Only 14 episodes of this nearly-silent comedy classic were ever made. Which one is the best?
Thirty-one years have passed since Mr Bean first stumbled onto our television screens, teddy bear tucked under one arm and a wide-eyed expression plastered on his face. Rowan Atkinson’s legendary comic character featured in only 14 original episodes (the 15th is a “best of” episode so doesn’t count), but Bean lives on. Everyone knows who Bean is; today, he has 86 million Facebook followers, and he doesn’t even exist. That humble 1990s sitcom has transcended time, language and boundaries, making Mr Bean a global comedy phenomenon.
What’s behind this enduring love affair with television’s ultimate anti-hero? Yes, Bean drives a cool car, but he’s also an inept, selfish man-child who creates chaos wherever he goes. His best friend is a cuddly toy. He lies and cheats, he’s a menace on the roads, and most shockingly, he only made #12 on The Spinoff’s ranking of best beans. Bean’s so wrong he’s right, and it seems 86 million of us can’t get enough of his kooky antics.
Maybe it’s because there’s a bit of Bean inside everyone. He’s the underdog in a world designed to deceive and confuse, and he’s as clever as he is absurd. He shares the same hopes and dreams we do, even if his dreams end with his head stuck up a Christmas turkey. Bean moves in mysterious ways, communicating the complexity of human emotions without uttering a word, forever reminding us there’s humour to be found in the smallest and silliest of things.
But which of Mr Bean’s episodes ranks supreme? We’ve waited 31 years for these rankings, so like a terrified Englishman standing on the edge of a high diving board, let’s bellyflop right in.
14) Mind the Baby Mr Bean
Bean accidentally steals a baby and takes it to the fun fair. Babies are lousy dates, because they poo and cry and then you have to go home so they can sleep while you rock in the corner remembering the time you drank too many Fantas at the A&P show and threw up all over the ghost train. None of this happens to Bean, but we cannot abide him stealing a child, even if he does treat it to a lovely ride on the bumper cars. Babies can’t even drive. Sad.
13) Back to School Mr Bean
Bean visits a community education open day to ruin a science experiment, muck up a karate lesson and draw a naked woman’s boobs. Boobs will only get you so far, and that’s to #13 on this equally annoying set of rankings.
12) Goodnight Mr Bean
Sweet dreams are made of Bean, so the next time you suffer from insomnia, channel your inner Bean by putting socks on your ears to bark at the local cats. It works for Bean, and I’m tired just thinking about it.
11) Hair by Mr Bean of London
The last ever episode of Mr Bean ends with our hero trapped in a sack on a mail train bound for Moscow. As that other hapless Englishman Postman Pat once said: as one door closes, another mail sack opens. Bon voyage, you troublesome legume.
10) Mr Bean in Room 426
Excuse moi, I must declare a NUDE ALERT. It’s bottoms ahoy as our holidaying hero gets the seafood sweats and locks himself out of his hotel room, naked as the day wee Bean was born. Send that bad seafood to Moscow! Make it bark at the neighbouring cats! This is a crime against Bean that can never be avenged.
9) Tee Off Mr Bean
Bean plays crazy golf and finishes with a score of 3,427, which is the same number of Fantas I spewed up on the ghost train.
8) Mr Bean Goes to Town
Bean buys a new television and has his camera stolen, but worst of all, his girlfriend ditches him for a disco dancing spunk in a charming suit. Bean doesn’t take rejection well, probably because his girlfriend’s name is Irma Gobb, which apparently means “divine flaxen haired-goddess among clowns”. OMG, IRMAG.
7) The Trouble With Mr Bean
Featuring two classic Bean scenes – dressing while driving and a dodgy dentist appointment – this episode is a shining example of Bean’s ingenuity and bravery. He’s a hero for the ages, a role model for anyone late for work.
6) Mr Bean Rides Again
There’s a lot to unpack here, including the many tins of baked beans Bean takes on holiday. This episode is probably best remembered for the classic “pop the airplane bag full of vomit” gag, but never forget Bean saves a man’s life by restarting his heart with jumper leads. If I ever collapse at a bus stop, I want the glorious vision of Mr Bean scampering to my rescue, the smell of cold baked beans wafting over us as someone else’s chewing gum dangles from his ears. Call me Irma Gobb, my fantasy is my own.
5) The Return of Mr Bean
This 1990 episode saw Bean accidentally headbutt the Queen Mother, which history proves was officially the start of the Royal Family going to the skids and the main inspiration for the award-winning documentary series The Crown.
4) Do it Yourself Mr Bean
Can you even say you had a good New Year’s if you didn’t put a chair on your car roof and drive home, or speed decorate your home by detonating a tin of white paint? Absolute scenes.
3) Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there’s nothing more joyous than a man with his head stuck up a dead bird. Six years before Friends did it, Bean is at his finest as he prepares a memorable festive meal. Irma Gobb expects a marriage proposal, but all she gets is Turkey Head Bean, so god rest ye merry turkeymen.
2) The Curse of Mr Bean
A sweet symphony of classic Bean escapades, including the high diving board sketch, the DIY sandwich scene (lettuce in a sock, delicious), and the horror film that terrifies Bean beyond his wildest dreams. If this is adulting, I’ll take it.
1) Mr Bean
Our first, our last, our everything. The premiere episode of Mr Bean is officially the GOAT, its simple scenes singing like an old man at church. Whether he’s cheating at an exam or sneaking out of a car park without paying, Bean is at his most awkward and inventive in this episode. There is no better Bean. The nerd is king, long live the nerd.
All 14 episodes of Mr. Bean are currently available on Amazon Prime Video.