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For other uses, see Episode (disambiguation).

An episode (from Greek ἐπεισόδιον epeisodion, "parenthetic addition"[1]) is a part of a dramatic work such as a serial television or radio program. An episode is a part of a sequence of a body of work, akin to a chapter of a book. The term sometimes applies to works based on other forms of mass media as well, as in Star Wars. Episodes of news programs are also known as editions.

Episodes which end in the middle of a climactic moment are often called cliffhangers, after the name used for early movie serials. Such episodes can be nearly daily occurrences in soap operas and are frequently used in season finales of many prime time shows.

Episodes can be part of a larger story arc stretched out over a time period covering one or more seasons, or even an entire series run. This is especially prevalent in dramatic television series, including soap operas or science fiction series. Other genres to feature story arcs include comedies and animated programming.


The idea of stories being told in episodes has origins in serialized literature, and in Aristotle's Poetics as "pataka". Another early example of this is the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), which consisted of a series of serialized stories, or "serialized novels" or novellas.[2]

Shows usually have numbers or codes (aka, Production codes/numbers) for each episode. The X-Files, for example, assigned a code in the format "sXnn", with "s" identifying the season number and "nn" being a two-digit number for each episode, starting with "01".

Many talk shows do not give episodes titles. However, some talk shows have given episodes titles, such as Conan, The Jerry Springer Show and The Steve Wilkos Show.

In addition, the word episode can also refer to a portion of a tragic play; this usually being associated with those of the ancient Greeks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ἐπεισόδιον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ Waisman, Sergio (2003), The Thousand and One Nights in Argentina: Translation, Narrative, and Politics in Borges, Puig, and Piglia, Comparative Literature Studies 40 (4): 351–71, doi:10.1353/cls.2003.0038