In 2004, producer Rob Thomas brought a teen detective to the small screen. She wasn’t Nancy Drew, although she was compared a lot to the literary heroine. Instead, her name was Veronica Mars and she lived in a small California town named Neptune.
Veronica was a student by day, private detective (or assistant to her father) by night. Good at ferreting out the truth, Veronica spent a lot of her junior and senior years of high school solving problems for her classmates. The series was cancelled after its third season, but received a movie from Warner Brothers and a history making Kickstarter campaign nine years later. Hulu recently made the decision to embrace the nostalgia wave and give the series a fourth season.
The streaming site surprised everyone at San Diego Comic Con by releasing the fourth season of Veronica Mars a week earlier than originally planned. As a result, some might not have quite made it through a rewatch (or a first time binge watch) before season four was made available to stream. If a viewer wants to get the highlights of Veronica, or just refresh their memory, we’ve got the ten episodes they need to watch before taking the plunge into season four.
10 The Pilot
If anything gives you Veronica Mars in a nutshell, it’s the pilot episode. The very first episode of the series gave fans a quick introduction to Veronica’s personality, her traumas, and her motivations. It comes pretty close to being a perfect first outing.
We get a quick rundown on what Neptune is like - divided between the haves and have-nots - setting up the dynamic between the two sides of Veronica’s life for the entire rest of the series. All of the major characters get a brief introduction, including the iconic moment where Veronica cut Wallace down from the flagpole. The pilot also set up the show’s first major mystery of who murdered Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane the year before.
9 Ruskie Business S1E15
“Ruskie Business” is more than halfway into the first season, which means you miss a lot of the friendship building of the last 13 episodes if you skip right to it. What you get with this one, however, is the deepening of the connection between Veronica and Logan.
Despite Logan spending much of the first season angry with Veronica as he blamed her for losing Lilly, he didn't underestimate her investigative skills. That’s why he asked her to help him find his missing mother. This episode marked the first time Veronica saw him break down as he accepted that he’d lost his mom for good. The two of them started to genuinely become friends even as they continued to trade caustic quips.
8 Weapons Of Class Destruction S1E18
This season one episode is a must for those who watch their teen dramas for relationships, but it’s also a great example of Veronica getting in over her head. “Weapons Of Class Destruction” features 90s favorite Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a federal agent undercover at Neptune High.
Of course, Veronica didn’t know that when she tried to investigate the character and ended up kidnapped. What happened next proved that, despite his bad boy persona, Logan had a heart. He “saved” Veronica from the government agent before he found out what was really going on. That led to the soon-to-be couple’s first kiss. It also began the on-again-off-again relationship between them that you can bookmark eras in Veronica’s life by.
7 Leave It To Beaver S1E22
Season one went out with a massive reveal. Veronica and her father solved the mystery of who killed Lilly Kane.
Veronica and Duncan Kane teamed up to look for Lilly’s secrets. What they found was a tape of her with Aaron Echolls, allowing Veronica to put together the pieces and tell her father. The episode then featured one of the biggest action packed sequences the show ever had. In a set up that felt like a horror movie, Veronica was chased and captured by Aaron Echolls, and held in a refrigerator that he planned on setting on fire if she didn’t give him the tapes. It was tense and thrilling, and one of the best unmaskings in Veronica Mars history.
6 Normal Is The Watchword S2E01
Season one went out with a smoldering fridge. The next season began with a bus explosion. In addition to that new mystery being introduced, it also introduced several new characters who would be major players for the rest of the season; Krysten Ritter debuted as Gia and Tessa Thompson debuted as Jackie, new classmates of Veronica’s.
The episode also provided a lot of changes for the personal lives of Veronica’s friends. Both Duncan and Logan were without any parental figures in their lives. While Logan spun out of control, Duncan regained some over his own life. The episode provided a great balance of set up, teen soap, and mystery.
5 Look Who’s Stalking S2E20
To be fair, this episode largely makes the list for one iconic speech rather than major plot points. In it, Neptune High’s principal canceled the prom due to so much underage drinking amongst the seniors. Logan decided to do the school a service and host an alterna-prom at his hotel suite.
The episode gave us lots of great moments with Mac, Wallace, and Jackie, but most fans remember it for a huge character moment for Logan. At his party, he drunkenly admitted to Veronica that he can’t believe they’re still not together since he was sure they were “epic… spanning years and continents. Lives ruined. Bloodshed. Epic.” Though he didn’t remember what he said the next day, it gave fans hope that the couple wasn't truly over.
4 Not Pictured S2E22
Fans thought Veronica would just be solving the bus crash mystery at the end of the season. “Not Pictured” unraveled many mysteries for the show though, including one Veronica thought she solved back in season one. It was a surprisingly emotional hour for the season.
The person behind the bus crash turned out to be a classmate of Veronica’s, not one of her numerous other adult suspects. He also happened to be the one responsible for her assault her sophomore year. Veronica spent a chunk of the hour worrying about the safety of her friend Mac, believing her father was killed in an explosion, and reconciling with Logan. It’s easily not just an essential chapter of her story, but one of the best of the series.
3 Welcome Wagon S3E01
Ah, the college years. Many a teen drama has been felled by them, and Veronica Mars was no exception. Season three was the show’s last for nearly a decade. It took that long for Warner Brothers to come to an agreement to make a movie with producer Rob Thomas.
The only reason this episode makes the list is because it serves to introduce all the major players in season three - Piz, Parker, Mercer, etc. It also links up Veronica’s college visit in season two with the new storyline. Veronica finds out Mac’s new roommate was assaulted at the end of the episode. The signature shaved head afterward was something she saw during her visit a year earlier. This particular mystery was one of the most compelling for the show, despite it only lasting nine episodes and it taking place during the college years.
2 Spit And Eggs S3E09
Season three made a change compared to the previous two seasons. Instead of a single season long mystery, the show used multiple mysteries covering smaller batches of episodes. “Spit And Eggs” marked the end of the first mystery arc of the season as Veronica uncovered the truth about the assaults on campus.
The episode had a satisfying twist that showed Veronica was actually on the right track a few episodes prior. Of course, the twist also placed Veronica in harm’s way. In a nice change of pace for the show, she wasn’t saved by a guy. Instead, her new friend Parker heard her whistle for help. It was a nice moment of solidarity for the two, who didn’t have the best friendship throughout the season.
It also gave fans a satisfying look at Logan. Newly broken up from Veronica (again), he purposely got himself arrested and thrown into a cell with his former friend - and the man nearly responsible for assaulting Veronica.
1 The Bitch Is Back S320
In terms of a series finale, this episode is kind of the worst. As a season finale though, it’s a great tease for what would have been next.
The episode saw a lot of characters in the middle of some very big decisions. Veronica got the details on yet another secret society based in Neptune and had to figure out how it connected to her. Keith Mars decided to destroy evidence that could get Veronica in trouble. Parker broke up with Logan because it’s clear he still has feelings for Veronica. It’s more of a prime time soap episode for the series than a mystery, and it left viewers with a whole lot of questions. It lands on the list primarily because it’s important to know how the characters were left before the next chapter began.