After an intense Volume 4, we are back to waiting impatiently for the next Volume of RWBY. While RWBY Chibi is adorable and hilarious, the second season doesn't come out until May, and I know I'm going to end up re-watching most of the series. So to help with the desire to watch RWBY for the millionth time as we wait for new episodes, here is a list of some of the best RWBY episodes from every season, including Volume 4.
*Spoiler Warning, Spoiler Warning*. There are spoilers, you have been warned. If you have yet to see Volumes 3 and 4 and hate spoilers, this article is not for you.
RWBY Volume 1
Episodes 4-5: The First Step Parts One and Two
I'll be honest with you, the first three episodes of RWBY were not my favorite. Although I found the characters interesting and amusing, episode four is when I really started to feel invested in the characters and the plot. Maybe it was the introduction of Nora Valkyrie and Pyrrha Nikos, or maybe it was just that this is when you begin to get a good sense of what the rest of the show is going to be like- including one of our first real looks at the world's monstrous creatures. And it doesn't hurt that the characters get to fall from the sky.
Episodes 6-7: The Emerald Forest Parts One and Two
These episodes, directly following The First Step Part Two, continue with near-constant action. We are given our first taste of Aura, which allows us a little bit more insight into the world. With some humor and interesting fight scenes, these episodes, although short, are quite enjoyable.
Episode 8: Players and Pieces
My favorite episode of the first season, this is when we start to really get to know and understand our characters, and the episode includes some absolutely incredible action scenes. These episodes are also the foundation of the two teams that drive the series- Team RWBY, made up of Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao-Long -and team JNPR, made up of Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Pyrrha Nikos, and Lie Ren. That alone makes this episode worth watching, not to mention the soundtrack and Ruby completely showing off how awesome she is. Also, Nora.
Episode 15: The Stray
The first part in the season finale, The Stray introduces us to the world of Remnant's very own racial injustices. It also gives some very real character depth to Weiss and Blake, both of whom have seemed like fairly minor and undeveloped characters up to this point. The introduction of Penny, although awkward and amusing, is also intriguing.
Episode 16: Black and White
Continuing right where The Stray left off, this episode, and Blake's hunt to discover what the Faunus of the White Fang are up to, is very fulfilling as a season finale. It gives us a new perspective on Blake, and Weiss, make Sun seem like a fun character, and shows off Penny, giving us several hints to her character, as well as future plot points. Beyond that, the introduction of one of the main villains in the after-credits scene is chilling and exciting, leading us to want more.
RWBY Volume 2
Episode 1: Best Day Ever
"Sisters, friends, Weiss!"
If you ever need a laugh, this is the RWBY episode for you. Although it hints at several things, this episode is all-around lighthearted- until Ozpin's response to Glynda's frustration, in which he says, "Right now, they're still children, so why not let them play the part? After all, it isn't a role they'll have forever." Between a food-fight, Nora, some absolutely dramatic characters, and the introduction of Sun's friend, Neptune, this episode is one of my favorites to just sit down and watch.
Episode 6: Burning The Candle
By far my favorite episode from the second volume, Burning The Candle is what made me like the character of Yang. Although we had seen some of the softer sides to Yang, this episode not only gives her more depth, but is the first real glimpse we get of her and Ruby's backstory. The episode is also good for the messages it carries about not giving up on important things, but still taking time to rest and recuperate. It is an interesting turning point in the show.
Episode 7: Dance Dance Infiltration
Dance Dance Infiltration officially brings several things to a head. First we get some incredibly golden moments with Jaune, Neptune, Weiss, and Pyrrha, and none of us will ever forget Team JNPR's wonderful dance number, featuring Jaune in a dress- but then the episode takes an abrupt turn, as Ruby, who leaves the dance early, has her second encounter with Cinder. The brief, but chilling fight scene leaves us, as well as Ruby, quite shaken.
Episode 9: Search and Destroy
In the lead up to the volume's finale, we see Team RWBY on their first official trip as huntresses in training, shadowing a hunter, one of their teachers, Dr. Oobleck. The episode is hectic, in keeping with the character of Dr. Oobleck himself, who flits around the entire episode, asking Weiss, Blake, and Yang, each separately, why they wanted to become huntresses. Rwby, who doesn't receive the interrogation, asks Oobleck the very same question, leading to an interesting answer.
Episode 10: Mountain Glenn
Weiss, Blake, and Yang, having been left uneasy by Oobleck's earlier questions, have a late night talk, during which they expound more on the reasons they became huntresses. This leads to the characters realizing several things about themselves, and each of them is left with a greater sense of responsibility than they had before. As the episode progresses, Ruby inadvertently falls right into the enemy's lair, leading directly to-
Episode 11: No Brakes, and Episode 12: Breach
These two episodes combine to create a season finale that shakes the foundations of Vale- literally. Beginning with concern for Ruby and a shocking discovery about where the enemy was hiding, the episodes take a fast pace as the characters discover the pending danger to the citizens of Vale. With the introduction of several incredible characters (both good and evil), some fun fight scenes, and of course, the killer soundtrack, these two episodes are a wonderful culmination of the second volume.
RWBY Volume 3
Episode 3: It's Brawl in the Family
I'll be honest with you, for me, the first two episodes of Volume 3 were extremely rocky. The characterization felt off, the writing felt off, I didn't like the opening song, and it felt, to me at least, that the show was lacking Monty Oum's touch after his death. Lucky for Roosterteeth, It's Brawl in the Family changed that. First of all, it gives us our official introduction to Yang and Ruby's uncle, Qrow, who despite being a drunk and grouchy character, quickly became one of my favorites in the series. It also introduces us to Weiss's sister, Winter, although colder than the character often labeled "Snow Angel" and "Ice Queen", is intriguing and interesting. The plot also makes it's true reappearance in this episode, making it the reason that I continued to watch the show.
Episode 6: Fall
With several things coming to the forefront, including Pyrrha Nikos, Fall is earthshaking. Ozpin brings things to light that make a lot of what we had seen in past episodes suddenly make sense, bringing in the Maidens, and a little bit of new information about Qrow. And even while everything going on with Pyrrha and Ozpin is fascinating in this episode, it is really what happens near the end of the episode that clinches its spot on this list. It's the moment that made our hearts drop, our stomachs clench, and our eyes widen in shock. Yes, it's the first of many reasons why Roosterteeth had to let parents know that they might have to decide whether or not to continue to allow their children to watch the show. We as viewers, knowing what was happening and that Yang would never do what she did for no reason, were completely appalled by the ending to Fall.
Episode 7: Beginning of the End
I suppose that it should be no surprise, considering the ending of the last episode, that the next episode is titled Beginning of the End. And there couldn't be a more accurate title. Feeding off of the horror and confusion from the previous episode, Beginning of the End starts with a series of unsettling flashbacks, revealing how Cinder recruited Emerald and Mercury, as well as the alliance with Adam Taurus and the attack upon the Fall Maiden. We also see an interesting tidbit with Qrow as he interrupts their ambush and saves the Maiden. Back in the present, Cinder, Mercury, and Emerald have stolen off for Mercury to "recover" after Yang's "horrible and violent attack" on him. I'm pretty sure that every fan just about screamed (silently, I hope) at the reactions of nearly everyone in the show while we watched helpless from the sidelines.
Episode 8: Destiny
If you've seen Volume 3's finale, the title of this episode makes your heart clench just a little. The episode itself doesn't help matters. The characters of the World of Remnant are rocked by the events of the last two episodes. Not only is Team RWBY disqualified from the tournament, but they are riddled with doubt and fear- especially Yang. Having been affected by Emerald's semblance, what she saw was entirely different from what everyone else saw, which is why she is so hurt and shocked by her teammates reactions. Even a pep talk from Qrow and some news about her Mother- the mysterious Raven -doesn't seem to cheer her up.
Team JNPR isn't doing much better. Pyrrha is entirely out of sorts after talking with Ozpin, and despite Jaune finally tapping into his truly sensitive side- the side that likes Pyrrha Nikos as much as we want him to- Pyrrha takes her anger and confusion out on him. Yes, this episode is truly one to capture the frustration and shakiness that we all felt as we watched. The episode ends with several moments filled with foreboding as Ruby discovers Mercury snooping around- and on two perfectly good legs no less, while Pyrrha and Penny are paired off for the next round of the tournament.
Episode 10: Battle of Beacon
After the traumatic events of episode 9, PvP, I know that I was hoping for a victorious and battle filled finale. At least the latter part of that wish (battle filled) was fulfilled... I really appreciated the depth this episode brought, as the teams of students and teachers readied themselves for battle. Despite how shaken each of them is over the earlier events of the volume, they work together. Even when Ironwood says he wouldn't blame them if they ran, they fight. Because that is what they trained to do, what they signed on to do. I got chills as Grimm after Grimm appears, and battle scene follows battle scene. Although the episode is fast paced, you aren't lacking for plot, as Ruby doesn't have any of her teammates with her and Pyrrha makes a difficult choice.
Episode 11: Heroes and Monsters
Now just when we'd been thinking that the poor characters had been kicked around enough, the creators decided to prove us wrong. This episode started off in the right direction- battles were won, there were some pretty cool fights, Roman Torchwick died and Neo was carried off by a Grimm -we even get to see Velvet's weapon and part of Weiss's full power. Just when we're feeling good, Blake runs into Adam, her abusive ex partner. Now we start to feel real concern, which only hardens into cold horror when Yang rushes onto the scene, guns blazing as always. Between the horror of Yang's ensuing injury and Cinder killing the Fall Maiden before Pyrrha can gain her power, not to mention Cinder's mention of the mysterious "her", this episode left my heart aching at the end.
Episode 12: End of the Beginning
This episode is both a climax and a starting point. Somehow the creators at Roosterteeth managed to balance this nearly 30 minute episode between an end and a beginning, whilst not taking away from either aspect. Your heart breaks more than once, seeing the growth each character has gone through, seeing the shattered remains of Team RWBY, watching as we are given one of our first officially canon ships, and being unable to tear our eyes away when the possibility of it happening is blown to smithereens. When Jaune's tears fall and he smashes his scroll into the ground, when Ruby arrives just a heartbeat too late, and when we watch as her powers explode and everything fades to white, there's a sense of disbelief.
The epilogue also serves to really and truly take the knife and twist it. With Ruby's teammates scattered to the winds, and Yang's PTSD, depression, and guilt, it almost feels as though there's no hope. Unsurprisingly, Ruby, despite the tragedies and traumatic events she's witnessed, still possesses the fiery determination to do what's right and protect people. As we watch her leave with the remains of Team JNPR, we find a remnant of hope, although the introduction to the real mastermind behind the events of the last 3 volumes kept us on our toes during the build up to Volume 4.
RWBY Volume 4
Episode 2: Remembrance
As much as I enjoyed episode 1 of the new Volume, this episode is when I really started to feel the tension from the end of Volume 3 resurface. Between the introduction to Weiss's horrible family and wonderful butler, and the horror of Team RNJR finding the ruins of Shion, I was enthralled. But that in no way prepared me for the end of the episode. I was brought nearly to tears as RWBY watches Jaune follow a training regime that Pyrrha had recorded for him- one that he plays over and over, and she continues each time to almost tell him that she loves him. This made my heart break, and after the realization in the last episode that he'd incorporated the metal from Pyrrha's armor into his, we were reminded (as if we ever forgot) that these characters had their entire lives ripped apart not long ago.
Episode 3: Of Runaways and Stowaways
I got so excited for this, because I was sure as soon as I saw the title that we would get Blake and Yang- and I was not disappointed. The entire ship ride with Blake and Sun was action packed and hilarious, but it never lost the feeling that Blake had fully accepted who she is and hates herself for it. The episode was as fun and lighthearted as it was heavy. When we see Yang, it feels almost surreal- as if Yang's reality has become an endless cycle of normal life mixed with constant reminders of what happened and what she lost. When Taiyang brings her the arm, I'm sure we were all watching with hopeful hearts and bated breath, and it hurt to watch her refuse and struggle with flashbacks. The episode pushes itself further still when Cinder uses her damaged voice to admit that she truly killed Ozpin.
Episode 4: Family
If ever there was an episode for surprises, this was it. We'd all been wondering who the random kid (Oscar) was that we'd been introduced to in the first episode. And right after hearing from Cinder that Ozpin was "dead", I didn't exactly expect his voice to appear from nowhere (although I was hoping for it).
Everything with Team RNJR aside, the revelation that Qrow has literally been following them and killing nearly all of the Grimm along their path was unsurprising, and showed a lot about Qrow. The chilling and fascinating encounter he has with Raven made me eager to see more of her, and a lot more of Qrow.
Meanwhile, we are able to get a glimpse at several familiar characters. It was a relief to see that Oobleck and Port are alive, and to hear that Glynda is attempting to get the Academy up and running again. This part of the episode was one of the most heartwarming, and we see that Yang has grown and is actually more comfortable with the loss of er arm than anyone else is, despite her PTSD. The end of this episode, when Yang comes out, new arm attached, made my heart leap in my chest. Yang is back with a vengeance.
Episode 5: Menagerie
I could probably rave about the injustice (and the coolness) of the island for quite a long time, but that would prevent me from talking about just how great Kali and Ghira are. They quickly joined my cast of favorite characters, and Sun's reaction (jaw drop and all) to the fact that Blake is pretty much the "Weiss" of the Faunus matched mine pretty exactly, even though it had only taken me a heartbeat to realize that she would point to that house. The reveal was effective, and it also served to set up that not only is Ghira the Chieftain of Menagerie, but he's also the former High Leader of the White Fang, which makes everything about Blake's involvement, including her reaction to Weiss's prejudice in Volume 1, much deeper and more complex than it was before.
When the White Fang representatives appeared, there was an immediate moment of distrust on my part, and for Sun and Blake there was a far more extreme reaction. It was no surprise to discover that they weren't truly against Adam, but are working for him, and immediately everything on Menagerie seems far more unstable.
Also, if we weren't feeling unsettled enough, the presence of Tyrian in the very tavern where Qrow was staying made the concern for Team RNJR skyrocket.
Episode 6: Tipping Point
This episode is, as its title suggests, a tipping point in the Volume. As I watched it, I was struck by a suspicion, and realized that episode 6 (the halfway mark in a Volume of RWBY) is a tipping point in every single Volume. You'll notice that every episode 6 from RWBY has made this list. In this episode, we are split between Ruby and Team RNJR, and Weiss. Weiss's experiences in this episode made me hate the stupid wealthy ignorant people of Atlas. To be honest, I'm surprised that Weiss hadn't exploded before now, even with her father around. I also deeply appreciated the look at what is happening in Atlas because of the Fall of Beacon, and I really really really REALLY loved General Ironwood in this episode.
Meanwhile, Team RNJR has stumbled upon the remnants of a town called Oniyuri, which is a disaster area. It was somber, and we were already feeling hesitant, but then Tyrian appears. I have to say, I think this is that moment when my heart started to stop- and it kept stopping for the next six episodes. Tyrian comes so close, so close to killing Ruby or one of the others. And his interest in Jaune is just disturbing. Of course, the moment when Qrow blocks Tyrians stinger was absolutely thrilling- and terrifying as the episode ends and we're left hoping beyond hope that they all make it through the rest of the fight.
Episode 7: Punished
If anyone else spent the week between episodes 6 and 7 as tortured as I did then we can all agree that this episode was punishing. Everything about Oz and his mystical appearance in Oscar's body is mysterious and fascinating, and I could write an article entirely about my theories. But it's what happens on Atlas and with Team RNJR that held the majority of my attention.
If anyone didn't hate Jacques before this episode, they did afterwards. Not only is he officially revealed to be abusive (although he was already clearly emotionally abusive), but he reveals that he has given the family company to Whitley, instead of to Weiss. I don't know about anyone else, but when I was watching this episode I was extremely concerned about what Jacques intended to do with Weiss. Not only did he lock her up with the intention of keeping her there until they could come to an "agreement" about her future, but he officially grounded her to the manor. The brief encounter with Whitley also serves to make me hate nearly every single person in Weiss's family other than her, with the possible exception of Winter. When Weiss took up her sword, I got really excited.
Ah yes, now we come to the heart-racing-heart-pounding part of the episode. Qrow's fight with Tyrian. I'd already been worrying all week about the possibility that something was gong to happen to Qrow, and not only were my fears founded, but this episode served to reveal several things that Team RNJR, Qrow, and the audience all needed to know. When Tyrian nicked Qrow I was terrified, and as the episode drew to a close with an eerily familiar question, I was reminded that the makers of this show have no compunctions whatsoever about killing characters.
Episode 10: Kuroyuri
Ah yes, the flashback episode. I will admit, I had several problems with this episode, but there were so many gripping and important moments in it that it had to make the list.
The brief moment we have with Oscar served it's purpose. Not only is he listening to Ozpin, but when he's at the train station he encounters Hazel, who we haven't seen since the first episode. This was surely a reminder to us that Hazel is out there working with Adam. And it was certainly effective.
The brief moment we have with Ruby and Jaune as they carry Qrow through the ruins of Kuroyuri is powerful. Ruby admits to feelings of guilt for dragging everyone along with her, and Jaune reassures her that they came by choice, partially because she inspired them with the courage to do so. He also hints that he might know why Ren didn't want to come with them. Why Nora didn't is entirely obvious.
Now to the main portion of the episode, which focuses mostly on Ren. I'll be honest, until this episode, I thought his village had been attacked by Raven's bandits, but this episode revealed that not only was I wrong, but that there are several Grimm out there that are nearly unstoppable and absolutely nightmare inducing.
In the flashback portion of the episode we are given Ren and Nora's backstory. Young Lie Ren was raised in Kuroyuri. His father, a Huntsman, is returning from a mission as the sequence opens. We see Ren and his mother going about their everyday life, Ren being sent through town to get his father a gift. As he does so, Ren sees three boys picking on a girl, who covered in rags and dirt: a young Nora, clearly orphaned and starving and all alone. Ren approaches, wanting to help, but panics when the boys turn on him. It is then that we are introduced to Ren's father, Li. He gives Ren a lecture, saying that not taking action can sometimes be the worst action of all.
The second part of the flashback is almost a blur. We see the death of An, and the sacrifice of Li as he gives Ren his dagger and sends his son away, even though he is already injured. We know Li is going to die, but he's also saving Ren. Ren hides, and finds Nora, who is also hiding from the Grimm and the destruction that they're wreaking. Ren's semblance activates, and we see him grow calm, and then calm Nora. This is the foundation of their friendship.
In the present, Nora and Ren come across a cave filled with the remnants of a great battle. The earth is strewn with arrows, some similar to those used by Ren's father. As they reach the other end of the cave, they see Kuroyuri in the distance, and realize that the Nuckelavee Grimm that destroyed the village is headed there once more.
Episode 11: Taking Control
This episode quickly escalated everything that had been happening. We are brought back to Salem's castle, where Cinder is struggling to defeat a horde of Grimm. Just as Salem is criticizing her, Tyrian returns, begging for forgiveness, and mentioning that he managed to poison Qrow. This moment is one of my biggest reasons for my concern about Tyrian, as he brutally takes out his dismissal from Salem on a Beowolf as Cinder watches.
Yang spray paints her bionic arm yellow, and goes to the shed where her motercycle has apparently been collecting dust. Taiyang appears behind her, and asks her where she's going. He knows that she has two choices, to go after Ruby, or to find her mother. We are left without Yang's reply.
In Atlas, Weiss and Klein have hatched a plot for her escape. They are briefly separated by Whitley, and Weiss stops and eavesdrops on an argument between Jacques and Ironwood. It's revealed that Ironwood will be closing the border in a week to ensure the safety of Atlas's citizens. As he turns to leave, Weiss uses a glyph to lock both men in her father's study and heads to the library, where Klein lets her out using a secret passageway. This moment is powerful, as Weiss is basically disowning every member of her family except Winter.
The scene on Menagerie where Sun gives Blake a talking to is absolutely what we all needed. I love Blake, but as she explains that she ran away because she didn't want her friends to get hurt because of her, I wanted to yell at her. Which is basically what Sun does. And no sooner has he corrected her thinking, then Kali and Ghira reveal that Adam is planning to overthrow the White Fang. It's then that Blake declares that they are going to take the White Fang back.
The entire episode has a positive build up, right until Ren and Nora arrive at Kuroyuri, relieved to see that Ruby, Jaune, and Qrow are alright, only for the Nuckelavee Grimm to appear.
Episode 12: No Safe Haven
The entire fight scene between Team RNJR and the Nuckelavee Grimm was frighteningly intense. I prayed the entire time that none of them would be killed, but was sure that someone was going to die. And there were plenty of close calls. However, the most powerful moments of the fight for me are when Nora talks Ren down, and when Ren slays the Nuckelavee. Oh my goodness that was absolutely incredible.
"For my Mother. For my Father. For all those that you've slain..."
The relief continued as we watched Team RNJR (plus Qrow) safely taken to Mistral, with Ren and Nora sitting next to each other. Then we watch as Ruby writes a letter to Yang while Qrow sleeps behind her. As Ruby writes we see Weiss, flying to Mistral, Blake, preparing to face the White Fang while Sun looks on, and Yang arriving on Anima and heading towards Mistral.
We also see scenes of Taiyang, Oscar, and the remnants of Team JNPR, but then we go to the White Fang, and Cinder attacking an illusion of Ruby. As the episode draws to a close, we see Watts meeting with the headmaster of Haven Academy, Lionheart, and are left with the knowledge that nowhere is safe.
However, this episode fails to hurt as much as the last season finale did, and the after-credits scene between Qrow and Oscar only served to create even more hype than I thought was possible.
This series is incredible, and just as they do in the end credits of Volume 3, I would like to honor Monty Oum, without whom it would never have been possible.