Oprah tops US TV’s “greatest surprise”

Oprah Winfrey's great car giveaway has been voted American TV's greatest ever "surprise."

Oprah Winfrey‘s great car giveaway (“You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!”) has been voted American TV’s greatest “surprise.”

Jeff Probst recently hosted a CBS special TV’s Greatest Surprises in which including Larry Hagman spoke about the great Dallas dream, Arsenio Hall on Clinton’s saxophone moment and more.

Missing out were Scully announcing her pregnancy on The X-Files, the island disappearing on Lost, Big’s real name is John on Sex and the City and discovering Leland is possessed by Bob on Twin Peaks -and the fact that anybody, anywhere watched Dance Your Ass Off.

Bert has probably already done an Aussie list on 20 to 1, surely?

Here’s how they stacked up the top 30 greatest surprises from the past 60 years of television:

30. Kris Allen beats Adam Lambert on “American Idol” Season 9, leaving Simon Cowell seated and speechless

29. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live”

28. Newhart finale is a dream from The Bob Newhart Show

27. Ellen DeGeneres’ character comes out as gay on “Ellen”

26. Bobby James Ewing comes back to “Dallas,” with the producers saying the previous season was just a dream

25. Susan dies on “Seinfeld”

24. Lucy and Italian lady fight while crushing grapes on “I Love Lucy”

23. The “All in the Family” premiere

22. “The Twilight Zone” surgeries twist episode

21. John Doe mystery patient on “Grey’s Anatomy” turns out to be George

20. Chandler and Monica’s surprise relationship on “Friends”

19. Baby mixup between Petrie and Peters on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

18. Retired Johnny Carson almost reads top 10 list on “Late Show with David Letterman,” but walks away as crowd continues cheering

17. Col. Blake’s plane is shot down on “M*A*S*H”

16. Jonny Fairplay lies about his “dead” grandmother on “Survivor: Pearl Islands”

15. Michael hits Meredith with his car on “The Office”

14. Sam reveals his hairpiece on “Cheers”

13. Janice shoots Richie after he hits her on “The Sopranos”

12. Joseph curses out and physically challenges Chef Ramsay on “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 6

11. Omar is shot by a 12-year-old boy on “The Wire”

10. Future President Clinton plays saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show”

9. Marie drives car through the wall on “Everybody Loves Raymond”

8. Burning helicopter kills Dr. Romano on “ER”

7. Pregnant Texan Jessica Robinson wins the first million on “Deal or No Deal”

6. Rosalind Shays falls down elevator shaft on “L.A. Law”

5. John Carpenter uses Lifeline to call his father and announce he’s about to win the million on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”

4. Mark Harmon’s secret service agent is killed in a convenience store robbery on “The West Wing”

3. Marie Osmond faints on live TV after the Samba on “Dancing with the Stars”

2. Agent Todd is shot in the head after taking a bullet for Gibbs on “NCIS”

1. Sept. 13, 2004 on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”: Oprah gives all 276 audience members a car. Value? Over $7 million

Source: Examiner

21 Responses

  1. Sure, not usually considered as a TV show by people who watch TV (and would like to pretend it doesn’t exist despite rating pretty highly consistently) but:

    On WWE Wrestling, their main star John Cena was out for ages with a legit serious neck injury (and this is not “oh, it’s fake, whatever”, he was actually injured and recovering from surgery). In their annual Royal Rumble event battle royale 30 man match, the final contestant turns out to be…yup, John Cena. At least 4 months before he was supposed to return. Turns out he wasn’t as injured as we were led to believe. It was insane.

    Another surprise I would have would have to be Simon Adebese’s death in Oz. In a show where anyone could die at any time, he always seemed to be the sure safe character, as the main bad guy. In a random episode, seemingly out of nowhere, he gets shanked by another inmate. I also add that the narrator gets killed halfway through one of the last seasons. Brilliant TV.

  2. hmm, I have to say Oprah’s surprise was a good one, but as others have noted, the list is pretty random really, and there are plenty that I think are better that never made the list.

    But out of that list I would have chosen:

    17. Col. Blake’s plane is shot down on “M*A*S*H”
    2. Agent Todd is shot in the head after taking a bullet for Gibbs on “NCIS”

    I remember being absolutely speechless after those events. I had no idea they were coming, and it was like a physical slap.

  3. @aznfratboy, I agree with you to some extent about JFK, but I have doubts that the assasination was actually seen live on TV. I think the big “surprise” for TV viewers came a bit later when Walter Cronkite announced JFK was dead.

    Though I guess the list makers obviously didn’t want to include horrible real life events, because then surely 9/11 would rank right up there.

  4. Oprah’s great surprise car giveaway – read great tax writeoff. The woman doesn’t have one genuinely philanthropic bone in her body. It’s all about the ratings and her ludicrously inflated ego being pampered.

  5. Az fratboy- if you include JFK, you’d have to go OJ Simpson. After watching Greys tonight, the moment when Owen enters the OR towards the end (trying not to spoil for recorders etc) was so shocking I actually yelled out loud!! Also, on an Oz reference, when Jonah gets expelled from Summer Heights High. And the final ep of Friends when Rachel “gets off the plane”.

    But, just remembered my fave surprise (in a really tragic and sad way) Brendan Fraser’s final episode on Scrubs. I just did not see it coming and when I realised… It just completely broke your heart- john c mcginley should have been nominated for an Emmy for that ep!!

  6. I’m with Jerome- George Clooney finally appearing on Ellen was an amazing surprise, considering the months and months of lead up. I was off work during the final month of that (big medical issues so daytime tv Was my life) and when he finally got there it was just incredibly funny and exciting! I’d also add when they found the hatch in Lost, first season of 24 when (I think) Terri was killed, rachel being pregnant on friends, the bomb episode of greys when all of a sudden Meredith was holding the bomb and finally I’ll also agree with George being John Doe on greys.

  7. 18. Retired Johnny Carson almost reads top 10 list on “Late Show with David Letterman,” but walks away as crowd continues cheering

    and JFK getting shot on live television are the two biggest surprises ever, the person who compiled this list needs to go back to his mothers basement.

    Generally the top of the lists are pretty much spot on, it’s the bottom that sort of draws the most debate, but with this list, Oprah giving away cars? She gives away something every episode… what was so different about this one.

    Johnny Carson vowed never to return to TV, the fact that he did, even though he didn’t say a word was huge, I don’t think anyone stayed on TV, consecutively as long as him…

  8. Might be a bit wishful here, but judging on the randomness of some of those events, shouldn’t Buffy sacrificing herself for her sister be a surprise? Or even the fact that in one episode she suddenly had a sister that she hadn’t had for the first 4 seasons?

  9. hmm, strange #1. i’d put george clooney appears on ellen above oprah’s cars.
    what about when michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby.

    i disagree with a lot of the reality tv ones. johnny fairplay was nasty yes but hardly a surprise and marie osmond #3?

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