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27 TV Moments That Are So Freaking Smart, I Can't Believe Shows Actually Pulled Them Off

That '70s Show really waited eight seasons to pull off ONE joke.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which TV moment was so smart, they couldn't believe the writers actually thought of it. Here are the reallllly clever results.

🚨 Spoilers ahead! 🚨

1. In How I Met Your Mother, when every scene from the "Bad News" episode included hidden numbers that secretly counted down from 50, and when it got to zero Lily appeared and told Marshall that his dad died.

Lily hugging Marshall outside
CBS

"The counting down throughout the whole episode was genius and done so well. You have no idea what they're counting down to, and then BAM, it shoots you right in the heart. One of my favorite episodes of any show ever."

mapmmapm

Here's a compilation of all of the numbers appearing:

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CBS / youtube.com

2. In The Haunting of Bly Manor, when everything unfolded in the finale, and it was revealed that Hannah was actually staring at her own dead body down the well when Dani met her in the first episode.

Hannah being pushed down the well and then staring at her body
Netflix

"The first episode of the season showed Hannah at the well, staring blankly into its hole, but we didn't actually learn why until the finale. The reveal in the finale of her being killed and looking down at her OWN body was chilling and brilliant."

laurengarafano

Here's the full scene:

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Netflix / youtube.com

3. In Community, when they spent the first two seasons casually mentioning the name "Beetlejuice," and after the third time an actual Beetlejuice appeared in the background, just like he does in the movie.

Every time someone says the word "Beetlejuice" on the show
NBC

"In the movie, Beetlejuice appears after you say his name three times. So, in Community, after Annie said 'Beetlejuice' for the show's third time, someone dressed as Beetlejuice walked across the screen in the background. It’s so subtle, and you barely notice it, but when you do, it’s pretty funny and clever."

emo_or_die

Here's a compilation of each moment:

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NBC / youtube.com

4. In Grey's Anatomy, when an unrecognizable man was brought into the hospital in Season 5, and he traced the numbers "0-0-7" onto Meredith's palm, calling back to O'Malley's "007" nickname from Season 1 and revealing that he was actually George.

Meredith reacting to John Doe being George
ABC

"O'Malley was given the nickname "007" in Season 1 when he froze during his first surgery. In Season 5, he was rushed to the hospital after being hit by a bus. Everyone referred to him as John Doe because he was unrecognizable and couldn't speak, so he traced "007" onto Meredith's palm, alerting her of his real identity. It was brilliant, and I always get goosebumps the moment Meredith realizes it's George."

noradominick

Here's the full scene:

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ABC / youtube.com

5. In The Good Place, when Eleanor figured out at the end of Season 1 that they were actually trapped in the Bad Place, but everyone was made to think they were in heaven.

Eleanor talking to Michael in her house and realizing she's in the Bad Place
NBC

"The most clever moment in TV has to be the plot twist at the end of the first season of The Good Place. it just came out of nowhere, especially for a lighthearted sitcom. It really showcased the fact that The Good Place would be a show that redefined the genre."

lynchgrace24

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NBC / youtube.com

6. In That '70s Show, when the series ended with everyone counting down to the new year, and the screen cut to black the second it became 1980.

Everyone counting down for the new year
Fox

"I mean, the show was only about the '70s, so this made perfect sense. It was such a smart way to illustrate it and to end the series."

tessafahey

Here's the full scene:

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Fox / youtube.com

7. In Modern Family, when the final scene of the series perfectly mimicked the first scene of the series by putting each character in the same situation they were in 11 years earlier.

Side-by-side comparisons of the pilot and finale with Jay and Gloria at a soccer game, vs. Cam and Mitchel on a plane bringing their new baby home
ABC

"The last scene of the last episode is full of callbacks to the first one. Mitch and Cam were on a plane with their new kid (cream puffs in hand), Jay and Gloria were next to each other at their son's soccer game (now both of them were struggling to get out of their chairs), and Phil and Claire were planning. It was really neat."

sararonai

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ABC / youtube.com

8. In Fleabag, when the Priest could sense that Fleabag was breaking the fourth wall and looking directly at the camera, and then he surprised the viewer by doing it too.

Fleabag and The Priest breaking the fourth wall and talking to camera
BBC One

"I absolutely loved every time the Priest noticed that Fleabag was breaking the fourth wall and talking to us. It showed that he really saw and understood her. Also, the ending of Fleabag was so clever when she turned to the camera and shook her head 'no' to the audience, as if she was choosing to leave us and focus more on the relationships she had in real life."

districtrue

Here's the full scene:

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BBC One / youtube.com

9. In How to Get Away With Murder, when the series ended with the exact same shots and dialogue that it started with, only the professor changed from Annalise Keating to Wes's son, Christopher.

Side-by-side of Annalise and Wes teaching in the pilot and finale
ABC

"The show had so many great plot twists, and you never knew who to trust, but that ending was perfect."

anitar411

Here's the full scene:

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ABC / youtube.com

10. In Game of Thrones, when Arya tried to kill the Night King, but he pinned her arm back, so she dropped the dagger, caught it with her other hand, and stabbed him.

Arya stabbing the Night King
HBO

"I don’t think this list can be made without the jaw-dropping moment when Arya goes to attack the Night King, just for him to turn around and grab her by the neck. You think that’s the end of the biggest badass in the show, but then Arya reminds us why she has this title when she drops the dagger and catches it with her other hand and stabs the Night King and kills the Walkers. The emotional roller coaster that occurred in 45 seconds is what puts this moment in a league of its own."

anthonym456

Here's the first scene:

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HBO / youtube.com

11. In Ozark, when the final line of Ben's five-minute-long monologue to the taxi driver cleverly revealed absolutely everything you needed to know about Ben and his mental illness.

Ben sitting in the backseat of the taxi as it drives along the countryside
Netflix

Suggested by brittanyarnett21:

This particular scene is so clever that it's actually kind of breathtaking. The whole montage is one longgggg, intimate, one-sided convo where Ben bombards the taxi driver with all of his hopes and fears. Then he utters the final line, which implies that Ben just shared all of that personal information unprompted, and the taxi driver merely asked how his day was. The scene does a perfect job of illustrating exactly who Ben is, and it gives the audience a closer look at his character and his mental illness.

Here's the full scene:

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Netflix / youtube.com

12. In Veep, when Selina and her team hoped that something major would happen in the news — like Tom Hanks dying — to distract the media from reporting on her scandal in the pilot episode. Then, in the series finale, Tom Hanks's death overshadowed the news of her own funeral.

Side-by-side of the pilot episode of "Veep" where Mike hoped Tom Hanks would die, compared to the finale where he reported on Hanks's actual death
HBO

"The finale called back to so many hilarious moments throughout the show's run, including the Tom Hanks bit in the pilot. It was brilliant."

a48b53e4ef

Here's the full scene:

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HBO / youtube.com

13. In American Horror Story: Murder House, when Violet and the viewer were tricked into thinking that Tate saved her, but she later realized she was actually dead and her spirit was trapped in the house.

Violet discovering her own corpse
FX

Suggested by madisonarianna

About halfway through the season, Violet tried to kill herself with a bunch of sleeping pills, but they showed a scene in which Tate saved her and got her to throw up everything...or so we thought. This massive, clever twist revealed that Tate couldn't actually save Violet, and her spirit was trapped in the house where she ultimately discovered her dead, rotting body. Brilliant.

Here's the full scene:

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FX / youtube.com

14. In Parks and Rec, when Leslie got a free MRI during her blind date with Chris in Season 2, and he said her body was capable of having triplets the first time she got pregnant. Then, in Season 6, she got pregnant with triplets.

Side-by-side of Leslie in the hospital on her date with Will Arnett's character, vs. Leslie in the hospital again four years later finding out she's pregnant with triplets
NBC

"I just love this moment."

isabelb44

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NBC / youtube.com

15. In This Is Us, when Rebecca saw Jack's lifeless body in the hospital, and there was a split-second flashback to young Jack, almost as if she were trying to preserve her memory of him.

Rebecca looking at Jack's lifeless body in the hospital
NBC

"That flicker to young Jack was perfect. It was as if Rebecca went back to her earliest memory of Jack, but then he was gone in the blink of an eye, sort of like she was trying to relive their whole relationship. What a brilliant touch to an incredible scene."

spenceralthouse

Here's the full scene:

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NBC / youtube.com

16. In Lost, when the final scene of the show perfectly mirrored its first scene from six years earlier, only everything happened in reverse.

Side-by-sides of the first scene from the pilot of "Lost" perfectly mimicking the final scene in the last episode, only everything appears in reverse
ABC

"The first and final scenes both had Jack flat on his back, looking up through the palm fronds, and Walt's dog appearing next to him. It was a strange, confusing show, but those last scenes and the music were A+++++++."

shewhoreadsbooks

Here's the full scene:

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ABC / youtube.com

17. In Jane the Virgin, when the show revealed after five seasons that Jane's son was actually the narrator all along.

Jane on her wedding day talking to her son
The CW

"My jaw dropped! They had this planned for five seasons."

sydneygarcia

Here's the full scene:

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The CW / youtube.com

18. In Sherlock, when Sherlock cleverly figured out Irene Adler's cellphone password.

Sherlock figuring out Irene Adler's phone password
BBC One

"All of Sherlock was genius, but when he deduced the password to Irene Adler's phone...it was incredible. The two of them had been playing a flirty battle of wits for the whole episode, but the end to it was peak Sherlock Holmes. Such clever writing."

iloveyou3000

Here's the full scene:

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BBC One / youtube.com

19. In Seinfeld, when the pilot opened with a conversation about shirt buttons, and nine years later the finale ended with the same exact conversation, demonstrating that it really was a show about nothing.

George and Jerry talking about shirt buttons in a diner in the pilot episode, then the gang talking about shirt buttons in jail in the finale

Here's the full scene:

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NBC / youtube.com

20. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, when Jake cleverly got Philip Davidson to reveal how he pulled off the perfect murder, and absolutely everyoneeee was surprised.

Philip admitting to the murder
NBC

"The whole 'The Box' episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is so clever. In this particular scene, Sterling K. Brown’s character finally cracks during Jake and Holt's interrogation, and he reveals in detail how he murdered the dentist. It was just so smart and so well thought out!"

allyh495

Here's the full scene:

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NBC / youtube.com

21. In Breaking Bad, when Walter White rolled that barrel through the desert at the end of Season 5, and he unknowingly walked right by the pants that he lost in the pilot episode.

Side-by-sides of Walter White's pants flying through the air in the pilot episode, vs. him walking by those same pants in the desert five years later
AMC

"Thinking about this always makes me laugh."

surprisedchicken36

Here's the full scene:

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AMC / youtube.com

22. In Black Mirror, when the final three minutes of the "White Bear" episode revealed that Victoria was basically part of an amusement park where people paid to watch her get hunted and tortured every day.

Victoria realizing she's part of an attraction
Netflix

"It was definitely one of the biggest twists I've ever seen. It was so brilliantly executed. I remember not being able to move after I watched it the first time! Well done to whoever came up with that concept."

saxophonesandowls

Here's the full scene:

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Netflix / youtube.com

23. In Sense8, when Will tricked everyone by physically standing in the same room as Whispers instead of appearing as an apparition through eye contact connection.

Whispers finding out Will is in the same room
Netlix

"Throughout the whole show, they only communicated with each other through the eye contact connection (meaning they were never actually in the same room), so I jumped when Will shoved Whispers and we found out he was actually there. It was so beautifully done."

hannahcane and lizgrove82

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Netflix / youtube.com

24. In The Haunting of Hill House, when the identity of the Bent-Neck Lady was revealed, and Nell realized that she was being haunted by herself the whole time.

Nell realizing she's the Bent-Neck Lady
Netflix

"I was so shocked when it was revealed. Her whole childhood, she was being haunted by herself..."

melissaverniest

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Netflix / youtube.com

25. In Grey's Anatomy, when Dr. Bailey had to give birth without her husband in Season 2, so George stepped in for him. Then, 14 years later, Dr. Bailey returned the favor to Amelia when she had to give birth alone.

Side-by-side of Bailey giving birth vs. Amelia giving birth
ABC

"In Season 2, Miranda Bailey’s husband got in a car crash when she was in labor. He couldn’t be there for the delivery, so George O’Malley stepped up. He got behind her on the bed and held her shoulders and told her encouraging things while she was pushing. It was such a sweet moment. Then, in Season 16, Dr. Bailey did the same thing for Amelia Shepherd when Link couldn’t be there for the delivery of their baby. She remembered what George had done for her and carried on his legacy while helping her friend. TEARS."

hawkeyefan0215

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ABC / youtube.com

26. In Doctor Who, when River Song's true identity was revealed, and Amy found out that she was actually her daughter.

River revealing that she's Amy's daughter
BBC One

"The writing is so clever in pretty much any episode of Doctor Who, but ESPECIALLY during the reveal of River Song’s identity. I never saw it coming. The writers are genius, and that entire season is brilliant."

erinburkmanr

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BBC One / youtube.com

27. In Mad Men, when the show ended with Don Draper meditating on a mountaintop, and the viewer is made to think that he smiled because he finally found peace, but really it was because he just came up with the concept for a new ad.

Don Draper on a mountain top in the finale of Mad Men
AMC

"Don Draper coming up with the Coke advert at the end of Mad Men is brilliant. You first think he'll find peace on that mountain, but then you realize that he doesn't really change at all. Instead, he learns he can exploit a whole new movement and group of people, just like he exploited the sentimental throughout the rest of the series. A genius ending."

fayeolivia90

Here's the full scene:

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AMC / youtube.com

Did your favorite clever TV moment not make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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