The 14 most WTF TV moments of 2022

It’s been a long, stressful, magical year of television, with standout episodes and both new and returning favorites keeping us glued to our couches. And it’s been an especially rich year for moments that made us wonder what the hell we just watched.

Dodging TV spoilers on social media can feel like a full time job sometimes, but it’s worth it when a show builds up to a huge reveal, stunning set-piece, or narrative curveball, and we get to experience the full impact of a surprising or shocking moment. Sometimes it’s a death we never saw coming, even as we braced ourselves for bad news; sometimes it’s an unhinged visual fever dream or dance sequence; it could be a surprise cameo, a season-long slow shudder, or just a sandwich filling too strange not to try. In no particular order, please join us as we relive some of 2022’s most surreal, surprising, and suggestive TV moments.

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1. The waffle party (Severance)

An office worker in a yellow shirt sits in a chair looking dejected


Credit: Apple TV+

We heard about the waffle party perk all season-long on Severance, but absolutely nothing could have prepared us for the truth. Employees are taken to the replica of Lumon founder Kier Eagan’s house deep inside the complex, where they eat a plate of waffles that look fine but not amazing. They then have a Kier Eagan-themed sex party complete with a Kier mask, lingeried individuals dressed as Kier’s Four Tempers, and a cat o’ nine tails bearing the name of each of Kier’s nine core principles. In a show full of WTF moments, this strange combination of workplace rewards, cultish corporate devotion, and sexual gratification takes the cake — or, should I say, the waffle. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

2. Tanya’s fate (The White Lotus)

A man and a woman at the opera, looking serious in the dark.


Credit: Courtesy of HBO

We’ve come to expect a lot of insanity from The White Lotus — Suitcase pooping! Possible incest! Portia’s wardrobe! Still, nothing could have prepared me for Tanya McQuoid’s (Jennifer Coolidge’s) yacht shootout in the Season 2 finale. One moment, Coolidge is mowing down a group of murderous gays with a mafia lackey’s gun. The next, she’s struggling to get off the murder yacht only to fall, hit her head on her escape boat, and drown. In terms of ways to go, this is just horrifying enough to be tragic and just stupid enough to be weirdly funny. But perhaps the most “WTF”-inducing element of all this is that White Lotus creator Mike White has robbed us of another season of Jennifer Coolidge. How dare he! — B.E.

3. The Doctor regenerates (Doctor Who)

A man stands in front of a phone booth, aka The Tardis, looking confused and staring at his hands.


Credit: BBC Studios

Back in May, returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies revealed Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa was to be the next new face of the Time Lord in the TARDIS. He would start after 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker exited the show in a special feature length episode in November to mark the BBC’s 100th birthday. Naturally, you assumed this meant Jodie would regenerate into Ncuti this November. But RTD got us all: He never once, in that May-November gap, said that Ncuti would be the 14th Doctor. He said he was a new face, not the next face. Result: mouths agape around the world in November when Whittaker regenerated, in a blaze of rainbow light, into … David Tennant, the 10th and now 14th Doctor. Who, with his signature line — “What? What? What?” — was clearly just as surprised as we were. 

Then came the coup de grace: a trailer for next November’s Doctor Who specials, featuring 15th Doctor Gatwa also speaking for us all: “Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?” The entire Who-loving world, down to the most casual fan of this most popular modern Doctor, can find their brain exploding with questions that won’t be answered for a year. — Chris Taylor, Senior Editor

4. Bruce Wayne brings his parents back as zombies (Harley Quinn)

HBO Max’s animated romp has been packed with sex, action, and mayhem since its start. But in its third season, Harley Quinn went hard with Batman’s orphan trauma. Not only did this outrageous cartoon usher us into his mind, filled with Crime Alleys, slaughtered parents, and those doomed strands of pearls, but also it made Bruce Wayne the seed of a carnage-sprouting finale. It all began with his twisted need to bring Thomas and Martha Wayne back from the dead. A bit of kidnapping, theft, weird science, and deep denial culminated in a plant-based zombie uprising that threatened to turn Gotham into the world’s weirdest and deadliest forest. In a season full of WTF moments, a giddy superhero introducing his half-tree, half-undead parents to a room full of friends and hostages definitely came out on top. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor

5. Tampongate (The Crown)

A man in a suit waves at a crowd


Credit: Netflix

One of the biggest royal scandals of The Crown Season 5 (and the ’90s) was included almost word for close-up word. Yes, we’re talking about Tampongate, in which Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Camilla Parker Bowles’ (Olivia Williams’) private, saucy phone calls were recorded and sold to the Daily Mirror in 1993 the heir’s affair was out. Without kink-shaming anyone, just try and “feel your way along” through these scenes (sorry) represented in The Crown episode 5. The conversation runs twice, notably in full when the transcripts are published — and here’s where it gets, as Princess Anne unforgivably calls it, “gynecological.” As the camera gets right up close on West’s mouth, the pair utter the infamous Tampax-related lines as the scene cuts to various royals reading their intimate conversation on the front page — including the Queen Mum herself.

“God, I wish I could just live inside your trousers or something. It would be so much easier.”

“What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers?”

“You’re a complete idiot. What a wonderful idea.”

“Or, God forbid, a Tampax, just my luck.”

All tampons aside, the scene certainly hits different in 2022 considering conversations around privacy and press intrusion have evolved since “Camillagate” — not to mention that Charles is now, y’know, the actual King. — Shannon Connellan, U.K. Editor

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6. Viserys rotting to death (House of the Dragon)

A medieval-fantasy king hunches in front of a throne made of sharp blades.


Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon gave us many memorable deaths, but none were as horrifying — or as drawn-out — as that of King Viserys Targaryen. A small cut from the Iron Throne leads to a lost pinky, which spirals into a lost arm, which culminates in a face that’s all but rotted away. Thematically, it makes sense: The pressure of sitting on the Iron Throne is literally killing Viserys. Visually, it’s difficult to watch, and even harder to stomach. Good thing Viserys is able to accessorize with that gold mask though — it’s all about the silver linings. — B.E.

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7. That devastatingly ordinary finale death (Yellowjackets)

Half the fun of Yellowjackets is wildly speculating about what happens between the 90s wilderness flashbacks we’ve seen so far and the trauma-chaos of the survivors’ present-day antics — and one of the biggest questions was “What happened to Jackie?” Ella Purnell’s spoiled, complicated golden girl hadn’t appeared in the present day yet, with her best friend Shauna (Sophie Nelisse/Melanie Lynskey) clearly now mourning her lost pal, and she was top of the list of candidates for Who Gets Eaten (Or At Least Ritually Sacrificed) First. But her true fate, revealed in the Season 1 finale, was far more prosaic, and all the more heartbreaking for it.

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After a fight with Shauna, Jackie goes to sulk and sleep outside by the campfire instead of inside the cabin where the Yellowjackets are sheltering. An increasingly eerie sequence where they make up is revealed to be a dream, as Shauna starts awake to find that the first snow of a harsh Canadian winter has fallen in the night, and runs outside in frenzied panic to where Jackie has frozen to death. The sound of Nelisse’s screaming has stayed with me all year, and when the show returns in 2023, we’ll be just as focused on the brutality of teenage girl feelings as the foreshadowing of cannibalism. — Caitlin Welsh, Australian Editor

8. Any time Julia Garner opened her mouth as Anna Delvey (Inventing Anna)

Portraying scammer Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey), the American actress delved tongue-first into an explicable tangle of accents. From the first bored but biting bit heard in the trailer, the public was fixated, spurring a slew of social media commentary, a Saturday Night Live sketch, and interviews where Garner was asked to explain her choices.

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When Mashable interviewed voice coach Chris Neher about this distinctive Delvey delivery, his expert opinion defended Garner, saying, “If you’re pissing people off, you’re probably doing something right.” — K.P.

9. Better Call Saul goes out swinging for the fences

A man stands at a podium.


Credit: GREG LEWIS/AMC/SONY PICTURES TELEVISION

The final season of Better Call Saul was stuffed with so many WTF moments, it’s hard to pick just one. Lalo Salamanca shooting Howard Hamlin! Gus Fring shooting Lalo! The whole show fast-forwarding to Saul’s post-Breaking Bad identity, a Cinnabon manager at a Nebraska mall, much earlier than expected! A reluctant mall heist that felt like a meta-commentary on consumer culture! But all that was just laying groundwork for the series finale, which wrong-footed us one more time. Having been turned in by cat video-loving senior Marion (Carol Burnett), Saul plays the Feds like a violin. He whittles a 190-year sentence for those meth cartel crimes down to seven years in prison. 

And then…Saul blows up the plea deal along with his identity, reverting to plain old Jimmy McGill. He confesses his crimes in court, and gets 86 years. For what? Basically, for the chance to have one more cigarette in prison with his former partner, in crime and out of it, Kim Wexler. (Kim gets her own WTF episode: this legal mastermind is now living a hellishly mediocre life in Florida with a forgettable boyfriend and a job at a sprinkler company.) Has the amoral lawyer finally made good? Not quite; when Kim arrives for that smoke, we learn he’s sorta Saul again, king of the convicts thanks to a cult of personality. BCS was American meta-commentary all the way down to the last scene — and as a result, Breaking Bad now actually stands in its successor’s shadow. WTF? — C.T.

10. The liverwurst and marmalade sandwich (Only Murders in the Building)

If you had told me that a marmalade and liverwurst sandwich would have cracked the main mystery of Only Murders in the Building Season 2, or that I would then try said sandwich for science, I would have laughed in your face. However, both things did happen, and I can confirm that the liverwurst and marmalade combo is exactly as disgusting as it sounds.

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A salty-sweet nightmare, this sandwich may have helped catch a killer — but at what cost to our taste buds? — B.E.

11. Jen smashes the fourth wall (She-Hulk: Attorney At Law)

A piece of machinery labeled K.E.V.I.N.

Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus, if you’re nasty.
Credit: Marvel Studios

At a tense moment in She-Hulk‘s mega-meta Season 1 finale, I thought my Apple TV had glitched out — the distinctive airy “bloop” of the back button sounded and the Disney+ menu screen appeared. But then Jen Walters (Tatiana Maslany), aka She-Hulk, climbed out of her eponymous show’s tile and down into that of docuseries Marvel Studios: Assembled, where she stormed into the writers’ room of her own show, beat up a bunch of Disney security guards, and confronted Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige A.I. overlord K.E.V.I.N. about the tired old round-em-up-and-punch-em-out denouement set out for her. While demolishing the fourth wall is as much She-Hulk’s thing as it is Deadpool’s, it was also satisfying fanservice to see someone take “Kevin” to task for not letting superheroes actually fuck until Jen came on the scene. — C.W.

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12. Wednesday’s dance routine (Wednesday)

A young woman with dark hair in a black tulle dress dances.


Credit: Netflix

We all watched it and loved it. Wednesday’s dance routine in Wednesday’s fourth episode was one of the most “wtf but YES EXACTLY” scenes we’ve been blessed with on television this year. The routine, an homage to all things ‘80s goth, was a treasure chest of chaotic, camp goodness, inspiring a wave of TikToks and misguidedly convincing everyone that they too can pull it off. But I fear no one has yet been able to match the subtle details in Jenna Ortega’s shoulder shimmy, her deadpan stare, or even the physics behind her perfect arm swinging. Yes, Wednesday’s dance routine was an enigma of science, and for the first time ever, it had me wishing I was a goth raving in a dingy nightclub in the ‘80s. A WTF moment for its sheer camp spectacle, and a huge slay all the same. — Yasmeen Hamadeh, Entertainment Intern

13. Tommy Lee’s penis talks (Pam & Tommy)

A shirtless man with many tattoos throws his arms wide in a grand house.


Credit: Hulu

The raunchy docu-comedy series took audiences behind the scenes of one of the biggest celebrity scandals of ’90s: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s stolen sex tape. In jaw-dropping makeovers, Lily James and Sebastian Stan starred as the Baywatch bombshell and the rock n’ roll bad boy. But the scene-stealing cameo of this madcap mini-series was beloved comedic actor Jason Mantzoukas, who lent his voice to Lee’s grumbling penis, shown in full frontal. Inspired by Lee’s memoir Tommy Land, his unit acts as an intimate and foul-mouthed confidante, who provides surprisingly thoughtful advice about this whirlwind romance. In a year full of true crime-inspired shows, this wacky re-imagining stood out with a helpful hard-on. — K.P.

14. The Cow (Peacemaker)

There’s one accusation you could never level at James Gunn’s hilarious and surprisingly touching Peacemaker, which rescues John Cena’s character from the wreckage of Suicide Squad. From the first title sequence to its finale-opening joke about fart jokes, it ain’t exactly going for subtlety. But how do you top that? How you end a season that contained at least one major WTF moment per episode (including Peacemaker straight-up shooting his white supremacist dad between the eyes, and alien butterfly creatures entering the orifices of humans)? Simple: explode a giant alien “cow”, one that’s feeding all the tiny butterfly creatures, in as gross a way as possible. That’s what we get at the conclusion of “It’s Cow or Never,” Peacemaker‘s first (but blessedly not its last) finale episode. After a tender moment of connection with those suddenly sympathetic alien butterflies, outcast from their planet, the eponymous oaf fires one of his helmets into the belly of the cow. 

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But what makes it a legendary WTF moment is that the helmet is being worn by Peacemaker’s friend Adebeyo (Danielle Brooks) at the time. Adebeyo’s first words after falling from the belly of the beast, alongside a few thousand gallons of blood and guts: “What the fuck?” Not even the appearance of DC’s biggest superheroes in the denouement – not even a cameo from Aquaman (Jason Momoa) responding to the rumor that he has sex with fish – can top it. — C.T.

https://mashable.com/article/tv-shows-wtf-most-shocking-2022 The 14 most WTF TV moments of 2022

Zack Zwiezen

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