Revivals, remakes and reboots are all over our TV screens right now. But just because they’re everywhere doesn’t mean all of them are bad ideas — take, for example,
Will & Grace. This award-winning, critically acclaimed comedy went off the air 11 years ago, but is coming back this week (and has already been renewed for another season) on NBC.
Before we jump back in to see what Will (
Eric McCormack), Grace ( Debra Messing), Jack ( Sean Hayes), and Karen ( Megan Mullally) have been up to after all these years — because it’s already been established that we’re ignoring the flash-forward from the series finale — let’s take a look back at the best moments from the original run.
What are your favorite moments from the original run of
Will & Grace? Tell us in the comments!
Will & Grace returns Thursday, September 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
1. Grace Doesn’t Marry Danny
(“Pilot,” season 1, episode 1)
The incident that started it all — Will doesn’t think Danny (Tom Verica) is the one for Grace, but she ignores his advice (at least initially) and accepts Danny’s proposal. They head down to City Hall to get hitched, but Grace ultimately can’t go through with it and that’s how she ends up living with Will, kicking off the series as we know it.
2. Meet Grace’s Mom
(“The Unsinkable Mommy Adler,” season 1, episode 13)
The inimitable Debbie Reynolds makes her first of 12 appearances as Grace’s mom, Bobbi, an actress with an enormous ego and lots of passive-aggressive remarks for her daughter. Hilariously, Bobbi thinks Grace should marry Will, but he tells Grace he wouldn’t do that even if he were straight (ouch).
3. Will Calls Jack the F-word
(“Will Works Out,” season 1, episode 19)
In one of the show’s best and most serious episodes, Will becomes embarrassed by Jack’s flamboyant ways and calls him a “fag,” which really hurts Jack’s feelings when he overhears it. But Jack turns the tables when he observes that maybe Will is only embarrassed because he can’t truly accept his own gayness.
4. Grace’s Water Bra Debacle
(“Das Boob,” season 2, episode 3)
Debra Messing is a gifted comedian, especially when it comes to physical comedy. Her skills were on no finer display than in the episode where Grace’s breasts look really big in a newspaper article photo. When an old crush asks her out, she’s afraid to show up without a big chest, so she wears a water bra —which springs a leak at an art gallery. Hilarity ensues as Grace does everything she can to keep the water inside the rapidly deflating boobs.
5. Jack Comes Out to His Mom
(“Homo for the Holidays,” season 2, episode 7)
Veronica Cartwright guest stars as Jack’s mom, Judith, to whom he has never come out of the closet. Instead, he says that he and Grace used to date. But when Jack eventually reveals his big secret, Judith reveals one of her own—Jack’s “father,” Daniel (Beau Bridges), is actually his stepfather. Jack’s biological father was a man with whom she had a one-night stand on Halloween.
6. Cher Slaps Jack
(“Gypsies, Tramps and Weed,” season 3, episode 7)
Will & Grace eventually leaned heavily on a revolving guest-star-of-the-week gimmick, but early on, a cameo by the one and only Cher was just brilliant. Jack sees her in a cafe and mistakes her for a drag queen dressed as Cher. So Cher has to prove it’s really her—by singing a little and then slapping Jack and delivering her famous Moonstruck line, “Snap out of it!.” Epic.
7. Will and Grace’s Origin Story
(“Lows in the Mid-Eighties,” season 3, episodes 8 and 9)
Every sitcom worth its salt knows how to do a great flashback episode. Will & Grace’s version takes viewers back to when the two title characters met in college—and Will became her fiancé before coming out of the closet. The ’80s fashions alone are worth the price of admission.
8. Will’s Father Is Having an Affair
(“Cheaters,” season 3, episodes 16 and 17)
Sydney Pollack as Will’s father, George, was next in the line of great actors who played the main characters’ parents. George has been having an affair with a woman named Tina (Lesley Ann Warren) for years and years. Will tries to act like it’s all fine, even inviting them over for dinner, but eventually confesses to his father that he has always been really disappointed about the affair.
9. Jack’s Father and Son Reveals
(“Sons and Lovers,” season 3, episodes 24 and 25)
In the season 3 finale, Jack manages to find his biological father—but he is devastated to find out the man has been dead for years. In the midst of his depression, Jack is then stunned to find out he has a 13-year-old son, Elliot (Michael Angarano), from a sperm bank donation he made long ago. It’s a beautiful emotional rollercoaster for Jack, and some of Sean Hayes’ finest work on the show.
10. Jack Chaperones His Son’s Dance
(“Crouching Father, Hidden Husband,” season 4, episode 3)
Jack throws himself into his son’s life, volunteering to chaperone a school dance and then completely steals the spotlight with a dance routine to “Dirty Pop.” Elliot is mortified, but ends up bonding with his crush over the fact that they both have gay parents. Grace, meanwhile, is co-chaperoning the dance and hilariously makes friends with the wallflowers.
11. Rosie O’Donnell Plays Jack’s Son’s Mom
(“Dyeing is Easy, Comedy is Hard,” season 4, episode 15)
Rosie O’Donnell gives a great performance as Elliot’s disapproving mother who doesn’t want her son spending time with Jack. When Jack accuses her of being homophobic, she admits she is also gay but hasn’t had the courage to tell Elliot and she’s jealous of how easily Jack told him.
12. Grace Meets Leo
(“A.I.: Artificial Insemination,” season 4, episodes 26 and 27)
In the season 4 finale, just as Will and Grace decide to have a baby together, Grace meets Leo (Harry Connick Jr.)—the man about to turn her entire life topsy-turvy, because he’s basically the knight in shining armor she’s been waiting for all these years.
13. 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon
(“Bacon and Eggs, season 5, episode 2)
Jack starts stalking actor Kevin Bacon, only to be accidentally hired as his assistant and charged with finding Bacon’s stalker (who is actually Jack). When Jack brings Will along with him to stalk Bacon again, they get caught and Jack throws Will under the bus as the stalker and runs for it. It turns out, however, Kevin Bacon is excited to meet his stalker because it means his career isn’t dead. It’s always great when celebrities can make fun of themselves.
14. Grace Marries Leo
(“Marry Me a Little,” “Marry Me a Little More,” season 5, episodes 8 and 9)
Leo and Grace accidentally get married during a Today Show gimmick, but then decide to do it for real. Will isn’t on board at first, but eventually comes around and gives Grace away after her father throws out his back.
15. Candice Bergen Is Karen’s Archenemy
(“Strangers with Candice,” season 6, episode 9)
In another terrific cameo, Candice Bergen plays herself—and just so happens to be Karen’s nemesis. They reignite their rivalry, but end up joining forces to play a prank on Jack.
16. Stanley Isn’t Dead
(“Kiss and Tell,” season 7, episode 24)
Will finds out that he’s been working as a lawyer for a charitable foundation started by none other than Stanley Walker, Karen’s husband whom everyone thought died two years ago. It turns out the CIA faked his death so he could go into witness protection to be kept out of the mob’s reach. Karen is heartbroken.
17. Grace Marries James
(“The Definition of Marriage,” season 8, episode 15)
Grace and Leo’s marriage has now fallen apart (they got divorced, though briefly reconnected in a one-night stand). But that means Grace is free to marry James (Taye Diggs), Will’s Canadian love interest who needs a green card to stay in the U.S. Of course, in true Will & Grace fashion, she also finds out she’s pregnant with Leo’s baby as she is marrying Will’s boyfriend.
This show really got insane in the final season, huh? (The marriage is eventually annulled.)
18. The Finale
(“The Finale,” season 8, episodes 23 and 24)
The events of the finale are going to be largely ignored by the revival, but just for reference, here’s what happens: Leo returns, and upon seeing that Grace is very pregnant with his baby, decides to make a go of it and they get back together.
Will and Vince (Bobby Cannavale) also reconcile and have a son together. Will and Grace have a huge falling out over her getting back together with Leo and aren’t friends again until their children meet in college.
19. Jack’s Shows
From “Just Jack” to “Jack 2000” to “JackTalk,” a delightful running feature of the show is Jack McFarland’s various talk/variety show iterations. The best was when Britney Spears guest stared as Amber-Louise, the new co-host of “JackTalk,” which so offended Jack that he quit his eponymous show.
20. Game Night
Another great ongoing gag is the connection Will and Grace have while playing party games—and how ruthless they are about competing. Their hapless friends Rob and Ellen (kind of the anti-Will and Grace) and Joe and Larry were often on the receiving end of this cutthroat style of play, which Grace once described as her and Will’s version of sex because it gets them both excited.