The BEST Episodes of In the Heat of the Night
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2021
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.
#1 - Sweet, Sweet Blues
Season 5 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 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.
#2 - Pilot (1)
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Mar 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.
#3 - Missing
Season 2 - Episode 22 - Aired May 16, 1989
Gillespie is kidnapped and Virgil believes that Tom Dugan is involved.
#4 - Pilot (2)
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 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.
#5 - Blind Spot (2)
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Apr 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.
#6 - The Hammer and the Glove
Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 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.
#7 - Citizen Trundel (1)
Season 3 - Episode 21 - Aired May 1, 1990
Harriet's sister is murdered on the orders of the wealthy white man who fathered her child.
#8 - The Pig Woman of Sparta
Season 2 - Episode 21 - Aired May 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.
#9 - Prisoners
Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 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.
#10 - ...And Then You Die
Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired May 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.
#11 - Fate
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Mar 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.
#12 - Don't Look Back (1)
Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 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.
#13 - Tear Down the Walls
Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 31, 1989
A minister who was integrating his church(by inviting Virgil and Althea to attend services)is poisoned.
#14 - The Family Secret
Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Dec 6, 1988
The murder of well respected man turns up a shocking secret about his family.
#15 - A.k.a. Kelly Kay
Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired Feb 14, 1989
The past comes back to haunt JoAnn in the form of an escaped convict.
#16 - A Trip Upstate
Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired Feb 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.
#17 - Fifteen, Forever
Season 2 - Episode 19 - Aired Apr 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.
#18 - Time of the Stranger
Season 3 - Episode 7 - Aired Dec 5, 1989
After a private investigator searching for a missing child is found dead, the evidence points to a local dance teacher - a neighbor that Parker has become very fond of.
#19 - Hot Nights
Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Dec 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.
#20 - Road Kill
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Mar 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.
#21 - Walkout
Season 2 - Episode 17 - Aired Mar 28, 1989
A bitter strike leads to a murder investigation on a snowy day in Sparta.
#22 - Fairest of Them All
Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 31, 1989
A beauty contest is marred by blackmail and the ambitious mother of a contestant.
#23 - First Girl
Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Nov 14, 1989
Sparta P.D. gets it's first black policewoman.
#24 - Don't Look Back (2)
Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Dec 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.
#25 - Accused
Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired Apr 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.