The only thing worse than stubbing your toe is when good shows go bad. You’ve been watching for years, built up a strong connection with the characters, you’re excited to see what they do next, then it’s just... bad.
Sometimes it’s motivated by a crucial character leaving, or a departure behind the scenes. Other times, you realise on a rewatch that the first season is garbage compared to what came after, while other shows either fumble the ending or just don’t know how to end full stop.
Whatever the reason for a great show going off the boil though, there’s often still a redeeming quality. Something from whatever made it great still remains, and when that all comes together for one brilliant episode, it’s magical. A bright spot in the darkness.
These episodes are precisely those bright spots. Overall, these shows are fantastic, but they’ve all had a least one dud year; in some cases, more than one. They’re worth powering through just to get to these gems though, as they can remind you of what the show can do when it fires on all cylinders, even if the episodes around it let it down.
10. Dwight Christmas - The Office (Season 9)
The Office Season Nine really has four great episodes, but seeing as the final three are all really one big finale, Dwight Christmas is the one true standout of the standalones.
Shows typically bring (or try to bring) their A-game to finales, so this list largely steers clear of them. There is one which just couldn’t be missed out, but The Office doesn’t need cheap nostalgia in Season Nine to show that even when it’s bad, it can still pull off one last trick.
Dwight Christmas, as the name suggests, is the season’s Christmas episode, and, um, centres around Dwight.
Season Two’s Christmas episode, Christmas Party, is considered one of the most important to The Office’s popularity and success, so these seasonal episodes typically hold a dear place in fans’ hearts. It’s probably not as good as Christmas Party, nor Classy Christmas or Secret Santa, but it’s still head and shoulders above the rest of Season Nine.
Dwight is the office’s Santa, except he’s actually Belsnickel, a German Christmas character who hits naughty people with a stick. Or rather, impish people, as Belsnickel checks who’s impish or admirable, rather than naughty or nice.