Northern Exposure

10 Best Episodes of Northern Exposure

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.

Written by Sophie and last updated on oct 24, 2022.

PS: The following content contains spoilers!

PPS: I will admit that parts of this page was written with the help of AI - it makes my work so much easier to not start from a blank page!

Northern Exposure - S5E18

#15 - Fish Story (Season 5 - Episode 18)

While fishing Joel hooks "Goony," Cicely's fabled sea-monster. Ruth-Anne takes Chris's motorcycle ride when customer demands get to be too much for her, then she joins a middle-aged motorcycle gang for a midnight ride. Holling gives up on his paint-by-numbers after Maurice ridicules his work. Joel meets his Rabbi in the middle of the lake after "Goony" takes him for a ride. The town, especially Maurice, demand action when it appears Ruth-Anne may not be coming back.

The episode was rated 7.98 from 40 votes.

Northern Exposure - S4E19

#14 - Family Feud (Season 4 - Episode 19)


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."

The episode was rated 8.00 from 50 votes.

Northern Exposure - S3E23

#13 - Cicely (Season 3 - Episode 23)

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.

The episode was rated 8.01 from 68 votes.

Northern Exposure - S5E3

#12 - Jaws of Life (Season 5 - Episode 3)


Maurice is chosen to be a wax figure at Madame Tussaud's, in London, for their rugged individualist's exhibit. Chris is faced with having to live longer than he planned on, a consequence he has trouble dealing with. The dentist comes to town, which puts everyone on edge.

The episode was rated 8.03 from 35 votes.

Northern Exposure - S3E22

#11 - Our Wedding (Season 3 - Episode 22)

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.

The episode was rated 8.03 from 69 votes.

Northern Exposure - S6E7

#10 - Full Upright Position (Season 6 - Episode 7)


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.

The episode was rated 8.04 from 28 votes.

Northern Exposure - S4E24

#9 - Sleeping With the Enemy (Season 4 - Episode 24)

Maurice's son comes to ask for his permission on his choice of a bride. There is a little hitch, Ron thinks that the new bride maybe the daughter of North Korean Colonel Pak Soon Ye, the butcher of Yang Dok. To help in the preservation of his native tongue, Ed decides to dub The Prisoner of Zenda. Holling's "needs" (an average of 4 times a day) are being held back and he seeks a way to relieve them. Ed runs into trouble with the star of his movie, a man with experience working in Hollywood and no time for Ed's inexperience. Maurice runs into mixed emotions on his feelings about his own personal feelings and the feelings of his son.

The episode was rated 8.08 from 40 votes.

Northern Exposure - S2E5

#8 - Spring Break (Season 2 - Episode 5)


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.

The episode was rated 8.08 from 103 votes.

Northern Exposure - S4E18

#7 - Northern Lights (Season 4 - Episode 18)

Joel goes on strike when the state of Alaska will not allow him time off for a Caribbean vacation he was planning. Chris has trouble seeking inspiration for his new sculpture. A vagrant's presence on Main St. outrages Maurice, when he learns the man is an ex-marine he tries to become his benefactor. Maggie debates about having sex with Mike. Holling spends his time in hibernation. The town of Cicely strikes back against Joel.

The episode was rated 8.10 from 51 votes.

Northern Exposure - S4E23

#6 - Mud and Blood (Season 4 - Episode 23)


Spring comes to Cicely and Holling pays to get a job on a farm pulling a plow, because of his wish to sow seeds. Maggie saves Dave's life, a tape from Mike and other events get the people of Cicely thinking that she has healing powers. Maurice buys a pig for routing out truffles for the annual Mosquito Festival, but the pig may become the main course at a luau. Holling throws his back out and Shelly finds out that she is pregnant.

The episode was rated 8.14 from 43 votes.

Northern Exposure - S5E13

#5 - Mite Makes Right (Season 5 - Episode 13)

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.

The episode was rated 8.15 from 41 votes.

Northern Exposure - S3E14

#4 - Burning Down the House (Season 3 - Episode 14)


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.

The episode was rated 8.21 from 72 votes.

Northern Exposure - S5E6

#3 - Birds of a Feather (Season 5 - Episode 6)

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.

The episode was rated 8.23 from 44 votes.

Northern Exposure - S6E8

#2 - Up River (Season 6 - Episode 8)


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.

The episode was rated 8.40 from 35 votes.

Northern Exposure - S5E12

#1 - Mr. Sandman (Season 5 - Episode 12)

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.

The episode was rated 8.41 from 41 votes.

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