2010 was a banner year for television, which means there was certainly no shortage of nominees for our third annual "Top 100 Everything" list. Here you'll find the shows, characters, and episodes that made 2010 amazing—as well as the behind-the-scenes players, trends, and TV-relevant happenings that helped shaped the culture of television this year.
The exceptional quality of the third season of Fringe was the result of exponential improvement in this underwatched series. Our heads have exploded many times over while jumping back and forth between the two universes, watching each cast member play two different characters, and wondering what must be going through Peter and Olivia's minds in one heck of a bump in a relationship. If you gave up on Fringe early, trust us: It's time to get back on board this train, because it's one of the best on TV.
9. Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like"
How in the heck did a commercial make our list? By being the most awesome commercial of all time! Old Spice won big when it cast Isaiah Mustafa, the unbearably charming spokesperson in those hilarious one-shot ads that actually inspired us to put down our DVR remotes. (P.S. We'd also like to give a quick shout-out to the runner-up in this category, Allstate's Mayhem ads. Shaky shaky, shaky shaky shaky...)
The third season of HBO's vampire drama took things up a notch in 2010. Whether it was gore (Russell ripping out a newscaster's heart on ), sex (Sookie and Bill's blood shower), or both (Bill's head-twisting sex scene with Lorena), True Blood consistently delivered the naughty—and we were all the more happy because of it. Don't even try to pretend you didn't enjoy feeling your jaw drop to the floor.
The Season 5 finale marked the end of show creator Eric Kripke's original five-year plan, with the Winchester brothers finally confronting Lucifer, fulfilling their destinies, and giving us the apocalyptic showdown we'd been waiting for. It was incredible television for a network that usually relies on "OMG they hooked up!" storylines. Instead, Sam and Dean saved the world. You can thank them later.
This subtle drama about underdog detectives Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) didn't fit into any established TV genre, and we're still mourning its quick cancellation. The first (and now only) season was nearly flawless; we'll definitely be re-watching it on DVD in the years ahead.
5. Walter White says "Run!"
The final seconds of Breaking Bad's penultimate episode "Half Measures" made for one of the year's finest televised moments. We won't spoil it for you (if you've seen it, you know what we're talking about), but this was the moment Walter White lived up to the show's name and made us start counting the days until it returns this July. Brilliant stuff.
Community has done plenty of fantastic standalone episodes—Season 2's bottle episode and Halloween episode both come to mind—but "Modern Warfare" is still the masterpiece of them all. in an episode that spoofed action movies, NBC's underdogs got themselves into an every-man-for-himself paintball battle—and once again proved that Community is always willing to go where other shows fear to tread: the land of originality.
3. NBC's Late-Night fiasco
The Peacock screwed up royally, and for several weeks we watched as The Jay Leno Show struggled and Conan O'Brien got booted from The Tonight Show. Everyone had something to say about the affair: David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel perfected their Leno impressions, and Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon took the opportunity to get sillier and weirder.. But the most interesting part of all was watching O'Brien transform before our eyes as he went from out-of-place to martyr overnight.
In what was arguably the best season of AMC's 1960's drama, this wonderfully crafted installment showcased Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm's best performances on the show to date. The actual historical fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston mirrored the episode's throwdown between Peggy and Don, with Peggy demanding more respect for her work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and Don eventually conceding; the result was delightful to watch, and the characters entered a new realm of respect and camaraderie.
Regardless of what you thought of the existential finale, the hoopla surrounding the final episode of the mind-bending show was unlike anything we've seen in recent memory. The importance of Lost will never be put into words; it was the ultimate watercooler show, its influence can be felt everywhere, it brought sci-fi into the mainstream with strong characters (imagine that!), and it was unlike anything we'll ever see again. Thank you, Lost, for six wonderful seasons. But seriously, what was the island, really?
And there you have it, folks—another year of television has come to a close. What are you hoping to see on TV in 2011? What'd you think of this year's Top 100 list? And what do you think we missed?
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