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10 Most Fan-Pleasing TV Moments Ever –

 

 

Fanservice (in the broader sense, not the anime sex-related definition) can be a strange beast. Go too far with it, or don’t really earn it, and it can completely derail a TV show or movie, feeling tacked on, cheap, and a little bit insulting.

Get it right, however, and fans are sure to be delighted. Viewers tend to think they know what they want, and there’s something in giving that to them – or giving them what they don’t even realise they need – but only when it’s the right moment.

Properly build to the big event, delay the gratification long enough, and then you can offer a moment of intense satisfaction, whether its a grand return, a shocking death, or that ‘will they, won’t they?’ couple finally getting together. As fans we obviously want TV shows to please us, and these are the moments that did that better than any other.

10. Sam Returns – The West Wing

NBC

Aaron Sorkin wasn’t the only major part of The West Wing to depart after Season 4: Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn went with him. Seaborn, the Deputy White House Communications Officer, left the White House to run for Congress, and the last we heard is that he lost the election and has returned to California to work in a law firm, leaving politics altogether.

Such was Sam’s fate for three years, before Josh came calling at the end of Season 7 like Nick Fury putting together the Avengers. Initially hesitant to accept his offer of becoming Deputy Chief of Staff for the Santos Administration, Sam eventually accepts and makes his grand return to politics. The fast-paced walking-and-talking banter between the pair is vintage West Wing, and his return gives the show its biggest fist-pumping moment right at the very end.

9. Face-Off – Breaking Bad

AMC

A ruthless, murderous, sociopathic ruler of a drug empire, and yet we all rooted for Walter White anyway. That was especially the case in Breaking Bad’s incredible fourth season, where the tension between him and Gus Fring reached fever pitch and it became clear one of them had to go.

For obvious reasons, that couldn’t be Walt, yet Gus seemed undefeatable. He exuded such confidence, maintained such control, and walked away from everything thrown at him that it seemed almost impossible we’d actually get our wish of seeing him die granted.

Cut to the season finale, and the bomb planted in Hector Salamanca’s wheelchair. It’s a masterclass in building tension, gripping us to our seats as we wait to learn whether the plan to kill Gus has worked. And then the door opens, Gus walks out, adjusts his tie, and unbelievably he seems fine… until we learn that half his face has been blown off, and he falls to the floor, dead at last.

8. Nikki & Paulo Are Killed Off – Lost

ABC

One of the advantages network shows with 20+ episode seasons have is that, if it becomes apparent something really isn’t working, they can change it before the season is even finished. Fandoms can bring people together or push them apart, but perhaps no example is bigger or more dramatic than the case of Nikki and Paulo.

The pair were introduced early in Season 3 as survivors of the plane crash who just hadn’t happened to appear before now, as part of a response to questions over what happened to the extras in the plane crash. Fans immediately hated the pair for their whiny annoyance, but luckily didn’t have to put up with them for long.

The 14th episode of Season 3, Expose, centred around them, their history, and their time on the island, before they were bitten by venomous spiders that left them paralysed and, believed dead, were then buried alive by Sawyer and Hurley. The episode was still disliked, but fans rejoiced at never having to see the couple again.

7. Jim Asks Pam Out – The Office

NBC

For Jim and Pam it wasn’t a case of will they/won’t they, but just a question of when it would happen. Their chemistry was too great and, knowing how sitcoms (and the UK version of the show) worked, they were always going to get together.

That didn’t stop the series from really taking its time with it though, building their friendship first while both were involved in other relationships, until the closing moments of Season 3.

The entire episode, The Job, is one of Pam’s best, and Jim’s return from New York and walking in on her closing interview is the icing on the cake. It’s suitably laid-back and casual, with Jim asking her out for dinner and quickly leaving again once she accepts, but the Cheshire Cat smile on Pam’s face is one mirrored by everyone watching this moment play out.

6. Bubbles Remains Sober – The Wire

HBO

Given its commitment to authenticity and often all-too-real portrayal of life in Baltimore, moments of outright, uplifting joy were few and far between. Something like Stringer being killed by Omar and Brother Mouzone was a thrill, but Stringer was far too complex a character for it to be completely fan-pleasing.

The end of the series, however, did offer a few happier moments, and none more so than seeing Bubbles make it to one year of sobriety and find the confidence to go to his sister’s house, who welcomes him with open arms and lets him stay with her.

Bubs wasn’t the biggest character on the show, but he was the one that best exemplified the world David Simon was trying to depict. A genuinely good person who has suffered from the system and society around him, his struggle isn’t over yet, but seeing him achieve this goal and find acceptance with his family is a beautiful endpoint for the character.

5. I Am The FBI – Twin Peaks The Return

Showtime

It might be the most recent show on the list, but this moment from last year’s Twin Peaks: The Return was 25 years in the making.

The original series ended with the massive cliffhanger of Dale Cooper being inhabited by BOB, and over two decades later David Lynch wasn’t going to offer an easy answer.

The Return was nothing like fans expected, instead choosing to completely subvert knowledge of who Dale Cooper is, giving us the hapless, empty vessel of Dougie and the malevolent Mr C in his place. Seeds for the proper return were sown across the first 15 episodes, but they were scattered. And then, having stuck a fork in a plug socket at the end of Part 15 that put him in a coma, Dougie wakes up in Part 16 only for us to realise he’s Dougie no longer.

Cooper’s triumphant return is confirmed with four simple words that sent shivers down the spine of every Twin Peaks fan: “I am the FBI.”

4. Once More With Feeling – Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Mutant Enemy

Yes, this is an entire episode rather than a moment, but with good reason: while Buffy’s six season is a tough watch, Once More With Feeling is the show at its most astonishingly crowd-pleasing. An entire musical episode that ties together important character development and massive showtunes, this is rightly regarded as one of the all-time best episodes of the series, and is the show at its most infectiously charming, without losing its darker elements along the way.

To boil it down to a single moment, though, this also gives us the true first kiss between Buffy and Spike. Their relationship went to some bad places, and Angel is Buffy’s true soulmate (shoutout to his return in Season 7), but fans had been waiting for this moment for a long time and, after so much longing on the part of Spike and no one else understanding Buffy’s pain, this was the showstopper inside a showstopper.

3. Sam And Diane’s First Kiss – Cheers

NBC

The original will they/won’t they couple, Sam and Diane were an incredible mix of sexual tension, chemistry, and contrasting personalities that made the build to their relationship so engrossing.

Of course, they were never quite right for each other, as Cheers realised later in the show and the finale confirmed, but everyone believed they were back in Season 1, and were rooting for them to get together. They were either going to kiss each other or kill each other, and luckily they chose the former.

The Season 1 finale uses this brilliantly: they almost kiss, before Diane rejects his advances, which leads to a huge, iconic argument before their pair kiss passionately in the bar’s office, in a moment that would come to help define not only the show, but the entire medium.

2. The Purple Wedding – Game Of Thrones

HBO

You can argue that other villains did worse things. You can argue that Ramsay was more inherently evil. But nothing was so intensely satisfying in Game of Thrones as seeing the smirk wiped off Joffrey’s face for good.

Contrasted to, say, Ramsay’s death in Season 6, we weren’t used to the bad guys getting their comeuppance back in Season 4, when such victories were so few and far between, and it especially didn’t happen in just the second episode of the season.

That made Joffrey’s death all the sweeter and more surprising (to those who hadn’t read the books, at least), and the execution was perfect too. Jack Gleeson’s performance made him so perfectly hateable, his face so punchable, that the second you realise what’s happening you want to cheer but don’t quite believe it. Falling to the floor, his face turning purple, you’re finally allowed to celebrate. The king is dead. Coming just three episodes after another wedding ended in such tragedy, this was exactly what fans needed.

1. I Got Off The Plane – Friends

NBC

Friends was full of fan-pleasing, fist-pumping, heart-swelling, stand-up-yelling moments: Ross and Rachel’s first (ok, technically second) kiss in Central Park, ‘he’s her lobster’, Monica proposing to Chandler, Joey moving back into the apartment. The writers would even gauge audience reaction when filming and change things on the fly.

But for all the highs across all 10 seasons, no moment pleased fans, made fists pump, hearts swell, and have you stand up and yell quite as much as the scene Rachel stands in Ross’ doorway, revealing that she did indeed get off the plane.

Their relationship may have been off longer than it was on, but Ross and Rachel had to end up together. They left it late, but that just made it all the sweeter. This is the emotional crescendo to the entire series; quite literally its happy ending.

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