For the sake of those who might want to get into or try to convince a friend to get into Detective Conan for the story but find the insanely high episode count and history of nearly 2 decades daunting, I've compiled a list of episodes that are actually important as well as listed the reasons I believe them to be important (so you can make your own judgments as you go as to whether you yourself really think you should have to watch them or not). There are tons of great "normal" cases throughout the series that naturally are left out, which are really the original point of the series, but if you just want to get around all of that and watch the series for just the overall story and characters, this might prove useful for that. Of course, there are still a ton of episodes, but cutting a good two-thirds of the series out should ease the pain of entry a bit. Now, I realize many others in the past have made feeble attempts at something similar, but I'm obviously more awesome than them. I plan to keep this reference updated periodically as the series progresses.
An updated note on more recent episodes: Since the series started, and especially in the last couple years, Aoyama has gotten infinitely better at weaving the story into the individual, unrelated cases. These days basically every case contains at least a bit of plot advancement, so plot advancement has become a lot more gradual and stretched out rather than happening in chunks scattered here and there. As a result, the more recent episodes pretty much all have some level of importance, except for anime originals, of course. Although, and I've stated as much before in the comments, as this list is about easing the barrier of entry, it is more the early episodes that really matter for trimming the fat. As you get closer and closer to completely caught up, it doesn't really matter all that much anymore anyway. In short, this list starts to lose meaning the further you get in the series and the closer to caught up to the present you are.
Another updated note on recent updated updates: Since DC has had some direct crossovers with the Magic Kaito manga over the years, yet those parts of the DC anime never had the Magic Kaito parts that gave them context animated as well, those crossovers have never really had their full and proper effect for anime only fans. However, now that Magic Kaito has finally received a proper anime adaptation, I have taken the liberty of working the timings of these all-important crossovers into where they fit in with their DC episode counterparts, making the crossovers whole once more. The Internet can thank me later. The only issue is that the Magic Kaito episodes are totally out of order, but the order really does not matter for that series like it does with Conan, as the series is completely episodic beyond pretty much the first episode, so you can ignore that and watch that series out of order all you want.
Note this uses the original Japanese episode numbers. The English dub version (aka "Case Closed" although the more recent official subs have adopted that name as well) stopped before it ever got to anything really big in the story anyway, so watching that would kinda defeat the purpose.
The movies are optional, seeing as they have nothing to do with any sort of plot from the series proper, but highly recommended based solely on outstanding quality.
Included Episodes by Time (1 hour specials counted as 2 episodes, etc.):
Ignoring character arc subplots and sticking with main plot only (not recommended):
Main Plot by Time:
Total Episodes So Far:
Total Episodes by Time:
May 25, 2015
(First written March 12, 2013)
1-7: Initial setup. The main characters Edogawa Conan/Kudou Shinichi, Mouri Ran and Kogaro, Suzuki Sonoko, the Detective Boys, Professor Agasa, Inspector Megure, Gin, and Vodka all get their introductions, among many other things. *Main Plot*
10: Introduces some minor recurring elements that will be referred to countless times in the future.
12: Introduces the turbo skateboard and detective badge, as well as makes the Detective Boys into... the Detective Boys.
13: Introduces Miyano Akemi (note her importance was far more immediately obvious in the manga [although not the full breadth of it by any means], but the anime creators were idiots and changed the ending of this episode completely and therefore had to make a special original follow up episode later on when they got to adapting the part of the manga where the implications of that ending started becoming extremely important [fortunately I think they learned from this incident and stopped doing things quite so dumb from that point on]). *Main Plot*
18: Introduces Superintendent Matsumoto.
20: Introduces the Elasticity Suspenders, and the manga version was the first introduction of the Detective Boys.
27-28: Mouri Kogaro character development.
32: Introduces Kisaki Eri, Ran's mom.
34-35: Suzuki Sonoko development (was her first appearance in the manga).
43: Introduces two characters, the naming of whom would spoil the end. Also has some Black Organization reference. *Main Plot*
48-50: Introduces Hattori Heiji as well as being the first time Conan manages to temporarily return to his original body. *Main Plot*
54: Some Black Organization stuff. *Main Plot*
Movie 1: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper
57-58: Hattori Heiji major development. *Main Plot*
Magic Kaito 1412 eps. 1-2: Introduces Kaitou Kid and Nakamori Ginzo.
76: First appearance of Kaitou Kid in DC. (1 Hour Special)
77-78: Heiji case.
81-82: Voice actor references galore.
96: Main character development. (2 Hour Special)
Movie 2: The Fourteenth Target
112: Introduces Kobayashi Sumiko (won't be of any real importance until way later).
118: Heiji case. Introduces Toyama Kazuha. (1 Hour Special)
128: "The Black Organization: One Billion Yen Robbery Case" *Main Plot*
129: Introduces Haibara Ai, possibly the second most central character to the overall plot after Conan himself. (2 Hour Special) *Main Plot*
130-131: Introduces Sato Miwako.
132-134: Kaitou Kid.
136-137: Character development.
Movie 3: The Last Wizard of the Century
141-142: Heiji case.
146-147: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story" (also introduces Miyamoto Yumi)
153-154: Introduces Kyogoku Makoto.
156-157: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 2"
162: "The Locked Room in the Sky: Kudou Shinichi's First Case" (1 Hour Special)
166-168: Heiji case.
170-171: Introduces Araide Tomoaki (becomes extremely important later on). *Main Plot*
174: Heiji case. (2 Hour Special)
176-178: "Reunion with the Black Organization" *Main Plot*
Movie 4: Captured in Her Eyes
188-193: "The Desperate Revival" *Main Plot*
199-200: Character development.
205-206: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 3"
212-213: Haibara development.
217-218: Megure development.
Magic Kaito 1412 eps. 4-6: Introduces Hakuba Saguru and the origin of the long-standing rivalry between Conan and Kid.
219: Kaitou Kid. (2 Hour Special)
220-221: Introduces Heiji's mom.
222-224: Heiji case.
226-227: Introduces Jodie Saintemillion. *Main Plot*
230-231: Introduces Akai Shuuichi (important to the max [and Badass Incarnate]), gives Jodie-sensei and Araide-sensei development, and some Black Organization on the side. *Main Plot*
Movie 5: Countdown to Heaven
238-239: Heiji case.
240-241: Character development.
242: Some Haibara development and Black Organization info. *Main Plot*
253-254: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 4"
258-259: Introduces James Black. Also, some Shuuichi development. *Main Plot*
263: Heiji case. (2 Hour Special)
264-265: Eri development.
266-268: Some Makoto development. Plus more Shuuichi. *Main Plot*
269-272: Some Black Organization info, and some Jodie development. Also, more Shuuichi. *Main Plot*
Movie 6: The Phantom of Baker Street
277-278: Lots of Heiji and Jodie. *Main Plot*
284-285: More Shuuichi. *Main Plot*
286-288: "Kudou Shinichi's New York Case" (extremely important Shuuichi, among other things) *Main Plot*
289-290: Some Black Organization info. *Main Plot*
301,302,304: Sato and Takagi development. (304 is 2 Hour Special)
307-308: Build up. *Main Plot*
309-311: "Contact with the Black Organization" *Main Plot*
Movie 7: Crossroad in the Ancient Capital
323-327: Heiji case.
329-330: Haibara development.
333-334: Character development.
335-336: Yukiko development and even more Shuuichi. *Main Plot*
338-339: Haibara, Shuuichi, Jodie, and Araide development. *Main Plot*
340-341: Haibara development. *Main Plot*
343-344: Jodie and Ran development. *Main Plot*
345: "Head-to-Head Match with the Black Organization: A Dual Mystery on a Full Moon Night" (2.5 Hour Special) *Main Plot*
Magic Kaito 1412 ep. 16: Crossover with DC 356.
356: Kaitou Kid. (1 Hour Special)
Movie 8: Magician of the Silver Sky
358-359: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 5"
361-362: Jodie and Araide development. *Main Plot*
381-383: Heiji case. (383 is 2 Hour Special)
385-387: Black Organization info. *Main Plot*
390-391: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 6"
Movie 9: Strategy Above the Depths
394-396: Kaitou Kid.
400: Major character development. *Main Plot*
406-408: Heiji case.
425: "Black Impact! The Moment the Black Organization Reaches Out" (2.5 Hour Special) *Main Plot*
429-430: Introduces Hondou Eisuke. *Main Plot*
Movie 10: The Private Eyes' Requiem
431-432: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 7"
457-458: Sonoko and Makoto development.
462-465: "The Shadow of the Black Organization" *Main Plot*
469-470: Kaitou Kid.
Movie 11: Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure
472-473: Kaitou Kid + significant main character development.
479: Heiji case. (2 Hour Special)
484-485: Eisuke development. *Main Plot*
487: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story 8: The Left Hand's Ring Finger" (1 Hour Special)
490: Heiji case. (1 Hour Special)
491-504: "Clash of Red and Black" (longest Black Organization arc to date by far) *Main Plot*
Movie 12: Full Score of Fear
507-508: Eisuke development. *Main Plot*
509-511: Introduces Okiya Subaru (awesome to the max). Also, some Black Organization info. *Main Plot*
Magic Kaito 1412 ep. 21: Crossover with DC 515.
515: Kaitou Kid. (1 Hour Special)
516-517: Heiji case. Also introduces Yamato Kansuke and Uehara Yui. (516 is 1 Hour Special)
521-525: Major development for the main characters (and Heiji is part of it this time). (521 and 522 are 1 Hour Specials) *Main Plot*
Movie 13: The Raven Chaser
532-535: Development for Superintendent Matsumoto, Takagi, and Sato.
537-538: Kaitou Kid.
542-543: Subaru development. *Main Plot*
557-561: Some character stuff for some of the main characters, introduces Morofushi Takaaki, and some Inspector Yamato and Uehara development.
563-564: Big FBI and Black Organization goings on. *Main Plot*
568-569: Inspector Shiratori and Kobayashi-sensei development.
Movie 14: The Lost Ship in the Sky
578-581: Subaru and Jodie development, and some Black Organization activity. *Main Plot*
583-585: Inspector Shiratori and Kobayashi-sensei development.
586-587: Kaitou Kid. (note: the latter half of 585 is actually part of this arc)
592-593: Ran development.
610-613: Heiji case.
Movie 15: Quarter of Silence
616-621: "Holmes’ Revelation" (major main characters development) *Main Plot*
622-623: Haibara and Subaru development. *Main Plot*
624: Introduces Miike Naeko.
Magic Kaito 1412 eps. 9-11: Lead-in to DC 627-628 followed by those episodes from Kid's perspective.
627-628: Kaitou Kid.
Magic Kaito 1412 eps. 3, 8, 12-15, 17-20, 22-24 can be watched whenever you want.
646-647: Introduces Sera Masumi. *Main Plot*
648-650: Sera development. *Main Plot*
Movie 16: The Eleventh Striker
651-655: Heiji case. Introduces Yonehara Sakurako. (651 is 1 Hour Special)
656-657: Sera and Subaru development. *Main Plot*
659-660: Detective Chiba and Miike development.
667-668: Introduces Amuro Tohru. *Main Plot*
671-674: "Detectives' Nocturne" (major development for Subaru, Sera, and Amuro, and some Black Organization) *Main Plot*
675-676: Some mild Sera development and Black Organization build up. *Main Plot*
681-683: "The Life-Threatening Broadcast of Love" (major development for Sato and Takagi and lesser development for Sera and Amuro) *Main Plot*
684-685: Haibara and Subaru development. *Main Plot*
690-691: Subaru, Sera, and Conan's dad development. *Main Plot*
Movie 17: Private Eye in the Distant Sea
699-700: Haibara and Sera development with a bit of important Subaru and Amuro; build up for the following big event. *Main Plot*
701-704: "The Pitch Black Mystery Train"; big Black Organization event AND Kaitou Kid at the same time. If that is somehow in some universe not enough for you, it has important development of varying degrees for Haibara, Conan's mom, Shuuichi, Subaru, Sera, and Amuro. *Main Plot*
705-706: Some follow-up with some plan details and Amuro. *Main Plot*
710-715: Heiji case.
722-723: A bit of Amuro and Subaru development. *Main Plot*
724-725: Kaitou Kid.
727-728: Slight Sera development. *Main Plot*
731-732: Introduces Haneda Shuukichi, a bit of development for Yumi, and a tiny bit of Chiba and Miike.
734: Some Black Organization with a bit of Jodie development. (1 Hour Special) *Main Plot*
Movie 18: Dimensional Sniper
744-745: Some Makoto and significant Sera development. *Main Plot*
746-747: "Kaitou Kid VS Kyogoku Makoto"
748-749: "Metropolitan Police Detective Love Story "
754-756: Sera development and introduces Sera's little sister from outside the domain. *Main Plot*
759-760: Sera and Sera's outside sister development. *Main Plot*
763-764: Heiji case.
770-771: Amuro development. *Main Plot*
772-773: Shinichi case.
Movie 19: Sunflowers of Inferno
779-783: The "Scarlet" series. A Black Organization-related series with big development for Amuro, Subaru, and basically all of the FBI characters of any significance. *Main Plot*