The 14 Best Nathan For You Episodes, Ranked

One of the greatest things to grace our televisions in 2022 was HBO's "The Rehearsal," the devastatingly funny and complex comedy series by Nathan Fielder. It's the spiritual successor to the Canadian entertainer's previous series, "Nathan For You," in which he poses as a 'business expert' looking to help out struggling businesses. The twist, of course, is that his ideas are terrible. 

It's incredible what some people will agree to just because they're on television, and Fielder uses his near-unbreakable deadpan and absurd imagination to orchestrate some of the simultaneously best and worst schemes ever depicted on air. It's difficult to pick favorites with "Nathan For You," as the show manages to conjure laughs, groans, and gasps in equal measure. Whether you're already a fan or you're still yet to experience Fielder's unique brand of chaotic genius, here are our choices of 14 of the most rib-splitting, cringe-worthy episodes of "Nathan For You" from across its four seasons. 

14. Yogurt Shop/Pizzeria (Season 1, Episode 1)

Going back to the very first episode of any show can be painful. It often takes time for a series to find its footing, but "Nathan For You" came out swinging right away with a premiere that saw him helping a frozen yogurt shop, a pizzeria, and performing disastrous job interviews. It's fascinating to reflect on how Nathan's comedic persona has developed over the years, and although this episode's schemes are simpler and more juvenile than those to follow, it's still a great prototype.

In the episode, Nathan plans to boost traffic at a frozen yogurt shop by offering a poo flavor, convinces a pizza joint to advertise eight-minute delivery by giving a free one-inch diameter pizza if late, and tries to pass two job interviews while his speech is fed into a wireless earpiece by a child and a comedian. It's a chaotic trio of segments that perfectly sets the tone for the series, and although the formula would later be fine-tuned, Nathan's more confrontational persona here really elevates the stakes.

The absolute highlights are Nathan's childish feud with a PR professional who criticizes his yogurt plan, a cameo from "Bob's Burger" voice actor H. Jon Benjamin, and Nathan consistently looking like a fool after trying to push people's buttons. It might lack the nuance and complexity the show develops in time, but it's still one hell of a first impression.

13. The Richards Tip (Season 4, Episode 1)

Some of the best "Nathan For You" episodes involve celebrity impersonators, and "The Richards Tip" is among the finest. An L.A. diner enlists Nathan's help in getting public exposure in this episode from the show's fourth season. The plan is to hire a celebrity impersonator to leave a $10,000 tip, generating viral media buzz and flocks of curious customers.

This episode works so well thanks to Nathan continuously complicating an already absurd plan, and an overly-eager cast whose tolerance level for terrible ideas seems to have no ceiling. We get a brief cameo from series regular and Bill Gates impersonator Bill Heath, and the keystone of the entire scenario: the owner of the diner picks a faux Michael Richards, the actor best known as Kramer on "Seinfeld." Even Nathan is visibly surprised by the choice, noting that Richards isn't exactly a hot-ticket celebrity anymore.

A brilliantly convoluted chain of events ensues, including the legal changing of a stranger's name for the very specific price of $1,001 to the creation of a legitimate newspaper called "The Diarrhea Times." The episode's true MVP is Paul, who verbalizes very valid criticisms of Nathan's ideas while still taking part in every single one of them, even when he ends up chained to Nathan across adjoining hotel rooms. It's a "who cares" attitude you can't help but respect, even while you're busting a gut over it.

12. The Movement (Season 3, Episode 3)

Nathan Fielder isn't just good at coming up with terrible ideas, he's great at roping seemingly intelligent people into them, too. Several of his schemes have made real headlines, and one of the most impressive of those is the social engineering feat of "The Movement." It's an incredibly silly, clever plot that proves how much traction you can get with a little effort and an air of confidence.

In this episode from the show's third season, Nathan cooks up an idea that aims to kill two birds with one stone: what if you could get people to provide free labor to a moving company by framing it as a revolutionary exercise regime called The Movement? It's an idea that feels right at home in our modern capitalist hellscape, where the line between work and home is constantly blurred. A lot of Nathan's business plans are (deliberately) terrible, but it really wouldn't be too surprising to see a tech startup try this one out for themselves.

As Fielder works to lend The Movement "legitimacy," including hiring a professional body-builder to claim his physique came purely from the program, television media takes the bait with full force. It's fascinating how little scrutiny is given to the feel-good story, and the ghost-written book Nathan has commissioned as part of the scheme is just the cherry on top.

11. Dumb Starbucks (Season 2, Episode 5)

"Nathan For You" landed media attention multiple times throughout its four-season run, but no episode made a greater splash than Dumb Starbucks from the first season. From the gutsy copyright infringement to Nathan's ridiculous fight with a lawyer to the entire Dumb Starbucks media campaign, this episode is a stone-cold classic.

An independent coffee house is no match for the likes of Starbucks, so Nathan's plan is to rebrand a local café to be almost identical to the global brand, albeit with just enough changes to fall under parody law. And thus, Dumb Starbucks is born in all its legally dubious glory. As usual, it's not just the idea itself that makes it so funny, it's how Nathan puts so many intricate details and twists into a plan which is full of holes from the beginning.

This episode is full of great moments, from Nathan writing and performing dismally bad parody songs at an open mic, to a manufactured falling-out with the café owner, to Nathan throwing himself across a lawyer's desk to retrieve a legal form. It's an early glimpse at the grander spectacle of his later projects while also being packed full of gloriously stupid jokes.

10. Chili Shop/Massage Parlor (Season 4, Episode 2)

If you didn't already know, "Nathan For You" is produced by "Tim and Eric" creators Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, whose eccentric and surreal comedy work at Adult Swim has had an immense impact on television comedy in the past decade. That "Tim and Eric" vibe is all over this episode from the show's fourth season, which has Nathan Fielder helping a chili shop and a massage parlor.

The episode's first segment plays out like a ridiculous but hilarious "Mythbusters" plot with Nathan engineering a complex suit to discreetly dispense fresh chili at a major sports arena. Everything is accounted for in its design, except for how idiotic the entire premise is — but that's what makes this work so well. The final punchline really drives this one home, as Nathan unceremoniously abandons the plan after making only $20 profit from the entire evening.

The second part ups the ante and the laughs, as Nathan proposes that a massage parlor could upsell more expensive options by having the cheaper ones be performed by people with infectious warts. One of the show's greatest guests makes his appearance here in the form of an older man who claims to have had every kind of wart in existence and carries around an electronic "healing wand." He's the charismatically bizarre kind of guy that Tim and Eric cast in their own sketches; between him and Nathan's founding of a charity for people with warts, this one is a hit. 

9. Liquor Store/Exterminator/Car Wash (Season 2, Episode 4)

This episode from the show's second season is a triple-threat, offering some of Nathan's worst ideas with the funniest results. Throughout its three segments, Nathan ropes the owners of a liquor store, an extermination business, and a car wash into blatantly impractical schemes, and manages to tick off plenty of people in the process.

On rare occasions, some of Nathan's plans have the roots of a workable idea before he deliberately takes them too far. That's not the case here, with three absolute stinkers: an alcohol store could sell to minors by holding their purchase until they turn 21, an exterminator could secretly work hotel contracts by disguising their equipment, and a car wash owner could create business by arranging birds to befoul nearby traffic. Here, Nathan's game is to test his guests' patience more than anything, and he crosses the line to hilarious results each time.

There are some incredible visual gags here, from Nathan cramming a hotel owner into a transforming maid cart, a giant fake trophy reading "Hotel With Least Bed Bugs Award," Nathan getting a mouthful of bird waste, and his legendary Employee of the Month photo. Overall, the episode is packed full of deadpan laughs, and it makes us wonder how many times Nathan has nearly been punched.

8. Hotel/Travel Agent (Season 3, Episode 6)

Every episode of "Nathan For You" involves somebody being uncomfortable on some level, whether it's the audience, the clients, or Nathan Fielder himself. (He deserves it). If we were to vote for the episode that made its guests the most visibly uncomfortable with Nathan's ideas, it would have to be "Hotel/Travel Agent" from the show's third season.

While there's a somewhat amusing subplot running through the episode involving Nathan trying to solve the global issue of traffic, the gold lies within the main segments. In the first, Nathan helps a hotel owner attract families by inventing a soundproof shelter for children so that their parents can sleep together in the hotel room. In the latter, he helps a travel agent pivot her business toward funeral arrangements to capitalize on her aging client base. 

They're some of the show's darkest and blatantly terrible business ideas, and you can see it written all over the faces of both the hotel owner and the travel agent, who quickly dip out of the plans as soon as they come to fruition. It also features some of the show's most absurd visuals, including a cadaver made of dough being cremated in a pizza oven (clothes and all), and a very blurry seven-person orgy next to an isolation chamber disguised as a NASA rocket. We wonder how many complaints this one got.

7. Electronics Store (Season 3, Episode 1)

One of Nathan Fielder's most potent comedic superpowers is the ability to take a simple premise and expand upon it faster than the audience or his hapless guests can possibly process. That's the name of the game in the third season opener "Electronics Store," which begins with discount televisions and descends into a nightmare world of crocodiles, court hearings, and an emo Nathan.

The episode follows Nathan's efforts to help a small electronics store battle the fearsome corporate beast that is Best Buy. The plan: sell TV sets for $1, price match at the chain store competitor, and sell the heavily discounted devices at profit. Of course, Nathan is aware of two fatal flaws: Best Buy will never honor that price, and Speers TV needs to avoid honoring it themselves. And so begins a typically chaotic chain of events, with Nathan setting up an increasingly difficult series of obstacles for would-be customers to overcome, from a strict dress code to a live crocodile guarding their stock like Smaug in "The Hobbit."

Where this episode really excels is the cursed image of Nathan disguised as a Hot Topic manager (dyed black hair, fake lip piercing, and fishnet sleeves) in order to solicit trade secrets from a Best Buy employee. It's a cringe bonanza, infusing the show's consistently funny "Lonely Nathan" meta-plot with a faux-edgy persona that goes against his very nature. We hope to never have to see him salsa dance again.

6. Gas Station/Caricature Artist (Season 1, Episode 4)

If you've followed Nathan Fielder for long, you'll know what we mean when we say it's a rare phenomenon to see him break character. His legendary deadpan and commitment to the bit in his shows and in appearances on talk shows mean any sign of cracking is a sign of truly hilarious circumstances.

In the first segment, Nathan plans to rebrand a caricature artist as the "King of Sting," pushing his art to be as politically incorrect as possible. It's one of Nathan's more straightforward scenarios, but that simplicity works in its favor — the plan actually works. It seems like the artist's customers are pretty happy about their edgy portrayals, and Nathan refuses to be thwarted, asking for the artist to give him the ultimate "King of Sting" caricature treatment. His bait-and-switch of being hurt and offended by the drawing is the perfect punchline.

The episode's biggest laughs can be found in the "Gas Station" segment, where Nathan proposes that an independent gas station charge $1.75 per gallon of gas, after rebate — a rebate customers will have to climb a mountain to claim. When customers actually start taking up the offer, the segment takes a surprisingly touching turn as Nathan spends quality time with the rebate-seekers. Follow that with the gas station owner's legendarily unprompted anecdote that he drinks his own grandson's urine as an anxiety cure, and you have one of the most emotionally chaotic and memorable episodes of the entire series.

5. Mechanic/Realtor (Season 2, Episode 1)

The show's second season kicked off with this unforgettable double-header, in which Nathan "assists" a mechanic and a realtor. Although the premises for these two segments are more straightforward than some of Nathan's most logistically impressive stunts, it's the unplanned moments that make this episode one of the show's best.

In the episode's first half, Nathan proposes that a local mechanic could promote his trustworthiness by only giving customer quotes while hooked up to a polygraph machine. That in itself is pretty funny, as is Nathan's gifting of cookies secretly made with salt instead of sugar, to test the mechanic's honesty. But a recurring gag that involves Nathan stubbornly denying his own polygraph results on a question about his pornography viewing habits really brings down the house.

The true MVP of the episode is real estate agent Sue, who needs help standing out in the highly competitive industry. Nathan proposes she rebrands as a "ghost realtor," promising ghost-free properties and an incredible billboard depicting Sue as a friendly specter. It's one of the few episodes where the near-unflappable Fielder very nearly breaks character as Sue offers her experience of being "choked by a ghost in Switzerland." She seems like an incredibly sweet person, and even while she's undergoing an intense amateur exorcism to remedy chronic back pain, she comes out looking like less of a fool than everyone else. We hope she's thriving.

4. The Hero (Season 3, Episode 8)

We love "Nathan For You" when it's tackling businesses, but the episodes where it subverts the formula and goes for bigger and more outlandish ideas are truly incredible. One of the finest examples is "The Hero," closing out the show's third season with adrenaline rushes, identity theft, and a sprinkling of romance.

Ordinary guy Corey has a part-time job, lives with his grandparents, and has no real ambition. That makes him the perfect target for Nathan, who plans to impersonate Corey, perform a death-defying stunt for charity, and then swap out to let him enjoy the glory and spoils of being a national hero. It's a wild ride from start to finish and features some honestly impressive achievements on Nathan's behalf. There's the elaborate prosthetic disguise (which makes him look more like Colin Farrell's Penguin than Corey, but seems to work well enough), making a romantic connection, and the big tight-rope walk itself, which can't have been easy in full costume.

The entire plot is like the insane love-child of a stunt magician's TV special and "Extreme Makeover," if it was somebody's entire life instead of plastic surgery. Unlike a lot of other "Nathan For You" episodes where the stakes are just low enough that one might feel comfortable pushing back on his ideas, this stunt was so public and ambitious that you can understand the guests getting wrapped up in it all. Perhaps Nathan is the chaotic hero this world deserves.

3. The Anecdote (Season 4, Episode 4)

One of the best aspects of "Nathan For You" is how it manages to parody and critique corporate and entertainment culture without ever being pretentious. Nathan's disarming persona and the fact that he's frequently the butt of the joke — even when he's convincing people to do incredibly stupid things — go a long way to achieving that.

A shining example of that is "The Anecdote," from the show's fourth and final season. When Nathan is booked as a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" he becomes nervous about not having any good stories to tell. Studying hours of celebrity talk show appearances, he formulates the ultimate talk show anecdote and actually orchestrates it all to happen on Comedy Central's dime. There's back-to-back flights, the cremation of a stranger's mother's hair and nail clippings, and Nathan being pulled over by police in an oversized suit. It's a remarkable waste of time and money, and that's really the joke here.

At its core, this episode is lambasting the idea of entertainment and art created by a committee or algorithm. By going to such lengths as to distill the essence of good conversation, Nathan creates a story that's ultimately far less interesting than the story of its creation. The fact that he frames the successful telling of the anecdote as validation of his algorithmic process (rather than the success of making himself look like a complete fool on television) drives the self-aware joke all the way to the finish line.

2. Souvenir Shop/ELAIFF (Season 2, Episode 2)

Deciding which episode of "Nathan For You" inspires the most second-hand embarrassment is difficult; that's what this show does best. But we nominate "Souvenir Shop/ELAIFF" from the show's second season, in which Nathan helps a Hollywood souvenir shop attract customers by staging the shooting of a movie.

This episode has one of Nathan's most diabolical schemes to date. The plan is to attract crowds with the illusion of a film set in the souvenir store and to hire onlookers as extras who will then purchase items as part of the scene. Nathan actually getting the extras to spend their own money while acting the scene out is evil enough, but when he offers a meeting with "Johnny Depp" (who's actually a hired impersonator) as an alternative to refunding them, it becomes evil genius.

In addition to the phenomenal debut of Bill Gates impersonator William Heath, the absolute highlight is Nathan's staging of an official film festival, which he must do in order to avoid facing fraud charges over his souvenir scam. Given all the times that the show has pulled the rug out from under its guests, seeing Nathan scramble to fashion the terrible footage into a half-baked film is a real case of just desserts. This episode is one of the few to take up the entire runtime with a single plan, and it's worth every second.

1. Finding Frances (Season 4, Episode 7)

"Finding Frances" isn't just the most ambitious and compelling episode of "Nathan For You." It's also a defining moment in its creator's career, serving as a coda to the series and a bridge to the awe-inspiring deconstruction of human interaction to be explored in "The Rehearsal." In this feature-length series finale, Nathan Fielder reunites with celebrity impersonator Bill Heath for an unforgettable road trip.

Here, the show steps away from its usual shtick, embarking on a cross-country mission to track down Bill's long-lost love Frances. It's certainly not without its laughs: the heist of a local high school by faking the production of a sequel to the Matthew McConaughey film "Mud" is classic stuff. But the brilliance here comes from Nathan's decision to switch to the passenger seat — literally and figuratively — to allow the complexity of Bill Heath guide the narrative. There's far more to the story and the man behind it than even Nathan was prepared for, and the restraint of his persona is what allows this episode to reach its wonderful depths.

It's a genuinely emotional journey that transcends the show's usual format, and it feels like a natural evolution of what Fielder has been toying with all along. Like the rare sitcom episode that gets serious and sticks the landing, "Finding Frances" doesn't sabotage the hilarity of the show by allowing sincerity; it strengthens it by exploring reality and focusing on the absurdity that comes to the surface.