The BEST episodes of The Staircase (2004)

Every episode of The Staircase (2004) ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of The Staircase (2004)!

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In 2001, author Michael Peterson was arraigned for the murder of his wife Kathleen, whose body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the stairway of their home. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers, home and immediate family, de Lestrade's cameras capture the defense team as it considers its strategic options. The series is an engrossing look at contemporary American justice that features more twists than a legal bestseller.

Last Updated: 4/1/2024Network: NetflixStatus: Ended
The Verdict
262 votes

#1 - The Verdict

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 10/28/2004

The long trial reaches its conclusion and Michael Peterson learns his fate—at least, for the immediate future.

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The Blow Poke Returns
225 votes

#2 - The Blow Poke Returns

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 10/28/2004

The defense begins presenting its case, which relies heavily upon such experts as a biomechanical engineer and a prominent forensic scientist. But the outcome may finally come down to a stunning find by Michael Peterson’s oldest son.

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Reopening The Case
179 votes

#3 - Reopening The Case

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 1/30/2013

Eight years later, the possibility that a key witness for the prosecution may have misled the jury could prompt the need for a new trial.

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A Weak Case
239 votes

#4 - A Weak Case

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 10/21/2004

District Attorney Jim Hardin lays out the prosecution’s case and calls witnesses to testify about three points of evidence: the amount of blood at the scene; Kathleen’s head lacerations; and the potential murder weapon, a fireplace tool called a blowpoke. Rudolf puts on a tough cross-examination.

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The Last Chance
184 votes

#5 - The Last Chance

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 1/30/2013

After more experts testify about the questionable conclusions and claims of Duane Deaver, the judge rules on whether a new trial is necessary.

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Flawed Justice
176 votes

#6 - Flawed Justice

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired 6/8/2018

Michael speaks to a reporter about the reasons behind his plea. Later, Kathleen's sister delivers a statement of defiance in court.

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Between Anger and Despair
168 votes

#7 - Between Anger and Despair

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired 6/8/2018

Their faith in the justice system forever shaken, Michael and his family discuss what they can hope to achieve by continuing the fight.

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The Prosecution's Revenge
224 votes

#8 - The Prosecution's Revenge

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/21/2004

The court rules on key evidentiary issues, and the prosecution calls several witnesses who give emotionally charged testimony. Meanwhile, the trial is receiving extensive and often sensational coverage in the media.

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A Prosecution Trickery
229 votes

#9 - A Prosecution Trickery

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/14/2004

The defense team is forced to contend with the prosecution’s latest bombshell concerning the death of Elizabeth Ratliff. In April 2003, there is a pre-trail hearing regarding evidence, a proceeding that ends with yet another twist. On July 1, 2003, the trial begins with opening statements.

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Looking for Closure
168 votes

#10 - Looking for Closure

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 6/8/2018

Following two and a half years of house arrest, Michael must decide whether to push for a plea or risk his freedom with a new trial.

A Striking Coincidence
252 votes

#11 - A Striking Coincidence

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/14/2004

In the spring of 2002, the case takes another surprising turn when prosecutors turn their attention to the 1985 death of Elizabeth Ratliff, a military widow who was found dead at the bottom of the stairs of her home in Germany. The last person to have seen Ratliff alive is believed to have been her close friend and neighbor, Michael Peterson. Peterson subsequently adopted Ratliff’s two daughters, who must now deal with new accusations against the man who raised them.

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Crime or Accident?
334 votes

#12 - Crime or Accident?

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/7/2004

Michael Peterson recalls the night of December 9, 2001, which began with dinner, wine and a rented movie, and ended with his wife Kathleen’s death. After Peterson is charged with murder, his attorney David Rudolf begins working with the investigators and experts who will be critical to Peterson’s defense.

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Secrets and Lies
270 votes

#13 - Secrets and Lies

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/7/2004

Shocking revelations about Michael Peterson’s private life pose new issues for his defense team, as it becomes clear that the prosecution will use these details to torpedo characterizations of the Peterson marriage as idyllic. Peterson discusses the culture and politics of Durham, subjects he frequently addressed when he was writing a local newspaper column.

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