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Pop CultureMay 31, 2017

The top 10 most popular Shortland Street episodes of all time

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Shortland’s Street big blowout 25th anniversary might be over, but we’re still in the mood to celebrate. From births to deaths, with hostages, heists and cliffhangers aplenty in between, Tara Ward counts down the most-watched Shorty episodes EVER.

There’s one more Shortland Street birthday tribute to make before we blow out the candles and take down our celebratory Stuart Neilson bunting for good. So many episodes, so many glorious memories. In fact, we’ve watched 6200 bloody episodes of Shortland Street, and you don’t need to put your fancy maths hat on to realise that equates to a shitload of television.

But which Shortland Street episode was the most popular? Was it the one where Ellen dressed up like Sandy from Grease? Or the one when Nick photocopied his bare arse in the nurse’s station? It’s a question that keeps me awake at night, in between staring at my bedside photo of Chris Warner and hoping Lionel got the vomit off his shoes okay.

My pretties, we can once again sleep like babes, because here are the ten highest-rating Shortland Street episodes. Devour them like one of Murray’s spicy meatballs, but be careful – they involve suspect paperwork, perilous pieces of wood and, most terrifying of all, a tragic suitcase accident.

10) Sarah Potts’ funeral (25 August 2014)

It’s the circle of life, the wheel of fortune, the never ending ferris wheel of Shortland Street hope and despair. While the nation sobbed and heaved like a tidal waterfall of snotty emotion at the loss of the legendary Dr Potts, Evan helped deliver a baby. Hakuna matata, everyone.

9) Minnie reads a confidential report (25 April 2000)

Nothing to see here, other than Nick in a suit and an empty grave where Andy’s body used to be. Who’s Andy? No idea. Minnie didn’t know either, as she was too busy attending fancy management breakfasts and telling the nurses who earns the most money. For shame, Minnie. Waverley would have never have pulled that crap.

8) Caroline is MacGyver (24 July 1996)  

There was drama aplenty when the hospital staff were taken captive and threatened with poisonous gas. Nothing arouses passion like a good hostage situation, and once the Armed Offenders Squad turned off the gas tap David and Ellen were at it like woozy rabbits.

But the real action was in the dangerous underworld of Taupo, when Dr Gary’s right hand was badly hurt by Caroline in “an unfortunate suitcase incident”. This forced Caroline to perform emergency surgery using only ‘a soft drink bottle, a radiator hose and a pocketknife’. Seems fine.


7) Tiffany dies (20 July 1998)  

Ferndale was awash with salty tears when new mother Tiffany died after falling off a building, while a new fangled invention called ‘the internet’ caused trouble for Waverley and Luke. I’m not over this episode tbh, and haven’t trusted a computer ever since.

6) Josh’s drug bust goes wrong (15 July 2013)

Josh’s drug heist went up in flames, along with most of the hospital. Bella was taken hostage, Vinnie and Kylie were trapped in the lift, the AOS stormed the building and David and Ellen were probably still at it in the supply cupboard. Better work stories, everyone.

5) Everybody tells the truth (19 May 1999)

There were so may confessions in this episode you could tie them together and make a truth helmet to ride off into the sunset with, perferably on the back of Greg Feeney’s motorbike.

Frank confessed he slept with MacKenzie, Jordan confessed he slept with Ewen, and Caroline confessed that Mackenzie was embezzling money. I’d like to confess Greg Feeney wasn’t acknowledged enough during The Spinoff’s Shortland Street’s 25th anniversary coverage for the saucy beast that he was, which is a crime worse than bad wallpaper and high hair.

I mean check out Lionel’s son Luke – that pre-millennium hairdo is eight different kinds of magnificent.

4) Carla takes on ACC (31 May 1995)

Forget killing Bernie with a candlestick, Carla’s greatest crime was her disrespect of all things admin. It’s well known that the mid 90s was a giddy era of peak administration, so it’s no surprise that Carla’s tomfoolery with some dodgy ACC forms and Ellen sticking her foot through Grace’s deck pushed this episode into the top four.

I’m proud of you, New Zealand, for not looking away from such reckless contempt of governmental procedure, but FFS Ellen, pull your leg out of the floor and sort this shit out.

3) Murray leaves Wendy and will never eat chickpea casserole again (18 June 2012)

The high ranking of this uneventful episode can only be explained by some national crisis i.e. we were trapped in our homes with every television stuck on TV2. It sounds terrifying, but unless you were the third party in Murray and Wendy’s marriage breakdown then you’ve no reason to be concerned.

2) TK and Roimata’s non-wedding and Princess Tilly is born (18 July 2011)

There’s never an ideal time to give birth, so having a baby while the father of your child marries another woman seems like a good a time as any. Roimata’s hair feathers were 100% wasted on TK, who ditched his bride to save lives and meet the baby Sarah had just pushed out in a paddock. Priorities, TK, priorities.

1) Keiran dies (2 August 2010)

The best bit about this episode: “a desperate Gerald rushes forward, brandishing a branch.”

While Gerald tried to save the world with some high risk stick content, Chris discovered he had a teenage son, Phoenix, and struggled to accept his super sperm had produced another portion in the ever increasing fruit bowl of his loins.

But the most dramatic event was Kieran’s cliffhanger confession that he’d killed Morgan. Moments later, Kieran plummeted to his death, and branches around the world rejoiced. “Victory is ours!” they cried. Chuck in a character named White Dragon, and it’s little wonder this is the most epic episode of Shortland Street yet.

Read all our Shortland Street 25th anniversary coverage here.


Keep going!