Year in Review: The Top 20 Shocking TV Moments of 2016

Whether it’s live, scripted, or a mixture of both, television can provide some of the most intense and jaw-dropping moments when you least expect it. Viewers will often be fixated and emotionally ingrained in one scene and then, within a flick of a frame, a whole new surprising world opens up to them. The most eye-popping and thrilling scenes become the topic of conversation on social media, on magazine covers, and around the dinner table. Just in time for the ultimate countdown of the calendar year, here’s a list of the Top Shocking TV Moments of 2016:

Warning: series’ plot spoilers abundant. Some scenes and language NSFW.

Let’s hit it.

20. Your Fiancé & All Your Friends Did What?

There were better and more viable moments to end the list with but these housewife shows are forged with drama and shock. This is the only list these women will ever make it on, so enjoy it ladies. When LuAnn thinks she’s found the love of her life in Tom, her elation is flattened after she insanely learns that Tom has slept with almost all of her friends. They literally talk about hooking up with her philandering boyfriend over brunch. LuAnn then receives pictures of Tom cheating at that very moment while’s she’s on vacation. She breaks down, everyone laughs, and she forgives him. Their wedding is on December 31st. Good luck!

19. Kimye & Taylor Are Never Ever, Ever Getting Back Together 

Turning to reality TV, this triangle of scandal was one of the most publicized pop culture disagreements of the year. Kanye West wrote a song about Taylor Swift. Kanye said he made her famous (choice word omitted) and asked permission. Swift said West didn’t in front of all her friends at her birthday party. OK, it was the VMAs but you get the picture. On the E! series Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Kim Kardashian exposed the real or her truth of the situation. She outlined the phone call her husband made to Ms. Swift and stated he even played he song for her approval. She later released a video of the exchange.

18. The Surveillance Experience  

Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film festival breakthrough film “The Girlfriend Experience” became a Starz hit television series this year. Law student Christine takes an internship at a prestigious law firm and  later assumes a new role. Christine becomes a sex worker and things become blurred when one of her clients sends a risqué tape to every employee at her job. In an instant panic ensues, whispers begin, and Christine is frazzled. She begins to smartly tape everything and everyone in her vicinity. Christine soon turns this shocking moment into a taping instance of her own, resulting in millions for her from an harassment suit.

17. Frank Castle’s Beat Out of Jail Free Card

Daredevil is just one series in the comic book turned TV series rolodex at Netflix. On the most recent season of the action drama, it was Frank Castle aka The Punisher who stole the show. Frank found himself in stuck in the dim hallway of the prison and surrounded by a dozen inmates. Armed with only a shiv, he took on the enraged mob, severely throttled them, and picked them apart. It was one of the best action sequences the show and Marvel has ever produced. The high octane and bloody ordeal was a refreshing display of comics on a different medium. The scene stayed gory and true to its original animation source.

16. Ryan Lochte Gets Swarmed

Rio Olympics 2016 most disgusting attendee Ryan Lochte was all over the television this season. Lochte started a media frenzy after he claimed he was robbed and held at gun point in Rio. Reporters were called, international ties scrambled, and even the airport status of some of this teammates was news. Eventually Lochte was exposed and ridiculed. ABC awarded his deception by casting him on their hit show Dancing With The Stars. Protestors of Lochte swarmed the salsa stage during a broadcast to the amusement of everyone who watched.

15. I See Dead People, and Katy Perry 

Catfish is known to bringing the bizarre, absurd, and sometimes comical. This season a man named Spencer believed he was dating pop star Katy Perry. Hosts Max and Nev later found a Canadian woman named Harriet at the end of the rabbit hole of web lies. She wasn’t Katy Perry nor she was she into men. Sorry, Spencer. Even after Harriet was exposed, Kevin didn’t believe it and thought Katy was using an assistant to protect anonymity. Spencer eventually accepted it. In another episode, a medium was believed and was never disproven to have spoken with a girl’s deceased father. This show really has it all.

14. The Secret Service Sacrifice 

Claire and Frank Underwood have scaled the levels of Congress and  surged to the White House. With the untrustworthy backdoor deals and unsavory agreements required to make such a leap, sometimes collateral damage is a given. When Frank was making his political rounds to attempt his re-election, a fatal moment occurs. Secret Service member Meecham was gunned down protecting the president from an assassination attempt. Meechum was a devoted confident to the Underwoods both personally and professionally and unexpected death was riveting.

13. That Hallway Scene

This moment became a long and boiling repercussion from the forthcoming OITNB shocking scene (#7). The prison reeled after the death of one of their own and the disgusting misconduct shown by the guards on various occasions. Budget cuts and downsizing left the prison undermanned. When passion and anger reached a fever pitch in the finale, the guards were shown to be unprepared. Once a scrum broke out and a guard’s gun became fair game, it was the quiet character of Daya who picked it up. After several moments of swirling uncertainty she pointed the gun at the guard’s head and began giving orders. The season ended in the frenzy and insanity of this moment.

12. Angela Makes Ghost Disappear 

Starz’s most watched program is the sleek and smart drama Power. The show follows successful club owner James St. Patrick who is also the biggest drug distributor on the eastern seaboard. As he tries to navigate between the businessman and  his drug persona “Ghost”, it’s his US Attorney girlfriend Angela, that becomes entangled in his double life the most. This season had multiple murders and location shifts but the craziest scene came when Angela finally caved and put her paramour behind bars. Honorable mention from this show: The death of Holly. You will not be missed.

11. Mr. Rikers

The past season of USA’s cyber thriller Mr. Robot was fragmented, bizarre, and fantastic. Main character Elliot Alderson has gone through many obstacles and insane scenarios throughout the length of  this hacker drama. He has lived in mental isolation and paranoia. This season, the series placed him in a setting where he can experience both emotions at a heightened scale, prison. While the rest of his friends are shown rapidly fleeing from the FBI and other hacking groups after the collapse of the global economy, Elliot’s confinement amidst the chaos was a bold choice by the show.


10. Eleven Saves the World

Stranger Things became the gem of the streaming media and the upcoming awards season. Whether people were talking about the disappearance of fandom femme Barb, Joyce’s hysterics, or the unity of the kids, the show had the world buzzing. In the finale, the heroine of the sci-fi production sacrifices herself for the good of her friends. When Eleven looks at Mike and says “goodbye” the audience grieves. Eleven masterfully and powerfully destroys the creature and then disintegrates. Many of the fans are hopeful and yearn for Eleven’s return. Whether she returns or not, that amazing scene will be everlasting.

9. Darden Please!


The most shocking trial of the 90’s became America’s obsession in 2016. When FX broadcasted The People vs. OJ Simpson, new storylines sprang from the decades old thrilling court case.  The sexism that Marcia experienced was full materialized and her quiet romance with Chris Darden. Yet, it was the back and forth between Darden and Cochran that would make this list. In a verbal spat between the two, Darden evoked race in the courtroom as a pillar in the case. After Cochran spun a masterful defense, he stared into the camera’s lens saying  “_____ please”.

Video here.

8. Long Live the Queen

On a show laced with so many powerful women, it’s fitting that the closing frame of this season of Game of Thrones showed one slinking into the regal chair. This season, Westoros was overrun with religious zealots and corruption. The king, Cersei’s teen son Tommen, agreeable and naïve nature allowed his city to be swallowed up in a cloud of chaos. When his sinister mother had enough, she trapped all of her foes and ignited them, literally. The explosion engulfed the entire chamber and surrounding its areas. Her son jumped from a ledge out of grief and his mother, soon after, took his place on the throne.

7. R.I. Poussey 

What makes a show like Orange Is The New Black so great is its ability to layer the singular lives of a multitude of characters and make them collaborative narratives. The Netflix series is a team sport. One of the most saddening moments in the show’s history came this season when Poussey was killed by a prison guard. The slight character suffocated on the cafeteria floor during a prison protest that turned chaotic. It didn’t take long for viewers to realize in the frantic scene that Poussey was being crushed under the weight of the prison guard. Her death was poignant, devastating, and unforgettable.

6. What in the Westworld?

Now that the literal dust has settled on which was one of the most exhilarating finales of the 2016 TV cycle, views can exhale. With a series the contains so many twists and reveals in most episodes, its hard to pick just one surprise out of the crowd. The prime standout was  the Delores/Wyatt and William/Man in Black reveal. The jaw-dropping climax of a Delores’ lover of her past being her villain of the present was heartbreaking. The realization that Delores was the ultimate nemesis in the entirety of the Westworld park was still a trending topic on Twitter 36 hours later. In summation, it was intensity at it’s finest.

5. Negan Hits a Homerun with Glenn

He said, ” I need you to know me,” and he meant it. It was clear when he beat a man after saying it. AMC’s thriller The Walking Dead promoted and teased fans since the ending of Season 6. From Comic-Con to the series’ posters, images of the cast kneeling before Negan in a row were everywhere. Rumors also swirled that the entire cast had shot death scenes so that nobody would know who was getting killed after the cliffhanger. In Season 7’s opener, it was Glenn got the short end of the stick. Or should I say the spiked end of the bat? The killing was violent, torturous, and abrupt.

Video here.

4. The Best Buy Shirt Breakup 

HBO’s new series Insecure created a full tilt war of the sexes. When relationship dissatisfaction led to a predictable moment of infidelity for Issa, it became a social media firestorm. Later in the series, her Best Buy boyfriend Lawrence finally upgraded his job to a profession using his Georgetown degree. The couple leveled out and yet Issa’s cheating ways lingered as a plot time bomb. In the finale, post-breakup Lawrence calls Issa to tell her he misses her. She drives from the shores of Malibu to Los Angeles expecting a reconciliation. When Issa gets home, the apartment is empty and all that remains is Lawrence’s Best Buy shirt.

3. Mainstream News Staring at the Election Map


It was mentally pulsating, confusing, and high television anarchy. One minute a correspondent would confidently click the screen and speak about a county you’ve never heard of. In mixture of minutes later, you could see the sweat bead up on the same anchor’s face. For many political pollsters and analysts, it was a night that saw them inexplicably dumbfounded. In 2016, the circus that spawned from this election rotation reached a full tilt of panic. As a spectator, no matter what channel you watched, uncertainty prevailed. It something that will about for the ages.

2. Hold The Door … Hodor … Hold Me

Since Game of Thrones’ television inception in 2011, fans have only heard Hodor say one word, his name. This season revealed how the burly character got his name. When Bran used his time traveling and telekinetic powers to take over Hodor’s body to seal a door. He inadvertently linked the past and present psyche of the character in an instant. Fans watched in awe as young Hodor started having a seizure on the ground, while slowly stammering “Hold the door..hold the do…hold the d..Hodor.” In that moment, viewers understood the culmination of the character’s life while watching his dramatic death.

1. Steve Harvey Can’t Read What’s “Right on the Card” | December 20, 2015

The top moment technically happened in late December 2015. However, the mistake echoed several months later. Whether you used this image became a meme to tell someone “Happy Valentine’s Day” on Independence Day or you simply replayed the video numerous times on Youtube, Steve Harvey’s snafu was the ultimate double eye emoji scene heard around the world. The cringe worthy moment of Harvey wrongly crowning Miss Columbia instead of Miss Philippines as Miss Universe will lasts as one of the most agonizing four minutes in pageant and live television history.

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