Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, sitcoms like MAS*H and All in the Family ruled television. They were funny, entertaining, and loved by audiences, but they also covered issues previously considered taboo for broadcast television, helping people discuss and better understand those issues. The fact that television was evolving in the ’70s directly led to Three’s Company, one of the first American sitcoms to utilize double entendres and innuendo as a direct source for comedy. Based on the British series Man About the House, Three’s Company follows three roommates: klutzy but clever Jack, level-headed and confident Janet, and ditzy blonde Chrissy (who, after her actress demanded a pay raise, was replaced by Cindy and later, Terri).
In the show’s pilot, Jack pretends to be gay so that he can move in with Chrissy and Janet without upsetting their strict landlord, Mr. Roper. He isn’t interested in his roommates particularly; he just needs a place to live. Over the series, the three roommates develop a friendly, platonic relationship, despite numerous misunderstandings and arguments between them (which usually form the basis for an episode). We’re using IMDB rankings, an out-of-10 system based on registered user reviews, to count down the top ten episodes of this beloved sitcom.
10 Two Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (8.2)
In this season six episode, Terri, a registered nurse who moved in with Jack and Janet (replacing Cindy, who was Chrissy’s replacement), invites her friend Dr. Tom Miller to dinner, but first takes him to the trio’s apartment to help him de-stress.
This leads to one of the show’s famous “misunderstanding” gags – because of his stressed behavior, which Jack and Janet see as concerning, they believe Tom to be an escaped mental-ward patient instead of a doctor and fear for Terri’s safety. They eventually end up following her to the restaurant to keep an eye on him.
9 And Now, Here’s Jack (8.3)
In this episode, also from season six, a local talk show host enjoys Angelino’s Restaurant (an Italian restaurant introduced in season 5) so much that he invites Jack, the head chef, to perform a cooking demonstration on live TV. Jack hides notecards by different props to help him recall his lines, but this goes awry when the props are rearranged, causing Jack to botch his demonstration with Terri and Janet, his assistants, helplessly watching.
Jack is fired from Angelino’s, but after his blunder goes viral and makes the restaurant a surprise hit, he is rehired and given a pay raise.
8 Night Of The Ropers (8.3)
In this season five episode, Stanley Roper, the original trio’s first landlord, ignores his 25th wedding anniversary to attend a bowling event. This upsets his wife, Helen, who visits Jack, Janet, and Cindy for advice.
Since Mr. Furley, their current landlord, is out of town, Cindy and Janet suggest that Helen stays in his apartment to get time away from Stanley, since she used to live there. Jack, meanwhile, urges Mr. Roper to reconcile with his wife. Mr. Roper agrees to do so – only to find Mr. Furley arriving home early and climbing into bed with Helen, unaware of her presence.
7 (TIE) The Love Diary (8.3)
In this season three episode, Chrissy takes a freelance job typing up a manuscript for a client known only as “Wanda X.” The manuscript, an X-rated fictional diary, quickly attracts the attention of Mr. Roper, who is there to clean the carpets – but when he reads about the “dignified landlord” Wanda lusts after, he is unnerved.
Thinking Chrissy wrote the manuscript herself and has become attracted to him, he prepares to evict her and her roommates to save his marriage, but, thankfully, the trio – with some help from a disbelieving Helen – discovers his mistake in time.
6 (TIE) Chrissy’s Hospitality (8.3)
In this season four episode, Chrissy is injured while trying to put up a shower curtain and has to stay overnight at the hospital, leaving Jack and Janet severely worried about her. She recovers promptly, however, and, in a good mood, begins to joke with the doctor – who finds her jokes so funny that he laughs until he cries.
As the doctor is leaving her hospital room, Jack and Janet notice his tears, leading them to assume the worst and believe Chrissy is dying. They pamper her and attempt to console her, but she’s just confused – and Jack and Janet ultimately realize the true reason for the doctor’s tears.
5 Grandma Jack (8.3)
In this season eight episode, Jack’s signature cookie recipe wins a baking contest. Larry (Jack’s best friend) submitted the recipe in hopes of winning Jack the large cash prize, but bypassed a crucial detail – the contest was only open to women.
Adamant that Jack should receive his just desserts, Larry convinces him to dress up as “Grandma Tripper”, the fictional persona Larry developed to enter the contest in the first place. Unfortunately, when Jack arrives at the baking company headquarters, he learns he is just one of three finalists who have been selected to compete – live! – for the massive jackpot. Hilarity ensues.
4 The Older Woman (8.3)
In this season three episode, Jack begins dating Helen’s cousin Barbara, briefly bringing up how she’s somewhat maturer than him. Larry pokes fun at him for choosing an older woman, but Chrissy and Janet don’t think much of it – until they meed Helen’s aunt, Martha, confusing her for Jack’s new girlfriend.
The girls try keeping Martha away from Jack by asking Larry to fake attraction to her, but that scheme quickly fails, as Martha is disgusted by Larry. Jack’s roommates are finally forced to confront him – and he, of course, sets them straight on what’s actually going on.
3 Days Of Beer And Weeds (8.3)
In this season two episode, the trio is cleaning out Stanley’s garden. Chrissy picks out some flowers and branchlets for Helen, who is working on an art project for a flower exhibition that afternoon. Back at the apartment, Janet has left and Chrissy is sorting through the flowers she kept for herself when Larry shows up to borrow money. He instantly notices the flowers and vehemently believes them to be cannabis, forcing Chrissy and Jack to find a way to stop Helen’s flower exhibition.
After they call Mr. Roper with the dilemma, he destroys Helen’s project, but it’s revealed Helen’s assortment of flowers were just flowers, although Janet (a florist) later discovers Chrissy’s collection did have a pot plant.
2 Strange Bedfellows (8.4)
In this episode, also from season two, Chrissy and Janet are going to be gone overnight for a wedding shower. Jack, in their absence, throws a giant disco party. The party is a success, and even Mr. Roper is convinced to join in after he goes up to the apartment to complain about the noise, discovering the plentiful alcohol and flirtatious sirens.
The next morning, Chrissy and Janet arrive back and notice Jack and another covered-up person in bed together – Roper. Jack is forced to convince Roper nothing scandalous happened last night, revealing he was never actually homosexual – but Roper doesn’t believe him. Thankfully, the truth is eventually revealed – Jack and Roper just passed out from having too many drinks.
1 Up In The Air (9.0)
In this season six episode, Janet is invited to a formal party at her wealthy crush David’s private island home but is depressed to learn she must bring a date. Traci convinces her to bring Jack, for no other reason than to make David jealous, which Jack agrees to. When Jack realizes they’ll have to fly to get there, however, his fear of flying kicks in, so Larry decides to give him some tranquilizers to aid him through the flight.
After finally arriving at the party, Jack downs an alcoholic drink (which he was forewarned against), and the unholy mix of tranquilizers and liquor causes him to lose control of his body and become the life of the party. This episode is considered by many fans to be the funniest episode of the series and Jack’s best performance in an episode, with his hilarious dancing scene becoming somewhat of an in-joke among fans.