It’s time to celebrate one of TV’s finest dramatic flourishes: A good ol’ fashioned slap across the face.
While we certainly don’t condone the below physical altercations (or any of this type of behavior IRL), a good scripted slap upside the head is both memorable and a good conversation starter for today’s social media-style watercooler. (Seriously, who can resist? We certainly can’t.)
Here we present you with the best slaps, smacks and wallops from some of our favorite TV programs, both past and present. Soap opera fans will be happy to see classic clips and photos from The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives and more, but even if you aren’t a soaps watcher, the silly drama and triple slaps (!) are simply too good to pass up.
We’ve also included Veronica Mars’ takedown of her high school nemesis, long-running drama that came to a head on The Conners, and of course, Yellowstone‘s Beth. (Enough said there.)
So what other shows and characters made the cut? View our full list of photos and videos below, then hit the comments to tell us your personal favorite whacks from TV history.
The Big Bang Theory
“No one has earned it more than me,” Leonard declares when the opportunity arises to slap Sheldon across his obnoxious face. Amy would beg to differ, but her husband’s long-suffering roommate tells her to get in line. “You have your whole life to smack him around. This is my time,” Dr. Hofstadter declares. The gasps from the studio audience are the perfect coda for a moment 12 years in the making.
The Bold and the Beautiful
When Brooke discovered in 2005 that sometime monster-in-law Stephanie had faked a heart attack to keep “the slut from the Valley” away from her golden boy, Ridge, the blonde bombshell all but exploded on her. Big mistake. Stephanie returned the slap and then some in a scene that had to be seen to be believed. (And even then, questionable!)
The Bold and the Beautiful (Bonus Slap!)
Decades later, Brooke forced Shauna to “talk to the hand” and bragged that Stephanie (RIP) had taught her how to pack a punch. Unfazed, Shauna’s BFF Quinn came to her defense, damn near smacked Brooke’s face off and then delivered a takedown that had to have stung even more than that slap.
We’re all familiar with dramatic soapy slaps — accusing a man of sleeping with another woman, or drinks flying over dinner tables after reality TV stars exchange rumors about infidelity. This slap remains a memorable TV moment depicting a similarly over-the-top reaction to accusations of cheating on a best friend. As Ilana contemplates her relationship with her boyfriend, Lincoln, Abbi suggests that he is Ilana’s best friend. Ilana then slaps Abbi yelling, “You are my best friend! Don’t ever call anybody else that!”
One of TV’s greatest slap fights was enacted by one of TV’s greatest will-they-won’t-they couples: Sam and Diane. At odds over a pretentious artist who’s pining over Diane, the couple’s frustrations exploded in the Season 2 finale when Diane claimed their relationship “has always been a contest of wills” fueled by immaturity. Slaps turned into nose pinching, only to have Sam kick her out of the bar and tell her to never return. While we certainly don’t condone hitting women (duh), actors Shelley Long and Ted Danson were still able to bring the funny during what eventually turned into a tense cliffhanger-worthy fight.
More than 30 years of family tension comes to a head during an unforgettable Thanksgiving, when Darlene refers to her aunt as the bane of Roseanne’s existence. It’s a deeply unsettling moment in no small part due to Laurie Metcalf’s unflinching portrayal of Jackie’s trauma.
With the patience of the saint that she was, Pamela stuck around sister-in-law Sue Ellen’s pity party longer than we could have. But when J.R.’s wife suggested that Ms. Goody Two-Shoes had always had men paying her bills, Pamela let her have it with such force, it could’ve knocked some sense into her.
Days of Our Lives
We hate to say she had it comin’… but Sami totally did. So it was as thrilling a moment for viewers as it was for half sister Carrie when she was able to interrupt her sibling rival’s wedding to Austin, reveal that baby Will wasn’t the groom’s and give the schemer the fat lip for which she’d been begging.
Ah, the rare triple slap! In Season 4 of ABC’s primetime soap, Steven’s women traded more than barbs as Claudia “encouraged” Sammy Jo to recant her court testimony that her ex was not only gay but promiscuous. (Hey, she could’ve agreed to at least one outta two; Steven saw less action than Melrose Place’s Matt!)
Long before Tom Hanks was Tom Hanks — he was just out of Bosom Buddies at this point — he guested on Family Ties as Elise’s kid brother Ned, who in his third appearance (during Season 2) was revealed to have a drinking problem. In the midst of an ersatz intervention (after Ned tanked a job interview that Steven set up), Ned waved off the hugs and support, at one point accidentally smacking nephew/superfan Alex in the process. Distraught, Ned took the AA phone number from his sister and promptly dialed it to admit, “My name is Ned Donnelly, and I have a drinking problem.”
The Flight Attendant
After both were tricked into an unwanted reunion, Cassie asked her estranged mom, Lisa, what she had to do to prove she is getting better, after stumbling through a drunken, rollicking childhood. Lisa cupped her sobbing daughter’s face to say, “Cassie, honey, I love you. I do. But I don’t like you. At all.” And with a sweet pat on Cassie’s cheek that segued into a harsh (and unscripted) slap, Lisa excused herself to “go to work,” leaving behind an apoplectic Cassie — and capping a difficult-to-watch nine-minute sequence.
Game of Thrones
We all wanted to smack that evil little jerk Joffrey around a little, and his uncle Tyrion got to live out our fantasies by slapping Joffrey not once, not twice, but thrice (!) in Season 1 of the HBO epic. Tyrion was reprimanding Joffrey for his callous reaction to Bran Stark’s grievous injury — and judging by how much worse Joffrey got after this, maybe he should’ve slapped him a couple more times for good measure.
On a show where slushie showers and hallway catfights were commonplace, Santana’s episode-ending slap of Finn remains one of Glee‘s most dramatic moments. During Season 3’s “Mash Off” episode, a dust-up between Finn and Santana resulted in the latter student being publicly outed as a lesbian — not only to her McKinley High peers, but potentially to her parents, who weren’t yet aware that Santana was gay. Thus, when Santana later spotted Finn whispering something in Rachel’s ear during Santana’s performance of “Rumour Has It / Someone Like You,” Santana assumed he was talking more about her sexuality… and their subsequent argument didn’t go so well for Finn.
The Good Wife
As Peter Florrick announced his resignation from office in The Good Wife‘s series finale, Alicia left the stage, thinking she’d just seen recent beau Jason Crouse watching her from the wings. But as she explored the hallways for Jason, Alicia instead encountered Diane, who smacked Alicia across the face (!) and left without a word. The CBS drama’s seven-season run ended with Alicia pulling herself together post-slap, resulting in a polarized reaction from fans (and an average finale grade of “D” from TVLine readers).
How I Met Your Mother
In Season 2 of the CBS sitcom, Ted tries to uncover a mystifying secret about Robin’s past. So what’s a guy’s closest friends left to do? They make a slap bet on the whole fiasco, of course! Barney and Marshall’s silly little wager led to heaps of laughs, which carried over throughout multiple seasons, stretching all the way to its series finale. (Watch the clip above for a full rundown of all the delicious wallops.)
By the time the CBS soap was done, it was a wonder that mantrap Abby still had any face left; she got smacked a lot. Back in Season 2, it was Laura who got to do the “honors,” lashing out at her husband’s mistress during a kidnapping — why not? — and winding up hurting worse than the recipient of her slap.
The Muppet Show
No, we’re not above including a little puppet-on-puppet violence in this here list of smacks. And while we all know Kermit has taken Miss Piggy’s nonsense for far too long, perhaps making a bacon joke was a little too far for the frog. That said, we’ve got to side with Piggy on this one. Kermit may have deserved that karate chop to the gut… just this once.
One Tree Hill
If you were a teenager growing up in Tree Hill, N.C., there were two things you could count on: you’d be forced to care way too much about high school basketball, and you could get slapped by anyone at any time for any reason. Of course, no one in that sleepy little hellmouth slapped with the precision of Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush Hughes), especially when a boy was at stake.
And none hurt more than this friendship-shattering slap delivered to Peyton (Hilarie Burton Morgan) in the third season finale. Sometimes… we can still feel it.
The wildest soap in daytime history, Passions gave us storylines about witchcraft, demonic possession and talking dolls on the regular. Yet few of those moments were as outlandish as the time Theresa (the phenomenal Lindsay Korman-Hartley) simultaneously slapped two of her greatest nemeses — ice queen Ivy Crane (Kim Johnston Ulrich) and firecracker Rebecca Hotchkiss (Andrea Evans), both legends in their own right — with one single, artful movement.
We must also pour out a Martimmy for the late, great Ben Masters (aka Julian Crane), who also endures a well-deserved wallop in this scene.
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
On an already explosive trip to Amsterdam marked by thrown wine glasses and drunken tears at sea, Brandi Glanville shows the danger of when play fighting leads to real fighting. Glanville, in her mind, is joking around with co-star Lisa Vanderpump and tells her they can slap each other (for fun, of course). Brandi goes ahead with the slap leaving Lisa shocked and armed with enough emotional wounds to fuel the rest of her scenes that season. In the Housewives universe, it was the slap heard ‘round the world. (Skip forward to 6:00 in the video above for all the drunken glory.)
The Real World
There was a plethora of reasons why Irene McGee decided to leave the show’s Seattle-set seventh season, and by the time of her departure, her relationship with fellow roommate Stephen Williams had more than soured. After calling him a homosexual (he had not yet come out as gay), Stephen revealed that he had, in fact, kidnapped her beloved stuffed animal. What came next was a moment that was perhaps a little too real. (Watch Stephen break it all down in the clip above.) The Seattle smack was by far one of the series’ most infamous fights, and ultimately became one of reality TV’s craziest moments ever.
RuPaul's Drag Race
Who better to stage a slap-a-palooza than RuPaul herself? For a Season 2 mini-challenge, each of the competing queens was given a script where she dramatically confronted Mama Ru à la Dynasty. Each and every scene ended with the HBIC knocking the queens off their pedestals with some mighty fine whacks across the face. It was beyond campy and we were here for every single glorious second of it.
Sex and the City
Carrie’s time in Paris with Aleksandr Petrovsky was far from gay. When the oh-so-serious artist let down Carrie for the umpteenth time — by choosing a “light installation” over joining her at a party — she called him out. Aleksandr, who was sufferable at best, rudely tried to walk away from the conflict, and when Carrie tried to pull him back, he swiftly pivoted and accidentally smacked her. It was, easily, the last straw for Carrie — and it nearly got Aleksandr’s clock cleaned once Big got wind of what happened!
Rachel was so shocked and upset to discover that Mike was a fraudulent lawyer that she slapped him not once, but twice (and almost got a third one in). But it all turned out to be some weird, angry foreplay because the two then got it on in the file room in a scene so steamy that Prince Harry regrets watching it.
In the slap-happy world of reality TV, if you’ve seen one slap, you’ve seen them all. But Stassi’s backhanded smack of Kristen in Season 2 of the gloriously trashy Real Housewives spinoff was a true game-changer. Stassi was furious with Kristen for sleeping with Stassi’s ex and lying about it (she was right, too), and The Slap — as it came to be known — announced Pump Rules as must-see guilty pleasure TV.
While this one may have occurred in the Veronica Mars movie, we’re still counting it because, hey: It was a TKO 10 years in the making. After years of Madison Sinclair being the thorn in Veronica’s side, a class reunion (Wallace and Mac coerced Veronica into attending, of course) served as the perfect setting for this final showdown between high school nemeses. As longtime fans (many of whom crowdfunded the Mars movie), seeing the Queen B put in her place at the (literal) hand of Veronica was immensely satisfying. (We may have even cheered loudly, then watched it again on repeat.)
Will & Grace
In Season 3 of the NBC hitcom, Cher interrupted Jack’s date with… um, his Cher doll. In response, he unwittingly challenged the singer/actress that he idolized to a Cher-off that wasn’t truly complete until she’d slapped him and dropped her classic line from Moonstruck.
Obviously, this list wouldn’t be complete without including Beth, who’s all but redefined the term punch drunk. Our pick for her greatest hit? The hilarious one that followed the Season 5 bar brawl she started by smashing a beer bottle against the head of a woman intent on “bunking” with Rip. After the fight had been broken up, Beth took one look at the hussy, couldn’t help herself, and… you’ll see in the clip above.