Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes!

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes!

With so many FAB stories, it’s difficult to choose the top 5 Thunderbirds episodes, but here are the ones we feel deserve the top spots! Will you agree with our choices? Read on to find out!

#5 – End of the Road

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes - End of the Road
This is where the phrase “Steady Eddie” was first coined…

End of the Road is such a brilliantly odd and oddly brilliant episode. Eddie Houseman is probably one of the most likable guest characters in the whole series (unless you’re Alan, in which case you’ll hate Eddie’s guts). The story is simple but effective – stubborn construction worker risks life against advice in order to ensure the company gets its bonus. It doesn’t look like much when written down, but you’d better believe it pays off on screen!

The South East Asia mountain terrain looks stunning and even more so when it’s in the middle of a torrential downpour. The storm feels completely believable and you just can’t help shaking your head at Eddie’s foolhardiness (unless you’re Alan).

Things go from bad to worse when Eddie’s explosive tractor is trapped balancing precariously on a ledge and International Rescue race to the scene. In one of the series’ most unusual rescue sequences, Scott, Virgil and Alan manage to save Eddie without even landing at the danger zone. Though the episode is full of effects-heavy sequences, there are a lot of lovely character moments to balance them out.

#4 – Trapped in the Sky

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes - Trapped in the Sky
It’s just like Piggy In The Middle, only with a plane instead of a ball!

Ah Trapped in the Sky – the classic! The episode that frequently comes top in best episode polls until you realise that, as good as it is (and it is!), there were better episodes to come.

The episode does a great job ticking the boxes for a solid pilot story (no pun intended). We’re introduced to The Hood, Fireflash and International Rescue so fast there’s barely time to breath. It’s all rather glorious and even the slightly tedious filler material that was added to pad the original half-hour story out to an hour-long tale isn’t as bad as in other early episodes (I’m looking at you, Pit of Peril).

The Fireflash is definitely one of the most beautiful fictional aircraft ever designed and the climactic sequence on runway is one of the series’ most iconic moments, thanks in no small part to Barry Gray’s wonderful score. When it comes to introducing new fans to Thunderbirds, it’s easily the ideal starting point and an essential candidate for our list of top 5 Thundebirds episodes.

#3 – Terror in New York City

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes - Terror in New York City
Ned reckoned the new Nordic Spa wasn’t up to much…

Terror in New York City is particularly memorable for two reasons: Thunderbird 2 getting shot down and the Empire State Building being destroyed. These scenes alone would make brilliant stories in themselves, but including them in the same story is just one of many reasons that this episode feels more like a feature film than an episode of a television series.

Ned Cook is almost the antithesis of Eddie Houseman (oh Alan will be pleased). He’s underhanded, a borderline criminal in some of his reporting activities and risks the life of his innocent cameraman Joe for the sake of a good story. However, criticisms aside, it’s difficult not to feel sorry for Ned when he tumbles down into the flooding cave under the ruins of the Empire State Building.

This episode more than most really rams the ‘time’s running out’ notion down the viewer’s throat, with almost every conceivable problem rearing up to hamper the rescue efforts. No matter how often one watches this episode, it almost feels as though International Rescue won’t succeed!

#2 – The Perils of Penelope

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes - The Perils of Penelope
The pearls, er, perils of Penelope!

Love her or hate her, Lady Penelope is a huge part of Thunderbirds and rightly so. Along with her trusty butler, Parker, she became one of the series most enduring characters and it’s no surprise she appeared in more than half the episodes.

The Perils of Penelope delivers a story that balances a cracking little espionage yarn with the danger and tension of a FAB Thunderbirds romp. The episode is notable as being one of the few in which Thunderbird 1 does not appear and the only one in which Scott is not involved on a rescue mission. Neither of these points spoil the episode though (sorry Scott).

Some fantastic writing, brilliant music and a finale so tense you could floss your teeth with it make this episode memorable enough, but there’s another little gem in this episode that makes it unique among all other Thunderbirds episodes, it’s actually part one of a two-part story…sort of.

#1 – Sun Probe

Top 5 Thunderbirds Episodes - Sun Probe
Sun Probe, so named because it’s…well a bit of an ironic twist actually!

It just so happens that the ‘sort of’ second part of that story happens to be first place on our list! Yes, the Sun Probe rocket appears at the very beginning of The Perils of Penelope in a shortened version of the launch sequence from this episode.

As a story, Sun Probe shouldn’t work. It just shouldn’t. Think about it. A big rocket’s heading for the Sun. That bit’s fine I suppose, but then the method of saving the rocket is to send another rocket to essentially fire an invisible radio signal at the first one, and if that doesn’t work they have…a truck standing by with more invisible radio beams…

Thank goodness it doesn’t come across like that in the episode! Sun Probe could very well be the most tense and exciting mission International Rescue ever faced. Three solarnauts lives in the balance, followed by three International Rescue members facing a similar problem. The juxtaposition between the scorching interior of Thunderbird 3 and the freezing wastes of Mount Arken.  Everything is being pushed well beyond its design capacity. It’s all so jolly marvelous! In fact you know what, I’m going to go watch it again right now!

Those are our top 5 Thunderbirds episodes! Do you agree with our list or did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by
Andrew Clements

A writer, film maker and self confessed Gerry Anderson fanatic. Free to good home.

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