The BEST Episodes of Life on Mars (US)

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Network: ABC (US)

The series tells the story of New York City police detective Sam Tyler (played by Jason O'Mara), who, after being struck by a car in 2008, regains consciousness in 1973. Fringing between multiple genres, including thriller, science fiction and police procedural, the series remained ambiguous regarding its central plot, with the character himself unsure about his situation. The series also starred Harvey Keitel, Jonathan Murphy, Michael Imperioli, and Gretchen Mol.

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Take a Look at the Lawmen

#1 - Take a Look at the Lawmen

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Jan 28, 2009

Lt. Hunt's squad and Lt. Nunzio's crew renew their long-standing rivalry due to a bank robbery with a connection to the Russian mob. Meanwhile, Sam is attracted to a pretty, young social worker.

star 8.04
141 votes
Directors: Brad Turner
Writers: David Wilcox, Sonny Postiglione
Everyone Knows It's Windy

#2 - Everyone Knows It's Windy

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired Mar 25, 2009

Crime hits home after Ray and Chris are shot by a gang member. When the shooter is found dead near a bar, Sam becomes the lead suspect since he has been working undercover as part of the gang. With evidence mounting against him, Sam must search for the real killer before it's too late for him

star 8.01
189 votes
Directors: Alex Zakrzewski
Writers: Mike Flynn, Phil M. Rosenberg
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?

#3 - Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 30, 2008

Sam is unwillingly but hypnotically pulled back into his childhood when he becomes entangled in local gangster Nick Profaci's assault on a young, beautiful woman. Sam is amazed to discover that the woman, who is oddly familiar to him, is actually his mother back in 1973. While he anxiously attempts to save her, he uncovers two unsolved murders of women that possibly point to the involvement of Profaci and his mob boss, Elliot Casso's. But even more alarming is the discovery that members of the 1-2-5 - including Lt. Hunt - may be mixed up with Casso and his crew and may have prevented justice from being carried out.

star 8.00
201 votes
Directors: Alex Zakrzewski
Writers: David Wilcox
Revenge of Broken Jaw

#4 - Revenge of Broken Jaw

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired Mar 4, 2009

When the Weather Underground sends the department bomb threats on the anniversary of their leader's death, Lt. Hunt takes the threats personally. As Sam, Annie and Lt. Hunt investigate, they soon find a connection between a student and Pat Olsen, a professor.

star 8.00
246 votes
Directors: Stephen Kay
Writers: David Wilcox, Meredith Averill
The Man Who Sold the World

#5 - The Man Who Sold the World

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 20, 2008

When the baby of a prominent family is kidnapped for ransom, Sam Tyler is shocked to discover that his own father, Vic Tyler, may be involved. Sam's discovery leads him to face some deep dark secrets about his childhood.

star 7.99
198 votes
Directors: Darnell Martin
Writers: Meredith Averill, Phil M. Rosenberg
The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler

#6 - The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 16, 2008

Is this vintage 1973 Sam Tyler real or not? Sam's unbelieving ears clearly hear a radio station announcing that Elvis will perform a concert in memory of his mother, but he's still not sure how or why he landed in these circumstances. Moreover, he doesn't have much time to think about his own predicament. A string of fatal robberies at AAA Money check cashing stores are baffling the 1-2-5, and Sam jumps headlong into the case, which features no forced entries and no witnesses. Even with Lt. Hunt strong-arming the lead suspect, it still takes an unexpected turn of events to make the squad to look within to solve the crime. At the end of the day Sam, in spite of himself, might even experience some true happiness - temporary though it might be.

star 7.97
268 votes
Writers: Bryan Oh
Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead

#7 - Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Nov 6, 2008

A racial confrontation is triggered between the African Americans and Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood when a young African American girl's body is discovered thrown from a rooftop. Working the case with Sam Tyler and the squad is the cop Sam considers his mentor in 2008 - a much younger Fletcher Bellow - who doesn't recognize his future protege. Tangling with the Black Liberation Army, who is intent on hunting down the Puerto Rican suspect first to levy their own kind of justice, Sam, Bellow and the detectives of the 1-2-5 are in a race against time if Angel Ramirez is to have any chance to answer for the crime. But in the end, Sam must battle the racial attitudes in his own precinct - most notably Lt. Hunt and Detective Carling - and a dramatic standoff on the same rooftop leads to gunshots being fired.

star 7.97
173 votes
Writers: Sonny Postiglione
Tuesday's Dead

#8 - Tuesday's Dead

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 13, 2008

With a life-and-death hostage situation paralleling own strange circumstances, Sam Tyler is ordered with the rest of the 1-2-5 to diffuse a potentially deadly face-off at a hospital where a crazed gunman is trying to force a doctor to reverse a dangerous operation on the renegade's brother, and the squad are all targeted in the gunman's cross-hairs.

star 7.96
169 votes
Directors: Dan Minahan
Writers: Adele Lim
Life is a Rock

#9 - Life is a Rock

Season 1 - Episode 17 - Aired Apr 1, 2009

When Sam Tyler receives a phone call that presents him with three tasks he must perform so he can return to his life in the future, he must weigh his alternatives and decide whether to stay in 1973 or go home.

star 7.91
139 votes
Writers: Scott Rosenberg
Home is Where You Hang Your Holster

#10 - Home is Where You Hang Your Holster

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Feb 18, 2009

NYC Councilman Bobby Prince shares a secret with Sam after Prince is caught with a hooker during a raid on a motel. The secret leaves Sam with even more questions as well as the realization he has more in common with Prince than he had ever thought. Meanwhile, Gene Hunt locks down the precinct after a shooting, Maria and her father confront each other, and Ray's wife, Denise, adds tension to the drama.

star 7.84
250 votes
All the Young Dudes

#11 - All the Young Dudes

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired Mar 18, 2009

When Sam goes undercover as a gang member, he has to reveal a dark side in order to keep his cover. While undercover, Sam is pushed to the limit when he is ordered to bind and shoot a woman.

star 7.79
104 votes
Directors: Darnell Martin
Writers: Sonny Postiglione, Tracy McMillan
The Dark Side of the Mook

#12 - The Dark Side of the Mook

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Feb 4, 2009

Ray's shady brother may have played a role in the number of recent decapitations in which the squad is investigating. but other suspects pop up too, such as a biker, a Wall Street executive and badly disfigured man.

star 7.74
220 votes
Directors: Rick Rosenthal
Writers: Brian Oh, Tracy McMillan
My Maharishi is Bigger than Your Maharishi

#13 - My Maharishi is Bigger than Your Maharishi

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 23, 2008

The murder of a returning Vietnam veteran has Lieutenant Hunt outraged, as he demands a quick resolution to what quickly becomes a complicated and controversial case. As Sam and the squad's team of detectives explore the circumstances surrounding the homicide, Tyler is sent down a mysterious path that may provide clues about his own family's past and why he is back in 1973

star 7.73
205 votes
Writers: Tracy McMillan
Out Here in the Fields

#14 - Out Here in the Fields

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 9, 2008

Modern-day NYPD Detective Sam Tyler finds himself suddenly hurtled back to the tumultuous times of New York City in 1973 when he's hit by a car while chasing down a criminal.

star 7.62
348 votes
Directors: Gary Fleder
Writers: André Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Scott Rosenberg
The Simple Secret of the Note in Us All

#15 - The Simple Secret of the Note in Us All

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired Feb 25, 2009

The detectives at the 1-2-5 investigate the murder of newspaper journalist Joey Conway. Sam is convinced the killer is the same criminal from a case in 2008. He is motivated by flashbacks to the case, which puts him at odds with his coworkers who think someone else is guilty.

star 7.36
187 votes
Writers: Adele Lim, Becky Hartman Edwards
Let All the Children Boogie

#16 - Let All the Children Boogie

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Feb 11, 2009

When rock star Sebastian Grace receives a death threat, Sam and Chris are exposed to the rock-and-roll lifestyle that includes one of Grace's groupies called "Rocket Girl." Things really get strange when Chris finds Sebastian and Rocket Girl waiting for UFOs in the swampy area of New Jersey known as the Meadowlands.

star 7.31
222 votes
Writers: Phil M. Rosenberg
Coffee, Tea or Annie

#17 - Coffee, Tea or Annie

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired Mar 11, 2009

When a Pan Atlantic air hostess is found dead, Annie volunteers to go undercover in order to solve a series of homicides. Annie, Sam and Ray, working undercover, are able to find an unlikely suspect.

star 7.18
249 votes
Directors: David Petrarca
Writers: Adele Lim, Brian Oh