Veronica Mars, the character and series are like this unstoppable force that continues to find new life even after many deaths. That kind of perseverance and spunky go-getter attitude is why the series’ fans continue to support Veronica Mars. The reason I, and so many others, love the show is because of its intriguing mysteries, fully formed characters, and clever writing. Some of Veronica Mars’s best episodes take you by surprise with their twists, unexpected villains, and the wit Veronica uses to solve the case.
Veronica Mars is a series for mystery lovers as much as it’s a series for those that just enjoy some witty banter and intense drama. The mysteries are half the fun of a captivating episode of Veronica Mars. For this list, I picked ten episodes that I personally really enjoy, but also believe that in some way they capture the series’ heart and essence.
I included at least one episode from almost every season. You may notice that no episodes from Season 4 appear on this list. That is because I believe overall (except one big mistake) the season was interesting as a whole, but there aren’t many standalone episodes that will go down in history as one of the best. The season works best as a single unit, more than it does as individual parts.
10. Weapons Of Class Destruction, Season 1, Episode 18
Neptune High has been receiving a series of bomb threats, and Veronica (Kristen Bell) tries to find out who's behind them and what their plans are. This leads to her uncovering a potential FBI conspiracy. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Joey Lauren Adams guest star.
This is overall an okay Veronica Mars episode. The mystery is interesting enough, but the conclusion feels a bit thrown together, and we don’t learn enough about the motives behind Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s character’s actions, besides just wanting to make a lot of arrests. However, the mystery doesn’t matter for this episode, because this is the big LoVe episode. Fans receive a major shock when former enemies, now kind of friends Veronica and Logan (Jason Dohring) share their first kiss. It was one of the most shocking moments of the series, and then inspired a 10-year-plus obsession with the pair.
9. Mars Vs. Mars, Season 1, Episode 14
Veronica’s favorite teacher, Mr. Rooks (Adam Scott) is accused of statutory rape by Carrie Bishop (Leighton Meester). Veronica is sure that Carrie is lying. She just needs to prove it. However, all of Keith (Enrico Colantoni)’s evidence points to Mr. Rooks being guilty.
“Mars Vs. Mars” is one of the rare times in the series that Veronica is actually wrong (sort-of). It takes you down a path where you also start to believe that Carrie is lying and Rooks is innocent. This makes the final reveal all the more satisfying. Adam Scott has such a natural good guy aura that it makes perfect sense to cast him in this charming teacher role. You just want to believe this guy. “Mars Vs. Mars” shows as smart as Veronica is, she really is still just a teen who sometimes gets it wrong.
8. Look Who’s Stalking, Season 2, Episode 20
“Look Who’s Stalking” revolves around Gia (Krysten Ritter) worrying that someone is stalking her. The clues to find her stalker takes lots of turns, including bringing a brief appearance by Leo (Max Greenfield). Meanwhile, the 09ers are hosting an alternative prom after their antics get it cancelled.
This Veronica Mars episode has a good overall mystery of the week that directly ties into the big season case. This one leaves a lot of breadcrumbs about what eventually unfolds on the season finale. Of course, this episode also makes my list because of Logan’s alternative prom speech. How can I not include this one with lines like this:
“Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?” “
No one writes about the ones that come easy.”
7. Spit & Eggs, Season 3, Episode 9
After being dumped by Logan, Veronica has a new focus and determination. She’s tired of having the campus rapist walk free. She’s going to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of these crimes, even if it means putting herself in danger.
Veronica Mars Season 3 had a lot more misses than hits, but there are a few really strong episodes, and “Spit & Eggs” might be the strongest of the bunch. The series returns to form with some big unexpected reveals with the rapist, we have a really likable character die, plenty of twists, and a side of heartbreak with the LoVe breakup. It also nicely sets up the mystery for the second half of the season.
6. Donut Run, Season 2, Episode 11
Duncan (Teddy Dunn) has disappeared with his child, and everyone suspects that Veronica is involved. However, Duncan and she broke up before his disappearance. She’s also trying to help the police find Duncan and baby Lily. Lucy Lawless guest stars as Agent Morris.
“Donut Run” proves why Veronica is one of the best TV P.Is in the business. The way she carefully plans and plots in this episode is the work of a girl genius. This episode is also the official final episode with Duncan as a main character. It’s a sad goodbye for Veronica and him, but an exciting and fitting end to their story.
5. An Echolls Family Christmas, Season 1, Episode 10
Logan hosts a poker game at his house that includes a Hollywood hunk (Travis Schuldt), a fellow 09er (Kevin Sheridan), Duncan, and Weevil (Francis Capra). Weevil wins the game, and then his money goes missing. Veronica gets involved to retrieve the cash.
“An Echolls Family Christmas” is one of those Veronica Mars episodes with a really good final reveal. When you find out who stole the cash and why, you can’t help but appreciate the writers for how they give you all the clues but still need Veronica to spell it out for you. This episode also gives a closer look into the dangerously dysfunctional Echolls clan.
4. Pilot, Season 1, Episode 1
Meet Veronica Mars. She used to be one of Neptune High’s “It” girls, but when her best friend Lily (Amanda Seyfried) was murdered, and her father accused the wrong man of the crime, she became the black sheep of the town. Now she’s constantly bullied by the haves, including Lily’s ex-boyfriend Logan. Every school needs an” obligatory psychotic jackass”, and he’s theirs.
I’m someone who has seen hundreds of pilot episodes, and they are rarely that good. Veronica Mars’ first episode proves that sometimes really good shows also have really good pilot episodes. It did a perfect job of introducing the major characters, the town, and how Veronica was too clever for most of the adults in Neptune.
3. A Trip To The Dentist, Season 1, Episode 21
Veronica wants to finally find out what really happened at Shelly Pomroy's party. It is a bad trip down memory lane as she discovers that multiple people were complicit in her sexual assault. “A Trip to the Dentist” is even more heartbreaking when the whole truth comes out. The episode also ends with Logan and Veronica becoming an official couple, and the start of the big grand finale.
Veronica Mars is nothing if not dark at times. This episode tackles a heavy subject without completely crossing the “too dark for network television” line. You feel everything that Veronica suffers: sadness, humiliation, violence, rage, and so on. The episode ends with a satisfying explanation of what happened, and the case feels closed, until the truth resurfaces during the Veronica Mars Season 2 finale. Viewers learn to always expect the unexpected with Veronica Mars.
2. Leave It To Beaver, Season 1, Episode 22
Veronica has found a new prime suspect for the Lily Kane murder. She betrays a friend, only to later discover that she was wrong. By the end of “Leave it to Beaver,” Veronica faces off against Lily’s real killer in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
I am someone who believes that great shows always deliver with their season finales. Veronica Mars is a perfect example of this theory. The first season finale takes you on a thrill ride. First, Lily’s killer is actually surprising, but when you think about it, you’re like of course it was that person. Then it ends with a simple cliffhanger: who is at the door? “Leave It to Beaver” ties all the major loose ends up, but it lays a lot of the groundwork for next season’s big mystery. It also has some major clues to the answer to that crime.
1. Not Pictured, Season 2, Episode 22
Veronica is close to figuring out who caused the bus crash. It exposes some very dark secrets of Neptune’s finest, especially Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg). By the end of the episode, Veronica faces the killer and all his demons.
If there is anything I’ve learned from Veronica Mars, it is to always have trust issues with this show. Most of the time, the character you expect the least is the one behind the crime. “Not Pictured” puts fans through the ringer as they learn a likable character isn’t so innocent, and a bunch of other stuff you thought you knew were lies. It’s also bittersweet justice with the criminal because most of his behavior is due to childhood trauma. He’s more of a victim than a criminal. This proves another great thing about Veronica Mars, the good and bad guys can’t neatly be put in a box.