Top 10 TV Bottle Episodes

In simple terms, a bottle episode is an inexpensively produced episode of a television series that is typically confined to a single-location setting. Most of them only feature the show’s core cast of characters, and their main purpose is to save money.

The term “bottle episode” reportedly originated with Richard A. Justman, co-producer of the original Star Trek series. He referred to episodes that were contained within the ship as “ship-in-a-bottle episodes,” and the term took on a life of its own after that.

However, some scholars cite The Outer Limits producer Leslie Stevens as the coiner of the term. After making the episode “Controlled Experiment” for under $100,000 with a quick turnaround, Stevens likened it to pulling a genie out of a bottle. Regardless of which producer came up with the term, they both had the right idea.

While bottle episodes are primarily produced to keep costs low, some creators view them as an opportunity to creatively challenge themselves. Some shows even set out to make them because they simply love the novelty of the concept.

As such, bottle episodes have informed countless shows throughout the years, spanning a range of genres, while providing some memorable television in the process. With this in mind, let’s unscrew the proverbial cork and take a look at the very best ones.

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