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The Best Episodes of The Cosby Show

Every episode of The Cosby Show ranked from best to worst. Let's dive into the Best Episodes of The Cosby Show!

The Cosby Show is an American television situation comedy starring Bill Cosby, which aired for eight seasons on NBC from September 20, 1984 until April 30, 1992. The show focuses on the Huxtable family, an upper middle-class African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York.


Top Episode Highlight

The best episode of "The Cosby Show" is "Theo's Holiday", rated 8.3/10 from 270 user votes. It was directed by Jay Sandrich and written by Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra. "Theo's Holiday" aired on 4/3/1986 and is rated 0.2 point(s) higher than the second highest rated, "A Shirt Story".

  • Theo's Holiday
    8.3/10 270 votes

    #1 - Theo's Holiday

    Season 2 Episode 22 - Aired 1986-04-03

    After Theo claims that he'll have no problem making it in the "real world", the Huxtables convert their house in the "Real World Apartments" and teach him a lesson about the real world; i.e., needing employment and references to get an apartment, income to get a bank loan, having to pay for his meals, etc. Carl Anthony Payne II as Cockroach.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra

  • A Shirt Story
    8.1/10 290 votes

    #2 - A Shirt Story

    Season 1 Episode 5 - Aired 1984-10-18

    Theo wants to impress a girl by wearing an expensive shirt by designer Gordon Gartrelle. Since Cliff and Clair will not pay for it, Denise offers to make a copy of the shirt for him. Guest appearance by Kadeem Hardison, who years later would portray Dwayne Wayne on the Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Happy Anniversary
    8.1/10 244 votes

    #3 - Happy Anniversary

    Season 2 Episode 3 - Aired 1985-10-10

    For Russell and Anna's 49th wedding anniversary, the family commissions a portrait of the couple as newlyweds, and offers them a cruise to Europe. Later in the evening, the whole family performs Ray Charles' "Night Time Is the Right Time", with Theo, Rudy and Cliff each lip-synching a solo. Earle Hyman as Russell. Clarice Taylor as Anna.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Elliot Shoenman

  • Off to See the Wretched
    8.0/10 195 votes

    #4 - Off to See the Wretched

    Season 6 Episode 23 - Aired 1990-04-05

    Vanessa and her friends sneak out of town to attend a concert in Baltimore, but encounter huge problems along the way. Afterwards, she must face the wrath of Cliff and an infuriated Clair.

    Director: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

    Writer: Mark St. Germain

  • Pilot / Theo's Economic Lesson
    7.9/10 348 votes

    #5 - Pilot / Theo's Economic Lesson

    Season 1 Episode 1 - Aired 1984-09-20

    Clair is furious when Theo brings home a report card with 4 D's. He tells Cliff that he has no intention of going to college, as he feels that he is destined to be a ""regular person."" Cliff uses Monopoly money to teach him about the economic realities that many blue-collar workers must face. He assures Theo that he only wants him to try his best. Cliff is alarmed to meet Denise's latest beau, a former merchant marine who once spent time in a Turkish prison.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Michael J. Leeson, Ed. Weinberger

  • Slumber Party
    7.9/10 241 votes

    #6 - Slumber Party

    Season 1 Episode 22 - Aired 1985-03-28

    Rudy invites all of her friends over for a slumber party. It's Cliff's job to watch over them, and he demonstrates some unique games to wrangle the youngsters. In the end, Russell drops by and demonstrates the perfect way to deal with kids-bribe them!

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Carmen Finestra

  • I Know That You Know
    7.9/10 170 votes

    #7 - I Know That You Know

    Season 3 Episode 21 - Aired 1987-03-19

    When Sondra and Elvin announce their engagement, Clair and the children use the news to play a practical joke on Cliff, who launches a counter-offensive of his own. Geoffrey Owens as Elvin.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra

  • Cliff's Wet Adventure
    7.9/10 172 votes

    #8 - Cliff's Wet Adventure

    Season 6 Episode 9 - Aired 1989-11-16

    Denise invites Martin's ex-wife Paula for Thanksgiving dinner. Clair continues to send Cliff to the store for last-minute groceries, despite the fact that it is a cold and rainy Thanksgiving Day. Victoria Rowell as Paula.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Carmen Finestra

  • Independence Day
    7.8/10 204 votes

    #9 - Independence Day

    Season 1 Episode 14 - Aired 1985-01-10

    Theo gets his ear pierced to impress a girl, but Denise thinks it might be infected. She is correct, and Theo must go to Cliff. Cliff hopes that Grandpa Huxtable will punish Theo, but the old man instead relates the story of how Cliff tried to slick back his hair to impress Clair, but ended up burning it off! Russell brags, and Anna reminds him of the time that he had a tattoo of her name placed on his chest, but ended up with a huge scar on his chest when he tried to remove it after Anna found out he was actually trying to impress another girl! First appearance of Clarice Taylor as Anna Huxtable, Cliff's mother.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • The Juicer
    7.8/10 189 votes

    #10 - The Juicer

    Season 2 Episode 2 - Aired 1985-10-03

    Cliff, who has a fetish for electronic appliances, buys a juicer. Rudy and Peter, bored from Vanessa's inattentive baby-sitting, decide to use it even they are not allowed to use appliances. David Langston Smyrl as Mr. Lucas. Peter Costa as Peter.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Matt Williams

  • The Card Game
    7.8/10 169 votes

    #11 - The Card Game

    Season 2 Episode 23 - Aired 1986-04-10

    Cliff plays pinochle with his father, a former teacher, and a friend. Theo buys a cheap ring for his girlfriend Tanya. Earle Hyman as Russell. Roscoe Lee Browne as Dr. Foster.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Theo and the Joint
    7.7/10 217 votes

    #12 - Theo and the Joint

    Season 1 Episode 17 - Aired 1985-02-07

    Clair discovers a marijuana joint in one of Theo's school books. She and Cliff confront him about it, and accept his explanation—another boy slipped it in. Theo confronts the boy and brings him home to confess in order to remove any uncertainty from his parents about his telling the truth. Theo and the boy actually start to become friends. Stephen Thompson as Anthony Braxton, Iman as Mrs. Montgomery. Rudy says her full name in this episode, Rudith Lillian Huxtable.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Cliff in Love
    7.7/10 183 votes

    #13 - Cliff in Love

    Season 2 Episode 4 - Aired 1985-10-17

    Sondra breaks up with her boyfriend Elvin and is depressed, taking it out on the family. Cliff and Clair aren't exactly unhappy; they find Elvin rather annoying. Later, he appears at the house with flowers and tries to apologize. While there, he offers some of his sexist rhetoric to Clair, who quickly becomes annoyed. First appearance of Geoffrey Owens as Elvin. Joseph C. Phillips appears as Daryl (Phillips joins the cast in Season 6 as Denise's new husband, Navy Lt. Martin Kendall)

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Denise's Friend
    7.7/10 172 votes

    #14 - Denise's Friend

    Season 2 Episode 11 - Aired 1985-12-12

    Denise asks Cliff to talk to her friend, who has a medical problem. Cliff diagnoses the girl as having a mild bladder infection, but learns that she was wary of telling her parents without certainty. Cliff and Clair decide to show the kids that they can tell them anything, but the children quickly point out that their parents will just get angry. Cliff admits that anger is part of problems, but tells the children that no matter what, they will be loved.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • The Dentist
    7.7/10 197 votes

    #15 - The Dentist

    Season 2 Episode 16 - Aired 1986-02-02

    Peter goes to the dentist, but has Rudy come along for moral support so Peter won't be afraid of the dentist anymore. Danny Kaye (in one of his last appearances) as Dr. Burns, who is also Cliff's dentist.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Elliot Shoenman

  • A Touch of Wonder
    7.7/10 210 votes

    #16 - A Touch of Wonder

    Season 2 Episode 18 - Aired 1986-02-20

    After his limo collides with Denise's car, Stevie Wonder (appearing as himself) invites the Huxtables to a recording session. Wonder performs "I Just Called to Say I Love You" with Clair and the family. Absent: Sabrina Le Beauf as Sondra Huxtable.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Matt Williams

  • Denise: The Saga Continues
    7.7/10 150 votes

    #17 - Denise: The Saga Continues

    Season 6 Episode 1 - Aired 1989-09-21

    Denise returns from Africa, with a new husband and stepdaughter in tow. Joseph C. Phillips and Raven-Symoné join the cast as Martin and Olivia Kendall. Last appearance of Peter Costa as Peter.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Carmen Finestra

  • Isn't It Romantic?
    7.7/10 148 votes

    #18 - Isn't It Romantic?

    Season 6 Episode 20 - Aired 1990-02-22

    Cliff, Elvin and Martin secretly compete to determine who is the most romantic husband in the Huxtable family.

    Director: N/A

    Writer: Carmen Finestra

  • Bird in the Hand
    7.7/10 121 votes

    #19 - Bird in the Hand

    Season 7 Episode 2 - Aired 1990-09-27

    Cliff tries to win a classic jazz record at an auction, while filling in for Denise as volunteer parent at Olivia's preschool. Sullivan Walker as Dr. James Harmon.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Mr. Fish  (a.k.a. Goodbye, Mr. Fish)
    7.6/10 264 votes

    #20 - Mr. Fish (a.k.a. Goodbye, Mr. Fish)

    Season 1 Episode 2 - Aired 1984-09-27

    When Rudy's pet fish, Lamont, dies, Cliff tries to bring the family together for a funeral in the bathroom. The festivities end when Rudy gets bored and leaves to watch TV.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • How Ugly Is He?
    7.6/10 204 votes

    #21 - How Ugly Is He?

    Season 1 Episode 9 - Aired 1984-11-15

    Denise has a new boyfriend, David, but is reluctant to bring him home. She fears that Cliff will, like always, make fun of the boy and ruin her chances with him. Cliff and Clair are initially impressed with David until he expresses some unwanted opinions about medicine and the law at dinner. Kristoff St. John plays boyfriend David.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Theo and the Older Woman
    7.6/10 182 votes

    #22 - Theo and the Older Woman

    Season 2 Episode 5 - Aired 1985-10-24

    When friend Suzanne accompanies Denise to observe the Huxtables' normal behavior, a smitten Theo behaves far from normally. Robin Givens as Suzanne. Blair Underwood as Mark.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Carmen Finestra

  • Breaking With Tradition
    7.5/10 202 votes

    #23 - Breaking With Tradition

    Season 1 Episode 6 - Aired 1984-10-25

    Cliff's father, Russell, pays a visit and begins questioning Cliff about the kids' college choices. He asks Denise about Hillman, his and Cliff's alma mater. Denise is dead-set against it at first, until Russell tells her that the males outnumber the females there. First appearance of Earle Hyman as Russell Huxtable, Cliff's father.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: N/A

  • Cliff's Birthday
    7.5/10 190 votes

    #24 - Cliff's Birthday

    Season 1 Episode 24 - Aired 1985-05-09

    Cliff is turning 48, and as usual, he is trying to find out what his birthday present is ahead of time. Clair, with the help of the kids, orchestrates a huge trick. Cliff is fooled, and doesn't find about what is birthday surprise is: a visit to Lena Horne's private club. Lena Horne as herself, Clarence Williams III as Clarence Thornehill. In episode 12, Cliff says his birthday is in October.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Elliot Shoenman

  • First Day of School
    7.5/10 175 votes

    #25 - First Day of School

    Season 2 Episode 1 - Aired 1985-09-26

    Cliff and Clair are overjoyed with the arrivial of the new school year, as their children are finally out of the house.

    Director: Jay Sandrich

    Writer: Elliot Shoenman