By EW Staff
June 17, 2014 at 03:34 PM EDT

Now that the TV season is over, awards season is about to begin. We’ve watched every minute of every episode of the finest shows from the past year to determine the most impressive scene from each series. It was a task as daunting as it was time-consuming (you try to pick just one “best” scene from Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones), but we came away with our list, and we’re ready for you to disagree with the majority of it.

The clips, and our explanations, are below. Emmy voters, you’ll want to take notes.

50. Trophy Wife (ABC)    
Ep. 7, “The Date”
SCENE: Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) plays beer pong to get an embarrassing photo removed from “Instant-Gram.”
WHY: Who knew deadpan Diane is a master of the party game? The vicious doctor is never funnier than when she’s trying to bridge a generational gap, and in a season of brilliant one-liners, this raucous sudsy showdown was brimming with some of the best. Although Trophy Wife won’t live to see a second season, Harden’s performance as Diane was one of the year’s best character creations. Whether slinging ping pong balls or zingers toward Kate (Malin Akerman), it’s hard not to love the hollow shell of terror that is Dr. Buckley. —Marc Snetiker
49.  Sleepy Hollow (Fox)     
Ep. 13, “Bad Blood”
SCENE: The epic nine-minute reveal at the end of the season 1 finale.
WHY: It could’ve felt like “just the biggest exposition dump in the history of TV,” to quote executive producer Alex Kurtzman. But being a part of producers’ plans from the start, the twist—increasingly affable Sin Eater Henry Parrish (John Noble) is actually the son of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Katrina (Katia Winter), and the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse—will go down as one of the TV season’s biggest, most satisfying surprises. “We kept using as a touchstone The Usual Suspects,” Kurtzman tells EW. “You’re watching the movie having one experience, but by the end, you realize you’ve been set up so inevitably for the reveal that was in front of you the whole time.” —Mandi Bierly
48.  The Simpsons (Fox)    
Ep. 20, “Brick Like Me”
SCENE: Homer realizes he’s stuck in a Lego world because he’s afraid of Lisa growing up—and outgrowing him.
WHY: Homer offers up some classic blunder-headed thinking (Marge: “Homey, ask yourself, Can you really live in a paradise if you know it’s just pretend?” Condescending Homer: “Marge, who would give up eating steak in the Matrix to go slurp goo in Zion?”), and his juvenile joy is effectively illustrated through consequence-free Lego magic: He kicks off his head in joy and takes down Chief Wiggum’s helicopter by throwing a parking meter at it, only to have the resulting mess tossed into a Tupperware container, to be rebuilt another day. Indestructible, like The Simpsons. —Dan Snierson
47.  Archer (FX)     
Ep. 510, “Weight”
SCENE: Lana is visited by Archer as she feeds and bonds with her new baby.
WHY: The season ends with the mother—or should we say daddy?—of all cliffhangers when Lana says, “Sterling Archer, I’d like you to meet your daughter, Abbiejean.” —Lynette Rice
46.  Bates Motel (A&E)    
Ep. 10, “The Immutable Truth”
SCENE: A shrieking Norma (Vera Farmiga) stops Norman (Freddie Highmore) from committing suicide.
WHY: The premise of the Psycho prequel has largely built to this intensely acted moment between mother and son, culminating in one incestuous mouth-to-mouth kiss that, weirdly enough, was a pay-off for fans eager to see the TV relationship of Norma and Norman creep toward its movie counterpart. “That was Freddie’s idea,” EP Kerry Ehrin reveals to EW. “I have to be honest that it scared me at first, but I think the way Vera kissed him was so brilliant that they got away with it.” —Snetiker
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Ehrin dissects the finale.
45. The Blacklist (NBC)
Ep. 9, “Anslo Garrick”
SCENE: Red (James Spader) tells an injured Donald (Diego Klattenhoff) why it’s not their time to die.
WHY: What began as another TV procedural has blossomed into this year’s breakout hit, due entirely to the extraordinary talents of Spader as Red Reddington, a brainy baddo who’s trying to redeem himself by helping the FBI catch villains with even worse criminal records. Spader never fails to dazzle with his effortless magnetism and keen ability to make Red infinitely relatable, like in this moment when, holed up in a bulletproof cell, he tells an injured Donald why he chooses life. “Have you ever sailed across an ocean, Donald? On a sailboat surrounded by sea with no land in sight. The stand at the helm of your destiny? I want that one more time … that’s why I won’t allow that punk out there to get the best of me, let alone the last of me.” —Rice
44. Looking (HBO)
Ep. 5, “Looking for the Future”
SCENE: Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Richie (Raúl Castillo) muse about life on a date at the planetarium.
WHY: Richie opens up about his past in a tenderly written, understated scene that captures the flirtation of a modern gay couple and realistically discusses sex with a comic lightness that never feels derisive. It’s a prime example of the show’s strikingly contemporary—and honest—tone, and it’s no surprise that this standout bottle episode was written by Andrew Haigh, the same scribe behind the equally authentic gay romance Weekend. —Snetiker
43.  Parenthood (NBC)    
Ep. 18, “The Offer”
SCENE: Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) pick up Max (Max Burkholder) after his field trip is cut short.
WHY: We’ve watched for years now how raising a child with Asperger’s is both challenging and terribly upsetting for the Bravermans, but in this moment—when Max reveals his latest bout of bullying at the hands of classmates who don’t understand his affliction—Potter and Krause demonstrate what makes Parenthood one of the most woefully underappreciated dramas on TV: The only thing more agonizing than Max’s revelation about feeling like “a freak” and asking why the other kids hate him is the look on the faces of his parents, who sit helplessly in the front seat. —Rice
42.  Portlandia (IFC)    
Ep. 3, “Celery”
SCENE: Steve Buscemi stars as a struggling celery salesman desperate to make the vegetable seem hip.
WHY: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s savvy the-way-we-live-now lampoon of the modern foodie’s fickle tastes—complete with nods to everything from Glengarry Glen Ross to Grisham paperbacks—sucker-punched us so hard, we nearly spit out our kale salads in amazement.
41. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Ep. 116, “June 19, 2013”
SCENE: Stephen Colbert eulogizes his mother.

Click here to view clip

WHY: A week after Stephen Colbert’s mother passed away at the age of 92 the Comedy Central satirist put aside his blowhard character to pay heartfelt tribute to his beloved mom.

“She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother, and her husband, and three of her sons,” said the comedian. “But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and to instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together. And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut.” —Clark Collis

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40. Arrow (CW) 
Ep. 23, “Unthinkable”
SCENE: Arrow and Deathstroke’s final fight.
WHY: The long-awaited throwdown gave fans two fights—one past and one present—combined with a sinking ship to create an unforgettable (and highly physical) conclusion to their rivalry. Arrow did not fail his city, and the show’s stunt team did not fail its fans. —Samantha Highfill
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Stunt coordinator JJ Makaro takes us inside the battle.
39. Doctor Who (BBC America)
50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor”
SCENE: The return of Tom Baker.
WHY: The show’s last Fall marking the 50th anniversary of the British time travel show featured plenty of moments designed to have Who fans finding they had something in their eye. There was David Bradley’s heart-breaking performance as “First Doctor” William Hartnell in the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time; “Eighth Doctor” Paul McGann’s role in the webisode “The Night of the Doctor;” and of course the return of both Billie Piper and David Tennant in the 50th anniversary special episode, “The Day of the Doctor.” But it was a surprise cameo in the same episode by Tom Baker, the longest-serving TARDIS-dweller and the most beloved Doctor from the show’s original run, that had Whovians of a certain age bawling like babies as they watched the sci-fi icon chat with Matt Smith. “He wanted to be part of this very special occasion,” says Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat of Baker’s appearance. “It’s the only time he’s consented to do something for Doctor Who since he left it, really.” —Collis
38. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Ep. 15, “The Wall”
SCENE: Leslie (Amy Poehler) attempts to “tear down this wall” between Pawnee and Eagleton and exposes a hidden “beehole.”
WHY: We don’t like laughing at Leslie Knope, but when so many crucial elements coalesce at once—crackling writing, antic acting, and… bees? BEES!—we just have to side with camera-phone-wielding Councilman Jamm (John Glaser): “I’m gonna send this straight to Tosh!” —Ray Rahman
37. Broadchurch (BBC America)
Ep. 8
SCENE: Beth (Jodie Whittaker) confronts Ellie (Olivia Colman) after learning who killed her son.
WHY: The pain of two mothers comes crashing to a tragic climax as Beth comes face-to-face with her friend—who is not just a detective on the case but, as it turns out, also the wife of the murderer—in a darkened field outside Beth’s home. “How could you not know?” Beth cries, before walking away. And a devastated Ellie, who once asked the wife of a sex abuser the same question, is left to wonder why she has no answers. —Rice
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Creator Chris Chibnall on the killer, key scenes, and keeping the secret.
36. Hannibal (NBC)
Ep. 12, “Tome-wan”
SCENE: Hannibal Lecter’s unruly patient Mason Verger feeds his own face to dogs and eats his nose.
WHY: Why, indeed? We’ve all done things while intoxicated that we regret, but this is a worst-case scenario blackout. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) drugs his obnoxious patient (a scenery and face-chewing Michael Pitt) and encourages him to make a meal of his own head—which he does, and cheerfully (“I’m full of myself!”). Leave it to showrunner Bryan Fuller to serve up what might be the most gory scene in broadcast TV history. “Pitt was so infectiously fun throughout his episodes, so incredibly game for whatever we threw his way and he’s practically giddy in that sequence,” Fuller says. And what were those slices of his “cheek,” which the dogs so eagerly ate, made from? “It was tofu soaked in meat by-products,” Fuller says. “It was as healthy as it was terrifying on screen.” —James Hibberd
35. The Returned (Sundance)
Ep. 1, “Camille”
SCENE: The truth is revealed about Camille (Yara Pilartz) and her sister.
WHY: When teenage Camille returns from the dead, her older sister Lena is even more freaked out than you might expect. Why? It’s unclear, until a flashback reveals that Lena isn’t really Camille’s older sister. They’re actually identical twins. Camille died during a class trip, when the school bus careened off the road. But Lena stayed home sick that day. Now, years later, Lena has aged while Camille remains frozen in time. As Lena watches Camille leave home for the last time, waving from the window, the scene sums up survivor’s guilt perfectly. You can’t tell the difference between them. It could’ve been Lena who died. —Melissa Maerz
34. Kimmel (ABC)
Ep. 14, February 6, 2014
SCENE: Celebrities Read Mean Tweets #6.
WHY: It’s tough to pick the best edition, but this one—which featured Tim Robbins calling out the bad speller that called him a “pretensious c—” and Bill Murray chuckling at the tweeter who said he was glad that Murray got shot in Zombieland—contained many, shall we say, favorites.  —Snierson
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Co-head writer Molly McNearney takes us through the cruel-ing process of creating these segments.
33. Fallon (NBC)
Ep. 46, “April 28, 2014”
SCENE: Jimmy’s lip-sync battle with Emma Stone.
Dawn of the Dead: Everett Collection

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WHY: The new prince of late night is a master at putting his guests at ease before asking them to participate in segments that bring out their truest selves. To wit: We knew Emma Stone was a talented charmer but her uncanny lip-sync renditions of Blues Traveler’s “Hook” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” left not just us but also Fallon himself (who was hardly a slouch with his renditions of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Styx’s “Mister Roboto”) completely stunned. “That’s the best one that’s ever been done!” Fallon exclaimed. We agree.  —Rice 
32. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Ep. 22, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
SCENE: Burke (Isaiah Washington) offers Cristina (Sandra Oh) his job.
WHY: Cristina Yang is not to be trifled with. So, seven years after being left at the altar, hearing her former fiance admit he can’t work with her for his marriage’s sake and is passing along his dream job is the ultimate validation for the usually stoic Dr. Yang. And getting one final moment of crackling chemistry between the two actors was the ultimate parting gift for fans. —Highfill
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Read the script for the confrontation.
31. Community (NBC)
Ep. 4, “Cooperative Polygraphy”
SCENE: Pierce (Chevy Chase) says goodbye to every character through the executor of his will, Mr. Stone (guest star Walton Goggins).
WHY: In an episode that showcased what this meta comedy can do just by sticking all of its characters in a room, this scene proves a crafty and surprisingly touching way to handle a farewell for a cantankerous, disagreeable character who has already departed our world: Pierce bequeaths gifts that range from thoughtful to lavish—an iPod Nano, a tiara, a spacious timeshare in Florida, a bottle of fine scotch, $14.3 million in shares of Hawthorne Wipes—but none was as, well, life-affirming as the canisters of frozen sperm that he gave to each of his former study group frenemies. Touching, thoughtful, and, yes, perfectly crass. —Snierson
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30. Broad City (Comedy Central)
Ep. 10, “The Last Supper”
SCENE: Abbi and Ilana’s fancy birthday dinner ends with a shellfish disaster.
WHY: Very few shows are able to capture what a best friend really is: the person who, even though it’s her birthday, physically carries your allergy-ravaged body out of an upscale restaurant to a cozy hospital bed. Or, for that matter, the person who eats shellfish at your birthday dinner to make the occasion more special, even though you know it could very well kill you. “We hired a stunt double just in case, because I didn’t know if I’d be able to carry Ilana,” says Abbi Jacobson. “And guess what? Didn’t need the stunt double! It’s one of my proudest parts of the show!” —Rahman
29. Orphan Black (BBC America)
Ep. 3, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It”
SCENE: Cosima watches her clone Jennifer waste away in a video journal.
WHY: Jennifer Fitzsimmons’ death may have stretched over months, but actress Tatiana Maslany was able to draw a full portrait of her in less than two minutes with a briskly stitched tapestry of confessional recordings. —Lanford Beard
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Co-creator Graeme Manson reveals how they created the new clone.
28. Girls (HBO)
Ep. 7, “Beach House”
SCENE: The big fight.
WHY: College friendships don’t last forever, and this brawl between Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) underscores the reason why: storing up years of resentment, only to let it all out in one night, can only lead to cruelty—and total hilarity. (Shoshanna gets one of the best lines: “Seriously, that duck tasted like a used condom and I want to forget about it.”) Watching Shoshanna finally stand up for herself is great fun, but the whole scene is also a near-universal fantasy: haven’t we all wanted to tell our friends what we really think about them? As Shoshanna says, “Being honest is fun.” —Maerz
27. Justified (FX)
Ep. 10, “Weight”
SCENE: Danny Crowe (AJ Buckley) tests the 21-Foot Rule on Raylan (Timothy Olyphant).
WHY: Finally, we were going to see if a knife-wielding nut job really wins a duel with a gunslinger if he charges him from a distance of 21 feet or less. But in a twist as abrupt as Indiana Jones pulling out a pistol, Danny took a few steps, fell headfirst into the grave dug for his beloved dog Chelsea, and stabbed himself through the chin. Exec producer Graham Yost will always remember the moment he and Olyphant, who’d pitched the death at the start of the season, first saw director John Dahl’s storyboards. “There was a giddiness,” Yost told EW. “The way Dahl shot it with those feet sticking up, you know, that’s Elmore [Leonard]—it’s funny and it’s horrifying.” And quintessentially Justified. —Bierly
MORE ON THE MOMENT: View Dahl’s storyboards.
26. The Americans (FX)
Ep. 9, “Martial Eagle”
SCENE: Philip (Matthew Rhys) rages at his daughter after she donates her savings to charity.
WHY: Only Rhys could make you sympathize with the Russians over the Americans they’re bent on destroying. He delivers a furious, must-watch performance as an underground spy who attacks his daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), for giving money to that opiate of the people: the church. The subtext is rich—he has killed innocents for a cause she can’t possibly understand—and the dialogue is sharp. Rhys delivers what might be the best claim to martyrdom ever delivered by somebody’s parents: “You respect Jesus but not us?” —Maerz
25. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
Ep. 2, “I’m So Bad”
SCENE: Amy’s video-gaming experience takes a disturbing turn.
WHY: Writing about rape might be the hardest thing in comedy. If you’re too funny, you’re making light of sexual violence. If you’re too serious, you can’t take a joke. It’s a good thing that Schumer braved it anyway. In this sketch, she’s playing a Call of Duty-style game when her female soldier avatar gets raped, unlocking Level 24, which is “just a lot of paperwork.” Her boyfriend doesn’t believe it really happened, claiming that she must have “done something wrong” in playing the game. Later, she’s informed that her attacker was found guilty, but his commanding officer exercised his right to put the rapist back on duty. Schumer says the writers were inspired by The Invisible War, a doc about sexual assault in the military. “I loved the idea of using a Call of Duty-type game to highlight that,” Schumer tells EW. “Those games are dark anyway but how about we show something that really happens.” Funny? Unfunny? Like all important comedy, it’s both.  —Maerz
24. The Killing (AMC)
Ep. 10, “Six Minutes”
SCENE: Ray (Peter Sarsgaard) walks toward his execution.
WHY: If you make it through this once, you’ll never watch it again. Prison guards are dragging death-row inmate Ray Seward toward his execution when he glimpses his son through the window. There’s no dialogue. Just looking at Sarsgaard’s face, you can pinpoint the exact moment when Ray’s fear of death turns into a much worse fear: his son will keep living a terrible life without him. It’s unbearable to watch, and even worse to listen to, with Sarsgaard quietly whimpering. “The words didn’t matter,” Sarsgaard explained to EW. “I was saying, ‘I’m still me up here. They haven’t taken my humanity.'” —Maerz
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Sarsgaard breaks down his character’s end.
23. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Ep. 13, “A Mother’s Work”
SCENE: When a chillingly impenetrable Jax (Charlie Hunnam) confronts his ratting wife Tara (Maggie Siff) in the park, she’s convinced he’s decided to kill her and asks him not to hurt her in front of their young boys.
WHY: It’s all on Siff’s tear-soaked face as she grounds Sons‘ operatic dialogue: the fear, the conviction, and the honesty of a woman finally admitting aloud that she believes her husband has turned into a monster. “The way I thought about it, it wasn’t about being cruel to Jax or impressing something upon him—it was just the truth,” Siff tells EW. “And this is the last chance she thinks she has to tell him the truth.” Jax ultimately telling Tara he wanted her to save their boys made the episode’s end all the more tragic: “It’s Romeo and Juliet meets Hamlet, like [Sutter] intended,” she says.  —Bierly
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Siff explains how her costars added to the terror.
22. Silicon Valley (HBO)
Ep. 3, “Articles of Incorporation”
SCENE: Tech billionaire Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) ignores pleas for emergency funds from start-up execs while studying every item on the Burger King menu … and then explains how cicada cycles will affect sesame seed futures and get them the money they need.
WHY: It’s a quirky, uneasy scene that ends in comic relief as Gregory schools everyone with his Jedi-like logic. It’s also one of the last that Welch would shoot; he died of lung cancer in December. —Snierson
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Co-creator Mike Judge remembers Welch.
21. Key and Peele (Comedy Central)
Ep. 8, “High on Potenuse”
SCENE: Othello ‘Tis My Shite.
WHY: In this Shakespearean send-up, Elizabethan buddies Lashawnio (Keegan-Michael Key) and Martinzion (Jordan Peele) find themselves verily in love with Othello at the intermission of the show—but when we catch up with them afterward, their disposition has changed dramatically. The duo’s effortlessly portable wit is on full display when they plop their “Liam Neesons”-loving fanboy personas into Shakespearean Times, whereupon the guys quickly get their doublets in a twist over “triflin’-ass Iago”—all of which confirms our suspicion that Jordan and Keegan are the modern bards of sketch-comedy. —Rahman
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20. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Ep. 14, “The Grove”
SCENE: Carol (Melissa McBride) kills Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino).
WHY: From the very first episode of TWD, it’s been clear that even the very young are not safe in the apocalypse. But the decision by Carol to shoot her “adopted” daughter Lizzie after the girl murdered her sister was still one of the drama’s most shocking moments so far. “There is no way to say it’s right or wrong,” says McBride of her character’s choice. “But what she did had to be done in her mind. Lizzie just wouldn’t do well in this world, and it would make it so difficult to survive with her for long. I think she just did what needed to be done.” —Collis
MORE ON THE MOMENT: McBride discusses the “devastating” turn.
19. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Ep. 15, “The Locomotive Manipulation”
SCENE: Sheldon (Jim Parsons) surprises Amy (Mayim Bialik) with a kiss in the middle of a heated argument.
WHY: Perturbed about the expectations of Valentine’s Day, Sheldon launches into a mini-tirade about having to force romance, but a throwaway kiss to Amy turns into a precious, long-awaited make-out session. It also serves as a key reminder why Sheldon’s alter-ego, Jim Parsons, deserves to remain showered with Emmys. —Rice
18. Fargo (FX)
Ep 1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”
SCENE: Murderous hit man Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) talks novice cop Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) into letting him go.
WHY: Because Malvo said this: “Some roads you shouldn’t go down because maps used to say ‘there’d be dragons here.’ Now they don’t. But that don’t mean the dragons aren’t there.” –Hibberd
17. Mad Men (AMC)
Ep. 6, “The Strategy”
SCENE: Don and Peggy stay late at the office and slow-dance to “My Way.”
WHY: In a tantalizing echo of the classic Don-Peggy after-hours tussle in season 4’s “The Suitcase,” Matthew Weiner blesses us with a scene where our vulnerable, booze-loosened heroes take each other by the hand—literally and figuratively—for an emotional, elegantly plotted dance that beautifully demonstrates how, for better or for worse, their souls are inextricably linked. —Maerz
16. The Mindy Project (Fox)
Ep. 8, “You’ve Got Sext”
SCENE: Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and Peter (Adam Pally) hijack Mindy’s (Mindy Kaling) phone for sexting.
WHY: Kaling’s send-up of rom-coms reached a new level of hilarity thanks to Barinholtz and Pally’s performances as the goobers who think they’ve got a handle on sexting. We love the scene (well, scenes) for the sheer ridiculousness of the sexts in question, and for addressing the sad truth that we’ve essentially all been there and done that. Chalk this episode up to another victory for TV’s best modern romantic comedy. —Snetiker
15. Scandal (ABC)
Ep. 15, “Mama Said Knock You Out”
SCENE: Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Mellie (Bellamy Young) duke it out over who’s to blame for their broken marriage.
WHY: Everything came out when the long-simmering confrontation between POTUS and FLOTUS exploded, but what wasn’t said—Mellie’s rape at the hand of Fitz’s father—made the argument even more powerful. It was the conversation we’ve been waiting for all season long, but we couldn’t anticipate how emotional it would actually be, especially with both actors giving their season best performances. We can’t decide which was better: Goldwyn’s terrifying outburst, or Young’s agonizing restraint. —Snetiker
14. SNL (NBC)
Ep.10, “Dec. 23, 2013”
SCENE: The ladies (and host Jimmy Fallon) drop the beat about having sex in your childhood bedroom on “(Do It On My) Twin Bed.”
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave: Sci Fi Channel

Click photo to view clip[/caption]

WHY: SNL‘s digital shorts have always been more “bro” than “broad,” so the first music video to feature all the female cast members was a welcome treat—not to mention one of the season’s flat-out funniest bits. “They’ve done a lot of really awesome music videos, but never one with all of the girls,” says SNL player Aidy Bryant of the short, which was brainstormed on Tuesday, put to music on Wednesday, shot on Friday, and edited on Saturday. “We had a Britney or Pussycat Dolls vibe in mind, and that’s an insane look … to see comedians go full sex on the least sexy thing ever.” We’ll never look at our seventh grade yearbook photos the same way again. —Snetiker
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Bryant takes credit for the lyric, “just shirt, no pants, like Winnie the Pooh.”
13. AHS Coven (FX)
Ep. 2, “Boy Parts”
SCENE: Supreme witch Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) meet.
WHY: If there’s one thing Ryan Murphy’s anthology series does better than any other show on TV, it’s providing brilliant material for gold-plated actresses of a certain age. As Fiona and Marie size each other up at Laveau’s salon Cornrow City, the undercurrent of danger pulsing between these centuries-old rivals is trumped only by the thrill of watching Lange and Bassett engage in a thespian throwdown. —Kristen Baldwin
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Murphy admits he “cackled with glee” the first time he saw it.
12. Homeland (Showtime)
Ep. 12, “The Star”
SCENE: Carrie inks a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall to commemorate Brody’s covert sacrifice.
WHY: Brief and dialogue-free, Carrie’s quiet goodbye is still the most emotionally devastating scene in the series, aided by composer Sean Callery’s unconventionally wistful score. —Hibberd
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Showrunner Alex Gansa explains Brody’s fate.
11. House of Cards (Netflix)
Ep. 4, “Chapter 17”
SCENE: Claire (Robin Wright) publicly admits that she got an abortion.
WHY: What starts as an act of bravery—the Vice President’s wife admits on national television that she got an abortion—turns into a master class on media manipulation. Claire only admits to one of the three abortions she’s had, and it’s the result of a rape. The implication is chilling: the American public would forgive an abortion that followed a rape, but they’d never forgive a woman for simply choosing not to have children. The scene stirred up passionate debates about strong female characters, and whether writers really need to make them suffer in order to make them “likeable.” (See also: Cersei on Game of Thrones.) But Claire’s confession made sense within the power-mad world of House of Cards, where nothing is too personal to use for political means. —Maerz
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10. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Ep. 43, “Jan 8, 2014”
SCENE: Jon Stewart takes New Jersey Governor to task.
WHY: From The Sopranos to Boardwalk Empire, Hollywood has a habit of glamming up New Jersey corruption. But leave it to Stewart—himself a former Garden State resident—to take something as pedestrian as Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal and thoroughly undress it in a sly, righteous, mad-as-hell speech that said everything short of “Argo fuck yourself.” —Rahman
9. Veep (HBO)
Ep. 4, “Clovis”
SCENE: Clovis CEO Craig (Tim Baltz) puts a smart watch—a.k.a. a Smarch—on VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and attempts to share info with his own.
WHY: Veep has truly mastered theater of the awkward, and it was a special breed of wicked fun to see a pretentiously casual, enlightened, and coddled tech billionaire CEO like Craig (no, it’s Craig) try to show off the features of his next-level, sure-to-change-the-way-we-interface-with-technology-and-each-other watch, only to have the whole thing descend into some fruitless hand-shaking that resembled everything from tree-sawing and cow-milking from Selina’s perspective. Yes, this revolutionary device can take you anywhere you want to go on the web… if where you want to go is a list of Sea World’s opening times. “We have a saying here at Clovis: Dare to fail,” spins Melissa (Mary Grill), the Clovis CFO. “Well, then that’s a job well done,” quips Meyer, to which we say: Job very well done, Veep.  —Snierson
8. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Ep. 6, “Brave New World”
SCENE: Margaret (Allison Janney) is interviewed to join the Masters and Johnson sex study.
WHY: The most surprising thing to come out of Showtime’s first season of Masters of Sex was Allison Janney, who recurred as Margaret Scully, the deeply troubled wife of a closeted college provost (Beau Bridges). In a Masters season best moment, Margaret attempts to join Masters and Johnson’s hospital sex study, but after her pre-screening interview, her denial from the study is only half as painful as the reason why: her heartbreaking realization that she’s never had an orgasm. It’s a powerful moment for Janney, and launches one of the show’s most devastating and emotionally impactful storylines. —Snetiker
7. Louie (FX)
Ep. 4, “So Did The Fat Lady”
SCENE: Vanessa (Sarah Baker) sets Louie (Louis CK) straight on plus-sized women.
WHY: For anyone who ever felt too heavy to be loved, this was a hallelujah moment, the kind that makes you shout “YES!” at your TV screen. There’s so much truth to the writing, whether Vanessa is scolding Louie for denying that she’s fat—as if “fat” was the worst thing he could call her—or insisting that hot guys flirt with her, but average-looking guys don’t, because they’re afraid they should date her. But credit really goes to Baker for making Vanessa pity-proof. “Some people might feel bad for [my character],” the actress told EW. “But some people might be like, ‘Oh, she’s a cool chick. He’s the one who’s got the issue.'” —Maerz 
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Baker explains how she got the role.
6. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
Ep. 11, “Tall Men with Feelings”
SCENE: Crazy Eyes’ lament.
WHY: Famous for peeing on the prison floor and singing the “chocolate and vanilla swirl” song, Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) was always the comic relief on Orange—until she asked Piper (Taylor Schilling) why people always make fun of her. Suddenly, with a heartbreaking confession—“When I get mad, I go to the loony jail”—and a sad, wide-eyed stare, Aduba made us wonder why we ever laughed at all. —Maerz
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Aduba talks bringing Crazy Eyes to life.
5. Sherlock (PBS)
Ep. 2, “The Sign of Three”
SCENE: Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) delivers his best man speech for Watson (Martin Freeman).
WHY: It’s not just that, when Sherlock raises his glass, he makes the wedding guests laugh (“big, squishy cuddles!”) and blink back big, squishy tears (“I never expected to be anybody’s best friend.”) It’s not just that he solves one mind-bending mystery in the process, and recounts a few others, including one that involves a poison-dart-blowing dwarf. It’s that he delivers a genuinely poignant tribute to one of the all-time great loves—not the one between the bride and groom, but the one between Sherlock and Watson, a friendship so intimate, its kind is rarely seen between men on TV. All of this, plus Sherlock somehow manages to use the words “doom of… our entire species” without ruining the wedding. Best men everywhere, take notes. —Maerz
4. True Detective (HBO)
Ep. 5, “Secret Fate of All Life”
SCENE: Rust Cohle (Matthew McConnaughey) tells interrogators “time is a flat circle,” and that every action—including brutal murders—inevitably repeats.
WHY: The most perfect (and most quoted) example of the show’s mad scientist mash-up of character, philosophy, and crime, hauntingly delivered by a world-crushed Matthew McConaughey. —Hibberd
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Creator Nic Pizzolatto lists his inspirations for the speech.
3. The Good Wife (CBS)
Ep. 5, “Hitting the Fan”
SCENE: Upon learning that Alicia (Juliana Margulies) is leaving to start her own firm, Will (Josh Charles) walks into her office without warning, and sweeps everything off of her desk.
WHY: Many fans have clung to the notion that Will and Alicia belonged with each other, but her act of betrayal (which was more about self-preservation than good business) was the final blow to their already tenuous love affair. Alicia’s decision to make a clean break set into motion the most satisfying—though arguably most depressing, no thanks to Will’s unexpected shooting death—season yet of this Emmy-starved drama. —Rice
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Creators Robert and Michelle King talk tension.
2. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Ep. 6, “The Laws of Gods and Men”
SCENE: Tyrion’s raging outburst while on trial for his life.
WHY: Having long endured callous abuse, unjustified mistrust, murderous plots, and cruel manipulations—and that’s just from his own family—Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) finally tells the King’s Landing court just what he thinks of them when his ex love Shae (Sibel Kekilli) is called to cruelly testify against him. “Please don’t,” he begs her in a weary last-ditch attempt to prevent his heart from being broken, before launching into a rising epic tirade that’s equal parts thrilling and self-destructive. “Every scene with Tyrion, every interaction, was all leading up to this moment,” says writer Bryan Cogman. “I keep coming back to how piercing his gaze is throughout that speech—he’s just stabbing daggers into every person he’s talking to.” —Hibberd 
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Read the script.
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Ep. 14, “Ozymandias”
SCENE: Walt (Bryan Cranston) tries to get the family to run.
WHY: You could argue that the whole series was building to this moment. Since the first episode, Walt has argued that he got into selling meth to protect his family. Hank has to die before everyone finally realizes the truth: the family needs to protect itself from Walt. It’s hard to pick the most devastating shot. Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) throwing a scrawny arm in front of his mom (Anna Gunn) to save her from his dad? Skyler, framed between a telephone and a set of knives, forced to choose whether to call the cops on her husband, or kill him herself? Baby Holly screaming as Walt kidnaps her, while Skyler drops to her knees, screaming in the middle of the street? Maybe the worst thing is that this gruesome scene is only happening because Skyler believes Walt killed Hank. After all the truly monstrous, evil things he’s lied about, the one thing she’s willing to kill him for is the one thing he didn’t do. —Maerz
MORE ON THE MOMENT: Co-executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett, who penned the episode, talks that scene and more.
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