For the most part, TV shows are pretty easy to watch. We tune in, tune out, and let the entertainment flow right over us.
Sometimes, though, certain scenes are downright hard to watch. It’s like having to watch your best friends humiliate themselves and there is nothing you can do.
Who are the worst cringe offenders of all time, though? We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most cringeworthy scenes in modern television, with video clips so you can relive these moments yourself.
Chandler and Phoebe kiss (Friends)
Friends Season 5, Episode 14: “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”
Friends often found that thin line between awkwardness and hilarity. For example, there’s the time that Phoebe and Rachel tried to pretend Phoebe had the hots for Chandler. This was because they found out Chandler and Monica were an item.
Chandler and Monica figure it out and try to go along with the gag, and it culminates in Chandler and Phoebe having the most awkward kiss ever. Whatever “sparks flying” means to you, this is the opposite!
Derek’s awkward elevator ride (Grey’s Anatomy)
Grey’s Anatomy Season 4, Episode 13: “Piece of My Heart”
Most of the charm of Grey’s Anatomy came from the romantic tension between different characters. And this really came to a head when Derek endured an awkward elevator ride that fans will never forget.
It starts out with Derek in the elevator. Then his ex-girlfriend, Meredith, comes in. She is soon followed by his ex-wife, Addison. Pretty soon, current girlfriend Rose files in. Topping things off is Derek’s buddy (and Addison’s former lover) Mark coming in and saying what we’re all thinking.
“I bet you wish you’d taken the stairs right about now.”
Scott’s Tots (The Office)
The Office Season 6, Episode 12: “Scott’s Tots”
The American version of The Office runs on cringe even more than the BBC original. And it doesn’t get cringier than the “Scott’s Tots” episode.
We find out that Michael Scott has created a foundation in his own name and promised free college tuition to a bunch of third-graders. He assumed he would be rich by the time they had grown up. After getting praise from students and administrators, Michael had to tell a room full of young people wearing “Scott’s Tots” shirts that he didn’t have the money.
Molly’s awkward Christmas gift (Sherlock)
Sherlock Season 2, Episode 1: “A Scandal in Belgravia”
In the BBC Sherlock series, the titular character has a nearly superhuman deductive ability. But he’s not great with people, culminating in a truly awkward scene involving a Christmas gift.
When Molly shows up all dolled up with a nicely-wrapped present, Sherlock deduces aloud that she is clearly trying too hard to impress a man she loves. He’s just in the middle of saying how her makeup is “compensating for the size of her breasts and mouth” when he notices the gift she brought is for him!
Way to ruin Christmas, Sherlock.
“You’re Having My Baby” song (Glee)
Glee Season 1, Episode 10: “Ballad”
In Glee, Quinn got pregnant and told Finn he was the father. In response, Finn showed up to her family’s dinner table and enthusiastically sang “You’re Having My Baby” to her, all while her mom and dad listened on.
Quinn’s dad got more and more horrified and eventually turned off the music. And Quinn was uncomfortable for most of the song. That’s probably because Finn was not actually the father!
Buffy and beer don’t mix (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4, Episode 5: “Beer Bad”
The metaphors in Buffy the Vampire Slayer usually aren’t this on the nose. In “Beer Bad,” magically enchanted brew teaches Buffy and her fans the dangers of drinking alcohol.
Honestly, the preachy message would have been cringeworthy already. But this scene of Buffy spinning on an office chair, fondling a computer, and sniffing Xander takes the cake. And good luck not turning this off before hearing iconic phrases like “Buffy strong” and “Buffy get beer.”
The Hamilton tribute (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Episode 3: “Summer”
For better or for worse, Netflix helped bring the Gilmore Girls back to life for the mini-series A Year in the Life in 2016. And that meant we got more modern references, including an homage to the music of Hamilton.
This leads to a painful rap about the town of Star’s Hollow. How cringe is this scene? Even Lorelai looks like she is about to disappear in shame!
Jan dances to Hunter’s song (The Office)
The Office Season 4, Episode 13: “Dinner Party”
Of course, The Office has so many cringeworthy scenes that it made the list twice. And if there’s one bit that is worse than “Scott’s Tots,” it’s the dinner party thrown by Michael and Jan.
There are plenty of awkward moments, including Michael and Jan passive-aggressively calling each other “babe.” But the weirdest part comes from Jan playing a song written and performed by her former assistant Hunter. And the song makes it clear that Jan and Hunter had a sexual relationship, even as Jan tries to get Jim to dance with her to the tune.
Worst of all, Hunter crooning “That one night, you made everything all right” will stay stuck in your head long after the episode ends.
Venezuela’s Parks Department visits Pawnee (Parks and Recreation)
Parks and Recreation Season 2, Episode 5: “Sister City”
Parks and Rec had a great episode where Leslie and the crew met with parks officials from Venezuela. They were representing Pawnee’s sister city overseas, and the whole thing was meant to be a cultural exchange.
This led to many funny moments, including memorable bits about sending dissenting citizens “straight to jail.” But there were also cringeworthy moments, including Tom being mistaken for a “servant” and the visiting officials thinking they get to just “select a woman we desire” (their woman of choice being Donna).
Carrie gets caught cheating (Sex and the City)
Sex and the City Season 3, Episode 11: “Running With Scissors”
In Sex and the City season 3, Carrie and Big begin an affair. The whole cringeworthy story culminated with Big’s 26-year-old wife Natasha catching Carrie in their home in her underwear. Carrie tries to escape out the back door, and Natasha trips down the stairs chasing her. This leads to an even more awkward scene where Carrie takes Natasha to the hospital. Natasha loses a tooth, and viewers lose all respect for Carrie.