After eleven season, more than 200 episodes and a sadly delayed movie, Bob’s Burgers has earned its place next to other family-focused cartoons for adults like The Simpsons and Family Guy. After a somewhat rocky start, the exploits of the Belcher family won us over with their subtle and quirky humor and the cast of zany but utterly relatable characters.
It is ten years since we were introduced to Bob and Linda Belcher and their three children – tomboyish mischief-maker Louise, musical prankster Gene and of course the socially awkward adolescent Tina. During that time, their exploits and their humor – but above all their closeness – have made the Belchers one of our most beloved on-screen families.
As the eleventh season closes, we look back at five of our favorite episodes of the past decade. This is a highly subjective list, and there are a lot of great episodes to choose from, so if you don’t agree then drop your suggestion in the comments below.
5. The Kids Run The Restaurant (Season 3, Episode 20)
The third season was where the series really hit its stride, and this instalment was a great showcase for the particular quirks of the two younger Belcher siblings. After a cut hand sends Bob to the ER (he gets faint at the sight of his own blood, and it is later revealed that he’s a hemophiliac) the kids are left under the watchful eye of Tina. The eldest child is no match for Louise’s chaotic tendencies, however, and before you know it the youngest has masterminded an illicit casino in the restaurant basement.
Enter Meat Grinder Casino
What follows is a hilarious scene of Louise presiding over her casino of kiddie games – think tic-tac-toe and battleships – until she manages to lose several thousand dollars in a game of rock, paper, scissors. The Meat Grinder casino shows no management towards kids’ pocket money. In real casinos kids wouldn’t be able to gamble or use games for grown-ups. While they don’t offer premium games such as rock-papers-scissors, modern Pay N Play casinos can be found listed here. Anyways, the return of the parents breaks up the fun, with Bob saving Louise from her loss thanks to his stitched-up hand.
4. I Get Psy-Chic Out of You (Season 4, Episode 16)
In the early days of the show, the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with Linda. She was the every-mom of many sitcoms, but had few defining characteristic of her own. As time went on, they added a streak of chaotic insanity reflected in her youngest daughter. In this episode, that insanity was unleashed like never before.
After a bump on the head, Linda becomes convinced that she has psychic powers. Starting with some of the credulous regulars, her newfound ability wreaks some havoc including getting someone fired from their job. Things take a further turn into the absurd when Linda is recruited by the police to help them with a case. This turn of events has the added bonus of bringing us occasional character Sergeant Bosco, a man so lazy and incompetent that he is willing to entertain Linda’s delusion.
While the plotting of this episode may be rather contrived, it remains a favorite of ours because it is just so funny.
3. The Silence of the Louise (Season 8, Episode 2)
In one of the pop-culture inspired outings for the Belchers, Louise takes on a Clarice Starling role to Millie Frock’s Hannibal Lecter. For anyone who doesn’t know, Millie is the classmate who is creepily obsessed with Louise, copying her bedroom and decorating it with pencil drawings of her friend. In this instance, Louise needs Millie’s help solving a mystery. By the end of the episode, the frenemies gain a new closeness, and Millie at least partially earns Louise’s respect.
The secondary storyline is where most of the laughs are to be found, as Bob and Linda try to make sense of Teddy’s new scheme to make and sell motivational posters. There is also an especially groan-worthy burger of the day pun here – the “Weekend at Bearnaise Burger”
2. Bad Tina (Season 2, Episode 8)
Of all the hilarious and dysfunctional Belcher kids, Tina is our favorite – not an unpopular opinion, we know. Dan Mintz’s monotone delivery is in sharp contrast to the squeaky exuberance of Louise or Gene’s puppyish enthusiasm. But despite the deadpan voice, Tina is the most interesting, complex and perhaps true to life of the three younger Belchers.
This early episode was one of the first explorations into the psyche of Tina Belcher. An awkward girl on the brink of adolescence, she is preoccupied with boys and spends a lot of her time in erotically-charged daydreams (typically, Tina fantasizes about zombies rather than the vampires that were popular at the time). In this storyline we see the quiet teen led astray by the school’s new bad girl, Tammy, voiced by the excellent Jenny Slate.
The bad-girl antics quickly turn to bullying and blackmail, as Tammy threatens to embarrass Tina by showing everyone her erotic fan fiction. The younger Belcher siblings eventually save the day and defend their big sister from her tormentor. Tina, on the other hand, decides to embrace the cringe and reveal her writing to her classmates voluntarily, which doesn’t go as badly as it could have.
1. The Oeder Games (Season 5, Episode 21)
It is almost impossible to choose a number one from eleven seasons, but the finale of the fifth season is full of silliness, pathos and character-driven narrative that is so unique to the show. The setup involves the odious landlord Mr Fischoeder, who threatens to hike the already unaffordable rent for Bob and the other tenants.
Because this is Bob’s Burgers, the rent hike will be decided by an epic water balloon fight – whoever stays dry gets their rent cut in half and the rest will have to accept the increase. Kevin Kline is in fine form as Mr Fischoeder, commanding the participants via his loudspeaker from the top of his mansion. This is a zippy episode, showcasing most of the main characters in the relatively short run time. The stand-off between Tina, Jimmy and Zeke is a particular highlight. Sanity prevails in the end, in a manner of speaking, and the neighbors come together to successfully resist Fischoeder’s demands.