When there’s already an amazing script, there’s nothing better than being witness to a line or scene that is unplanned but fits in perfectly. Here are some of the best-unscripted TV and movie scenes to ever exist:
To start, Jack Nicholson improvised one of the most famous lines in The Shining. “Here’s Johnny” is actually a nod to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carsonand director Stanley Kubrick thought it was so good that it just stuck.
One of the best sequences in Bridesmaids is when Kristen Wiig causes all sorts of chaos while on a flight to Vegas. Even better? It was all thanks to improv. Cue her iconic lane: “I’m ready to parrrrrttttyyyy!” (Of course, this makes sense considering Wiig co-write the script.)
If you’ve ever used the word “bebe,” then you’re probably a Schitt’s Creek fan. Catherine O’Hara coined the term in Season 4 of the show noting, “I said ‘bebe’ as a joke or a mistake the first time. Once I hit on ‘bebe’ and got a laugh from the crew, that was it.'”
Jon Heder may have a future in choreography since he improvised the famous dance number in Napoleon Dynamite.
Gene Wilder gave Willy Wonka’s grand entrance quite the spin when he added in a surprise somersault. When asked what the motivation was behind the move he said, “I knew that from that time on no one would know if I was lying or telling the truth.”
While Ryan Gosling certainly has no problem with the ladies, he once used the famous Dirty Dancing lift IRL — ultimately inspiring the scene alongside his Crazy, Stupid, Love costar, Emma Stone.
“Father, son, and House of Gucci” was actually an off-the-cuff line courtesy of Lady Gaga that set the tone for the entire film.
In Season 3 of Stranger ThingsMillie Bobby Brown is seen collapsing into Finn Wolfhard’s arms during the sauna scene. While her acting chops are always a force to be reckoned with, she was just super exhausted at that very moment and the fall was not scripted. “We spent darn near four entire days, ten to twelve hours each, inside a tiny stage — that gym/sauna (set) was not one inch bigger than the real thing,” explained director Shawn Levy. “It was tight. It was hot. We probably did well over a hundred plus different angles to tell that story right.”
The pilot episode of Euphoria featured a harrowing fight between Rue and her mom, and TBH, I still have chills over it because it was THAT good. Zendaya and Nika King gave it their all as they battled it out over Rue’s sobriety. The most shocking part? There was only a single line of stage direction, no script included.
This Is Us was always known for great plotlines, but did you know the scene between Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and William (Cephas Jones) was actually an off-script convo between the two actors? In reality, Cephas was talking candidly about his first haircut — all fact, no fiction here.
Hearing your baby say “mama” for the first time is pretty special, probably even more so when it’s on a TV series for all the world to see. In the Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias,” infant Holly is seen uttering that word (off script) while Bryan holds her in the restroom.
In Season 6 of How I Met Your MotherJason Segel improvised his heartbreaking line after learning Marshall’s father unexpectedly passed away. Jason and his costar Alyson Hannigan weren’t clued in about this final scene, prompting an even more genuine reaction when he said, “My dad’s dead? I’m not ready for this.”
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” This is one of the most quoted lines in Jaws stemming from Brody’s reaction to seeing the great white shark for the very first time. While it was nowhere in the script, it certainly became a key part of the movie.
The waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin still has audiences laughing to this day, partly due to the fact that it was completely real and unscripted. Actor Steve Carell became costar Miki Mia’s guinea pig for chest waxes as she had no real experience in that department. As a result, Steve’s painfully hilarious reactions were more authentic than viewers bargained for.
Home Alone director Chris Columbus revealed that the scene where Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) puts cologne on his face and screams was never actually supposed to happen that way. “If you put something on your face that burns, most people move their hands right away. So my direction to him was when you pat your face, move your hands and scream,” Chris said. “And I think it was the first take, he kept his hands on his cheeks. We all started laughing hysterically.”
When Anne Hathaway accidentally fell on the bleachers in The Princess Diaries the crew just rolled with it. The fall wasn’t a rehearsed stunt but was actually due in part to some rainy weather in San Francisco.
Actor Daniel Franzese improvised the quotable line “I want my pink shirt back!” during the fight between Janis, Cady, and Damian. Yes, it’s still just as great now as it was then in its unscripted moment.
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s crawl was intended to be a casual warm-up, but it turns out the director had other plans since it ended up in the final cut of Dirty Dancing.
Finally, Star Wars fans still have a soft spot for the famed moment when Leia says the words “I love you” and Han responds with “I know” in The Empire Strikes Back. You can credit Harrison Ford with that very Han Solo-esque one-liner.
What’s your favorite unscripted scene? Share your pick in the comments!