Welcome to SYFY WIRE's Year in Review, a series of articles that will look to catalog the best, worst, and weirdest cultural and entertainment moments of 2019 as we look toward the future. Today, we celebrate the best genre moments of the year!
There's nothing better than investing in a genre television series that puts you on an emotional roller coaster ride during its run. Experiencing those episodic moments together as an audience when we're on the edge of our seats with worry, shocked into silence, or bawling (in either pain or happiness) is what TV writers live to give us.
And it's why genre fans especially love to invest in great sci-fi/fantasy storytelling. 2019 gave us a cornucopia of "gasp" moments in an array of TV series, and we've collected 10 of our favorites.
Hooded Justice reveal in Watchmen
The first five hours of Damon Lindelof's continuation of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen mythology was a masterclass of character building, unexpected reveals, and simmering tension. But arguably the pinnacle episode of the entire run, "This Extraordinary Being," encapsulated everything that was special about the series. Angela's journey into Will's personal history (via the Nostalgia drug) was an exploration of race relations, what it means to be a real-life superhero, and then it shattered our suppositions about what makes a hero, as personified by the reveal that Will was actually the man under Hooded Justice's mask.
Chidi's Note in The Good Place
As the endgame to eternal salvation, or damnation, for "The Brainy Bunch" continued to be convoluted in Season 4 of The Good Place, the show went into winter hiatus with "The Answer" doing what it does best: laying waste to our tear ducts. Previously, Chidi chose to sacrifice his memories for the greater good to save humanity. In this episode's end, he emerges from that mind-wipe restored and asks Janet for the note he left for himself. Chidi's answer to life is heartbreakingly simple:
There is no "answer."
But Eleanor is the answer.
Cue the ugly cry for us all.
Hopper's 'sacrifice' in Stranger Things
The Stranger Things Season 3 finale, "The Battle of Starcourt," provided audiences with a lot of satisfying action beats, but the cleaver to our hearts came when as we hear Hopper finally confess everything he hasn't been able to tell Eleven in a letter. It's even more of a gut punch as we listen to his words knowing he's sacrificed himself to save everyone. (And as much as we love Hopper, we hope the show doesn't entirely undercut this amazing moment when it returns in Season 4.)
Baby Yoda reveal in The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian was an entertainingly simple lone-wolf western set in the Star Wars universe until it suddenly took a vital turn at the very end of "Chapter 1." When Mando's quarry was revealed to be that little green nugget, the Child (aka Baby Yoda), the series truly exploded into a global phenomenon.
Genndy Tartakovsky drops a new series: Primal
Animation legend Genndy Tartakovsky is responsible for some of the greatest series in modern animation: Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003), and the Hotel Transylvania franchise. So, when Adult Swim announced this May he was returning to TV this year with a new animated series, Primal, it was a huge, exciting shock to the system. Primal ended up being an adult, dialogue-free, prehistoric fairy tale about an orphaned caveman and an orphaned T-Rex who bond over their trauma. As wonderfully Tartakovsky as it comes.
Obelisk at the end of Project Blue Book
The debut season of HISTORY's Project Blue Book gave us a blissful period piece series about how actual UFO exploration started. Aidan Gillen and Michael Malarkey tackled seminal cases in real UFO investigation lore, and didn't tiptoe around the more bizarre elements, including aliens in stasis tubes. And in the finale, "The Washington Merry-Go-Round," a shocker ending featured a glowing obelisk in Antarctica.
Jamie meets Bree in Outlander
In Season 4 of the TV adaption of author Diana Gabaldon's beloved Outlander book series, the action moved to Colonial America for time-crossed lovers Claire and Jamie Fraser. And the narrative doubled down on the twisty time travel of it all when their daughter from the future, Brianna, traveled back in history to reunite with her mum and meet her father for the very first time in "The Birds and the Bees." A perfectly understated moment from Sam Heughan and Sophie Skelton gave both book fans and series fans another series highlight moment.
Brienne getting knighted/Arya killing the Night King in Game of Thrones
There was a lot to be disappointed about in the final season of Game of Thrones, but there were at least two moments that earned universal critical and audience adoration: Brienne of Tarth getting knighted and Arya Stark's surprise stealth vanquishing of the Night King. Both women were given seven seasons of heartbreaking experiences that shaped them into legends worthy of the songs that would celebrate their exploits. Each got an emotional sequence worthy of them both, giving them a happy ending ... at least for a few fleeting moments.
Adora destroying her sword in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
We don't expect our episodic animated storytelling to be impactful and inspirational, but the reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has consistently proven it's less interested in tidy adventures and more in the impact of power on everyone. For Adora (aka She-Ra), it's been a long road to understand that real power isn't about the weapon, in this case her iconic sword, but about finding the power within to make true change. So Season 4 ends with her destroying her sword for the greater good. We can't wait to see what happens next.
The vampire council trial in What We Do in the Shadows
The vampire verses of media experienced their own crossover event in FX's What We Do in the Shadows episode "The Trial." Co-creators Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement assembled an A-list cast of actors, all who have previously played vampire types in other films and TV, for a hilarious tribunal that went super meta. Everyone from Tilda Swinton to Paul Reubens showed up to play, and it was spectacular.