TV's Best Alternate Reality Episodes, Ranked: Buffy, The O.C., Community, Supernatural, the Arrowverse and More

Best Alternate Reality Episodes

Move over, bottle episodes and musical installments. We’re paying tribute to another time-honored TV tradition: the alternate reality episode, in which a show takes a brief vacation from the norm and presents a world where the characters’ lives turned out quite different — often for better and for worse.

In honor of this Tuesday’s dream world All Rise, TVLine has ranked 15 of the best alt universe installments from some of our favorite dramas, comedies and soaps. Our picks range from seemingly idyllic fantasy scenarios*, courtesy of Supernatural and Arrow, to a truly bleak nightmare reality that even the slayer can’t save. (*With the good, comes the bad.)

There’s plenty of fun to be had, too, with Family Guy‘s multiverse of shenanigans, Community‘ game of “what if…?” and Family Matters‘ role reversal. And of course, what would an alternate world be without some amusingly unexpected romantic pairings like two Friends hooking up or The O.C.‘s Sandy Cohen being married to… Julie Cooper?!

You’ll also find that the variety of out-there scenarios is matched by the different devices — aliens! comas! wish-granting demons! — that the series used to send their characters spinning off into the land of the delightfully bizarre.

Review our ranking of distinct alternate-reality episodes below to see which show topped the list, then hit the comments to share your favorites and any selections that didn’t make the cut!