12 Most Unexpected Things People Have Witnessed on Live TV

Written By Elizabeth Ervin

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What is the most unexpected thing you’ve seen live on TV? Without a doubt, waking up on the morning of September 11th, 2001, just in time to watch the second tower get hit, was the worst and most unexpected thing I’ve witnessed.

1. The Events of 9/11

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And I’m not the only one. Countless individuals admit it’s the most unexpected thing they’ve witnessed on live television too. That is a day that everyone in the world can tell you where they were and what they were doing.

2. The Big Unit’s Fast Ball

Randy Johnson
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During a March 2001 Diamondbacks-Giants Spring Training game in Arizona, the legendary pitcher Randy Johnson infamously killed a bird with a pitch. One notes, “It was seriously cartoonish, like some cheesy special effects in a bad movie.”

Another adds, “I remember this, and people getting mad at him like he intentionally hit that bird. That’s like a 1 in 10,000,000 shot. There’s no way he could have possibly timed it to hit if he wanted to.”

3. The Space Shuttle Challenger

The Challenger Space Shuttle Crew
Image Credit: NASA – Wiki Commons.

“The Space Shuttle Challenger exploding into the Florida sky,” one admits. Others note the teacher (S. Christa McAuliffe) who was selected to go on the mission and the excitement among teachers and students alike.

“Teachers rolled in the TVs in every school to watch this because a teacher was involved. She was going to do lessons from space. But, instead, our entire generation watched the shuttle blow up live.”

4. The OJ Simpson Bronco Chase

OJ Simpson Mug Shot
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Someone confesses that for them, it was “The OJ Simpson Bronco Chase. They interrupted the NBA playoffs to show it live instead of the game. It was surreal.” Another user shares, “My friend answered her door wearing a bath rug because she was so shocked to witness that. She also freaking stayed in the bath mat the whole time we watched.”

5. R. Budd Dwyer

R. Budd Dwyer
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

One person shares, “When I was a kid, I was watching the evening news. A politician came to the microphone with a Manila envelope. He said hello to everyone, reached into the envelope, pulled out a revolver, put it under his chin, and pulled the trigger on live TV.”

“R. Budd Dwyer,” clarifies another. “He was the Pennsylvania state treasurer who had just been convicted of taking bribes. He was to be sentenced the next day when he took his own life on live TV.”

6. The 2011 Tsunami

Fukushima Japan 2011 Tsunami
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“I wasn’t able to sleep one night, so I flipped on the television… just in time to see the 2011 tsunami make landfall in Japan. I was not expecting that,” confesses one. A second person shares, “I had just been in Japan in that area the year before the tsunami as part of a pupil exchange program.

It was horrifying to see that huge black wave roll over the city the elder son of my host family had lived and whom we had visited while I was there. We fed seagulls and had a fun dinner there. And now everything was swallowed up by black water, trash, and objects.

And then it was several days of 24/7 news watching, witnessing the whole Fukushima disaster following the earthquake and tsunami while still not having contact with the people I knew. Thankfully, my whole host family and acquaintances were safe, but they had horrible stories to tell.”

7. Columbine

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“I feel like I scrolled too long to see Columbine,” admits another. “I was in 4th grade. I got home, settled in to watch Batman, and saw lines of kids running out of the school with their hands on their heads. I knew school wasn’t going to be the same after that.” 

8. Alison Parker and Adam Ward

Alison Parker and Adam Ward
Image Credit: Victims of Homicide Wiki.

Someone explains, “In 2015, a reporter and her cameraman were gunned down on live TV by a former station employee. Still, get sick to my stomach when I think about it. The station also employed her husband and was watching. That’s what stuck with me.”

The victims were news reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward, both employees of CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia.

9. The January 6th Insurrection at the Capitol

January 6th insurrection
Image Credit: Tyler Merbler – Wiki Commons.

The January 6th insurrection at the Capitol in 2021 is heavily discussed as shocking live TV coverage. One notes, “We kept saying ‘Where’s the National Guard? Why aren’t they stopping this?'”

A second patriot asks, “How did I have to scroll down so far for this?? Challenger, Columbine, and 9/11 – all shocking tragedies, to be sure. But the insurrection on the Capitol? That hit differently, like watching Nero fiddle while Rome burned. It felt like the death of the country.”

10. Desert Storm Shock and Awe Bombings

George Bush Saudi Arabia
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Countless people agree that “CNN showing the live bombings overhead during Desert Storm was pretty nutty.” Someone adds, “I remember during the first gulf war everyone tuning into the daily debriefings to watch all the bombs blow people up…pretty crazy stuff. And showing the soldiers that got captured.”

11. Mike Tyson Biting Evander Holyfield’s Ear

Mike Tyson
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“Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear,” one adds. “The seconds after the first bite were some of my life’s most exciting sports moments. Holyfield literally hopping mad; I thought were about to see a war. He was so angry when Tyson bit him again. Most people forget that he bit him twice. The first didn’t end the match. The second is what took the ear.”

12. Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Finally, numerous individuals agree that it was “The killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. My parents were horrified that I, an elementary school kid, watched a man get shot and killed on live television. Odd because I watched TV Westerns all the time.” What moment was the most unexpected for you?

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This article was published and syndicated by Sober Healing.

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.