Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Hulu
These are strange words to write: Letterkenny is ending. Though it’s only been eight years since the debut of the fan-favorite Canadian sitcom created by and starring Jared Keeso, the series feels like the kind of thing that’s been on forever, or at least the kind of thing that could be on forever. With its laid-back tales of beers, brawling, and boredom, Letterkenny quickly established itself as one of TV’s best hangout shows, as well as one of the funniest comedies of the past decade. Now, with the 12th season on Hulu, it’s all winding down (though, thankfully, spinoff series Shoresy will hang around).
The end of one of TV’s most consistent laugh riots has, of course, led many fans to look back on the show’s prolific run in a search for the best of the best, the Letterkenny bits we’d like to preserve in amber as the best the series ever did. So, let’s do that. Whether you’ve never seen the show before, or you’re a longtime fan of the Hicks, the Skids, and the Hockey Players, here are 12 essential Letterkenny episodes in honor of the 12th and final season.
Pitter patter, let’s get at ’er.
Thanks in part to its roots as a web series, the pilot episode of Letterkenny emerges more or less fully formed, a perfect distillation of the show that requires no “Wait until it gets good” posturing from fans. It’s a simple story, following Wayne’s (Keeso) efforts to get back on his feet after a breakup and return to (literal) fighting form, but all the nimble dialogue and quirky character work is already there, waiting to unspool into more episodes. Whether it was Wayne stating “Sure as God’s got sandals” or Squirrelly Dan (K. Trevor Wilson) saying “Full tilt like a Peterbilt,” there’s a line in this episode that made you fall in love right away.
After nailing things right out of the gate, Letterkenny immediately turned around and produced an instant classic with its second-ever episode, a story so endearing that it’s inspired fan imitators (including yours truly) for years now. It’s all about the gang getting together to throw Daryl (Nathan Dales) a birthday party in the “super soft” tradition, complete with a cupcake bar, feather boas, and unicorns. It’s a birthday so nice that not even Wayne’s take-all-comers fighting can mar it, and there’s no way to watch this episode without craving a supersoft party of your very own.
Though he’s in many ways the heart of the show, Wayne spends much of Letterkenny as a bit of a cipher — a man who’s only willing to show you so much of himself — which makes it all the more interesting when the show devotes a whole episode to his love life. “Relationships” follows Wayne’s sister Katy (Michelle Mylett) and his friends Dan and Daryl as they set him up with a matchmaker, and Wayne’s resulting attempts to get through a Goldilocks-style gauntlet of dates he doesn’t necessarily want. Come for the rollercoaster romances, stay for sex euphemisms like “Goin’ to the boneyard” and “Crawl up the skin slide.”
After its second season, Letterkenny began the delightful practice of sliding holiday specials in between its seasons, mostly just to give the show’s ensemble a chance to have a little fun. They’re all delightful in their own ways, but the show’s lone Halloween special is a particular gem. Basically, everyone hangs out at the local bar and tries to figure out if it’s haunted, which is fun enough, but of course Letterkenny finds lots of other places to go with the seasonal premise. One running joke features the town’s resident hottie, Bonnie McMurray (Kamilla Kowal), frequently popping up in sexy Halloween costumes that aren’t actually costumes at all, while another follows Wayne and his friends as they battle over the correct size candy bars to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Then of course, there’s Squirrelly Dan’s exhaustive cataloguing of any and all types of ghosts, and we’re not even getting into Japanese ghosts, holy jeez.
Letterkenny’s mission statement — “There are 5,000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems.” — centers it as a show about intense concern over small, sometimes trivial, but always deeply hilarious things. It’s a show that can spend a full half-hour debating a single point without ever losing a drop of its entertainment value. Case in point, this season-four classic, which finds Wayne and his fellow Hicks heading to the local golf course to defend the honor of the majestic Canada goose. It’s a great episode because it’s consistently quotable — “If you got a problem with Canada gooses, you got a problem with me, and I suggest you let that one marinate!” — but also because of the sheer earnestness of its focus. It’s not an act. These Hicks really do care that much about a goose, and they’ll smash as many beer bottles as it takes to prove it to you.
Few sitcoms have pulled off episodes with a focus on side characters quite like Letterkenny, and this early example of that gift is still among the show’s best. The plot takes the gang to the home of Wayne’s fellow farmer McMurray (Dan Petronijevic) and his gin-and-tonic-loving wife, Mrs. McMurray (Melanie Scrofano), for a “barbecue” that turns out to be more of a sales pitch for prospective swingers. The sexual exploits of the McMurrays are the stuff of legend on Letterkenny, and while they definitely get much filthier over the course of the run, this episode is a great introduction to their particular role within the town, and features great character work from both Petronijevic and Scrofano. Plus, you get to hear Wayne explain party-ditching tactics ranging from the Letterkenny Leave (when you steal a two-by-four and walk through a sliding glass door) to the Tokyo Sayonara (when you leave a party and only say good-bye to the cat).
Just as episodes including “The Letterkenny Leave” are designed to spotlight individual quirks within the town, episodes such as “Letterkenny Spelling Bee” exist to showcase the strange dynamic of the town as a collective. Just as the title suggests, it’s about a community spelling bee, specifically one that Katy is trying to win to reclaim the crown she lost the year before. That gives the episode an amusing blend of comedy and sports-drama rhythms, complete with Katy’s competition tracksuit and Squirrelly Dan’s relentless demand for silence during the spelling. (“We respect our athletes here!”) It’s silly, yes, but laced within the silliness is one of Letterkenny’s greatest strengths: Its ability to make us care deeply about these people and their hopes, dreams, and petty disagreements.
For all its focus on marathon scenes of dialogue that consist almost entirely of puns and pop-culture references, Letterkenny works as a great sitcom because it can also deliver tightly plotted character moments alongside all the gags. “Bock et Biche,” the season-five finale, is a masterclass in balancing the two elements and setting up certain pivotal moments for our heroes. The title refers to a pre-wedding party in Quebec thrown for Daryl’s crush, which the gang attends in order to defend it from “degens” looking to break up the festivities. That means plenty of French-versus-English Canadian humor, and of course lots of drinking, but it also means some major romantic moments for both Daryl and Wayne, plus some of the best brawling the show ever delivers. It’s tough to present an episode we’d describe as “pivotal” on a show like Letterkenny, but “Bock et Biche” fits the bill.
Letterkenny isn’t really a plot-heavy show, but if “In It to Win It” manages to gracefully cram an awful lot of story into its half-hour run time to great effect. On the Hicks side of things, it offers major developments in both Wayne and Daryl’s love lives. For the Skids, it shows certain … skills that Stewart (Tyler Johnston) has, well beyond spastic dancing and dark web surfing. And for the Hockey Players, it offers a shot at glory with a little help from Shoresy (also Jared Keeso), a side character with a potty mouth who’d go on to get his own (excellent) spinoff show. In many ways, it’s a perfect companion to “Bock et Biche,” resolving many of the elements set up in that particular season finale, and setting the stage for more changes to come. If that doesn’t grab you, though, it also follows Wayne and Squirrelly Dan as they try to answer every question posed by callers on the local public-access farm-advice show, while they’re completely “in it to win it,” i.e., absolutely hammered on beer after beer. We don’t get to see Wayne completely drunk on the show that often, and Keeso plays it to perfection.
Like a lot of rural North American communities, Letterkenny is home to a Mennonite family, and the show couldn’t let that knowledge go for long without using their agrarian, innocent lifestyle as a source of countless sex puns. “Holy Sheet” sees the Hicks heading over to the home of Noah Dyck (Jonathan Torrens) and his family to help out with some chores. Of course, the chores, from “hammering box” to “an afternoon hand job,” only serve to make the Hicks extremely uncomfortable and to keep us laughing until it hurts. Sure, there are some other key moments in this episode, including a glimpse into Katy’s love life, but sometimes Letterkenny is at its best when it’s unapologetically launching dirty joke after dirty joke at its audience.
Why are we featuring two consecutive episodes from season eight on a list meant to showcase Letterkenny’s entire run? Well, because season eight is just that good. It’s peak Letterkenny, and “Day Beers Day” is about the most emotionally resonant the show has ever gotten. Named for exactly what it sounds like, a day when everyone in town gets up to a little extra day drinking, “Day Beers Day” really shines when it focuses on Katy, who’s fallen for an American man who also might be a complete jerk. The whole town is suspicious of him, and when those suspicions turn out to be more than just paranoia, everyone in Letterkenny bands together to help the nicest person they know. It might take a while to understand the show’s love languages, but once you get them, they hit you right in the heart.
What sets Letterkenny apart from other sitcoms of its kind, both its forebears and its imitators, is the earnestness permeating every joke, every silly adventure, every fiber of its overall vibe. Yes, the show is often about idiots doing idiot things, lobbing puns and euphemisms at each other, and drinking themselves into oblivion, but it’s also about the tight bonds that come from small-town life, and the ways in which those bonds evolve and deepen over time. That’s what makes it the ultimate hangout show, and “Sleepover” is a showcase for exactly that kind of tone. Set over the course of one sleepy night in Letterkenny, the episode follows various groups of the town folk as they settle down for a night of board games, conversation, and potential hookups. Sure, there are plot implications by the end, but its lasting impression is in how comfortable it feels to just spend time with these people as they whisper together in the dark. It’s a reminder of how much we love them even when they’re not pounding whiskey and throwing punches, and a testament to how much we’ll miss them when they’re gone.