Every once in a while, an episode of a popular show comes out and manages to unite a divided fandom—in hatred.
These episodes are widely reviled by casual viewers, long-time fans, and critics alike, looked down on for taking a story down a completely pointless route or failing to do characters justice during its runtime.
And sometimes, those viewers are wrong.
Yes, sometimes the most hated episodes of critically acclaimed shows are actually secret gems. Sometimes after the dust has settled from their frosty reception, a re-watch proves they’re actually superb instalments rich with charming character work, clever twists and turns, and shocks which, although unexpected, prove to be perfectly placed in retrospect.
Fair warning—no reader is necessarily going to agree with everything included on this list, given how divisive the subject matter is. But nonetheless, here are a dozen superb instalments of TV which viewers unfairly despised upon first encountering them.
12. Stan’s Best Friend - American Dad
More consistently strange than The Orville creator Seth MacFarlane’s earlier animated hit Family Guy, American Dad has since its inception trafficked in some bizarre and surreal stories such as the seventh season instalment Hot Water, a horror musical which kills off the entire cast.
However even this show’s fan base has its limits, and the gruesome blackly comic instalment Stan’s Best Friend proved unpleasantly mean-spirited enough to earn their ire.
Yes, admittedly the choice to repeatedly and violently off an innocent dog was pretty vicious.
But the episode is also far funnier than fans give it credit for, particularly after years of seeing Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites put its minor characters through similarly gross ordeals.