Monologues. Apart from speeches and conversations with imaginary friends, people rarely get 90 seconds to speak without interruption. But when we’re already watching something in a fictional world, why not get every bit of unrealistic pleasure out of it we can? A monologue—when well-written, delivered in the right scene by the right actor and backed by the right music—can do amazing things to a scene.
Some of the most iconic monologues are found in movies, but some TV writers out there can run with the best of ‘em. Here are our top eight:
4. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Writers: David Zuckerman & Bill Boulware
A serious episode for a serious subject, this is one of the few episodes that doesn’t have a lot of jokes. Whose heart didn’t break when Will went on a rant about not needing his father before breaking down in Uncle Phil’s arms? Truly touching and why we still love Will Smith as an actor.
3. Mad Men
Writers: Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith
The series is filled with superb storylines and clever ad campaigns, but it’s the dialogue we love best. This scene, in which Don pitches Kodak’s new “wheel,” is the perfect example. Bringing in his life as an example, Don speaks about the meaning of nostalgia.
2. The Wire
Writer: Richard Price
One of the many excellent moments in this extremely well written series. Major Colvin speaks of a time during the ‘50s when a civic compromise between ‘criminals’ and police allowed officers to use their time for police work that mattered. The brown paper bag was the compromise over alcohol, but drugs were now the problem and they needed another solution. Although parts of the speech are borrowed from the book The Corner, Robert Wisdom’s delivery and emotion bring so much to the monologue we think it deserves a spot on our list.
1. The West Wing
The second monologue on the countdown from Aaron Sorkin. Sorry, but when you’re good, you’re good and Aaron Sorkin is good at writing monologues. When a ‘doctor’ insists that the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination, President Bartlet shows why he thinks it’s ridiculous to follow the laws of the Bible so literally. He also adds on a little tip on how to respect your President.