Delete Podcast Episodes that Appear on Apple TV but Not in iTunes

On more than one occasion I’ve had the problem of a podcast episode appearing on my Apple TV that I can’t find, and therefore delete, in my iTunes library. Often it’s a podcast episode that I know I’ve deleted in the past but can’t seem to figure out how to get rid of from my Apple TV. The episode won’t play on the Apple TV — just showing an error — so I know that it was an issue with what iTunes was reporting to the Apple TV as available content.

At one point I actually went the thermo-nuclear route to get rid of these phantom episodes— blowing up my entire iTunes library and starting from scratch, adding music and movies to a fresh library just to remove a single episode from my Apple TV. That’s how annoying it was to me (I don’t claim to be sane).

But, I’ve found a solution and it’s actually quite easy.

  1. Start by adding a new Smart Playlist, either by clicking the plus button in the bottom right corner of iTunes or by going to File > New > Smart Playlist.
  2. Setup the first and only rule to “Media Kind is Podcast”.
    Podcast Smart Playlist
  3. Click on OK and your podcast playlist will be created.
  4. From the playlist view it should list every episode of every podcast you have in this iTunes library, including the phantom episode that is appearing on the Apple TV.
  5. Now simply select the phantom episode you’d like to get rid of and use the Option+Delete keyboard command to delete it (Shift+DEL on Windows).

And, now that annoying phantom episode will disappear from your Apple TV. I’ve kept the playlist around in case any problematic episodes appear again. But, the solution is simple enough to construct that you could certainly delete the playlist for simplicity’s sake.