see how this journey to the South changes her life and the lives of the town forever; and it is absolutely delightful. Flawed characters who you genuinely love, relationships that go through tribulations but all end up happily, growth from all, and touching friendships, the heart of Hart of Dixie is the very epitome of making lemonade out of lemons and finding your life in the most unexpected of places

17. This is Us (2016-present) this_is_us_cast-publicity-h_2019_
Interwoven stories of a family seen at different times in their lives, has been heartwarming, heartbreaking, relatable, lovely, and moving each and every season, due in no small part to the fine writing, wonderful characters, and exceptional cast. Becoming a bit of a phenomenon, the popularity is matched by the quality and it’s clear and understandable why audiences yearned for this type of dramatic family storytelling. There is so much to love about the Pearson family at every stage of their lives, and its current season we see that scope broaden into other characters as we see that age old truth of how a single person can come out of the blue and completely change our lives. If a show had a heartbeat on those relatable truths of life, it would be This is Us.

16. Pan Am (2011-2012) pan am 1
Chic, romantic, beautiful, optimistic nostalgia, Pan Am looks at a time in history ripe with hope for the future, and big changes in the world, but also still so far to go in terms of equality and fair and good treatment of women and others alike. 1960’s stylish with the best modern sensibilities about chasing your dreams and believing in a future better than the past, these attributes reflected the glamorous but sometimes turbulent life of a Pan Am stewardess. The cast is wonderful, including Christina Ricci and a new to Hollywood scene Margot Robbie, the stories are a mix of light and fun, and dark and serious, showing the life of an undercover spy. It’s a breezy drama that truly soared and deserved to be on (and in the air) much longer.

15. White Collar (2009-2014)whitecollar_epguide_206
Most definitely inspired a bit by Frank Abagnale and Catch Me if You Can, White Collar was another in USA network’s string of entertaining serialized crime shows, this one being a more lighthearted caper drama about a white-collar criminal who alluded authorities for so long and went finally caught makes a deal to work with the FBI to stop criminals with the lead who tracked him down, the two eventually becoming close friends. The concept was fresh, the stories interesting, and the dynamic between the characters always great to watch. I was often mesmerized by Matt Bomer’s charisma as this charming thief Neal Caffrey, and touched by the friendship that formed between him and Tim Dekay’s Peter Burke Ending in a satisfying by open ended way, if we ever revisited these characters it would be a joy.

14. Murdoch Mysteries (2008- present)Tinsel
This long running Canadian drama is an absolute delight for those who enjoy turn of the century stories, interesting and endearing characters, stand out of history, and procedural detective shows. Detective William Murdoch’s life as a member of the Toronto Constabulary is always an exciting, thoughtful one and the adventures we see, especially with the woman who becomes his wife, the intelligent and inspiring medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden, as well as Chief Inspector Brackenreed and constable George Crabtree are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes intense, but always enthralling. Through the wonderful period details and integration of real life people of note in history from Thomas Edison to Mark Twain, you get a truly rich series.

13. Castle (2009-2016) castle
When it comes to procedural crime dramas, you need the right combination of a fine cast, interesting cases, and captivating overarching stories. Castle had these in spades. But what really made the show was the characters, their chemistry, they are evolving relationships, from cocky but good hearted writer Richard Castle, the intelligent and guarded detective who inspires him Kate Beckett, homicide detectives that are often so funny, but also capable Ryan and Esposito, Castle’s classy and no nonsense mother, and his sweet and mature teenage daughter Alexis. They all become a family over the course of the series which had a very unique hook – a writer looking for inspiration who begins working with one of New York’s finest homicide detectives, causing sometimes trouble but eventually becoming part of the crime solving team in a crucial way. Although the show almost took a detour, in the it ended extremely satisfyingly. And overall this Castle was magnificent.

12. The Mentalist (2008-2015)mentalist 1
Dark, thrilling, emotional, on the edge of your seat drama, The Mentalist had an abundance to love. The twinkle in his eye, disarming smile, calming presence and overall charisma of Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane was unparalleled. He’s man who has keen observational skills, and the ability to tap into people’s thoughts, sometimes in a manipulate ways- a true mentalist that helped the California Bureau of Investigation solve countless cases, along with and amazing other cast of characters, and fine actors to boot, the strong, smart and caring Teresa Lisbon, who Patrick loses his heart to, and other agents, brave and funny Wayne Rigsby, spiritual and resilient Grace Van Pelt, and stoic, no nonsense Kimball Cho. emotionally so, Patrick’s charm was matched by the despair in his eyes whenever he is forced to revisit his darkest day when his wife and child were murdered by the infamous serial killer Red John. Although the week by week cases all had great intrigue, it was the over arching story of fighting and stopping that infamous killer that was the core of what made the show captivating until the very end, especially when it involved its characters who went on journeys of self discovery and healing. The show’s final moments are truly a beautiful example of hope and peace overcoming darkness.

11. Burn Notice (2007-2013)burn
Intense, addicting spy drama not only bolstered amazing characters but had one of the best series endings of all time. This show was the perfect blend of dark and light as Michael Weston tries to find out why and who burned him as a spy, along the way helping those who really need it with help from his trigger-happy ex and eventual girlfriend Fiona, a friend who used to inform on him to the FBI, hiarious ladies man Sam Axe, a down and out spy Jesse Porter he met along the way and his chain-smoking mother who kept him in his check. An unconventional family to say the least, their adventures involved more mojitos and explosives than the fourth of July, but the humor and heart were matched by the griping storytelling. Always keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, it was amazing to see these characters grow and showcase the importance of a fridge full of yogurt and standby tactical support. In all seriousness, Burn Notice was an astounding shoe that brought it’s characters full circle in a truly moving way.

10. Forever (2014-2015)STEPHEN BARKER TURNER, ALANA DE LA GARZA, IOAN GRUFFUDD
Such a rich, unique series that deserved more than a single season, Forever took a captivating and unique take on the crime procedural by having its protagonist Henry Morgan, a medical examiner in New York Cry who begins working with the police to help solves cases, have a defining trait like no other- he lives forever. Or rather he can die but is always reborn moments later. Take this concept, making is rolling by casting Ioan Gruffudd, add a touching point of his older “friend “actually being a son he adopted from a Jewish internment camp with his wife in that time period, (a woman he still yearns to discover what happened to her after a mysterious, heartbreaking disappearance) and weekly mysteries and continuing story of the mystery to Henry’s condition, a chilling man whose discovered this, and we get an amazing show that deserve so much more time.

9.Smash (2012-2013)smash 1
The magic, music and drama about all it takes to make a Broadway show, from the writing, casting, and grueling rehearsal process is the heart of this musical drama. The lives of all involved revolving around the making of a musical based on Marilyn Monroe in season one, to a Modern rival musical written by ingénues coming up in the wings in season two, and finally a race to the Tony awards, this series showcased a particular part of our culture that is ripe with intrigue, fun, sadness, joy and excitement; and I loved every single moment. Without outstanding production quality, as well as production numbers and music, these shining moments shone as brightly as it’s truly exceptionally talented all star cast which included Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jeremy Jordan. Smash was truly smashing and deserves a standing ovation.

8. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) parks
Absurdly hilarious in the same vein of The Office, this somehow morphed into a surprisingly sweet and hopeful fable about people who were all so different- different ages, upbringings, assuredly personalities and political ideologies- and they not only learn to love each other like family, but support and work together despite, and even because of those differences. Through it all this group is led by the incomparable Leslie Knope, the woman which more enthusiasm, heart, creative ideas, and hopeful ideals that truly inspires everyone, from her best friend, beautiful starfish Ann Perkins, sardonic assistant who pretends to care less April Ludgate, grumpy but ultimately caring libertarian Ron Swanson, nerdy eventual husband Ben Wyatt, impossible optimistic Chris Traeger, the sweet and silly Andy Dwyer, the yearning to be an entrepreneur Tom Haverford, always maligned by sweet Jerry Gergich, and sassy and smart Donna Meagle. Don’t we all wish life could be like this – the town of Pawnee may be strange at times, but at its heart we see good people navigating life, friendship and family, all while being laugh out loud hilarious. Parks and Recreation is sweet lovely, absurd and brave all at once.

7. Stranger Things (2016-present)stranger-things-season-4-netflix-what-we-know-so-far
Three seasons so far and each one has been an incredible blend of sci-fi, drama, government conspiracy, and coming-of-age tale. It’s a show I never knew I needed but this story which starts about a small town boy going missing, a mysterious, traumatized girl with telekinetic abilities sheltered by a group of young boys, a resourceful mother who would do anything for her children, and snarky but intelligent badass police chief investigating these strange occurrences, captured the minds of so many. As the show has evolved so have the characters, most especially said police chief Jim Hopper, and the remarkably powerful ways so many ways young girl Eleven who becomes his surrogate daughter, as well as the group of misfit boys who are maturing with each season. Each year the threat of the truly terrifying upsides down, a paralleled world filled with destruction, monstrous creatures call demagorgans, as well as the gargantuan Mind Flayer continues to be thrilling and moving not just in the fight against terrifying monsters, but in showing the power of the human spirit. We fight for those we love learning just what we are capable of and it’s an extraordinary journey to witness.

6. Agent Carter (2015-2016)agent1.jpg
Stylish, thrilling, moving, and filled with wisdom, this incredible series was part superhero comic pulp, part detective drama, park comedy and romance, and all around criminally underrated and short-lived. It only two seasons and 18 episodes, Peggy Carter and her team brought us fantastic mystery and inspiration as part of the marvel universe. What truly makes the show what it is was the title character, as said in the “Best of 2015”, “Agent Carter rests on the shoulders of Peggy Carter the character and the performance by its star Hayley Atwell. And for that reason we have seen the show deliver poignant and dynamic television. Peggy is strong and brave no doubt, but it’s the moments of vulnerability even when she tries to push that aside that make her even stronger. It’s this moments when she is determined to gain the respect she deserves, all with dignity, that she becomes even braver. And it’s the moments when she says that she understands and knows her value and that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter that she becomes even more of an inspiration than she already was. Peggy Carter may not always have garnered the credit she has earned many times over but the beauty of her character is that she knows what truly matters is that her self-worth is not determined by others.” In addition to Peggy, the show bolstered amazing character, most especially Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s valet who helped Peggy and became her true partner in crime, as well as Agent Daniel Sosusa, the brave and steadfast man who takes a shine to her, for all the right reasons. Agent Carter shows the power of self-worth and integrity wrapped in a colorful, nostalgic, nourish package that I still miss every day.

5. Timeless (2016-2018)timeless.jpg
Timeless was a remarkable and truly a magical show. As written in the “Best of 2018”, “This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people.” seeing everything from Alamo and the Moon Landing, Bonnie and Clyde, Benedict Arnold, to Hedy Lamarr and Alice Paul . The evolving relationships were the true heart beat of the show with show’s ending demonstrating that life is a journey, not a destination. It’s a beautiful journey with Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, Flynn, Jiya, Denise, and Connor through time: “The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes. Timeless is as timeless a form of entertainment and fine storytelling as there ever was.

4. Downton Abbey (2010-2015) Promo.jpg
Immaculate, sumptuous, enthralling period drama that captured the hearts and minds of so many and truly became a cultural phenomenon, what made Downton Abbey such a special and extraordinary series was its characters. The format and historical aspect isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, and yet the stories of the Crawley family and its large estate staff felt fresh and captivating in a way like we’ve never seen. Perhaps it’s the vast amount of characters, the heady style of drama which ranged from romantic entanglements, to World War I, to tragic deaths, to repairing broken spirits and souls. These characters and the family, which includes everyone because we see despite the class differences and even disparity among the Crawleys and staff alike, family and love endured. With already one inspired movie released, the series is a breathtaking look at life and its timeless truths in an ever-changing world. It may be another time, but that heartbeat remains true with ours skipping a beat every time that musical theme begins and we step back into the immaculate grandeur and beautiful simplicity of its finest themes: love and family.

3. Chuck (2007-2012) chuck
A family drama wrapped in a wacky spy thriller, peppered with colorful characters led by the incomparable Zachary Levi, Chuck is a brilliant, sweet natured and endearing take on the concept. It spent three out of its five seasons in the beginning of the decade, and it was some of the show’s finest moments- ones that really evolved the characters and overall story in terms of their growing relationships and their stakes when Chuck’s intersect becomes more than simply government secrets, but also amazing abilities that he must learn to hone and utilize as he works to becomes a real spy. They face formidable villains and family drama, but at its heart, Chuck is about believing in yourself and doing anything for family, with characters who are endearing while all vastly different. Chuck is not just an intelligent and charming computer nerd and his not just a government asset. He is a brave and capable in his own right man with strength, integrity and heart that endures everything life throws at him. Sarah becomes more than a closes off and stubborn but always kickass spy. She is becomes even stronger through her love and willingness to doing anything to protect it. Casey becomes more than a hard-nosed NSA agent who pretends to care for little other than serving his country. He learns the power of family while remaining steadfast in his convictions. Morgan becomes more than Chuck’s geeky, awkward friend, but proves his bravery and good heart to be so great. Ellie and Awesome not only continue to be not only capable doctors and steadfast support systems, but even more open and loving to who Chuck has become. You love them all, root for them, and if you don’t believe Sarah and Chuck’s love overcomes in the end, perhaps you didn’t understand what the show was truly about.

2. Psych (2006-2014, 2017) Psych - Season 8
This comedy, drama, detective, fake psychic procedural, extraordinary goofy series spent half of its run in the decade, plus a movie. And it was just as hilarious, creative and at its core, heartwarming as the first half, perhaps even more so. The show began the decade halfway through its fourth season, and by that point the characters not only were well established but had grown individually and in their relationships. And while each case we saw had its moments, it was the captivating Yin and Yang, the musical, and Clue inspired episodes that were especially the pinnacle, along with the ways the friendships and romantic relationships grew, and eventually dealt with the truth about Shawn’s abilities. And from Shawn and his father really growing close, Shawn and Juliet finally coming together in love, (ending the series with a marriage proposal and the film with that long awaited wedding, impromptu as it was), Carlton finding his soulmate, and the heart of the show, best friends Shawn and Gus, it’s these relationships that really grounded the show through all the over the top hilarious antics as well as its darker moments. It’s a testament to the fine writing and performances, that you truly love all of these characters. They become a family and feel like one to audience. This brilliant series never made a false step. Psych was perfection!

1. Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) 6x22c
Anyone who follows The Girly Nerd shouldn’t be surprised at the show that’s taking the top spot for favorite of the decade. Captivated from the Pilot episode, a show about Disney and fairytale characters with a modern twist, a mysterious, whimsical, sweet, enthralling, romantic with themes of hope, family and true love, is the kind of series tailor made for someone with my (and indeed any true Disney and fairy tale fan’s) sensibilities and tastes. Despite final season taking a detour, in the end and overall the series are and these beautiful characters created new fairy tales for the ages that brought forth timeless themes in ways that captured our hearts unparalleled ways. It was a stroke of brilliance and creativity or to tell stories about what happens after happily ever after, and indeed intertwine them all together. How fun is it to see that Snow White is friends with Ariel and Cinderella, that Anna and Elsa have a long lost Aunt and Anna is the one who taught Prince Charming how to sword fight, that Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent make a formiable villain squad, and that the Wicked Witch of the West is sisters with the Evil Queen who falls in love with her soulmate Robin Hood, finding him with the help of Tinkerbell. How amazingly creative is it to have Rumplestilskin be this story’s Beast who loves Belle, and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, the pirate who grows into a true hero, while Peter Pan is the real villain. And it was an equally brilliant concept to create a brand new fairy tale character in Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who is a relatable, remarkable woman who is also a mirror for the audience. She is an outsider who finds her place in the world, her True Loves in her son and Captain Hook, and her family in her parents and truly so many that reside in the afiry take lands and the true home of the series Storybrooke. She becomes the hero who saves the happy endings for all, before finding her own, the main storyline and character wrapped around all these other amazing tales and characters. Through tragedy and curses, miracles and happy beginnings, we see that anything is possible if we just hold on to hope. In this day in age I can’t think of anything else more life affirming, which is why this series which was endlessly magical in its enchanting settings, and grounded and profound moments of enduring love, tops the list for the Best of the Decade.

25 Favorite Friends Episodes

Friends is one of the greatest comedies show of all time. It shaped modern sitcoms, was filled with relatable characters and situations and is just as beloved now as it was when it originally aired. Funny, warm, endlessly quotable, this series which aired for 10 seasons from 1994-2004 and had 236 episodes, is my personal favorite modern comedy series. In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary I am counting down my 25 favorite episodes along with a few honorable mentions. It was difficult to choose these indeed because there are so many amazing episodes.

Honorable Mentions:
Season 1 Episode 18
The One With the All the Poker
A hilarious battle of the sexes with the game of poker helps established key character traits for each one of them, particularly Monica’s competitiveness, Joey’s food rules, and Phoebe’s sweetness. It becomes clear Ross completely loves Rachel when he folds a winning a hand so she can win, happy to see her happy.

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Season 4 Episode 23/24
The One with Ross’ Wedding
Ross’ wedding in London provided many laughs and unexpected romantic moments that led to two endgame couples as Rachel hastily flies to the wedding to tell Ross she loves him, and Monica and Chandler hook up for the first time. Joey’s romp through London, Phoebe trying to warn of Rachel’s arrival and a amusing guest star appearance from Hugh Laurie are real highlights.

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Season 10 Episode 16
The One With Rachel’s Going Away Party
Sweet and heartfelt executed in a hilarious way is one of the things Friends did brilliantly and is known for. After 10 seasons what these characters mean to each other is shown in each goodbye to Rachel as she prepares to move to Paris, each one in true fashion to each character. Of course it’s the one with Ross that would mean the most to both of them.

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and now onto the Top 25!

25. Season 7 Episode 23/24
The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding
Monica and Chandler’s relationship may have comes as a surprise (at least to some), but what was so wonderful was that they became the show’s most stable and sweet romantic relationship, and their wedding was nothing short of beautiful, romantic and funny as you would hope. Chandler’s cold feet, Rachel and Phoebe trying to stall, Gary Oldman, and finally the wedding itself, everything is wonderful. Of course, the show threw in a twist at the end when it was revealed that Monica was not the one that was pregnant, but rather Rachel. It was both a satisfying culmination of a journey and the start of another.

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24. Season 5 Episode 3
The One With the One Hundredth
Phoebe is the most eccentric but also one of the most selfless characters on the show, seen none more so by being the surrogate for her brother’s and his wife’s triplets. The 100th episode of the series was a special one as Phoebe finally gives birth, Monica and Chandler realize the relationship is a special one, and Joey, thinking he’s having sympathy pains has kidney stones instead. Of course who can forget that Phoebe’s doctor is even more eccentric then she is, proclaiming unprompted how much he loves Fonzie! The moment Phoebe spends with three little miracles she helped bring into the world is a heartwarming gem.

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23. Season 1 Episode 23
The One With the Birth
From the very beginning the birth of Ross’s child was the source of joy and trepidation for the character, but in true Friends fashion everyone is true to character and gets their moment to induce laughter, from Monica’s yearning for a child, Chandler awkwardly attempting to make her feel better, Rachel flirting with a handsome doctor, and Phoebe giving Ross and Susan advice about their bickering. It’s sweet and light, but showcases the proper gravity of the event. As an Aunt myself when Monica holds baby Ben for the first time, it’s a sweetly relatable moment that makes me cry.

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22. Season 8 Episode 9
The One With the Rumor
When Jennifer Aniston’s then husband Brad Pitt guest starred in Season eight’s Thanksgiving episode, it was definitely a hilariously subversive turn for the actor as someone who can’t stand Rachel, and had formed in high school (with a very regretful Ross), the “I Hate Rachel Green Club” and started a very serious rumor about her. So many laughs, but not from this alone, from Phoebe’s crush on Pitt’s character, to Joey doing what Tribbiani’s do best and eat his own weight in food, this was a Thanksgiving for the record books.

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21. Season 5 Episode 23/24
The One in Vegas
Three different storylines from three different duos highlight the end of Season 5, each one so totally in character, and each one full of sweetness and silly giggles and unexpected turns. Joe’s big movie break ends up being a bust but he thinks finding his identical hand twin is his saving grace- only Joey could think this way, except maybe Phoebe who his enlists to help as her alter ego Regina Phalange. Monica and Chandler’s anniversary quickly turns into high stakes gambling where a roll of the dice helps them decide to tie the knot in a truly sweet moment. But they are hilariously upstaged as a very drunk Ross and Rachel, complete with pen silly faces, come bursting out of the chapel right before them!

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20. Season 10 Episode 5
The One Where Rachel’s Sister Babysits
Friends truly hit the jackpot when he came to guest stars, especially those who played Rachel’s sisters. In her second appearance, Christina Applegate is once again brilliantly funny as she cannot remember who Ross is, nor baby Emma’s name, repeatedly calling her Ella, and caps off being Aunt of the year by piercing her ears without permission, deciding she’s going to be of all things a “baby stylist.” But these were not the only fine moments as the other storylines involves a few botched marriage proposals between Phoebe and Mike, until one that finally is perfect and completely sweet and happy.

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19. Season 1 Episode 7
The One With the Blackout
The first truly iconic episode of the series features a blackout across New York with most of the friends in Monica and Rachel’s apartment, while Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Gudacre. Ross wants to profess his feelings for Rachel, but a cat and charming Italian stranger get in the way. Phoebe, Monica and Joey distract themselves with music and sage advice for Ross and Rachel. And Chandler proclaims what is now an iconic quote and one which I reference on the regular “Gum would be perfection!” Fun and funny in every way!

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18. Season 4 Episode 16
The One With the Fake Party
Even though I wanted (and obviously fans on the whole) Ross and Rachel to end up back together in the end, we cannot deny that their other romantic entanglements provided a lot of hilarious, even endearing moments. In this episode Rachel is determined to seduce her crush Joshua at an impromptu party she cooked up as a going away party for Ross’ new British girlfriend and it is absolutely hilarious as she keeps trying different things, from changing outfits, to spin the bottle, and then a “goodbye cheer” that results in a broken tooth. Poor Rachel feels so dejected at the end, so when Joshua shows back up, ready to be with her despite trepidation, you can’t help but be happy for her; not to mention that she so sweetly offered Ross kind advice about trying make a go of it with Emily, despite her not being in New York. It’s the hijinks and sweet moments that made this episode so great.

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17. Season 4 Episode 1
The One With the Jellyfish
Any true Friends fan knows this episode well, and its many quotable moments, from the truth about what happens on the beach when Monica gets stung by a Jellyfish, to Ross and Rachel getting back together under false pretenses because he fell asleep reading her latter that was 18 pages- FRONT AND BACK!! Even though we love the sweet, quite moments too, there’s something hilarious about these wacky and quick paced episodes that include revealing secrets, arguing and more. It’s also good to know the lengths Joey and truly Chandler would go to help one of their friends. That’s true friendship.

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16. Season 10 Episode 12
The One With Phoebe’s Wedding
This is truly one of the sweetest and loveliest episodes of the entire series, and honestly, even though Monica and Chandler’s wedding is amazing, this was my favorite wedding of the series. And it couldn’t have happened to a sweeter and more deserving character. Having such a rough childhood, and no sense of normalcy, Phoebe grew into a unique, tough but extremely loving and compassionate woman. And when she found someone to love and be a part of the family she found with her friends, she was able to celebrate it in an ultimately simple but profound way. Quiet, snowy and with those she loves most there we get to see Phoebe and Mike declare their love and commitment, thanks to Monica’s fast and unsurprising organizing skills. It may have been freaking freezing but our hearts were as warm as ever.

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15. Season 2 Episode 7
The One Where Ross Finds Out
It was a tough go for Rachel when she found out Ross was in love with her, only for him to return from a business trip with a new girlfriend. Her bind date which turned into her borrowing a very understanding man’s phone to drunkenly declare to Ross’ answering machine that she is finally over him. It real began to show Aniston’s comedic chops while it also led to one of the show’s best moments and a real turning point for the show and one of the best first kisses in TV history.

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14. Season 10 Episode 11
The One Where the Stripper Cries
It takes a truly incredible show to still be able to deliver comedic gold 10 years into a series, and this one from Friends’ final season is a wacky array of just that. Monica and Rachel arrange a classy bachelorette party for Phoebe much to her chagrin, and the last minute stripper is not what they expected in guest star Danny Devito, who has a bit of an existential crisis while there but eventually dances for the girls. It’s surprisingly endearing. Meanwhile, Joey’s turn on the game show Pyramid showcases his unconventional way of thinking that is likewise completely endearing and completely hysterical. If you don’t randomly shout out “Paper, snow , a ghost” while playing your favorite game, are you an even a Friends fan?

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13. Season 6 Episode 12
The One With Rachel’s Sister
The first time we see one of Rachel’s sisters is one of the most quotable and funniest episodes, and a true showcase as a way of utilizing a guest star’s talent without making it too gimmicky or overshadowing the point of the story. Seeing Rachel’s sister Jill go through something similar but react completely differently being much more selfish and self involved led to pure hilarity when she decides to try to hook up with Ross; but that’s not the only comedic gem here. Monica’s stubbornness is seen tenfold as she refuses to admit she’s sick and even seduces Chandler in thinking she has. I cannot name all the amazing quotes below but some highlights include Monica’s congested “I’m in the prime of lime,” Rachel’s “You know what happened to the girl who tried too much too fast? She died Jill,” and Jill’s “You had me doubting how smart I am! You had me doubting my fashion sense!” It’s also worthy to note the funny moment when there’s a knock on the door as they count each other, wondering who it could be when they’re all sitting there.

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12. Season 2 Episode 14
The One With the Prom Video
The episode that developed a new way of describing someone’s soulmate and true love, which is a great feat in itself, we knew that this established Ross and Rachel as an endgame couple (despite the rocky road that lie ahead). The episode also demonstrated many of the show’s common themes and plot devices we would see multiple times throughout the series: Ross’ unassuming and quiet nobleness he would showcase when it mattered, Phoebe’s sweet positivity and wisdom, and flashbacks to their younger selves which were not only funny but informed and help their characters in their present day lives. In this case, seeing that Ross was going to take Rachel to the prom when it seemed like her date had dumped her, and Rachel walks across the apartment to kiss him, the show was never the same and all the better for it.

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11. Season 4 Episode 20
The One With All the Wedding Dresses
Another classic example of the Friends being completely their characters in such funny ways is this hilarious episode where Chandler, who can’t do things like a normal person, takes Joey to a sleep clinic to help his snoring, Monica’s gets a bit carried away trying on Emily’s wedding dress, which quickly rubs off on Phoebe, and Rachel’s gets really carried away trying to compete with Ross and hastily proposes to Joshua. Every moment is giggle inducing from Gunther yelling “You idiot!” at Joshua who turns Rachel down, to Joey falling asleep and asking the entire clinic “How you doin,” to Phoebe’s concern that they can’t marry Chandler, at least “not after this”, ie seeing them in wedding dresses.

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10. Season 6 Episode 6
The One With the Last Night
Don’t lie, you tried to play Cups after watching this episode, Chandler’s, not so subtle to the audience but lost on Joey, fake game to try to help his friend out as he prepares to move out is such a example of what these two are to each other, a true blue support system not matter what. But the real highlight of the episodes was the bickering between Monica and Rachel which changed from listing things they hate to things they love, appreciate and will truly miss about each other. Life is every changing and the episode showed that even when our lives change, these friends will always be there for each other.

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9. Season 5 Episode 16
The One With the Cop
I say the word “PIVOT” and that should be enough of an indicator of what makes this such a classically hilariously episode. Ross, Chandler and Rachel trying to move Ross’ new couch into his apartment with that single word being shouted over and over again is never not funny, especially when wondering why it didn’t work because, after all, he had a sketch. But every story in the episode is beyond funny from Joey wanting the closeness that Monica and Chandler share, so thinking hitting on his friends is the answer, to Phoebe finding a police badge and getting carried away doing good deeds, these all are filled with iconic moments galore.

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8. Season 6 Episode 9
The One Where Ross Got High
There are two Thanksgiving episodes in the top 10 and this is the first. Most viewers will remember this episode as the one where Rachel accidentally makes half an English trifle and half a shepherd’s pie resulting in a custard and jam dessert mixed with beef, peas and onion, aka a dessert that tastes like feet to everyone except for Joey, the man who will clearly eat and love anything. Of course there are is more hilarity than that- the Gellar’s shunning Chandler for a lie Ross told and he and Monica proceeding to spill all of each other’s secrets, and Phoebe’s dreams that change her love from Mr. Gellar to Jacques Cousteau. A lot of information comes out as do a lot of laughs as a result.

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7. Season 3 Episode 9
The One With the Football
The second Thanksgiving episode in the top 10 is the funniest and most on point with the day with hopes for food and being distracted by one of America’s greatest sports- a tie between football and healthy competition. Of course when it comes to playing with friends who are hyper competitive, things can get messy and this was no different. From Chandler and Joey fighting over a girl, to Ross and Monica over the “Geller cup” to Phoebe being so happy to finally play the game and Rachel desperately trying to, what turns into a battle of the sexes is an absolute delight.

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6. Season 5 Episode 19
The One Where Ross Can’t Flirt
If you don’t laugh at the episode I think it’s possible you are without a funny bone. Some of the best episodes of Friends are ones where its entirety takes place in a single location, mostly Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment, and the gang are all talking or preparing for something. In this case the all are waiting to watch Joey on Law and Order, with his Italian speaking grandmother, while Monica and Chandler are anticipating going out to dinner for their anniversary after, Rachel tries to find earrings of Monica’s she lost, and Ross attempts to flirt with the Pizza delivery girl, all to hilarious results. From the grandmother’s “No, no Sam Waterston,” to Joey filming a scene when he realizes he’s been cut from the show, to Ross’ hilarious flirting which ends in him talking about gas of all things, this is classic Friends.

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5. Season 6 Episode 24/25
The One With the Proposal
For a couple whose relationship initially wasn’t supposed to last, Monica and Chandler became the sweetest, most charming and stable romantic relationship on the show, and when it came the episodes that ended with their engagement, it definitely was a showcase of some of what the show did best- provide constant laughs, strong character development and a great deal of heart. Wanting it to be surprise Chandler pretends to be against marriage which leads Monica back to Richard who had expressed regret and remaining love for her. Luckily Monica’s love for Chandler is strong and Richard proves to be an honorable man. And of course Phoebe being her usual eccentric self while helping Chandler pick out a ring was so funny. But the real treat was the heartfelt proposal for the couple, who truly prove that falling in love with your best friend is something we all would dream of.

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4. Season 10 Episode 17/18
The One With the Last One
Perhaps the greatest series finale ever, everything about “The Last One” wraps up the story as it should be. Funny, sweet, surprising emotionally satisfying, we say goodbye to this groups of friends and their growing families in a way that makes us laugh and cry and feel like they each are exactly where they should be. Monica and Chandler finally become parents, to twins as a lovely and happy surprise, while Joey and Phoebe help Ross in his hopes to finally come together with Rachel, before she leaves for Paris and it’s too late. Bringing back iconic running gags like Phoebe using the word “Phalange” in a very crucial moment, to Joey’s adorable understanding of what Ross’s job actually is, to showcasing a new iconic moment for the couple who we knew was meant to be from the very beginning, but as is life took a long time to finally get it right. Ross is Rachel’s lobster so of course she “got off the plane.” When it comes down to it, this group of Friends is a family and while their lives are ever changing they will always be there for each other.

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3. Season 5 Episode 14
The One Where Everyone Finds Out
Monica and Chandler’s relationship remained a secret until this episode and unsurprisingly when they do find out, they choose to have some fun before letting on- and we are all the better for witness such hilarious hijinks. The real star of the episode is Phoebe, while the star moment is the revelation that Monica and Chandler’s relationship is more than just a fun fling, but true love. It’s difficult to elaborate on the greatness of the episode but when you create another iconic quote that people use on the regular, frequently out of context, you know it’s a classic episode of television.

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2. Season 3 Episode 2
The One Where No One’s Ready
Another truly hilarious episode that brought certain quotes and phrases into our everyday vernacular this episode classic Friends is, like others in the Top 10 in that it takes place entirely in one location, and quite uniquely, in real time, as everyone is meant to be getting ready to go out to a function for Ross, and are doing everything but. Phoebe supporting Christmas by sporting a bow to hide a humus stain, Monica insisting she’s breezy when leaving a message on Richard’s answering machine, Chandler and Joey fighting over seat resulting in Joey wearing everything Chandler owns, and Ross regretting losing his temper at Rachel and proving he would do anything for her, because he was willing to drink a glass of fat, there is only one episode that could top this because you cannot get most classic Friends than this!

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1. Season 4 Episode 12
The One With the Embryos
Was there any doubt that this episode would be number 1 on this list. There is no episode more iconic and a true showcase of each character and many of their defining traits: Chandler and Joey’s eccentricities and goofiness, Monica’s competitiveness, Rachel’s eagerness but desire to please, Ross being the most knowledgeable, and Phoebe’s selfless willingness to carry her brother and sister in-law’s child. If you can’t recite the entirety of them playing their game of trivia about each other, especially the “Lightning Round” remembering the TV guide is addressed to Miss Chanandler Bong, that Monica has eleven categories of towels, and that Rachel’s actual favorite movie is Weekend at Bernie’s, are you even a real Friends fan? Regardless, we will never forget the moment the game goes in favor of the guys because the girls don’t know what Chandler’s job is. And at the end of the day, they prove in true goofy and heartfelt fashion that no matter the fights or bickering they will be happy for each other because when your Friends are your family, that’s all the truly matters.

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What are your favorite episodes of Friends? Did I mention your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

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