15 best TV moments of 2022

15 best TV moments of 2022

Look no further for the most shocking, sweet, funny, and generally killer scenes of the year

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Clockwise from bottom left: Adam Scott in Severance (Photo: Apple TV+), Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews in The Dropout (Photo: Beth Dubber/Hulu), Patrick Fabian in Better Call Saul (Photo: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television), Kit Connor and Olivia Colman in Heartstopper (Screenshot: Netflix), Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Ayo Edebiri in The Bear (Photo: FX)
Clockwise from bottom left: Adam Scott in Severance (Photo: Apple TV+), Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews in The Dropout (Photo: Beth Dubber/Hulu), Patrick Fabian in Better Call Saul (Photo: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television), Kit Connor and Olivia Colman in Heartstopper (Screenshot: Netflix), Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Ayo Edebiri in The Bear (Photo: FX)
Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

We’ve already counted down the very best shows of the year, so why not get a bit more specific and single out the television moments that wowed us the most in 2022? From a frenetic motorcycle chase and sweet first kiss to a bloody final-season twist and damn funny cold open, these are the scenes we kept going back to over the past 12 months. As with our top series list, so long as a moment first aired in 2022, it can be considered. And unlike that list, this baby runs in chronological order, starting with a bomb of a reveal in February and stretching to one hell of a speech in November.

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2 / 17

Rue blurting out the truth about Nate and Cassie on Euphoria (“Stand Still Like The Hummingbird”)

Rue blurting out the truth about Nate and Cassie on Euphoria (“Stand Still Like The Hummingbird”)

Euphoria - Rue Exposes Cassie and Nate Season 2 Episode 5 | HBO

Season two of Euphoria had no shortage of show-stopping moments. Sam Levinson’s adrenaline-rush fever dream of a series is all but made up of them. But its most affecting come when the show delves into the addiction drama at its center. With “Stand Still Like The Hummingbird,” the show gave Emmy winner Zendaya yet another tour de force episode wherein Rue tries to (literally, this time) run away from her problems after her mother and friends learn of her relapse. But no lashing out cut as deep as when, in an attempt to deflect attention away from her withdrawal, she threw Cassie (season two standout Sydney Sweeney) under the bus, asking her (in front of Maddie, no less) how long she’d been fucking Nate. Such a question was an expertly deployed bomb, the fallout of which set the stage for the rest of the season. [Manuel Betancourt]

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3 / 17

Elizabeth’s cringey dance to Lil Wayne on The Dropout (“Flower Of Life”)

Elizabeth’s cringey dance to Lil Wayne on The Dropout (“Flower Of Life”)

Amanda Seyfried dancing to Lil Wayne’s How To Love | The Dropout

There’s a lot that’s Emmy-worthy in Amanda Seyfried’s nuanced performance as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout, but there’s one bit that defines the series: her awkward moves to Lil Wayne’s “How To Love.” The too-wide eyes, the stilted physicality, the puffy vest, the green drink in her hand: It all adds up to one cringeworthy attempt at a romantic gesture. But this scene isn’t a one-off play for laughs. Throughout the series, Elizabeth’s musical taste gives the show a sense of time and place, and her dancing is revealing of her character: She’s slightly uncomfortable in her skin but ambitious enough to go for it anyway; she’s completely earnest even when totally dishonest. And she’s always scheming, as in this case where she tries to soothe Sunny’s (Naveen Andrews) ire. [Mary Kate Carr]

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4 / 17

Ed and Stede’s first kiss on Our Flag Means Death (“Act Of Grace”)

Ed and Stede’s first kiss on Our Flag Means Death (“Act Of Grace”)

Stede and Edward first kiss | Our Flag Means Death 1x09

“I guess what makes Ed happy is … you.” If the line, as uttered by Taika Waititi’s Edward “Blackbeard” Teach at Rhys Darby’s Stede Bonnet, hit you in your feels, you weren’t alone. Episode after episode, HBO Max’s quirky pirate comedy Our Flag Means Death seemed to be moving into ever queerer territory. Yet rather than lean into the low-hanging fruit such a turn could take (we are talking about seamen, here, are we not?), Waititi and Darby’s portrayal of the oddest couple in the seven seas dove headfirst into explicitly romantic territory to the surprise of characters and audiences alike. After all, their romcom will-they-or-won’t-they (kill each other, that is) was at first so weighted with homoerotic subtext that it would’ve been flagrantly a queerbaiting bit had it not culminated in the sweetest pirate kiss ever. [Manuel Betancourt]

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5 / 17

Lumon’s “innies” revealing the truth on Severance (“The We We Are”)

Lumon’s “innies” revealing the truth on Severance (“The We We Are”)

Severance - Season One Ending

Severance’s first-season finale is an absorbing, nail-biting hour of television. Mark (Adam Scott), Helly (Britt Lower), and Irving (John Turturro)—thanks to their teammate Dylan (Zach Cherry)—awaken their “innie” Lumon persona in the real world. Their goal is to figure out what their shady employers are up to, and how they can be stopped, but it was never going to be easy. Severance packs quite the gut punch with its closing moments. Beware of spoilers, everyone. It’s a tense, edge-of-your-seat anxiety build-up. “The We We Are” reveals Helly’s identity, Mark learns the truth about Ms. Casey, and Irving’s romance ends before it could truly begin. In just 10 minutes, Severance delivers a riveting cliffhanger. It will you have you screaming just as wildly as Mark when he yells, “She’s alive!” to his sister, but is unable to provide context because his “outtie” version is back. And just like that, the Apple TV+ drama promises an exciting second season. [Saloni Gajjar]

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6 / 17

Nick coming out to his mother on Heartstopper (“Boyfriend”)

Nick coming out to his mother on Heartstopper (“Boyfriend”)

Heartstopper - Nick Comes Out to Mum || Season 1 Episode 8 CLIP || Netflix

Heartstopper is guaranteed to make you cry multiple times, but at least they’ll always be happy tears. One of the year’s most wholesome comedies, it follows the sweet romance of teens Nick (Kit Connor), who realizes he is bisexual, and Charlie (Joe Locke). In a memorable moment from the finale, after a successful beach date with Charlie, Nick decides to come out to his mother. These type of scenes are usually considered heavy and painful because the response can be scary. That’s slowly changing over time in how shows like Schitt’s Creek and One Day At A Time approach them. Heartstopper shines in the same way. It lends Nick the space and kindness he needs to be honest. And it helps that Connor is acting opposite Olivia Colman, who plays his supportive mum, as no one can convey more with her facial expressions. The scene is a perfect way to cap this joyous season for the show, which has thankfully been renewed for two more rounds. [Saloni Gajjar]

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7 / 17

Howard’s end on Better Call Saul (“Plan And Execution”)

Howard’s end on Better Call Saul (“Plan And Execution”)

Howard Hamlin’s Death | Better Call Saul 06x07 Plan and Execution

Better Call Saul delivered a Breaking Bad-level shocker (right up there with, say, “run”) as its midseason finale of its last go-round, with our main duo (Jimmy and Kim, played by Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn) left with their worlds turned upside down and open mouthed, just like we were so used to seeing the lead pair in Vince Gilligan’s previous ABQ-set opus. A drunk Howard (Patrick Fabian, who over the course of season six shows complicated shades we didn’t know his character had) confronts the ex-coworkers who’ve been sabotaging his life, laying out their moral bankruptcy, when Lalo (Tony Dalton, fantastic) calmly enters the room and blows Howard’s brains out. There were a lot of moments worth singling out in the final season of this truly great show—Nacho’s death, that Marion confrontation, that slick mall-security-guard sequence, that final shared smoke—but this one perhaps stung the most. [Tim Lowery]

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8 / 17

The motorcycle chase on Barry (“710N”)

The motorcycle chase on Barry (“710N”)

Barry Motorcycle Chase | Barry 03x06 710N

Every great Barry action sequence is equal parts ordinary and extraordinary. For episode “710N” star and director Bill Hader turned to a tried and true L.A. staple (traffic on the highway) to create one of the finest chase sequences on 21st century television. When, after buying some trendy beignets, Barry (Hader) finds himself tailed by three motorcyclists, his instincts kick in. And once he floors it, he never looks back. Well, except to witness the many ways his chasers-cum-attackers meet horribly (hilarious) ends. Dispensing with any score, the scene amps up the tension with just a heightened soundscape that makes brakes, radio songs, and every stray bullet thunder around us as our favorite hitman takes off on a stolen bike with nothing more than his wits about him. Oh, and those beignets, naturally. [Manuel Betancourt]

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9 / 17

The Bear’s oner (“Review”)

The Bear’s oner (“Review”)

Kitchen Nightmare | The Bear | FX

This was one of my favorite moments of the summer in what turned out to be The A.V. Club’s favorite show of the year. And a few rewatches later, it’s still a doozy, a 17-plus minute single shot that takes the viewer through an Italian Beef joint as everything and everyone falls apart, a sequence, fittingly soundtracked by a live jam of Wilco’s “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” that still gives this particular viewer that how-did-they-pull-that-off buzz. (Vulture did a nice piece on just how they did it.) But it’s more than just that buzz-inducing technical feat. It’s a perfect aesthetic choice for capturing the staffs’ emotions boiling over—be they Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White), Marcus’ (Lionel Boyce), or Sydney’s (Ayo Edebiri), who happens to accidentally stab her motor-mouthed nemesis Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach)—before the cleanup in the season’s finale. Props to director Christopher Storer, writer Joanna Calo, cinematographer Andrew Wehde, the whole camera department, and every actor onscreen. Taking it in again for this best-of roundup makes me even more excited for season two and the surprises The Bear probably has up its sleeve. [Tim Lowery]

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10 / 17

Laszlo and Simon the Devious’ (latest) confrontation on What We Do In The Shadows (“Go Flip Yourself”)

Laszlo and Simon the Devious’ (latest) confrontation on What We Do In The Shadows (“Go Flip Yourself”)

Laszlo Cravensworth vs Simon the Devious. The Battle Over The Witch Skin Hat.

What We Do In The Shadows might not have brought Jackie Daytona back in season four, but the writers did continue the running gag of Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Simon the Devious’ (Nick Kroll) rivalry over who should be in possession of a cursed witch’s hat. It comes to a hilarious conclusion (for now) in episode eight when Laszlo realizes his nemesis has tricked him into spending a lot of money to flip a house, all to score the “witch’s clit of a hat.” In the process, Berry and Kroll verbally duel once more, and it brings out the best diction of New York City. Both actors have previously enhanced the pronunciation, but nothing beats Berry’s melodious “Nyew YooORk Citahy.” You’ve got to hear it to believe it. The British actor and comedian delivers a line like no other, and this one inspired The A.V. Club to narrow down some of our favorites. [Saloni Gajjar]

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11 / 17

The classroom lesson on Los Espookys (““Bibi’s”)

The classroom lesson on Los Espookys (““Bibi’s”)

Mr. Bibi’s’ Tragic Death | Los Espookys | HBO

Los Espookys didn’t go quite as hard on its signature fake hauntings in its (now frustratingly final) second season as it did in the first, instead sending its characters further afield into its oddball magical realism reality. But the setpieces that are there are no less inventive and strange, with the second episode “Bibi’s”—and yes, the apostrophe is important—an obvious stand-out. Hired by a dictatorial teacher who wants to use her students’ love of cute monsters to make them more obedient, the Espookys crew whip up a giant, heart-decorated egg, and an even cuter beast within, played with radiant goofball charm by Bernardo Velasco’s Renaldo. But despite his promises to always do his homework, and to have a pencil ready, Bibi’s just can’t help but interrupt the class when the call of nature comes. And thus does his “divine punishment” swiftly arrive: If you’ve never watched a grown man in a bright pink monster suit cry out about internal bleeding in his “Bibi-lung’s” while a classroom of children look on in traumatized horror … well, then you’ve never watched Los Espookys. Get on that. [William Hughes]

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12 / 17

Barbara mixing up Black and white actors on Abbott Elementary (“Wrong Delivery”)

Barbara mixing up Black and white actors on Abbott Elementary (“Wrong Delivery”)

Quinta Brunson Wrote Viral ‘Abbott Elementary’ Black Celeb Sketch After IRL Sheryl Lee Ralph Mix-Ups

ABC’s Abbott Elementary continues the glorious sitcom tradition of hilarious cold opens. And an instantly iconic one occurs early on during the sophomore season. In the second episode opener, the running joke is how Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), bless her heart, tends to mix up Black actors’ names for white celebrities. Kerry Washington or Carrie Underwood? Millie Bobby Brown or Bobby Brown? Brian Tyree Henry or Brian Austin Green? Tommy Lee Jones or James Earl Jones? It doesn’t matter to Barbara, even though all she’s doing is appreciating their talent. The best part is that all her coworkers don’t bother correcting her, not even when she mistakes Dawson’s Creek’s Michelle Williams with the Destiny’s Child singer. The pacing, the actors’ reactions (watch out for Janelle James’ smirk or Quinta Brunson saying “So close,”), and Ralph’s overconfidence help sell the humor. It’s the kind of cold open you can watch on repeat without getting bored. [Saloni Gajjar]

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13 / 17

Kevin entering a single-cam world on Kevin Can F**K Himself (“Allison’s House”)

Kevin entering a single-cam world on Kevin Can F**K Himself (“Allison’s House”)

Eric Petersen as Kevin and Annie Murphy as Allison in Kevin Can F**k Himself
Eric Petersen as Kevin and Annie Murphy as Allison in Kevin Can F**k Himself
Photo: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

It’s the moment everyone watching Kevin Can F**K Himself had been waiting for. Ever since AMC’s genre-bending show began, it was clear that Kevin McRoberts (Eric Petersen) is a toxic manchild husband. All his misogynistic comments were laughed off in the “sitcom” version, while his wife Allison (Annie Murphy) suffered through his psychological abuse in real life. But what does Kevin look and sound like without the harsh glow of the multi-cam? In the series finale, KCFH gives us a glimpse at his rage, paranoia, and isolation when Allison asks for a divorce, finally freeing herself. It’s only a brief moment, but it’s more than enough to recognize Kevin’s manipulative tactics, and why they shouldn’t be excused away. The scene’s dim lighting, Valerie Armstrong’s camerawork, and Petersen and Murphy’s performances all elevate this worth-the-wait scene. [Saloni Gajjar]

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14 / 17

Jen escaping Disney+ on She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (“Whose Show Is This?”)

Jen escaping Disney+ on She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (“Whose Show Is This?”)

She Hulk Meets KEVIN Scene - Jen asks KEVIN about X-Men - She Hulk Episode 9

Love it or hate it, the She-Hulk: Attorney At Law finale showdown between Jennifer (Tatiana Maslany) and K.E.V.I.N. (a robot parody of real-life Marvel boss Kevin Feige) was the fledgling show’s biggest swing amidst a series of big swings. (She had just hooked up with Daredevil, for goodness sake!) Dissatisfied with how her story is unfolding, Jen escapes through the Disney+ platform and rampages onto the Marvel lot, where she confronts the AI that designs all Marvel stories and asks for a better ending. Contextually, the ending she receives wreaks havoc on the season’s storyline. But the scene itself completely fulfills the promise of what She-Hulk can be. It’s bold, laugh-out-loud funny, self deprecating, and silly. It has moments to satisfy the Marvel haters (poking fun at the parent company’s reliance on CGI) as well as the Marvel lovers (teasing the X-Men). It’s also a showcase for actual Tatiana Maslany, rather than the digitally rendered version, and she gets to display some lawyerly prowess as well as be her charming, fun, fourth wall-breaking self. There’s a message here, too, about creativity and a female hero writing her own story. Your mileage may vary, but it’s impressive that one sequence could contain so much—and all within the MCU’s first attempt at a sitcom. [Mary Kate Carr]

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15 / 17

Atlanta dropping a perfect mockumentary (“The Goof Who Sat By The Door”)

Atlanta dropping a perfect mockumentary (“The Goof Who Sat By The Door”)

“The Goof Who Sat By The Door” episode - “Atlanta”

My new favorite episode of Atlanta, maybe the Blackest show of the 21st century, pays homage to the “Blackest movie of all time.” (Okay, so this is a whole episode, not one particular scene, but this stylistic left turn was absolutely a moment.) The Goofy Movie mockumentary only has a cursory connection to the Atlanta world, but it’s an immediate can’t-miss thanks to its faithfulness to the doc style (even recruiting journalist Jenna Wortham and music legend Brian McKnight). Plus, the entirely fictional story in which a Black man became CEO of Disney and created The Goofy Movie is a brilliant love letter to Black kids who saw similarities in characters like Max and Roxane and claimed them as their own. [Quinci LeGardye]

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16 / 17

Luthen Rael’s “sunless space” speech in Andor (“One Way Out”)

Luthen Rael’s “sunless space” speech in Andor (“One Way Out”)

Stellan Skarsgård in Andor
Stellan Skarsgård in Andor
Screenshot: Disney+

Luthen Rael, the Rebel spymaster perched at the black, bleeding heart of Disney+’s shockingly good ground-level Star Wars series Andor, is a master of showing people the face he thinks they need to see: harmless eccentric, harsh taskmaster, “dare to be better” coach, all on demand. But Rebel spy Lonni Jung (Robert Emms) might be the most profoundly unlucky of all of Luthen’s associates, because he’s the one that Rael decides needs to get the truth: that he has placed his life and soul in the hands of a virtuous monster. That reality became crystal clear in Andor’s 10th (and possibly best) episode, “One Way Out,” when Lonni—a Rebel plant in the Empire’s Security Bureau, who’s desperate for an escape from this dangerous double life—makes the mistake of asking Luthen what he has sacrificed for the cause. The spymaster pauses for a moment, then steps out of the middle distance so that Stellan Skarsgård can deliver the most haunting speech of a series that doesn’t lack for them. “Calm. Kindness. Kinship. …Love,” he begins, listing everything he’s killed in himself on the altar of rebellion. “I’ve given up all chance of inner peace. I’ve made my mind a sunless space. I share my dreams with ghosts.” In lesser hands, there could be creeping notes of self-pity here, but Skarsgård is hypnotic, matter-of-fact, perfect as he rattles off writer Beau Willimon’s poetic monologue, an itemized list of all the ways that Luthen knows he’s damned. The result is one of the darkest, most affecting moments of one of the only Star Wars projects that has ever grappled with what “rebellion” and “resistance” actually mean. It’s also, of course, precisely what Luthen’s latest mark needed to hear. [William Hughes]

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