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Best Sword Art Online Episodes, Ranked

Updated April 12, 2019
14 min read

‘Sword Art Online’ is one of the most famous isekai genre anime. It is also a massively multiplayer online role-playing game genre anime. The MMORPG’s are quite popular these days and ‘Sword Art Online’ is one of the leading names in the genre. Till date, there have been three main seasons of the anime series and many other side stories and OVAs. For the purpose of this list, we are going to consider only the three main seasons. So, here’s the list of top ‘Sword Art Online’ episodes. Don’t forget to mention your favorite episode in the comments.

7. Season 1 Episode 14, The End of The World

The 14th episode of the first season, i.e. ‘The End of The World’, is by far one of the best episodes of the entire series. It is intense, visual, and emotionally appealing. In this episode, we finally see Kirito finding out who the main antagonist is and finally being able to clear the game. At the start, we see Kirito and other fighting The Skull Reaper. Heathcliff is the one to notice that the enemy’s health is reaching a critical point and asks everyone to attack. Finally, they are able to defeat the Skull Reaper. We learn from Kirito that 14 players have lost their lives during this raid. This makes everyone lose their confidence since 25 more levels are left. Kirito is suspicious of Heathcliff as he notices that the latter was not exhausted at all after the grueling fight. He remembers something from an earlier fight, then comes to a conclusion and attacks Heathcliff. But his attack was stopped by an immortal object.

Kirito’s attack manages to surprise everyone but not for long since Heathcliff’s status as an immortal object surprises them even more. He then reveals that Heathcliff’s true identity is Kabaya Akihiko. Heathcliff admits this and asks how Kirito was able to decipher it and then Kirito tells him about the duel they had had in which Heathcliff had exceeded the limits that were imposed by the system. Kabaya then tells everyone that he actually wanted to be the final boss at level hundred. He thought that the betrayal will be a fitting end to the storyline and tells Kirito that he knew that he will be fighting him in the final level but he was impressed that Kirito had exceeded his expectations.

Later, Kabaya tells everyone that he will be meeting them at the final level but as a reward, he will allow Kirito a one on one battle with him upon winning which they will all be free. Though everyone dissuades him, Kirito accepts the proposition and takes on Kabaya. The latter turns out to be a formidable foe but as Kabaya is about to land the finishing blow, Asuna jumps in and takes the attack. Kirito then loses his composure and ends up paying with his life as Kabaya stabs him. But as his last remaining bit of life drains out of him, he uses Asuna’s Lambent Light to stab Heathcliff killing him. The game is cleared and the players are set free. As the world of Aincrad is getting destroyed, Kirito meets Asuna. They kiss and share their real names. Later, Asuna wakes up in a hospital bed and slowly moves out of the room calling out Asuna’s name.

6. Season 3 Episode 4, Departure

In the previous episode, Kirito and Eugeo encountered Goblins on the Mountain. Eugeo being still inexperienced was paralyzed with fear as the party of monsters came towards them. Kirito tries to console him the best he can and tells him his plan. Kirito tells Eugeo about attacking the nearest Goblins and dousing their fire. This would enable them to recover weapons from their stockpile. Everything goes according to the plan and Kirito is able to recover swords for him and Eugeo. Eugeo distracts the other goblins while Kirito encounters their leader Ugachi, the lizard killer. Kirito uses sharp nail which is a three-hit sword skill and cuts of Ugachi’s arms. But this blow did not keep Ugachi down as Kirito learns the hard way.

As Kirito momentarily lowers his guard celebrating his victory, Ugachi slashes Kirito’s arm. Kirito tries to recover his composure and attack Ugachi with a sword skill, but the latter kicks him back to the ground. As Ugachi is about to give the finishing blow, Eugeo is able to conquer his fear and attack Ugachi, but Eugeo gets gravely injured. His memories with Kirito from the past surface which triggers Kirito’s memory too. Kirito feels the pain and anguish from Eugeo’s memory. This allows him to bear the pain of his wounds and attack Ugachi finally beheading him. The other goblins scurry off after seeing their leader’s cut head.

Kirito unties Selka and asks her to treat Eugeo. She uses her and Kirito’s durability to save Eugeo. As Kirito loses consciousness due to the draining of durability, he sees the vision of Alice telling him that she is waiting for him. After some days, Eugeo makes a full recovery and goes back to cutting the Gigas Cedar with Kirito. He is surprised by the heavy cut that Kirito inflicts on the tree. He asks Kirito to teach him swordsmanship and the latter complies. Eugeo successfully cuts the tree after practicing with Kirito. Later at the festival, in order to celebrate the cutting of the Gigas, Cedar Eugeo chooses his next task to become a swordsman. He joins Kirito and continues looking for Alice who is waiting at the Central Cathedral.

5. Season 3 Episode 10, Taboo Index

‘Taboo Index’ is one of the most violent episodes in the entire anime series. The amount of blood, gore, and violence surpass that of ‘The Goblin Slayer’, an anime infamous for its graphic content. Tiese and Ronie are late for the everyday duties appointed to them. Eugeo and Kirito realize this fact and Kirito decides to see where they are and goes on to look for them while Eugeo waits in the dorm for them. As Eugeo is waiting, Frenica enters the dorm and tells Eugeo that the duo actually is going to confront Humbert because he (Humbert) keeps abusing her.

Eugeo rushes off to Raios and Humbert’s room and upon entering, he is shocked to see Tiese and Ronie gagged and tied on the bed. Raios and Humbert then begin to rape them in front of Eugeo who cannot do anything because of the Taboo index. But Eugeo is not able to bear the violence anymore and decides to break the rule and attacks them, cutting off Humbert’s arm in the process. Raios then attempts to attack Eugeo but Kirito comes and defends him. Kirito and Raios fight and the Kirito cuts off both the arms of Raios, which leads to his death. After the incident is over, Kirito and Eugeo are handed over to an integrity knight. The duo is then surprised to find out that the Knight is actually Alice.

4. Season 2 Episode 24, Mother’s Rosario

Final episodes are always very critical for TV shows. They can make or break everything. A sloppy ending episode might end up dissatisfying the audience even if the entire season is good. The last episode of the second season is really great and closes the season in a nice way. There aren’t any intense fighting sequences or anything but just the characters having fun and receiving some closure. This episode does have a sad tone to it as we finally get the inevitable. Konno Yuuki who has been sick for a long time becomes sicker and is approaching her end. Before this, though, she has fun with her friends in the online world taking SAO survivor classes and defeating Kirito in a battle. But later, Asuna hears from Doctor Kurahashi that Yuuki’s condition is worsening and she does not have much time remaining. Yuuki tells Asuna that she wants to spend her last remaining time in the game. Asuna helps her.

In the virtual world, Yuuki passes off her Original Sword Skill to Asuna. The Sleeping Knights, the fairies, Kirito, Klein, Asuna, and many other friends of Yuuki’s came to visit her and bid her farewell. Yuuki is really happy and gets to die peacefully in Asuna’s arm surrounded by people who she loved and who loved her. This is an extremely emotional scene and if you are one of the fans of the show who love the character of Yuuki, then you will definitely shed a tear or two.

Later at Yuuki’s memorial, Asuna meets Siune who is getting better by the day. Kazuto and Doctor Kurahashi join Asuna and Siune. Kurashi explains that they are talking about the application of Kazuto’s probe for medical technologies of FullDive. He tells them that Yuuki because of Yuuki they have enough test data. He also reveals that the design for Medicuboid came from professor Koujiro Rinko. Kazuto expresses shock upon hearing the name. Rinko was the person who took care of Kabaya Akihiko during the SAO incident. So, it turns out that the design for the medical technology actually comes from Akihiko. Later, we see Kazuto, Asuna, Yui, and their other friends going on a picnic. Their Yui could see the real world, thanks to Kazuto’s probe. They enjoy the picnic as Kazuto tells Asuna that he wants to be with her forever.

3. Season 3 episode 3, The End Mountains

The episode begins with Selka Zuberg arousing Kirito. He then has breakfast and meets Eugeo by the Gigas Cedar. They discuss ways to cut down the Gigas Cedar. Kirito learns that Selka is actually the sister of Alice. He also learns that there have been goblin sightings in the area. Kirito then wonders if there is a better way to cut the tree down. Eugeo then tells Kirito that Dragon Bone Ax is the best tool at doing the job though he does confirm that there is another weapon that he had heard of. Later, he brings the Blue Rose Sword and gives it to Kirito to try it out. Kirito uses the sword to strike at the Gigas Cedar. Though the slash is quite powerful due to the weight of the weapon, Kirito is unable to hit at the previous cut, thus reducing the efficiency. Kirito later gives the sword to Eugeo but the Eugeo, after holding the weapon, learns that it is above his class.

Later, Kirito decides to talk to Selka. When he returns to his room, he finds Selka there. He decides to ask her about Alice. Alice had violated the rules of the Church and entered the Dark Territory and was therefore arrested. Selka then tells Kirito that Eugeo had never smiled since Alice was arrested. She goes on to say that being Alice’s sister is hard since people have lots of expectations from her. Kirito then consoles her and when the church bell rings, Selka leaves. The next morning, Kirito wakes up and learns that Selka has been missing the entire morning. He asks Eugeo about this and he says that he has no idea about where she is. Kirito remembers that Selka might have gone to the edge of the Mountain Range. They hurry towards the Northern Cave. Suddenly, they hear a scream and upon investigating it, they find out that Goblins from the Dark Territory are responsible for the kidnapping of Selka. When Eugeo finally notices Selk, he shouts her name and ends up alerting the Goblins who begin to approach the duo.

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2. Season 1 Episode 10, Crimson Killing Intent

In the 10th episode of the first season, we see Kirito and Heathcliff go head to head in a duel. This duel is pretty important since it allows Kirito to decipher Heathcliff’s true nature later in the series. We also see Kuradeel betraying Kirito and trying to kill him. Kirito accepts Heathcliff’s challenge to duel. They are set to duel in the Colosseum of the 75th floor. Asuna is angry at Kirito and scolds him for making such a rash decision. She tells him that Heathcliff is the strongest player in the game and no one has seen his health bar reach the yellow zone. Kirito then assures Asuna that he does not plan on losing easily to Heathcliff. He makes his way to the arena as Asuna watches from the sidelines. Heathcliff is already waiting there for Kirito. Both the players select their first strike option and the match starts.

Kirito quickly starts attacking Heathcliff using the double blades but Healthcliff easily blocks every attack. Kirito continues to attack regardless of this and manages to find an opening but as soon as he tries to land a hit, Heathcliff, with incredible speed, blocks the attack and lands a clean strike on Kirito, winning the duel. Later, we see Godfree picking Kirito for mandatory training on the 55th floor. He also picks Kuradeel to accompany them. Both Kuradeel and Kirito handover their crystals to Gofree to prove their skills. Once there, the trio stops to take some rest and starts eating. Kirito receives a normal loaf of bread, which upsets him since he misses Asuna’s cooking. After that, he drinks some water and while drinking, he notices a suspicious expression on Kuradeel’s face but it is too late as Godfree and Kirito are now paralyzed.

Kirito asks Godfree to use the crystal to heal but Kuradeel kicks it out of his hand. He then proceeds to kill Godfree. After killing him, Kuradeel tells Kirito that he has been planning to take revenge by killing Kirito, for a long time now. Finally, he is getting the chance to do so. He continues to tell him that he will tell the others that orange players attacked and killed them. Just as Kuradeel is about to finish, Kirito, Asuna appears and starts attacking Kuradeel. Asuna later manages to land a hit on him. As she lowers her guard for a moment, Kuradeel attacks her but in the nick of time, Kirito blocks the attack and using his martial arts move embrace, kills Kuradeel. Later, we see Kirito asking Asuna to spend the night with him. The next morning, he proposes to Asuna and she gives an affirmative reply.

1. Season 1 Episode 9, The Blue-Eyed Demon

‘The Blue-Eyed Demon‘ is another one of my most favorite episodes. Here we see Kirito revealing his secret skill against the boss. Also, Heathcliff challenges him to a duel winning which will allow Asuna to leave the guild but should he lose, he will be joining the guild. Kirito and Asuna are at the 74th floor and are exploring it when they end up in the boss room. The boss is a monster with glowing eyes and takes a battle stance before them. Seeing this, Asuna and Kirito run in order to escape the room. Once they reach a safe zone, they decide to rest.

Kirito later comes up with a battle strategy and tells Asuna that they would need ten shield players. Asuna is curious about Kirito not using a shield but when Kirito is visibly uncomfortable to discuss the topic, she stops and takes out her homemade food. Kirito enjoys the food and as soon as they finish eating, Klein and his guild, Fuurinkazan, appears. Another guild by the name of The Army appears and demands the floor mapping from Kirito. Though Asuna is reluctant, Kirito hands it over but warns the Army squadron, Kobatz to not to try and attack the boss.

However, Kobatz takes no heed to Kirito’s warning and orders his troops to keep marching. Klein, Asuna, and the Fuurinkazan then begin exploring the floor and defeating the monsters. They then learn that despite Kirito’s warning, the Army is attacking the Boss and is loosing. They quickly reach there to see that many players are dead. Asuna, Klein, and Kirito start attacking the boss but Kirito blocks their attacks. He then asks them to hold the boss off as he needs some time to prepare. Kirito selects the secret dual blades skill and uses it to defeat the boss after executing multiple slashes. He then collapses due to low Hp. He wakes up after a moment and sees Asuna crying. Klein tells him that Kobatz and three other players have died in the battle. Later, Kirito meets the famous leader of the Knights of Blood who challenges Kirito to a duel. If he is able to win it, he will let Asuna go temporarily but should he lose, he will have to join the Guild.

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