With so many sitcoms using cynical humor or dark jokes, Abbott Elementary brightens the day for viewers. The series famously follows the exotic mix of teachers at a downtrodden elementary school as they find new ways to serve the community and enhance their personal lives. Led by the happy-go-lucky Janine Teagues, the instructors at Abbott feel relatable and funny.
Entering season three in the winter after a long hiatus due to the Hollywood strikes, Abbott Elementary already possesses a ton of great episodes. Check out the best Abbott Elementary episodes!
1. “Zoo Balloon” (Season 1, Episode 13)
Janine finally realizes that her relationship with Tariq might be holding her back from growing in her personal life. The episode lays the groundwork for so much of the Janine/Gregory romance that will take up space in season two. A poignant B-plot about Barbara's age helps older viewers see that life doesn't have to stop during the golden years.
2. “Work Family” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Janine and Jacob's whacky, fun friendship evolves tremendously here when Janine forces her way into Jacob's life. Gregory becomes a much better teacher and communicator with young children after receiving advice from Barbara and Melissa about appeasing the kids' attention spans.
3. “Egg Drop” (Season 2, Episode 8)
Janine shoots a little too high when she asks her second graders to do the same science experiments as the eighth-grade students. The storyline brilliantly demonstrates her optimism and belief in her kids. Barbara's holier-than-thou attitude goes a little too far when she feels repulsed over a parent's clothing with curse words and heavy language.
4. “Holiday Hookah” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Abbott Elementary will grow and improve when it leaves the classroom and more often experiments with the characters' personal lives. The Christmas episode of season two fantastically underlines the growing romantic tension of Janine and Gregory's relationship when they interact at a hooka bar after school. Will they kiss, or won't they? The show's version of Ross and Rachel comes running full steam ahead, keeping viewers hooked on Abbott Elementary episodes.
5. “Step Class” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Principal Ava Coleman often risks becoming a caricature of her worst qualities, a cartoon that stands contrary to the more rounded teachers in the show. Janelle James does an excellent job in episodes like “Step Class” to show the principal's big heart and dedication to education. Ava and Janine come together to teach a step class to the kids, and the dancing is just one part of the hilarity!
6. “Teacher Conference” (Season 2, Episode 16)
The big moment finally arrives! Gregory and Janine share an intoxicated smooch at the Philadelphia Teacher Conference, culminating a moment nearly 30 Abbott Elementary episodes in the making. The writers knew the exact time to pull off this storyline, and fans were reeling for days after!
7. “Candy Zombies” (Season 2, Episode 6)
Halloween allows the teachers of Abbott to dress in their holiday best, including Janine as James Harden and a student as the janitor, Mr. Johnson. Beyond the creativity of the outfits, viewers enjoy seeing Janine try to make more friends and evolve in the aftermath of her breakup with her season one boyfriend, Tariq.
8. “Sick Day” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Janine's obsession with being in the classroom sees an abrupt halt when she comes down with an illness that puts her in bed for the day. Ava takes over Janine's classroom, and the results are to be expected. Principal Coleman gets better as the day goes on, though. The school's dynamic without Janine gives the episode unique replayability, and viewers get to see Brunson shine solo while playing bedridden Janine.
9. “Wishlist” (Season 1, Episode 3)
Barbara Howard is the oldest teacher at the poorest school in America. Or at least Ava uses this description of her Kindergarten teacher to get sympathy around the city for Barbara and, hopefully, an influx of school supplies. The episode demonstrated the incredible tightrope the show would walk, delicately poking fun of the education system while allowing fans to walk away with a positive impression each week.
10. “Ava vs. Superintendent” (Season 1, Episode 12)
Ava hardly ever gets tasked with actual school work while running Abbott Elementary. The penultimate episode of the first season tasks the incompetent principal with channeling her inner leader and pitching to the school board why Abbott needs more funding. Her authentic, impassioned speech gives the audience a taste of where Ava's soul truly lies: with her staff and students.
11. “Fundraiser” (Season 2, Episode 13)
Ava and Barbara's juxtaposed moralities come to light when they both try to help the students raise money for a school fundraiser. Ava's ethically-gray methods don't go over well with Barbara, but the God-fearing woman learns she needs to stop judging and allow some bending of the rules if life calls for such a decision.
12. “Teacher Appreciation” (Season 2, Episode 18)
More character evolution outside of the classroom for Janine as she hangs out with her sister and tries to resolve issues from her past. Ayo Edebiri of The Bear guest stars as Janine's sister, and the two actresses have an instant chemistry that helps the audience adjust to the change of scenery right away.
13. “Franklin Institute” (Season 2, Episode 22)
The teachers take a field trip to a space museum, which serves as a romantic backdrop for Janine and Gregory to come clean and put a label on what they have with each other. The teachers decide to remain coworkers and friends for the moment, which give Abbott Elementary episodes a clean reset on this storyline.
14. “Mural Arts” (Season 2, Episode 17)
Jacob almost enjoys school as much as Janine does, especially when art gets involved. He and the students come to common terms on what type of mural to paint to celebrate the innate cultural landmarks of the school. The episode also pushes the storyline forward about Abbott becoming a charter school.
15. “Student Transfer” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Melissa and Janine form one of the best interactions in the series because Janine's confidence and optimism haven't been clouded by years of experience. Melissa gets the last laugh when Janine finds out the hard way about an impossible student who transfers from one class to the other. Both teachers agree to find the best solution for the student and put petty differences aside, which shows how great both women are at their jobs.
16. “Read-a-Thon” (Season 2, Episode 11)
Melissa and Janine compete in a reading contest where the class with the better scores wins a bet. The B-plotline stands out more due to the funny interactions between Gregory and Jacob when they start podcasting together. Jacob's sense of awareness never fails to bring a laugh.
17. “Juice” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Abbott Elementary episodes experiment with more chaotic humor and situations when a new juice puts the kids into a frantic rush to the bathroom. The consequences are devastating, as the school can't withhold the wear and tear of flushing so many toilets at such high frequency!
18. “Attack Ad” (Season 2, Episode 7)
The show sets up the main storyline of the second season outside of the Janine/Gregory romance. “Attack Ad” introduces a former student of Barbara's who insists on transforming Abbott into a charter school, something many staff aren't keen on.
19. “Mom” (Season 2, Episode 21)
Janine's mother barges into her life asking for money, and viewers get a taste of how Janine must be the adult in every room she's in, even with her family members. Taraji P. Henson is magnificent in the guest star role as Janine's mother.
20. “Open House” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Barbara and Janine have always possessed a mother-daughter friendship in the show, but Janine learns not to meddle in Barbara's family business. The wedge between Barbara and her real daughter gives Janine time to think about how she should interact with her “work mother.”
21. “Festival” (Season 2, Episode 19)
The charter school storyline ends with a triumphant win for the teachers as they get the parents on their side. Abbott doesn't need an upheaval but rather some occasional attention. The episode gives hope for real-life schools to avoid the charter school fate on their terms.
22. “Desking” (Season 1, Episode 11)
Jacob and Janine cannot understand why the students keep jumping on desks while they are trying to teach. Jacob leans into his corny self and joins the viral trend to make the kids understand how cheesy the joke looks.