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50 best 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' episodes

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50 Best Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes

Will Smith’s life got flipped and turned upside down in 1990, when he appeared on a new NBC sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The show was created as a starring vehicle for Smith—aka The Fresh Prince—and saw him playing a fictionalized version of himself. As the show’s opening theme song explained, Will got into a scuffle in West Philly, and was sent by his mom to live with his “auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.” Before long, he’d become the fresh prince of Bel-Air, influencing and irritating the upper-crust personalities around him by way of his unpretentious, infectious attitude. The popular series ran for six seasons, enjoyed a healthy second life on syndication, and launched Smith’s career as a Hollywood A-lister. To think, it might have never been had Smith not been trying to get out from under an enormous IRS tax burden.

While “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was indisputably centered around its lead star, the show also featured a number of memorable regulars. Appearing alongside Will in essentially every episode was Uncle Phil (James Avery), Aunt Vivian (Janet Hubert from 1990–1993/Daphne Reid from 1993–1996), Geoffrey the butler (Joseph Marcell), and Smith’s cousins: Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Ashley (Tatyana Ali), and Hilary (Karyn Parsons). Good for the occasional guest appearance was Will’s close friend, Jazz, played by Smith’s real-life music partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Throughout the course of its 148 episodes, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” delivered plenty of laughs and iconic moments, but also some poignant takes on issues of class, family, and race. As a result, there’s really no wrong reason to revisit this classic sitcom. To get the ball rolling, Stacker is listing the show’s best 50 episodes. The rankings are based on IMDb ratings, with the number of user votes used to break any ties. Counting down from #50 to #1, here are the best episodes of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

RELATED: Click here to see the 100 best TV shows of all time

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#50. There's the Rub: Part 1

Season 6, Episode 9

Airdate: Nov. 20, 1995

IMDb rating: 7.9

Part one of a two-part Thanksgiving special, this episode finds Hilary and Carlton volunteering at a homeless shelter. Meanwhile, Uncle Phil suffers from back problems, and takes Will’s advice to go see a masseuse. As it turns out, however, the masseuse specializes in more than just back injuries.

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#49. Save the Last Trance for Me

Season 5, Episode 21

Airdate: April 17, 1995

IMDb rating: 7.9

Audiences were first introduced to Will’s cousin Nicky in season three, when he was born to Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv. By this season five episode, young Nicky Banks is ready to go to school, but not before an admissions officer visits the mansion. For obvious reasons, Uncle Phil is expecting everyone to be on his or her best behavior. That’s bad news for Will, who’s been hypnotized to behave like a four-year-old every time a bell is rang.

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#48. Love Hurts

Season 5, Episode 9

Airdate: Nov. 14, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

In this episode, Will suffers from an inferiority complex after his girlfriend Lisa Wilkes (Nia Long) defends him during a fight in a bowling alley. To compensate, Will takes karate lessons, and then asks Jazz to organize a fake robbery at the campus store. Things don’t go as planned, however, when an actual robber shows up. Complicating matters is the fact that Will still thinks it’s all an act, and he makes some truly dangerous moves as a result.

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#47. Father Knows Best

Season 5, Episode 7

Airdate: Oct. 24, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

Unbeknownst to her parents, Ashley has dropped out of Bel-Air Academy, and secretly started attending public school. When parent-teacher night arrives, Ashley feels compelled to tell her father the truth. Enter Will, who pretends to be Ashley’s father in order to trick her teacher. The plan seems to be working, until Will begins hitting on Ashley’s teacher, who proceeds to rip off his fake moustache.

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#46. You'd Better Shop Around

Season 4, Episode 19

Airdate: Feb. 21, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

In this episode, a car dealer notices that Will has some serious potential as a salesman and offers him a job. Soon enough, Will has dropped out of college to sell cars full time. It’s up to Will’s mother to set things straight, and she comes all the way from West Philly to drag him back into college. Eventually, Will sees why pursuing a meaningful career is far better than just making money. Meanwhile, Uncle Phil eats a sponge, thinking it’s a piece of fat-free cake.

 

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#45. Will's Misery

Season 5, Episode 6

Airdate: Oct. 17, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

Will scores a cabin getaway with Lisa Wilkes in this season five episode, but little does he know that Lisa belongs to a sorority who feels that men are an inferior gender. With the help of Carlton, the sorority plays a vicious prank on Will, ruining his getaway in the process. Seeking revenge, Will plays his own prank on Carlton, which sends Carlton on a manic, fourth wall-breaking spree around the house, through the studio audience, and onto an adjoining set. This episode also features a cameo from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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#44. The Harder They Fall

Season 4, Episode 21

Airdate: March 14, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

Before Will began dating Lisa Wilkes in season five, he was romantically entangled with a girl named Lisa Adams (Cree Summer). In this episode, Will finds himself stuck in a small plane with Lisa’s overprotective father, played by John Witherspoon, who decides to probe Will about his intentions mid-flight. As if that’s not bad enough, the plane’s engine dies, and the two men end up stranded together in the woods after parachuting out. 

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#43. Blood Is Thicker Than Mud

Season 4, Episode 8

Airdate: Nov. 1, 1993

IMDb rating: 7.9

In this episode, Will and Carlton undergo a series of initiation rituals while trying to get into a college fraternity. By the end of the episode, the fraternity members are ready to accept Will as one of their own, but not Carlton, whose preppy lifestyle represents “selling out” in their eyes. This causes Carlton to confront the fraternity leader, Top Dollar, with a speech that’s since gone viral on YouTube.

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#42. M Is for the Many Things She Gave Me

Season 4, Episode 22

Airdate: April 25, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

Romance and jealousy are everywhere in this season four episode, which finds Uncle Phil’s former lover, Janice (Pam Grier), visiting the Banks family with her daughter. Suffice to say, Aunt Viv isn’t exactly thrilled to be hosting her husband’s ex. At first, Uncle Phil seems to be under the spell of his former flame, until he discovers that she seduced—and slept with—Will during her stay.

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#41. That's No Lady, That's My Cousin

Season 3, Episode 3

Airdate: Sept. 28, 1992

IMDb rating: 7.9

This third season episode centers on an exciting announcement: Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv are having a baby! That’s not exactly great news for Hilary, who’s suddenly expected to move out of the house and get a job. Meanwhile, Ashley starts dressing like Will’s girlfriends in order to get more attention from the guys.

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#40. Fresh Prince: The Movie

Season 5, Episode 5

Airdate: Oct. 10, 1994

IMDb rating: 7.9

Will and Carlton suspect Jazz is cheating at poker, and decide to get back at him in the most elaborate of ways: by convincing him that the Banks family once entered witness protection after Will witnessed a murder. To bring the story to life, the episode delivers a mini-featurette, in which the Banks family hides out in a small Alabama town. Will’s tall tale seems convincing enough at first, though ultimately it’s Jazz who has the last laugh.

 

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#39. PSAT Pstory

Season 2, Episode 4

Airdate: Sept. 30, 1991

IMDb rating: 7.9

Will and Carlton take respectively different attitudes toward their college aptitude tests, and Will ends up with a higher score. That sends Carlton into a panic, and even leads him to copy Will’s answers on a pop quiz. Meanwhile, Geoffrey quits after being offered an unsatisfactory raise, and the Banks family quickly realizes just how difficult life is without him.

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#38. My Brother's Keeper

Season 2, Episode 15

Airdate: Jan. 13, 1992

IMDb rating: 7.9

The Bel-Air Academy basketball team is on a hot streak and it’s largely thanks to Will, their highly competitive star player. The team’s next game against Malibu Prep will be their most important one yet, with a college scout watching from the crowd. However, Will soon discovers that Malibu Prep’s star player, Marcus Stokes, has a mouth to feed, and could really use a college scholarship. Should Will purposefully let his opponent win, even if it means compromising his own athletic future?

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#37. She Ain't Heavy

Season 2, Episode 8

Airdate: Nov. 4, 1991

IMDb rating: 7.9

Queen Latifah guest stars as Dee Dee, a full-figured woman who goes out with Will on a blind date. The two definitely hit it off and have a great time, but Will nevertheless finds himself reluctant to ask Dee Dee to a school dance, worried about what others will think. Eventually, Will learns it’s what’s on the inside that counts. This was the second episode to feature Queen Latifah, who’d previously appeared on the show as a completely different character.

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#36. The Mother of All Battles

Season 2, Episode 2

Airdate: Sept. 16, 1991

IMDb rating: 7.9

Exploring a premise that all too many teenagers are familiar with, this episode puts Ashley in the crosshairs of a school bully. Unsure of how to deal with the torment, Ashley turns to Will and Carlton, each of whom provide completely different words of advice. When the bully’s parents come over to the Banks’ home to clear up the matter, Uncle Phil ends up punching the father in the face. So much for leading by example. 

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#35. Courting Disaster

Season 1, Episode 11

Airdate: Nov. 12, 1990

IMDb rating: 7.9

Will joins the Bel-Air Academy basketball team in this season one episode, and his fellow teammate Carlton isn’t happy about it. A somewhat bitter rivalry ensues, which culminates during the final seconds of an important game. That’s when Carlton decides to steal the ball from his cousin and take the game’s winning shot, only to miss. Uncle Phil chastises them both on the way home, but also promises to be more supportive of Carlton from that point forward.

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#34. Not with My Pig, You Don't

Season 1, Episode 4

Airdate: Oct. 1, 1990

IMDb rating: 7.9

In one of the show’s most revealing episodes, Uncle Phil tells the family that he’s to be honored with the prestigious Urban Spirit Award, and simultaneously profiled by a reporter. To celebrate the occasion, Phil’s parents travel to Bel-Air, and tell Will all sorts of stories about their son. What Will discovers is that Uncle Phil has been lying about his past, particularly the fact that he was raised as a young farm boy named Zeke. After being exposed, Uncle Phil learns that one should embrace his or her past, not run from it. In one scene, Uncle Phil claims that “parents just don’t understand,” making direct reference to a hit song by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.

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#33. Cold Feet, Hot Body

Season 5, Episode 23

Airdate: May 1, 1995

IMDb rating: 8

Will is engaged to Lisa Wilkes by the time this episode rolls around, but that doesn’t stop a Philly woman named Denise (Robin Givens) from vying for Will’s affection. When the Banks have Denise over for dinner, she puts Will’s loyalty to the test. Can he withstand her advances?

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#32. The Client

Season 5, Episode 1

Airdate: Sept. 19, 1994

IMDb rating: 8

Kicking off season five was this hour-long episode, which explores an arena near and dear to Will Smith’s heart: the record business. In the episode, Will tries to manage Ashley’s music career after she records a hit single, in hopes of making her a national sensation. However, the label executives think Ashley belongs in the hands of someone with more expertise, and Will is eventually fired from his role as manager.

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#31. Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Part 2

Season 4, Episode 2

Airdate: Sept. 20, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

The spoiled-but-lovable Hilary is all set to marry her boyfriend Trevor, until Trevor dies in a horrible bungee-jumping accident. Capitalizing on the tragedy is Will, who convinces Hilary to move out of the pool house so he and Carlton can move in. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, indeed.

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#30. Not, I Barbecue

Season 6, Episode 6

Airdate: Oct. 23, 1995

IMDb rating: 8

Will and Carlton can’t believe their luck when they score a double date with two gorgeous women, and then get invited back to the women’s apartment. However, the dream quickly turns into a nightmare when a boyfriend named Mad Dog shows up, forcing Will and Carlton to hide in the closet.

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#29. It's Better to Have Loved and Lost It...

Season 4, Episode 5

Airdate: Oct. 11, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

In this momentous episode, Carlton loses his virginity to a beautiful woman named Jo Ann, for whom he develops intense feelings. Riding high on the experience, Carlon gains the courage he needs to once again apply to Princeton University. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Carlton discovers that not only is Jo Ann married, but her husband is one of the few people who can help Carlton get into the college of his dreams. Meanwhile, Geoffrey worries that an old scandal might come back to haunt the Banks family.  

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#28. Hex and the Single Guy

Season 4, Episode 7

Airdate: Oct. 25, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

Will and the Banks family attend a séance in hopes of hearing from Hilary’s dead fiancé in this season four episode. After Will calls the psychic a fake, the psychic responds by placing a hex on Will and all those he communicates with. Shortly thereafter, Uncle Phil loses his job, Hilary breaks her ankle, Geoffrey gets deported, and Carlton gets stuck in a permanent “Home Alone” costume. Will wakes up the next day to discover it was all just a dream. Or was it?

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#27. Six Degrees of Graduation

Season 3, Episode 24

Airdate: May 10, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

High school graduation is right around the corner, but Will is facing a major dilemma: He’s failing musicof all thingsand can’t graduate unless he passes. The only way he can get a passing grade is if he dresses up as a sunflower and sings at the graduation ceremony with a group of children. Not only does Will perform the song-and-dance routine, but he helps a number of his younger peers overcome their stage fright in the process. This was the third season finale, and therefore the last episode to star actress Janet Hubert-Whitten as Aunt Viv.

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#26. Robbing the Banks

Season 3, Episode 15

Airdate: Jan. 18, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

It’s a classic whodunnit in this season three episode, in which the Banks' mansion is burglarized and the suspect still at large. Uncle Phil is quick to point blame at the ex-convict handyman, who was hired based on Will’s suggestion. As it turns out, however, Phil’s own trusted assistant was behind the robbery, teaching Philand the viewersan important lesson in perspective. 

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#25. Ain't No Business Like Show Business

Season 3, Episode 22

Airdate: April 12, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

Comedian D.L. Hughley guest stars as Keitha close friend of Will’s from Phillyin this season three episode. While tagging along with Keith for a comedy showcase, Will discovers that he might have a knack for humor himself. Against Keith’s wishes, Will enters the showcase, only to bomb on stage. As Keith explains at the end of the episode, even those with an instinct for something need to hone their craft over time.

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#24. All Guts, No Glory

Season 4, Episode 3

Airdate: Sept. 27, 1993

IMDb rating: 8

Hoping to impress a girl, Will enrolls in a college course on Western philosophy, and soon finds himself in over his head. Feeling overwhelmed by his professor and the material alike, Will decides to drop the class, only to immediately regret the decision. Meanwhile, it turns out the girl Will was trying to impress had a boyfriend all along.

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#23. Mama's Baby, Carlton's Maybe

Season 3, Episode 5

Airdate: Oct. 12, 1992

IMDb rating: 8

Perennial preppy Carlton takes center stage in this season three episode, which brings an ex-girlfriend named Cindy back into his life. As it turns out, Cindy brought her new baby, Carlton Jr., along with her, and she claims that Carlton is the father. Rather than admit he’s a virgin, Carlton accepts responsibility for the child, and even runs off with Cindy to get married. Thankfully, Cindy calls off the wedding before it’s too late.

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#22. Will Gets a Job

Season 2, Episode 3

Airdate: Sept. 23, 1991

IMDb rating: 8

Over the course of the show’s six seasons, Will would take on a handful of jobs, but his stint as the waiter at a pirate-themed restaurant might be the most memorable. Willwho secretly lands the job in an effort to prove that he can make money on his ownends up having his secret compromised when Uncle Phil and the family stroll in for a meal. Thankfully, Uncle Phil doesn’t recognize Will in his pirate costume…at least not at first.

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#21. Cased Up

Season 2, Episode 9

Airdate: Nov. 11, 1991

IMDb rating: 8

Will is pumped to take his new car, aka “The Rapmobile,” for a spin around Bel-Air. Killing the fun is Uncle Phil, who prohibits Will from driving the car without insurance. Ignoring his uncle’s demands, Will takes The Rapmobile for a ride anyway, and gets into an accident with Hilary’s boyfriend, Eric. In turn, Eric sues Uncle Phil, and the two parties end up fighting it out in court.

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#20. The Philadelphia Story

Season 4, Episode 26

Airdate: May 23, 1994

IMDb rating: 8.1

In this iconic episode, the Banks family visits Will’s hometown of West Philadelphia, where everyone thinks of Will as a chicken for leaving in the first placethere’s even a chicken sandwich named after him. Hoping to earn back his dignity, Will insists on staying in Philly, and fighting the gang member who beat him up years earlier. This was originally supposed to be the series finale, but the show ended up getting renewed by vociferous request from the fans.

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#19. Eye, Tooth

Season 6, Episode 22

Airdate: May 13, 1996

IMDb rating: 8.1

As the host of her own popular talk show, Hilary is eager to book William Shatner as a guest in this season six episode. To her delight, Shatner agrees, until some actions from Will and Carlton prompt the “Star Trek” actor to rethink his decision. Meanwhile, Hilary’s producers plan to move the show to New York, and Ashley wants to tag along for the ride.

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#18. Home Is Where the Heart Attack Is

Season 4, Episode 10

Airdate: Nov. 15, 1993

IMDb rating: 8.1

Despite being told to cut down on his cholesterol, Uncle Phil bribes Will into buying him a cheeseburger. The result of that cheeseburger is a heart attack, which puts Phil in the hospital. As Phil recovers, Will tells Carlton stories about his own deadbeat father, and explains how lucky Carlton is to have a dad like Phil. 

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#17. The Butler Did It

Season 2, Episode 11

Airdate: Nov. 25, 1991

IMDb rating: 8.1

When the parents and butler are away, the children will play. So goes this season two episode, in which Will and Carlton host an unpermitted video shoot for R&B group Bell Biv Devoe, who star as themselves at the mansion. Meanwhile, Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv’s weekend getaway is more or less ruined by the actions of another guest at the hotel. As it turns out, the other guest is Geoffrey. In other words: the butler did it.

 

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#16. It Had to Be You

Season 1, Episode 19

Airdate: Feb. 4, 1991

IMDb rating: 8.1

Jazz convinces Will to take his sister, Janet (Vivica A. Fox), out on a date. At first, Will is reluctant to agree, but he has a change of heart after discovering that Janet is actually quite stunning. The date is going smoothly until Janet starts mapping out their future together, and acting openly jealous toward other girls. To get himself out of a bad situation, Will tries to pair Janet with Carlton instead. Will Smith and Fox would star opposite one another again years later in the hit film, “Independence Day.”

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#15. The Alma Matter

Season 3, Episode 18

Airdate: Feb. 8, 1993

IMDb rating: 8.2

It’s no secret that Carlton is a huge fan of Tom Jones, and therefore no surprise that Jones would appear as Carlton’s guardian angel in a nighttime vision. It all goes down in this season three episode, which finds Will getting conditionally accepted into Princeton while Carlton gets rejected. Feeling depressed, Carlton seeks hallucinatory guidance from the “It’s So Unusual” singer, and subsequently discovers that there’s more to life than getting into Princeton University.

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#14. Boyz in the Woods

Season 3, Episode 8

Airdate: Nov. 5, 1992

IMDb rating: 8.2

With a title that pokes fun at the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood,” this season three episode follows Will, Carlton, and Uncle Phil as they embark on a camping trip of disastrous proportion. Back at the mansion, Hilary is trying to get some quality alone time with her boyfriend Trevor, but finding it nearly impossible to achieve. This is a rare episode in that it doesn’t feature a single appearance from Aunt Viv or Ashley.

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#13. Banks Shot

Season 1, Episode 22

Airdate: Feb. 25, 1991

IMDb rating: 8.2

In this event-filled episode, Aunt Viv goes to Berkeley, Uncle Phil goes to work, and Geoffrey takes the day off. That leaves Hilary in charge, and she doesn’t make much of an authority figure. Seizing the opportunity, Will snags the car keys and drives to the nearest pool hall, where he proceeds to lose both his money and the car to a local hustler. Enter Uncle Phil, who turns out to be quite the pool shark himself.

 

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#12. 72 Hours

Season 1, Episode 23

Airdate: March 11, 1991

IMDb rating: 8.2

Exploring class divides, this season one episode sees Will and Jazz betting Carlton that he can’t last 72 hours in Jazz’s neighborhood of Compton. Tired of being made fun of for his preppy behavior, Carlton accepts the bet, and ends up adopting a new, street savvy persona. However, when it appears that Carlton might partake in some illegal activity late at night, Will goes to great lengths to ensure his cousin’s safety.

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#11. Knowledge Is Power

Season 1, Episode 13

Airdate: Nov. 26, 1990

IMDb rating: 8.2

After Will discovers that Hilary secretly dropped out of college three months ago, he uses the information to blackmail her into becoming his slave. Hilary turns to Carlton for support, and ends up becoming Carlton’s slave as well. The action culminates during a hilarious dinner sequence, in which Hilary must simultaneously obey both Will and Carlton’s list of sadistic demands.

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#10. The Fresh Prince Project

Season 1, Episode 1

Airdate: Sept. 10, 1990

IMDb rating: 8.2

Every sitcom has to start somewhere, and this one started with “The Fresh Prince Project” in 1990. In the pilot episode, Will comes to Bel-Air from West Philly, bringing his streetwise attitude along with him. Before long, he’s clashing with Uncle Phil, influencing Ashley, and poking fun at Carlton, all against a thematic backdrop of racial identity. Suffice to say, this poignant episode set the template by which the entire show would abide. 

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#9. Winner Takes Off

Season 3, Episode 14

Airdate: Jan. 4, 1993

IMDb rating: 8.3

Will and Carlton pull off a cruel, albeit brilliant prank on the family butler in this iconic season three episode. Specifically, they give Geoffrey a fake lottery ticket, leading him to think he hit the $26 million jackpot. Thrilled beyond words, Geoffrey jumps on the couch, pops the champagne, and quits his job in spectacular fashion. Upon discovering it was all a prank, Geoffrey feels too humiliated to return. It’s only after Will and Carlton embarrass themselves before him that Geoffrey agrees to come back.

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#8. Will Goes a Courtin'

Season 4, Episode 6

Airdate: Oct. 18, 1993

IMDb rating: 8.3

Uncle Phil and Will rarely see eye to eye, but in this season four episode, their differences go to extremes. It all begins when Uncle Phil refuses to fix the air conditioner in Will and Carlton’s guest house, prompting the two cousins to deny Phil their rent payment. Rather than sort it out on the homefront, Uncle Phil decides to teach his son and nephew a lesson by suing them in court.

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#7. I, Done: Part 1

Season 6, Episode 23

Airdate: May 20, 1996

IMDb rating: 8.3

With the series finale right around the corner, “I, Done: Part 1” finds all the show’s characters preparing to move on with their lives. For Uncle Phil, that means selling the family mansion. This news is particularly upsetting to Will, who realizes his future is far more uncertain than he originally realized.

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#6. Strip-Tease for Two

Season 2, Episode 24

Airdate: May 4, 1992

IMDb rating: 8.4

Will and Carlton find out the hard way that earning money is no easy task in this season two episode. In order to recoup the money they lost on a faulty investment, they donate blood, and eventually resort to stripping. The two cousins seem poised to make it as male strippers, until Aunt Viv and Hilary walk into the club.

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#5. Bullets Over Bel-Air

Season 5, Episode 15

Airdate: Feb. 6, 1995

IMDb rating: 8.5

In one of the show’s most harrowing episodes, Will and Carlton are held up at gunpoint at an ATM machine, and Will takes a bullet for his cousin. Feeling the justice system has failed him, Carlton buys himself a gun for protection. When Will finds out, he insists that Carlton hand over the weapon, and then sobs as he empties out the bullets while sitting in his hospital bed. 

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#4. Mistaken Identity

Season 1, Episode 6

Airdate: Oct. 15, 1990

IMDb rating: 8.5

Featuring a premise that’s as timely today as it was over 25 years ago, this season one episode finds Will and Carlton behind bars after they’re accused of driving a “stolen” car, which was actually borrowed. Eventually, Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv arrive at the jail, where they’re talked down to by the police. It’s only after Phil’s white law partner arrives that the cops begin to see the error of their ways. The entire ordeal is quite perplexing for Carlton, who struggles to come to terms with all the racist implications.

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#3. Just Say Yo

Season 3, Episode 19

Airdate: Feb. 15, 1993

IMDb rating: 8.9

Yet another sobering episode, “Just Say Yo” tackles the hazards of drug use in true sitcom style. Will is given uppers by a classmate so that he can balance his hectic schedule. After Carlton mistakes the pills for vitamins, he overdoses and ends up in the hospital, where he covers for Will. With tears pouring down his cheek, Will confesses to Uncle Phil and the family that the pills were actually his.

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#2. I, Done: Part 2

Season 6, Episode 24

Airdate: May 20, 1996

IMDb rating: 9

The show’s final episode is also one of its best, with virtually every member of the Banks family moving to the East Coast. In fact, the only person left behind is Will, who’s staying in California to finish college. As Will surveys the empty mansion, he realizes just how much his life has been changed by the Banks family and Geoffrey. Before he and Carlton part ways, they perform Carlton’s now-famous dance routine together, providing the show with one of its most bittersweet moments.

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#1. Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse

Season 4, Episode 24

Airdate: May 9, 1994

IMDb rating: 9.7

Fatherhood is one of the show’s most prescient and recurring themes, which makes this season four episode particularly unforgettable. In the episode, Will is reunited with his father (Ben Vereen), whom he hasn’t seen in over 14 years. After Will’s father inevitably disappoints him yet again, Will delivers an ad-libbed speech so authentic and impactful that it put the studio audienceand presumably millions of viewersin tears.

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