Bob's Burgers Seasons Ranked Worst To Best

"Bob's Burgers" is wonderful. Thoroughly heartfelt, good-natured, and dizzyingly eccentric, it's arguably (almost objectively) the best animated sitcom airing right now. The Belcher clan, made up of father Bob, mother Linda, and children Tina, Gene, and Louise, are one of television's best families. Their dynamics are organic, exceptionally funny, and never cruel (looking at you, "Modern Family"). As conceived by Loren Bouchard of "Home Movies" fame, "Bob's Burgers" is a show that celebrates weirdos and oddballs without derision.

With the 12th Season poised to air on Fox this September, it's high time to revisit the 11 seasons that have already aired. Ostensibly about a mid-Atlantic burger restaurant, "Bob's Burgers" is better conceptualized as a show about family and the lengths they'll go to love and support one another. In addition, "Bob's Burgers" is unique in that even the weaker seasons are stronger than those of most other shows. The seasons we're calling the "worst" aren't really that bad — they're simply the worst of the best. Let's begin.

11. Season 2

For both its 1st and 2nd season, "Bob's Burgers" received a truncated episode order. Season 2 was given a 22 episode order, but only nine aired under the Season 2 umbrella, with the remaining 13, per Deadline, airing as part of the show's 2rd season. As such, Season 2, while great, is still emblematic of a show finding its footing. That's unfortunate, because the episodes culled for Season 3 are considerably better than the batch assembled for Season 2, although it does give "Bob's Burgers" a respectable rise to critical acclaim.

Episodes such as "Bob Day Afternoon" are standouts, grounding the show's proclivity for dynamite guest stars (in this case, Bill Hader) and increasingly chaotic scenarios. When the bank across the street is robbed, Bob is taken hostage, and the different perspectives his family members have on the event leads to non-stop laughs. In addition, Season 2 introduced several recurring characters, including mean girl Tammy, voiced by the inimitable Jenny Slate, who is the perfect foil to Tina. It's a great season, but it's just a sampling of what "Bob's Burgers" really has to offer.

10. Season 10

Season 10 of "Bob's Burgers" is still sensational television, but during it the show did begin to show its age. Although "Bob's Burgers" was officially welcomed into Fox's "Animation Domination" slate with Season 10, its episodes, though hilarious, don't quite balance poignancy with hijinks as successfully as earlier installments. The season starts promisingly with "The Ring (But Not Scary)," which follows the Belcher clan and their efforts to recover a missing anniversary ring at the local water park, with help from one of the show's best recurring players, Nat the limo driver (voiced by Jillian Bell).

The season loses its propulsive energy as it moves on, though, and ends with more of a whimper than a bang. In the season finale "Prank You For Being a Friend," agent of chaos Louise's mission to help a student get expelled is overshadowed by one of the weakest B-plots ever. Bob is roped into delivering medicine to nemesis Jimmy Pesto (voiced by Jay Johnston) and is soon enamored with Jimmy's bachelor apartment. It's loosey-goosey in the same way the later seasons of "Seinfeld" were, and feels like a plot for plot's sake. The humor is too broad, creating a disappointing end to one of the show's rougher years.

9. Season 1

"Bob's Burgers" was famously conceived as a show about a family of cannibals that ran a restaurant that served human flesh. Though this morbid (but fascinating) angle was soon abandoned in favor of a simple family and their burger restaurant, homage was paid to the original conceit in the series premiere. The Belchers are introduced. Soon after, health inspector Hugo (voiced by Sam Seder) accuses the restaurant of serving human flesh. It's a funny, engaging pilot, one that, unlike most shows of its ilk, feels complete on its own. The characters are already so thoroughly sketched that it doesn't feel like a premiere at all — it feels familiar and welcoming, in the best way.

The premiere, per the Nielsen Ratings, is still the highest-rated episode in the show's history, drawing 9.41 viewers at the time (more than twice what the show has managed in subsequent airings, unfortunately). Season 1 additionally features classic episodes such as the crawl-centric episodes "House Crawl" and "Art Crawl," both of which rank among fans as two of the best. However, some of the episodes feel plodding, and some, like "Bed and Breakfast" and "Sacred Cow," do little to distinguish themselves. Still, Season 1 was a promising start to what TV Guide would later rank as one of the 60 greatest television cartoons of all time.

8. Season 9

Season 9 of "Bob's Burgers," per Entertainment Weekly, was a "smorgasbord of adventures." Season 9 was bigger, bolder, and more high-concept than those that came before while remaining firmly grounded in what makes the show work best: its endearing quintet of characters. "Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street," which involves a candy thief and a haunted house on the boardwalk, is one of "Bob's Burgers'" best Halloween episodes, a holiday the show does better than any other animated sitcom. Additionally, episodes like "UFO No You Didn't," in which Tina believes she's contacted aliens after a science fair project goes awry, are cute without feeling mawkish.

Moreover, it's great to see returning stars such as Helen (voiced by the sensational Kaitlin Olson), even if their brief appearances lack the same sparkle they had in their inaugural outings. Season 9, while a weaker season of "Bob's Burgers," is still sensational when measured against current animated sitcoms. It's consistently funny, heartfelt, and, in Season 9, stranger than it ever was before.

7. Season 6

Season 6 of "Bob's Burgers" is very, very good. A lot of that is due to "The Hauntening," arguably the best Halloween episode from "Bob's Burgers," which has a diverse selection of holiday-themed creepouts. Louise reveals that she's never been truly been scared, so the Belchers take Louise to a bona fide haunted house on Halloween in an attempt to scare her. I won't spoil what happens next, but the episode is simultaneously chilling and hilarious.

Luckily, "The Hauntening" is more the norm, not the exception. "The Nice-Capadaes" is indicative of the show's internal consistency: Louise hopes to remove herself from Santa's naughty list with a grand ice show at the mall, and in doing so, learns a lesson about honesty, sacrifice, and family. What's magnificent about it is not simply Louise's third-act confession — namely that Santa should punish her, not her siblings — but how that growth endures. The Louise of Season 11, the most recent season to air, has changed from episodes like this. "Bob's Burgers" doesn't arbitrarily choose which arcs to maintain from season to season. The character growth isn't ephemeral; it's genuine and consistent. That alone is a gift worthy of Santa's nice list.

6. Season 11

"Bob's Burgers" is incredibly reliable. Over a decade in, Season 11 emerged as not just a fantastic season of television, but also one of the show's best. With a firm understanding of who these characters are, what motivates them, and both how much they've grown and how they're poised to grow still, the show can take even mundane setups and create something spectacular. 

Season 11 is considerably less high-concept than the preceding few seasons, even if episodes such as "Dream a Little Bob of Bob" involve Bob falling asleep in his car and imagining himself shrunken down "Fantastic Voyage"-style, consulting with the detritus on his car floor.

Season 11 has another fantastic Halloween outing in "Heartbreak Hotel-oween," and its season finale, "Vampire Disco Death Dance," is one of the sweetest, most plaintive episodes the show has ever released. Recognizing that Tina's growing into a young woman who needs her father less, Bob takes her to a screening of "Vampire Disco Death Dance," the show's equivalent of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Tina's friends tag along, however, and are poised to ruin it. And then Tina tells them off, and while sitting alone on the steps outside of the theater, shares a heartfelt talk with Bob. Bob and Tina are growing apart, but they don't have to. They just need to find some common ground — in doing so, they'll be connected forever. Cue the waterworks.

5. Season 4

Season 4 took the renewed energy of Season 3, which had the show's first full-season order, and ran with it — and ran really, really well. Though not quite as strong as the season that preceded it, the difference is marginal at best. With "Fort Night" and the introduction of Molly Shannon's Millie, the show does a minor-key riff on "The Shining" that's one of the best episodes ever made. Other classics include "Mazel-Tina," an episode centering around Tammy's bat mitzvah that isn't the most emotional, but is so thoroughly funny that it doesn't matter (it was also the show's first Emmy winner).

The show goes bolder than ever before with its two part finale "Wharf Horse (or How Bob Saves/Destroys the Town – Part I)" and "World Wharf II: The Wharfening (or How Bob Saves/Destroys the Town – Part II)." An excellent showcase for guest star Kevin Kline, the two-parter is strikingly animated, frightening, funny, and has genuine stakes (including a near-death for patriarch Bob). Season 4 is "Bob's Burgers" testing its reach, seeing just how big it can go while maintaining its heart. As it turns out, it can go bigger than big. It can soar.

4. Season 8

"Brunchsquatch." Simply "Brunchsquatch." To celebrate the show's fans, the Season 8 premiere, "Brunchsquatch," brought in over 60 artists to animate different parts of the show. It's truly remarkable. Beyond being a solid episode itself — Linda decides to open the restaurant for brunch, only to find herself in trouble when her bottomless mimosas create "brunch monsters" — the animation is stellar. It's the apotheosis of creativity. Cycling through five dozen different art styles, the episode is a visual treat and a fascinating opportunity to see what "Bob's Burgers" might look like had it been animated differently.

Beyond "Brunchsquatch," Season 8 includes classics like "The Bleakening," an almost mythic, hour-long Christmas episode replete with fantastic musical numbers. "Go Tina on the Mountain" is a fantastic bit of growth for Tina, showing her tackling new goals regardless of what her peers think. Gene, often the hardest character for the show to center an episode around, has a standout showing in "Cheer Up, Sleepy Gene," an uproariously funny sleepover saga. By "Bob's Burgers" standards, Season 8 is almost perfect.

3. Season 3

Season 3 was the first full one for "Bob's Burgers," and as such features its first holiday episodes. Even the weakest shows are elevated by holiday outings. Some are even defined by them. "Roseanne," for instance, is famous for its Halloween episodes, as is "Friends" for its Thanksgiving installments. "Bob's Burgers," per its eccentric spirit, took its own approach, grounding conventional holiday thrills in its own wild and crazy world. "Full Bars," for instance, is classic "Bob's Burgers": The kids cross the harbor to Kingshead Island for full-size candy bars while trick-or-treating and run afoul of a gang of menacing teenagers.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins," the show's first Christmas episode, guest stars Zach Galifianakis as a man who believes that his wife is a mannequin. It's bold, bizarre, funny, and genuinely sweet. For the first time, "Bob's Burgers" turned in something of a tearjerker, and the three kids' final sacrifice is incredibly poignant –  this family who has so little is willing to give so much. Few seasons of television, regardless of genre, are this good.

2. Season 7

Season 3 is very good, but the second-best run wouldn't arrive until four seasons later. Season 7, while less emotional than both the preceding and forthcoming seasons, is nonetheless the show's funniest. Seriously, Season 7 practically never misses. There's not a single joke that doesn't land among its slate of absolutely incredible episodes.

"Teen-a Witch," the season's Halloween episode ("Bob's Burgers" does Halloween really, really well) is one of the show's best. Tina is cursed by the school crossing guard and seeks out the help of librarian Mr. Ambrose (voiced by Billy Eichner) to remove the curse. It's high in concept and high in laugh count, all while propelling Tina further into young adulthood. In fact, Tina dominates Season 7. "Ain't Miss Debatin'" sees her joining the debate team alongside her rival Henry (voiced by Jim Gaffigan), only to fall in love with rival team member Duncan (voiced by Rhys Darby), a New Zealand immigrant who is hilariously dense and dull.

Season 7 also sees the show continuing to push boundaries and experiment with new formats. "Mom, Lies, and Videotapes" has the kids recounting their school's Mother's Day pageant to a bedridden Linda. It's chock full of homages to classic films, great jokes, beautiful animation, and mini-vignettes that push the show into more surreal territory. Season 7 rules.

1. Season 5

The other seasons are close to perfect. Season 5 simply is. There are no blemishes. No weak links. No ebbs and flows in terms of quality, laughs, or heart. It all delivers. It is the apotheosis of "Bob's Burgers," a showcase for just how incredible this show is, and how privileged audiences are to have it. 

"Best Burger" and "Tina Tailor Soldier Spy" are among the show's funniest episodes ever, using old guest stars and ramping up the chaos to maximum effect. The season premiere, "Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl," about Gene's effort to stage a "Working Girl" musical at school, genuinely freaking rocks.

"Housetrap," the nineteenth episode of Season 5, is the show's best. Kaitlin Olson's Helen is introduced here as a widow who may or may not have murdered her husband. Linda is obsessed with solving the crime, egged on by the chaotic Louise, while Bob is high on painkillers. The season finale, "The Oeder Games," is a "The Hunger Games" homage. "Hawk & Chick," an episode centered around Bob and Louise's interest in martial arts films, will choke up even the grinchiest viewers. Funny, eccentric, and thoroughly, deeply felt, Season 5 inspires tears of joy as often as it does laughs.