The BEST episodes of In the Heat of the Night

Every episode of In the Heat of the Night ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of In the Heat of the Night!

Based on the critically acclaimed novel and film of the same name, this series provides a hopeful, yet honest look at life in the new South. Set in the fictional Sparta, Mississippi, the show is a blend of heartfelt drama and folksy humor, portraying both the professional and personal pursuits of Sparta P.D's officers. Series star Carroll O'Connor, in a role far removed from Archie Bunker, served as executive producer. Using the pen name Matt Harris, O'Connor was also the story editor and wrote many of the episodes.

Last Updated: 6/15/2024Network: CBSStatus: Ended
Share:
star
8.64
14 votes

#1 - Missing

Season 2 - Episode 22 - Aired 5/16/1989

Gillespie is kidnapped and Virgil believes that Tom Dugan is involved.

Directors: Alexander Singer
Writer: David Rupel
Watch Now:Amazon
star
8.36
28 votes

#2 - The Hammer and the Glove

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired 12/13/1988

Virgil is delighted when Matthew his former partner from Philidelphia comes to visit.But he soon learns his friend has another purpose for coming to Sparta.Althea is uncomfortable because she and Matthew were romantically involved before she met Virgil and she realizes that he is unwilling to accept the fact that she chose Virgil over him.Meanwhile the F.B.I. enlist Sparta P.D.'s aid in hiding a witness.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
8.15
40 votes

#3 - Pilot (2)

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 3/6/1988

The investigation into the brutal murders of a young girl and the suspect in her death, leads Tibbs and Gillespie to the son of one of Sparta's wealthiest and most influential citizens.As they come closer to the truth things become dangerous for Virgil.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
8.00
10 votes

#4 - Citizen Trundel (1)

Season 3 - Episode 21 - Aired 5/1/1990

Harriet's sister is murdered on the orders of the wealthy white man who fathered her child.

Directors: Leo Penn
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.91
35 votes

#5 - Blind Spot (2)

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 4/5/1988

An angry Gillespie seeks answers when an old friend is shot.And Virgil narrowly escapes death after trying to ascertain the real reason behind an old adversary's return to Sparta.Nan finds herself in danger after she finds out the truth about her new love.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.91
75 votes

#6 - Pilot (1)

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 3/6/1988

Virgil Tibbs returns to Sparta and joins the police force as chief of detectives.His arrival is met with resistance from police chief Bill Gillespie - who resents having an officer hired without his approval.Virgil has trouble adjusting to the small, antiquated police force.Tibbs' first case is a racially charged murder case that is soon complicated when the suspect is murdered in his cell.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.84
32 votes

#7 - The Family Secret

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 12/6/1988

The murder of well respected man turns up a shocking secret about his family.

Directors: Lee H. Katzin
Writer: Nancy Bond
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.83
18 votes

#8 - Tear Down the Walls

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 1/31/1989

A minister who was integrating his church(by inviting Virgil and Althea to attend services)is poisoned.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.80
30 votes

#9 - Don't Look Back (2)

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired 12/4/1988

Tibbs,Gillespie and Bubba pursue different leads in a bizarre murder case and the Chief realizes that the killer has plans for him.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.74
31 votes

#10 - Prisoners

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired 12/20/1988

Sweet risks his life to prove that the Sheriff of a neighboring county is guilty of the racially motivated murder of a young man that Sweet was friends with in high school.

Directors: Russ Mayberry
Writer: Lee Maddux
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.72
18 votes

#11 - Intruders

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired 3/7/1989

The police search for a burglar who preys on elderly women.And the prime suspect is the son of a city councilwoman.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.72
39 votes

#12 - Don't Look Back (1)

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired 12/4/1988

A copycat recreates a shocking unsolved murder from the past.Gillespie feels threatened after Ted Marcus suggests that Virgil should become the Chief.The situation becomes more tense after Virgil criticizes Parker and Bubba's actions.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.71
14 votes

#13 - The Pig Woman of Sparta

Season 2 - Episode 21 - Aired 5/9/1989

It seems that a serial killer has been burying his victims in a wooded area owned by a wealthy hermit that Virgil refers to as ""Sparta's Howard Hughes"". Suspicion immediately falls on an eccentric woman who lives in the woods with her pigs and chases away trespassers with a shotgun.The officers ask the landowner's disturbed son for help and Bubba is surprised to find that a woman he attended high school with is working as the man's ""nurse"".Also Parker and Sweet compete with one another to solve the case.

Writer: Marc Taylor
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.71
7 votes

#14 - Sweet, Sweet Blues

Season 5 - Episode 8 - Aired 11/26/1991

The lyrics to a blues song recall a murder that happened 50 years earlier.The victim - Sweet's grandfather.And the only people left with the answers are the bluesman who wrote the song and a retired sheriff.

Directors: Vincent McEveety
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.71
17 votes

#15 - Accused

Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired 4/4/1989

Bubba tries to rescue a woman from a rapist, but she mistakes him for her attacker.Gillespie tangles with an ambitious district attorney who plans to use the case to further his career.

Directors: Chuck Bowman
Writer: James Novack
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.70
20 votes

#16 - A Trip Upstate

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired 2/7/1989

In this thought provoking episode.Gillespie is surprised when a man he arrested asks to see him on the eve of his execution.He must confront his feelings about the death penalty when the prisoner asks him to witness his death.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.62
50 votes

#17 - Road Kill

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 3/15/1988

The affair between the husband of a wealthy woman and her distant cousin leads to her murder. Virgil immediately suspects the pair.But he has a difficult time persuading Gillespie, who is a long time friend of the man and Bubba, who has been seeing the cousin.Bubba and Virgil clash again and Virgil is frustrated when the Chief rejects his theory about the crime.

Directors: Leo Penn
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.60
43 votes

#18 - Fate

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 3/22/1988

Racial tensions run high when a married white woman has an affair with a black businessman from New York.Meanwhile Virgil is not happy when the Chief enlists his aid in tracking down Bubba's cousin, a suspected moonshiner.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.59
17 votes

#19 - Walkout

Season 2 - Episode 17 - Aired 3/28/1989

A bitter strike leads to a murder investigation on a snowy day in Sparta.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.56
16 votes

#20 - A.k.a. Kelly Kay

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired 2/14/1989

The past comes back to haunt JoAnn in the form of an escaped convict.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.56
16 votes

#21 - Fifteen, Forever

Season 2 - Episode 19 - Aired 4/25/1989

Sparta grieves after a drunk driver causes a fatal crash with high school cheerleaders on their way home from a game.While the officers try to find other driver, Althea tries to help the victim's families deal with their loss. The accident brings back painful memories for retired officer Tom Dugan.Meanwhile, district attorney Dutton accuses the department of being inadequate.

Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.56
36 votes

#22 - ...And Then You Die

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 5/3/1988

The Sparta police search for a killer and his girlfriend.But the case becomes personal when they take Althea and the grandson of one of the victims hostage.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.55
11 votes

#23 - Citizen Trundel (2)

Season 3 - Episode 22 - Aired 5/8/1990

Harriet's efforts to bring V.J. Trundel to trial are fruitless.The Chief does not believe they will ever get enough evidence to get an indictment,so he tries another method to bring Trundel to justice.

Directors: Harry Harris
Watch Now:Amazon
star
7.54
28 votes

#24 - Hot Nights

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired 12/27/1988

Bubba is seduced by an alluring writer who has more on her mind than romance.Bill and Virgil worry that he is in over his head.Bubba tries to protect her from her estranged husband, but things get complicated after she shoots someone.

Directors: Harry Harris
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
star
7.52
31 votes

#25 - A Necessary Evil

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 4/12/1988

In this humorous episode Virgil and the Chief arrest a man for bigamy.It soon becomes a polygamy case after an endless parade of wives come to visit their husband.

Directors: Winrich Kolbe
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV