10 Most Memorable Emmy Moments

by IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 11 Sep 2017

A good Emmys telecast is filled with tears and laughter in addition to all the awards presentations. Even with Stephen Colbert as host this year, it will be the spontaneous moments that make the Emmys worth watching. And those can happen at the most unexpected times. Here are 10 such Emmy moments through the years. — Paulette Cohn

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston at an event for The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards (2014)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Goes for the Laugh

The "Veep" star always keeps it interesting. In 2014, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston locked lips as she made her way to the stage, reminding viewers that he had once played her boyfriend on "Seinfeld". In 2015, she took a selfie on stage with Mel Brooks. Louis-Dreyfus pulled off her biggest acceptance speech stunt at the 2012 awards. When she won, Louis-Dreyfus pretended to be reading Amy Poehler's speech, thanking NBC and the cast and crew of "Parks and Recreation." When Poehler raced to the stage, they pretended to swap speeches. It got even better when Louis-Dreyfus said, "It's a bit mystifying to me, because people say this show is a comedy, but I don't see anything funny about me being Vice President of the United States."

Viola Davis at an event for The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards (2015)

Viola Davis Makes Emmy History

In 2015, Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Annalise Keating on "How To Get Away With Murder". Accepting her award, she unforgettably said, "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

Merritt Wever

Merritt Wever Makes the Shortest Speech in Emmy History

We knew Merritt Wever was a funny lady, but she proved it when she took the microphone to thank members of the TV Academy for awarding her the 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance in "Nurse Jackie". How so? She made the shortest speech in Emmy history, simply saying, "Thanks so much. Thank you so much! Um, I've got to go. Bye."

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep Shows Her Sense of Humor

Meryl Streep won her second Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2004 for "Angels in America". In her acceptance speech, the three-time Oscar winner and eight-time Golden Globe winner, won over the audience when she showed she doesn't take herself too seriously, saying, "You know, there are some days when I myself think I'm overrated. But not today!"

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren's Salty Language Makes It Past the Censors

It isn't easy ascending the stage at the Emmys in the gowns the stars wear. No one made that more clear than Dame Helen Mirren, who when she accepted the 2006 award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for "Elizabeth I", made everyone's night by saying, "My great triumph is not falling ass over tits as I came up those stairs." Happily, her ribald quip made it past the censors.

Kirstie Alley

Kirstie Alley's Big Overshare

When Kirstie Alley won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for "Cheers" in 1991, she started to make the typical acceptance speech, thanking the producers, the writers, and her co-stars. But then she had a TMI moment when she thanked her then-husband Parker Stevenson for being, "the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years."

Rob Lowe, Martha Plimpton, Sofía Vergara, and Melissa McCarthy at an event for The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards (2011)

The Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Lineup

Not all memorable Emmy moments happen during speeches. In 2011, the six funny women nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy — Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, Edie Falco, Tina Fey, and Laura Linney — paraded up to the stage, and held hands like beauty pageant contestants waiting for the final announcement. When McCarthy was revealed to be the winner, she was crowned with a tiara and given roses, as well as her Emmy.

Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Jorge Garcia, Jane Lynch, Joel McHale, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer, and Amber Riley at an event for The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards (2010)

Jimmy Fallon's "Born to Run" Opening Number

When Jimmy Fallon hosted the 2010 Emmy Awards, it was natural for him to want to do a song and dance number for the opening. It's what he's known for. So he rocked out to Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", performing with a little help from his friends: Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, the cast of "Glee" — Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, and Jane Lynch. Betty White, Tim Gunn, Jorge Garcia, Joel McHale, Randy Jackson, and Kate Gosselin also got in on the act.

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Together

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert each won numerous Emmys for their satirical news shows. When they jointly presented the Reality Competition award at the 2006 Emmys, Colbert chose to stay in the faux conservative persona he used on "The Colbert Report". Colbert opened by saying, "Good evening Godless sodomites." When an aghast Stewart asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I’m bringing the truth, Jon. We’re in Hollywood, the belly of the beast." After Stewart introduced the category, Colbert continued his bit, saying, "It warps the minds of our children and weakens the resolve of our allies."

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres Gets It Just Right

The Emmys were postponed twice in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the year that Ellen DeGeneres was set to host. When the awards show was finally held on Nov. 4, DeGeneres managed to strike the appropriate balance of solemnity appropriate for the first major awards show after the tragedy, while keeping it entertaining as needs be for an awards show. In her opening monologue, she said good evening to all the security guards and, "All the wonderful TV stars we love so much who are watching this from home. It's pretty much all I’ve got. I didn’t prepare anything to say. I didn't even think we’d make it this far."