The time has come again. We say goodbye to Friday Night Lights tonight as NBC airs the series finale that originally aired on DirecTV last October. This marks the official end of the show as NBC struck a deal with DirecTV that allowed the major network to air the show's last season during its spring-season programming. Friday Night Lights has consistently been one of the best television shows in my opinion. It is one of the most realistic shows ever made and provided loyal viewers like myself with heartbreaking and groundbreaking moments. For those who have not seen the show, stream the first four seasons immediately on Netflix Play Instantly and watch the fifth season on Hulu.
I have already seen the series finale and for those who have not, it is the perfect ending to this great show. In honor of the stadium lights dimming in Dillon, Texas, here are my choices for the 12 most emotional moments in the show's 5-year history minus the series finale.
12. Season 3, The Giving Tree- Julie and Tami talk about growing up
This emotional scene is preceded by a hilariously awkward moment when Coach Taylor walks in on Julie and Matt in bed together after they have sex at Matt's house. That moment goes from funny to somber after Julie reveals that she's worried she won't be "daddy's girl" anymore to Lyla. The emotional scene occurs when Julie's mother, Tami, tells Julie that she wishes Julie had waited to have sex. Not only that, Tami was disheartened that Julie didn't come talk to her first. Julie breaks down from the sadness of disappointing her parents and though the character of Julie is not my favorite, this moment made me feel sorry for her. The creators were smart to show a conversation that parents regularly have with their children in the most realistic way and it shined a bright light on the strong dynamic of the Taylor family.
11. Season 1, Homecoming- Jason is welcomed back to the stadium by all of Dillon.
An obvious choice for one of the best FNL tearjerker moments. Jason Street is hesitant at the beginning of this episode to come back for the homecoming game but all of his worrying and fears are gone as he bursts through the Panthers logo. The entire town erupts in applause and cheers for his return. I'd be genuinely surprised if anyone can watch this scene without getting emotional. See for yourselves.
10. Season 5, Texas Whatever- Tami and Eric's arguments about Eric's job offer
No one likes to see their parents fight. And as most FNL fans will tell you, Eric and Tami Taylor have become our TV parents. This was a hard to watch because Tami spills years worth of anger and resentment about "being a coach's wife" to Eric. Never being one to make Eric feel like crap, this is the one time Tami does it because she has just been offered the job of a lifetime and Eric is trying to make the executive decision in the household. Even though it's too much to handle, it's scenes like this that make this show so memorable. The realism in the small moments are affecting, especially when Tami may have to give in one last time:
9. Season 3, Underdogs- Tyra reads her college essay to Landry
8. Season 2, Leave No One Behind- Smash's future becomes uncertain/Smash's locker room breakdown
This again is another one of those FNL episodes that's brilliant from start to finish. It's also one of those FNL episodes that could have been submitted to the Emmy's for Gaius Charles' brilliant performance as Smash's college dreams are taken away because of a racial dispute where he was (in my opinion) clearly in the right. I put both scenes together because they are both equally powerful.
7. Season 3, New York, New York- Jason reunites with his son/Jason leaves Dillon for good
Jason gets a job in New York City just so he can be with his son and his girlfriend. He leaves behind Riggins but not without saying, "Texas Forever." What else do I need to say? That was it, tears were flowing. On top of that, Jason's love for his child was more than enough to send me over the edge into sobs-ville.
6. Season 2, Leave No One Behind- Matt's drunken breakdown in front of Coach Taylor
5. Season 4, I Can't- Vince asks his mother why she uses drugs
After many of the main characters "graduated" at the end of season 3, FNL had to find new blood and they couldn't have done a better job than finding Michael B. Jordan to play Vince, a kid from "the wrong side of the tracks" in Dillon who ends up playing quarterback for the East Dillon Lions. Vince can't catch a break. He's a juvenille delinquent, his father is in jail and is useless when he gets out and his mother is drug addict. Of course this means that he has to take care of everything in his family. In that aspect, does he remind you of anyone? Yes, he in a way, becomes the new Matt Saracen and he definitely fills in Matt's big, problem-filled shoes. This scene is self-explanatory:
4. Season 1, State- The Dillon Panthers win State/Tami's big news/Eric leaves Dillon
This is another one of those episodes that is just perfect from start to finish. I don't have much to say other than this was originally shot as a way to end the series if NBC didn't pick up FNL for a second season. And as much as I would have hated NBC for cancelling it this early, it would have been a hell of a way to end the show. The Dillon Panthers win State, Tami finds out she's pregnant and Coach takes a job to be the new quarterback coach at TMU.
3. Season 4, Thanksgiving- Tim takes the fall for his brother, Billy
Who doesn't love Tim Riggins? The resident slacker/bad boy has some amazingly poignant scenes in Friday Night Lights when it comes to his love life but this scene is one of the first times we see how much he's willing to sacrifice for family. Billy Riggins has been running a side car repair business with Tim but without telling Tim at first, he tries to use stolen/chop-shop parts. The boys get in trouble with the law and Tim takes the fall for Billy so that Billy can be with his son. Tim basically goes to jail so that Billy's son can have a good childhood. Who wouldn't cry at something like that? Also, just watch the whole episode. This is another one that's perfect from start to finish.
2. Season 4, The Son- Matt's breakdown during dinner at the Taylor's house/The funeral
Emmy voters made an egregious error by not giving Zach Gilford an Emmy nomination for his heartbreaking portrayal when Matt's father dies in Iraq. The funeral scene is hard to watch, with both Matt and Grandma Saracen barely able to keep their heads up but the dinner scene at the Taylor house is the most emotional scene of the episode. After Matt catches a glimpse of his father being prepared for a close-casket ceremony, he goes to the Taylor house for dinner and finally breaks down after somehow managing to keep it together since he found out about his father's death.
1. Season 1, Pilot- Jason gets injured/Everyone gathers at the hospital
One of the best pilots of recent TV history with one of the best speeches. The fact that FNL can have so much emotional depth in the very first episode and has never lost that moment is a real testament to the show as a whole. In the last scene, pretty much the entire city of Dillon gathers at the hospital to pray for Jason's recovery and Coach finds out there's no hope- Jason is paralyzed. I'm not going to post a video for this one; if you haven't seen the show, just watch the pilot and thank me later.
There you have it. The end of a beautiful show. Friday Night Lights was just nominated yesterday for 3 major emmys: Best Actor in a Drama Series- Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor), Best Actress in a Drama Series- Connie Britton (Tami Taylor) and Best Drama Series. Thank goodness because this show deserves all of this and more. I hope, even as this show ends, it can find more fans through Netflix and Hulu, and DVD sales because it's a show worth talking about for years and years to come.
Here's the brilliant promo that DirecTV posted when they aired the series finale of Friday Night Lights. It has the same speech that Coach Taylor makes in the last scene of the pilot and it beautifully reminds us of five amazing years on this one amazing show.
And just so we don't end on a sad note, I have a special surprise from YouTube for all the Tami Taylor fans out there, courtesy of the YouTube account "guyismdotcom". Thanks FNL, it's been a great ride.