The BEST Episodes of John Adams

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2021

Network: HBO

U.S. history buffs won't want to miss this epic miniseries about one of America's greatest founding fathers John Adams. The mini-series is based on the 2002 book, John Adams, written by David McCullough, and stars three Academy Award nominated actors: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson.

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#1 - Independence

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 16, 2008

After viewing the dead and wounded on the battlefield of Concord, John Adams takes up the cause of Independence. Frustrated by the caution of delegates from colonies that do not share Massachusetts plight, the inexperienced politician is abrasive, obnoxious and even insulting. But with the advice of Abigail and Ben Franklin he soon learns he has allies, to cultivate them, to bide his time and to seize opportunities. Following John's nomination, George Washington takes charge of the army and enjoys successes despite supply shortages. Back at home, Abigail and the children risk supporting the war effort in most tangible ways but find Mother Nature more threatening.

star 8.23
521 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis
Unnecessary War

#2 - Unnecessary War

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Apr 13, 2008

Following the peace treaty with England President Adams struggles to avoid war with France despite pressure from his Federalist cabinet and French provocation. John finds the price of peace to his career and the price of his long career of public service to his family is indeed high.

star 8.16
241 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis

#3 - Reunion

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Mar 30, 2008

Following the surrender of the British, John secures a long sought loan from the Dutch and returns to Paris to oversee the peace treaty. John can no longer bear his absence from Abigail and invites her to Paris which immediately overwhelms her with its opulence. John is appointed ambassador to England but soon longs to return home to participate in the formation of the new government and, like Abigail, to be reunited with the children. They return home to an overwhelming welcome and John reluctantly returns to public service.

star 8.07
403 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis
Join or Die

#4 - Join or Die

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Mar 16, 2008

In an emotionally charged trial John Adams defends the British sentries involved in the Boston Massacre who contend they were provoked into firing on the assembled crowd. John's success brings him offers of positions in the Massachusetts government. But after John Hancock rouses a crowd to tar and feather a representative of the British East India Tea Company and the British respond to the growing unrest with oppressive measures, John instead speaks against the British policies and chooses to represent Massachusetts in the Continental Congress.

star 8.06
629 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis

#5 - Peacefield

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Apr 20, 2008

In retirement John Adams laments the perils of a long life; loss of loved ones and growing irrelevance. But out of tragedy John rekindles his broken friendship with Thomas Jefferson and lives to discuss John Quincy's ambitious presidential agenda with him.

star 7.92
256 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis
Unite or Die

#6 - Unite or Die

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Apr 6, 2008

John Adams chaffs under the mantle of Vice President for its utter lack of authority and responsibility. Despite his abhorrence of the divisiveness of political parties John is drawn to the Federalist camp favoring a strong executive. Divisions even reach into the President's cabinet, exacerbated by war in Europe.

star 7.85
351 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis
Don't Tread on Me

#7 - Don't Tread on Me

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Mar 23, 2008

Over the emotional objections of Abigail, John Adam and his son endure turbulent seas and an encounter with the British Navy to join Ben Franklin on a diplomatic mission to Paris. But Ben cannot restrain John's abrasive personality which is even less well suited to Paris than Philadelphia.

star 7.69
477 votes
Directors: Tom Hooper
Writers: Kirk Ellis