The Emmy Awards brings together the most talented people in television, so there are always some memorable moments.
Where a film crew might only work together for a few months, a TV family can form over years and decades, fostering special bonds, and making television awards ceremonies an entirely different experience. From the huge opening numbers, to the hilarious presenters, to the inspiring acceptance speeches, the Emmy Awards packs in some of the best moments of awards season.
Here are 10 of the funniest, most entertaining, and touching moments in the history of the Emmy Awards.
The Miss ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy’ pageant
Not only was it hilarious when, led by Amy Poehler, all six nominees for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” took the stage together, pageant style, but it was also a phenomenal example of women supporting women.
The ladies held hands and hugged their fellow nominees, all before excitedly congratulating the winner, Melissa McCarthy. A surprised Rob Lowe managed to play along, and the bit was received with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Viola Davis winning the Emmy for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama’
When Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series” for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, she used the moment beautifully.
Davis started off her speech by quoting Harriet Tubman, and went on to thank the writers and executives who are finally creating opportunities for her. “You can’t win an Emmy for roles that aren’t there,” she powerfully stated.
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey taking control of Neil Patrick Harris’ Emmys
It’s a widely known fact that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are the best Golden Globes hosting duo of all time, but they’ve also made their mark on the Emmys. During Neil Patrick Harris’ opening monologue in 2013, the pair hilariously heckled him from the front row, before taking the stage to present.
Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart presenting together
We miss these two so much! Award show perfection was achieved when Stephen Colbert brought his Colbert Report character to the Emmys stage and called out the “sodomites” of Hollywood alongside Jon Stewart. On top of that, Conan O’Brien introduced them with a joke about “fake news” before it was cool!
Jeffrey Tambor winning for his role in ‘Transparent’
Jeffrey Tambor has been a favorite at awards shows ever since he took on the role of Maura Pfefferman in Transparent, but his first Emmy win for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series” inspired one of his best speeches, to date.
He spoke about how he was once told to act like his life depended on it, but that he now gets to “act because people’s lives depend on it.” He ended his speech by dedicating his performance and award to the trans community, and thanking them for their patience, courage, stories, and inspiration.
Andy Samberg’s opening number about the impossible task of keeping up with modern television
In today’s TV landscape, this opening number could not ring more true. There’s just so much good television out there! Andy Samberg opened the 2015 Emmys with a catchy and entertaining number about the utter impossibility of keeping up with everything.
Billy Crystal’s tribute to Robin Williams
The “In Memoriam” segment of the Emmy Awards is always a tearjerker, especially when a beloved Hollywood figure has passed away ahead of their time. The world seemed to stop when Robin Williams died, and it was incredibly moving when one of his closest friends and colleagues, Billy Crystal, took the Emmys stage to remember his friend.
Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Glee’-ful opening number
It’s always fun when music is included in the opening number of the Emmy Awards, and what better way to incorporate it than with the cast of Glee. A few of the lead cast, including the late Cory Monteith, joined Jimmy Fallon and other celebs to start the show off with a bang, singing “Born to Run.”
Tracy Morgan’s triumphant return to the stage
The crowd erupted into an instant standing ovation when Tracy Morgan hit the Emmys stage in 2015, following a car accident that resulted in the loss of his friend, James McNair, and an eight-day coma for Morgan himself.
There were many tears throughout the audience, but there were also a lot of laughs, as Morgan used his return to the stage to lighten the mood with some jokes.
Bryan Cranston’s final win for his role as Walter White
During Breaking Bad’s reign, it was a favorite of the Emmy Awards. You could usually count on it taking home a few awards in the drama category, and the speeches of the cast and creators were always a highlight of the show.
One of the reasons for this was the camaraderie of the Breaking Bad family. The true joy that every cast member showed when one of their colleagues was honored was always a treat to behold. This was never more true than in 2014, which was the show’s final year of eligibility. We’ve included Bryan Cranston’s speech from that year, from his win for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.”