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Betty White: 9 Great Rose Episodes Of The Golden Girls

Betty White in The Golden Girls
(Image credit: NBC )

The passing of Betty White brought about a celebration of the actress’ achievements, as well as many wanting to celebrate her greatest works. For me and many others, there’s little denying that White’s role as Rose on The Golden Girls remains one of her best roles ever. The series, in general, is packed with great episodes, though her Rose episodes tend to stand tall above the rest. 

For anyone hoping to revisit Betty White’s best moments as Rose in The Golden Girls, here’s a hand-crafted list of some of the definitive episodes for the character, and some of White’s best performances in the show. Some are happy, others sad, and some just plain goofy. I’m assuming anyone who watched the show assumed the latter, as few characters on television are as unintentionally funny as Rose Nylund.

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC )

“In A Bed Of Rose’s” - Season 1, Episode 15

Death is a natural part of life, and, apparently, if you’re trying to date in your senior years. Rose discovers a man she slept with the night before died in her bed, which gives her a complex, as her late husband, Charlie, died the same way. Rose contacts the man’s sister, only to find out his sister was actually his wife. 

The episode is full of laughs and actually earned Betty White an Emmy win. As for Rose, she eventually discovered that having two men die during sex was just a coincidence and not a recurring problem. Betty White's shining moment is her blunt announcement the man she slept with is dead, which gets me laughing every time.

a visit from little sven the golden girls betty white casey sander

(Image credit: NBC)

“A Visit From Little Sven” -  Season 3, Episode 9

Rose’s cousin, Sven (Casey Sander), pays a visit to The Golden Girls, and it’s a cause for celebration. He’s in town for his arranged marriage in Miami, but there’s just a small hiccup in her cousin from St. Olaf’s plan. Sven falls hopelessly in love with Blanche, to the point that he’s willing to call off the wedding in order to be with her. 

Blanche is unwilling to break their relationship even though she only led Sven on to get back at her boyfriend, though she’s soon dumped by Sven after he meets his bride-to-be for the first time. Fans of The Golden Girls know most episodes that involve Rose’s hometown of St. Olaf are great, but this one shines for Betty White's Rose for her backhanded comments about Blanche and her powers of seduction. 

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“Letter To Gorbachev” - Season 3, Episode 6

After seeing a picture drawn by one of her 8-year-old Sunshine cadets depicting nuclear war, Rose is determined to try and inspire hope for her girls' troupe. She writes a letter to President Reagan and Gorbachev about ending the Cold War, and the letter is so inspiring that the Russians send a representative to the house to ask Rose to read her letter. 

The Russian government is later embarrassed to learn the letter, which they assumed came from a little girl, was actually written by the much-older Rose. This episode allows Betty White to really show out with Rose's obliviousness, which makes the episode all the more hilarious. 

inga swenson Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“Little Sister” - Season 4, Episode 21

The Golden Girls welcomes another member of the family to the fold when Rose’s sister Holly (Inga Swenson) comes to visit the town. Rose warns her friends that Holly is a “troublemaker,” but Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia find themselves becoming fast friends with Holly. Rose later catches Holly with Blanche’s boyfriend and is forced to tattle on her sister to her friends. 

This is a great episode, in my opinion, because we get a rare look at Rose interacting with members of her family, and again, some insight into the unique way things are done in St. Olaf. Betty White doesn't get a lot of chances in the series to show Rose as legitimately angry, and this is one great example of when she got to show that Rose can be mean when she wants to. 

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“You Gotta Have Hope” - Season 4, Episode 17

Dorothy is hard-up for a host for an upcoming charity event, but Rose has the perfect solution. She proudly tells Dorothy she can get famed entertainer Bob Hope for the event because that’s her father. Rose reveals that she spent the first eight years of her life in an orphanage, and that she legitimately believes Bob Hope to be her father. 

The ultimate mic drop moment is the arrival of Bob Hope, though it is revealed that he is not actually Rose’s dad. This episode is great for the cameo, and because The Golden Girls does a wonderful job of showing Rose’s optimism despite her hardships in life. Plus, Betty White does such a great job at selling the idea that Bob Hope is Rose's dad, you almost want to believe her. 

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“Yokel Hero” - Season 4, Episode 4

Rose is bestowed one of her hometown’s highest honors and travels to town with the ladies to receive the award. It isn’t until later that they’re in town, however, that it’s revealed Blanche and Dorothy fudged some details on Rose’s original application and embellished a few truths in order to ensure she stands the best chance at winning. The end result is Rose winning the award in spite of much more qualified candidates, but hey, it’s a work of fiction. 

The Golden Girls goes to St. Olaf in this episode, so you know it’s gold. Betty White really sells it with stories about St. Olaf, and I'll never understand how she doesn't break character talking about it. 

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“72 Hours” - Season 5, Episode 19

In one of The Golden Girls’ more serious episodes, Rose is floored when a hospital notifies her that a past blood transfusion could’ve resulted in her having HIV. Rose receives testing and must wait three days for the results. The episode is filled with Rose’s worry, as well as Sophia treating her differently because of the potential diagnosis. 

The episode is powerful as it serves as a reminder of the stigma associated with AIDS and ran at a time where many in the United States still carried those biases. Not all episodes of The Golden Girls are this heavy and informative, but this one stands out as one of the best. Betty White did a great job at handling the understandable fear of having HIV, as well as portraying Rose reaching an understanding about the disease by the episode's end. 

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“Once, In St. Olaf” - Season 6, Episode 2

Sophia is sent to the hospital for hernia surgery and ends up in the same hospital ward that Rose volunteers in. Sophia ends up going missing, but that’s not really the big moment of this episode, as Rose has a chance encounter with a monk, who ends up being her biological father.

The monk explains how he met Rose’s mother, and how, obviously, one thing led to another and he got her pregnant. The other monks never found out about his transgression, but in exchange, Rose never actually met her biological father until that moment. The two reconcile and plan to keep in touch, as he hopes to make amends for the time he’s been away. This sounds like a heavy episode, but Betty White makes it great with Rose's typical compassion and understanding for others.

Betty White in The Golden Girls

(Image credit: NBC)

“It’s A Miserable Life” - Season 2,  Episode 4

The town rallies to attempt and save an old tree, but the homeowner who owns the tree, Mrs. Klaxton, wants it gone. The ladies try to reason with Klaxton and explain the importance of it, but she's unreasonable and unwilling to bend on her decision to have it destroyed. 

Rose, angered by the lack of compassion, tells Mrs. Klaxton to “drop dead” in a town hall meeting, and the woman does just that, leading to Rose feeling guilty about unintentionally killing the old woman. This episode is amazing because of Mrs. Klaxton’s death scene, and Betty White's reaction as Rose when it happens. It's sitcom television at its finest, in my opinion. 

The Golden Girls is available to stream on Hulu, for anyone hoping to see these Betty White episodes or others. There are plenty of other great episodes that don’t center around Rose, but still give the character some great moments to shine. 

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.