Top 20 TV Segments That Broke the Internet
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Top 20 TV Segments That Broke the Internet

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Jason McLean
These are the TV segments that broke the internet. For this list, we'll be looking at segments that were originally part of TV shows, awards shows, TV specials and news broadcasts that found an even bigger life on their own through online sharing. Our countdown includes woman yells at cat, best cry ever, Antoine Dodson, and more!

Top 20 TV Segments That Broke the Internet

What happens on TV doesn’t always stay on TV. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 TV Segments That Broke the Internet.

For this list, we’ll be looking at segments that were originally part of TV shows, awards shows, TV specials and news broadcasts that found an even bigger life on their own through online sharing. We’re including segments that originated as part of broadcast and cable TV, but also those that got their start on TV shows exclusive to streaming services.

#20: Tom Hanks Reacts to Ricky Gervais
“77th Annual Golden Globe Awards” (2020)

When Ricky Gervais hosts the Golden Globes, Hollywood holds its collective breath. The comedian is known for pulling no punches when mocking the tinseltown elite to their faces. It was no different when he hosted for a record fifth, and supposedly last, time in 2020. As Gervais delivered his monologue, the camera caught various celebrities reacting. Tom Hanks seemed to be showing that he was not too subtly repressing disgust or at least unease, something most people in the room were probably feeling. This wasn’t lost on people on Twitter - who turned the legendary actor’s scrunched face into a meme almost instantly.

#19: Winona Ryder Reacts at the SAG Awards
“23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards” (2017)

When “Stranger Things” won a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, all eyes in the room were on David Harbour as he gave a passionate acceptance speech against bullying and toxic culture. Viewers at home, though, couldn’t help but be drawn to his co-star Winona Rider’s reactions. Her eye movements and hand gestures ranged from confusion to approval. Whether she was reacting to what Harbour was saying, and, as one observer noted in The Verge, going through the stages of becoming an ally, is not clear, but what is certain is that this moment was meme-worthy right out of the gate.

#18: Woman Yells at Cat
“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (2010-)

While the journey from TV segment to Internet fame is usually a short one and sometimes almost instantaneous, sometimes it can take close to a decade. In a 2011 episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, cast member Taylor Armstrong broke down during an argument and started pointing as Kyle Richards tried to talk her down. The Daily Mail used a still from the breakdown in its review of the episode and in 2019, Twitter user @MISSINGEGIRL paired that image with one of a cat sitting in front of a plate of vegetables first posted on Tumblr the previous year and a famous meme was born.

#17: Lip Sync Battle with Emma Stone
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (2014-)

When Jimmy Fallon took over “The Tonight Show,” he turned the entity into a viral video factory; for instance, when the host and Justin Timberlake went hashtag crazy or when Daniel Radcliffe proved his rapping credentials, the internet went crazy. But it was Emma Stone’s complete and total commitment to lip syncing that was truly beloved. Watching her mime along to Blues Traveler was fun, but it was her exaggerated gestures and facial expressions during DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” that absolutely won our hearts once we were able to share it far and wide and watch it together online.

#16: Tommy Wiseau Stands on Stage at the Golden Globes
“75th Golden Globe Awards” (2018)

Tommy Wiseau isn’t someone you’d expect to see on an awards show stage, unless it was at the Razzies. In 2018, though, the writer, director and star of the so-bad-it’s-classic film “The Room” did appear at the Golden Globes. James Franco, who won Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for playing him in “The Disaster Artist”, invited Wiseau up on stage, then promptly stopped him from taking the mic. Twitter exploded at the strange sight, but also wondered just what Wiseau had wanted to say to the audience. He later said he would have started with a line from “The Room” and then plugged his film.

#15: Net Neutrality
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-)

John Oliver’s segments are built to be shared online and you only have to look to his 2020 take on police brutality to see a prime example. They also frequently cause people to take action online, starting with this plea from “Last Week Tonight’s” first season for viewers to help save Net Neutrality. After hilariously laying out the case that this will save the Internet, Oliver called on not just his supporters but even his trolls to let the FCC know how they felt. While this figuratively broke the Internet, it also quite literally broke the FCC website’s servers, at least for a little while.

#14: Best Cry Ever
“Intervention” (2005-)

Following addicted participants who are expected to undergo an intervention orchestrated by people close to them, this A&E series is still going strong today, airing its 21st season starting in mid-2020. ‘Intervention’ is arguably the ultimate example of the reality TV genre, as it allows audiences to witness people hitting rock bottom and then showcase their unpredictable reactions.One thing we know for certain though is that the cries of anguish that came out of this grown man’s mouth were unlike anything we’d ever seen - and that’s what made them entirely unforgettable. Then, when the internet took this clip and ran with it, it gifted us with a remixed version that is, quite frankly, nothing short of extraordinary.

#13: Lie Witness News - Coachella 2013
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (2003-)

Whatever it is that makes us care so much about how others perceive us that we feign knowledge of things we are totally ignorant of, Jimmy Kimmel Live knew exactly how to turn it into entertainment. Coachella can be described as the home of wonderful music and a bevy of people whose greatest desire is to be cool. Knowing this, the late night talk show sent an interviewer and camera crew to the music and arts festival where they asked concertgoers for their opinions on acts... that do not exist. One after another, these misled wannabes professed either appreciation for or at least some level of knowledge of them.

#12: 'Apparently' This Kid Is Awesome, Steals the Show During Interview
“WNEP-TV” (1953-)

Nobody could have possibly realized what would have happened when this child was plucked out of obscurity by Newswatch 16’s Sofia Ojeda at the Wayne County Fair. But we’re certainly glad it did! Asked what he thought of one of the rides, the little boy named Noah instead opted to rant about his live television debut. While doing so, he peppered what seemed like every second sentence with the word ‘apparently.’ Completely adorable and funny in the best ways, Noah’s newfound fame landed him appearances on “The Ellen Show” and - apparently - a place on our list.

#11: South Carolina Answers a Question
“Miss Teen USA 2007” (2007)

Pageants are a cultural phenomenon that have also become a lightning rod for controversy over the last few decades. This is due to the fact that women and girls have increasingly been prized more for who they are than how they look. One particular reason that such competitions are increasingly dismissed is the perception that the contestants, though beautiful, are not the most intelligent people on the planet - and for those people, this clip seemed to be confirmation of that. When asked a question about the current state of education, Miss South Carolina’s incoherent, fumbling answer soon transformed into a thing of internet legend.

#10: Coffee Cup
“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)

Given how much “Game of Thrones” has shaped our culture in the 2010s, it’s surprising that the most talked about and shared moment of the hit fantasy series’ final season was an accidental one. We could have brought up the plastic water bottle that made its way into the finale, but decided on the now infamous modern coffee cup that showed up on the table during the Winterfell banquet scene. After eagle-eyed viewers pointed it out, HBO admitted the mistake and removed it from the episode, but the cup talk continued and the series stars even got involved. Sophie Turner blamed co-star Emilia Clarke for the error before Clarke turned the blame on Conleth Hill.

#9: Steve Harvey Announces the Wrong Winner
“64th Miss Universe” (2015)

When Steve Harvey hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2015, he most certainly left an impression. Instead of announcing Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the first runner-up and Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach as the winner, Harvey mistakenly named Colombia the new Miss Universe. After being told of the error backstage, Harvey corrected it on TV four minutes later. But the damage was already done to both the contestants and Harvey’s reputation. The clip was shared countless times and Harvey became a meme announcing the wrong winner in everything from sporting events to politics. His career would survive this incident, but for a while, Steve Harvey was synonymous with getting things wrong.

#8: The Lonely Island’s Digital Short with Akon
“Saturday Night Live” (1975-)

When Andy Samberg became the main force behind the digital short segments on “Saturday Night Live,” audiences were gifted with one amazing clip after another. With skits like “The Shooting” or songs like “Jack Sparrow,” “I’m on a Boat” or “Jizz in my Pants,” he and his cohorts in The Lonely Island proved they were masters of the genre. But one of their best efforts has to be this tune about getting down. “I Just Had Sex” features help from Akon and producer DJ Frank E. It’s also hilariously boastful, while simultaneously showing some horrendously low standards and shame in the eyes of their bedfellows.

#7: Kids Interrupt Live BBC World News Broadcast
“BBC News” (1997-)

Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. When your work involves being on live TV, those disadvantages can lead to viral fame. In 2017, professor Robert Kelly was being interviewed live on the BBC. He may have been talking about South Korean politics, but all eyes were on his children. First, his daughter Marion who burst into the room to visit with her dad, then his son James who followed in a rolling chair. Eventually, Kelly's wife Jung-a Kim entered and retrieved the kids. While the Kellys were initially horrified, their almost immediate Internet fame led to the BBC inviting the whole family back for a proper interview a few days later.

#6: The Lonely Island’s Debut with Justin Timberlake
“Saturday Night Live” (1975-)

When we were listing off some of The Lonely Island’s greatest hits, we knew that some of you were probably blown away that we hadn’t yet mentioned the song about boxed-in genitals - but good things come to those who wait. The second SNL Digital Short to go viral after previous hit “Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box” took subjects that traditionally were far too risqué for national television and well, put them on television. And of course, made them absolutely hilarious, catchy and unforgettable in 3 easy steps. Featuring Justin Timberlake, there’s no denying that the holiday track was certainly a memorable one when it comes to official debut singles by comedy troupes!

#5: Antoine Dodson
“WAFF-48 News” (1954-)

The origin of this TV moment that went viral is actually quite serious: a break-in and attempted rape in the Lincoln Park housing project in Huntsville, Alabama. When local Huntsville TV interviewed Antoine Dodson, the victim’s brother and the man who had chased the perpetrator out of the house, there was something about his response to the questions that really caught on. The clip was shared millions of times and spawned several remixes and autotunes, the most notable being “Bed Intruder” by The Gregory Brothers. Dodson used his newfound internet fame and proceeds from “Bed Intruder” to raise enough money to move his family into a better neighborhood.

#4: Kanye West Ruins Taylor Swift’s Night
“26th MTV Video Music Awards” (2009)

Okay, I’mma let you finish the list, but this incident from the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards has got to be one of the greatest internet-breaking moments of all time, of all time! When a belligerent Kanye West stormed the stage during Taylor Swift’s Best Female Video acceptance speech, he not only ruined Swift’s night and reportedly got himself kicked out of the event, but he also unexpectedly set a precedent for how powerful Twitter would be culturally. After the night ended, MTV tried to bury the moment, but people on Twitter kept talking about it, keeping the story alive for days, weeks, years and now over a decade. This was truly a social media first.

#3: “Ain't Nobody Got Time for That”
“KFOR TV” (2012)

When Kimberly Wilkins was interviewed by the Oklahoma TV station KFOR-TV, she managed to steal the focus from the subject she was being asked about thanks to her dynamic personality, with the subject in question being a fire. Sweet Brown, as she’s otherwise known, immediately caught people’s attention after being asked about her apartment building going up in flames. Whether it was her pronunciation of Bronchitis or her famous tagline, Sweet Brown’s short clip has been viewed millions of times and has also been given the remix/AutoTune treatment. That’s when you know you’ve made it – at least on the interwebz!

#2: Baby Yoda Drinking Soup
“The Mandalorian” (2019-)

The breakaway character of the hit Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” is clearly Baby Yoda. That's at least how the adorable puppet is known online. Technically, we’re supposed to refer to the character as The Child. Social Media didn't just name Baby Yoda; they also made the 50-year-old kid the subject of many memes, quite a few of which involved eating. The made-up Chicky Nuggies are a frequent go-to, but the most popular gif and meme involves Baby Yoda calmly drinking soup while watching a fight. This may actually replace Kermit the Frog drinking tea!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Carpool Karaoke with Sir Paul McCartney, “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (2015-)
A Legend Appearing in a Segment Designed to Go Viral

Ellen Page Calls Out Hateful Leadership, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (2015-)
An Unexpected Powerful Speech During an Interview

Bernie Sanders Slow Jams the News. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (2014-)
Jammin’ the Bern in a Viral Segment

Bill O’Reilly Freaks Out,“Inside Edition” (1989-)
TV Program Host’s Off-Air Rant Goes Viral... Years Later

#1: Susan Boyle Competes on a British Talent Competition
“Britain’s Got Talent” (2007-)

We’ve all heard the expression saying that we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but there aren’t that many famous examples of that idea being embodied by a single human being. If you asked us to come up with someone that best personifies that concept though, we’d immediately have Susan Boyle’s humble visage come to mind. Taking “Britain’s Got Talent”‘s stage in 2009 while dressed quite modestly, and welcomed by a handful of chuckles, Susan soon got the chance to unleash her vocal talents with pipes that so surpassed expectations that everyone in the audience and watching from home – either on TV or later on their computer screens – were completely and pleasantly surprised. And it also hopefully got us all thinking and reflecting on our previous preconceptions.