There is a lot more to acting than memorizing lines and nailing them on TV shows. Hence, a number of seasoned actors rely on improv. Actors often improvise to salvage someone forgetting or slipping up on their lines. In most cases, they are spur-of-the-moment actions that elicit more genuine responses.
It takes a lot of intelligence, grip on one’s craft, and acting prowess to be able to successfully improvise.
Here are 20 iconic improvised and memorable scenes from these shows.
- “Hot Damn!”
Known for one of the best cold opens, Brooklyn 99 is a show that is still missed. One such cold open sees the squad coming up with wild theories to explain why the punctilious Amy Santiago is 70 seconds late.
The stoic Captain Holt joins the fun, giving a boring guess, saying that she might be stuck at the bank. Amy runs in and proves Holt’s guess to be correct. The actor playing Holt, Andre, improvised the completely out-of-character but hilarious exclamation that follows. Hot Damn!
2. Q-tip resistance
Friends is an iconic show with a huge fanbase. Chandler, however, is one of the most widely loved characters due to his sarcasm and Matthew Perry’s comic timing. In one such fan-adored scene, Chandler walks in asking for a tailor.
Joey gives a characteristic and unhelpful response. Matthew Perry improvised a hilarious response to it, sarcastically asking Joey to stop poking his brain with q-tips. The physical gestures make the scene even better!
3. “Did we just lock our baby in the car?”
Modern Family is one of the longest and most hilarious American sitcoms. Cam and Mitch’s quest to be the best dads to their adopted child Lilly makes for some great comedy. One such segment is Cam and Mitch accidentally locking Lilly in the car. The scene was supposed to end with Mitch saying, “Did we just lock our baby in the car?”
While the scene was supposed to end there, the actors improvised looking for solutions in panic, and Cam trying to break the windows with a large dustbin. The scene is hilarious and memorable with the physical comedy and improvised lines.
4. The water massage
In the water massage scene in Season 2 of New Girl, actor Jake Jhonson was explained by a professional masseuse how he should be reacting during the massage. However, the actual experience was uncomfortable, and decided to go with it.
Nick’s hilarious expressions and one-liners mirror the visibly non-relaxing experience and make from great TV.
5. “That’s someone’s grandma!”
Yet another iconic Brooklyn 99 moment had an unscripted moment that made the scene so much better. As the squad is discussing their oldest arrests, Charles walks in late, saying how his oldest is 68 at the age of 20. They quickly realize that he is talking about his sex life, not his arrests.
Charles’s fumbling defense lead to Andy Samberg, who plays the beloved Jake, breaking into a burst of off-character laughter that he could not control. His efforts trying to stay in character and saying his lines while laughing are adorable and hilarious, which is why it was never cut.
6. Trenchcoat baby
In Supernatural, Castiel, Dean, Sam, and Bobby visit Oregon to investigate the wrath of the the mother of monsters. However, upon arrival, Castiel has trouble using his teleportation powers. Dean remarks how useless he is without his powers, calling him “a baby in a trenchcoat”.
Actor Misha Collins revealed that he forgot his lines after it. Hence, the rest of the scene, with him looking out and Sam scolding Dean for hurting his feelings were all improvised.
7. “Don’t do that”
In the episode “Casino Night” of The Office, Jim confesses his feelings for Pam without expecting anything in return. Despite knowing their relationship timeline, the scene is sad because everyone knows unrequited love.
Pam tries to politely decline, citing their friendship and what it means to her. However, Jim interrupts with an improvised “don’t do that”, visibly heartbroken.
8. “Gave me cookie, got you cookie”
The emotionally confused response of Nick when Winston brings him a cookie as a caring gesture is hilarious in this episode of New Girl.
The mixed-up words and repeating the line five times was the actor’s completely improvised response. The script only had the line once, but repeating it with jumbled words really made the scene hilarious and adorable.
9. Michael’s goodbye
Michael’s departure from the show was sad for everyone in Michael’s Last Dundies. After a failed annual award show, the office gang sings Seasons of Love with the original lyrics to Michael.
Steve Carrell was not informed of this goodbye gift. Hence, Michael’s teary-eyed response in the scene is the actor’s response that they kept in the show.
10. Band Names
Chris Pratt is known for some of the most hilarious Parks And Recreation improvised moments. One of them being the band names in the episode Rock Show. Andy’s band has had several names.
In this episode the writers let Pratt remember as many absurd names as he could.
11. Marshall’s Father
How I Met Your Mother has some heavy and challenging moments despite having a comedic tone overall. One such moment is when Marshall is informed about the death of his father from a heart attack.
The episode Bad News has a running countdown to an unfortunate event. Marshall’s reaction to Lilly breaking the news to him is genuine and non-scripted, as the actor chose to remain oblivious to give a genuine response.
These improv moments definitely made the shows even more memorable and iconic!