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The Goldbergs Funniest Moments, Ranked

Ah, "The Goldbergs." Serving up '80s shenanigans since ... er, 2013, when the show debuted on ABC. Who says TV can't be wholesome and hysterical anymore? The decade defined by excess provides the backdrop for this comedy, based on the family and childhood of creator Adam Goldberg

The series features youngest child Adam; middle child Barry; oldest child Erica; their parents, Beverly and Murray; and Beverly's father, Pops, as they navigate work, school at William Penn Academy, and life in general in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. All six mainstays and almost all the secondary characters have real-life counterparts, making the often ridiculous events of the show all the more jaw-dropping at times. But hey, sometimes reality can be stranger than fiction — and combining the two makes for some of the strangest and most hilarious moments of all. So here are our picks for the 14 funniest bits, gags, and shenanigans on "The Goldbergs."

14. They've got the 'Right Stuff' (Season 2, Episode 10)

The music of the '80s — from pop to hip hop, new wave to rock — is as much a character on "The Goldbergs" as the people.

In "DannyDonnieJoeJonJordan," we get a flashback on a period show that's already a flashback. Cheesy? Perhaps, though it does give viewers a glimpse of past Erica as "Frizzica." As the oldest child, she's used to having the upper hand when it comes to humiliating her little brothers. That changes when Adam and Barry get a hold of a tape of Erica professing her love for the New Kids on the Block.

The Goldberg boys use the incriminating video to torture their big sis. However, it isn't long before they start liking the New Kids themselves, and they end up executing a shot-for-shot recreation of the group's "Hangin' Tough" video – an excellent reference to the music of the decade that restores the sibling pecking order in the process. "So apparently that whole revenge plot on Erica, it took a strange turn," Barry says when the truth dawns on him.

By the way, is it just us, or were awkward teen phases in the '80s five times more awkward than those of any other decade?

13. The Goldbergs bring their 'A' Game (Season 8, Episode 13)

Sports play a key role throughout the show, particularly with Barry and Murray. Also lending their considerable talents are Barry's friends: the Jenkintown Posse, aka JTP. So leave it to a sitcom with such athletically-inclined characters to take one of the ugliest sports labor disputes in history, the NFL players' strike in 1987 ... and mine it for all the funny it's worth.

In "Bever-lé," Barry tries out for the Eagles as a replacement player. He turns to his dad, a star long-snapper in high school, to help put him over the top. The slapstick elements land often from that point, as no vehicle, piece of fruit, or JTP member is safe from the would-be NFL star's training. Plus, Barry yelling, "PROFESSIONAL HIKE!" is a killer temporary catchphrase. Also clever: the touching father-son moment involving an oft-forgotten piece of football equipment.

"I'd be honored to wipe a ball with a towel that's been on your butt," Barry says, without a hint of irony. "Don't make a father giving his son a butt towel weird," Murray responds. High-brow humor, it is not. Still, there's a lot the show can be proud of here.

12. A cheesesteak odyssey (Season 5, Episode 15)

Even people who don't hail from Philadelphia probably know the city is famous for its cheesesteaks. But what if the finest iteration of the sandwich is — gasp — not from Philly?

That's the premise of one arc in "Adam Spielberg." In a sweeping nod to the "Indiana Jones" franchise, Barry tries to convince his father to drive to New Jersey (yes, New Jersey) on a quest for the "hoagie grail." The kid succeeds when he sweetens the pot: He tells Murray that if he's wrong about how delicious the cheesesteak is, he'll permanently change his name to Moron — and off they go.

When the duo finally reaches the establishment at almost closing time, Barry and Murray get their hands on a cheesesteak, only for the teenager to apply too much hot sauce — and leave the keys in the locked restaurant for good measure, forcing the pair to spend the night in a nearby bus station.

The show's version of the opening scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" arrives at the end of the episode. Desperate for a delectable do-over, Barry steals a hoagie and makes a run for it. He almost escapes, Indy-style, as a garage door closes — only to see his arm get caught and the cheesesteak's original owner confiscate the sandwich. Barry loses, but the audience wins.

11. 'No! No! No!' (Season 1, Episode 1)

Right off the bat in the series premiere, the audience gets acquainted with Barry's endearing mix of rage and determination. The first of his many memorable outbursts is set up when the Goldbergs' middle child turns 16 and is eager — perhaps too eager — to get his hands on his driver's license. His parents aren't sure he's ready, but opportunity knocks when Pops crashes his Trans Am into a burger joint's drive-through (just one of "The Goldbergs" moments based on real events).

"I'm gonna parent the s*** out of him," Murray declares when he decides to teach Barry to drive. It does not go well. Between Barry driving more slowly than a moped and trying to reach into the back seat and strangle Adam, Murray quickly reaches his limit and orders his son to stop the car. Barry does so in the middle of the street, causing a traffic jam. "No! No! No!" Barry yells like an angsty parrot as dad tries to talk him into exiting the car. Neither Barry nor Murray back down, and the teenager yells, "I regret nothing!" as the car is towed with him in it.

Just as sharp is the way the show revisits the gag in Season 5. This time it's Adam's turn to take the wheel — but unlike his brother, he wants no part of it. Adam, too, causes a traffic jam, and Murray can't get Adam to get in the driver's seat and get moving again. The youngest Goldberg just keeps regurgitating "No!" as they argue from opposite sides of the station wagon in an excellent moment of comedic symmetry.

10. Double crane kick (Season 4, Episode 16)

Throughout the 4th season, the writers set up an appearance by William Penn's other Adam Goldberg (we'll call him Other Adam), an older student who looks down on the younger Adam Goldberg (we'll call him Original Adam) for supposedly ruining his good name.

Tensions come to a head in "The Kara-te Kid." Both students are obsessed with film and, hoping to assert his dominance, Other Adam challenges Original Adam to a fight. Barry's attempt to help his brother leads to the formation of a school karate club, setting the Adams on a collision course in the finals of the All Valley tournament.

Original Adam seeks the help of his uncle Marvin, and his training regimen is a worthy homage to the source film. When the day of the big fight arrives, Other Adam doesn't expect his counterpart to call his bluff. Because neither wants to be put in physical danger, they compromise: They'll re-create the final showdown of "The Karate Kid" between Daniel LaRusso (Original Adam) and Johnny Lawrence (Other Adam).

But how to resolve the conflict without one fighter getting kicked in the face, and both still saving face? The solution is the double crane kick, despite Barry's insistence that it simply "can't be done."

9. Charles Barkley's slam dunk (Season 6, Episode 12)

"The Goldbergs" does a fine job sprinkling in '80s celebrities, from Rick Springfield as a karaoke bar owner to the cast of "Cheers" as grumpy takeout customers. One household name often mentioned on the show is Charles Barkley, an idol of Barry's. But it's not until Season 6's "The Piña Colada Episode" that the Philadelphia 76ers legend shows up.

Coach Mellor, the gym teacher, announces he's leaving William Penn to help train the country's best wrestlers for the Olympics. The first candidate to take over for Mellor is none other than Barkley, aka coach Neelo Green. At first, Green seems like an ideal replacement. He certainly has the intensity, swatting away students' layup attempts as he bellows, "Y'all terrible!" Although Adam is skeptical of Green's methods, Mellor likes what he sees ... at least at first.

For example, when Green goes over the first of his two main rules, a simple "never give up," Mellor agrees — until Green reveals his second rule: "Aliens are real, and they walk among us!" This belief underpins the squat regimen he then prescribes for the wrestling team, for as he explains, "When the invasion happens, you will be probed. And trust me, you do not ... want ... to be probed. It is very unpleasant!" At this point, Mellor decides to look elsewhere for a replacement. Good call, Coach Mellor. And a tip of the cap to you, Sir Charles.

8. The horrors of teen romance (Season 4, Episode 5)

As is the case with many fictional families, the Goldbergs are as adept at supporting each other as they are sabotaging each other's happiness. It's the former that lays the groundwork for the laughs in "Stefan King" when Erica finds herself without a date to the Halloween dance. At first, Barry rubs it in his sister's face that he's in a relationship with her best friend, Lainey, while Erica is down on her luck. It's fantastic to see Barry listing the ways Erica has poked fun at his lackluster love life in the past, and Erica even enjoys recounting the barbs she has slung her brother's way.

The episode hits a high note later when Barry, at Lainey's behest, agrees to help cheer up his sister by going to the dance with her in a costume that hides his identity. Barry mocking his sister while he attempts — and fails — to master being dressed as Audrey II, the man-eating plant from "Little Shop of Horrors," is genius. (Major points to whoever designed the getup, too.) "Dammit, everything I do in this costume fights my agenda," he laments, flailing as only a high-strung teen in a wacky plant outfit can.

7. Who's hangry? (Season 5, Episode 12)

Having dinner with your significant other's family can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. Add to that the Goldbergs' endless quirks, and you've got a veritable meal maelstrom in "Dinner with the Goldbergs," which centers on Erica's boyfriend, Geoff. His plan to surprise Erica with a family dinner at Beefsteak Charlie's (an '80s mainstay that no longer exists) for her birthday goes off the rails in the best way possible for viewers. From Murray forcing the family to share a single soda, to Beverly's refusal to abide by menu constraints, to the waiters losing their minds, it's one gut-buster after another.

The writing works in part because anyone who's dined out with a big family probably has similar stories. Pops' faux pas, however, might be the funniest. He totally ditches the Goldberg family and schmoozes with strangers, who are too polite (or too shell-shocked) to ask the elderly gentleman to butt out.

Eventually, it's more than Geoff can take, and the sweet boyfriend goes on a tirade for the ages, tearing into each member of the family in turn. The audience feels for Geoff in this moment and is relieved that his frustration is finally released. And even though he leaves hungry because all Murray let him order was soup, he does earn the family's respect for calling them out.

6. Even when Erica's right, she's wrong (Season 2, Episode 14)

Erica often is the primary boundary-tester of the Goldberg siblings, so it works brilliantly when the script is flipped and she is stuck in the role of the uptight sister in "Barry Goldberg's Day Off." In this episode, Barry and Adam ditch school — and of course, there's no better role model in that department than Ferris Bueller. The brothers' adventures mirror the movie, though they discover that re-creating the Bueller magic is easier said than done.

The funniest arc in the episode is Erica's; she can't win even when she's on the right side of parental law. Seething after learning her brothers are skipping school, she leans hard into the Jennifer Grey role, which totally backfires. When Erica gets a hold of her mother to narc on her brothers, Beverly surprisingly shouts down her daughter, leading to a side-splitting phone-slamming contest. And when the eldest Goldberg visits the police station to report Pops' car stolen — not knowing someone has actually stolen it — her revenge plot lands her on a couch to await questioning. Next to her on said couch? Well, the cracking knuckles are a dead giveaway for a certain actor reprising his outlaw role from "Ferris Bueller."

"Drugs?" Charlie Sheen asks, cracking his knuckles. "Thank you, no, I'm good," Erica responds, kicking off the recreation of a classic comedic conversation from the 1986 film. After Sheen dispenses some useful — and familiar — advice, an officer tells him he's free to go.

"It's about time," he says. "Feels like I've been sitting here for 30 f***ing years!" A predictable line? Perhaps. Yet absolutely worth the wait.

5. Change is ... good? (Season 6, Episode 2)

When Rowan Blanchard, who played Adam's high school girlfriend Jackie Geary, left the show, she was replaced by Alexis G. Zall. The writers used it as an opportunity to reinvent Adam temporarily while borrowing from "Grease."

In "You Got Zuko'd," Jackie returns from a summer in New York having, ahem, changed considerably. Adam's friends and father convince him he needs to change as well if he's going to stay in Jackie's league. He visits the local punk store, then shows up to school the next day with platinum blond hair, a studded vest, and ripped jeans. Think Billy Idol if he had needed glasses to correct a lazy eye. Amplifying his new persona, Adam agrees to drag-race school bad boy Johnny Atkins.

Oh, but it gets worse. Adam shows up to the race with orange hair, cutoff jean shorts, and winter gloves, with Pops asleep in the family station wagon. We'll just leave that information there, as Adam's own explanations are priceless. As for the race itself, Jackie and the other students in attendance are blown away ... by how slowly it unfolds. Johnny, having run out of gas because he revved his engine for the crowd, pushes his mom's Celica most of the way. Adam, the back of the station wagon screeching as it drags on the pavement, manages to out-crawl Atkins to the finish line — only to learn Jackie is displeased by the whole display.

Adam and Jackie do reconcile toward the end of the episode, though she gets in one last zinger: "I certainly never asked you to cut your jeans into Daisy Dukes."

4. 'I'm Batman!' (Season 4, Episode 20)

In "The Dynamic Duo," Adam is over the moon about the release of the new "Batman" movie. Everything about this episode's cold open works flawlessly, starting with Murray channeling Adam West from the 1960s TV show. Adam Goldberg, however, is simply confused, to which his dad incredulously responds, "Your inability to identify this spot-on impression is downright criminal." (Honestly, simply reading the line on the screen does not do the bit justice.)

Adding to the confusion — and hilarity — is Pops learning it is not Adam West but Michael Keaton who will play the new Caped Crusader. "The guy who plays Beetle-Buzz?" he demands. Even when Adam corrects him on Beetlejuice's name, Pops remains stubbornly opposed to the idea. "Beetle-Jazz can't be Batmin," he protests.

Pops mispronouncing "Batman" is a fantastic running gag that pays off all the way to the final scene. Also worth mentioning: Barry, his neck stuck in a painful position from having to sit in the front row for the movie, takes out his anger on Adam, Pops, and their Shrinky Dinks for forgetting to include him in their adventures.

3. The Goldberg brothers' triple-dog dare (Season 3, Episode 10)

Used in the right situation, subtitles can be comedy gold. In this case, blending Adam and Barry's brotherly rivalry with an iconic scene from "A Christmas Story" no doubt had the audience in stitches. In the episode named for the film, Adam feels ignored because Barry is spending considerable time with his girlfriend, Lainey, instead of him. With the holiday classic as his inspiration, Adam plots payback with the nuclear option: the triple-dog dare.

Because he is "born without the fear gene," Barry accepts when his younger brother challenges him to stick his tongue to the tetherball pole in the backyard. Naturally, it clings to the metal. Not one to suffer alone, Barry pulls Adam in under the guise of a hug, causing Adam to get his lips attached to the pole. This leads to lots of scrambled English, with the subtitles both informational and hilarious.

"Vengeance is mine!" Barry cheers, only to be corrected by his brother, who reminds him that now they're both stuck. Two hours into their ordeal, the animosity between them melts as they embrace for warmth, but their words are still garbled as Adam opens up about how much he's missed hanging out with his brother. Barry is taken aback and assures Adam that no one could ever replace him. They even tell each other they love each other, something they admit they've never said before — and the fact that it's all basically unintelligible makes the touching moment hilarious, to boot.

2. Too much safety (Season 3, Episode 6)

Halloween gives "The Goldbergs" a chance to ride the wave of the holiday's naturally quirky and over-the-top bent. In "Couples Costume," Beverly demonstrates just how far she will go to keep her kids safe. Murray, however, is skeptical of the dangers she espouses, like "street toughs" roaming the streets. When Murray expresses doubt that such miscreants exist in Jenkintown, Beverly staunchly insists, "They drive in. And don't even get me started on the kidnappers, they hitch a ride with the street toughs," and the outlandish disagreement continues.

Later, Beverly unravels when she thinks the razor-filled chocolate bar she hoped to use as a teaching tool has reached an unsuspecting trick-or-treater. She races out of the house, stealing candy from every child she can find, hoping to intercept it. When Beverly tries to recruit Murray and Pops to undo her supposed mistake, Murray informs her that he's already trashed the razor. But it's too late to mend fences with the neighborhood children, who get revenge by egging the Goldbergs' house.

Just when it seems Beverly has taken her protective nature too far, she corrals three of the offenders at her house for a lecture. The red flag here is not lost on Murray, but it takes Beverly a moment. "All I did was round them up and force them into my house and ... Oh my, that is bad," she says, finally getting wise. One child comments that Beverly is nuts, and all Murray can do is agree ... as lovingly as possible.

1. 'Who's on first? ... Why won't you tell me?!' (Season 5, Episode 10)

In this episode, Barry plans to wow his classmates at the school talent show by performing Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," for which the episode is named. But when Barry can't get the words right, Pops presents his grandson with an alternative: Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine.

The thing is, Barry can't grasp the wordplay. When a straightforward explanation fails, Pops turns to visual aids, complete with figurines of Phillies players on a baseball diamond. Ever the fan, Barry keeps insisting Von Hayes — and not this mysterious Who fellow — is on first, per the props his grandfather is using. The lack of a light-bulb moment on Barry's part frustrates Pops to no end, and he snaps, "Don't you dare say Von Hayes!"

Pops then gets Barry's friends involved, and Barry finally gets the joke — after two hours of his compatriots holding signs on an actual regulation baseball field. But even after he finally gets the joke, Barry insists the skit isn't funny and renames all the players: "First base is Mister Clown Farts, second base is Bob For Apples and third base is Giant F***face." Pops, exasperated, protests that those aren't real names, to which Barry responds with the very legitimate point that they're more real than Pops' "Mr. Who."

"It makes no sense!" Pops objects. "No parent with the last name of F***face would name their child Giant, ever!" This reasoning is impossible to argue with — and impossible not to laugh at. Barry, for his part, goes back to Plan A after the series' most side-splitting exchange.