The 11 Most Memorable Episodes Of Friday Night Lights

Published on June 19, 2015. Updated October 2, 2017

Few shows have resonated with fans quite like Friday Night Lights did. Although it was unceremoniously canceled before its time, it did have an amazing five seasons that took the characters and consequently viewers on quite a ride of emotions, changes and developments. The focus on football, different relationship dynamics and a wide variety of different characters made the show a fast hit with much more than just the usual “teen drama” audience because the show was so much more than that. While there should be a much greater base to choose from because we all wish the show had gone on for a good ten seasons, there are a few episodes that stand out above the rest, although an argument could be made for pretty well all of them. Relive the greatness of the show with the 11 Most Memorable Episodes of Friday Night Lights.

11. “Last Days of Summer” S2, E1

Fans of the show did not have a lot of great things to say about season two and mostly due to two things: Julie got even more annoying than we thought possible and of course the bizarre murder plot line concerning Landry and Tyra. What didn’t help is that both of these things were made apparent in the very first episode of season two, sending the whole thing into a downward spiral, but, like it or not, we cannot deny that sweet and lovable Landry killing Tyra’s attacker was not downright memorable. The moment was so fast and fleeting we weren’t sure what was going on was actually happening until the guy was in fact dead thanks to Landry. Friday Night Lights had opened up characters and shocked us in season one, but this one we were in no way ready for.

Source: NBC

10. “Always” S5, E13

Of course one of the most memorable was the last episode of the entire show, something that came much too quickly. The show had survived an almost cancellation after season two and a writers strike, yet it still came to an end, but did so with some of the greatest scenes on TV. Matt and Julie find happiness and are engaged in Chicago. Tyra and Tim may possibly be planning a future together while he builds his very own house and of course Coach Taylor lets Tami have her time and follows her to Philadelphia for her prestigious Admissions job. Luke Cafferty goes off to war and then we are left with two of the best scenes ever. Tim and Billy crack a beer while taking a break from house building and cheers “Texas Forever” to each other, and then after Eric tries to teach his new team “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” he and Tami walk off the field as it goes dark.

Source: NBC

9. “Leave No One Behind” S2, E14

Season two may not have been the best as a whole, but a few episodes stand out and “Leave No One Behind” was arguably the best of them all. While Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) has always been more emotional and intellectual than the typical “jock” football player, he had always handled his life’s pressures well…until this episode. In the episode, Matt is at his breaking point. His dad is leaving for war; Julie breaks up with him; and he’s also stressed from having to care for his grandmother. He goes on a bender resulting in one of the most powerful scenes of the show and another epic Coach Taylor moment. After throwing an obscenely drunk Matt in the tub and running the water on him, Matt cries out in some of the best crafted lines about people always leaving him before screaming out,”What’s wrong with me?” to which Coach Taylor calmly tells him, “It’s not you.”

Source: Global

8. “New York, New York” S3, E8

You have to hand it to Jason Street, the guy has got heart. After suffering a career ending injury while being the state’s most highly touted quarterback, Jason Street, portrayed perfectly by Scott Porter, had one of the most intriguing, drastic and incredible character developments on TV as a whole. In “New York, New York” fans were given a heartwarming and positive goodbye to Street as he and Tim once again showed us the true meaning of friendship and loyalty as they tackle the Big Apple together to get Street a job at a sports agency. To see Street moving on up in the sports world regardless of his injury was something incredibly deserving for the character and, to make the episode even more memorable now, the goodbye between Street and Riggins was actually real. The actors could not stop crying as they said goodbye in the scene and could only film one take, which is what the show ended up with.

Source: NBC

7. “Mud Bowl” S1, E20

Even people who are not fans of football liked the show and admired the character’s love for the sport which was at the heart and soul of the “Mud Bowl” episode. Coach Taylor being the greatest human ever decides to build his very own football field in the middle of a farmer’s field to ensure that he and his team are not bullied into having their “home” playoff game played in enemy territory. Small-town Americans are well aware of how seriously their high school football is taken and this episode shows the great lengths those involved will go to for the love of the game. Like most Friday Night Lights episodes it was funny, but above all it was inspirational as Street teaches Saracen how to be a better quarterback and leader for his team, and they play the game of their lives while getting swallowed by mud still show passion and resilience.

Source: NBC

6. “I Can’t” S4, E10

Season four was an extremely strong season for the show, but “I Can’t” was one of the most powerful out of the canon of episodes for so many reasons. While the show had tackled an array of dark and heavy issues before, this one again did not shy away from the reality of teenage life as Becky struggles with the decision to get an abortion or not after getting pregnant after her very first time with Luke Cafferty. While Becky’s issue is the central topic, this episode is memorable because it gives us a great example of why Tim Riggins and Tami Taylor are two of the best characters to ever grace television. While Tim is presented as the playboy and a “dumb” jock, we all know underneath lies an incredible heart and, when it is he Becky confides in, he takes her to Tami Taylor (smartest move ever Tim). Tami deals with the situation expertly which leads to a heartbreaking conversation between the two when Becky realizes, “I can’t take care of a baby. I can’t.” This show did not rely on feel-good fluff to keep its viewers; it knew what it had in its writing and cast which resulted in deeply emotional episodes like this.

NBC Photo: Bill Records

5. “Underdogs” S3, E12

Those who had seen the film version of Friday Night Lights first know that the story does not result in the predictable “big win” for the team, and this episode is the show’s version. This show was not about following typical storylines and giving viewers what they expect; it was at times gritty and dug into the real lives of these people and teenagers and, just because the Dillon Panthers were the stars of the show, it did not mean they were going to win State, and they didn’t. This episode of their huge loss was made even more memorable thanks to the image of Riggins leaving his cleats on the field as his goodbye to the game and his time as a Panther, not to mention Coach Taylor’s uplifting speech that in itself seemed to foreshadow a win. There was a surge in spirit and a huge comeback, but no ultimate win, leaving fans confused, shocked and devastated along with the players.

4. “Wind Sprints” S1, E3

Season One of Friday Night Lights was one of its strongest and by only episode three we were already given some of the images and scenes that we would remember most about the show. In “Wind Sprints” Coach Taylor and the Panthers suffer a devastating loss to the San Marco HS Rattlers due to too much ego and too little discipline on the team after Jason Street’s tragic injury in the previous game, and Coach takes it upon himself to fix this and make them work as a team. He drags the players out in the middle of the night in a thunderstorm and makes them run wind sprints up and down a wet, muddy hill and states, “You think you’re champions because you wear the Panthers uniform, you’re wrong!…Champions don’t complain. Champions don’t give up!” Then the player with the biggest ego of them all pulls them all together as they want to give up and starts the chant, “Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.” Definitely memorable.

Source: NBC

3. “East of Dillon” S4, E1

Fans grew accustomed to the unexpected such as with the “Underdogs” episode, but after three seasons cheering on Coach Taylor and the Panthers we never thought he would become the coach of an entirely new team. Few shows can practically reinvent themselves with a new set of characters and only a few veterans and carry on with the same tone and feeling, but being such a great show, Friday Night Lights did it, beginning with the first episode of season four, “East of Dillon.” The episode introduced us to a new school, a new team and new characters and we remember this episode because of how much we ended up loving every one of them. It’s rare for a cast to shift so dramatically and keep fans, but what can we say — Vince, Luke, Jess and Becky were perfect and as long as we still had Coach and Tami Taylor and Tim Riggins we were happy.

NBC Photo: Bill Records

2. “The Son” S4, E5

The thing about “teenage dramas” is that one does not have to be a particularly great actor to be one of the leads, yet another thing that sets Friday Night Lights apart is that nearly every actor is extremely strong in their roles. Football may have been the base, but the surrounding storylines were incredibly interwoven and, in “The Son,” Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen may give one of the best performances on a show period. After his dad dies in the Iraq war, Matt struggles to deal with the loss and keep his composure and each individual scene is completely moving and incredibly real as the sudden death takes its toll. The writers and the acting came together to create an episode that truly stands out in television and as Matt breaks down at the Taylors’ dinner table we forgot we were watching a show and not watching someone actually deal with the death of his parent.

Source: NBC

1. Pilot S1, E1

Some shows take a few episodes for audiences to decide whether they want to invest in it, but not Friday Night Lights, there is no denying the intrigue and pull of the show from the opening scenes of the very first episode. The imagery of a small football town in Texas was perfect and then once introduced into some of the best fully realized characters a show can begin with out of the gate, it’s hard to forget seeing such great TV done so effortlessly. As has been mentioned consistently, the writing of the show is spectacular and so of course the Pilot episode is most memorable because it gave us the tragic accident of Jason Street during the first game of the season. Nothing about the episode suggested this would be the outcome, but once it occurred we realized a major shift of anything we expected had happened and that this show was going to be unlike any other at the time.

Source: NBC

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