In the pilot episode, Hardison is used as bait to draw the attention of building security. Four guards pull guns on him and tell him to raise his hands, one of which is holding a large duffel bag. He does and drops the bag. The bag is shown falling in slow motion as Eliot, at normal speed, takes out every single one of the guards before the bag hits the floor. Now consider what the scene would have looked like if the bag had been shown falling at the normal rate of speed.
Parker's introduction in the same episode. Her evil foster father takes away her stuffed animal. She not only steals it back but then blows up the entire house with the evil foster parents still inside, and afterwards, the flashback ends and Parker jumps off a building.
Also in the pilot episode:
Eliot: What's in it for you?
Nate:He used my son.
In "The Bank Shot Job", some addicts have kidnapped a woman, forcing her husband and son to try to rob a bank for the ransom. Eliot makes the drop, then gets a message that his teammates need the money back, and beats up all three kidnappers.
(Eliot kicks him in the kneecap and he does indeed scream like a little girl)
Elliot: (as he disassembles the man's gun) Good answer. (proceeds to kick the rest of their asses)
In "The Stork Job", Parker, while pretending to be a waiter, stabs corrupt politician/arms dealer with a fork, and then leaps out of a window. Later in the same episode, she takes out the arms dealer, who is twice her size, and then plants herself between a group of armed gunmen and a bus full of orphans.
From "The Wedding Job"
Nate: Did you just kill a guy with an appetizer?
Eliot: I dunno. Maybe.
Both Nate and Sophie get one in "The First David Job":
Sophie arranges a meet to trade the MacGuffin for Parker on top of a sky scraper. She is trapped and no talking, flirting or conning in the world is going to get them out. So, in her own words, "I asked myself, what would Parker do?", she flings off her coat to reveal a rapelling harness as Parker throws herself at the woman and they dive off the side of the building. The awesome is accented by the look on Sophie's face as she and Parker jump off the building. First time they did this Sophie could barely look down, this time she looks exactly like Parker when she's doing crazy stuff.
At the same time, to facilitate the trade above, Nate gives himself up to different location at which Hardison is being held hostage. Surrounded by six high-end goons, Eliot shows up, complete with broken ribs and a concussion and is declared that there is no way even Eliot can take all of them. Which Nate agrees with, and in his own words, "So I asked myself, what would Hardison do?" at which point Eliot pulls out a electronic doodad which connects to the local wifi to send out a signal that produces a screeching tone in all the goons' earpieces so severe that the three good guys can overpower the goons.
"Hey, Sterling. Get out of my house."
Nate's performance in "The Second David Job" certainly qualifies.
Maggie gets hers in the same episode: "Screw therapy. That felt really good."
Echoed in "The Experimental Job", from one of the veterans after punching a mook.
Maggie also has the date with Eliot where she makes a series of disparaging comments about Nate before revealing that she knew he was watching the whole time, and when she calmly cons the museum director with her "Everyone knows it's a fungus" moment. For a character who appeared in only two episodes up to that point, Maggie manages to rack up impressive levels of awesome.
Just...Nate. To name just one example, in "The Order 23 Job" he gives a man a nosebleed using nothing but psychology. And then there are the Kansas City Shuffles he pulls in "The Nigerian Job" and "The Second David Job", where the marks knew he was after them and still fell right into the trap.
The con in "The Order 23 Job," was getting the mark to run to his hidden money stash by convincing him that Russia had just attacked the local area using a weaponized virus and he'd gotten caught up in the epidemic. It's a Moment of Awesome in itself for the sheer audacity of it.
Elliot's match in "The Tap-Out Job". He gets his ass kicked in the first half, and then fakes straight-up killing his opponent, and really does nearly kill the guy. Him getting his ass kicked basically involves him getting punched in the face until he's nearly unconscious. Only thing that could have made it more awesome is if Elliot did it drugged.
In "The Three Days of the Hunter Job," Hardison convincing the soldier who's interrogating him as a terror suspect that he has a higher rank than the soldier does and completely turning the authority tables.
Hardison is just filled with this trope. Seriously.
In "The Bottle Job" the team managed to pull off a con that normally takes 3 weeks in an hour and a half. Hardison considers that their Crowning Moment Of Awesome in-show.
At the climax, they lure Doyle into a poker game, whereupon he realizes that they're using his money (which they are - they stole it from his hideout). He pulls a gun and demands they admit to their con... and then one of the other players takes out his badge. Doyle just confessed to his loan-sharking and several other crimes in a poker game full of cops. And to top it off, after forcing Doyle to go back home, broke, unable to ever return to the city, and facing his father's wrath, Nate breaks one of his fingers. Never threaten the bar.
Eliot beating the crap out of Sterling in "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" while Hardison bribes the McRory's bartender not to call the cops and he and Parker look on in approval.
In "The Three Strikes Job," the last 30 seconds. "James Sterling... Interpol. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?"
Nate has one in "The Maltese Falcon Job" that also counts as a Crowning Moment of Funny. He must stall Sterling from reaching the 14th floor of a hotel before the rest of the crew is done working up there. Now, normally you would expect Hardison to hack the elevator, or something similar. Instead, Nate chooses to stall Sterling by running up every single flight of stairs, one after the other, and hitting the elevator's call button a moment before it arrives, forcing the elevator to stop on every single floor. After the first few flights of stairs Nate is clearly winded, but just keeps charging up each floor one after another, hitting the button and immediately charging off to the next, and it's awesome, especially since Sterling gets more and more pissed as the elevator keeps stopping.
If you do some thinking, Nate does this every episode. He outsmarts everyone he cons, some of which being done in the most ridiculous ways possible.
Two quotes from the same episode are also quite awesome:
Eliot:(after being asked to count the number of hired goons with guns) Thirteen. (beats one down) Twelve. (takes down another) Eleven. (and so forth...)
The third season premiere, where a group of at least half a dozen men with guns burst into the doorway of the apartment — and Eliot rushes toward them. Only Nate grabbing his shoulder stops him from attacking, and it says something that it's hard to tell who'd have won.
A special meta-example. In "The Reunion Job," in order to protect someone, normally non-violent Sophie goes after a professional assassin, hitting her with a fire extinguisher and getting a few good shots in before scampering away. The meta comes into play here: Gina Bellman missed the second half of season 2 because of maternity leave. The woman recently had a baby, and one of her first days back on the job, she has to film a fight scene where she is supposed to hold her own against a hired gun. The woman is tougher than she looks.
And again in "The San Lorenzo Job", where she takes out a pair of guards with champagne bottles.
The mindhacking of Duberman in "The Reunion Job." The team gets so deep into his head they are literally able to make him set his computer passwords to a phrase they've selected.
For "The Inside Job"... The team saves millions of lives, and Parker recognizes a moral choice.
There's something cool about how Parker managed to infiltrate a security system Hardison says the Pentagon calls overkill without being detected for quite some time, as well as how long she stayed out of being caught once she was discovered.
The random mook security guard in "The Schaherezade Job" who fought Eliot and got knocked out, woke up, went after him again, got blown up by Parker and dropped a full story into a vault, and still came back for more. Whoever that guy was, Moto got his money'sworthwith him.
In "The Studio Job," Nate is alone with two huge guards and Eliot is indisposed. When we next see Nate, both guards are unconscious. He says later they "got into an argument," and that's all the explanation we get. The really awesome thing is that this is NathanFord, and he's perfectly capable of both kicking their asses by himself and convincing them to knock each other out, and we can't be sure what he actually did.
This troper found Parker's pickpocketing dance in "The Studio Job" incredibly, mind-blowingly awesome. There's also something vaguely SummerGlau-ish about it.
In "The Gone-Fishin' Job", Eliot and Hardison are about to escape from the Right Wing Militia Fanatics when Hardison realizes that the two of them are the only ones who can stop the terrorists from using their bomb in the next 48 hours. Against his own better judgment, he talks Eliot into going back so they can take care of the militia. That definitely took a lot of guts.
The Rashomon Job, in it's entirety. The gang, five years ago, were all at a museum to steal the ancient Aqu'abi Dagger. The team, one by one, explains their perfect plan to steal the dagger, and each one is insanely awesome.
Sophie ran a long con the entire four months, living a double life as a duchess and a doctor scanning the artworks. She snuck in, donating a few pieces of artwork she'd stolen to make her look good. Using a choking man as a distraction, she snuck out as the duchess and came out as the doctor. She changes the details of the dagger and gets it hand-delivered to her doorstep...only for it to not be there.
Eliot stole a doctor's identity and used that to sneak in. After a man started to choke, he used that to get himself to the medical bay and snuck out to disguise himself as a guard to move around. Finally, he changes into a packing man and steals the dagger right out from Sophie's nose. But...he didn't get the dagger either.
Hardison took the identity of a dignitary to sneak in, creating a back door into the security network. After pretending to choke and being taken to the medical bay by Eliot, he goes to the computer, changes the details of the dagger so it never leaves the vault and then finally picks it up in person, all with a gigantic smug grin. However...the dagger wasn't with him, either.
Parker knocked out a waitress and took her place. Using Hardison and Eliot as a distraction, she sneaks downstairs and hops into the vent system, accidentally taking the bag Sophie left behind when she changed. She waits in the sorting room for everybody to leave, and unlocks the door to steal the dagger while nobody is looking. She sneaks down the vents and is forced to climb up manually, forcing a confrontation with Coswell. This forces her to drop the dagger, which tumbles down the vent.
Nate was the one with all the details. IYS was the company insuring everything in the museum, sending Nate to look into the theft of three items stolen from the building over the past year. Sophie poisons a glass of champagne and gets Parker to take it to Hardison, who's cover was allergic to shrimp. Eliot takes the glass and spits it out, bumping into Sophie. Parker hands the knife to Eliot who uses it on Hardison, letting Parker slip out. Eliot brawls with a guard, preventing Parker from walking out the cupboard door. Hardison comes by later and meets Coswell, just as the guard Eliot shoved in the closet breaks out. He locks them both in, where Coswell finds Parker's gear. He crawls through the vents, where he meets Parker, who then drops the dagger. It tumbles down the vent shaft and right into Nate's hand. Nate then reveals the thefts are sold on the black market, and the fakes are stolen to get the insurance money. IYS takes the dagger off the museum's hand and reports it as stolen, flushing the dealer, the man who forced Eliot to try and steal it, out of hiding. Gambit Pileup at it's finest.
Behold the first part of the season 3 finale, "The Big Bang Job." Behold Eliot finally, finally, taking up a pair of guns to protect Nate. Behold Eliot utterly destroying an entire hit squad without taking a scratch, while the building blew up around him.
Eliot: I don't. (fires four shots into Mook's chest) Never said I couldn't use them.
Hardison disarming the massive EMP bomb at the end of "The Big Bang Job." No wonder Parker finallywantedpretzels when it was all over.
Hardison: If I do this right, I overload the batteries, they'll explode, and this thing is worthless.
Parker: And if you do it wrong?
Hardison: The bomb triggers a giant EMP pulse, Washington, DC is fried, thousands die, we go down as the biggest terrorists in American history, but we'll be dead too, so it's not really our problem.
Parker: Well, there's that.
And remember, this is all intercut with Eliot's destroying the hitmen in the warehouse...
Moreau's guards aren't really buying Hardison's con. One asks who Eliot is. Eliot tells him. Every single guard is terrified.
"The San Lorenzo Job":
"Let's go steal us a country." And they did.
"I'm a thief. And thieves don't win elections; we steal them."
Nate hands Ribera a warrant for Damien Moreau's arrest and says "You're going to be signing that before I finish my drink." And he does.
"You had the army, the security forces, the entire country... you know what I had? A 24-year-old with a smart phone and a problem with authority. You never had a chance."
In the season 4 premier, "The Long Way Down Job", the victim gets one because he already had a method for taking down the crook of the week. He just needed his phone in a service zone, which team Leverage accomplishes.
Nate luring the killer into the library, where a pipe wrench has been conveniently hidden for his use in "The 10 Li'l Grifters Job."
The double Hoist by His Own Petard moment at the end of "The 15 Minutes Job" - not only do they bring down The Mark by using his own business practices, they frame him for a drunk driving accident in which he wasn't driving to make up for an earlier incident in which he'd done the same to someone else.
Nate's stall for time at the end of "The Van Gogh Job," in which he pretends to light the Van Gogh on fire in front of an investigator who had been chasing it for 20 years.
Nate: I'm not trying to talk you out of anything... I just want you to know why I'm doing this.
Also a meta-example: the actors in "The Van Gogh Job" flashback are Hardison, Parker, Nate, Sophie and Eliot playing subtly to intensely different roles, which really shows how phenomenal the acting on this show is.
This troper got a distict River Tam vibe from Parker navigating the laser field in "The Hot Potato Job."
This troper considers "The Hot Potato Job" one of Parker's extra special crowning moments because she almost freezes her hands off getting through the vault, then has to flip and twist her way through the constantly moving laser field while planting evidence against The Mark. She gets the potato (which she didn't really understand what was so special about it) and then manages to leap out of the vault and outslide the fireball that was meant to destroy the potato and her.
The last little touch: how do they get the potato out through the security? They cut off a slice - one covered in eyes, ensuring that the potato can be planted and more of them grown - and hide it in a cell phone cover before they toss the rest into a bin, whereupon it's made into fries. They feed the evidence to the people they just robbed.
What's particularly great about the scene is the subtlety; they don't go with the cliche that 'Eliot can kick more ass with his eyes closed than he can with them open'. Instead he closes his eyes (presumably to avoid the disorienting effect of the mirrors) and concentrates on nothing but all-out defense, not even trying to attack... but his ability to duck everything Roper is sending his way while blind, when immediately earlier he was hitting Eliot practically at will, completely spooks Roper into thinking that Eliot is some kind of superhuman ninja. At which point he's off his game enough that Eliot can just open his eyes again, slam Roper in the gut, and then drop him like a bad habit.
In "The Boiler Room Job", the team concocts a plot to take down the episode's villain by getting each and every person he had stolen from involved in the con, allowing them to personally confront the thief that had stolen their life savings. The villain is so flabbergasted that he thinks the team is lying to him.
Hardison, pretending to be an air traffic controller, using Microsoft Flight Simulator X to land an actual, 300-passenger jet on his own in "The Cross My Heart Job."
From the same episode:
The Mark: God helps those who help themselves.
Nate: And I help people who can't. And God help you if anything should happen to that boy because if he spends even one second longer in that hospital than he needs to, I will make it my mission in life to end you. I will ruin you. I will ruin your name, I will ruin your company. I will bring down everything you have ever touched. And when I am done, I will hunt you down, and I will kill you myself.
And the ending.
The Mark: You killed me, Mr. Ford.
Nate: No. God killed you. I just...made sure it took.
Pretty much everything Sterling does, but "The Queen's Gambit Job" really counts. To reunite with his daughter who is also his informant, he hires the team in a pretty much unrelated heist so he can get in the same building that she's in. He then drugs Eliot, betrays Parker's position and screws the team over as a distraction to make off with her and get her away from her stepfather. Said daughter is the only reason that he didn't get the crap beat out of him for doing what he did. That and flattering Nate's ego for telling Nate that he was the best person for the job and Sterling refused to risk less.
Even more so, is that even with all that, they still completed the required job anyway. By sabotaging an illegal nuclear weapons facility...to blow up.
Parker BASE jumping off the Burj Khalifa Expy is a CMOA for her, but even more so for Hardison.
Nate gets a less noticeable one by beating two chess Grandmasters with no additional help in order to make it to the final round of the chess tournament.
Eliot vs. the interrogation expert in "The Experimental Job". When you can give a career CIA man the heebie-jeebies just by talking about what you've done (and yet without really saying anything about what you've done), you know you're good.
Parker's Locked Out of the LoopNice Girl friend Peggy (described by Sophie as "disgustingly normal") gets one in "The Girls' Night Out Job" when she attacks one of the villains with a frying pan and hits him hard enough that a hardened thief winces afterwards.
"The Radio Job": Eliot handling 3 'terrorists' with duct tape, and then finishing them off even after letting himself get the crap kicked out of him to prove something to an onlooker.
The Season 4 finale. Quinn and Eliot kicking ass as a team, Maggie's return as a substitute grifter, Archie using cake to infiltrate the villains' headquarters, Chaos breaking into a system specifically designed to recognise Hardison but not him...it was just all around awesome.
"The Last Dam Job" is full of these, but two of Nate's stand out. In the first, the villain has a gun pointed at him.
Nate: You were so focused, you forgot about the little details. (trigger is pulled, nothing happens) Like counting bullets. This one here, my father's gun? It has five bullets. I'm quite sure of that.
Then, later, the two villains have both been trying to convince Nate that he should kill the other one.
Nate: So the problem I'm having with all of this is if only one of you dies, the other goes free. I have five bullets. Who would like to go first?
That doesn't quite do it full justice. He gets two villains to realize that the only person standing in the way of their freedom is the other villain, by stepping through how they can save themselves if the other dies. Then after letting that soak in, puts the gun on the edge of a cliff in between the two villains and walks out of their way. The rough equivalent of putting a steak between two starving dogs.
Parker really turns up her thieving skills in season five. In the first episode, she steals the clip out of a man's gun while it's in his shoulder holster. In a later episode, she steals both the clip and the chambered round out of a pistol in a desk drawer while the gun's owner is seated at the desk.
In "The French Connection Job" a group of French thugs attempt to kidnap Eliot while he's cooking in the kitchen. One-by-one. Every time one of them comes into the kitchen, Eliot knocks them out without breaking a sweat or interrupting his cooking, and his students don't seem to care.
And one for the random surgeon in "The Broken Wing Job". When the robbers shoot an off-duty cop that tries to stop them, the surgeon decides to stay and allows himself to be taken hostage so he can treat the wounded officer. Parker even admits that was a pretty Badass thing to do. Also, in the same episode, Parker managing to singlehandedly foil and physically beat up a group of robbers while she was crippled with a torn ACL.
Eliot, Hardison, and Parker managing to foil a terrorist attack in "The Rundown Job" within the space of an afternoon with almost no planning, and no help from Nate and Sophie.
Special mention goes to Eliot, who took a bullet to the chest and one to the leg and didn't even slow down.
Eliot's verbal beatdown against a Jerkass store manager after he nearly works an elderly employee to death in "The Low Low Price Job". The only reason Eliot doesn't get physical is because the old man wouldn't have wanted that.
The con in "The White Rabbit Job." They don't hurt the guy, they don't get him arrested, they don't remove him from his position in charge of the company, they just help him realize that his cousin's death wasn't his fault and his guilt was hurting the company. In the end, he comes around and he starts moving the company in a positive direction again.
In "The Corkscrew Job", Eliot manages to lay a beatdown on a couple of thugs while slowly suffocating due to carbon dioxide buildup in the room. It's even more impressive because one of the thugs has his own air supply, so he doesn't suffer from the same handicap. Hardison also holds his own in a fistfight, showing that he's learned a thing or two from Eliot.
They say "Sterling never loses." However, "The Long Goodbye Job" put several dents in his armor:
Nate spins a dual-layered sob story about his team dying during a daring jump over a drawbridge. His grifting ability has been mostly one-note in previous seasons (mainly sticking to the limits of the obnoxious, the hard-seller, or the obnoxious hard-seller), but here he sends his Interpol questioner around in circles, goads Sterling into opening the door to the vault, and all the while portraying the grieving mastermind. (Complete with furious outburst questioning "why would I lie?")
Sophie plays 13 distinct people, switching rapid-fire to sell the first part of the con, then portraying Lady Macbeth to a standing ovation to cover the getaway.
It should be noted that all of these were consistent enough and distinct enough to fool an entire Interpol office.
The team beat a Steranko. Last time they faced one of those, they "barely escaped," by Hardison's own admission.
Last but not least, The team, or at least the 3/5 that mattered for the team's future, escaped scot-free. Sterling choosing Justice or Order wouldn't change the fact that Parker, Eliot, and Hardison are all set to put Operation Leverage Int'l into play.