The Best Martin Episodes, Ranked

Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell on Martin
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Martin Lawrence dominated the Black comedy scene in the '90s, much like Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor in the decades before him. His stand-up act and small roles on TV elevated him to films such as Do The Right Thing and a comedy special entitled Martin Lawrence: You So Crazy, which served as the basis of his hit FOX television show Martin in 1992. Much like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Lawrence’s titular show defined an entire generation of younger audiences. What made the show stand out was its full-on embrace of hip-hop culture. 

From the sneakers Martin wore to the songs he referenced and the music acts he had on as guest stars, the show was always on the pulse of pop culture. Not only did characters use contemporary slang, but they also added to the lexicon with phrases like “you go, boy!” and “you ain’t got no job, man!” Sometimes when we look back on Martin, the show can be remembered for its highlights rather than the comedic value of its given episodes. 

That’s why our top 10 ranked list of the best episodes of Martin will focus on the funniest episodes this sitcom has to offer. 

Honorable Mentions:

Before we get to the full list, here are some episodes that almost made the Top 10: "Fat Like Dat" (S2E10), "Crunchy Drawers" (S2E24) "Whole Lotto Trouble" (S3E9), "The Romantic Weekend" (S3E24), "Blow Baby Blow" (S4,E3), "Boo’s In the House" (S5,E5)

Martin Lawrence and Beverly Johnson in Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

10. "Blackboard Jungle Fever" Season 1, Episode 17

This episode sees Martin reintroduced to a childhood crush, his old third-grade teacher Ms. Trinidad. Shenanigans ensue when Martin’s girlfriend Gina walks in on the hot teacher pushing up on her man, much to his dismay. The concluding confrontation between Ms. Trinidad and Gina has since become iconic, as people the world over recognized a woman with a duffle bag full of sneakers and Vaseline spells trouble.

This episode reeks of the early '90s with familiar kid faces like Arthur Reggie III (My Brother and Me), Brandon Quintin Adams (Moonwalker), and Valentino D. Harrison from Boyz N The Hood. All that’s missing is the little kid from Soul Food. There’s even a throwaway line about McDonald’s special edition cups for Batman Returns, available “for a limited time only.” What’s more, Ms. Trinidad is played by Beverly Johnson, the first African American woman to grace the cover of American Vogue and the French edition of Elle.

Martin Lawrence in Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

9.  "Beauty and the Beast" Season 1, Episode 1

After going on a tirade about male sensitivity live on the radio, our titular character is challenged in front of his friends by his embarrassed girlfriend Gina.

Although it took time for the series to reach its pinnacle, the first episode excels in establishing Martin, Gina, Tommy, Cole, and Pam, as well as the dynamic of their relationships. But it’s the back and forth between Martin and Gina that makes this episode so memorable. 

We’re also introduced to Martin’s life as a shock jock at WZUP, his boss Stan (Grant Morris), and his co-worker Shawn (Jon Gries). We even meet Sheneneh Jenkins and Mama Payne (Martin Lawrence again), characters ripped straight from his stand-up act You So Crazy. Fun fact: it’s the only episode in the entire series that characters Martin and Mama Payne share the same scene, in the same room, just the two of them. 

Martin and the Gang with special guest Marla Gibbs on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 8. "Housekeeper From Hell" Season 4, Episode 10

Newlyweds Martin and Gina are tired of cleaning dishes, and would much rather spend time during their honeymoon phase. So they decide to hire a housekeeper. After a hilarious process of the couple hiring twins and a muscle man, they finally land on one in Miss Minnie (played by Marla Gibbs). But unfortunately, Miss Minnie “don’t play.”

Gibbs's performance as an overbearing housekeeper elevates this Season 4 episode as the show finally evolved into a new territory of situational comedy after the couple finally ties the knot. Cameos include Renee Tenison (the first African American Playboy Playmate) her twin sister Rosie, and the late great Friday actor Tiny Lester as Apolloooo. Another fun fact, a year later, Lester would appear in Martin Lawrence’s directorial debut A Thin Line Between Love & Hate alongside Tracy Morgan who plays Hustle Man in the show.  

Martin Lawrence as Mama Payne on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 7. "To Kill A Talking Bird" Season 2, Episode 9

The relationship between Gina and Mama Payne is tumultuous, to say the least. So when Gina leaves the window open and accidentally freezes Mama Payne’s pet bird, tensions rise as everyone tries to figure out how to go forward. They could lie, much to Martin’s chagrin, or they can tell the truth and let Gina suffer the consequences. 

This is the first battle in the longstanding war between girlfriend and mother, and one of the funniest thanks to Martin’s physical comedy as Mama Payne. It’s also one of the sillier plots to come out of the series at this time, which would pave the way for even more absurdity as seasons follow. There’s also a hilarious rendition of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday” that plays at the end credits that change the words to honor the bird’s passing and subsequent funeral.

Martin Lawrence, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell, Thomas Mikal Ford, and Car Anthony Payne III on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 6. "C.R.E.A.M." Season 3, Episode 22

This is an episode filled with so many classic moments that it automatically earns a spot on our list. Martin gets a little extra money from the IRS and decides to invest in a restaurant alongside his old WZUP boss Stan. Although they “know nothing about running no restaurant,” it doesn’t stop Marty Mar from opening his own Meatloaf & Waffle joint. 

From the impromptu “Rent ‘Em Spoons” gag to perhaps the greatest “get ta steppin’!” moment of the entire series, this episode is known for containing a lot of laughs and a lot of hip-hop references. There’s a reference to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Gimmie The Loot,” a surprise guest appearance from M.C. Hammer, and the episode title is even a nod toward a Wu-Tang Clan track of the same name. Also, at the start of the episode, Martin keeps it official by rocking a pair of coveted Nike Air Max2 Uptempo from ‘95.

Martin Lawrence and Sherman Helmsley guest starring on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 5. "D.M.V. Blues" Season 4, Episode 24

Martin thinks his trip to the D.M.V. will be short enough for him to continue his day of gallivanting, but he couldn’t be more wrong. Perhaps feeling a bit Hollywood thanks to his hit new talk show, Martin is systematically (and hilariously) humbled by the establishment for the remainder of the day.

Martin gets into several altercations this episode, including an iconic fight with his geriatric nemesis Ms. Jeri. He even threatens the elderly D.M.V. clerk played by Sherman Helmsley (The Jeffersons). Bentley Kyle Evans, a recurring writer for the show, makes his second, and arguably most known on-screen appearance as Titus (as credited on IMDb) who repeatedly calls Martin “Almond.” And lastly, Dennis Singletary, now known for his ADR work in films like The Hunger Games, made one of his few appearances as the hilariously dorky Poindexter. Physical comedy is where Martin excels, and in this episode, there’s more than one moment of third act wackiness.

Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 4. "The Ex-Files" Season 3, Episode 14

As Martin and Gina prepare the invites for their wedding, the two have a double date with their old flames to prove who is more jealous in their relationship. It’s one of the pettier arguments the two of them have, which serves for a lot of laughs. However, the episode serves best to show, when it comes down to it, how they always have each other’s back. Meanwhile, there’s a b-story with Tommy and Pam (not that Tommy and Pam) worrying about their relationship getting stale. 

The episode mainly guest stars Angelle Brooks and Joseph C. Phillips, the latter known for his role in General Hospital (something Martin jabs at in a meta-joke.) However, there are also background appearances from Vivica A. Fox and Kellita Smith from Bernie Mac Show

Martin Lawrence and Carl Anthony Payne III on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

 3. "Suspicious Minds" Season 2, Episode 17

After gloating about his expensive new CD player, it gets stolen out of Martin’s apartment. After Stan plants the idea in his head, Martin questions his friends before accusing them all in a shadowy reenactment of a New Jack City scene

That parodied moment alone is enough to be a top 10 episode, as it features acts of physical comedy, references, and characters like Tommy breaking down laughing at Martin’s absurdities. However, like similar episodes of Martin, the comedy perfectly builds throughout its acts with one-liners before culminating in a hilariously over-the-top ending. This episode also features Bruh Man (played by Reginald Ballard), a secondary character just introduced this season who already feels like a staple of the series by this point. 

Martin Lawrence in Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

2.  "No Justice, No Peace" Season 2, Episode 16

When Martin gets a parking ticket, he challenges it in court even though he knows he’s wrong. He hires a sleazy, stereotypical lawyer, airs his friend’s and girlfriend’s dirty secrets in court, and embarrasses them further when he claims the case should be dismissed due to insanity. 

Everything builds from funny, funnier, to funniest by the third act. As such, the episode culminates in one of Martin’s greatest fits of physical comedy on the show. Even the people on the jury have a hard time not breaking character and laughing by the end of it all. Not to mention, this is the episode the phrase “GTD” was coined. This is one of the episodes Bentley Kyle Evans received an early writing credit for and one of only two appearances from Francesca P. Roberts as Judge Wheatley.

Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, and Tracey Morgan on Martin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

1.  "Ain’t Nuttin’ Goin’ On But The Rent" Season 3, Episode 16

Martin refuses to pay a rent increase on one of the snowiest days in Detroit history. As a result, the gang gets snowed in as the landlord decides to turn off the heat to the apartment. This is a bottle episode in which no one leaves the apartment, but it’s got everything you could ask for in a Martin episode. 

This episode has some of the best verbal jabs between Martin and Pam. There are two moments where actors break character to laugh, and several sight gags that range from “snow all the way up to the fourth floor” to a frozen Cole standing at the front of the apartment. It’s also the only episode where Bruh Man and Hustle Man both make appearances. The only thing that’s missing is an appearance from another character played by Martin himself like Jerome or Sheneneh to put it over the top. 

Martin is currently available to stream on HBO Max. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more rankings of your favorite shows. 

Features Writer