These unforgettable scenes are sometimes sensual, sometimes sad, and sometimes both at once. They’re a disparate lot, coming from comedies and dramas, final seasons and unexpected debuts. They show characters letting their guards down and women at their most triumphant and their most wretched. By Esther Breger:
  1. The Cry Face (You're the Worst)
    8ae999ba 410c 4589 90e8 100d6f95b7ae
    The year of the “sadcom” reached its apex with the second season of You’re the Worst, a caustic romantic comedy that has transformed into a brutally mundane look at clinical depression. In the season’s most formally inventive episode, “LCD Soundsystem,” Aya Cash's Gretchen wishes her way into the lives of a cool older couple in the neighborhood. When she realizes this idyllic couple is as adrift as she is, the camera slowly closes in on Cash’s crumpling face before credits finally roll.
  2. The last five minutes of Unreal
    C7862425 5b07 44a1 8c27 88d272a36f95
    “I love you. You know that, don’t you?” Unreal’s twisty and twisted first season ended with the closest this brutal show could ever come to a happy ending: an affirmation of love between Rachel and her boss/maternal stand-in Quinn. In the final scene, Rachel tells Quinn she loves her with a look of hatred in her eyes. (I still can’t tell if this moment was a confession or a threat.) Quinn’s reply: “I love you too…weirdo.”
  3. The Tooth Pull (The Americans)
    B6d32038 0adf 4596 9cf7 8630c9301bf4
    Without showing much skin, The Americans is still the sexiest show on basic cable. After the undercover spy/suburban mom Elizabeth Jennings breaks her tooth in a fight with two FBI agents, she determines it’s too risky to go see a professional. Three episodes later, her husband volunteers to conduct some DIY dentistry in their basement. With no soundtrack, the bloody scene is both tender and painful and deeply intimate.
  4. The Missed Calls (Being Mary Jane)
    D6cfddd8 6c0e 4042 9dda bdce3d1fabda
    BET's Being Mary Jane might be the most underrated show on TV. Mara Brock Akil has scraped away the soapiness from the series' original DNA, allowing Gabrielle Union’s titular character to be vulnerable and forceful, selfish and stunning. In an arresting episode, Mary Jane is reeling from her estranged friend Lisa’s suicide, unable to perform her grief the way family and friends expect. Sitting in bed, she scrolls through her missed calls, stopping on the list of ignored calls from Lisa.
  5. The Confession (The Jinx)
    Da16f7a4 9031 4586 9814 1123dab5bbb0
    “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” The Jinx got a murderer arrested and set an almost impossibly high bar for all future true-crime endings with Robert Durst’s self-incriminating bathroom soliloquy.
  6. The Pinky Hold (The Fosters)
    8e8af094 42fc 4d6d b0bd 694179ce1ecf
    The most romantic moment on scripted TV this past year involved two 7th-grade boys quietly touching pinkies in a movie theater. When Connor drags Jude along on an awkward double date with two girls, the lights dim and we watch Connor’s hand on the armrest between them, slowly and deliberately moving closer to Jude’s until they touch.
  7. The Peggy Olson Strut (Mad Men)
    63bd7d08 2855 4858 aa76 6d094edcc509
    Matthew Weiner left us seven seasons later with Don buying the world a Coke, but the ending barely mattered once we got to see Peggy Olson, in the third to last episode, strut down the hallway into her new office at McCann-Erickson with her shades, a cigarette, and Bert Cooper’s hand-me-down Japanese octopus erotica.