In all fairness, it's "fan favorites", not "best episodes". There's nothing in there that says the episodes have to be good
In that sense the kind of poll they did might be more accurate than our impressions of what ought to be there, since we're necessarily biased towards the episodes we or people we trust critically think are good, instead of the ones that the broadest number of people like (which might be very different -- many episodes that are good are not necessarily the most enjoyable, and vice versa. For example, I think a decent number of people enjoy an episode like "My Favorite Things", but objectively speaking, I think it's terrible, so its appeal/enjoyment level doesn't seem strongly related to its quality).
I admit thinking the post-09 focus was exaggerated, but if you're polling younger people, that's quite possibly reflective of their actual preferences; I wouldn't necessarily blame it on AIO. Indeed, I'm not sure there's any reason for them to 'load' it that way.
A good question when evaluating what episodes should go on a list is how many two or three parters you want. It's hard to have those because they eat into your 24-episode limit very quickly. Most two parters have more content worth hearing than just one episode, but they're not necessarily 'twice as good', so you have to ask whether you can get more bang for your buck with more singletons.
-- Tue May 29, 2018 3:58 am --
Here is a quick preliminary take on such a list, which is meant to be used as a jumping off point for making a better one. Some important details about the criteria I used:
1) This list consists entirely of single episodes, with no two or three parters. I'm not opposed to including multiparters in a fan favorites album but I think it'd take a careful analysis to make sure that you're getting the most for your time, an analysis I didn't feel up to doing at this moment. I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on what you think would be essential for this kind of thing.
2) This has a lot in common with an "easy listening" collection. There are very few serious episodes. I imagine there are a number of great serious episodes that should probably be on a popular list, but I had a hard time guessing which ones would actually be most popular, so for this take, I didn't even try. This is a detail y'all could definitely help fill in.
3) There also aren't any Bible episodes, and few history ones -- not because I dislike them but because I couldn't decide right now which ones the broad majority would want in.
4) If the episode was already included in one of the other major compilations, most notably The Ultimate Road Trip Collection and Countdown to Christmas, I didn't consciously include it (I didn't carefully examine those collections, though, so it's possible one still slipped into the list. If so, another one should be substituted.)
5) No Club exclusives are included.
6) No more than 24 episodes (of course, that being the size of the official fan favorites album).
With those caveats, and without further ado, my first draft at such a list, roughly in chronological order:
The Day Independence Came
Someone to Watch Over Me
License to Drive
Truth, Trivia & 'Trina
A Victim of Circumstance
Hidden In My Heart
The Devil Made Me Do It
The Buck Starts Here
I Slap Floor
Nothing But the Half Truth
Sunday Morning Scramble
Two Friends and a Truck
Push the Red Button