Most TV critics wrote their top ten scenes of Chuck’s five season run right before the series finale which aired last Friday. Me? I had to wait for the final episode before I could do that. And even then… I needed a few days to process it all. Part of me wanted to put that final scene on the beach in here. Another part wanted me to put the final Jeffster performance in this list. But alas, no scenes from the final episodes make it into this article—though they do come close.
This article is titled “My Top Ten Chuck Scenes of All Time” because I know a lot of you may disagree with me—especially anyone who hated Shaw. (Sorry, season 3 is my favorite season of all time, and I credit a lot of that with Shaw, even when he was a good buy.) I don’t even include any scenes from the episode about the Giant Blonde She-Male since, well sorry folks, I didn’t love that episode like most people. Instead, I focused on scenes that are still in my head, even years later. Scenes where I can remember the exact words, how the scene was lit and the way the emotions played on screen—even without the handy YouTube clip.
So here they are. In chronological order: my top ten Chuck scenes of all time.
Bryce Larkin Comes Back. (Season 1 – Chuck Versus the Imported Salami)
Most people would cite the kiss, the first real kiss between Chuck and Sarah, as one of their favorite scenes from the show. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a great scene. But I love the reveal instead of Bryce Larkin being alive. He wound up being a key recurring figure for the next season or so, and I’m glad they didn’t actually kill him all the way back in the pilot.
Sarah Kills Fulcrum Agent. (Season 2 – Chuck Versus Santa Claus)
Casey certainly never fretted about killing people on Chuck (even if it was rare), but watching Sarah cold-bloodingly kill a Fulcrum agent to protect Chuck’s identity is pretty memorable, especially since Chuck watches her do it and has to hear her lie about it later. The other thing I love about this episode is when it takes a dramatic turn from funny to dead serious when Frank Mauser utters the line, “We know John Casey is NSA.”
The On-the-Run Kiss. (Season 2 – Chuck Versus the Coronel)
Sure, Chuck and Sarah had had a passionate kiss before (see the first entry in this list). But this fugitive kiss which allllllmost resulted in sex (Morgan stolen Chuck’s condom) was pretty incredible, especially thanks to the song climaxing when they actually kissed. Chuck is and always was known for an incredible soundtrack, but no song perfectly captured a moment like this elsewhere in the series’ run the way Creature Fear by Bon Iver did in this scene.
“I know kung fu.” (Season 2 – Chuck Versus the Ring)
It was a game changing moment that completely changed the direction of the series going forward—Chuck finally embracing that he does indeed want to be a spy and he can be the hero. It also could have been, at the time, our final scene of Chuck ever (you’ll notice a lot of Chuck “fake” endings in this list), and man, am I glad everyone went out and bought all those Subway sandwiches. (Also of note: lost in this awesome moment, is the incredibly poignant moment of Bryce Larkin being killed.)
Morgan Coming into the Fold. (Season 3 – Chuck Versus the Beard)
By season 3, most fans were clamoring for someone besides Captain Awesome to know Chuck’s secret—especially his best friend, Morgan. Over the course of season 3, Morgan was becoming increasingly upset that Chuck seemed to be lying to him about something. Most shows would have taken the moment when Chuck confessed his secret to have Morgan become even more mad at him for lying to him. But Chuck went the smart direction and had Morgan be overjoyed at the news. Morgan’s delivery of, “Book ‘em Sarah. Excuse me. Agent Walker.” was a hysterical end to Morgan finding out, but what I still remember looking back on this is how excited I was as Morgan was wandering through Castle for the first time and being shocked that the writers were finally going there…
Chuck Kills Shaw. (Well, He Thinks He Does.) (Season 3 – Chuck Versus the Other Guy)
One of the main plotlines of the first half of season 3 was the idea that as Chuck became more and more like a spy, Sarah began to fall out of love with him—culminating in her thinking he killed an agent on the railroad tracks. (Something Casey did and eventually admitted to.) When Shaw threatened to kill Sarah however, Chuck had no hesitation and killed him, in easily one of my top scenes of all times—in fact it may be my favorite scene of all time. It’s only slightly not as impactful knowing that Shaw didn’t die. (But the twist of him coming back alive was pretty amazing.)
Chuck’s Dad Dies. (Season 3 – Chuck Versus the Subway)
The death of Chuck’s dad was shocking and emotional, and more than Bryce’s death, it had huge ramifications for the show going forward. There were rumors of them thinking about bringing him back, and I’m so glad they didn’t. This death mattered, even seasons later.
Bonus: one of my other favorite scenes of all time takes place at the very end of this episode when we find out that Ellie, Awesome and Morgan are getting ready to do the rescue and Ellie says she’s ready to give everything up to save her brother, but, well, including two scenes from one episode seemed silly. One of my chief complaints about Season 4 was the fact that Ellie was suddenly being lied to by Chuck again with him claiming he wasn’t a spy anymore. The scene below showed how much promise there would be if Ellie was in on the secret. She, Captain Awesome and Morgan are the ones to save our main three heroes from Shaw when he’s about to kill them. It was improbable, and slightly funny, but still thrilling.
Chuck Proposes to Sarah. (Season 4 – Chuck Versus the Push Mix)
Chuck the show has had to come up with a lot of endings over the years because of the possibility of cancellation. This proposal scene, so expertly shot with the floor washer in the foreground, is probably the best “fake” endings of Chuck. It comes after an amazing Jeffster performance, has a great song accompanying the scene (Young Blood by the Naked and the Famous) and the writers/director are smart enough to know we don’t even need to hear the words—we just need to see the scene. (Bonus: I also love Beckman’s delivery of the line, “Get this man a chopper!” a few minutes earlier.)
Morgan Gets the Intersect. (Season 4 – Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger)
However, had THIS, been one of those “fake” endings of Chuck that turned out to be real, half of the fans would have been pretty angry, and half the fans would have been pretty happy. (I’d have been in the latter half.) Love it or hate it, this is a scene you can hardly forget if you’re a fan of Chuck—Morgan of all people, becomes the latest to get the Intersect. As much as they bungled that storyline in season 5, I loved this scene in that moment.
Jeff and Lester Save the Day. (Season 5 – Chuck Versus the Bullet Train)
Another thing that was divisive amongst fans was whether or not the Buy More-ians belonged in the show, especially after Chuck and Casey’s covers became increasingly unimportant. I always liked Jeffster, but didn’t love until the final season. The producers wisely got them more involved with the spy hijinks with them spending episodes trying to find out what was “off” in the store—thanks to Jeff being made normal by Captain Awesome earlier in the season. I thought for sure that they had been fooled into not finding out the truth at one point, but sure enough, Casey had to call on them to save the day and rescue Alex, Morgan and Awesome. The rescue scene was amazing, with them of course going for the most dangerous weapons in his car, resulting in Lester with a cigar and in a body of armor, while Jeff rocks a flame thrower. Oh, and Oh Canada, plays in the background. (Lester is Canadian). What a cheer worthy scene!
Alan Danzis is a lifelong TV watcher, especially of serialized dramas. In his top five list of all time, you’ll find The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Lost and Friday Night Lights. (He’s not sure where Mad Men and Breaking Bad go yet since they haven’t finished airing.) But his favorite thing to watch are the sci-fi shows, like Battlestar Galactica, anything British and sci-fi, and shows with vampires. He even put up with Terra Nova, because, well, it had dinosaurs and time travel–you had him at just one of those things. If you can stand his nerdy interests, you can follow him on Twitter at @adanzis.
Full Disclosure: Alan Danzis works at Ketchum Public Relations, which is his day job. His opinions here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Ketchum, nor the clients Ketchum works with. His BuzzFocus.com writing is wholly unrelated.