The Jeffersons is one of the most iconic sitcoms in television history. Using IMDb ratings, we’ve ranked the best of their 253 episodes.
The Jeffersons was a TV show created by Norman Lear that ran from January 18, 1975, to July 2, 1985. The All in the Family spin-off focused on the titular family after moving to Manhattan from Family’s setting of Queens. It starred Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as George and Louise Jefferson, with Mike Evans (and later Damon Evans) starring as their son Lionel. The show was unique because it used stellar writing and acting to tackle tough topics such as alcoholism, gentrification, and racism. It was also the first major sitcom to feature an interracial couple in major roles.
The Jeffersons lasted for 11 seasons and 253 episodes. Here are the 10 best, according to IMDb.
Florence in Love – 8.1
“Florence in Love” was the 11th episode of the third season. Family maid Florence (Marla Gibbs) begins dating a man and brings her to the Jeffersons’ home without consulting either George or Louise. They’re unhappy about this and an argument ensues about Florence’s work ethic. She quits her job as their’ live-in maid and moves in with their neighbors the Willises in response. After discovering her boyfriend is married, she plans to move to Mississippi. Louise enlists Mr. Willis’s help to convince George to re-hire Florence.
A Friend in Need – 8.1
This is the episode that started it all. The series premiere sets up the basic idea of the series: George and Louise have trouble getting used to their new life in Manhattan. George, in particular, gets a little hot-headed and demands Louise hire a maid. He wants a maid that “fits [his] position,” but Louise remembers what it’s like to be poor and is reticent about spending the money. So she hires Florence, who gives the pair perhaps more sass than they can handle and quickly serves as a reminder to the Jeffersons not to pull the ladder up behind them.
George and Jimmy – 8.2
“George and Jimmy” is the second in a series of episodes involving Presidents of the United States, both real and imagined. The president in this episode is very much real: then-current President Jimmy Carter. George calls the President to invite him to stay over when he comes to New York. The call doesn’t go too well and Secret Service agents end up on the Jeffersons’ doorstep.
George’s defiance gets him in even more hot water and the agents eventually draw their weapons, leading to a parade of almost every major character on the show and a rare sequence of physical comedy that nearly approaches slapstick.
Louise Gets Her Way – 8.2
“Louise Gets Her Way” partly sets up “Florence in Love.” Florence is evicted from her home after the building she lived in is scheduled to be demolished. Louise offers to let Florence live with the Jeffersons without consulting George. He’s already on pins and needles because he’s trying to close a business deal with Mr. Owens for new vans and this news is this last straw. He wants Florence gone, but she saves him from the business deal. She eavesdrops on Mr. Owens, who reveals the entire thing is a scam and the vans are worthless. He then allows Florence to live with them full-time.
Florence Meets Mr. Right – 8.3
Florence takes another crack at dating, but this time doesn’t go much better than her previous attempts. She meets Buzz Thatcher at church and begins dating him. He quickly uses his faith to shackle Florence. It’s painfully apparent to all involved except Florence that Buzz isn’t the right one for her. Something’s not right about these two and Florence isn’t her usual sassy self. It’s only when Buzz insults a dress Florence receives as a gift that she sees him for who he truly is. She reasserts her independence of both body and thought and breaks off the relationship for good.
The First Store – 8.4
This episode is an extended flashback to before George opened his first dry-cleaning store. “The First Store” takes place in 1968 during the Democratic primaries. George is trying to get a loan from a banker, but the banker’s racist attitudes and his reaction to Lionel’s aggressive approach throw a wrench into George’s plans. George and Louise advocate for nonviolent protest instead as new business owners.
The audience then learns most of the episode takes place on the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. “The First Store” is one of the more immediately relevant episodes of the show to modern times and some of the dialogue and action is extremely and unfortunately relatable.
And the Doorknobs Shined Like Diamonds – 8.4
This is another flashback episode, but with a more poignant spin than “The First Store.” The building Louise grew up in is slated for demolition. She heads to Harlem to visit it one last time and reminiscences about her time there. The episodes flashes back as Louise walks around her childhood room, going from her very early childhood to the day of her wedding. The trip allows the two to reconnect after a disagreement earlier in the episode. “And the Doorknobs Shined Like Diamonds” is one of the only episodes to end without the show’s iconic ending theme. The credits instead roll over complete silence.
Me and Billy Dee – 8.5
“Me and Billy Dee” contains one of the many celebrity guest appearances on the show, this time by Billy Dee Williams. When Louise needs a celebrity to speak at a charity function, George calls Billy Dee Williams. After George lies about being author Alex Haley, Williams accepts.
Ralph, the doorman, simultaneously drops off information about a celebrity look-a-like company. This confuses Florence and she assumes that the real Williams is, in fact, a look-a-like. Williams figures out the deception but speaks at the function anyway. Florence later finds out about the real Williams…while in a bathrobe and rollers. Whoops.
984 W. 124th Street, Apt. 5C – 8.5
A suspicious Louise follows George as he runs an errand to an unknown address in Harlem. Louise being suspicious of George is a well the show pulled from many times. And why wouldn’t it? The episode mines a solid minute-long joke out of how many times George has lied to Louise throughout the show. The show takes a heartfelt turn when it leverages its Christmastime setting to upend Louise’s (and the audience’s) expectations. Much like “And the Doorknobs Shined Like Diamonds,” the episode becomes about George returning to where he grew up and making Christmas for the family that now lives there.
Sorry, Wrong Meeting – 8.8
The Jeffersons delivered back-to-back stunners in season 7, with episodes 13 and 14 making the top-10 list. The back half of that duo takes the top spot with “Sorry, Wrong Meeting.” Fellow building tenant Tom organizes a meeting after a crime wave strikes Manhattan, but the meeting turns out to be a Ku Klux Klan rally. This makes things awkward for George, who is in attendance. George then saves the leader’s life and prompts the leader’s son to reconsider his ways. The leader himself is unrepentant, stating his son should have let him die rather than have a black man save his life.