<I>Variety</I> staffers select drop-dead drama scenes

1. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
“Crossroads, Part 2″ — March 25
As music plays in their heads, building toward the jarring revelation of who is and isn’t human, four of the five missing Cylons are revealed. If you’re not a fan, this won’t make a lick of sense; if you are, it was a frakkin’ great moment.

– Brian Lowry

2. DEADWOOD
“The Catbird Seat” — Aug. 20
The standoff between the camp’s leaders and mining baron George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) erupts when Hearst has one of them killed, prompting the prostitute Trixie (Paula Malcomson) to impulsively seek revenge. “A bare-breasted woman shot me!” says Hearst — another one of those “Deadwood” lines never heard on “The Virginian.”

– Brian Lowry

3. DEXTER
“Born Free” — Dec. 17
One of the year’s most engrossing series builds toward a payoff when the blood analyst/serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) finally meets the gruesome murderer with whom he’s been engaged in a riveting game of cat and mouse — his long-lost brother — forcing him to decide what really qualifies as “family” ties.

– Brian Lowry

4. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
“Black Eyes & Broken Hearts” — Feb. 14
In a thoughtful look at race within this smart, spare, multilayered drama, a showdown on the high school football team along racial lines culminates in a standoff outside the team bus as out-of-town cops try to arrest one of the black players, Smash (Gaius Charles). When the belaguered Panthers collapsed on the bus driving them home, you could feel viscerally how overwhelming the flood of emotions was.

– Brian Lowry

5. GREY’S ANATOMY
“Wishin’ and Hopin’ ” — Feb. 1
Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has the chance to talk to her mother (Kate Burton), who temporarily snaps out of her Alzheimer’s and becomes lucid before drifting back into her perpetual fog. It’s a stark, wrenching exchange about choices and priorities — the most haunting moment of the series.

– Brian Lowry

6. HEROES
“Collision” — Oct. 16
A future version of Hiro (Masi Oka) appears on the subway and utters the line to Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) that becomes the show’s signature — “Save the cheerleader, save the world” — confirming Hiro as the heart of the show, ratcheting up the stakes for everything that followed, firmly establishing that this is not your father’s comicbook serial.

– Brian Lowry

7. LOST
“Through the Looking Glass” — May 23
Hurley (Jorge Garcia) roars out of the trees in the VW van he resurrected earlier in the season, saving five of his friends and keeping their rescue dreams alive. Not only was it a leap-from-your-seat moment, but that and the flash-forward revelation with Jack (Matthew Fox) reminded us that rather than criticize the writers of “Lost,” we should praise them for being so adept at laying pipe well in advance of future payoffs.

– Jon Weisman

8. ROME
“Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus” (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man) — March 18
Former Roman soldier Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) exacts vengeance against his mistress, Gaia (Zuleikha Robinson), after discovering the role she played in his wife’s death — part of a second season that ended on a perfect note.

– Brian Lowry

9. THE SOPRANOS
“Made in America” — June 10
The controversial unfade to black polarized die-hard viewers of the landmark series — some finding it on the money, others the height of aggravation — but either way, the tension of that final scene, in which the fate of Tony and his family hung in the balance in an ode to their quixotic bid for peace of mind, was heartstopping.

– Jon Weisman

10. THE WIRE
“That’s Got His Own” — Dec. 3
Take your pick of great scenes in this one-for-the-ages crime drama’s intricately woven fourth season, but the nod here goes to Detective Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) realizing that Baltimore’s drug kingpin Marlo (Jamie Hector) has been stashing bodies of his “disappeared” victims in vacant houses. Adding the school system to the show’s dysfunctional institutions brought a heartbreaking element to the densely layered story.

– Brian Lowry

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more