Catching up with Lizzie on her 15th anniversary
Fifteen years ago Tuesday, Lizzie McGuire aired for the first time on the Disney Channel. Do you feel old yet? In honor of Lizzie’s 15th, we ranked all 65 Hilary Duff-starring episodes from worst to best. Which one claims the top spot? We’ll figure it out on the way.
65. “Magic Train” (Season 2, Episode 34)
Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo’s guilty pleasure — a kid’s TV show called Clover and Daisy’s Magic Train — is coming to town for a live performance, and they all want to go. They attend secretly, but are seen by Kate who’s there babysitting and they are teased to no end. We always forget this episode exists.
64. “The Longest Yard” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Lizzie babysits Matt and they accidentally ruin their father’s prized autographed football. Surprise! They come up with a solution.
63. “Gordo and the Magic Dwarves” (Season 1, Episode 27)
Lizzie’s grandmother gives her a fantasy board game (think Dungeons & Dragons) and Gordo becomes obsessed with it, so much so that his grades start to drop and Lizzie, Miranda, and Matt have to intervene.
62. “My Dinner With Mr. Dig” (Season 2, Episode 31)
Lizzie’s dad becomes best friends with the school’s favorite substitute teacher, Mr. Dig.
61. “Xtreme Xmas” (Season 2, Episode 33)
Steven Tyler guest stars in this episode as Santa Claus at a Christmas charity drive where Lizzie and Gordo are donating Matt’s toys. At the drive they meet Nobby Frostybump (Shelley Berman), a senior citizen who plays one of Santa Steven Tyler’s elves. Lizzie wants to create a float for the upcoming Christmas parade but faces some stiff competition from Kate and Larry. But her float-building is taken off-course when the McGuires and Gordo spend their time fixing a plumbing problem that’s set to ruin Christmas at Nobby’s retirement home. Steven Tyler saves the day and sings “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on Lizzie’s float. Casual. Totally believable.
60. “Sibling Bonds” (Season 1, Episode 17)
Matt accidentally handcuffs himself to Lizzie and they have to spend the entire day together at her class charity drive.
59. “Obsession” (Season 1, Episode 16)
After volunteering for a school project, Lizzie becomes obsessed with making the world a better place (and the episode makes it seem like this is a horrible thing). Meanwhile, Gordo is obsessed with winning the Science Olympics and Matt is obsessed with being the hall monitor at school.
58. “Facts of Life” (Season 1, Episode 25)
Mr. Dig coaches Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo to win the school’s “Fact-athlon” contest. Matt and Lanny start their own rock band.
57. “The Gordo Shuffle” (Season 2, Episode 30)
We all learn a lesson about how credit cards work when Gordo receives on in the mail with a $5,000 line of credit, and doesn’t manage it well. (This episode is why we were scared to get a credit card for YEARS).
56. “One of the Guys” (Season 2, Episode 32)
Apparently Lizzie is jacked, because in this episode she sets a new school record in P.E. and then beats Ethan Craft in arm wrestling. Everyone is impressed and she’s invited to play touch football with all of the cute guys in school. Lizzie eagerly accepts but then starts to feel insecure when Ethan keeps calling her a “dude,” thinking she’s not feminine enough anymore. Coach Kelly (Dot-Marie Jones of Glee fame) reassures Lizzie, saying that she can be feminine AND athletic.
55. “My Fair Larry” (Season 2, Episode 29)
Miranda is having a party, but won’t invite Larry Tudgeman. Lizzie feels really bad about it and decides to give Larry a makeover to sneak him in under Miranda’s nose.
54. “Gordo’s Bar Mitzvah” (Season 1, Episode 31)
Gordo has his Bar Mitzvah! But it’s more focused on the “becoming a man” part and less focused on the fun party part.
53. “In Miranda Lizzie Does Not Trust” (Season 2, Episode 10)
When Miranda gets caught shoplifting Lizzie has a hard time standing up for her. This really messes up P.E., where they’re dance partners.
52. “A Gordo Story” (Season 2, Episode 25)
Gordo asks a girl to the dance, but she turns him down because of his height.
51. “The Courtship of Miranda Sanchez” (Season 1, Episode 29)
Lizzie tries to talk to Miranda’s crush because she’s too nervous, but he ends up thinking Lizzie has a crush on him. Gordo escapes the girl drama by hanging out with Matt.
50. “The Untitled Stan Jansen Project” (Season 1, Episode 22)
Stan Jansen, a documentary filmmaker, decides that Hillridge Junior High will make a super entertaining documentary and picks Gordo as his subject. He encourages Gordo to be rude to other students in front of the camera, and even coaxes Lizzie and Miranda to turn on each other. This is Making a Murderer level coercion, guys.
49. “Over The Hill” (Season 2, Episode 11)
Lizzie has a full-on life crisis at 14 when she realizes that all of her friends have special talents and she… well… doesn’t.
48. “Grand Ole Grandma” (Season 2, Episode 28)
Doris Roberts guest stars as Gordo’s cool grandmother who’s living life to the fullest, which concerns Gordo. Meanwhile, Lizzie’s parents are sick and Lizzie and Matt have free reign of the house.
47. “Grubby Longjohn’s Olde Tyme Revue” (Season 2, Episode 26)
“How y’all doing, y’all?!” Not great if you’re Lizzie and everyone in the your family — except you — is excited to take your traditional trip to the Wild West theme park Grubby Gulch.
46. “Bunkies” (Season 2, Episode 24)
A water pipe bursts in Matt’s room causing Matt and Lizzie to share a room for a week.
NEXT: The episodes ranked No. 45 to No. 25: Model moments, Ethan Craft, and more.
45. “Last Year’s Model” (Season 1, Episode 23)
Lizzie is hand-picked to model in a fashion show at the mall presented by Teen Attitude magazine and everyone starts treating her differently because of it. Girl, just wait until you’re suddenly an international pop star.
44. “Gordo’s Video” (Season 1, Episode 30)
Budding filmmaker Gordo installs cameras all over the school and everyone gets mad (especially Miranda) when his final product shows his classmates in embarrassing situations and reveals personal secrets — especially when he decides to enter it into the a film competition.
43. “Educating Ethan” (Season 1, Episode 20)
Gordo starts tutoring Ethan in math, but Lizzie ends up being a much better tutor (because she uses cheerleaders to illustrate fractions, duh).
42. “And The Winner Is” (Season 2, Episode 6)
Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo get into a huge fight just in time for a treasure hunt school project. Because they refuse to be teamed up together, Kate and Gordo, Miranda and Larry, and Lizzie and Ethan end up in pairs. Along the way Matt joins the older kids and ends up beating all of them to the treasure, and the three friends figure out that their friendship was more important than a silly fight. Plus, Ethan’s iconic “I don’t repeat” moment is in this episode.
41. “Jack of All Trades” (Season 1, Episode 6)
Gordo’s convinced that their science teacher, Mr. Pettus, has a personal vendetta against him because he has stopped getting As on his projects. To prove it, Gordo switches science projects with Lizzie. A model of a brain explodes. Lizzie says, “Come on you guys, my bangs are growing out faster than you’re moving!”
40. “Mom’s Best Friend” (Season 2, Episode 3)
After reading a book in school where the main character is BFFs with her mom, Lizzie and her mom set out to be best friends. But Lizzie realizes that maybe she can’t handle being BFFs with Jo just yet (Don’t worry, it can happen when you’re older).
39. “The Greatest Crush of All” (Season 2, Episode 27)
Every girl in Lizzie’s class, including Lizzie and Miranda, have a crush on their new English teacher, the very Scottish Mr. Keith. All of the girls compete to be the biggest teacher’s pet and win over Mr. Keith, even if it involves loving haggis.
38. “Lizzie in the Middle” (Season 2, Episode 15)
Frankie Muniz (as himself) is in town to film a movie and becomes friends with Lizzie. Lizzie and her pals then get famous by association, and Matt signs up to be his sister’s secretary to use her newfound fame to his advantage. FUN FACT: This episode aired a year before Hilary Duff and Frankie Muniz starred together in Agent Cody Banks.
37. “I Do, I Don’t” (Season 1, Episode 10)
In a classic social studies class project (that we never had to live through, thank God), all of the kids in Lizzie’s class are paired off to pretend they’re married. Miranda gets to be Mrs. Ethan Craft and Lizzie, who is paired with little ol’ Gordo, gets super jealous.
36. “Party Over Here” (Season 2, Episode 18)
Kate invites the entire class, including Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo, to her birthday party. But the kids’ parents won’t allow them to go because the only “adult” supervision will be Kate’s cousin Amy. The gang sneaks out to go to the party. When things at the party get out of hand, Lizzie does the right thing and calls her mom for help. FUN FACT: Amy is played by Hilary Duff’s sister, Haylie.
35. “El Oro De Montezuma” (Season 2, Episode 2)
Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo get SUPER into a Mexican game show called El Oro de Montezuma and Miranda’s cousin Carlos recruits them to be on his team. It’s all fun and games while Carlos is there to translate for the pals, who don’t speak Spanish, but when he’s cut from the team during the game all hell breaks loose. Tapioca pudding makes a major appearance.
34. “She Said, He Said, She Said” (Season 2, Episode 19)
After a HUGE food fight in the cafeteria, Lizzie, Kate, and Larry are forced to stay after school and clean it up until one person confesses to starting it. After they all tell their side of the story, they clean up the cafeteria on their own and write Principal Tweedy a Breakfast Club-style letter (as The Lunch Bunch, of course) explaining that they’re all responsible for the food fight.
33. “Just Like Lizzie” (Season 2, Episode 14)
Now that she’s an older, wiser, eighth-grader, Lizzie starts mentoring a seventh grader named Andie. Andie becomes every tween girl from 2001-2003 and starts dressing, talking, and acting exactly like Lizzie — but to like, a creepy degree.
32. “Come Fly with Me” (Season 1, Episode 13)
Gordo’s lastest obsession is going full 1960s Rat Pack. But like a true hipster, he gets super bummed about it when Ethan Craft makes it cool and it becomes a school-wide phenomenon.
31. “Lizzie and Kate’s Excellent Adventure” (Season 1, Episode 28)
Lizzie and Kate are paired together for a school project, and end up actually getting along.
30. “Movin’ On Up” (Season 2, Episode 17)
Gordo is given the opportunity to skip a grade and head to high school, and he takes it. Lizzie and Miranda are super happy for him, but once he’s gone they totally miss him and Gordo finds out that he might not actually be ready for high school. Meanwhile, Matt and Lanny want to try out for the cheerleading squad, but Lizzie’s dad doesn’t think it’s “manly” — in the end he thankfully changes his mind and encourages Matt to try out for the squad.
29. “Bad Girl McGuire” (Season 1, Episode 11)
Lizzie gets in with the wrong crowd and becomes friends with a “bad girl” at school — meaning she puts weird dark highlights in her unfortunate hairdos, wears a bunch of makeup, gets a fake nose piercing, and develops a bad attitude.
28. “Lizzie Strikes Out” (Season 1, Episode 21)
A miracle happens and Ethan Craft invites Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda to go bowling. But there’s two problems: Lizzie’s dad wants to spend quality time together on the same night, and Gordo is TERRIFIED of bowling. The solution to the first problem ends up being the sweetest father-daughter moment on the show.
27. “Working Girl” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Lizzie gets her first job working as a busboy at the Digital Bean, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Matt develops a hilarious crush on Miranda.
26. “Lizzie’s Nightmares” (Season 1, Episode 15)
Ethan invites Lizzie to sit with him at lunch at school that day and Lizzie is freaking out. Matt puts a wrench in her morning by putting honey on her phone (what a great prank). Lizzie’s mom takes pity on her and drives her to school, forcing Matt to take the bus. BAD MOVE, MOM. Matt gets on the wrong bus and ends up spending the day being the coolest kid at Lizzie’s school, right by Ethan’s side, A.K.A. Lizzie’s Nightmare.
NEXT: The top 25! The horrors of picture day, Gordo, and more.
25. “Rated Aargh!” (Season 1, Episode 18)
The coolest movie on the block is Vesuvius: The Eruption and Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo have to see it. The only problem? It’s rated R. After their parents refuse to let them see the flick, the gang sneaks in anyway. But while they’re waiting in the lobby to go in, Lizzie saves a choking man from dying (yay, CPR!). They miss the movie and totally get caught by their parents when Lizzie’s heroics are documented on the news. Also features: A super cool velcro-wall that Lizzie’s mom builds for Matt’s school fair.
24. “Best Dressed For Much Less” (Season 2, Episode 12)
Lizzie makes it her mission to be voted Best Dressed in the school yearbook and has her sights set on some expensive jeans at the mall. Unfortunately her mom insists that they find a pair of bargain basement jeans that will look just as good. FYI, both pairs of jeans are bedazzled.
23. “Random Acts of Miranda” (Season 1, Episode 14)
Budding journalist Lizzie gives Miranda a horrible review when she is simply awful as the lead in the school play (Greasier, natch). Meanwhile Matt and and his friend Lanny sell ALL of Matt’s personal belongings to get money for walkie-talkies.
22. “Gordo and the Girl” (Season 1, Episode 19)
Gordo gets his first girlfriend (Kyla Pratt!) and everyone FREAKS OUT because relationships ruin friendships in junior high.
21. “The Rise and Fall of the Kate Empire” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Kate dislocates her shoulder and loses her position as cheerleading captain, and thus, her popularity. Lizzie takes pity on her and helps her get her spot back on the squad (thanks to Hilary Duff’s IRL gymnastics skills).
20. “Scarlett Larry” (Season 1, Episode 26)
Surprise! Larry Tudgeman has a crush on Lizzie and asks her out. Lizzie’s too nice to say no and they end up going on a pretty great date. But most importantly we find out that Larry has a weekend shirt!!!!!
19. “Those Freaky McGuires” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Lizzie and Matt switch bodies for a day, Freaky Friday-style and end up solving each other’s problems at school. The next day they return to normal — or was it all just a dream?!
18. “Misadventures in Babysitting” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Lizzie tries to prove to her parents that she is responsible enough to babysit her younger brother, Matt. MAJOR hijinks involving a lawn gnome, kiddie pool, popsicles, and a toy train set ensue.
17. “Election” (Season 1, Episode 9)
It’s class president election time and Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda are not happy that the only candidates they have to choose between are über-nerd Larry Tudgeman and cheerleader Claire Miller. So Lizzie decides to run to represent “The Normals.” Lizzie gets off to a great start, gaining major approval from her classmates, but it all goes south when she hangs out with the “second tier popular” Drama Club (okay, in what world is the Drama Club second tier popular?!) and lets it go to her head. She turns into a coffee-drinking, sunglasses and beret-wearing monster, and loses the election to Larry because she stopped being herself. Plus: Matt is a little genius and makes up an imaginary friend to con his parents into buying him stuff.
16. “You’re a Good Man, Lizzie McGuire” (Season 2, Episode 13)
Lizzie and Kate are both on the Spring Fling committee and Kate accidentally knocks over the bust of the school’s founding principal (Whose inscription reads “Hey you kids, cut that out!”). Principal Tweedy is PISSED and cancels the Spring Fling until someone fesses up to breaking the bust. Lizzie takes the blame and is banned from the dance. When everyone finds out, they all ditch the dance and hold the party at Lizzie’s house.
15. “Just Friends” (Season 2, Episode 8)
It’s Sadie Hawkins Dance time at school and Lizzie decides to finally ask out her crush Ethan Craft, but he rejects her, telling her he likes her more as a friend (we’ve all been there, girl). Lizzie then tries to turn herself into Ethan’s ideal girl, but in the end he tells her that they just don’t have chemistry. Lizzie learns the hard lesson that “knowing someone’s wrong for you doesn’t change the way that you feel.” The episode ends with Lizzie slow-dancing with Gordo in her backyard (thanks to the club Matt and Lanny opened back there during this episode) because they know what we REALLY want to see.
14. “Inner Beauty” (Season 2, Episode 16)
Miranda gets very insecure about her body and starts to skip meals and obsess over her weight. Lizzie and Gordo get super concerned and, in one of the most poignant moments of the show, they convince Miranda that she’s beautiful just the way she is. The episode ends with a wonderful music video (directed by Gordo) where Lizzie and Miranda dance around the school.
13. “I’ve Got Rhythmic” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Through a gym class, Lizzie discovers that she’s a rhythmic gymnastics prodigy, only to give it all up in the end. Kate gets jealous, there’s a Rocky montage, and Lizzie teaches us that no matter how good you are at something, you shouldn’t keep doing it if you don’t love it.
12. “Dear Lizzie” (Season 2, Episode 21)
Lizzie starts an advice column for the school’s e-zine (how early 2000s). Things start off well, until Lizzie’s good advice starts to backfire — but not before Lizzie nearly finds out that Gordo likes her as more than a friend.
11. “Night of the Day of the Dead” (Season 1, Episode 24)
Possibly one of the best Halloween episodes of all time. Kate says Lizzie can be the “dungeon mistress” (a little inappropriate for seventh grade?!) at the school’s Halloween Fright Night if she cleans out the janitor’s closet. But in true Kate fashion, after Lizzie cleans up the closet (with Gordo’s help) Kate forces her to be a clown while she takes the dungeon mistress role. To get revenge, Lizzie, Miranda, Gordo, and Matt concoct a plan inspired by Miranda’s family’s Mexican heritage and Day of the Dead decorations to embarrass Kate in front of everyone. Lizzie pretends to be a zombie and chases Kate around the school yelling “KAAAATEEE, KAAAATEE,” giving us Hilary Duff’s best comedic moment, ever.
10. “Pool Party” (Season 1, Episode 4)
Lizzie and Miranda are elated that they’re invited to Danny Kessler’s pool party (Remember when Danny Kessler was The Cute Guy before Ethan Craft? What happened to him?) but Lizzie isn’t allowed to go because she has to go to her grandmother’s birthday party. Miranda ditches Lizzie, briefly becomes friends with Kate, and then ends up having a horrible time at the party (karma). Thankfully during Miranda’s absence, Lizzie finds solace in her nerdy friend Gordo, who teaches her what true friendship means. FUN FACT: This is technically the pilot. The house is totally different! The Animated Lizzie is hella janky! The school’s different!
9. “Rumors” (Season 1, Episode 1)
Every early 2000s teen’s worst nightmare: Lizzie IMs Miranda “Kate stuffs her bra,” and Miranda accidentally sends the Comic Sans message to the ENTIRE CLASS ROSTER. Miranda is a good friend, and takes the blame when Lizzie can’t deal with the fallout of double-crossing the most popular girl in school — only to fess up just in time for a “U. G. L. Y. You ain’t got no alibi!” cheer directed at her in front of the whole school. That’s what you get for using Comic Sans, Lizzie. That’s what you get.
8. “Aaron Carter Is Coming To Town” (Season 1, Episode 7)
In the words of Miranda, “AARON. CARTER. COMING. HERE.” We’ve never forgotten Aaron Carter’s perfect Christmas cameo complete with mistletoe kisses and set to “I Want Candy.” (And he hasn’t forgotten either. Let it go, dude).
7. “When Moms Attack” (Season 1, Episode 3)
Lizzie’s science class embarks on a school camping trip, and Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda are all kinds of excited to get away from their parents for a weekend. But much to Lizzie’s dismay, her mom is pulled in as a last-minute chaperone. But while Lizzie finds her mom unbearable and embarrassing, she actually turns out to be pretty cool (She makes Survivor references! She leads TP raids on the boys! She takes the rap so all of the girls don’t get in trouble!), and we all learn to appreciate our moms a little more.
6. “Bye Bye Hillridge Junior High” (Season 2, Episode 23)
Middle school graduation is almost upon Lizzie and co. Everyone’s signing each other’s yearbooks (“You rock, don’t ever change!”), but Gordo has no idea what to write in Lizzie’s book due to his secret crush on her. He ends up writing the sweetest message, and Lizzie kisses him on the cheek during the class photo.
5. “Lizzie’s Eleven” (Season 2, Episode 20)
It’s Casino Night at Hillridge Junior High and Lizzie uses it to hatch up an Oceans Eleven-themed scheme to get all eleven of her pictures in the yearbook under editor Kate’s nose. All of Lizzie’s friends and family coming together to help her out makes for a super fun episode. Plus, Lizzie wears a beautiful pinstriped pantsuit.
4. “First Kiss” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Ahhh, yes, young love. In this episode, Lizzie gets her first boyfriend, the spiky haired paperboy, Ronnie. They go rollerblading and Lizzie has her first kiss while a Michelle Branch song plays and Gordo stands in the background (and everyone’s heart crumbles just a little bit). Lizzie falls head-over-heels for Ronnie, as you do with your first boyfriend, only to have her heart broken, as you do with your first boyfriend. But don’t worry, Gordo swoops in, delivering one of the sweetest scenes in the show’s history.
3. “Clue-Less” (Season 2, Episode 22)
Lizzie’s friends and family all come together in her house for a murder mystery game night. The mystery! The costumes! The accents! But most importantly, we get the adorable beginnings of Lizzie and Gordo’s budding romance. The moment when Gordo is about to ask Lizzie out on the McGuire’s front porch is adorably awkward and has viewers yelling “JUST ASK HER” at their TVs. But then Lizzie’s dad interrupted them and we all had to wait until the movie for that tension to FINALLY be resolved.
2. “Between a Rock and a Bra Place” (Season 1, Episode 12)
This episode has arguably the most iconic Lizzie McGuire moment: “I. WANT. A BRA.” That moment itself puts it at No. 2, but the episode overall is fantastic. There’s the awesome David Carradine guest appearance (don’t forget, Lizzie’s dad is played by Robert Carradine!) where he helps train Matt to be Jet Li’s sidekick, and an all-too-real portrayal of how middle school girls are horrible to their mothers in public and then realize after the fact that they were horrible (been there). It’s awkward, it’s fun, and boy, does it have a great lesson.
1. “Picture Day” (Season 1, Episode 2)
This is the perfect, quintessential episode of Lizzie McGuire. It has everything: Lizzie approaching a school bus while “This is the Story of a Girl” plays, Matt’s hilarious faking-sick plotline, but most importantly Lizzie is forced to wear the infamous unicorn sweater (which, to be honest, we’d like to own) on picture day. What makes this episode the best is how universally relatable it is. Everyone has had some Picture Day crisis, and this episode gets it. From Lizzie’s unfortunate outfit, to Miranda and Kate’s accidental matching outfits (although we do find it hard to believe that two people would power-clash orange and blue zebra print), to the peer pressure for Gordo to look cool in his photo, it covers a wide spectrum of picture day anxiety.
But most of all this episode of Lizzie has the ultimate Lizzie McGuire lesson. After Gordo comes to Lizzie’s rescue by scrounging up a cool outfit (even by today’s standards that white top is super cute), Lizzie then sacrifices said cool outfit to come to Miranda’s rescue and dive in front of a green paint bomb that Kate orchestrates. When it comes down to it, this episode, and the show as a whole, is about friendship. It’s about knowing when to jump in front of flying green paint for your best friend, even if it means ruining your own picture day. Plus, Lizzie ended up having the best school picture ever.