50 Most Memorable Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror TV Moments of 2023

50 Most Memorable Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror TV Moments of 2023

With a dizzying array of streaming services available, there was no shortage of great TV this year—and while io9 has already shared our top 20 shows of 2023, today we’re revealing our top TV moments… all 50 of them. These are the moments when we laughed, cheered, shed a tear, shrieked in disbelief, and/or realized we were witnessing game-changing turning points, for better and sometimes worse.

Twisted Metal: The Opening

Photo: Skip Bolen/Peacock

In most shows, the ending is the best part. For Twisted Metal, the ending is certainly great, but it’s the show’s opening, a high octane action set piece directly giving the feel of the game itself, that sucks you in and sets you up for the rest of the series.

The Righteous Gemstones: Apocalypse Now

Photo: Jake Giles Netter/HBO

The season three finale of the dark religious comedy went from hilarious with Baby Billy’s Bible Bonkers and Walton Goggins hosting his Family Feud-style show to a full-on start of the apocalypse, complete with locust plague cliffhanger. We’re excited to see more supernatural shenanigans on the Danny McBride-led series.

Good Omens: The Kiss

Photo: Cian Oba-Smith/Prime Video

Season one of Good Omens established the long-standing—like, since the beginning of time itself—friendship between the demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), but fans couldn’t help hoping that the crackling chemistry between them meant their relationship went deeper. Season two saw the pair tackling a mystery revolving around multiple romantic quandaries, including their own… and ended with the passionate liplock Good Omens devotees have been pining for, only to see the “ineffable husbands” forced apart (cliffhanger alert!) due to celestial circumstances.

The Mandalorian: Grogu’s Ride

Image: Lucasfilm

Grogu gets his very own vehicle? And it’s the hollowed-out remains of IG-12? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Bluey: Muffin’s Granny Haggling

Screenshot: Disney Jr./Disney+

A yard sale episode sees the return of Bluey and Bingo as the grannies, and adds onto the lore with Muffin getting her own alter-grannie persona. The iconic scarf, the position of power on the motorized scooter, and her haggling against a real crotchety grannie wins this episode with sheer comedic gold.

Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake: Marshall and Gary

Image: Max

While Fionna goes off on her adventures, we get a side-story with Marshall and Gary falling in love in their own little romantic comedy. We see their meet-cute over baked goods and their relationship develops with Gary encouraging Marshall to forge his own path in the face of his domineering mother. It’s so sweet.

Goosebumps: The Doppleganger Reveal

Photo: Disney/David Astorga

The horror in the new Goosebumps creatively subverted expectations for a YA show. In “Give Yourself Goosebumps,” seeing James and his doppelgangers explode into yellow goo when killed was so gross and funny.

Star Trek: Picard: Seven Sees Voyager

Screenshot: Paramount+

Picard’s final season was understandably focused on its nostalgic hurrah to the cast of The Next Generation, but in a pitch-perfect moment it remembered it had a crewmate from another Trek show to honor as well. As the Titan circled the Fleet Museum’s collection of iconic ships of the line, Seven of Nine got to point out her home, the Voyager, the finest ship in Starfleet, to the young Jack Crusher, and pontificate on how far her family had seen her come in the years since. A perfect moment for Jeri Ryan, and a touching tribute to Star Trek: Voyager.

Dead Ringers: Twin Swap

Photo: Niko Tavernise/Prime Video

Prime Video’s Dead Ringers series, starring Rachel Weisz in a tour-de-force dual performance, made it clear it was exploring its own version of the story made famous by David Cronenberg’s 1988 cult medical horror tale. Still, it seemed inevitable that the series would have to lead to the same conclusion as the film, with the codependent twins dying side by side. Nope! In a shocking cap to its cleverly crafted story, Dead Ringers instead engineered the ultimate “twin swap,” ending things on a note far more unsettling and eerily unresolved than Cronenberg’s gory full-stop.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury: Eri Is Aerial

Screenshot: Crunchyroll

Gundam fans had long assumed that something dark was up with Witch From Mercury’s lead mobile suit, ever since little Ericht Samiya from the show’s prologue mysteriously vanished in the actual show. Glimpses here and there of a connection to Suletta and the Gundam Aerial flickered throughout the show’s first season, but it wasn’t until season two, in a moment of shock as the Aerial destroyed rival pilot Sophie, it was made explicit that Eri’s very soul was what drove the Aerial’s drone systems and the suit’s supernatural connection to Suletta. Truly, Gundam wanted to remind us it doesn’t mess around.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: Knives’ Musical Moment

Image: Netflix

By sidelining its titular character, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off decides to offer deeper interior lives to nearly everyone in the primary cast of the hit graphic novel and film. Instead of being Scott’s high school girlfriend, Knives gradually comes into her own and is given a chance to figure out who she is outside of his orbit. As outlandish as the show is, watching Knives come to realize she’s got an affinity for the guitar is one of its most real moments—even if you’ve never picked up an instrument, a song has given a moment like this, from the colors to the feeling of realization that you’ve just experienced something life-changing.

Rick and Morty: Rick vs. Rick Prime


Battle of the Ricks | Rick and Morty | adult swim

This season’s Rick and Morty saw the smartest man in the universe confront his ultimate nemesis: a version of himself with the same level of genius but none, absolutely none, of the same heart. After a tech-fueled battle that could have gone either way, Rick ended up beating Rick Prime to death with just his angry, angry fists. Though he’d just achieved his greatest dream, the feeling was nowhere as cathartic as Rick thought it would be—and without that sense of closure, it’s something that’s clearly going to haunt him as the show progresses.

Secret Invasion: …Super Skrull?

Photo: Gareth Gatrell/Marvel

It was awful, but it was also awfully memorable as Emila Clarke’s G’iah gained the power of every hero in the MCU, and then physically manifested a few of them.

What We Do in the Shadows: Guillermo’s Human Choice

Photo: Russ Martin/FX

What happens when a familiar who’s been trying to get his master to turn him into a vampire for years gets frustrated and takes matters into his own hands? For Guillermo (the always delightful Harvey Guillén) in the most recent season of What We Do in the Shadows, it meant a lot of terrified sneaking around once he realized Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is obligated to kill him for the betrayal. Plus, there were a lot of awkward physical blunders when it became clear his Van Helsing blood was making his body resist any kind of supernatural transformation. Ultimately, he had to admit the moral issues that come with being a bloodsucker were something he simply couldn’t get past—and in the season finale, he decided he’s better off staying human. It’ll mean a whole new dynamic for Guillermo moving forward, and it’s one we can’t wait to see play out.

Star Trek: Lower Decks: The Promotion

Image: Paramount+

It’s a small thing—a single pip added on their uniform collars, and a title change from Ensign to Lieutenant Jr. Grade. But Lower Decks opening its fourth season with this long-awaited recognition of how far its characters had come over the show was not just vital for that recognition, it also unlocked a season of stories that let the show push them in fascinating directions as they learned to grapple with even the slightest bit of new authority. In a show that had felt reticent to change too much in prior seasons, it was a moment for the show to begin closing one chapter and starting another.

Foundation: Cleon Gets Spaced

Image: Apple TV+

Lee Pace’s Brother Day—the smarmy, dangerously self-centered ruler of a galactic empire lorded over by a continuous cycle of clones—thought he was the most clever version of Emperor Cleon ever. But as we came to learn in Foundation season two, his actions were all engineered by Demerzel (Laura Birn), his android majordomo who’s really been running the show for centuries. That would have been satisfying enough, but to see the worst guy in the universe expire in the worst way possible–being spaced by people who’re tired of living under his thumb, and crumble away into frozen dust–was a deliciously triumphant moment. Even the fact that Demerzel can just uncork another Cleon to fill his place doesn’t diminish it.

Doctor Who: The DoctorDonna Returns

Screenshot: BBC/Disney+

The first of Doctor Who’s anniversary specials danced around the danger of Donna Noble remembering her time with the Doctor, but when it became necessary for the now 14th incarnation to unlock her memories, we got an incredible performance out of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, playing the drama and the grief of it all perfectly alongside the jubilation of Donna remembering just who she is, and who she’d become.

Wheel of Time: Egwene Strikes Back

Photo: Jan Thijs/Prime Video

Captured and enslaved by an invading kingdom that forces women with magical abilities to serve as weapons, the kind-hearted Egwene (Madeleine Madden) endures torture and humiliation, and her spirit teeters on the edge of breaking. As she fights to stay strong, her pain causes an internal shift that pushes her to inform Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones), the woman who’s literally holding her leash, that she’s going to find a way to kill her—and then making good on that promise in Wheel of Time’s most emotional season two moment.

The Legend of Vox Machina: Grog Saying “Fuck Shit Up”

Image: Prime Video

The Legend of Vox Machina is a show built on fan service for those who experienced the original actual play series. Whether you’re a longtime fan or just coming in, watching these moments play out can be extremely satisfying—so when Grog bellows out the words “fuck shit up,” you know the show’s about to have some fun. It’s just five minutes of fist-pumping carnage as everyone in the party gets a moment to shine and look cool while beating (or shooting, stabbing, etc.) raiders to bits, and it’s fun as hell.

Blue Eye Samurai: The Ronin and the Bride


Blue Eye Samurai | The Ronin and the Bride | Official Clip | Netflix

Blue Eye Samurai’s Mizu is complicated—they have to be, as they’re a biracial woman living as a man in Edo-period Japan. As they’re slashing up a crime boss’ foot soldiers during the fifth episode, we watch them live a peaceful, fairly idyllic life as a simple wife. It can’t last forever, obviously, and it’s a riot when things eventually break bad around her and they’re betrayed by their family. In a pretty great season overall, watching Mizu briefly give up their revenge quest and then go back to it because it’s all they’ve ever known is devastating. Hell of a play, though.

One Piece: The Barrel Pledge

Photo: Casey Crafford/Netflix

Netflix’s One Piece adaptation largely shines thanks to the winning chemistry of the lead Straw Hat Pirates. Like in the anime and manga, they all play off each other very well, and it helps that Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) is so goofy and charming that it makes complete sense why the others would stay with him. So when the season finale ends with the gang declaring their dreams to one another (mixed with scenes from previous episodes where they’re played by younger actors), it really does feel like the true start of an adventure that longtime fans have experienced for years on end.

Castlevania: Nocturne: Olrox’s Backstory

Image: Netflix

Unlike its predecessor, Castlevania: Nocturne is more firmly rooted in real world history. The decision gives greater texture to its characters of color, in particular the Aztec vampire Olrox. Instead of being a one-note bloodsucker who simply killed Richter Belmont’s mother because that’s just what they do, he reveals himself to be a more complicated figure who wanted revenge for the lover Julia took from him. It’s an interesting intersection of race and queerness in a show that clearly has such things on its mind, and it makes him one of the more intriguing characters in the two-series franchise thus far.

Scavenger’s Reign: Levi’s Time-Lapse

Image: Max

Of all the characters in Max’s Scavengers Reign, it’s the helpful robot Levi who’s best equipped to survive its hostile alien world. Deeply curious about the world around them while still actively aware of the planet’s perils, Levi manages to fight off the season’s sort of Big Bad (a big tadpole/monkey thing dubbed “Hollow) with the power of life. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the meaning of life displayed like this, but it doesn’t take away from how stunning it is to watch. Like Scavengers Reign itself, the universe is mesmerizing, horrific, and disgusting all in one breath, and the overwhelming realization of that is what makes life worth living.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury: Suletta Loses the Holder Title

Screenshot: Crunchyroll

The Witch from Mercury’s first season saw Suletta Mercury become one of the most prominent figures at her school and quickly work her way up the ranks by being incredibly in sync with her mech Aerial. Season two is all about bringing her to a low point, and that eventual turn is utterly devastating. It’s one thing for Guel to beat her thanks in part to Miorine and Suletta’s mom Prospera, it’s another to watch Suletta get her heart broken by her wife in front of the guy who just beat her. In a season where episodes ended at the worst possible time, this moment was a particular standout.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters: Godzilla vs. Nuke

Image: Apple TV+

Legendary’s Monsterverse has loved to reaffirm time and again the U.S. military has been right there alongside the growing threat of Titans throughout the years. More often than not, that military is just hopeless against the sheer might of big guys like Godzilla and Kong, and as Monarch: Legacy of Monsters shows, they’ve made some stupid moves in the past.Their bright idea after using uranium to lure Godzilla to Bikini Atoll is to detonate a nuke in its face. That doesn’t work, obviously, but it’s hilarious (and extremely rude) to watch them try. With that information in mind, maybe Godzilla’s been right in wrecking up U.S. cities in the last few movies.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: The Musical

Screenshot: Netflix

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off had a lot of fun with the metacommentary in creating an allusion to the live-action adaptation within its own spin on the comics with the supposedly-Young-Neil-scripted Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life adaptation of Scott’s, well, precious little life. But it couldn’t top the sheer, cheeky joy of Knives and Stephen pitching Matthew Patel himself into the starring role of a musical version—complete with its own jaunty spin on the first episode of the show, to boot.

Star Trek: Picard: Last Flight of the Enterprise-D

Screenshot: Paramount+

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when Picard and his friends found themselves in a race to stop the Borg Queen from turning Starfleet against itself, where could they go but to their old home? Preserved immaculately by Geordi LaForge, getting to see the Enterprise-D in all her glory, for one last battle helmed by her beloved bridge officers, set the stage for Picard’s fond farewell.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury: Suletta and Miorine Reunite


Suletta and Miorine’s Reunion | Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury

Suletta and Miorine spent much of Witch From Mercury’s second season driven apart from each other, either by the growing tragedies of the narrative or more explicitly when Miorine tried to push Suletta away from her altogether in an attempt to keep her safe. True love can’t be kept apart for too long however, leading to Suletta’s fateful reunion with the woman she’d swore to protect, and one day wed, in one of the show’s most emotional moments.

Doctor Who: “Hello, Old Soldier”

Image: BBC

Bernard Cribbins’ death earlier this year was already a heartbreaking blow to Doctor Who fans, but the tears flowed freely once again when the actor’s final performance posthumously arrived in “Wild Blue Yonder.” The Doctor’s elation at seeing an old friend again, and Cribbins, on fire as ever, hooting and hollering in Wilf’s wheelchair as he diligently waited for his granddaughter to return was all so sweet—and bittersweet too, as our farewell to our favorite grandad companion.

The Last of Us: Joel Saves Ellie

Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Last of Us’ grim climax has been known to fans of the games for so long, the question for the HBO show wasn’t whether or not it would happen, but how it could match it—and it did so spectacularly well in Joel’s tense assault on the Firefly facility. Cold, action-packed, and gut-wrenching in all the right ways, it translated the drama of the games’ final sequences perfectly.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Boimler Meets Spock

Image: Paramount+

They say never meet your heroes, and while Strange New Worlds’ crossover episode with Lower Decks definitely got a lot of play out of just how alien Boimler and Mariner were to their predecessors aboard the Enterprise, their arrival was smartly leveraged by the show to do some great character work—especially the case for Mr. Spock, as he tried to grapple with the man he was becoming in the wake of exploring his romantic desires for Nurse Chapel and his human side.

Ahsoka: Return to the Clone Wars

Image: Lucasfilm

It took a few episodes but, eventually, Ahsoka did something fans had long dreamed of: recreated scenes from the Clone Wars in live-action. The flashbacks helped give Ahsoka’s backstory much-needed context, and having Hayden Christensen there didn’t hurt either.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: The Movie

Screenshot: Netflix

Almost every single thing about Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is meta, but our favorite weird, meta moment is when the show makes a Scott Pilgrim movie, imagining the events of the original Scott Pilgrim comic and movie.

Star Trek: Picard: The Poker Game

Image: Paramount+

No matter how it set out at first, there was perhaps no other way Star Trek: Picard could come to a final end. The day saved, the torched passed on to a new Next Generation, all that was left was for Jean-Luc and his old friends to celebrate closing one chapter of their lives, before heading apart from each other’s orbits again. And what else could they do, than play one last game of cards together? A wonderful good-bye indeed.

The Mandalorian: The New Republic Is Monstrous

Image: Lucasfilm

There’s a lot in The Mandalorian’s third season that doesn’t pan out—chalk it up to the fact that the show is always willing to conform to a comfortable status quo after gesturing at something fresh and exciting. And yet its examination of the New Republic through the eyes of political refugee Dr. Pershing is a truly rare and fascinating bit of critique, even before taking in the fact it’s a biting critique of the heroes of Star Wars’ original trilogy. Alas, “The Convert” couldn’t quite commit to its exploration of just how little the New Republic’s neoliberal engine differed from the bureaucracy of the Galactic Empire, pinning the true evils of its climactic torture of Dr. Pershing at the hands of Moff Gideon’s remnant agents. But for just a brief moment, The Mandalorian bared teeth as it’s never dared to before.

One Piece: Sanji’s Backstory

Image: Netflix

If you have friends who love the One Piece manga and anime, you’ve probably been warned that our favorite crew all have quite tragic backstories. Even with that warning we were not prepared for the reveal of why Sanji and Zeff are so loyal to one another despite their tough-love relationship. We discover that the two survived a shipwreck and Zeff gave Sanji what he thought were scraps to survive on; the build to the reveal that the scraps were actually all they had and Zeff had to eat his leg was shocking and heartbreaking all at once. Even being told to brace ourselves, we were not prepared for that.

The Fall of the House of Usher: The Masque of the Red Death

Photo: Eike Schroter/Netflix

Episode two of Fall of the House of Usher really set the tone for the series’ horror. Seeing the youngest Usher ignore safety protocols and decide to throw a rager in a dangerous, should-be-demolished warehouse—where his father’s company happens to be hiding dangerous, very illegal chemicals—was so stressful until the final moments of the episode. The sheer tension leading to punishment in the form of grotesque chemical-rain violence was built to sky-high levels… and it more than paid off in the carnage that followed.

Castlevania: Nocturne: “Divine Bloodlines”

Screenshot: Netflix

The first Netflix Castlevania show gave fans of the games everything they thought they wanted when season two climaxed with Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard storming Dracula’s castle set to the iconic game track “Bloody Tears.” But spiritual successor Nocturne went one better in evoking the legendary gaming theme of its protagonist Richter, “Divine Bloodlines,” in a moment that wasn’t just incredible action, but a thoughtful connection to the generations of characters woven throughout Castlevania’s legacy.

Our Flag Means Death: Calypso’s Birthday

Photo: Nicola Dove/Max

The beauty our pirate crew experiences in this episode is purely joyous. The makeup, the costumes, and comedy felt Shakespearean in the best ways. And wasn’t Con O’Neill as Izzy Hands utterly gorgeous as he performed “La Vie en rose”?

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury: The Flash-Forward Ending

Screenshot: Crunchyroll

Witch From Mercury made the love of its protagonists—a heated topic of discussion throughout the show with the will-they/won’t-they of it all, especially when it comes to queer characters—a driving part of its final episode, leading to a flash-forward epilogue that confirmed everything fans of Suletta and Miorine always wanted: they were in love, they were married, and they were building a happy life together. It’s a shame Bandai tried to backtrack from it after the fact with cowardly acts of media censorship, but the company can’t hide what is right there in the show, no matter how hard it tries.

Poker Face: Charlie Figures It Out

Screenshot: Peacock/YouTube

This happens in each episode, and always in a unique way, but it’s incredibly fun every single time. And it’s not because Charlie is finally solving the murder mystery that particular episode; she, and the audience, almost always know who did it beforehand. It’s that she finally finds that one specific clue or link that explains the how and why, and oh how satisfying it is. We can’t pick just one Poker Face puzzle, so this is a nod to them all.

Mrs. Davis: The British Knights

Image: Peacock

Mrs. Davis was a weird, wonderful show filled with weird, wonderful moments. One that sticks out though is the mid-season reveal that the series’ opening scene, which you assumed had actually happened, was in fact an elaborate Super Bowl commercial for the British Knights sneaker company featuring the Holy Grail. Like we said, it’s a wild show.

Star Trek: Lower Decks: Mariner and Sito

Image: Paramount+

For four seasons, we’ve wondered what Beckett Mariner’s deal was—her anti-authority persona masking what was deep down her innate desire to be the best she could in Starfleet, and her capability to be a great leader always clashing with her sense of self-sabotage. But in a touching moment that called back to the original The Next Generation episode the show takes its name from beautifully, we learned just why Mariner has always been fearful of the career laid out ahead of her—in a nuanced reckoning with the specters of DS9’s Dominion War in a way few contemporary Trek shows have actually tried to tackle before.

For All Mankind: The End of “Crossing the Line”

Photo from episode five, for extra spoiler protection.

The fourth season of For All Mankind is still in progress as you read this—so in this one instance, we’re going to tread carefully. But let’s just say the end of episode seven, “Crossing the Line,” which debuts December 22, features two of the show’s titans facing off, one of them asking one of the most ridiculous, amazing questions ever, and then the show dropping a mega-hit hip hop track over the end credits. We jumped up and cheered.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: Scott’s “Death”

Image: Netflix

The first episode of Science Saru and Netflix’s Scott Pilgrim anime feels off. Its beat-for-beat recreation of the opening parts of the film and the classic comic series almost feel too beat-for-beat. Is that really all it will be? Turns out, in a sudden poof of loonies and toonies as Scott falls in his fight with Matthew Patel at the end of the episode, we were about to get anything but—and that was a perfect surprise.

Silo: The Final Reveal

Image: Apple TV+

All through season one of Silo there’s a massive question hanging over everything: what’s outside the Silo? Is the world over, as everyone believes? Or have the characters actually been trapped under mysterious circumstances? The answer, it turns out, is kind of in the middle. In the final shot of the season, we learn the world is in fact over, but that there are many, many more silos.

Ahsoka: Ezra Comes Home

Image: Lucasfilm

Ezra’s initial return in Ahsoka was a somewhat muted affair, as Sabine and Ahsoka grappled with the strange new galaxy they found themselves in in their quest to find him and Thrawn alike. But the show saved the emotional Rebels reunion for its final moments, when Ezra, after years and years away, made his way back to his home, and to the New Republic… where a tearful Hera was waiting for him.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Subspace Rhapsody”’s Grand Finale


Star Trek: Strange New Worlds | We Are One (Full Performance) | Paramount+

It’s remarkable enough alone that Strange New Worlds managed to pull together a musical episode, let one as filled with both great ditties and excellent character work to put a Trek spin on the high camp as what we got. But nothing in the episode quite beats the all singing, all dancing jazz hands of the climactic ensemble song “We Are One.” It’s goofy, it’s endearing, it wraps everything up in a neat musical bow—even as the characters involved are barrelling ahead on trajectories that are anything but neat—and it’s got Klingons having a boy band K-Pop moment. Delightful.

Doctor Who: The Doctor Bi-Generates


The Fourteenth Doctor Bi-generates! | David Tennant to Ncuti Gatwa | The Giggle | Doctor Who

Just… push! In one magical moment, Doctor Who did the unthinkable: gave its hero a chance to have it both ways, literally. Succumbing to a mortal wound from the villainous Toymaker, David Tennant’s 14th Doctor prepared to bid farewell… only to find his future self literally splitting off from him, giving us two Doctors, and a chase for the physician to heal thyself quite literally: a bit of Time Lord rehab out of order, as Ncuti Gatwa’s immediately charming 15th Doctor gives his past self the push to reflect, pause, and rest… if only so he can race out and begin his own adventures.

The Last of Us: “Long, Long Time”

Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO

On a list of memorable moments, it’s unorthodox to put a full episode, but we had to make an exception. Everything about this touching love story, sandwiched in the middle of a zombie show, was perfect. It was the moment everyone knew The Last of Us was something special.