Pilot (season 1, episode 1)
Why this episode? The show’s first big mystery — who killed Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane? — is set up, and all the major players are introduced. If you watch one episode before heading to the theater, this should be it (but good luck stopping at just one).
Best line: ”Underneath that angry young woman shell, there’s a slightly less angry young woman who’s just dying to bake me something. You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars!” —Wallace
Soundtrack standout: Air, ”La Femme d’Argent”
''Weapons of Class Destruction'' (season 1, episode 18)
Why this episode? While Logan begins the series as Veronica’s main tormentor, this is where LoVe is finally born, complete with an epic first kiss. There’s also a bonus cameo from Jonathan Taylor Thomas and a continuing love story with Deputy Leo (New Girl‘s Max Greenfield).
Best line: ”Dear Seventeen, how can I tell if the really cute boy in my class has a crush on me? No, strike that. Dear Seventeen, how can I tell if the really cute boy in my class murdered his sister?” —Veronica
Soundtrack standout: Something Happens, ”Momentary Thing”
''Leave It to Beaver'' (season 1, episode 22)
Why this episode? The Lilly Kane mystery comes to an explosive conclusion in the season 1 finale — arguably one of the most satisfying reveals in TV history.
Best line: ”Don’t forget about me, Veronica.” —Lilly
Soundtrack standout: Cotton Mather, ”Lily Dreams On”
''Donut Run'' (season 2, episode 11)
Why this episode? In one of the most ambitious episodes of the series, Duncan kidnaps his baby from Meg’s parents and Veronica helps him start over in Mexico. It does the double-duty of giving Duncan his most interesting plot line since season 1 and bidding farewell to a character who had run his course.
Best line: ”I didn’t think there’d be air conditioning, but other than that, this is pretty much how I pictured Hell.” —Veronica
Soundtrack standout: The Hollies, ”The Air That I Breathe”
''Look Who's Stalking'' (season 2, episode 20)
Why this episode? See the best line below. This is where Logan gives an ”epic” speech about his and Veronica’s relationship during the alternative prom at his hotel/home.
Best line: ”I thought our story was epic, you know? You and me. … Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. Epic. But summer’s almost here, and we won’t see each other at all. And then you leave town, and then it’s over.” —Logan
Soundtrack standout: Mike Doughty, ”I Hear the Bells”
''Not Pictured'' (season 2, episode 22)
Why this episode? While the backdrop of this episode is Veronica’s graduation from high school, it is also the conclusion of a very dark, very sad, and not always successful season-long arc. Also, Steve Guttenberg.
Best line: ”My name is Cassidy!” —Beaver
Soundtrack standout: Paul Westerberg, ”Time Flies Tomorrow”
''Spit and Eggs'' (season 3, episode 9)
Why this episode? As the most cinematic episode of all three seasons, it’s only fitting you prep for the movie by watching this one. After Veronica and Logan break up (again) because she never needs his help, she finds herself in the scariest situation of the series when she has a run-in with the heretofore unidentified campus rapist. Also, the second-half mystery of Dean O’Dell’s murder is set up.
Best line: ”I’m not built to stand on the sidelines. And I think we have a choice: I think we can take a tough, but survivable amount of pain now or stay together and deal with unbearable pain later. So I vote for the pain now. But I’m always here if you need anything…but you never need anything.” —Logan
Soundtrack standout: Fatboy Slim, ”Right Here, Right Now”
''Papa's Cabin'' (season 3, episode 15)
Why this episode? In another ambitious hour (creator Rob Thomas was clearly going for broke since the writing was on the wall that this would be the show’s final season), Veronica’s favorite professor and the dean’s wife go missing after Dean O’Dell’s murder. Veronica and her dad put the Ernest Hemingway clues together to find the fugitive pair in Mexico.
Best line: ”I’m just trying to figure out which Gilmore Girl you are.” —Veronica to Wallace after he shares some cafeteria gossip
Soundtrack standout: Tyler Hilton and Bethany Joy Lenz, ”When the Stars Go Blue”
''The Bitch Is Back'' (season 3, episode 20)
Why this episode? This series finale was largely disappointing to fans, mostly because it left so many questions unanswered in hopes of a season 4. Other than a nice callback to season 1 — Lilly’s dad, Jake Kane, makes an appearance — this wasn’t the sendoff viewers wanted (especially since there was no Veronica and Logan reunion). Well, the team has a second chance, so let’s see if some of those loose ends are tied up in the film.
Best line: ”It’s like you’re this giant jackass piñata begging for someone to beat the candy out of you.” —Veronica to Dick
Soundtrack standout: Albert Hammond, ”It Never Rains in Southern California”
Unaired FBI Pilot
Why this episode? This 12-minute mini-pilot was Rob Thomas’s last-ditch effort for renewal. While the flash-forward to Veronica as a rookie FBI agent didn’t save the show, it was included as a bonus feature on the season 3 DVD set. We’ll have to wait and see if this plot is part of the movie or if it never happened. (Bonus: Don’t miss Justified‘s Walton Goggins as Veronica’s FBI boss.)
Best line: ”Spike him like a football and do the wave or a celebratory robot? Moonwalk, perhaps. Something for the kids.” —Veronica on what she would have done to her perp once she caught him
Soundtrack standout: Future Clouds and Radar, ”Get Your Boots On”