After seven seasons, “Scandal” will end its run Thursday — bringing to a close the political soap’s brand of somersault storytelling.
Starring Kerry Washington as D.C. crisis fixer Olivia Pope, the series that premiered in 2012 with a case-of-the-week approach steadily took on a more serialized, high-stakes identity that helped make it must-see (and tweet) TV. There were extramarital affairs, election rigging, politically-motivated killings and face-licking — to name just a few of the show’s did-that-just-happen moments.
As we prepare to say goodbye to the fast-paced world from mega producer Shonda Rhimes, here’s a walk down memory lane of some of the show’s standout moments during the course of its run — as told by Rhimes and the cast … and Twitter data.
“Just stand here with me for one minute.” And with that, the beloved TV couple better known as #Olitz was born. The sixth episode of the series memorably pulled the curtain back on the beginnings of Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia’s relationship, such as when the two stand silently in the hallway of his campaign headquarters relationship: “Literally, one minute on TV without talking. And the chemistry and the behavior, that happens in that one minute was rare and fun to see,” recalls Darby Stanchfield (who plays Abby Whelan). Unsurprisingly, #Olitz continues to rank as one of the show’s top hashtags of all time. Says Jeff Perry (Cyrus Beene) of that scene, “Oh, my God, it killed me.”
“Who Is Quinn Perkins?”
It was the hashtag that started it all: #WhoIsQuinn — a reference to the Season 1 shocker that the newest gladiator was not actually who she had claimed to be. Viewers were left in the dark all summer before it was revealed that Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) was actually Lindsay Dyer, a woman accused of mailing an explosive and killing half a dozen people, including her ex-boyfriend. Although Quinn has since graduated to actually killing people (thanks, Huck!), the hashtag remains one of the top to come out of the series.
“Who Shot Fitz?”
It’s impossible to discuss “Scandal’s” many cliffhangers and hashtags without mentioning this episode and the #WhoShotFitz panic that followed. In the final moments of the episode, Fitz was shot in the head on his way into an evening gala as a horrified Mellie (Bellamy Young) looked on. Fitz lived, natch, but the jaw-dropping assassination attempt had other long-term effects, notably cementing the drama’s status as must-watch, and must-tweet, TV.
Cyrus (Perry) and James’ (Dan Bucatinsky) marriage was constantly tested because of their professions: the former as the president’s chief of staff and the latter as a journalist covering the White House. But that all came crumbling down in Season 2 when James received a tip that the election had been rigged. In a moment of desperation and panic, the two stripped down in front of each other to prove they weren’t wearing wires before Cyrus bared his soul and admitted he played a role in Fitz’s false victory. “It was like a one-act play,” Lowes recalls.
Joe Morton joined the cast midway through Season 2 as the mysterious head of B613 but his then-unknown connection to the woman in the white hat was not revealed until the last moments of the season finale. With Olivia in the midst of a national scandal after being outed as Fitz’s mistress, Papa Pope arrived at her doorstep to help, and her one-word reaction — “Dad?” — dropped jaws. “‘Dad’ was huge and then we did the faux reading at the Television Academy. And everybody went crazy,” Morton says. Rhimes also recalls the big reveal. “They had that place filled and then there was an ancillary room. And so you heard screaming in the room and echoing down the hall and I remember I couldn’t get through the rest of the stage directions. It was done. It was over — so much screaming and hand-waving.”
As if being the daughter of the head of B613 wasn’t outlandish enough, “Scandal” topped itself by then revealing that Olivia’s mother, presumed to have been killed in a plane crash 20 years ago, was actually alive and well. Well, not quite well, but alive and resting comfortably in a remote B613 jail cell as arranged by Rowan. Desperate to see her daughter, Maya went so far as to chew into her own wrists and make herself bleed — one of the many reasons her introduction still ranks as one of the show’s biggest Twitter moments.
“You’re an Insignificant Boy”
“Scandal” quickly became known for its dialogue because of both the rapid-fire pace and the lengthy monologues. After the truth comes out that Maya (Khandi Alexander) is alive, Fitz has Rowan captured and thrown into a cell of his very own. But it’s Rowan who quickly takes command, telling Fitz that he’s never had to work for anything and that “you are a boy. I am a man.” “I never knew how it was going to turn out,” Rhimes says of the writing of the episode. “I just wondered what it was going to be like. The energy that [Goldwyn and Morton] brought to that was amazing.”
Drunk Mellie? Smelly Mellie? No matter what you call her, Mellie’s (Bellamy Young) surprising reaction to her son’s death ranks high on Twitter, and with the cast. “‘Chicken Fried Mellie’ is one of my favorites,” Rhimes says. “What Mellie had done was always really, really special.”
“Olivia Is Kidnapped”
Olivia’s kidnapping continues to rank as one of the show’s biggest moments on social media — who can forget the #WhereintheWorldIsOliviaPope hashtag? It also continues to resonate with Rhimes. “When we get to that moment when her hair is all undone and her fingernails are super dirty … that was some really special stuff,” she says.
“The Lawn Chair”
Directly inspired by the 2014 death of Michael Brown, the stand-alone episode centered on a father’s (played by guest star Courtney B. Vance) fight for justice after his unarmed teenage son is shot and killed by a police officer. Just blocks away from the White House, Vance’s character gets out a lawn chair and sits over his son’s lifeless body in protest of the situation. “It was very profound,” Washington says. “All-night shoots that you really felt like you had been through something together.” The episode also introduced future series regular Cornelius Smith Jr. “’Hey Mr. Parker!’ That’s my first line,” he recalls. “That gave me chills,” Rhimes says.
“Fight for Your Right”
The TGIT staple has always known how to stir the pot — a president with a mistress, hello?! — but it was this hour that had conservative groups up in arms. Months after stepping into office, Mellie graduated from congressional newbie to newsmaker when she staged an impromptu filibuster to stop Planned Parenthood from being de-funded. Rhimes, who penned the episode, hit the message of women’s rights home when Olivia aborted her baby with Fitz. “Getting to say all the true line items in the filibuster,” Young says. “Much less to have the theoretical argument for women’s right to choose.”
For its 100th episode, “Scandal” ventured where it never had before: an alternate universe where Fitz lost the election. Instead of becoming president, Fitz kissed a contestant from a dating show, Lindsay D., a.k.a. Quinn Perkins – a moment met with a resounding “Ewwww!” from the cast. “I called my husband and I was like, “You’re never going to believe what I’m gonna do next week,” Lowes says. Although Goldwyn says “we’re like siblings,” he confesses, “It was fun too.”
He may be the newest addition to Olivia Pope’s team of gladiators, but Marcus proved himself loyal when he continued to stand by Olivia’s side after her dismissal from the White House. But why, as Olivia asks him? “We’re black. So I’ll always be here for you, and I’ll always root for you,” he tells her. “It was such a powerful moment, just kind of seeing it,” Smith says. “That was a very kind of profound moment for me.”