This year’s genre television gave us high highs and low lows—sometimes on the same show! In no particular order, we’ve rounded up the year’s best moments, along with some of the absolute worst. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Best of the Best
Doctor Who: Clara and Ashildr in the diner TARDIS
Clara Oswald’s final season as a companion in Doctor Who was alternately great and frustrating. But the bit with Clara and Ashildr flying through space in their own TARDIS makes us smile.
Person of Interest: “If-Then-Else”
Person of Interest is a reliably good show, but “If-Then-Else” was a whole new level of amazing. It went into the Machine’s mind to show it simulating possible outcomes. There was drama and humor in equal bunches, and it really was a reward for the fans.
Daredevil: The hallway fight
The fights in Daredevil were one of the highlights of the show, but one stood out above the rest: the hallway fight.
Supergirl: Punching a car and bonding about rage
Supergirl has had some ups and downs, but this moment, where Kara and James talk about how societal expectations mean that they can’t really express their anger, is the best they’ve ever done.
Agent Carter: Peggy gets her due
While we, the audience, knew that Peggy was great, the rest of the SSR didn’t. So when a mission finally let all the new characters see her as the hero she is, it was exactly what was needed.
Game of Thrones: Hardhome
Just when we were getting tired, Game of Thrones decided to prove that no one could do a giant set piece quite like they can.
Z Nation: Zombie George R. R. Martin finishes A Song of Ice and Fire
Some cameos are perfect. And Z Nation’s proof that the zombie apocalypse didn’t stop George R.R. Martin from writing is one of them.
Agents of SHIELD: Fitz and Simmons finally get together
This was a long time coming.
Gotham: Fish Mooney scoops out her own eye
Gotham is at its best when it just goes for balls-to-the-wall crazy. And nothing was more shocking than Fish Mooney removing her own eye so that no one else could have it.
Mr. Robot: Darlene is Elliot’s sister
After everything, Elliot finally connects with someone who is a good match for him. Of course, he only remembers that she’s his sister after he kisses her. It’s a perfect reveal to once again make us question Elliot’s mind.
Helix: Pays tribute to Andy Griffith
If you want a better scene showing that a character has retreated into a fantasy world where his son isn’t dead, a hallucination where they re-enact the opening to The Andy Giffith Show (complete with music!) can’t really beat it.
Flash: Gorilla Grodd
The fact that Flash can make a super-intelligent, psychic gorilla into a reasonable thing is a goddamn miracle.
Star Wars Rebels: Darth Vader shows up
If anything could better set up the world of Star Wars Rebels than Darth Vader showing up to lay the smack down, we don’t know what it is.
American Horror Story: Hotel: Lady Gaga
In this Jessica Lange-free season, what seemed like stunt casting at first has been absolutely perfect for the show, with Lady Gaga as the ruthless yet vulnerable vampire, the Countess. Her insanely gorgeous costumes alone make the show a weekly must-watch—and help make up for any shortcomings she might have in the acting department.
The Leftovers: “International Assassin.”
The weirdest episode in a show that held nothing back; it’s when the main character, Kevin Garvey, kills himself so he can take down the ghost that’s been haunting his mind on her turf. The afterlife looks like a sterile business hotel and Kevin’s role to play is that of an assassin, sent to kill a presidential candidate (played by his adversary — or is it?). The journey he takes there is supremely strange and ends with him throwing a little girl down a well before coming back to life. That sounds extremely bizarre but somehow in the context of the show it all makes sense.
The Librarians: Jenkins and de-aged Lancelot fight in the season finale
The sword fight in the season one finale of The Librarians had everything: John Larrroquette issuing droll put downs and Jerry O’Connell chewing all of the scenery.
iZombie: The greatest alibi of all time
When you’re accused of using a mascot outfit to kill someone, what better alibi is there than claiming you’re a furry? None.
Arrow: Sara Lance attacks Thea Queen
This season’s greatest fight sequence was in “Haunted.” In it, a soulless, hyper-violent Sara Lance attacks Thea Queen. The fight is intense, moves through several rooms, and turns from a fight to a chase as Thea stops even trying to fight and instead desperately tries to get away.
Outlander: Geillis reveals that she’s from the future, too
“The Devil’s Mark” was one of the most layered episodes that Outlander did in its first season. Geillis uses her smallpox vaccine scar to “prove” she’s a witch, and, in doing so, sacrifices her life and her unborn child’s life to save Claire’s. It was a great reveal and a moment of true bravery on Geillis’ part.
Hannibal: Bedelia waits for Hannibal to come back and finish his dinner
Pinning down a single moment of Hannibal’s superb final season is almost impossible. But the one we have to pick is also the last thing we ever saw: Bedelia Du Maurier sitting at a lavish dinner table with her own leg as the main course. The table is set for three, which seems to hint that Hannibal and Will Graham survived their little tumble. One last beautiful and gruesome image from a show that had many.
Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ash fights an evil princess doll
This moment from the pilot sold us on the whole series. A creepy and funny visual gag which proved that the show was going to be everything we hoped it would.
Jessica Jones: Jessica and Luke’s first sex scene
Yeah, there’s the prurient sex angle to this one. But there’s also the fact that we finally see two characters get right down to it when they meet without dragging it out. And the show even accounted for the ways their superpowers would come into play.
The Worst of the Worst
Game of Thrones: Ramsay rapes Sansa
This was, for a lot of people, the moment when Game of Thrones finally went too far. It was unnecessary, brutal, and served only to remind us that a character we knew was vile was, in fact, a bad man. Nothing about it was good and the backlash it generated was actually deserved.
Under the Dome: Sex heals a stab wound
Even for Under the Dome, this was awful. Hilarious in its badness, but bad nonetheless.
CSI: Cyber: the team tackles Black Lives Matter
This was not a topic to rip from the headlines. It was especially not one to give the “he’s actually alive and wasn’t brutalized by police!” twist to. If the victim of your Black Lives Matter episode is white law enforcement, stop. Just stop.
Outlander: Jamie spanks Claire
There was a certain point in the first season of Outlander where the constant threats of sexual violence started to ruin the show. The turning point was definitely when Jamie takes a belt to Claire while other characters joke about it. It may be a big scene from the book, but the show blew past it in a very upsetting way. And it was all downhill from there.
Falling Skies: the alien tentacles magically resurrecting Anne
Bad worldbuilding and bad characterization means that Anne ended up randomly pregnant, dying, and coming back from the dead thanks to magic alien tentacles.
Supergirl: Blurry Superman shows up
Superman keeps showing up in this show, but always as a blur. He’s there, you see, but he can’t actually be a character. This is one instance where just never showing him would be better.
Jessica Jones: Detective Clemmons dies
Jessica Jones repeated the exact same arc for this character that Daredevil had for Ben Urich. Which would have been bad enough. But then there’s the fact that killing off the older black character twice in the same year is not a good habit to get into.
Continuum: Alec’s girlfriend Emily leaves him
This happens because Alec’s son from an alternate future says she’s not his mother. Which, OF COURSE she’s not his mother, it’s an alternate future. Get over it.
Agents of SHIELD: Raina the self-pitying hedgehog mutant
There’s nothing quite so unpleasant as a compelling villain becoming a whiner. Raina got the powers she wanted, but the change to her looks was just too much to handle.
Sense8: Everybody re-experiences their own birth
While taking ecstasy in the concert hall. For like 15 minutes.
Dig: Jason Isaacs goes skinny dipping in a religious site with a girl who looks exactly like his daughter
Pseudo-incest and desecration of a religious location. Creepy and offensive.
Flash: Barry’s dad takes off immediately after spending 15 years in jail rather than spend an afternoon with his son
Trying to free his father was the thing that motivated Barry. So it’s kind of weird that when that happened, Henry just booked it so Barry could be the best Flash he can be.
The Walking Dead: Glenn’s bullshit “death”
It wasn’t just that the show let the audience leap to the wrong conclusion. The show cheated by using every trick in the book to make it look like Glenn was dead. They traded on their reputation for actually killing people and then went back on it.
Gotham: Gordon murders an unarmed, helpless man
You know how Jim Gordon was originally the only good cop in Gotham? Yeah, Gotham got tired of that and just had him gather a murder posse and kill a dude. And then he gets engaged! Too bad Batman’s still a child and can’t bring Gordon to justice.
Stitcher: the sexual harassment vibe of making Kirsten wear a sexy catsuit, and she wakes up in some dude’s bed after passing out
In addition, Kristen’s “safety code” is to express her love for Linus, the skeevy sysadmin. Later, we discover the only other person to be plugged into that machine nearly died, which makes the notion that she has to type a bunch of sophomoric crap to be rescued even more heinous.
True Detective: Colin Farrell’s character looks dead ... only to wheeze to life at the start of episode three
What a tease. Really the most let-down moment of an overall disappointing show that could have built on the overwhelming enthusiasm for season one, but instead raised suspicions that season one’s success was a one-off fluke.
iZombie: Major’s drug addiction
Remember how Major was so depressed that he’d been blackmailed into hunting zombies down that he started doing drugs to deal? Neither does the show, since it lasted barely two episodes. At least they cut short a plot we had no interest in continuing to watch.
Arrow: Deadshot’s backstory is revealed, and it’s super-stupid
The episode “Suicidal Tendencies” includes a flashback sequence so terrible it should come with a medical warning that it induces violent, uncontrollable eye-rolling. Floyd Lawton, loving husband and father, pulls a gun on his wife over a dispute about a sandwich. His wife then calls the police while making eye contact with the man who just threatened her with a gun. Nothing like aiming for high drama and coming off silly instead.
Minority Report: The Washington Redclouds
It’s hard to pick just one awful moment from this dumpster fire of a television show, but this one is a true representative of everything awful about Minority Report. This show was so in love with being clever about the future, it was littered with lingering shots that read like parodies of the future. This one, where we see that we’ve only got four years to go before the Washington Redskins rebrands as the Washington Redclouds, is one of the worst.
Thanks to Charlie Jane Anders, Cheryl Eddy, Rob Bricken, Bryan Lufkin, Germain Lussier, and Esther Inglis-Arkell for their suggestions!
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