To celebrate the start of May Sweeps, which this year goes from April 28th to May 25th, we’d like to look back at some of the most jaw-dropping moments that we saw during past May Sweeps.
There are a lot of surprises during May Sweeps, since networks and showrunners really try to engage more viewers to watch the shows live and get better ratings. So we must be truthful and confess that we couldn’t cram all our choices into a top 10; we know that there are a lot of amazing moments that we’re missing – some, even, from shows that are on this list. We might do a Pop 10: Most Jaw-Dropping Moments From May Sweeps v. 2.0, so do weigh in and let us know which scenes made you gasp, scream or want to take off your shoe and throw it at the TV.
Some of these scenes are happy, most are sad, but all are great and were very significant to the shows’ futures (except for our first one, which is a series finale).
Note: Spoilers! Spoilers everywhere!
1. Michael comes back for Dwight’s wedding – The Office (2013)
This was surprising because Steve Carell, the show’s producers, cast, and anyone else who was asked - even NBC execs - repeatedly said that Michael Scott was not going to appear on The Office’s final season. As the season went forward and the final episode’s minutes ticked on, we had lost hope and were sure that we had been told the truth by everyone involved in the show… and then bam! He was there. We’ve never been so happy to hear a “that’s what she said” joke.
2. George dies, Izzie almost dies – Grey’s Anatomy (2009)
I vividly remember watching this, or trying to through the waterfalls coming out of my eyes. There have been plenty of shocking moments on Grey’s Anatomy. That hospital and its staff really have some bad juju. Ryan Murphy must be busy somewhere writing American Horror Story: Seattle Grace/Seattle Grace Mercy West/Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. But these two scenes really stand out for me as the most gasp-inducing. I couldn’t believe it when Meredith realized John Doe was George; then, when Izzie was dying and we saw her on that elevator, the doors opened and there was George, I knew he was dead, and I just totally lost it.
3. Elena becomes a vampire – The Vampire Diaries (2012)
This is another one that made me gasp. What really surprised me is that the show went there so early in the series. I knew that Elena would eventually become a vampire, but I never thought they would do it at the show’s peak in its third season. This changed the whole dynamic of the show and was really a breath of fresh air.
4. Marissa dies – The O.C. (2006)
I will never listen to Jeff Buckley’s "Hallelujah" without thinking of Marissa Cooper’s death. And really, what’s more shocking than killing off the lead actress of a show? In the end though, her death brought a nice storyline for Summer and made Julie Cooper more human and likable. So all’s well that ends well, right? RIP Coop.
5. Ross says “Rachel” at the altar – Friends (1998)
My reaction to this was the same reaction Rachel, Monica, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe had: gasps and a mouth wide-open, ready for all the flies to come in (as my mom would put it). When everyone thought it was over for Ross and Rachel, Ross came through and pulled a Monica (as his mom would put it). The wait until the following season to see if the wedding continued or not was torture.
6. David Clarke is alive and kills Conrad Grayson – Revenge (2014)
Revenge was built on the premise of a daughter avenging her father’s wrongful conviction and eventual death. But then he wasn’t dead. He had been alive the whole time. And not only was this moment so shocking because he was alive, but because he also killed one of the main characters on the show. Badass.
7. Castle crashes before his wedding to Beckett – Castle (2014)
What, no happy wedding? Nope. Everything looked too good to be true at the start of the scene, the wedding was under way, Beckett looked as beautiful as ever in her mother’s dress, and she got new earring to boot! But it’s two minutes until the end of the episode, and we start thinking that we might not actually see the wedding take place until the following season. And we are correct. Castle’s car has been driven off the road and is on fire, and Beckett looks on in disbelief. As do we all.
8. Eddie kills himself to kill Eobard Thawne (Reverse Flash) – The Flash (2015)
Our hearts were already so wrenched when we got to this point of last season’s finale - after Grant Gustin gave us an acting master class in the scene where Barry goes back in time to save his mother but eventually decides not to do it - that this moment when Eddie decided to be a hero and kill himself in order to wipe out Eobard Thawne’s existence from the Earth, just gutted us. Someone should have told him about Earth 2.
9. Massive car crash – Brothers and Sisters (2010)
All I remember thinking while watching this horrific and massive pile-up was “Scotty better be ok, if he dies I will riot!” This moment was surprising because it came out of nowhere. On a show in which we didn’t see these types of scenes, it was definitely jaw-dropping to see the characters bloodied, disoriented and scared. We - and the family - learned that Saul was HIV positive when he didn’t let Kevin help him after the accident; and Robert and Holly’s fates were left up in the air until the following season.
10. Wait, what? That’s not a flashback, it’s a flash-forward! Wait. What? – Lost (2007)
This, for me, is still the best scene to arise from a May Sweeps. There have been many shows, many finales, and many surprising scenes. But this tops my personal list, because it was a complete game-changer. What a twist! I remember watching and thinking: “Who’s coming out of that car? It has to be someone we know, or else it wouldn’t be so interesting. Wait, is that Kate? What???? They didn’t know each other before the crash! This is Jack and Kate after being rescued! This isn’t a flashback! How is that possible? What funeral? Who died? Who is wondering where she is? What? So they left the island. But, how? What? What is going on???” And then Jack goes “We were not supposed to leave. We have to go back, Kate! We have to go back!” Fade to black. What???? I was completely dumbfounded, as you can obviously tell. I never saw it coming, really. And that is the most important characteristic of a scene that plans to shock viewers. Lost had shocked us all. And it was perfect.
What do you think of our choices? What are your May sweeps favorites?