Yesterday, the hammer fell on Marvel’s Daredevil. Netflix officially canceled Daredevil after three seasons, and it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Both Luke Cage and Iron Fist got the axe in October, and the relationship between Marvel and Netflix had seemingly been frayed long before the upcoming Disney+ streaming service was given a name. Against that backdrop, it’s not too surprising that Netflix is divesting itself of Marvel shows. But it has led to the premature end of one of the best comic-book-inspired TV series that we’ve ever seen.
Over a decade ago, the Daredevil feature film failed to capture the elements that made Marvel’s vigilante hero into more than just a Batman riff. Original showrunners Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight tapped into the duality of Matt Murdock’s passions for justice — a lawyer by day, and masked hero by night. They also embraced Matt’s complex relationships, as well as his religious faith. Those human touches gave Daredevil a more intensely personal tone, while making us believe in the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
Of course, it helps that the show was stacked with a stellar cast, including Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock / Daredevil, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Strong supporting turns by Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ayelet Zurer, and Toby Leonard Moore also went a long way, while Jon Bernthal and Élodie Yung breathed new life into the Punisher and Elektra during the second season.
At this point, it’s still uncertain if Disney will somehow give Daredevil a lifeline and allow the show to continue. However, the 39-episode run will always have a place in our hearts. As a tribute to the series, we’re sharing a list of the 10 best Daredevil episodes in the order in which they were streamed.
“Into the Ring”
Daredevil Season 1, Episode 1
The pilot episode of Daredevil set the tone for everything that followed. There were even a few nods to the larger MCU before Drew Goddard firmly established the bond between Matt and Foggy, as well the darker world they inhabited. While investigating the murder charges against Karen Page, Daredevil had his first blood-soaked encounter with someone who could physically match him. The climactic battle in the rain is still one of our favorite moments, and the intensity of this episode has rarely been matched.
Daredevil Season 1, Episode 2
“Cut Man” is largely remembered for the fantastic single-take hallway fight scene that closed out the episode. But, it’s more significant as a character study for both Matt and Claire, the nurse who treated Daredevil’s severe wounds after a disastrous run-in with the Russian mob. It was a stark change of pace from the first episode, and it demonstrated Matt’s physical and emotional vulnerability. This was the second and final episode Goddard penned, but it left an indelible mark on the series.
“Speak of the Devil”
Daredevil Season 1, Episode 9
It’s hard to go wrong with an epic ninja battle. Although “Speak of the Devil” primarily features an extended fight scene throughout the episode, it also had a few pivotal character moments as well. Matt’s first face-to-face meeting with Fisk happened here, and it was followed by a brutal pummeling later in the episode. That led to one of Matt’s friends discovering his double life, and it was a major turning point for the first season.
Daredevil Season 1, Episode 13
The first season of Daredevil took its time getting Matt Murdock into a costume inspired by his comic book counterpart, but it was worth it. The opening of the finale also had some heart wrenching scenes as a major character was laid to rest. That made it even more satisfying when Matt, Foggy, and Karen finally managed to bring down Fisk. D'Onofrio’s monologue also offered up a few intriguing insights into Fisk, as he embraced his inner nature.
“New York's Finest”
Daredevil Season 2, Episode 3
Matt spent most of this episode trapped by the Punisher and forced to face an impossible moral choice. He could either shoot Frank Castle and allow a criminal to escape, or he could do nothing and live with the knowledge that his inaction allowed someone else to die. Jon Bernthal’s Castle was more than a worthy ideological rival for Daredevil, and his performance throughout Season 2 helped pave the way for The Punisher spinoff series. “New York’s Finest” also had another one of Daredevil’s signature hallway fights, which were always a delight.
Daredevil Season 2, Episode 5
Daredevil wasn’t the only one who needed redemption after his ill-fated live-action film. Elektra was also in need of a mulligan, and she got it here. Élodie Yung’s official intro as Elektra gave the character a playful edge as she skillfully manipulated Matt while drawing him back into her orbit. “Kinbaku” also established their shared origin, as Matt had the opportunity to take revenge on the man who ordered his father’s death.
“Seven Minutes in Heaven”
Daredevil Season 2, Episode 9
This episode was more of a Punisher story than a Daredevil adventure, but what a story! Trapped behind bars, Castle made an alliance with Fisk to avenge his family’s murder. The inevitable betrayal that followed gave us one of the show’s most brutal fight scenes. Even Fisk was impressed with the Punisher after that! As for Matt, his deteriorating personal relationships put a strain on his ability to go forward... and that was before he encountered a dead man.
Daredevil Season 3, Episode 1
The third season of Daredevil borrowed heavily from the “Born Again” comic book storyline, which is widely regarded as a classic. “Resurrection” took it further, by forcing Matt to deal with the fact that his life as Daredevil was threatened by the loss of his special abilities. His subsequent despair and suicidal depression was stunning to watch, as Matt nearly let himself be destroyed. The story also explored Foggy and Karen’s ongoing struggles with Matt’s apparent death, and the return of Fisk. It served notice that the show was actively embracing the elements that made the first season so unforgettable.
Daredevil Season 3, Episode 4
Season 3 definitely took a slow burn approach to Daredevil’s adventures, but “Blindsided” impressively ramped things up to another level. Matt found out the hard way that his secret identity wouldn’t protect him, as he endured another epic fight sequence behind bars that easily ranks among the series’ best. “Blindsided” also gave Foggy his due, as he essentially declared war on Fisk by running for District Attorney.
“A New Napkin”
Daredevil Season 3, Episode 13
After a full season of buildup, the finale of Season 3 gave us the confrontations we were waiting to see. Matt’s final showdown with Fisk was one for the ages, and this episode also completed the origin story of Bullseye. If there’s no reprieve for Daredevil’s cancellation, this is absolutely a worthy way to end the series. However, it still feels like there’s a lot of life left in the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and his ongoing adventures.