Archer continued its run as one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV when its ninth season came to Hulu last Monday; so, naturally, we ranked every season, best to worst.
1) Archer Season 2
The second season of Archer is exactly what the show strives to be; filled wall-to-wall with the most entertaining and re-watchable episodes of the entire show. Swiss Miss opens the season with a bang, and the level of foolery is only increased from there. The season turns Archer into a father (or, Cyril rather), a breast cancer patient, and gives him a Russian girlfriend to boot – it develops him into more than just a sarcastic asshole and often explores the human qualities of him. Developing Archer and the characters around him is where season two excels. Blood Test and Tragical History show that no matter what he does, Cyril is a punching bag for the office, Double Deuce makes Woodhouse more than just an average
butler servant, and El Secuestro explores the mystery of Cheryl and the wackiness of Pam. The second outing of the show is also where a lot of the mainstay jokes of Archer are established, with Barry becoming a cyborg, Brent getting shot more and more, and an abundance of phrasing.
Best Episode: Placebo Effect
2) Archer Season 4
Season four has some inconsistencies towards the latter half of the season, but overall, it possesses some of the best single episodes in all of Archer. The season kicks off with an iconic crossover with Bob’s Burgers, where Archer is convinced that he’s Bob. From there, the episodes get even better. Legs is a clear standout, but The Wind Cries Mary gives Archer a best friend in Lucas Troy, setting up for one of the best takes on a gay character in television. Anthony Bordain even pops in for a guest appearance in Live and Let Dine, blessing the show with his snarky presence as Lance Casteau. The season dwindles with some okay episodes on the backend, but the highs of season four are untouchable.
Best Episode: The Wind Cries Mary
3) Archer Season 3
Season three is when Archer started going big. The season features a Burt Reynolds cameo, a three-part saga in Heart of Archness, and the two-part finale Space Race were all moments when the show seemed to be at its most ridiculous. While the show takes Archer and gang to space, the pacific islands, and West Virginia, it’s the more ‘regular’ episodes that become memorable. Malory, in particular, shines throughout season three. The frontrunner world’s worst mother is cemented in back-to-back episodes; punishing Archer with unusual methods in Drift Problem and then calling him to take care of a dead Italian prime minister that turns up in her apartment in Lo Scandalo. While the third season takes the show to wild new places, it still manages to contain some of the best and funniest episodes in the entire show.
Best Episode: The Limited or Lo Scandalo
4) Archer Season 1
There’s not much to say about season one other than that it laid the groundwork for the rest of the series. The pilot establishes the tone for the entire show perfectly, catapulting you into the world of sarcastic spies. Throughout the season, many iconic moments are born; Archer’s invention of the ‘tactle-neck’, “that’s how we get ants”, and the berating of Woodhouse come in the first two episodes alone. From there, we’re treated to rapid-fire comedic writing in Skytanic and Dial M for Mother. Season one is spectacular in doing exactly what it needs to: gaining and retaining your interest in the show with loveable characters and hilarious plots.
Best Episode: Skytanic
5) Archer: Vice
Vice is the turning point in the entire show. Many fans were upset to find out that ISIS was no more and the show would be departing the usual office/spy format for the fifth season, but what resulted was the absolute best kind of chaos. The season filled with wild, action-packed cocaine dealing being done by the crew isn’t perfect, but if it’s anything; it’s pretty damn entertaining. Pam, out of all the characters, gets the most opportunity to shine this season. Her addiction to cocaine that hinders them from selling it is a hilarious and genius running gag. The season also brings the classic episode On the Carpet, which is as Archer as Archer can get, bringing a peak in the humor to be found in the gang’s successes/failures as drug dealers. Despite the many changes in Vice, it’s still the same old Archer.
Best Episode: On the Carpet
6) Archer Season 7
Unpopular opinion: Archer edition. Season seven is exactly where the new direction of the show should’ve gone. The move to L.A. provided a fresh format for the show without departing from what makes it great. While the jokes don’t have as much traction in this season, the over-arching narrative is one of the best in the entire show. The jump from international super-spy to personal investigator puts Archer in new situations with great set pieces (or, drawings) that make for a consistent, enjoyable season. The Handoff flips the usual voicemail prank from Archer against him, as the rest of the team waits for the punchline, but it never comes, as Sterling is actually in a bad situation. Motherless Child has hilarious pay off for Barry Dillon’s character and his cyborg shell, and the season finale is the best since season two. Most importantly, the jump to Hollywood feels natural for the show and its progression, and turns in a fresh, thrilling season of Archer.
Best Episode: Deadly Velvet, Part 2
7) Archer: Dreamland
Dreamland is the first season with Archer in a coma, and shows his mind running rampant with a fantasy of 1940’s Los Angeles. Archer himself is a P.I. who’s partner, Woodhouse, has been murdered, and he is put heavy at work by Malory, who promises to reveal the killer of his dead partner to him. It’s the first season on this list that is just fine, but the redeeming qualities are still there. Cheryl, or, Charlotte for this season is in the limelight with Archer, but the rest of the cast takes a major back seat to the two. While the mystery is engaging for most of the season, there aren’t any episodes that shine out as anything special. The season’s best effort is saved for the final episode, with Archer still in a coma, the real cast in ruins over it, and the emotional goodbye to Woodhouse and the late George Coe. The final goodbye to Woodhouse is truly heartbreaking, and is by far the most memorable part of an otherwise average season.
Best Episode: Auflösung
8) Archer Season 6
After the mixed reception to Vice, season six promised a return to the roots of Archer, and it… kind of delivered. It’s not bad at all, but rather forgettable. It quickly becomes clear that the writers were running out of ideas for the usual office setting in this season, with the fatigue of similar episodes settling in. The best of season seven comes in the exploration of Lana and Archer, as their relationship really blossoms more and more every episode. Reignition Sequence and The Kanes put the two in date-like settings as a couple for the first time, with the craziness of spy-work getting in the way and creating some of the better humor of the season. The rest of the season, however, just feels like a lot of missed potential. The thought of Archer as a father was one of the most exciting prospects going into season six, and it’s explored for one episode (the brilliant Sitting) and then abandoned for the rest of the season.
Best Episode: Sitting
9) Archer: Danger Island
Danger Island is just kind of ‘there’ among other far superior seasons of the show. The biggest driving force of the season is the thought of Archer’s awakening from the coma, and it doesn’t come. Besides that, the season gets off to a rough start, but finishes with a string of pretty good, lighthearted episodes, and a finale with Archer’s death (in his dream). While the season is a fresh and interesting new take on the characters and setting for the show, it’s at the point where getting back to the present needs to become the main objective.
Best Episode: Some Remarks on Cannibalism