America’s Favorite Live TV Moment

Title graphic for “America’s Favorite Live TV Moments”
Title graphic for “America’s Favorite Live TV Moments”

From bloopers to unexpected events, live television has the power to create moments that will be ingrained into our collective memory forever. Join us as we look back at some of the most talked-about and iconic live TV moments in history and ask Americans in every state about their favorite famous (or infamous) blunders. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy revisiting some of the most unfortunate moments in the history of live TV.

Each State’s Favorite Moment

U.S. map plotting every state's favorite live TV moment.

It was the slap heard around the world. March 27, 2022, will live on in our collective minds for many years to come, as Americans in almost every state agree that Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars is the most memorable live TV moment. 

The incident was talked about for many months on news outlets and across the internet and even resulted in Will Smith being banned from the Oscars. Though Smith has apologized to Chris Rock for the incident, it has left a lasting imprint on his career.

The Oscars were not the only awards ceremony to suffer a mishap on live television; another live TV blunder still on the forefront of many viewers’ minds is Steve Harvey’s gaffe at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. A favorite among six states, in places like Connecticut, Georgia, and Oklahoma, this moment will go down in live TV award show history. 

Before realizing his mistake minutes later, Steve Harvey would crown and award Miss Colombia the title of Miss Universe in front of a live audience of roughly six million people worldwide. That didn’t keep the comedian down, though, as he would return five more times to host the pageant before hanging up the mantle in 2021.

Live TV fans in places like Florida and Virginia are still reminiscing about the kiss shared between Madonna, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 Video Music Awards. During the trio’s performance of the Queen of Pop’s song “Hollywood,” Madonna puckered up with both singers to create a moment that shocked many at the time. The moment’s lasting impact endures even to this day, as stars like Bad Bunny go out of their way to recreate this shocking live TV moment.

Let’s Not Forget About…

Graphic showing the honorable mentions for best live TV moment.

With so many live TV moments to look back on, it’s no surprise that some got snubbed while we were tallying up the votes. These memorable moments were the favorites of many survey respondents but did not quite gain enough momentum to win over any state entirely. Read more about some of these iconic events below.

Live TV moments don’t always have to be embarrassing to be entertaining. Sometimes all it takes to get everyone’s attention is one giant leap for mankind. 

Whether you believe we really put a man on the moon or staged the entire thing, one thing’s for sure: all of America was glued to their television sets that fateful day when Neil Armstrong uttered that legendary phrase to everyone watching at home. The 1969 moon landing was quite possibly the most remarkable moment broadcast on American television, even if it’s overshadowed by celebrity drama.

Over half a century later, we would come full circle and launch America’s favorite fictional astronaut into outer space. In 2022, William Shatner, primarily known for his portrayal as Captain Kirk in the classic science fiction series Star Trek from 1966 to 1969, boarded a spacecraft created by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin and went where no man has gone before.

At this point, award show ceremonies are mostly remembered for their celebrity shenanigans; however, there are some heartwarming moments now and then. 

One heartfelt live TV moment that sticks out to many Americans is Beyoncé’s 2011 MTV Video Music Awards performance and pregnancy announcement. Queen Bey was almost five months along when she announced to the world that she was expecting Blue Ivy.

Runners-Up Americans Still Think About

Before the slap heard around the world, there was the Super Bowl 38 halftime show. Nearly 20 years ago, Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction during her performance with Justin Timberlake, making her the subject of ridicule among many Americans afterward. 

The halftime performance’s ripple effect led to CBS implementing a tape delay system to prevent future mishaps and broke records for being the most searched event in one day on Google and other search engines.

“Taylor, I’mma let you finish but…” is a line that will go down in TV history. You’ve seen it in headlines, memes, and virtually everywhere else. It drove record sales for both Kanye West and Taylor Swift in 2009 and is still talked about today in the 2020s. 

Although the pair’s ongoing feud would only get more complicated as time went on, Kanye interrupting Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was the live TV moment that set everything off. Since then, Kanye West has stayed in the spotlight for making other offhanded remarks and similar antics.

Delaware’s runner-up for the most memorable live TV moment is perhaps the most bizarre (especially when watching the clip taken out of context). On October 31, 2017, Wendy Williams fainted on live TV while dressed up as Lady Liberty

During a live broadcast for Halloween, the TV host began slurring her words before collapsing on stage. Williams claimed to have overheated in her costume, which caused her to pass out. Since then, her onstage collapse has been the subject of TikToks and memes all over social media.

Closing Thoughts

Live TV has the unique ability to capture and preserve moments that are at once cringe-inducing, entertaining, and unforgettable. From awkward blunders to surprising twists and turns, television has the power to bring us together through laughter and secondhand embarrassment. Whether they are iconic or infamous, these remarkable moments are a testament to the power of live TV and will hold a place in memories forever.

Where were you when these live TV moments aired? Maybe you were sitting on the couch with your significant other in disbelief as tape delay failed to catch a wardrobe malfunction or an onstage slap. Regardless of what you like to watch on TV, it’s always better with someone you love. Shane Co. has a wide selection of fine jewelry and engagement rings for whenever you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level. We’ll make sure your special moment isn’t a blooper.


To find out what America’s favorite live TV moments were, we surveyed over 2,000 Americans in 43 states about which TV moments they found the most memorable. Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming were omitted from our research due to population limitations. Our survey ran for two weeks in December 2022.

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