Top 10 Funniest Flashback Episodes
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Hey, remember the funniest flashback episodes? Our countdown includes "The Big Bang Theory," "Arrested Development," "The Golden Girls," and more!
Top 10 Funniest Flashback Episodes
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Funniest Flashback Episodes
For this list, we’ll be looking at episodes that took us back in time to make us laugh. We’ll be excluding animated shows, which deserve their own list!
Did we include your favorite? Flashback to your favorite episode and share it in the comments.
#10: “Why Are We Here?”
“Everybody Loves Raymond” (1996-2005)
After we got to know these characters and became immersed in their lives, the season one finale answered the question we’d all been wondering. We’re taken back three years to when Ray and a pregnant-with-twins Deb decide they need a bigger home for their expanding family. Ideally, they want a place not too near or too far from Ray’s folks. However, they find themselves living across the street thanks to Ray’s dad Frank who’s a retired real estate agent. While Ray is apprehensive about this move, Deb thinks it will be great. This brings us back neatly full circle to the titular question.
#9: “Making a Monster”
“Arrested Development” (2003-06; 2013-19)
Deviating from the usual flashback trope, this series uses a fictional docu-series-within-the-series to drudge up the past. “Making a Monster”, starring real-life married couple Cobie Smulders and Taran Killam, follows the Bluths’ lives until shortly before the death of Lucille’s mother, Mimi. Unfolding over three episodes, the flashbacks often correlate to present events such as Buster getting into trouble in the water and Lucille and Lindsay’s fraught relationship. It also spills some major Bluth family secrets. Everything comes to a head when this elongated gag serves as evidence in Buster’s trial, causing him to flip out. It also reveals a huge secret about Lindsay.
#8: “My Night to Remember”
It’s a slow night at the hospital until a patient suffering from amnesia is brought in. He can’t recall the events that led him to the hospital, leading the staff to debate whether or not they should fill in the gaps. J.D. is the king of fantasies but in this episode, he recalls the good, the bad, and the bizarre times since his first day at Sacred Heart. This was the only occasion where the show used old clips rather than tell a new story. It was a great way to remind fans of all of their favorite moments from the previous six seasons.
#7: “Back in the Day”
“Living Single” (1993-98)
As the group prepares to celebrate Khadijah winning an award for Flavor magazine, they think back to when she first launched the publication. This was a time where Overton still had hair, Kyle sported an afro, Max and Regine were somehow cohabiting and Synclaire was yet to complete the group. The flashback shows just how far they’d all come as well as the strength of their bonds. After all, how many people stay together after a fight that intense? Things aren’t going great for Synclaire either after she hits Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with her car. Well, at least it gave Khadijah her first scoop.
#6: “The Way We Met”
“The Golden Girls” (1985-92)
The ladies are left a little freaked out after watching Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. But it’s nothing that a cheesecake and a spot of reminiscing can’t fix. In a series of flashbacks, we see how the trio came to live together. Although they seem profoundly mismatched at first, it’s clear that it was meant to be. However, after a disastrous shopping trip, they wonder if their differences are too great to overcome. Luckily, Rose is on hand with a classic St. Olaf story about the Great Herring War. Not only does she have the others in stitches, but a new tradition is born, bringing them closer together.
#5: “Game Night”
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)
Marshall’s game night takes a turn when Lily mentions that she ran into someone from Barney’s past. She then shows them a videotape of a teary, ponytail-wearing, hippy version of Barney that’s almost unrecognizable. Of course, he’s upset at first but soon uses it as an opportunity to dupe his friends into sharing their own embarrassing stories. Now that’s more like the Barney we know. Still, we enjoyed learning about the guy he used to be as the flashbacks piece together his journey to becoming suited-up and “awesome”. The story isn’t fully concluded until season nine. Now that deserves the highest of fives.
#4: “Lows in the Mid-Eighties”
“Will & Grace” (1998-2020)
Everything about this two-part flashback episode practically screams the 80s. While waiting to be seated at a restaurant, the group shares their story with a sad stranger who clearly needs to hear it. College couple Will and Grace have big plans for the Thanksgiving break. She plans to get him into bed, while he plans to come out of the closet. Jack acts as his confidant but Will’s insecurities lead to an accidental proposal instead. Meanwhile, 1985 was the year Karen met Rosario while rejecting the advances of various high-profile suitors. This episode has a lot of heart but also plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.
“New Girl” (2011-18)
Following a text from the first guy Jess ever slept with, the friends start competing over who has the worst first-time story. Schmidt’s is a comically slippery affair while Winston’s naivety wins him the saddest story of them all. Naturally, Cece’s tale is too cool to even be considered. But Jess’ story spans several years with various twists and turns until she finally gets down to business. It’s a fun way to delve into the characters' pasts that also proves very relevant to their respective presents. Nick’s story might be rather anticlimactic in comparison, but it marks a turning point between him and Jess.
#2: “The Staircase Implementation”
“The Big Bang Theory” (2007-19)
How did Leonard and Sheldon become roommates? How did Sheldon discover his spot? Or how did the elevator break? These are just some of the questions this episode answers. A fresh-faced Leonard ignores all the warnings, including one from Sheldon’s previous roommate, and signs that roommate agreement. Luckily, his new friends provide some relief from his rather intense roomie. It’s fun to see how the dynamics have changed since those days and we even get a glimpse of what a teenage Penny was up to back then. While the episode is very funny, ultimately we see that despite Sheldon’s countless quirks, he’s always had Leonard’s back.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“The Gang Does a Clip Show”, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (2005-)
With Their Phones Out of Use, the Gang Starts to Reminisce
“When Mindy Met Danny”, “The Mindy Project” (2012-17)
Mindy Recalls Her First Day at Schulman & Associates
“Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”, “Schitt’s Creek” (2015-20)
Johnny Is Haunted by the Ghost of Rich Christmas Past
“Swag”, “Ugly Betty” (2006-10)
Whatever Happened to Betty’s Gucci Bag?
“The Road Not Taken: Part 1”, “Taxi” (1978-83)
Featuring a Young Tom Hanks as Reverend Jim's Roommate!
#1: “The One with the Prom Video”
Throughout its ten-year run, flashback episodes have always been a firm fan favorite. While “The One with All The Thanksgivings” and “The One with the Truth About London” are worthy contenders, it’s the first flashback episode that holds a special place in our hearts. We see Ross, Rachel, and Monica all in quintessentially 80s style as the girls get ready for their prom. Clearly, Chandler and Joey find it as hysterical as we do, as they can’t resist taking a few shots at their friends. Of course, what makes this episode stand out is that it brings Ross and Rachel together. After all, he’s her lobster.