While it hasn’t yet been confirmed by FX, Adam Reed has announced his plans to leave Archer after the current season, season 10. 10 seasons is a good place to stop. It makes a nice, clean box set to have a round number like 10. On the other hand, it’ll be a shame to see Archer go.
It’s been one of the funniest, freshest, most inventive animated comedies on the air since 2009, with the voice acting and the writing going hand-in-hand to deliver the goods. But like all shows, it’s had strong points and weak points. So, here is Every Season Of Archer, Ranked.
10 Season 9: Danger Island
The setup of a pulpy, serialized adventure story starring all the Archer characters in an exotic location sounded exciting to begin with, but the series started to show signs of age in its ninth season. The voice acting was still great, but the plotting wasn’t as complex or as engaging as it could’ve been.
In fact, not an awful lot even happens – the story meanders across eight episodes and doesn’t wrap things up in a satisfactory way with the finale. It might have pleased new viewers or passive fans, but long-time devotees of the series were left disappointed by this slender installment.
9 Season 6
The first season not to use the “ISIS” name (for obvious reasons), season 6 saw the characters start working with the CIA under the rule of Slater, who was played, appropriately enough, by Christian Slater.
The humor in season 6 was still as spot-on as ever, but the storylines began to feel staler and staler as the season went on. The pacing was slower than usual and the jokes didn’t have the edge that we’re used to, choosing instead to play it safe. Still, it’s hard to argue with a season that takes such pleasure in making fun of the CIA.
8 Season 8: Dreamland
Archer’s season-long take on the detective stories of ‘30s and ‘40s pulp fiction was a refreshing change of pace at first, but by the finale episode, the whole thing felt kind of pointless. If it all took place inside Archer’s head while he was in a coma, then what did we just watch eight half-hour episodes of it for?
The season is helped by an abundance of Easter eggs and references to classic film noirs, as well as typically great performances from the voice cast, but it’s not as truly fantastic as the show is when it’s firing on all cylinders.
7 Season 10: 1999
Archer has recovered from a dodgy ninth season this year with a tenth that knocks it out of the park once again. The retrofuturistic setting has given the animation team a field day with the design, while Archer’s adventures in space have provided the writers with ample opportunities for hilarious jokes.
Like South Park’s experimentation with serialized storytelling, Archer’s experimentation with a genre-swapping anthology format has taken a few years to refine – but they’ve finally done it. It’s not as great as it once was, but this is the best we can expect from the show’s new anthology series style.
6 Season 3
The third season of Archer is a great installment of television, but it wavered slightly in its failure to continue the winning streak of the first and second seasons. At this point, the jokes were getting a little predictable and some of the episodes seemed to simply be going through the motions with the plotting.
Still, the story structure and voice acting in the third season were as impeccable as ever, and the pacing was particularly impressive in episodes like the three-part epic “Heart of Archness.” Plus, season 3 gave us some of the show’s greatest guest stars, like David Cross.
5 Season 1
Just like how the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie felt fresher than the second, because it was the one that introduced the world to that bonkers new creative tone, the first season of Archer came as a delightful breath of fresh air compared to most other TV comedies.
It offered an offbeat sense of humor, a blunt take on spy mythology, and a zany animation style that we hadn’t seen before, and that was certainly exciting. The show’s characters weren’t as refined in the first season as they would go on to become, but they got off to a promising start in these 10 episodes.
4 Season 5: Archer Vice
Season 5 was the first time that Archer started to shake up its formula. The season came attached with a subtitle, “Archer Vice,” and saw a location change as ISIS was shut down when it was revealed that it had never been sanctioned by the U.S. government and the characters became coke runners down in Miami.
What makes this change of setting and genre work in a way that it hasn’t worked in the show’s more recent seasons is that despite taking the insanity up a notch and bringing the cast into brand-new pastures, it never lost sight of the characters and remained true to them.
3 Season 2
The second season of Archer managed to top the first in terms of creativity and hilarity. Whereas the first season gave us a satirical take on some traditional spy stories, the second season took bolder risks with the storytelling, jumping all over the place, from Louisiana to Hollywood, without losing sight of the focus of the series: its brash, chauvinistic lead character and his complicated relationships with the people around him.
The writers got a clearer idea of who the characters were and what was funny about them and, as a result, did a finer job of portraying them in this season.
2 Season 7
As the last season before the format of the series was shaken up and it started telling different stories in different genres with the characters filling different roles each season, Archer season 7 also marks the season in which the writers truly perfected the show’s formula.
The characters had been fully developed, as had all of their relationships with one another, and the writers knew the most interesting ways to play them opposite each other. Also, the structure of the plots was as tight as ever, and fans will always remember it fondly as the last truly great season of the show.
1 Season 4
The third season of Archer marked a slight decline in quality following the stellar first and second seasons, which seemed to signal the beginning of the end. Luckily, in the fourth season, the writers managed to outdo themselves yet again and the show was back on track.
Not only is this a solid season with countless quotable lines and memorable storylines; the character development was also ratcheted up a notch to keep the fans engaged. Plus, the season premiere episode is that incredible crossover with Bob’s Burgers in which Bob Belcher is revealed to be an amnesiac Sterling Archer, based purely on the fact that H. Jon Benjamin plays both characters.