Music is an essential part of any movie or television show. Film and TV scores serve to heighten emotions or make particular scenes stand out. Audiences can remember iconic television moments when they hear the tracks that played in a scene, even if the song is out of context.
Whether a song was written for a television series or predates the show by many years, television has the power to make songs extremely popular, even propelling some to the top of the charts. While many fans would argue that television is purely a visual medium, some TV shows scenes would not be as memorable and iconic if they did not have incredible music to back them up.
8 “Hide And Seek” Inspired A SNL Sketch (The OC)
The shocking season two finale of The OC was an emotional rollercoaster for audiences. In a show that regularly utilized music to build emotion, the season 2 finale of The OC saw Melissa shoot Trey after it was revealed that he attacked her.
As the gunshot sounds, Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”begins playing as the gravity of the scene takes its full effect on the audience and the other characters enter the screen. This moment has gone down in pop culture history and equally inspired a memorable SNL sketch that starred Andy Samberg.
7 “Breathe Me” Marks A Devastatingly Emotional Scene (Six Feet Under)
Six Feet Under was a drama series that followed the Fisher family, who owned a funeral home in Los Angeles. After five seasons, the series finale sees the youngest child of the family, Claire, leave for New York City. In a deeply profound final scene, Claire drives away from the life she has always known and listens to Sia’s “Breathe Me.”
While “Breathe Me” plays, the audience sees a montage of the future, and Six Feet Under reveals how every member of the Fisher family passes away. “Breathe Me”helps create a devastatingly emotional scene as viewers witness the fan-favorite characters take their final breaths.
6 Quinn Gives Birth And Vocal Adrenaline Perform To “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Glee)
The musical teen drama Glee featured many performances of pop songs, which were memorable for good and bad reasons. However, many would argue that none were quite as iconic as the season one performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.“ In the season one finale “Journey,” the Glee club makes it to Regionals where, after their performance, student Quinn Fabray goes into labor.
A memorable scene follows where the Glee club’s competition, Vocal Adrenaline, performs “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The scene cuts between their performance and Quinn giving birth in the hospital where she also sings along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” mid-delivery. Of all the wacky and odd Glee performances, this is one of the most beloved.
5 Sue Gilbert Sings A Reworked Version Of Emily’s Poem (Dickinson)
AppleTV+’s Comedy Drama Series Dickinson follows the life of poet Emily Dickinson in the 1800s. As a dramatic and emotional poet, many of Dickinson’s scenes take place inside Emily’s imagination. One of the most memorable scenes is in “Split the Lark” when the Dickinson family attends the opera.
Caught up in her feelings for Samuel Bowles, Emily imagines that the opera singer on stage is Sue Gilbert, her best friend and love interest. Sue sings a reworked version of Emily’s poem Split the Lark, set to music by Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist. This beautiful moment makes Emily realize that she is really projecting her feelings for Sue onto Sam.
4 “Wildest Dream” Marks A Milestone In Daphne And Simon’s Relationship (Bridgerton)
Daphne and Simon are the central couple in season one of Netflix’s Regency-era drama Bridgerton. The pair have a rocky relationship from the beginning. However, after five episodes of pining and drama, the two finally admit their feelings for each other. Bridgerton features many string quartet covers of modern pop songs, bridging the gap between the Regency era and the 21st century.
In episode six, “Swish,”the duo celebrates their relationship and marriage together in the rain. The memorable scene is accompanied by a beautiful cover of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams,”which helps heighten the emotion of the scene and is a memorable landmark in Simon and Daphne’s relationship.
3 “Wild World” Shows How Little Control The Characters Have Over Their Own Lives (Skins)
The season one finale of the British drama skins saw the main characters in very different places. While Anwar and Maxxie reconcile and are in a better place than ever, having accepted Maxxie’s sexuality, the other characters aren’t as happy.
Tony has just been knocked over by a bus, Chris has been abandoned by his mother, and Sid tries to search for Cassie. In an unexpected scene, the characters break out into song and sing Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.”The song is an excellent choice, showing that these characters have little control over their lives and never know what is coming next for them.
2 “All For Us” Sees Rue At Breaking Point (Euphoria)
HBO’s Gritty Drama Series Euphoria follows a group of high schoolers who are navigating adolescence, relationships, and responsibilities. The season one finale featured “All For Us,” a song written and performed by Labrinth and Zendaya to back up an incredibly moving scene.
After a season of Zendaya’s divisive character Rue battling drug addiction, family issues, and relationship problems, she is at a breaking point. The abstract scene depicts Rue as almost too weak to stand, but she sings “All For Us”as she is lifted by a large group of dancers who catch her when she falls.
1 Max Needs “Running Up That Hill” To Help Her Escape Vecna’s Grasp (Stranger Things)
Stranger Things has been one of the most talked-about TV shows of 2022. One scene, in particular, stands out to audiences. Fan-favorite character Max Mayfield, brilliantly portrayed by Sadie Sink, endured many hardships throughout season four. This includes having to escape from the mind control of Vecna.
In a gripping scene, Max’s friends use her favorite song, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,”to try to pull her back to reality as she runs through a bloody hellscape. Fans found themselves on the edge of their seats during such an effective, surprising, and emotional scene. The use of Kate Bush’s song had such an effect on audiences that it shot to the top of the charts, despite playing 37 years after the song’s initial release.
NEXT: SNL: 10 Best Musical Acts Of 2021, Ranked