Show cover for Northern Exposure

The Best Episodes of Northern Exposure

Every episode of Northern Exposure ranked from best to worst. Let's dive into the Best Episodes of Northern Exposure!

After receiving a scholarship from the state, a recent Columbia University medical school graduate is required to set up his practice in an eccentric Alaskan town.

Genres:ComedyDramaSci-Fi & Fantasy
Network:CBS

Top Episode Highlight

The best episode of "Northern Exposure" is "Cicely", rated 9.1/10 from 465 user votes. It was directed by Rob Thompson and written by Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider. "Cicely" aired on 5/18/1992 and is rated 0.3 point(s) higher than the second highest rated, "Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Big People".

  • Cicely
    9.1/10 465 votes

    #1 - Cicely

    Season 3 Episode 23 - Aired 1992-05-18

    Joel meets an old man who's returned to Cicely after many years. The man tells him the story of two remarkable women, Roslyn and Cicely, whom transformed the town into ""the Paris of the North"" back in 1909.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Big People
    8.8/10 522 votes

    #2 - Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Big People

    Season 1 Episode 8 - Aired 1990-08-30

    The approach of the Aurora Borealis and the constant light produces some strange behavior among the residents of Cicely. Chris abandons the radio station to build an unusual piece of modern sculpture and to get acquainted with a new soul mate that has come into town on some predestined mission. Joel journeys into the back woods to visit an isolated forest ranger and, when he gets stuck coming home, remembers the stories of a strange Bigfoot-like creature named Adam rumored to be roaming the area. Joel is rescued by Adam, who turns out to be real and a damn good cook, only when he returns to town no one believes him.

    Director: Peter O'Fallon

    Writer: N/A

  • Spring Break
    8.8/10 429 votes

    #3 - Spring Break

    Season 2 Episode 5 - Aired 1991-05-06

    Things get a little crazy as the town waits for the annual ice breakup and the annual ""running of the bulls"" down the streets of Cicely. Joel and Maggie find themselves irresistibly drawn together, Maurice is attracted to a dominating state trooper sent to uncover the villain behind the annual rash of petty thefts and Holling challenges all the customers to a fight.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: N/A

  • The Big Feast
    8.7/10 230 votes

    #4 - The Big Feast

    Season 4 Episode 21 - Aired 1993-03-22

    When Maggie distributes the invitations for Maurice's 25th Anniversary Bash for Minnifield Communications an event "everyone" is attending Joel doesn't get one. Shelly accidentally breaks one of Maurice's expensive bottles of wine and tries to find a way to replace it. Adam and Eve return with the baby, Aldrich, and Adam takes over the food preparation of a special dish.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess

  • The Quest
    8.6/10 245 votes

    #5 - The Quest

    Season 6 Episode 15 - Aired 1995-02-08

    Joel finds a map and brings Maggie with him on a quest to find a mythical city. They meet a belligerent gatekeeper and when faced with a crossroads, Joel sees his future and departs. Phil cleans out some impacted earwax for Chris but Chris sues him for malpractice when his inner ear is damaged. Maurice lets Holling know that Michelle is writing an article on restaurants for Alaska Highways magazine but she can't find any good words to describe the food at the Brick.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • The Big Kiss
    8.5/10 379 votes

    #6 - The Big Kiss

    Season 2 Episode 2 - Aired 1991-04-15

    Ed's wish to know who his parents were summons up a 256-year-old Indian spirit named ""One-Who-Waits"" who offers to help him find out. Chris finds his voice has been stolen by a beautiful woman passing through town, and comes to believe in a folk cure he hears about-that he must sleep with the most beautiful woman in town, Maggie.

    Director: Sandy Smolan

    Writer: Henry Bromell

  • Slow Dance
    8.5/10 356 votes

    #7 - Slow Dance

    Season 2 Episode 7 - Aired 1991-05-20

    The infamous O'Connell curse seems to have claimed another victim when a falling satellite hits Rick. Maurice has mixed feelings about selling some property for an outrageously high price to a couple he disapproves of, and Shelly becomes confused when Holling is really enjoying his reunion with an old lady friend from his distant past.

    Director: David Carson

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Seoul Mates
    8.5/10 327 votes

    #8 - Seoul Mates

    Season 3 Episode 10 - Aired 1991-12-16

    The holidays in Cicely see Joel experimenting with an unfamiliar Christmas tree, a clumsy Maggie suddenly left alone, Shelly pining for the religious pageantry of her childhood, and Maurice meeting a family he never knew as everyone awaits the pageant of the raven.

    Director: Jack Bender

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Burning Down the House
    8.5/10 306 votes

    #9 - Burning Down the House

    Season 3 Episode 14 - Aired 1992-02-03

    Maggie receives an unexpected visit and some unwanted news from her mother. Meanwhile, Chris searches everywhere for just the right cow to fling for his conceptual art piece and Joel becomes obsessed with a local chimney sweep that he believes is a former pro golfer.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: Robin Green

  • Three Amigos
    8.5/10 316 votes

    #10 - Three Amigos

    Season 3 Episode 16 - Aired 1992-03-02

    The death of an old friend sends Maurice and Holling packing off into the snowy wilderness to bury him at No-Name Point. But the way is hard, including an unexpected run-in with the man's attractive widow.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess

  • Northwest Passages
    8.5/10 268 votes

    #11 - Northwest Passages

    Season 4 Episode 1 - Aired 1992-09-28

    Maggie must come to grips with her 30th birthday and the ghosts of her dead boyfriends by using an Indian ritual allowing her to lay the past to rest. Marilyn decides it's time to learn to drive and gets Ruth-Anne and Chris to give her lessons. Maurice drives the citizens crazy when he begins to write his memoirs.

    Director: Dean Parisot

    Writer: Robin Green

  • Ill Wind
    8.5/10 225 votes

    #12 - Ill Wind

    Season 4 Episode 16 - Aired 1993-02-15

    After breaking his nose, twice, Joel and Maggie have a wild fling in her barn. Chris saves Maurice's life, a debt that he is set on repaying. After witnessing that event and surrounded by psychic instability, Ed thinks about death in its many forms. A shepherd's flock wanders into town and he talk to the locals about his problems, Ruth-Anne thinks he is having a mid-career crisis.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: N/A

  • Kaddish, For Uncle Manny
    8.5/10 211 votes

    #13 - Kaddish, For Uncle Manny

    Season 4 Episode 22 - Aired 1993-05-03

    Joel seeks out other Jews to help him mourn his uncle and Maurice calls out the troops to go out and round some up. Chris gets Bernard to help settle a 150-year-old feud between the Millers and the Stevens; something Bernard has some trepidation about participating in especially since it involves fighting, something he's never done. Marilyn drafts Holling to be her partner in a Cajun dance contest.

    Director: Michael Lange

    Writer: N/A

  • First Snow
    8.5/10 196 votes

    #14 - First Snow

    Season 5 Episode 10 - Aired 1993-12-13

    As the town prepares for winter, a healthy elderly patient tells Joel she is dying, much to his disbelief. Maggie decides to redecorate her house before winter sets in and gets a new chair that no one seems to like. Holling must figure out how many plots to dig at the cemetery before the ground freezes. Shelly lies to Maurice about never saying she loved him and she thinks her nose has begun to grow because of it.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Mr. Sandman
    8.5/10 194 votes

    #15 - Mr. Sandman

    Season 5 Episode 12 - Aired 1994-01-10

    The aurora borealis causes the residents of Cicely to swap their dreams, exposing secrets. Maggie has Holling's dream about being a cab driver in Quebec, driving his overbearing father around. Ron has Maurice's dream about blue pumps. Joel sleepwalks in search of candy, having a child's dream. Holling has Dave's dream about kayaking with a spatula. Walt has someone's dream (Joel's?) about climbing a never ending tower.

    Director: David Chase, Michael Fresco

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Up River
    8.5/10 192 votes

    #16 - Up River

    Season 6 Episode 8 - Aired 1994-11-14

    Maurice sends Ed after Joel, who's moved up river; and Joel tells Ed of the few days he and Maggie spent together, where every time they got together, there was gunfire. Chris hires a contractor to improve the lot around his trailer and it turns his world upside down. When Walt goes away to check his traps, Ruth-Anne realizes that she's fallen in love and tries to fight it.

    Director: Michael Fresco

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • The Final Frontier
    8.4/10 260 votes

    #17 - The Final Frontier

    Season 3 Episode 20 - Aired 1992-04-27

    Maurice becomes curious about the influx of Japanese tourists to the area during the Northern Lights, Holling sets out to discover if Jesse the bear is really dead, and Maggie leads the curious townspeople in trying to discover what is in a mysterious package covered with foreign stamps.

    Director: Tom Moore

    Writer: Jeff Vlaming

  • Midnight Sun
    8.4/10 251 votes

    #18 - Midnight Sun

    Season 4 Episode 2 - Aired 1992-10-05

    Joel is charged with energy as the sun hasn't set and he uses his pent up energy to try to coach Cicely's basketball team to victory. Holling is distracted by Shelly's cheerleading outfit. The traveling salesman/tailor comes back to Cicely to sell his wares and he romances Ruth-Anne.

    Director: Michael Katleman

    Writer: Geoffrey Neigher

  • Crime and Punishment
    8.4/10 231 votes

    #19 - Crime and Punishment

    Season 4 Episode 10 - Aired 1992-12-14

    Chris is taken into custody for an extradition trial to bring him back to West Virginia, where he currently has a parole violation. Chris knows he is guilty and really isn't interested in his defense. Mike comes up with an angle that he can prove to the judge that the Chris Stevens that skipped bail is different from the Chris Stevens standing before her.

    Director: Rob Thompson

    Writer: N/A

  • Duets
    8.4/10 209 votes

    #20 - Duets

    Season 4 Episode 13 - Aired 1993-01-18

    One-Who-Waits returns and has positive information on the location of Ed's father and takes Ed to the construction site where he works. Ed gets a job and tries to come up with a way to tell the foreman that he is his father. Mike asks Maggie to fly to a mountain range where he thinks he will be able to identify the chemicals that were part of a container spill. A blind man comes into "The Brick" and offers to tune and rebuild the piano but begins to get on Holling's nerves. Maggie tries to hold off Mike's advances by telling him about her "curse."

    Director: Win Phelps

    Writer: Geoffrey Neigher

  • Learning Curve
    8.4/10 219 votes

    #21 - Learning Curve

    Season 4 Episode 15 - Aired 1993-02-08

    Holling decides to go back to school to get his high school equivalency certificate. Marilyn goes on an adventure in Seattle and Joel is worried for her safety so he tries to over plan her trip for her, plans she just ignores. A worried Joel, ventures down to Seattle to locate her. Maggie is at odds with the teacher over her philosophy about female combat pilots and sisterhood.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Jeff Vlaming

  • Northern Lights
    8.4/10 221 votes

    #22 - Northern Lights

    Season 4 Episode 18 - Aired 1993-03-01

    Joel goes on strike when the state of Alaska will not allow him time off for a Caribbean vacation he was planning. Chris has trouble seeking inspiration for his new sculpture. A vagrant's presence on Main St. outrages Maurice, when he learns the man is an ex-marine he tries to become his benefactor. Maggie debates about having sex with Mike. Holling spends his time in hibernation. The town of Cicely strikes back against Joel.

    Director: Bill D'Elia

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • All Is Vanity
    8.3/10 355 votes

    #23 - All Is Vanity

    Season 2 Episode 3 - Aired 1991-04-22

    Holling decides to be circumcised to please Shelly, Chris and Maurice organize the town to keep watch over an anonymous man whom died in Dr. Fleischman's office, and Maggie persuades Joel to pose as her boyfriend to please her father.

    Director: Nick Marck

    Writer: Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider

  • Roots
    8.3/10 273 votes

    #24 - Roots

    Season 3 Episode 7 - Aired 1991-11-11

    Joel's former fiancé Elaine, now a widow, comes to visit. Chris' half-brother Bernard returns just as Chris is having dreams of Africa. The reclusive Adam takes a job with Holling to pay his insurance premiums.

    Director: Sandy Smolan

    Writer: N/A

  • A-Hunting We Will Go
    8.3/10 282 votes

    #25 - A-Hunting We Will Go

    Season 3 Episode 8 - Aired 1991-11-18

    Joel decides to explore the fascination of hunting by accompanying Chris and Holling on their annual pilgrimage. Ed becomes worried and over solicitous when he learns that Ruth-Anne is seventy-five years old.

    Director: Bill D'Elia

    Writer: N/A