Sanford and Son: The Best Episodes, Ranked

Here are the best episodes for this classic 1970s’ TV show, Sanford and Son.

Sanford and Son is a widely popular show that first aired on NBC in 1972. The show follows a junk dealer named Fred Sanford, that is in business with his son Lamont Sanford. As both family and business partners, they have to work together despite Fred being sarcastic and trying to get out of work. This setup leads to many hilarious moments in the show. The show also does not pull any punches with its jokes. In newspaper interviews, star Redd Foxx attributed the show’s popularity to the fact that it opened up people’s minds about their prejudices. While it is not easy to choose, let’s take a look at the best episodes of Sanford and Son.

10.S03 E21: Tyranny, Thy Name Is Grady

Tyranny, Thy Name Is Grady
Sony Pictures

This episode is one of the best episodes because it allows Grady to get his chance to be in charge. Fred has left to go to St. Louis, which makes Grady the de-facto leader of the household. Grady takes to his role all too well, enforcing strict policies like keeping Aunt Esther out of the house. He also takes active measures to stop Lamont from bringing any girls home. Grady promised to honor the requests Fred left him with to the very letter, which at first, Lamont was happy about. However, Lamont becomes enraged after being prevented from hanging out with girls. Grady even goes to enlist Aunt Esther to help spoil Lamont’s plans. The episode is full of hilarious moments you rarely see on the show. With Fred gone, Grady gets a chance to carry the show’s humor and does a great job at it.

9.S04 E13: A Little Extra Security

A Little Extra Security
Sony Pictures

In this episode, Grady gets a little extra monetary help through an extra social security check. However, this help proves too good to be true when it turns out this extra cash is due to a computer error that mistakenly sent him this extra check. Grady decides to put those thoughts aside and celebrate this extra cash anyway. However, a gentleman from the social security office named Mr. Hastings happens to be on his way to the house. Grady quickly has to think of a plan to protect himself from this government agency; however, not everyone in the house is on his side. It turns out Lamont may be out for revenge against Grady, with dangerous results. Grady had decided to keep the check even though he knew it was wrong and insisted on gambling the extra check away in Las Vegas in one go. In the 1970s, Las Vegas came to get the reputation that it’s been known for decades. It became a popular tourist trap with casinos, cheap restaurants, and showrooms galore.

8.S02 E22: Pot Luck

Pot Luck
Sony Pictures

This episode is a classic Lamont episode. Lamont takes advantage of an ignorant customer to buy a Welsh antique from him to make money. In his greed, he buys it for $20, hoping to sell it for an outrageous profit. Thanks to Lamont only seeing dollar signs in his trade, he doesn’t see that he is actually being played for a sucker by two clever con artists. These con artists, Mr. Osborne, and Emile Bonnet, have successfully sold him cleverly made imitation antiques. When Lamont goes to sell the antique, he finds out the actual value of the antique when it is returned to him later. Lamont getting conned causes him and Fred to get into a heated argument. This causes Fred to chastise Lamont, saying, “You been had, bad!”.

7.S03 E11: A House Is Not a Pool Room

A House Is Not A Pool Room
Sony Pictures

This episode is aptly named and very literal. Lamont decides to buy a birthday present for Fred. The present he decides to get him is a pool table, which Fred enjoys. However, when Fred invites his friends over to play pool, he can never get them to leave. Lamont instantly regrets buying a pool table for Fred and tries to convince him that a house is not, in fact, a place to play pool. The pool table is also a convenient excuse for Fred to avoid work and his girlfriend, Donna. Lamont has to devise a cunning plan to convince Fred to get rid of the table and make sure Fred thinks it is his idea. The episode does an excellent job of showing off the billiards scene accurately. It has many hilarious moments resulting from Fred’s quick wit and selfishness.

6.S03 E03: Superflyer

Sony Pictures

In the episode “Superflyer”, Fred gets an unexpected bequest from his Uncle Leotis. Leotis has died and has left Fred $1500 in St. Louis. The only catch is that Fred must go to get the money in person. This problem is challenging for Fred because he is deathly afraid of flying. He is eventually able to overcome his fear and make the journey to St. Louis. However, it is revealed that it was not a bequest but the money for uncle Leoti’s funeral expenses. Lamont had tried to help Fred overcome his fear of flying by going with him, and it turns out it was all for naught. They also had trouble at the airport, leading Fred to still have a negative opinion of airplanes and flying.

Fred Sanford, Legal Eagle
Fred Sanford, Legal Eagle

This time, we have another Lamont episode making the list. Lamont gets a traffic ticket and is down over having to pay it. However, Fred summons his legal expertise to convince Lamont to fight the ticket. Fred’s legal expertise comes from a tailor moonlighting as a lawyer he wants to hire to defend Lamont. Lamont decides to take his chances as his own defense, which is the perfect setup for hilarious moments. However, Fred is not content to let Lamont defend himself and stumbles into the courtroom to create more drama. Somehow, Lamont is awarded the judgment, but Fred and his buddies get hit with a contempt of court charge. After all is said and done, Fred has to pay a $25 fine. No good deed goes unpunished for Fred.

4.S02 E24: Rated X

Sony Pictures

In “Rated X”, a movie casting call misunderstanding lands Lamont and Rollo in a compromising situation. An independent film company puts out a casting call for black actors. Lamont and Rollo hope to capitalize on the opportunity to become respected black actors. However, it turns out it is for a blue film. At first, they just think the film is experimental, but it is soon revealed to be a pornographic movie after they meet the director and see the script. The situation also lands Fred in trouble, and the place is raided by the police. The boys are forced to seek the help of Aunt Esther to bail them out. However, Aunt Esther is content to see them stay where they are and will release them after reading some Bible verses.

3.S03 E18: The Party Crasher


Lamont and Rollo meet some woman who they invite to a party in this episode. These women are Detroiters and are described as “live wires” by the boys. Lamont tries everything in his power to exclude Fred from participating, but in a turn of events, the girls are actually won over by Fred. Lamont and Rollo try to use fancy gifts to impress the girls, but they are more taken by Fred’s onion stew. The boys are defeated and decide to go on a midnight cruise up Catalina, which they initially were trying to bribe Fred with, so they would have the Sanfrod’s residence all to themselves.

2.S03 E17: Fred’s Cheating Heart

sanford and son season 2
Sony Pictures

In this episode, we see a rare moment when the Sanfords aren’t trying to outmaneuver one another for greed. The family is actually trying to help Fred’s health. When Lamont hears about the dangers of heart disease from a Heart Fund representative, he starts to use his scheming for a good cause. Lamont tries to get the heart attack-prone Fred to go to the hospital for a cardio examination. The next time Fred has a heart attack, Lamont manages to get him to a hospital for a check-up. The episode can get a bit heartfelt, no pun intended, but it still has its funny moments.

1.S04 E7: Home Sweet Home

Sanford and Son-1
Sony Pictures

Topping off the list is the episode “Home Sweet Home”. In this episode, a Japanese company intends to buy and tear down every residence on the Sanford’s block so they can build a brewery. The offer from the company is so good that Fred is the only holdout on the block. The media descends on the situation and declares Fred, a hero for resisting the buyout. However, Fred’s true intentions are to haggle even more money out of the Japanese company. As it often does, Fred’s greed gets him in hot water when the Japanese company actually agrees to his demands. Lamont becomes distressed when his plan to sail around the world with the money falls through.

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