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40 memorable daytime TV moments!

  • In honor of the 40th annual Daytime Emmys, we round 'em up
  • Drama! Surprises! And crazy stuff that only happens on live TV!
40 memorable daytime TV moments!

The Daytime Emmys will air live on HLN June 16 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Stay with for an exclusive look at the nominees.

OK, it's pretty much impossible to nail down just 40 of the most ridiculous, inspiring, dramatic and flat-out crazy moments in daytime TV. But to celebrate the 40th presentation of the Daytime Emmy Awards, we tried! Some of these moments are timeless, while others are unforgettable in, um, other ways. Are we missing your favorite? Tell us! Now sit back and reminisce...


Oprah's wagon of fat

Back in 1988, a newly svelte Oprah wheeled out her infamous wagon o' fat to kick off a diet-themed episode. It was equal parts gross and amazing. Our poor eyes! That poor little red Radio Flyer wagon filled with gunk! You know who we didn't feel sorry for? The show itself. The stunt earned the episode one of the highest ratings in the Oprah Show's history. The important takeaway from O? "Its amazing I can't lift it, but I used to carry it around with me every day."

Tom Cruise does some couch jumping

Everyone remembers the couch-jumping incident. In 2005, Tom Cruise was, to put it lightly, over the moon in love with Katie Holmes, and he showed it by being super awkward with Oprah as she tried not to betray her abject horror. He jumped up! He sat down! He shook Oprah around! Ever the diplomat, Oprah later said she "couldn't figure out what was going on." Us either. This infamous moment's legacy has lasted even longer than Cruise and Holmes' marriage.

Katherine Chancellor has a face-lift. Or was it Jeanne Cooper?

Real life is weird. Soaps are weird. Where real life and soaps collide? Glorious, endless weirdness. In 1984, soap legend Jeanne Cooper had a face-lift in real life, and the procedure, recovery, and reveal were written into her character Katherine Chancellor's storyline on "The Young and the Restless." And that wasn't even the most outrageous thing the "Y&R" matriarch had to endure. When Cooper passed in May of 2013, she was already cemented in the pantheon of longest-working soap opera stars. Watch it here!

"What is a hoe?"

Answer: "This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker."

Ken Jennings: "What is a hoe?"

Awkward. The Jeopardy champ had us rolling in 2007 with this scandalous (but still wrong) answer. For the record, the answer was "rake," "ho" is slang and not a real word, and the Jeopardy people are mean, mean, mean.

The "slut of Springfield"

Definition of OMG moment. One of the greatest scenes in soaps history happened on "Guiding Light," when Riva finally cracked under the suspicions of her stepson Josh. She stripped down to her undies and jumped into a fountain to anoint herself the well, you know, of Springfield. This was in 1984. Take that, any reality show ever! Why can't TV be this perfectly crazy anymore? And brava, Kim Zimmer. What an actress.

Oprah and Gayle's big adventure

Maybe going on road trip doesn't sound that crazy, but have you ever gone on one for ten days with your best friend? Cross-country? Meeting Katrina survivors and trying to squeeze out every drop of American culture? While being filmed for national TV? No? OK. The five-part series swept through the Oprah Show in 2006, and Oprah commented that it was "the craziest thing I've ever done."

Ann Curry can't find Illinois

In 2007, Ann Curry had an unfortunate mix-up with one of those touch-screen maps, and mistook Minnesota for Illinois. People love being reminded that journalists are fallible too, but in Ann's defense, keeping up with those touch-screen monitors is hard! Watch here.

Katie's colonoscopies

Katie Couric is a big advocate for colorectal health, which is awesome. But it's okay to have some mixed feelings about that time in 2010 where she and Early Show anchor Harry Smith got On camera. Some people say it helped dispel some fears about getting colonoscopies, while others just thought it was a little TMI. Either way, it was definitely fascinating.

"I'm happy I cut off my legs."

It's pretty hard to be shocked by anything on Jerry Springer's, but in 2008, even Jerry said this story was one of the most "bizarre" in the show's history. Follow us: A transsexual named Sandra cut off her legs in 2002 because she just didn't want them. She said ever since she was 14, it just didn't feel "right" to have legs. She used pairs of pantyhose and a saw to cut off her own legs. Perhaps the most bizarre part of the whole thing was the audience, who was laughing and clapping throughout Sandra's casual retelling of her horrific ordeal. Watch here.

Sherri's bikini wax

If there's anything we've learned from daytime, it's that NOTHING is off limits. In 2009, "The View"'s Sherri Shepherd saw Katie Couric's colonoscopy and raised her a Brazilian bikini wax. Yup, luckily we don't get a visual, but Sherri's hilarious commentary and expressions make it an ultimate moment of schadenfreude. Owwwww! Watch here.

Kristen Bell has some serious sloth issues

When it comes to sloths, actress Kristen Bell cannot handle it. Like, at all. This classic moment from 2012 has more than 16 million views on Youtube, and for good reason. We could watch it a hundred times in a row and LOL every time.

Alex Trebek has no pants!

We don't know why this happened, but it did. And it is awesome.

Basically everything on "Maury"

Where to start? "Maury" is basically just one never-ending train of ridiculousness, so it's almost unfair to pick just one moment. Some of the more memorable (and tragic) guests: A 14-year-old who says she had sex with a stranger for a cheeseburger, a woman who found some suspicious personal lubricant in her house, and her partner said he used it for hair gel, an 18-year-old dating a septuagenarian, and, of course, this poor woman who was mortally afraid of balloons.

"You are NOT the father!"

Right. And then, any time this happened.


Luke and Laura finally get married

November 16, 1981: A high holy day in soap history. Arguably the most loved couple in daytime TV history, Luke and Laura finally got married on General Hospital, and 30 million soap opera watchers were "in attendance." Obviously, it wasn't happily ever after for them, but after years of romance, it was so beautiful and so romantic and so...satsifying! Watch here.


Two years after THE wedding, Luke was left bereft after Laura was kidnapped. After he was elected mayor of Port Charles, Luke spied a familiar figure from the mayor's mansion. A familiar tune plays -- "Fascination," Luke and Laura's song since their dance in Wyndham's, and at long last the two lovers reunite. Tony Geary is amazing in this scene, and it's a perfect reminder of why this couple made "GH" so great.

Ellen comes out

People already had a pretty good idea that Ellen was gay when she appeared on Oprah's show in 1997. Her situational comedy "Ellen" had toyed with Ellen's character coming out, but her announcement on Oprah's show heralded a real-life sea change. Ellen bravely endured the criticism and backlash from her decision, and now, we can't imagine the delightful daytime icon any other way. Watch here.

A perfect bid on "The Price is Right"

Whoa! Even host Drew Carey was mind-boggled when a contestant threw down an EXACT bid on a showcase in 2008. Per the dusty "Price is Right" rules, the contestant won both showcases. Rumor has it Carey was so shocked, they had to film the scene over to make it TV-friendly. According to Drew, the crazy coincidence hadn't happened since the '70s, and heck, it probably won't happen again anytime soon because REALLY, that's crazy!

Million-dollar winners

Slightly less crazy was the recent million-dollar winner on "Wheel of Fortune." Autumn Earnhard solved the bonus puzzle "Tough Workout" with only four letters on the board. She's only the second person in the show's history to nab the million-dollar prize, and her reaction is priceless. Watch here.

Susan Lucci finally wins an Emmy

OH GEE IT ONLY TOOK 19 NOMINATIONS. The daytime legend finally took home her first statuette in 1999 for her work as Erica Kane in "All My Children." Susan looked shocked, and even her fellow nominees looked genuinely thrilled for her as presenter Shamar Moore announced: "The streak is over...Susan Lucci!." It was a moment that was totally soap-worthy: Tearful, well-played, and totally worth it. Watch here.

"Kiss my fat a**!"

Who's calling Tyra Banks fat?! Ty Ty was not amused in 2006 when unflattering tabloid photos prompted criticism of her figure. Tyra gave the kiss-off to haters when she paraded on to her talk show set wearing only a swimsuit, and told people to "kiss my fat a**!" The audience went wild (despite the fact that she was still gorgeous rich and not fat by most people's standards...oh well, it's daytime TV!). Watch here.

"You get a car! You get a car!"

Oprah just lurrrrrves giving stuff away, and the stunt to crown them all came in 2004 when she gave every member of her audience a new car. The audience just loses their, well... Crying. Hugging. And soooo much crying. And Oprah's excitement became an immortal catch phrase: "You get an audience surprise! And YOU get an audience surprise!"

The beating heart

What is sadder, what is more heart-wrenching and well-acted then this scene from "General Hospital" in 1994? Dr. Tony Jones has just lost his daughter BJ in a school bus accident, so he gives BJ's heart to his sick niece, Maxie. As Maxie recovers, Tony quietly enters her room to feel his daughter's healthy heart beating in her chest. Crying. Forever.


Geraldo Rivera's nose gets broken

So here's something that couldn't possibly go wrong: In an episode titled "Teen Hatemongers," Geraldo brought on John Metzger, a young white supremacist who represented the White Aryan Resistance Youth. Metzger promptly insulted a black guest, calling him an "Uncle Tom," and a fight broke out that spilled into the audience and peripheral crew. In the scuffle, Geraldo was hit by a chair and punched in the face. His nose was broken, but he didn't press charges, calling the supremacists "roaches." "I do not want to be tied up with the roaches," he said. Watch here.

Marlena's exorcism

Demonic possession? Why not? In 1994/1995, "Days of Our Lives" fans were treated by the most batcrackers plotline yet: Dr. Marlena Evans was responsible for some strange happenings in Salem because she was...ready for it...posessed by the devil, who conveniently told some secrets while he was in Marlena's head. People either loved or hated her subsequent exorcism, but it definitely brought in viewers. Oh, and it was definitely, definitely really creepy.

Rosie vs Elizabeth

Some arguments are not fun to watch. Some arguments are so awkward, you just want to turn off the TV and crawl under a blanket to get away from them. That was definitely the case with the 2007 spat between "The View" co-hosts Rosie O'Donnell and Elizabeth Hasselback. The women got into a heated argument about Elizabeth's conservative views and her ability to defend them. The uncomfortable conversation lasted about ten minutes, and later, Rosie said she didn't want to debate with Elizabeth anymore. ""Here's how it gets spun in the media. Rosie, big, fat lesbian, loud Rosie attacks innocent, pure Christian Elisabeth. And I'm not going to do it," she said. The spat only ended when co-host Joy Behar demanded the director go to commercial, and the whole viewing audience collectively exhaled. Rosie eventually left the show at the end of that year. Watch here.

Pine Valley explosion

The delusional Janet Dillon wreaked all sorts of havoc on the residents of Pine Valley, but her most, er, explosive act of revenge was when she loosened a gas valve at Erica Kane's Mardi Gras Ball, setting off a massive explosion and killing Ethan Cambias. The scene wasn't without its perils -- four stunt people were sent to the hospital with injuries. The whole thing was just crazy, and was the show's high point for a few years.

Dina Lohan breaks down on Dr Phil

In 2012, Dina Lohan, the mother of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, sat down with Dr. Phil for what was supposed to be a highly anticipated, tell-all interview. Instead, the elder Lohan slurred, sweated, and made non-sensical remarks that left Dr. Phil speechless. It wasn't even interesting, it was just sort of sad. "You're like in your little tie, your little shoes," she mumbled at one point. "Can I go home?" she said during another part. Lohan insisted she wasn't under the influence during the interview, but when you've flummoxed Dr. Phil, you know there's something seriously amiss. Watch here.

Erica Kane battles a grizzly bear

"I am Erica Kane! And you...are a filthy beast!" Oh, Susan Lucci, we love you so much.

"This is where our taxes go."

Rough. Judge Judy has no problem taking people to task on her show, but things got political when she was confronted with a young man who abused government assistance, grants and stipends. "The county was giving you free money, and it was free rent," she said. When the man said he spent it on himself, she regaled him with a whole lesson on grants and "free money," saying he stole the money. She eventually threw out the case, but the whole thing was high intensity. Watch here.

The "All My Children" "Finale"

"All My Children" ended its run in 2011. In true-to-soap fashion, it was resurrected the next year online. During the TV finale, a drunken JR fired shots into a crowd, seemingly at Erica Kane. It was later revealed that the (unintended?) victim was Marissa Tasker. The finale may not have been "the end" for "AMC," but it definitely took it out of the TV world with a bang.

Oprah and James Frey

You do not want to tick off the mighty O. In 2005, Oprah recommended Frey's "memoir," "A Million Little Pieces," which catapulted the book to bestseller status. After it was revealed in 2006 that Frey had fabricated some of the book's contest, Oprah had the author on her show, and she basically tore him a new one. Oprah said she felt "conned" and that the experience was "disappointing and embarrassing." She grilled Frey on his lies, and later apologized to other news outlets for endorsing the book.

Jake's death

The team of actors on "General Hospital" pulled together in 2011 to deliver a heartbreaking performance when Lucky and Elizabeth's son Jake was rendered brain-dead by a car accident. His parents agree to donate his kidney to Jasper and Carly's son Josslyn Jacks, a poignant mirror to 1986's BJ Jones moment.


"Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll"

On August 1st, 1981, a new era began: MTV. Their first music video? "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. Appropriate, and kind of sad. Perhaps someone should pen a new tune, "Reality TV Killed the Music Video?"

Daytime TV's first lesbian wedding

In 2009, "All My Children" broke another barrier -- same-sex weddings. Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams, looking wonderful in flowing white gowns, exchanged their vows. So sweet.

Ken Jennings loses his 75th Jeopardy

He had to go down sometime. Jennings had dominated the Jeopardy boards for 74 straight games before being defeated on his 75th try. Overall, he won more than $3 million and went on to write a book about his experiences. It was good while it lasted. Watch here.

Jeanne Cooper dies

On May 8th, Jeanne Cooper, who starred as Katherine Chancellor on "Y&R" for forty years, passed away. She was one of daytime drama's longest-serving stars.

Regis retires

All of the air went out of the room when Regis dropped a bomb during "Regis and Kelly." After 28 years behind the desk, the then-79-year-old announced his retirement. "It's been a long time, it's been 28 years since I've been here," Regis said. "And it was the biggest thrill of my life to come back to New York, where I grew up as a kid watching TV in the early days, you know, never even dreaming that I would one day have the ability, or whatever it takes, to get in front of the camera and talk to it." And thus ended an era. Watch here.

Barbara Walter announces her retirement

Gah! And this year, the inimitable Baba Wawa announced her retirement. At 83 years old, the "View" matriarch has seen so many things and been the voice of so many moments. It will be tough to see her go in 2014. Watch here.

Oprah ends her talk show



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