From left: Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Mae Whitman as Amber Holt and Ray Romano as Hank Rizzoli in the "How Did We Get Here?" episode of Parenthood.
NBC—Getty Images/2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
January 29, 2015 1:18 PM EST

10. “Pilot”

Season 1, episode 1

The Bravermans are confused and likable and flawed—and the pilot does a good job of letting viewers know that from the get-go thanks to this drama-filled, sentimental episode. Quite a bit happens—it’s responsible for introducing each character, after all—but the highlight comes at the end when the entire family gathers together at the baseball field to see Max play after a particularly trying day. None of the problems presented in the hour are solved by then, but that’s not the point: No matter what issues plague the Bravermans, they’ll still be there for one another in all their messy glory. —Ariana Bacle

9. “My Brother’s Wedding”

Season 3, episode 18

The season 3 finale begins with Adam and Crosby physically fighting it out in front of their entire family and ends with Adam delivering a tearjerker of a speech at Crosby and Jasmine’s wedding. The tussle is a reminder that even the Bravermans, a family every viewer probably wants to be a part of, isn’t perfect all the time—and the brothers’ reconciliation is a reminder that everything works out eventually. Meanwhile, Julia and Joel are dealing with Zoe’s decision to keep the baby. It’s a happy ending for them, too, though, when the season ends with a social worker dropping off Victor, who later becomes an official member of the Braverman-Graham family. —Ariana Bacle

8. “Limbo”

Season 5, episode 17

There’s nothing quite like the combination of marijuana and marital issues to create an unforgettable hour of drama. Bringing in the comedy for the episode, Drew and Amber turn to drugs to help them deal with their relationship woes, before Joel and Julia are forced to face their own struggles when it’s time for Aida’s baptism. Just as Joel is ready to bow out as both Aida’s godfather and a part of the Braverman clan, Zeek shows up to reassure Joel that he took him on as a son when he married Julia, and that hasn’t changed. And if the waterworks haven’t already started, Joel showing up at the baptism will do the trick. —Samantha Highfill

7. “One More Weekend With You”

Season 4, episode 8

During Max’s first sleepover, the effects of Kristina’s chemo finally start to set in. As a result, Monica Potter shines in one of her character’s roughest hours, eventually ending things on a comedic note when Kristina finds her release in some medicinal marijuana. Elsewhere, Amber realizes the trauma Ryan’s been dealing with when they attend the funeral of one of his friends who recently killed himself. It’s a dramatic hour that ends on a happy note when Amber and Ryan take a brief detour on their drive home to find some sanctuary in the ocean…and the arms of each other. —Samantha Highfill

6. “I’m Still Here”

Season 5, episode 21

Ray Romano joined the cast as Hank, Max’s mentor and Sarah’s sometimes boyfriend, in season four, and proves himself an awkward, lovable asset to the Braverman clan (and the show) when he drives Amber the eight hours to San Diego so she can be at Ryan’s side in the hospital. Affection doesn’t come naturally to Hank, so seeing him go full-on caretaker is surprising and sweet. What’s less sweet is the death of Kristina’s cancer-stricken friend, Gwen. Kristina struggles with grief, but later finds some solace when she opens a gift from the late Gwen that ends up comforting—and inspiring—her. —Ariana Bacle

5. “The Offer”

Season 5, episode 18

”I think I am a freak, ” Max tells his parents after a classmate pees in his canteen. This episode has a handful of important, emotional moments—Zeek and Camille’s honest conversation about selling the house, for one—but it’s Max’s heartbreaking realization that he’s not like the other kids that stands out the most. He sits alone in the backseat, asking why he’s different, until Kristina crawls from the front to hug him despite his protests. The scene isn’t uplifting by any means, and that’s what makes it so poignant: Kristina and Adam’s veneers finally crack, revealing how powerless they feel—and how deeply they care about their son’s happiness. —Ariana Bacle

4. “Road Trip”

Season 3, episode 12

In a very rare scenario, the entire Braverman clan spends the hour together on a road trip to visit Zeek’s mother for her birthday. Well, all but Kristina and Max who only join the fun after Max learns a very important lesson about what names you can’t call your mother. On the road, shenanigans ensue, but as per usual, they end on a meaningful and heartfelt note when the all-powerful Zeek is realized to be nothing more than a young boy trying to impress his mother. And the moment when his mother finally tells him she loves him is nothing if not sob-worthy. —Samantha Highfill

3. “How Did We Get Here?”

Season 6, episode 10

Parenthood isn’t big on withholding information, but when it does, it’s for good reason: This episode begins with Zeek being wheeled away in an ambulance, followed by short, silent scenes of his children responding to phone calls and heading to the hospital. We don’t know how bad it is, and they don’t know either, making this opening one of the series’ most powerful. They spend the rest of the episode waiting to see how Zeek is while the bad (a Luncheonette crisis) and the good (Hank proposes to Sarah) continue happening around them—just like life. —Ariana Bacle

2. “Hard Times Come Again No More”

Season 2, episode 22

The aftermath of Amber’s car accident begins on a powerful note—the family gathering at the hospital—and eventually climaxes in what might be the greatest Parenthoodspeech of all time when Zeek tells Amber, ”You do not have permission to mess up my dreams.” But that’s not all this hour has to offer. Alex confesses his love for Haddie to Adam, Julia decides she wants another baby, Kristina announces that she’s pregnant, and Sarah’s play forces Amber to realize what she nearly lost in her accident. —Samantha Highfill

1. “There’s Something I Need to Tell You”

Season 4, episode 5

In an hour that represents the very best that Parenthood has to offer, Julia’s struggle with balancing work and motherhood results in her quitting her job, Hank kisses Sarah for the first time, Ryan is introduced to Amber, and Haddie calls home to get the real story about Kristina’s cancer from her father. To top things off, the final two scenes uplift—Victor gets a hit at his baseball game!—and then devastate when Haddie’s unexpected return home results in Kristina having to tell the family about her diagnosis. But in true Parenthood fashion, viewers don’t even hear Kristina say the words, but rather it’s the reaction of her loved ones that leaves the biggest impact. —Samantha Highfill

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