The 80 Greatest Moments in TV History


From Johnny Carson’s farewell to 'Soul Train,' Tim Goodman looks at the best of television’s past for THR’s 80th anniversary issue.

51. Hank Aaron running around the bases after breaking baseball’s home run record A thing of beauty, sans steroids.


52. Joe Theismann’s leg snapped on Monday Night Football Not a thing of beauty. But it was impossible not to look.

53. The Chinese dissident facing down the tank in Tiananmen Square Stunning for his bravery and for the thought that the tank would fire at any second.

54. Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle debate “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” A platform is nice, but a sound bite like that doesn’t hurt.

55. Schoolhouse Rock Kids learned about “Conjunction Junction,” but the function of these animated gems was to learn and remember. People did.

56. Tie: “Where’s the beef”/“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”/“Let’s Get Mikey, He won’t eat it — he hates everything.” When commercials went viral the old-fashioned way.

57. “Da plane” Everybody said it. Corny as it was, it became a pop-culture catchphrase and reminded everyone of the medium’s sway on the public.

58. The Rockford Files theme song It never got old.

59. The birth of obsessive cable coverage as Baby Jessica falls down a well And 24-hour cable news was never the same again.

60. Rod Serling introducing episodes of The Twilight Zone The episodes often were unforgettable, but so was the man. Gravitas and intrigue.

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