10 Of The Best TV Flashback Episodes Ranked

Flashback clips or episodes can be annoying or help to clarify previous plots that did not make sense and we see alot of these which often answer several questions that fans had.

Some TV shows regularly incorporate character backstories and flashbacks into their standard format, while others prefer to stay in the present with their storytelling. However, every so often, the latter group of shows breaks out of their routine and delves into characters’ histories in depth through flashback episodes. These flashback episodes provide valuable insights into the characters’ motivations and the reasons behind their current relationships and events. Here are ten of the best TV flashback episodes, ranked for your viewing pleasure:

10. The Mentalist – “Red Dawn” (Season 5, Episode 5)

In this episode, we journey several years before the series begins, witnessing Patrick Jane’s (Simon Baker) lowest point. Fresh out of the hospital after a mental breakdown caused by the death of his family at the hands of serial killer Red John, Jane seeks answers on the case’s progress by approaching his future colleagues at the CBI. The audience witnesses Jane’s transformation from a tormented soul to the character they know, proving himself as a valuable asset to the team.

9. Leverage – “The Rashomon Job” (Season 3, Episode 11)

As a show featuring different heists each week, “The Rashomon Job” stands out as the protagonists recount a theft from the past from their individual perspectives. This clever and comedic episode shows the Leverage team as straightforward criminals before they became who they are today.

8. Suits – “Fork in the Road” (Season 4, Episode 13)

With Mike’s (Patrick J. Adams) secret out and Louis (Rick Hoffman) seeking revenge, the episode delves into the origins of the animosity between Louis and Harvey (Gabriel Macht). The complexities of their relationship are both fascinating and tragic, as Louis struggles to balance envy and admiration for Harvey.

7. Firefly – “Out of Gas” (Season 1, Episode 08)

After the Serenity’s engine explodes, Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) recalls how he met each member of his crew before they joined him and Zoe (Gina Torres). This episode provides a deeper understanding of the characters and their bonds.

6. Riverdale – “The Midnight Club” (Season 3, Episode 04)

Amidst the Gryphons and Gargoyles conflict, Betty (Lili Reinhart) seeks answers from her mother, who confesses her history and that of the other parents with the game. The episode showcases the young cast portraying teenage versions of the older characters, adding depth to the familiar personas.

5. The Bold Type – “#TBT” (Season 3, Episode 06)

When employee emails are hacked, memories of how Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) met and became best friends resurface. The episode explores their early days at Scarlett Magazine and their personal growth.

4. White Collar – “Forging Bonds” (Season 2, Episode 11)

While investigating Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy), Neal (Matt Bomer) and Peter (Tim DeKay) reminisce about Neal’s journey to becoming a criminal and Peter’s pursuit of him. It reveals Neal’s mentors, relationships, and pivotal moments leading to his capture.

3. Scandal – “The Trail” (Season 1, Episode 06)

The episode provides answers to how Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) became involved with the President and how their relationship set events in motion. It showcases Olivia’s early days working on Fitz’s campaign and her recruitment of future employees for OPA.

2. Rick and Morty – “Rickturnal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” (Season 5, Episode 08)

Rick goes into his best friend Birdperson’s (Dan Harmon) memories to save him from the Galactic Federation’s mind control. The flashback revisits their history together, revealing bits of Rick’s enigmatic backstory.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Becoming” (Season 2, Episode 21)

In this two-part season finale, Angelus (David Boreanaz) targets Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends while flashbacks reveal Angel’s life from human to vampire and his decision to aid Buffy. The episode carries emotional weight as the Scooby Gang loses a valuable ally.

Additional Points to Consider

Beyond these ten ranked episodes, other TV shows have also executed memorable flashback episodes. For instance:

Friends – “The One with the Prom Video” (Season 2, Episode 14): This classic Friends episode features a prom video that reveals how Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) originally became friends and foreshadows their romantic relationships.

Lost – “The Constant” (Season 4, Episode 5): This mind-bending episode showcases Desmond’s (Henry Ian Cusick) time-traveling experience, bridging past and present in a poignant and thrilling manner.

How I Met Your Mother – “How Your Mother Met Me” (Season 9, Episode 16): Finally offering the perspective of the titular mother (Cristin Milioti), this episode beautifully reveals her life and encounters leading up to her meeting with Ted (Josh Radnor).

Flashback episodes often serve as crucial turning points in a series, shedding light on unresolved mysteries, deepening character development, and evoking nostalgia. These glimpses into the past enrich the storytelling experience, leaving a lasting impact on both the characters and the audience.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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