In the last decade, television has almost overtaken film in terms of storytelling, character development, and perhaps even popularity. It makes sense; when you spend ten hours a year with these characters for four to ten seasons, you get much more attached to them than if you were just seeing them in a 2-hour movie every three or four years.
Of course, production values for TV shows are much lower quality than their Hollywood counterparts (Game of Thrones still struggles to balance their Direwolf and dragon budgets, for instance). However, we are at a point now where TV shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have followings as die-hard as Star Wars.
But this doesn’t mean that these high-quality shows are perfect. Every now and then, you’ll get a scene from an amazing series that makes you think, “What did I just watch?” Sometimes it’s because of terrible special effects, sometimes it’s because of a terrible line of dialogue or a complete tonal shift in the series.
No matter the reason, your immersion in the episode is completely ruined for a second or two while you have to re-orient yourself to the story you’re watching.
Here are 15 Jarring Scenes That Take You Out of Great TV Shows!
15. The Sand Snakes Say Goodbye (Game of Thrones)
There are so many things to say about Oberyn Martell’s children, the Sand Snakes. Oberyn was a breakout character from season four of Game of Thrones who met a grisly end. In the books, his legacy was carried on by his children, three badass warriors from Dorne who yearned for revenge against the Lannisters. The Sand Snakes that showed up in the Game of Thrones TV show, however, had little in common with their written counterparts.
The Dorne storyline from season five was plagued with bad acting, terrible fight choreography, and story beats that made no sense. The absolute worst scene came in the season finale, after Jaime Lannister and Bronn had rescued Myrcella Lannister from her Dornish captors.
Instead of punishing the Sand Snakes for their role in the hostage situation, they are allowed to see the protagonists off for some reason. Tyene gives Bronn a hug, pulls him in close, says “You want a good girl, but you need the bad (expletive)” before biting his ear.
14. The CGI Submarine (LOST)
LOST masterfully blended science fiction with paranormal suspense on top of a story of survival and mystery. Despite the series finale not sitting well with fans, the show is often brought up in the conversation when talking about the greatest series ever made.
Understanding the plot behind the season five episode “Follow The Leader” requires a ton of backstory, so we won’t get too much into that. However, it involved a group of the characters attempting to leave the island on a submarine that they had recently discovered. Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate are able to make it on the sub, set off, and…. are we watching a N64 game?!
13. Cathy Tries to Sleep with Jim (The Office)
Season eight of The Office was painful for even the most die-hard of fans. One of the worst storylines was the opening of the first Sabre Store, an Apple-like retailer owned by Dunder Mifflin’s subsidiary company. The opening required several of the characters to travel to Florida to oversee the store’s first few weeks.
Before they leave for the Sunshine State, new employee Cathy is overheard gossiping with her friend that she’s going to try to seduce Jim Halpert during their trip. This leads to a string of awkward scenes in which Cathy invites herself into Jim’s room to “watch the ’76ers game,” where she walks around in short-shorts, and comes out of the bathroom in a robe. The issue is- Nobody fell for the tension.
12. The Murder Subplot (Friday Night Lights)
Friday Night Lights was an NBC drama that just… worked. Set in a small Texas town, the show followed the local high school football team, the Dillon Panthers. Friday Night Lights tackled issues that were prominent for middle-class American towns in a way that drew in football fans and non-football fans alike. As the show progressed, it tried to widen its viewer base.
This led to the show attempting to add a crime drama aspect to the show in the form of Landry killing a man who was roughing up Tyra, and the two trying to hide the incident from the authorities.
Every time a scene involving this storyline came up, it completely felt like a different show. The entire appeal of Friday Night Lights was that it was a show grounded in reality that was relatable to general audiences. The inclusion of a murder/cover-up came out of nowhere and made the show more like a generic crime drama.
11. Felicity and Oliver Break Up (Arrow)
Oh yes, anyone who is a fan of Arrow knew this would be on here. Season 4 of the CW show is referred to the “Olicity” season of the show; the Green Arrow’s tech genius partner-in-crime became much more prominent in the show as her romance with Oliver Queen developed.
As a character, Felicity Smoak was the spitting image of the DC character Oracle – she was confined to a wheelchair, but helped her superhero out of tricky situations safely behind a screen back at his base.
Which is why it stunned the fandom for all the wrong reasons when, in episode 15 of the season, she decides to break up with Oliver. The two talk, but then Felicity suddenly stands up out of her wheelchair and awkwardly stumbles out of the room without uttering another word.
10. Karen Overreacts (Daredevil)
Karen Page is an excellent example of a minor comic book character who actually benefited from having a larger role in their adaptation. Though Page has been around since the ’60s, she never really got found her footing in the Marvel Universe. Thanks to the Daredevil Netflix series as well as the acting of Deborah Ann Woll, Page has become one of the MCU’s more popular side characters. That said, the character is not without her flaws.
During the eighth episode of Daredevil Season 2, the titular hero and his old flame, Elektra, had just got done fighting an assassin from the Hand. As Daredevil’s mentor Stick helps nurse the mortally wounded Elektra back to health in the hero’s apartment, Karen stops in to speak to Matt. Stick leads her to Matt’s bedroom, where she sees him sitting next to his ex lover.
Instead of, you know, asking what the hell is going on, Karen proceeds to freak out. It’s a jarring moment for a character who usually has a good head on her shoulders, and feels like the show’s attempt to create cheap tension.
9. Susan’s Death (Seinfeld)
At the start of Seinfeld‘s season seven, George Costanza haphazardly gets engaged to his old girlfriend, Susan. Almost immediately he regrets the decision, but doesn’t want to straight-up call the wedding off. For the rest of the season he tries to worm his way out of the engagement, to no avail. That is, until the season finale…
In the last episode written by Larry David until the finale, Susan gets sick from licking the toxic glue in the envelopes for the couple’s wedding invitations. She is rushed to the hospital, where she passes away. When informed of the news, George and the rest of the crew just kind of shrug it off and go about their day as normal.
8. Will Gets Shot (Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Now, Fresh Prince of Bel Air was never afraid to shy away from sensitive topics. Everyone remembers Will’s emotional speech about his father, or the time Carlton had to be rushed to the hospital for an accidental drug overdose. But all in all, the show was a ’90s comedy staring one of the most charismatic sitcom leads of all time and his goofy cast of supporting characters.
The episode entitled “Bullets Over Bel Air” was not a lighthearted episode. The entire story deals with firearms; Will is shot by a mugger at an ATM and rushed to the hospital. Most people remember what happens next: Carlton buys a gun and Will has to emotionally get it away from him at the episode’s end.
But let’s talk about the actual shooting itself; it comes completely out of left field and has nothing to do with anything. It’s a completely random and anonymous act of violence, complete with the shooter never being shown on screen other than a close up of his gun.
7. Jughead is Weird (Riverdale)
If there’s a weirder concept for a show than the CW’s Riverdale, we’d sure like to hear it! Everyone remembers the Archie Comics from their youth. Riverdale takes the same characters and setting and does a complete 180, having these same characters deal with darker topics like murder.
Jughead, the burger-loving goofball, is prominent in Riverdale as Archie’s former best friend and the son of the leader of a biker gang. In the tenth episode of the first season, the writers attempted to do a little fourth-wall breaking via the character by making him go off on a rant about how weird he is and how nobody has ever seen him without his “stupid hat” (which also makes him weird).
6. Glen and Betty’s Final Scene (Mad Men)
When you look back at the cast of Mad Men, it reads like a producer’s dream; you have John Hamm, Elizabeth Moss, and Christina Hendricks with a huge supporting cast that includes the likes of January Jones, Allison Brie, and John Slattery (just to name a few). It’s no wonder the show netted 16 Emmys!
One of the recurring storylines involves the young boy Glen Bishop developing a strange relationship with the much older Betty Draper.
During the show’s final season Glen is now a full-grown adult who enlisted in the military and is ready to ship out to Vietnam. He comes to say goodbye to Betty and things get… uncomfortable. The relationship between the two was always super awkward, but all subtlety goes out the window when Glen makes a move on Betty, telling his former babysitter and first crush that he feels safe because he “knows [she’s] mine.”
5. Stuff and Thangs (The Walking Dead)
Like we said in the intro, The Walking Dead has become a phenomenon not seen often in the world of television. Though the hype has died down a little since the earlier seasons, the story of Rick Grimes and his ragtag band of zombie-killing survivors still brings in enough viewers to make it one of the highest-rated shows on TV.
Rick’s wife, Lori, met her demise in season 3. However, the juxtaposition between the couple and the rest of the group (who had lost their loved ones) always brought another layer to the story. Sadly, the chemistry between the two actors wasn’t that great. Sometimes it even led to some downright hilarious moments, like an exchange between the two during season 3 that spawned an infamous meme.
As Lori continues to confront Rick about his actions, he retaliates by telling her that he’s doing “Stuff… things.” The completely deadpan way Andrew Lincoln delivers the horrendous line is gold; the way his accent makes the word sound like “thangs,” the way he emphasizes the second word as if that will answer his wife’s question.
4. Frank Underwood Does Product Placement (House of Cards)
House of Cards is one of the shows that proved Netflix was a viable alternative to cable. Though the streaming service had shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men in its library, in 2013 it launched a risky experiment by funding its own original series. The gamble paid off; House of Cards has won multiple awards, and the company now has dozens of original shows, movies, and comedy specials.
Though it is a multi-billion dollar company, Netflix has to get its funding somehow, even if that means horribly jarring product placement! There must havebeen a deal with Sony, because House of Cards has two completely jarring scenes featuring Sony products.
Frank Underwood is shown playing Killzone 3 on his PS3 in the series first episode, and later on in the season he recognizes one of his colleagues has a PS Vita. “What games does it have?” He asks.
3. Sam and Dean Discover Fan Fiction (Supernatural)
Sometimes, fans like to work outside of canon. The long-running CW series Supernatural is no exception; just google the term “fan fiction” and you can find pages upon pages of the non-canon exploits of Sam and Dean Winchester. However, sometimes these fan fictions can go in weird directions, creating (sometimes in graphic detail) the romantic exploits of otherwise non-canon relationships.
In episode 18 of season 4, the writers tried to acknowledge these fans. The story sees the Winchester brothers discovering a series of in-universe books that detail their life for the past few years. The brothers look to the internet for more information, where they discover the existence of both their own individual fan girls as well as Slash fiction. Dean’s response is “they do know we’re brothers, right?” before exclaiming that “that’s just sick.”
This throwaway meta joke wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t dedicate an entire minute of the episode to it! The scene adds nothing to the story, takes viewers out of the episode, and does nothing but alienate a portion of their own fan base.
2. Barry Yells on the Cliff (The Flash)
The CW show The Flash showed us that you could make a great superhero show without shying away from the corniness that made the character popular in the first place. Is The Flash cheesy? Yes. Is it over-the-top? Yes. Is it incredible? Yes!
But sometimes, there are moments where the show takes the cheesiness a little bit too far. We’re not talking about having Barry completely mess up the timeline by running super fast or fighting a giant half man, half shark creature. No, we’re talking about the cliff scene.
About halfway through season 2, the lightbulb finally clicks in Barry’s head as to the identity of the mysterious villain Zoom. In a fit of rage, the Flash runs to an empty cliff, throws his arms out, and lets out the biggest scream he can possibly muster. Yeah, this was totally laughable and up there with the infamous “Nooooo!” from Revenge of the Sith.
1. Walt and Walt Jr. Get New Cars (Breaking Bad)
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone out there who thinks Breaking Bad isn’t a good show. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, per say, you can’t deny that it had some of the best writing and characters on TV during it’s five-season run. Not to mention, it reinvigorated the career of Bryan Cranston, who had mostly been known for his comedic role as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle.
Everyone loves Breaking Bad, but good lord, who on earth approved the scene where Walt and Walt Jr. get new cars?! We get that it’s supposed to show how reckless and cocky Walt has become (buying himself and his son brand new vehicles without a second thought), but come on…
The show comes to a screeching halt to show us a car commercial in the middle of the episode! Complete with shaky cam close-ups of the cars while techno music plays in the background and the two pretend to drag race, this is a totally jarring scene that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Are there any more jarring TV scenes that you can think of? Let us know in the comments!
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