The BEST Episodes of Northern Exposure

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Network: CBS

Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) graduates from Columbia University medical school thanks to a scholarship from the state of Alaska. Though he was promised a placement at the large hospital in Anchorage, he is instead whisked away to the tiny town of Cicely, where he must work off his education debt as the local General Practitioner. The location is remote, the people are weird and quirky, and all Joel wants is to return to New York. The show thrived on this "fish out of water" storyline and the "will they or won't they" dynamic between Fleischman and Janine Turner's Maggie O'Connell.

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Mr. Sandman

#1 - Mr. Sandman

Season 5 - Episode 12 - Aired Jan 10, 1994

The aurora borealis causes the residents of Cicely to swap their dreams, exposing secrets. Maggie has Holling's dream about being a cab driver in Quebec, driving his overbearing father around. Ron has Maurice's dream about blue pumps. Joel sleepwalks in search of candy, having a child's dream. Holling has Dave's dream about kayaking with a spatula. Walt has someone's dream (Joel's?) about climbing a never ending tower.

star 8.14
111 votes
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
Birds of a Feather

#2 - Birds of a Feather

Season 5 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 1, 1993

Joel's parents come to Cicely and his father's know-it-all attitude gets on Joel's nerves and his mother gets back to nature. Holling's dislike of sports causes Shelly to ponder their baby's athletic future and his stature among the men of Cicely.

star 8.08
113 votes
Directors: Mark Horowitz
Writers: Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
Spring Break

#3 - Spring Break

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired May 6, 1991

Things get a little crazy as the town waits for the annual ice breakup and the annual "running of the bulls" down the streets of Cicely. Joel and Maggie find themselves irresistibly drawn together, Maurice is attracted to a dominating state trooper sent to uncover the villain behind the annual rash of petty thefts and Holling challenges all the customers to a fight.

star 8.05
236 votes
Directors: Rob Thompson
Writers: David Assael
The Quest

#4 - The Quest

Season 6 - Episode 15 - Aired Feb 8, 1995

Joel finds a map and brings Maggie with him on a quest to find a mythical city, they meet a belligerent gatekeeper, and when faced with a crossroads, Joel sees his future and departs. Phil cleans out some impacted earwax for Chris, but Chris sues him for malpractice when his inner ear is damaged. Maurice lets Holling know that Michelle is writing an article on restaurants for Alaska Highways magazine, but she can't find any good words to describe the food at the Brick.

star 8.01
97 votes
Directors: Michael Vittes
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
Ursa Minor

#5 - Ursa Minor

Season 6 - Episode 21 - Aired Jul 12, 1995

Ed learns the responsibilities of parenthood when he begins caring for a lost bear cub. Maurice discovers that Cicely's population is declining. Chris uses a device that allows him to manipulate his dreams and work out some issues in his relationship with Maggie. Michelle waitresses at the Brick while continuing to work out her issues with Phil.

star 7.98
111 votes
Directors: Patrick McKee
Writers: Sam Egan
Burning Down the House

#6 - Burning Down the House

Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired Feb 3, 1992

Maggie receives an unexpected visit and some unwanted news from her mother. Meanwhile, Chris searches everywhere for just the right cow to fling for his conceptual art piece and Joel becomes obsessed with a local chimney sweep that he believes is a former pro golfer.

star 7.97
199 votes
Directors: Rob Thompson
Writers: Robin Green
Up River

#7 - Up River

Season 6 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 14, 1994

Maurice sends Ed after Joel, who's moved up river; and Joel tells Ed of the few days he and Maggie spent together, where every time they got together, there was gunfire. Chris hires a contractor to improve the lot around his trailer and it turns his world upside down. When Walt goes away to check his traps, Ruth-Anne realizes that she's fallen in love and tries to fight it.

star 7.94
127 votes
Directors: Michael Fresco
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
Wake Up Call

#8 - Wake Up Call

Season 3 - Episode 19 - Aired Mar 23, 1992

As spring blossoms, Shelly suffers from a skin rash, Holling gives away eggs, Joel gets a new outlook on patient care from a tribal medicine man and Maggie experiences a spiritual and physical re-awakening with a handsome stranger.

star 7.93
168 votes
Directors: Nick Marck
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov

#9 - Cicely

Season 3 - Episode 23 - Aired May 18, 1992

Joel meets an old man who's returned to Cicely after many years. The man tells him the story of two remarkable women, Roslyn and Cicely, whom transformed the town into ""the Paris of the North"" back in 1909.

star 7.93
193 votes
Directors: Rob Thompson
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
A-Hunting We Will Go

#10 - A-Hunting We Will Go

Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 18, 1991

Joel decides to explore the fascination of hunting by accompanying Chris and Holling on their annual pilgrimage. Ed becomes worried and over solicitous when he learns that Ruth-Anne is seventy-five years old.

star 7.92
186 votes
Our Wedding

#11 - Our Wedding

Season 3 - Episode 22 - Aired May 11, 1992

As their wedding approaches, Adam debates with Joel about women and Eve lets a gung-ho Shelly take over the wedding plans as she worries about more important matters. Maggie and Joel try in their own ways to come to grips with their experience in Juneau.

star 7.90
197 votes
Directors: Nick Marck
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
Una Volta in L'Inverno

#12 - Una Volta in L'Inverno

Season 5 - Episode 17 - Aired Mar 7, 1994

Ruth-Anne tries learning Italian, so she can read Dante, and gets some help from Shelly. Walt needs sunlight to overcome his depression, so he gets his light glasses and becomes addicted, so Chris & Holling perform an intervention. Caribou block Main Street, so the mayor takes action. While waiting out a storm in the airport cabin with Maggie, everything is going Joel's way, until Ed shows up.

star 7.89
106 votes
Directors: Michael Vittes
Writers: Jeff Melvoin
Get Real

#13 - Get Real

Season 3 - Episode 9 - Aired Dec 9, 1991

A stranded bus of carnival performers brings romance to Marilyn, doubts about her future to Maggie, the mysteries of magic to Chris, and a break to the studious Joel; Shelly however, is pained when Holling becomes fixated on her large feet.

star 7.88
149 votes
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
Family Feud

#14 - Family Feud

Season 4 - Episode 19 - Aired Mar 8, 1993

A totem pole carved in tribute to the Raven clan reopens a bitter rift between them and the Bear clan. Shelly gets medical advice telling her that getting married may help her to get rid of the strange hallucinations with dancers that she's been having. Joel confronts Maggie about their "whatever" and her relationship with Mike; together they decide they're "mutually desirous incompatibles."

star 7.88
175 votes
Directors: Adam Arkin
Writers: David Assael
Old Tree

#15 - Old Tree

Season 4 - Episode 25 - Aired May 24, 1993

The town's oldest tree is dying. Shelly wakes up and finds that she can't talk, but she can sing. The town asks Joel to diagnose Old Vicki. Chris goes wireless and is freed from the confines of the broadcast booth. Shelly's singing starts to get on Holling's nerves. Maggie tries to be pleasant to Joel and the result of all this kindness is that Joel keeps getting injured. Maurice is intent on bringing the tree down. Shelly becomes worried that she may never talk again. After the felling of Old Vicki, the town has a wake. Maurice feels remorse after the felling of Old Vicki. Maggie and Joel cut a deal to try keeping Joel injury free.

star 7.87
113 votes
Directors: Michael Fresco
Writers: Diane Frolov, Robin Green
The Graduate

#16 - The Graduate

Season 6 - Episode 17 - Aired Mar 8, 1995

Maggie outbids Maurice for the ownership of the town's rundown theater, which she begins to run with help of Ed and Heather. Two professors come to Cicely for the oral examination for Chris' master's degree; instead they clash over Chris' dissertation. A young Canadian Air Force lieutenant claims that Holling is his father, something proven because Holling sent his mother money every month for 25 years; however, that is just covering up a secret from his past. The theatre business causes stress for Maggie.

star 7.86
90 votes
Directors: James Hayman
Writers: Sam Egan
Mite Makes Right

#17 - Mite Makes Right

Season 5 - Episode 13 - Aired Jan 17, 1994

A musician tries to stop Maurice from storing, in his safe, a 1.6 million-dollar violin he's just bought as an investment. Maggie becomes obsessed with ridding her house of dust mites after she develops an allergy to them. Chris struggles to find inspiration for his latest sculpture. Joel and Maggie have their first date, which ends early because of talk about things microscopic.

star 7.85
139 votes
Directors: Michael Vittes
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
The Body in Question

#18 - The Body in Question

Season 3 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 4, 1991

Chris' discovery of the frozen body of a Napoleonic Frenchman raises many questions for Joel, has Maurice dreaming of the economic benefits for Cicely, Shelly worrying over fertility and Holling confessing over his despicable ancestors.

star 7.84
192 votes
Directors: David Carson
Writers: Henry Bromell
Tranquility Base

#19 - Tranquility Base

Season 6 - Episode 23 - Aired Jul 26, 1995

Maurice's plans to ask Barbara to marry him while spending the weekend at his new summer home are in jeopardy when her style clashes with the way he wants his guests treated. Phil and Michelle continue to try to work out their differences and Ed (in his Shaman capacity) and Joel's Rabbi offer some advice. Chris is on the loose when Maggie doesn't make the journey to Maurice's but soon realizes that he is a changed man. The Vincoeurs stay locked up in their room when Holling is in heat.

star 7.83
121 votes
Directors: Michael Fresco
Writers: Jeff Melvoin, Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
The Bumpy Road to Love

#20 - The Bumpy Road to Love

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 23, 1991

Maggie is devastated when the unveiling of a statue in Rick's memory uncovers his life and loves away from Cicely. Maurice stumbles in his pursuit of Officer Semanski when she learns he favors tax loopholes. Joel is kidnapped and held prisoner by the reclusive Adam and his hypochondriacal mate Eve.

star 7.83
236 votes
Directors: Nick Marck
Writers: Martin Sage, Sybil Adelman
Animals 'R' Us

#21 - Animals 'R' Us

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 14, 1991

Maggie becomes convinced that the stray dog that's adopted her is Rick reincarnated. Maurice tries to convince Marilyn to join him in a multi-million dollar scheme to produce and market ostriches. Ed looks for help in making a movie about Cicely.

star 7.82
199 votes
Directors: Nick Marck
Writers: Robin Green
Full Upright Position

#22 - Full Upright Position

Season 6 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 7, 1994

Maurice welcomes his young cousin Maurice to Cicely, hopefully to take over the family business. Charges of static electricity generate a new interest--and a new art project-- for Chris. Meanwhile sparks fly between Joel and Maggie on a Russian airline bound for St. Petersburg, where Joel is scheduled to speak at a medical convention.

star 7.82
120 votes
Directors: Oz Scott
Writers: Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green

#23 - Homesick

Season 4 - Episode 20 - Aired Mar 15, 1993

Maggie is excited when she thinks she has "cured" her latest beau, as opposed to killing him; however she is crushed when he tells her that he leaving to work for Greenpeace in Murmansk. Holling is disgusted by Shelly's redecorating of their bed & bathroom. Maurice moves his childhood home to Cicely and it stirs up memories of his brother.

star 7.79
171 votes
Directors: Nick Marck
Writers: Jeff Vlaming
First Snow

#24 - First Snow

Season 5 - Episode 10 - Aired Dec 13, 1993

As the town prepares for winter, a healthy elderly patient tells Joel she is dying, much to his disbelief. Maggie decides to redecorate her house before winter sets in and gets a new chair that no one seems to like. Holling must figure out how many plots to dig at the cemetery before the ground freezes. Shelly lies to Maurice about never saying she loved him and she thinks her nose has begun to grow because of it.

star 7.74
137 votes
Directors: Daniel Attias
Writers: Andrew Schneider, Diane Frolov
It Happened in Juneau

#25 - It Happened in Juneau

Season 3 - Episode 21 - Aired May 4, 1992

Joel foresees sophisticated delights when he travels to Juneau for a medical conference but winds up with good old Maggie, meanwhile back in Cicely, Chris finds himself tongue-tied with the return of Bernard, his cosmic doppelganger.

star 7.72
195 votes
Writers: David Assael, Robert Rabinowitz