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Entertainment's Top Moments

Entertainment Weekly picks the key events of the past 25 years — for an upcoming CNN TV special

Madonna | VIRGIN TERRITORY Madonna performing at 1984's MTV Music Awards
Image credit: Madonna: Courtesy of MTV
VIRGIN TERRITORY Madonna performing at 1984's MTV Music Awards

Top entertainment moments: See the list

Here's Entertainment Weekly's list of ''The Top Entertainment Moments of the Past 25 Years.''

'DALLAS' HAS EVERYONE ASKING, 'WHO SHOT J.R.?' (1980)
The trailblazing prime-time soap invents the TV cliff-hanger as we know it.
More: Dallas DVD

MTV LAUNCHES (1981)
Videos become the dominant selling tool in the music industry.
More: MTV Flashback

'RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD' (1982) AND 'THE TERMINATOR' (1984) BECOME WORLDWIDE HITS
Violent action spectacles — the bigger, the better — become a hallmark of the Reagan era.
More: First Blood review | Terminator review

'STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN' VIDEO GOES ON SALE (1982)
The rise of home-video sales empowers consumers to decide when and where they'll watch movies.
More: Star Trek II review

MICHAEL JACKSON DEBUTS HIS MOONWALK (1983)
At the Motown 25 celebration, the King of Pop kicks off Thriller-mania.
More: Michael’s moonwalk

'THE COSBY SHOW' PREMIERES (1984)
The NBC show's runaway success resuscitates the ailing sitcom format.
More: Season 1 review

'LIKE A VIRGIN' HITS NO. 1 (1984)
The racy single makes Madonna a household name.
More: Madonna

LIVE AID UNITES MUSIC STARS FOR A CAUSE (1985)
The televised fund-raiser for African aid is the blueprint for many mega-concerts.
More: Live Aid DVD review

OPRAH'S TALK SHOW GOES NATIONAL (1986)
Winfrey goes on to become a philanthropist, a book-industry savior, and one of the most powerful pop-culture figures.
More: 1990 Oprah review

'BATMAN' FLIES INTO THEATERS (1989)
Suddenly, comic-book movies become a big-bucks business.
More: Batman

NINTENDO'S GAMEBOY HITS THE MARKET (1989)
Videogames become a viable — and portable — form of mass entertainment, building an audience of obsessive gamers.

'THE SIMPSONS' FINISHES FIRST IN THE RATINGS (1990)
Against the odds, the upstart network Fox has a huge hit with an animated show about a hilariously dysfunctional family.
More: Behind-the-scenes of The Simpsons, 1990

'SILENCE OF THE LAMBS' IS RELEASED (1991)
The Oscar-winning horror flick exposes America's fascination with serial killers and forensic science.
More: Lambs review

'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' WINS TWO OSCARS (1992)
Animated movies attract adults' attention, with hip writing, hummable songs, and advanced animation techniques.
More: Behind-the-scenes of Beauty, 1991

TOM HANKS WINS BEST ACTOR FOR 'PHILADELPHIA' (1994)
Hollywood shows the human side of the AIDS crisis.
More: Philadelphia review

TUPAC IS SHOT AND KILLED (1996)
The death of a troubled, talented rapper rouses passion among music fans and demonstrates hip-hop's power.
More: Tupac’s murder

ELLEN COMES OUT ON HER SHOW (1997)
DeGeneres paves the way for 'Will & Grace' and other shows with prominent gay characters.
More: 1996 Ellen cover story

HBO SCORES THE MOST EMMY NOMINATIONS (1997)
The success of the cable network (owned, like Entertainment Weekly, by Time Warner) reflects an audience shift away from broadcast TV.

'TITANIC' IS RELEASED (1997)
James Cameron's expensive epic makes history as the biggest moneymaker of all time.
More: Titanic

'N SYNC AND THE BACKSTREET BOYS RULE THE CHARTS (1997)
Teenagers fall in love with boy bands — and buy their albums in record numbers.
More: Teen pop in 1999

'SEX AND THE CITY' DEBUTS (1998)
HBO's hit gives voice to young, urban, professional women and their personal lives.
More: Sex and the City

CBS AIRS THE 'SURVIVOR' FINALE (2000)
Season 1's watercooler ending kick-starts the reality craze, with a win for nefarious Richard Hatch.
More: Survivor: Borneo review

'HARRY POTTER 4' DROPS AT MIDNIGHT (2000)
A publishing phenomenon: Excited fans of every age line up...for a book!
More: Waiting for Potter

JANET JACKSON EXPOSES A NIPPLE AT THE SUPER BOWL (2004)
A wardrobe malfunction leads to an FCC crackdown and more stringent scrutiny by network censors.
More: "Decency" battle

Come back later this month when we'll reveal the No. 1 entertainment moment of the past 25 years.

Show what you know: Take our Top Entertainment Moments Quiz

Did we miss a top moment? Post Your Own List

Originally posted Aug 31, 2005
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