Chuck comes to end tonight on NBC, and in celebration of The Little Show That Could, we've compiled a list of our favorite moments from its five improbable seasons.
I could have done an almost endless permutation of lists here, guys. Best kisses. Funniest lines. Best Casey grunts. Best guest stars. Best use of 80s music. Best homage to an old spy movie. Best Sarah kicks so much ass fight. Best Sarah skimpy outfits. The most awesome Awesome moments. Best use of a train. Best fight scene. Most romantic moments. Saddest moments. Best use of Morgan as a spy . . . I'm telling you, endless.
But in the end, I decided to go for the big moments. Chuck as a show has always known how to make the most out of its semi-serialized nature, and it certainly knows how to throw a mean finale (it's had at least six by now). You put those two things together and the payoff is moments like these five* below, rich in action and emotion and that wacky Chuck humor we've all come to love. But don't let this list be definitive. Sound off with your favorite moments in the comments below. Let's have a Chuck party.
*Okay, so I cheated a little bit and there are actually twelve moments listed below. Don't really care. Too many moments to choose from, so little space.
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5. Chuck Versus Shaw
"Chuck Versus The Other Guy" was the first of Chuck's almost-finales, and what a doozy. Rogue CIA agent Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh) has turned on his former partners for the cause of vengeance (Sarah was ordered to kill Shaw's wife years back, and it doesn't matter to him that his wife was a traitor, he just wants Sarah to pay). In Paris for a mission, Shaw drugs Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) with a paralytic and plans to throw her in the river, but Chuck (Zachary Levi) shows up just in time. He is unable to defeat Shaw using his Intersect Superpowers (in season three, the Intersect was often on the fritz because Chuck's emotions would get in the way), so he follows Shaw to the bridge. Shaw doesn't think Chuck has it in him to murder someone, but he underestimates just how much Chuck loves Sarah. Chuck shoots Shaw in the chest (almost pulling Sarah over with him), and he falls into the river, presumably dead. Later, Chuck and Sarah finally finally get together. Shaw is Chuck's scariest baddie because, like Chuck, he does everything for love. It's a tense, well-written sequence that pays off three years of story. [Watch the clip here.]
Runner Up: Sarah gains a reputation as The Giant Blonde Shemale of Thailand as she fights her way across the countryside in search of a kidnapped Chuck in "Chuck Versus Phase Three." Notable not only for the awesome fight scene, but for how much Chuck's safety means to Sarah.
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4. Chuck tells Morgan EVERYTHING.
In "Chuck Versus The Beard," after nearly three years of being in the dark, Morgan is finally let in on the big secret. This was an unbelievably smart move on the storytelling front, but more importantly, it was so much fun. His joy in knowing that he hasn't lost his best friend after all, his best friend was just off saving the world all the time, is wonderful to watch. He is the ultimate Chuck fanboy, and his support is something Chuck badly needed. This moment turned the bearded wonder from an annoying sidekick to an awesome one, and instead of being a hindrance to Chuck's plans, he became an integral part. This was the beginning of The Adventures of Spy Morgan. Plus, just look at his face! [Watch the clip here.]
Runner(s) Up: From that same episode, Jeffster stages a Buy More Revolution set to "Fortunate Son" when they believe The Ring agents are actually there to shut down the store. From "Chuck Versus The Sandworm," the first lovely moment of Chuck/Morgan bromance as they run to each other on Halloween night (bonus points for Sarah dressed as Princess Leia).
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3. Chuck proposes to Sarah.
Chuck has had a lot of emotional and romantic moments over the years, but none so momentous and tastefully done as Chuck's silent and spontaneous proposal to Sarah in the hospital at the end of "Chuck Versus The Push Mix." The Naked and Famous's "Young Blood" fades into the background and so do Chuck and Sarah. We see them out of focus as the whir of a floor cleaner takes over. It's a lovely moment and well-earned, especially after Chuck's failure at his over the top proposal two episodes before in "Chuck Versus The Balcony." [Watch the clip here.]
Runner(s) Up: Chuck and Sarah's first kiss in "Chuck Versus The Hard Salami," and their stolen moment in a motel in "Chuck Versus The Colonel." Both are moments when one or the other finally lets go of the barriers between them and just suck face for all they're worth.
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2. The Death of Stephen J. Bartowski.
Chuck is about spies, but it's also about family, so nothing hits you so hard as the death of Papa Bartowski in "Chuck Versus The Subway," just after Ellie and Chuck have managed to bring him back into their lives. Shaw shoots Chuck's father (played wonderfully by TV legend Scott Bakula) because he knows Chuck will not be able to defeat him if his emotions aren't in check. It's a shot fired with revenge in mind, and cunning strategy, and it introduces Chuck's sister, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), once and for all into the spy world in the most horrible way possible. [Watch the clip here.]
Runner Up: Emmett Milbarge (Tony Hale) was an awful human being, but he was part of the Buy More family, and his death is the stuff of legend. A Ring assassin is looking for Chuck, but when Emmett annoys the crap out of him, he shoots Emmett in the eye, right through his glasses. And it's all set to Wilson Phillips' "Hold On." Man, this show has great music.
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1. "Guys, I know Kung Fu."
Perhaps Chuck's most iconic moment, this is when Chuck went from being a nerdy guy with lots of secrets in his head to being a nerd superhero. Chuck is free of the Intersect, free of the CIA, and free to resume his normal life (free to start a relationship with Sarah), but with Bryce Larkin dead, and the Intersect about to be lost forever, or worse, in the hands of Fulcrum/The Ring, Chuck makes a decision. At the end of "Chuck Versus The Ring," Chuck willingly takes back the burden of the Intersect and is rewarded with . . . Kung Fu. It is, in a word, awesome. [Watch the clip here.]
Runner Up: Jeffster brings down the house with "Mr. Roboto" as Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Chevy Chase ruin Ellie's wedding. ("Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian wreck your wedding?")
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The two hour series finale of Chuck airs tonight, 8/7 Central.
Other stops on the Chuck Farewell Tour:
- Executive Producer Chris Fedak answers fan questions over at The Huffington Post.
- Ryan McPartlin aka Captain Awesome, reflects on life after Chuck.
- TV Line has a more general list of things they love (and will miss) about the show.
- Michael Logan chronicles his set visit on the last days of shooting.
- Alan Sepinwall has the mother of all exit interviews with showrunners Fedak and Josh Schwartz. He's been running the five-part interview one a day, each interview covering roughly one season of the show, and it's a must read: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four (Part Five will be up later today).