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Look back at the most shocking and satisfying moments from the year in television

Shaun Harrison
top-moments-lance-oprah1.jpg
1 of 33 George Burns/Harpo Studios/AP

Lance Armstrong Confesses to Doping on Oprah's Next Chapter

The fact that former seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong finally confesses to doping in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey isn't the shocking part. After all, The New York Times had reported Armstrong's intent to come clean days earlier. It's how the disgraced cyclist reacts when Winfrey makes him watch old footage of himself vehemently denying that he used banned substances. He responds by calling himself "an arrogant p----." Hey, you won't get any argument from us.
2 of 33 Fox

Jess and Nick Kiss for the First Time on New Girl

Way back in January, it felt like torture for New Girl fans to have to watch will-they-or-won't-they couple Jess and Nick flirt and fight, but not acknowledge their mutual feelings. And it originally seems like the two aren't going to kiss in the episode, when Nick climbs out the window to avoid kissing Jess as part of a particularly risqué game of True American. But when he crosses her in the hall later, he suddenly grabs her arm, pulling her in for a very long and very passionate kiss that goes way beyond anything Jess-Nick 'shippers could have imagined. If only their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship hadn't lost that fire so quickly.
3 of 33 Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Super Bowl Has a Blackout

The Super Bowl is regularly TV's most-watched live program every year, so when the lights suddenly go dark early in the third quarter of this year's big game, the 34-minute power failure is an annoyance and embarrassment for everyone involved, including the befuddled commentators and the teams themselves. It also suddenly made Queen Beyonce's use all of those extra lights and special effects in her halftime show look like a bad idea.
4 of 33 Fox

The Following Has a Shower Threesome

When Jacob's deep-dark secret — he's never actually killed anyone — comes out on The Following, Emma and Paul offer comfort in the steamiest and creepiest way possible: a three-way shower. Is it possible to feel dirtier after a shower? Because we do.
5 of 33 PBS

Downton Abbey Kills Matthew

Downton Abbey gets all Game of Thrones on us on its Season 3 finale. Weeks after Sybil's tragic death, Matthew perishes violently in a car accident mere moments after welcoming a baby boy with Lady Mary. One major death in a season is bad enough, but two?! Oh, Downton Abbey, why must you hurt us so?
6 of 33 Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov

Brandon Hantz Loses It on Survivor

There are meltdowns where you watch and laugh, and then there are meltdowns where you are genuinely disturbed. Brandon Hantz's on Survivor falls in the latter category. What starts as a snippy feud between him and his fellow Favorites tribe member Phillip Shepard quickly escalates into a full-on psychological break for Brandon, culminating in him dumping his team's food supply into the sand. The Favorites then decide to forfeit the next immunity challenge so that they would be forced to vote one member (Brandon) out. But with another fight brewing, Jeff Probst holds the vote right then and there and sends Brandon on his way. Maybe you should've come earlier, Jeff.
7 of 33 Michael Becker / FOX

American Idol Has a Motown Meltdown

You'd be hard-pressed to find a worse American Idol performance — especially a group one — than Lazaro, Devin and Burnell's complete butchering of the Motown classic "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." As if being off-key and out of harmony aren't bad enough, Lazaro blatantly forgets the lyrics during his solo, earning a finger jab from Devin when it's over and the rightful wrath of one-season wonder judge Nick Minaj. "I don't know what that was, but I'm gonna act like I ain't even seen it or heard it," she snips. "Get off the stage! Go! Go!" But wait! It's not over. Ryan Seacrest asks them what went awry, and they take the bait. "Not to throw anyone under the bus, but..." Burnell says. "I learned my parts. I tried saving a couple people, but..." Devin adds. Ouch. That's way harsh, Tai… but true.
8 of 33 ellentv.com

Diane Keaton Gives Ellen's Audience a Lesson on Tantric Sex

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote her film The Big Wedding, the Oscar winner appears to get a little tipsy off DeGeneres' wine purses (take that, Mindy Kaling's wine bra). "Do you know what tantric sex is? The audience?" Keaton asks. "Look, I'm Diane and the character that I play was someone else. ... The definition is something like, well, when you have tantric sex, you go for a long time and you have that thing called the orgasm. For nine hours! That's ridiculous!" With that, both DeGeneres and Keaton dissolve into giggles. Can she please be our new drinking buddy?
9 of 33 CBS

How I Met Your Mother Reveals The Mother

How I Met Your Mother finally reveals the future Mrs. Mosby (Cristin Milioti) in the closing seconds of the Season 8 finale. As everyone makes their way to Farhampton, Long Island, for Barney and Robin's wedding, Ted, who's planning to move to Chicago, tells Lily that he'll take the train back to the city afterward. And we all know who's also taking the choo-choo! "One ticket to Farhampton, please," The Mother says at the ticket counter, carrying her yellow umbrella and bass guitar. Now can we speed up this wedding weekend so they can meet?
10 of 33 Richard Cartwright/ABC/Getty Images

Rick Proposes to Beckett on Castle

Castle's big move in its Season 5 finale doesn't involve Beckett moving to D.C. After Castle learns of her job offer in the capital, the two are at odds and appear headed toward a breakup — especially after Martha suggests that Castle "hold back" in the relationship because he doesn't think it's going to work. The couple meets in the park, where Castle tells Beckett: "I've been doing a lot of thinking about us, our relationship, what we have, where we're headed. I've decided I want more. Katherine Houghton Beckett, will you marry me?" That's definitely not holding back!
11 of 33 Chris Haston/NBC

Steve Carell Returns for The Office Series Finale

Office fans had to resign themselves to closing the doors on Dunder Mifflin without the help of its longtime leader, Michael Scott, after Carell's frequent denials that he wouldn't return for the series finale. But that made his surprise on-screen return to serve as Dwight's best man that much more jaw-dropping and tear-inducing. Making the moment even sweeter is the fact that Carell's first moments back are paired with one of Michael's best-ever "that's what she said" jokes in response to Dwight's reaction, "I can't believe you came!" We can't either, but we're so glad he did.
12 of 33 ABC

Scandal Reveals Olivia's Father

Long before Olivia's dead locked-up terrorist mother started stealing the spotlight on the ABC drama in Season 3, nobody thought to think twice about the parents behind the woman underneath the white hat. All that changes in the Season 2 finale when, just after Olivia is publicly revealed to be the President's mistress, she pushes back the throng of reporters in her doorway and gets into a limo with Rowan, the head of the CIA Black Ops Division that kills and tortures people. "Dad?" she says. And people wonder this poor girl drinks so much damn wine?!
13 of 33 NBC

Stefon Gets Married and Says Goodbye to SNL

City Correspondent Stefon graduates from Weekend Update in true Graduate-style on the Saturday Night Live Season 38 finale. After introducing viewers to one of New York's hottest club (Pants, located on the fake street from Seinfeld), Stefon announces his plans to get married. However, anchor Seth Meyers follows his heart and goes to stop Stefon's nuptials to ... Anderson Cooper? Yup, that's right. Stefon is all set to marry the silver fox in front of all of New York's hottest clubgoers (music by DJ Baby Bok Choy), but instead runs away with his true love, Seth. Um, that means Stefon will be a regular part of Late Night with Seth Meyers, right?
14 of 33 AMC

Don and Betty Sleep Together Again on Mad Men

The adman's womanizing ways come full circle when he sleeps with his ex-wife Betty during their visit to Bobby's summer camp. But for once, Don doesn't have the upper hand. A confident, newly svelte Betty drops some post-coital knowledge on him that he can't handle. "I love the way that you look at me when you're like this, but then I watch it decay. I can only hold your attention for so long," she says, before throwing the best shade ever. "That poor girl," she says of Don's wife, Megan. "She doesn't know that loving you is the worst way to get to you." Revenge is sweet and, it turns out, sexy!
15 of 33 Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones Hosts Deadly Red Wedding

Game of Thrones fans who've read the books knew the notorious Red Wedding was coming, but that doesn't make it any less shocking. The HBO drama says "I do" to an onscreen massacre when Robb Stark and his family are ambushed after his uncle makes a political marriage. The ensuing devastating slaughter finds Robb's pregnant wife getting stabbed multiple times in the stomach, Robb uttering, "Mother," before he's offed by a traitor, and mom Catelyn killing an innocent before patiently waiting for her own throat to get slit. Six months later, we're still not recovered. Will HBO pay for our therapy?
16 of 33 Tiffany Brown / AP Images for Discovery Channel

Nik Wallenda Tight-Rope Walks Across the Grand Canyon

We hate to say it, but this televised special could have gone either way. If Wallenda completes the feat, he would be the first to high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon and if he doesn't, his failure (and death?) would be seen by millions on live national TV and tweeted about endlessly. Fortunately, it was the former scenario that happened and made this special — and nerve-wracking — event so memorable.
17 of 33 Peter Kramer/NBC

Paula Deen Gives a Bizarre Apology

Oh, Paula, Paula, Paula. In the thick of her racism scandal, the celebrity chef stops by Today to do some damage control and to apologize... we think. In a bizarre, teary interview, the embattled chef says she's "committed a sin," but then skirts Matt Lauer's question on whether she thinks the N-word is offensive to African-Americans. She then insists that she's not a racist and, perhaps most perplexingly, presents herself as the victim, saying that she would not have fired herself like the Food Network did. "I is what I is and I'm not changing," she says. "There's someone evil out there that saw what I had and they wanted it." Weird how the "sorry" is nowhere in there!
18 of 33 Lisette M. Azar/CBS

Big Brother Houses Bigotry

Summer TV's guiltiest pleasure takes an ugly turn when several Big Brother contestants — Aaryn and GinaMarie in particular — are caught not only making racist comments about fellow houseguests, but taunting them too. Aaryn, the worst offender of all, tells Asian-American contestant Helen to "go make some rice" and warns houseguests that they might not see African-American contestant Candice in the dark, and she later flips Candice's mattress just for the hell of it. Their actions have cost them their jobs, but have they learned their lesson?
19 of 33 Syfy

Sharknado Hits Pop Culture

Sharks in a tornado. Sharknado. Simply stunning. And with that, a perfect storm of camp, cheese and mind-numbing absurdity hit TV and Twitter. You can't even call the Syfy flick a train wreck since it knows exactly what it is and what it's doing (and is damn proud of it), so let's just sit back and enjoy Ian Ziering chainsaw-ing himself out of a shark.
20 of 33 Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

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George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty of Murdering Trayvon Martin Like Casey Anthony's and Jodi Arias' trials before it, George Zimmerman's televised trial sparks strong opinions. The question of whether Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, should go to jail for killing Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student, in what Zimmerman called defense also spurs a heated debate about race relations in America. That debate rages on after Zimmerman was acquitted of both second-degree murder and manslaughter for gunning down the unarmed teen in a gated community. His subsequent legal travails have not helped his cause.
21 of 33 Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Everyone Goes Crazy Over the Royal Baby

Coverage of the royal baby's birth reaches a ridiculously breathless fever pitch — to the point where Prince William (gasp!) driving the family home himself blows reporters' minds. Naturally, Stephen Colbert has some fun with it, impeccably skewering the insanity with Sir Stephen Colbert Presents: Royal Afterbith, Labour Party, Fetal Attraction, Birthing-Hips Hip-Hoorah, The Prince of Wails, Spotted Dick, It's a Boy! '013! on The Colbert Report. Because who cares about killings in Iraq when you can go ga-ga over a baby?
22 of 33 Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

'N Sync Reunites at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards

Before Miley Cyrus twerked and deflowered a foam finger with the whole world watching, viewers' eyes were glued to MTV for a very different reason: the highly anticipated reunion of boy band 'N Sync to commemorate Justin Timberlake receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award 10 years after they had last performed together. Although their reunion is brief for all the pre-show hype, the teenybopper in all of us swooned at seeing JT and his boys break out their old tunes, and most importantly, their old choreography. Let's not wait another 10 years to do this again, OK, guys?
23 of 33 Randy Tepper/Showtime

Deb Dies and Dex Lives on the Dexter Series Finale

For every acclaimed and satisfying series finale (see: Breaking Bad, The Office), there's that final chapter — ahem, Dexter — that just leaves longtime fans angry and bewildered. The once red-hot Showtime drama closes out an uneven season not by killing Dexter, or even making him pay for his many past sins, but instead making Dex kill the person who mattered to him most, Deborah, after a stroke during surgery puts her into a permanent vegetative state. Dexter not only kills her, but steals her body from her hospital room and dumps it into the ocean — the same spot he had dispatched the corpses of so many baddies before. And then he goes off and becomes a lumberjack. Seriously. Deborah deserves a better fate, and fans a much better finale.
24 of 33 Ursula Coyote/AMC

Walter White Comes Clean on Breaking Bad's Series Finale

Breaking Bad goes out with a whole lotta bangs, but the finale's most poignant moment comes earlier. While paying one last visit to Skyler, Walt finally stops lying to himself — that he started cooking meth for his family — and admits the truth. "I did it for me," he tells Skyler. "I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive." The unapologetic, matter-of-fact statement gives him not redemption, but peace with himself before he takes his final breath later in the lab, reunited with his baby blue.
25 of 33 Sonja Flemming/CBS

Ziva Leaves NCIS

Fans were shocked when — despite CBS having offered her "a lot of money, and then we offered her even more money," as network CEO Les Moonves put it — Cote de Pablo decided to leave NCIS after eight years. Even worse? Her surprising announcement came just a week before the show was set to start shooting Season 11. After much speculation and an open letter to fans from showrunner Gary Glasberg, Ziva finally bids adieu in the second episode of the season, having gone to Israel to "find herself." She says goodbye to Tony on an airplane runway, telling him "You are so loved," before the will-or-won't-they couple finally kiss. "Hardest 180 of my life," he says, as he walks to board the plane. Is that really it? RIP Tiva, indeed.
26 of 33 Randy Holmes/ABC

Kanye West "Settles" His Twitter Feud with Jimmy Kimmel

Look what you started, Jimmy! When Kanye West drops by Jimmy Kimmel Live to settle his Twitter feud over a skit with the late-night host, the rapper goes off on an epic, stream-of-consciousness rant about everything from celebrity and fashion to his "creative genius" ("For me to say I wasn't a genius, I would just be lying to you and to myself," he says) and why Kim Kardashian deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sigh. The one good thing to come out of this feud? #NODISRESPECTTOBENAFFLECK
27 of 33 Patrick McElhenney/Fox

Booth and Brennan Tie the Knot on Bones

After the complicated nine-year lead-up to Booth and Brennan's wedding on Bones, it's fitting that their nuptials are simple and sweet. Brennan's lovely vows also reveal what she wrote in what she thought might be her final note while buried alive back in Season 2. Reading the note, Brennan tells Booth that he's made her life better by forcing her to look at the world differently. "If I ever get out of here, I will find the time and a place to tell you that you make my life messy and confusing, and unfocused and irrational... and wonderful," she reads, before looking at Booth and adding, "This is that time. This is that place."
28 of 33 David M. Russell/CBS

Alicia Gets Fired From Lockhart/Gardner on The Good Wife

"You were poison!" Those angry words that Will Gardner directs at his former colleague, and his former lover, Alicia Florrick, as he swipes everything off her desk simultaneously incite tears and adrenaline rushes among the show's die-hard fans. Sure, viewers knew that Alicia and Cary had been plotting to leave the firm and go out on their own for six months, but that didn't at all dampen the anticipation for Season 5's masterpiece, "Hitting the Fan," when Will finally learns the truth and promptly has Alicia fired and escorted from the office, right before she begins to sob in the same elevator where they once shared so many longing glances and near-kisses. "You don't even know how awful you are," Will tells Alicia. Being awful never looked so good.
29 of 33 Showtime

Carrie Is Pregnant on Homeland

Leave it to Homeland to put an unreal twist on a pregnancy reveal. After returning home from her meeting with Javadi, Carrie sits on the toilet and takes a home pregnancy test. Not only is the test positive, but she then puts the used pee stick in a draw full of other positive tests! Too bad Hoarders is canceled.
30 of 33 theguardian.com

Rob Ford Admits to Smoking Crack and Doesn't Stop There

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford 'fesses up to having smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor," but instead of stepping away and/or seeking help, Ford somehow makes things worse — and 10 times crazier. After an obscene outburst in response to sexual allegations by a female staffer, the embattled, defiant politician insists he's not an addict, mocks the City Council for voting to strip him of his powers and even motors down a woman in the process. And yes, he's still in office.
31 of 33 Giovanni Rufino/CBS

Carter Dies on Person of Interest

Person of Interest had promised a big death and for once there is truth in advertising. After handing HR leader Alonzo Quinn over to the feds and taking down nearly every member of the corrupt cop organization, Detective Carter, who had just been reinstated, is gunned down by HR lieutenant Simmons. She dies a hero protecting Reese, but it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye.
32 of 33 Colleen Hayes/CBS

Jane Finally Kills Red John on The Mentalist

Jane's got a gun... and a bird. The Mentalist's manhunt for Red John comes to a close after thought-to-be-dead Sheriff McAllister reveals himself to be the serial killer. Jane, though, is one step ahead of his ornithophobic nemesis and pulls out a pigeon from his jacket before wounding him with a bullet inside the church. Following a foot chase, Jane pins RJ down at a park and chokes him to death. We still want to know how the hell Jane hid that pigeon in his pocket for so long.
33 of 33 Will Hart/NBC

NBC Gambles with The Sound of Music Live!

The hills are alive with the sound of... snark! NBC's live, three-hour production of the Von Trapp family musical was already getting grief before the curtain rose. While Audra McDonald's and Laura Benanti's performances drew raves, Carrie Underwood's stiff acting and complete lack of chemistry with Stephen Moyer — not to mention the show's sometimes lifeless production — made for easy Twitter fodder, including from quite a few famous faces, and The Sound of Music film star Kym Karath. NBC is having the last laugh though: The show drew 18.5 million viewers and a 4.6 rating, and the network is already planning a new live musical next year.