While most Arrowverse shows encountered setbacks in their later seasons and got worse as time went by (we're looking at you, Arrow and The Flash), DC's Legends of Tomorrow somehow keeps getting better. Once the show accepted its silliness and dedicated itself to being the weirdest and goofiest superhero show on TV, it has been largely successful in creating fun and memorable episodes.
Today, we're taking a look at some of the best and some of the worst Legends of Tomorrow episodes to date. We decided to exclude the crossover episodes in order to give the spotlight strictly to the Waverider crew and their own adventures. Shout out to "Aruba," "Raiders of the Lost Art," "Egg MacGuffin," and "Destiny," among others, for almost making the cut.
10 WORST: “AMAZING GRACE” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 14)
In a season filled with excellent episodes, episode 14, “Amazing Grace” sticks out like a sore thumb, even though it wasn’t completely horrible. The Legends travel to 1950s Memphis to track down an anachronism. It turns out Elvis Presley’s guitar was adorned with the Death Totem, which allowed him to summon the spirit of his dead twin brother who died in the womb.
Coming to terms with the loss of loved ones is the episode's central theme, but it resonates better in the subplot about Axl the rat than in the main plot. Elvis’s struggle with emotional loss just doesn’t feel real and adds no emotional weight to the episode. Whereas the Axl storyline is actually rather emotional and resonant. On top of that, many critics have correctly pointed out that the episode completely ignores racial issues that existed in the 1950s.
9 BEST: "PHONE HOME" (SEASON 3, EPISODE 4)
Legends of Tomorrow is no stranger to pop culture nods, but the season three episode “Phone Home” took it a step further by recreating Steven Spielberg’s E.T. but with superheroes because why the hell not. When a young Ray Palmer discovers a baby Dominator and hides it in his room, the Time Bureau shoots young Ray to fix the anachronism, prompting the Legends to travel back in time to save their friend.
The trip to the past forces Ray to face some of the uglier memories from his childhood and question his tendency to be positive and cheerful all the time. However, the experience doesn’t change him because, at the end of the day, being a sweet cinnamon roll who’s too good for this world is who Ray is, and that’s exactly why we love him. “Phone Home” is loaded with child-like imagination, humor, and jubilant adventure that make this show so incredibly fun, relaxing, and satisfying to watch.
8 WORST: “WHITE KNIGHTS” (SEASON 1, EPISODE 4)
At the moment, Legends of Tomorrow works because it excels at balancing spectacle with smaller personal moments, but that wasn’t always the case. Back in season one, the show had some pretty lackluster outings, such as the fourth episode “White Knights.” While the break-in into Pentagon was fun and all, the episode didn’t really have much in terms of emotional heft.
The episode is divided into two plotlines – one following the team on their mission in Russia and the other following Sara and Kendra’s story aboard the Waverider. Sadly, neither of the two storylines is particularly compelling. The whole "Kendra needs to conquer her rage" plotline came out of the left field and felt incredibly forced just for the purpose of giving her some character and something to bond over with Sara. Which is a pretty lame attempt at character development.
7 BEST: “BEEBO THE GOD OF WAR” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 9)
Episodes like “Beebo the God of War” are proof that Legends of Tomorrow is at its best when it goes completely bonkers. The episode followed the Crisis on Earth-X crossover, which saw the death of professor Stein and lightened the mood with a good dose of silliness just before the midseason break.
The mission sent the team in the time of Vikings, who have encountered an anachronism and thus started worshiping the toy Cuddle Me Beebo as their God of War. To satisfy the insatiable God, the Vikings set out to turn North America into New Valhalla. Meanwhile, in the future, Christmas became known as Beebo Day. While all that’s happening, Legends must also fight the Dahrks and find a way to cope with Stein's death with a little help from Leonard Snart and his Martin puppet. It's a perfect mix of hilarious slapstick and sincere emotion.
6 WORST: “FAIL-SAFE” (SEASON 1, EPISODE 5)
“Fail-Safe” sends the Legends to a Russian gulag to rescue their three imprisoned teammates – Mick, Ray, and Stein. Basically, it’s a prison break episode, a sort of callback to Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller’s time on Prison Break. Miller even gets to say “this isn’t our first prison break.”
Mick and Ray’s growing friendship, as well as Snart and Sara’s dynamic and chemistry literally save the episode, as other characters either don't get anything to do or just aren't interesting enough. Rip and Kendra are particularly useless and boring in this installment. To make things worse, Vandal Savage shows up again, giving Casper Crump yet another chance to chew the scenery. Yay! But, the cliffhanger with the Legends crash-landing in the 2046 Star City was certainly intriguing.
5 BEST: “LEGENDS OF TO-MEOW-MEOW,” (SEASON 4, EPISODE 8)
When you mess with time, it tends to mess back. After Constantine breaks the timeline, he, Charlie, and Zari try to deal with the consequences. What are the consequences you ask? Well, Sara’s dead, the Legends have become homicidal wankers, Ava has gone full emo, and Zari’s a cat. Their first attempt to fix the timeline creates the Sirens of Space-Time, an homage to Charlie’s Angels. The second attempt turns everyone into singing puppets. They try again and again, but no matter what they do, they can’t seem to get everything back on track. In the end, Constantine listens to Zari, goes back to New Orleans and stops himself from changing the timeline, and then his kiss with Desmond literally saves time.
“Legends of To-Meow-Meow” is pure Legends. It’s funny, it’s bonkers, it has tons of pop culture references, it doesn’t care much for the fourth wall or any rules whatsoever, it just does whatever it wants, and yet at the same time, it has emotional weight. There's a lot happening in this episode, but it never feels like too much, because the main focus is on the two newcomers, Constantine and Charlie, who get satisfying character development through this crazy adventure.
4 WORST: “RIVER OF TIME" (SEASON 1, EPISODE 14)
Alright, let’s get one thing straight, this interaction: Savage: “Who are you to stand against me? Vandal Savage, destroyer of Empires!” Snart: “Leonard Snart, robber of ATMs!” is the single highlight of this messy episode. Every season one episode that focused on Vandal Savage, Kendra, and Carter was pretty bad, but “River of Time” is by far the worst one.
The episode gives us none of the exciting action scenes and period designs that make Legends of Tomorrow great and instead gives us a boring bottle episode where all the characters apparently took a level in dumbass. First, Sara and Ray are way too easily manipulated by Savage whose intentions were way too obvious. Then, Martin and Jax never merge into Firestorm and Ray doesn’t put on the Atom suit because reasons, even though doing so would have made a major difference. The only way to go through this episode is to turn off your brain entirely.
3 BEST: “HERE I GO AGAIN” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 11)
The season three episode “Here I Go Again” is one of the best hours of television the Legends of Tomorrow writers have put out. The episode goes full Groundhog Day when the newcomer Zari finds herself trapped in a time loop. “Here I Go Again” focuses on Zari and her struggle to find her place on the team while being both hilarious and genuinely moving. We also get a better understanding of Gideon's role on the team, as we learn that the time loop isn't really a time loop, but Gideon’s simulation designed to give Zari the chance to meet the team and discover where she fits in.
Gideon’s brilliant plan managed to bring everyone closer together. The time loop gave Zari the opportunity to get to know each of the Legends and once she was finally back in the real world she used what she learned to pass on important messages to her friends. Also, Zari and Nate were hilarious together and Zari's fun montage is one of our favorite Legends of Tomorrow moments.
2 WORST: "PROGENY" (SEASON 1, EPISODE 10)
In this season one episode, Legends of Tomorrow tackled the “Baby Hitler” dilemma, but the conflict was never built up enough to create tension. The episode failed in one crucial element that makes the “Baby Hitler” conflict work, which is making us believe that our heroes would actually kill a child to save the world. And since there was no real conflict, no tension, no actual stakes, the story fell flat.
Furthermore, “Progeny” also leaned heavily on the awkward romance between Ray and Kendra, as the couple began questioning whether they should be together after having lived together for two years in the 1950s. Finally, the world of 2147 was the most disappointing aspect of the episode simply because it was so dull and uninteresting.
1 BEST: “THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE CUDDLY” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 18)
Beebo the God of War makes a surprise comeback in the season three finale “The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly.” Because even when the odds are stacked against our heroes and the stakes are higher than ever, this show doesn't abandon its lighthearted tone and wacky humor. The season finale is so ridiculous in every way possible, but that’s precisely why it works.
We tune into Legends of Tomorrow because we want to see these idiots do the goofy, comic book-y stuff no other Arrowverse show dares to do. "The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly" delivers that goofiness better than any other episode. While it had tons of awesome and hilarious moments, the Bebo vs. Mallus fight was not only the highlight of the episode but the show itself. From the moment Beebo appeared we were laughing with nothing but pure joy in our hearts. But that's the thing about Legends of Tomorrow – it's joyful, it's fun, it's comfort. And the season three finale is the finest example of what this show is all about.