A surprisingly deft sitcom which did an excellent job of recreating the spirit of the era, That ’70s Show features a strong main cast with even stronger supporting characters. Moreover, the show operates in a unique cultural space, in that it’s a show that may not be good enough overall to maintain historical relevancy (in the same way something like Friends or Arrested Development might), but is funny and heartfelt enough to maintain a diehard fan base who claim it was one of the best sitcoms on television during its tenure. We’re unashamedly part of that camp, and we have fond memories of watching Eric (Topher Grace), Donna (Laura Prepon), Jackie (Mila Kunis), Hyde (Danny Masterson), Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) stir up trouble and navigate high school in Point Place, Wisconsin, which is why we’re taking the time today to talk about the 10 best episodes of That ’70s Show.
10. “Hyde Moves In” (Season 1, Episode 24)
One of the primary plot points of That ’70s Show occurs at the end of season one, when requisite bad boy Stephen Hyde is forced to move in with his buddy Eric Foreman after his mother, Edna (played in a glorious cameo appearance by Katey Sagal of Married With Children), runs away with a long-haul trucker. This matter is complicated by the nature of Eric’s parents, Red and Kitty Foreman (played by Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp in what amounts to the most adorable and convincing depiction of parental figures in a sitcom that we’ve ever seen), with the former being a tough father and the latter being an overbearing mother. The move, however, sets the stage for the pseudo-brother relationship that would develop between Eric and Hyde over the course of the show’s tenure on TV, and because we love that dynamic so much we’ve kicked this list off with the episode where it all began. Also in this episode, Kelso is repulsed by the physical appearance of a sick Jackie.
9. “Eric’s Corvette Caper” (Season 4, Episode 22)
The nerdy high school boy’s quest to date a cheerleader is certainly not an original plot; rather, it’s some of the best travelled territory in film history, but familiarity does not always equate to staleness. In “Eric’s Corvette Caper,” the 22nd episode of That ’70s Show‘s fourth season, Eric attempts to use Red’s newly purchased Corvette as a means to score a date with one of his high school’s most eligible bachelorettes. Things go awry, however, when his date insists on spending some time behind the wheel and subsequently crashes the car, leaving Eric to pick up the pieces before his parents find out about his mess. A hilarious episode that sees Hyde and Fez both trying to help Eric and trying to help him get caught (while drinking all of Red’s beer, to boot), “Eric’s Corvette Caper” also sees Jackie and Donna attempting to sneak into Kelso’s house to recover a misplaced textbook.
8. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Season 6, Episode 6)
Like most sitcoms, That ’70s Show experiences the majority of its best episodes before season four; after a certain point (in most any sitcom), the characters and the actors who inhabit them often become a strange sort of caricature which relies on the archetypes set up by early seasons to succeed. That’s why most of the episodes on this list take place before That ’70s Show‘s sixth season; however, the show is not without its highlights later on, and the sixth episode of the show’s sixth season, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” is one of those highlights. The episode, which sees Eric and Kelso competing for the same waiter job at Roy’s hotel restaurant, is one of the most highly rated of the show’s later seasons, and for good reason. Pitting Kelso and Eric against each other is always hilarious, as it’s brains against brawn; doing it in a restaurant setting, where there’s all sorts of hot soups and breakable plates, lends itself to some quality slapstick humor.
7. “Garage Sale” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Whether people know it or not, That ’70s Show was actually quite important in breaking down some of the stereotypes traditionally associated with marijuana. Although the references are indirect, the series makes frequent allusions to the characters’ use of the drug, and this is never more apparent than in the first episode of the show’s second season, titled “Garage Sale.” The episode, which sees Hyde selling “special” (read: marijuana infused) brownies as his contribution to the Foreman’s garage sale, is absolutely riotous, most especially when a tray of brownies are misplaced and consumed by the adults of the gathering. With Red selling Eric’s car in all the confusion, hilarity ensues when the gang are forced to track down the buyer and explain the situation.
6. “Ski Trip” (Season 1, Episode 13)
The on-again, off-again relationship between Jackie and Kelso makes up the majority of the romantic drama in the first season of That ’70s Show (well, that and the consistent sexual tension between Eric and Donna); in “Ski Trip,” the thirteenth episode of the show’s first season, the duo are certainly off after Kelso makes a poor decision to kiss Pam Macy. This is a complication for Kelso, as the gang are off for a riotous ski trip at Jackie’s family cabin in the mountains, and after his debacle with Pam Macy he’s no longer on the invite list. Despite the fact that this plot line is ripped straight outta Friends (almost shamefully so), it’s still a hilarious episode that culminates in a drunken Fez running through the snow in his underwear. Good luck convincing us you don’t want to see that!
5. “Misty Mountain Hop” (Season 5, Episode 12)
Like we said before, there’s still some gems to be found in the later seasons of That ’70s Show, and “Misty Mountain Hop,” the twelfth episode of the show’s fifth season, rates as one of the funnier in the series’ history. The episode, which takes the gang back to Jackie’s family ski cabin, sees Red and Kitty accompanying Jackie, Eric and Donna to the cabin in order to remove the furniture, as it’s been put up for sale. Unbeknownst to these intrepid movers, however, is the fact that Kelso, Hyde and Fez have snuck up to the cabin so as to party unsupervised. Trouble ensues when Eric and Donna get lost along the way, and Red, Kitty and Jackie stumble in on Hyde, Kelso and Fez enjoying a long forgotten stash of the devil’s lettuce.
4. “Donna Dates a Kelso” (Season 4, Episode 16)
Like any good sitcom, That ’70s Show makes excellent use of the guest stars the show manages to wrangle up; actors as varied and talented as Joseph Gordon Levitt, Amy Adams, Melissa Joan Hart, Jim Gaffigan and the late comedian Mitch Hedburg all make appearances on the show. But it’s Luke Wilson’s recurring role as Casey Kelso, the older brother of Ashton Kutcher’s Michael Kelso, that leaves the most lasting impression. Wilson, who first appears in “Donna Dates a Kelso,” the sixteenth episode of the show’s fourth season, is downright hilarious as an airheaded and ill-intentioned influence on Donna, who has broken up with Eric and is experimenting with the delights of an older man. A cause for both laughs and drama, Wilson’s guest spot cements this episode’s place amongst the best the series has to offer.
3. “Reefer Madness” (Season 3, Episode 1)
Like we said before, That ’70s Show did a great deal to push television towards an era when discussing marijuana on-air wasn’t an automatic death knell for a series, and in “Reefer Madness,” the first episode of the show’s third season, the series takes aim at many of the negative stereotypes associated with the drug and dismantles them with tact (it also does all of this without explicitly speaking of the drug, and while poking fun at older modes of thought surrounding the substance). In this episode, which sees Eric and Hyde in some serious trouble after Red discovers their stash, effectively rehashes outdated stereotypes surrounding marijuana and repurposes them as a means of poking fun at their old-timeyness, and it’s a surprisingly deft handling of an issue that was far less central to contemporary culture in 2000 than it is now.
2. “The Velvet Rope” (Season 2, Episode 3)
The ’70s was a happening time, and the cultural encroachment of disco on musical territory traditionally occupied by rock and roll was a tough pill for most everyone to swallow. It’s this clash that is at the heart of “The Velvet Rope,” the third episode of That ’70s Show‘s second season. In this episode, Eric and the gang attempt to get their dance on at a new disco club in a neighboring town, only to be hassled extensively by a bouncer who doesn’t think they’re stylish enough to get in (well, everyone besides Donna, whose foxy redheadedness assure her a spot inside). The bouncer (played by Neil Flynn, who readers will recognize as the Janitor from Scrubs), eventually admits them one by one, leaving Eric to prove he’s worthy of a spot inside one of the most happening disco clubs in the Midwest (which probably isn’t all that hard, considering it’s, well…the Midwest).
1. “Canadian Road Trip” (Season 3, Episode 23)
Every once and a while, a television series just pulls an ace and produces an episode so stellar, it’s head and shoulders above anything else the show has done. While That ’70s Show is certainly a funny series, there’s nothing else in the show’s heyday that compares to “Canadian Road Trip,” the twenty third episode of the show’s third season. A masterful three camera comedy endeavor, the episode sees Kelso, Eric, Fez, Hyde and Leo (guest star Tommy Chong) headed to Canada to stock up on beer, only to be detained by the Mounties after Fez loses his identification. There’s nothing like a road trip plotline to inspire hilarity from your characters, and “Canadian Road Trip” is chock-full of shenanigans that sees the gang producing a heartfelt rendition of “O Canada” so as to avoid time in Canadian jail (which is just like regular jail, but with hockey sticks).