The 7 best sci-fi/fantasy TV episodes of 2023

The Last of Us, Loki, The Wheel of Time and more all turned in great hours of TV this year. What was the best sci-fi/fantasy episode of 2023?

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios' LOKI, Season 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios' LOKI, Season 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL. /
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2023 is over is just a couple short days. The year brought us lots of great TV, both from returning series and in the form of brand new shows. We've already rounded up what we think were the best fantasy and sci-fi TV series of the last 12 months. Now let's drill down and talk about what episodes in particular stood out, starting with this year's best animated bloodbath:

7. Invincible, "It's Been a While" (Amazon Prime Video)

Invincible, based on the Robert Kirkman comic book of the same name, Invincible made a huge splash when it premiered on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. The premise is deceptively simple: Mark Grayson, the son of the superhero Omni-Man, gets powers and starts out on a superheroic career of his own. Kirkman and his team slowly expand the world, adding in a huge cast of heroes, villains, and organizations, and before audiences knew it they had a whole new universe to be obsessed over. In an era where Marvel and DC movies are losing cache, Invincible managed to break through.

The first season of Invincible ended on a shocking cliffhanger that was memed into the ground on Twitter: in the season finale, Omni-Man revealed to his son his true motivation for coming to Earth: to take over the planet. Father and son fight, Mark is left brutalized and barely conscious, and dad flies off into space, unable to reconcile his love his family with his duty to his home planet of Viltrum. It was a hopelessly dramatic ending and people couldn't wait to see what happened next.

In season 2, the show took its sweet time telling them. We don't see Omni-Man again until the fourth episode, "It's Been a While," where dad and son pick up where they left off. Omni-Man has thought on what's happened and had a change of heart, but Mark isn't ready to forgive him. Their bonding is interrupted by the arrival of three of Omni-Man's fellow Viltrumites intent on punishing him for abandoning his mission. We get what this point has become one of Invincible's signatures: animated ultra-violence so nasty you can you watch it through shuttered fingers.

But the trick of Invincible is that the violence isn't there for its own sake. It raises the stakes and gets us invested in what the show really cares about: its characters; who they are and who they're becoming. So we get violent splatterfests like the Viltrumite-on-Viltrumite fight in this episode, but also contemplative moment like Omni-Man's slow drift through space as he contemplates his existence. It's all part of what makes Invincible tick. The only problem now is that fans have to wait for the resolution of yet another cliffhanger.

Invincible is just the first stop on our tour of 2023. Next up, we visit the final frontier and the world known only as Randland: