Uncle Phil: You think I'm trying to ruin your fun. I just want you coming home in one piece.
Phil's mother is up late playing cards in the kitchen. Will is sneaking in after being out past his curfew. Without even turning around, she snaps, "Will, it's three o'clock in the morning. Where have you been?" A stunned Will asks how she knew he was there, and she responds, "A mother knows."
Carlton got one when he went to Jazz's home in Compton and became a straight-up gangsta — Will's friends ended up liking Carlton (and his sound financial advice) better than Will!
Then Vivian comes down and tells Carlton that he's NOT going to a dangerous neighborhood. Then tells Will's FRIENDS the same thing. One of the guys is like, "Now wait just a minute," at which point Vivian says "Boy, do not test me," which gets him to back down with a solemn "Yes, ma'am."
It's meta awesome since said guy that backed down was Deebo.
Any time Carlton dances to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". And only to "Billie Jean", apparently. The rest of the time, he dances like Carlton.
Sergeant: Good news, Mr. Firth. Your car is safe and sound and we got the perpetrators. Mr. Firth: Those aren't the perpetrators, those are my partner's son and nephew! Sergeant: Partner? Philip: Legal partner. I've got a few questions for you. When you got this alleged confession from these two young men, did they have a lawyer present? No, because I'm their lawyer. Did you notify their parents? No, because we're their parents. So officer, don't tell us to wait and don't tell us to sit down. Just open that damn cell and let those two boys out of there, or I'm going to tie this place up with so much litigation that your grandchildren are going to need lawyers!
Aunt Vivian also gets one just before that, when she and Phillip arrive at the Police Station and the cops attempt to ignore them.
In one episode, Will's deadbeat father Lou comes back and spends a few days around, building up Will's hopes, only for Lou to get a big job and plan on leaving without telling Will again. Philip, who shows a seething resentment for Lou throughout the episode, finally lets him have it in a fiery rant that shows even uncles can be first-class Papa Wolves.
In one episode, it's Pledge Week and Will and Carlton are trying to get into a popular all-black fraternity. At the very end, the fraternity's leader, Top Dog, informs Will that he's in — but Carlton isn't, because he feels that Carlton isn't black enough. Will is obviously angered by this and tries to leave with Carlton by lying about getting in. Carlton goes to defend Will, but Top Dog tells him the truth, and even calls Carlton a "sellout" for being from a wealthy family. Carlton replies with this:
You think I'm a sellout, why? Because I live in a big house or I dress a certain way? Or maybe its because I like Barry Manilow. Being black isn't what I'm trying to be, it's what I am. I'm running the same race and jumping the same hurdles you are, so why are you tripping me up? You said we need to stick together, but you don't even know what that means. If you ask me, you're the real sellout.
Just adding to it, immediately after Will and Carlton leave, one of the other frat members comes up to Top Dog and informs him "You don't speak for the rest of us, dawg. I'm having you kicked out of here."
Also, Will starts bristling the second he realizes what's going on. For all the snark he gives, he really loves his cousin.
From Season 2 episode "The Big Four-Oh": Vivian is reminded of how she gave up her dancer ambitions when she became a wife and mother, so she goes to reclaim that part of herself by enrolling in a dance class. She does miserably at first and is ridiculed by two younger dancers because of it. Instead of quitting, though, she gets a few private lessons, then shows up to the next class to deliver what could be her character's most badass moment. *snap!*
Plus, she collapses the second she's out of the room, showing how impressive her keeping it together until then was.
Will starts dating Jazz's surprisingly beautiful sister(Vivica A. Fox) who turns out to be a bossy shrew who treats Will and everyone around her like crap. When she ends up going to dinner with Will and Carlton, she does the usual and completely disrespects everyone around her, including their waitress. Carlton, having had enough of it, immediately calls her out and orders her to apologize. She actually agrees — and is so turned on that she becomes Carlton's girlfriend.
Even when he was calling her out, Carlton was still a perfect gentleman. Some women like that sort of thing.
That and no one ever stood up to her before.
In "Working it Out," Jazz of all people gets a moment. A Small Name, Big Ego actress, played by Queen Latifah, has been treating Hilary (who was working as her personal assistant) like crap the entire episode. Finally, at a party, Jazz decides he's had enough:
You're the idiot! Look, I don't care how many movies you make. You don't talk like that to Hilary! She's smart, she's sweet, and she's the most beautiful woman in the cosmos. And she's been very nice to me tonight, and she's been nice to you, even though you didn't deserve it! So you just tell her you're sorry because I'm about to get pretty damn mad!
It's immediately subverted by the actress blowing Jazz off, but then double subverted when Hilary stands up for herself — because of what Jazz said.
In "Cased Up" Jazz gets one when he mouths off to Phil and points that he can't be thrown out because they're already outside and Phil responds with his own moment where he picks up Jazz and throws him into the house!
Jazz getting his revenge by throwing Uncle Phil out of the house for once.
Of course, it ultimately turned out to be a bad dream by Will.
In the episode where Aunt Vivian is giving birth, Will and Uncle Phil are stuck in a broken elevator with a small crowd of people. One of them is a really obnoxious guy Phil had previously called out for smoking in the elevator (and actually pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and crushed it under his foot). As Phil is freaking out over the well-being of his wife and unborn child, the obnoxious guy starts talking on his cell phone and Phil asks to borrow it. The obnoxious guy refuses, and at that point, Uncle Phil decides to exercise his skills in 'negotiation.'
Uncle Phil: Sir? (obnoxious guy turns, Uncle Phil grabs him by the shirt collar and pulls him off his feet) Give me that damn phone or I'll rip out your liver and eat it raw. Will: That's right, boy, and he about due for a snack!
Second season. Ashley has been getting bullied, so Philip and Vivian call the bully's parents over to talk. The bully's parents are convinced Ashley is the problem and won't hear otherwise, and the argument turns nasty, escalating by diagnosing Vivian and arguing over schools — until the other father insults Philip's mother. Philip's response? Punch his face in. It wasn't supposed to be good, but damn was it satisfying to watch. Also results in one of Will's best lines:
Will: That's it, Uncle Phil! You're grounded!
In the fifth season episode "To Thine Own Self be Blue...and Gold," Will gets an internship with an old college friend of Philip's who owns his own shoe company. But said friend is having trouble with a city councilman, so he decides to bribe him, using Will to deliver it. Philip finds out, and despite the obvious pain it puts him through to treat a friend that way, he sticks up for his nephew:
Will gets one in the episode "Cold Feet, Hot Body." After spending the episode being pursued by a woman named Denise (despite her knowing that he's engaged to Lisa), Will is coerced into taking Denise home. In her apartment, Denise tries every trick in the book to get into his pants, ending with:
Denise: Just do what feels right.
Will: Okay... (Will leans in, as if to kiss her, then...) ...Bye, Denise.
Let's just be honest: every single time that Phil gets dangerous should be on here. His ability to go from kind and slightly humorous Butt Monkey to a supreme Badass in the wink of an eye cannot be overstated.
Geoffrey hustling Will and Carlton by taping a game show episode and memorizing it.
Will telling off Judge Robertson after he insults Philip one too many times. Yeah, the man ends up dead as a result but during the funeral, it's clear it was no big loss.
The Pilot episode's ending when Phil straightens Will out after Will calls him soft. He get's into a huge speech on how he experienced worse trials than Will and even heard Malcolm X speak. When he leaves Will in the living room, Will begins to play Für Elise on the piano. It shows that there is more to Will and Phil than just the Fresh Prince and The Lawyer respectively.
This isn't the only time Phil lets someone have it for calling him soft. When a friend of Phil and Vivian's who's a pretty extreme political activist comes to visit, she accuses Phil and Viv of going soft (they used to protest with her, but have since become more moderate.) Phil lets her know that he is far from soft.
Vivian: Marge, when you tell Will that we chained ourselves together at sit-ins, you’re only giving him the romantic part of the struggle. Girlfriend, you are leaving out everything that went before it: the leaflets, the petitions, the years of trying to work through the system.
Marge: The system doesn’t work. You have to blow the door down. Looks to me like you forgot that.
Phil: You talk as if I wasn’t there with you in Birmingham facing dogs and firehoses. This is me, Olfame, the same Olfame that was with you the night Harlem went up in flames. But now I have a family, and I choose not to fight in the streets. I have an office to fight from and I have fought and won cases for fair housing, affirmative action, health care, and I am not ashamed to write a big fat check for something I believe in and that doesn’t make me any less committed than you, so don’t you dare look down your damn nose at me, Adabola.
Will gets a job to pay for prom expenses and whatnot on his own, rather than asking Phil for help. When Phil asks why, Will gives him a speech about he needs to stand on his own two feet, etc. In an allusion to (and yet inversion of) a similar scene in the pilot episode of The Cosby Show, rather than praising his independent attitude, Phil figuratively smacks him upside the head and tells him it is NOT a shameful thing to ask for and/or accept help that is readily available.
A Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as well, but when Geoffrey's long lost son shows up and tries to make off with the money Geoffrey gave him for butler's school, Will shows up at the airport, but has trouble trying to come up with a defense for Geoffrey, but can't, until the guy scornfully asks "This is the man your trying to defend?" Will's response:
— Will: Yes this is the man I'm trying to defend. A man who told all his friends about his son, a man who gave you his savings so you could have a life. You have a flight to catch.