The best television shows can transport you to other worlds — but you may need to be sedated for the voyage. In fact, every great TV show needs a drinking game. Here are 10 television shows that deserve their own drinking games, along with some suggestions.
Watching TV with your friends is one of life's great pleasures, as long as everyone plays nice. And a drinking game is one great way to make a show interactive, especially if everybody's seen the episode already. These suggestions below are not intended to be complete or definitive — please suggest your own drinking game items for the 10 shows below. And also please suggest other shows that could use a drinking game, and which occasions you should drink on.
And finally, please drink responsibly — just because Torchwood is a ridiculous bundle of ridiculousness does not mean you should cause permanent brain damage while attempting to do it justice with alcohol. Also, don't drink and drive, or attempt to pilot mecha for that matter. With that out of the way...
What it's about: A Federation starship gets lost on the wrong side of the galaxy and has to search for a way home.
Take one drink when: Something that ought to be irreplaceable is lost or destroyed. The show tries to interest you in Kes' love life. The holographic doctor does something adorable. Seven of Nine shows that she knows everything the Borg know about everything in the universe, but doesn't understand basic human stuff.
Drink and chaser when: Janeway says she's not changing her mind about something, and then changes her mind 10 minutes later.
Shipper bonus cocktail: When Janeway and Chakotay show obvious signs of romantic tension.
Swig from bottle when: The crew wastes all their time worrying about their latest holodeck scenario when they're trapped hundreds of light years from home.
What it's about: The tormented "vampire with a soul" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer moves to Los Angeles and slowly sells out.
Take one drink when: Lorne the karaoke demon does something adorable. Wesley makes another small step on his journey towards ultimate badassery. There are wacky L.A. in-jokes. Angel does something lovably awkward, like dancing.
Drink and chaser when: Angel's son makes a giant mess or does something bratty, or just generally exists.
Swig from bottle when: A main castmember dies horribly. The show tries to shove an Angel-Cordelia romance down your throat.
What it's about: The evil spy organization from Doctor Who suddenly turns nice, because the immortal Captain Jack is in charge.
Take one drink when: Captain Jack turns something innocuous into sexual innuendo. Two characters hook up ill-advisedly. Owen does something sleazy and/or horrible. Tosh makes goo-goo eyes at Owen. Ianto does something adorable. Gwen Cooper pouts.
Drink and chaser when: Captain Jack suddenly shows a flash of being the devil-may-care swashbuckler we loved on Doctor Who, instead of a grumpy boss.
Swig from bottle when: A main castmember dies suddenly of something the Doctor would have been able to fix with both hands tied behind his back.
What it's about: It's another planet, where seasons last years, and everybody's fighting over the throne while ignoring the inexorable march of the ice zombies.
Take one drink when: Daenerys screams about her dragons, or anything else. There's pointless nudity to bribe us into listening to a lecture about the history of the Targaryens. Varys or Littlefinger tell the truth and nobody listens to them. Tywin or Lady Olenna put the smackdown on someone.
Drink and chaser when: Someone makes a dreadful decision, that you can tell will lead to ruin even if you haven't read the books.
Swig from bottle when: There's insane sadism, mutilation or general inhumanity depicted right on the screen.
What it's about: A spinoff of the classic James Cameron films, in which Sarah Connor and her teenage son try to prevent the rise of Skynet.
Take one drink when: A Terminator looks confused. John Connor acts whiny. Sarah Connor does something badass. Cameron the Terminator shows signs she might be secretly evil. Derek Reese looks haunted by the things he saw in the future.
Shipper bonus cocktail: Any time there's romantic/sexual tension between John Connor and Cameron.
Drink and chaser when: There's a time paradox, or some hint that the timeline is changing, or some clever use of time travel to illuminate the characters.
Swig from bottle when: John Henry or Cameron say something cool about the nature of artificial consciousness. Or maybe when Shirley Manson kills someone in a really insane way.
What it's about: The world's most bumbling spy, Agent 86, manages to save the world over and over, in spite of himself.
Take one drink when: There's an awesome gadget, including the shoephone. Agent 86 says one of his catch-phrases, like "missed it by that much" or "would you believe." Agent 99 does something lovable.
Drink and chaser when: The Chief and Agent 86 go inside the Cone of Silence.
Swig from bottle when: Hymie the Robot turns up.
What it's about: Basically it's Batman Begins: The TV Series, except that Batman wears a hood and shoots a bow and arrows. And there are flashbacks to an island.
Take one drink when: Ollie being awesome dissolves to a flashback of Island Ollie being a twerp. Diggle proves that he's right about everything and totally the best at everything. Felicity steals another scene. Every time Ollie takes his shirt off for no reason.
Drink and chaser when: Ollie looks guilt-stricken for his past mistakes, and/or someone is yelling at Ollie for being such a jerk.
Swig from bottle when: Another DC Comics character is introduced, and is handled better than anything in Green Lantern.
What it's about: The Federation from Star Trek is evil and totalitarian, and only a discredited freedom fighter and his band of criminals can destroy it. Or can they?
Take one drink when: Avon says something brilliantly sarcastic. Vila is hilariously cowardly and lovable. Dayna comes out with some awesome new weapon. Travis acts like a maniac.
Shipper bonus cocktail: Whenever Blake and Avon stare at each other and talk about how much they love/hate each other.
Drink and chaser when: One of the computers on the show serves up an awesome burn to the stupid humans.
Swig from bottle when: Servalan shows up wearing another amazing outfit and either kills someone or seduces someone or both in the same moment.
What it's about: There will never be a Batman show as great as this. Live action or animated. Batman the way you always wanted to see him.
Take one drink when: Batman says something that only sounds cool because it's the voice of Kevin Conroy. Harley Quinn says "Puddin." There's a "hero shot" of Batman that uses light and dark to paint a picture of Gotham at its most epic.
Drink and chaser when: One of the classic villains from the comics suddenly turns out to be sympathetic.
Swig from bottle when: The unfortunate fates of Batman's friends and sidekicks are foreshadowed. Or when Batman quotes Nietzsche.
What it's about: An ex-spy and a computer genius fight crime with the aid of a supercomputer that can predict crimes before they happen.
Take one drink when: Bear the dog turns up and does something cute. Finch looks at a computer monitor and raises an eyebrow. Shaw looks awkward. Fusco and Carter both get phone calls at the precinct and look at each other across the room.
Shipper bonus cocktail: When Root and Finch share a moment of sparring over their differing perspectives on A.I.
Drink and chaser when: Reese pwns a whole group of mooks, or uses a vehicle to mess up people and/or property, or just generally shows why he's the biggest motherfucker.
Swig from bottle when: One of the show's tragic flashbacks, or a moment of lonely desolation in the present, unexpectedly makes you get choked up.
Thanks to Annalee, Matt and Meredith for the suggestions!