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  • "Theo...?" (Long pause as Cliff gets up; Beat.) "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my LIFE! It's no wonder you get Ds in everything!"
    • Meta-wise: The fact that this moment was a MAJOR subversion of the typical sitcom moment where the kid's rewarded for "asserting himself". (See the "Funny" tab.)
    Cliff: Now, you are afraid to try because you think your brain is going to explode and it's going to ooze out of your ears. Now, I'm telling you that you are going to try as hard as you can. You're going to do it because I said so. I am your father. I brought you into this world, and I'll take you out!
  • Any time Clair loses her cool. Many of them also double as a Funny Moment for her.
    • There's one in season 2 when Denise wanted to impulsively buy a car that was more than obviously a complete lemon and complained that it was, "her money in her account" and wondered if she was still in America.
      Clair: If you ever take this attitude with us again, you can take whatever is in that bank account of yours, and go discover America.
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    • Also in season 2, when she delivers the equivalent of a Shut Up, Hannibal! to Elvin's Stay in the Kitchen attitude. It even frightens Cliff.
      Cliff: Elvin, when she brings that coffee back... If I were you, I wouldn't drink it.
    • Season 4: Sondra tells Clair that she's changed her mind about going to law school.
      Sondra: Mom...
      Clair: Yes?
      Sondra: I'm not going to law school.
      Clair: (tries to be calm) What?
      Sondra: I decided not to go to law school.
      Clair: What do you mean you decided not to go to law school?
      Sondra: Well this is our dream. So I'm going to take a temporary job while the Wilderness Store opens then I'll be working side by side with my husband.
      Clair: Sondra, what are you saying? You have always wanted to go to law school, you haven't talked about anything else!
      Sondra: I changed my mind.
      Clair: Change it back! After all that money we spent sending you to Princeton? Sondra, you owe us $79,647.22! And I want my money now! [Cliff tries to drag Clair out of the room and into the kitchen, but she refuses] I'm not going anywhere without my money! [Cliff tries again] I'll take whatever she's got! Empty her pockets!
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    • Season 5: To say that she disapproves of Vanessa and her friends' less-than-modest attire for a singing competition is a massive understatement.
    • Season 6: So Vanessa sneaked off to Baltimore for a concert and lied about its location. Getting her car, tickets, and money stolen become the least of her worries when she finds Clair waiting for her back in New York. Let's put it this way: There's no Golden Moment to Sentimental Music Cue moment or acceptance hug later, just one of the most pants-shittingly "GO TO BED!!" moments in TV history.
  • After Theo learns that he's dyslexic, he doesn't blame anyone, he takes the bull by the horns and turns his life around!
    • Followed up in a Season 7 episode when he convinces his student Stanley to also be tested and get help so he wouldn't have to deal with all of the problems Theo did during junior high and high school.
    • Rudy tries to use the excuse of possibly having dyslexia to get out of doing her homework. Clair, in a strong teaching moment, assures her that she'll be able to do everything Theo does to deal with it: a lot of extra work and studying. Rudy immediately backs down and never tries to make light of her brother's condition again.
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  • Theo convincing the school to re-do the auditions for drum major not because Vanessa lost, but because he learned the judges never intended to give her or any of the other girls who tried out a fair shot at being considered.
  • Sondra has to be the only one to not only stand up to Clair, but her mother-in-law at the same time.
    Sondra: (looking at the pictures Francine has given her) You took my babies to the beauty parlor? You took my children out of my house so that they wouldn't get my germs and then you took them somewhere where dozens of people were breathing on them?! (flings pictures down)
    Clair: Sondra—
    Sondra: I am talking! These are my children. I gave birth to them. Do you have any idea how hard it is to give birth to two babies at once? Pretty darn hard, I will tell you that.
    Francine: But, Sondra—
    Sondra: I am still talking! I gave birth to these babies. You two are confused. You (Clair) are my mother. I am their mother! What I say goes. I tell people what they can or cannot do with my children! Now if either of you ever try anything like this again the next time you see these children will be at their college graduation!"
    • This is also the only time in the entire series when anyone stands up to Clair and Clair backs down. Every other attempt ends with Clair coming back out on top. Mama Bears recognize and respect other Mama Bears.
    • Note the Meaningful Background Event of Cliff nodding in approval at Sondra's rant. He knew or suspected all along that this would be the result of Clair's actions and is 100% on his daughter's side.
  • Another one for Clair: Shooting down elitist political commentary snobs who only wanted her on their TV show to exploit her position as a black woman and then turning down future appearances despite bringing in record ratings. To quote Cliff, "That is not a donut." Cliff gets one in that same episode when he and the janitor retrieve a book that Clair needed to prove her point from one of the panelist's desks during the filming.
  • Walter "Cockroach" Bradley gets an off-screen one in season 2 when he gets Mrs. Westlake's class back in line to prepare for the last test she was giving them when they were fooling around and making the substitute's teacher's experience miserable.
  • How Cliff wins the "King of Romance" contest: He has spent most of the episode phoning various people for an unspecified reason. At their dinner at the climax of the episode, he tells Clair a story about a young man who went on his first date with a young woman who wanted a barrette, but the young man couldn't afford it. Turns out he'd been looking for it, and he found it, and then he presented that young woman, now his wife, with a box wrapped up with a pretty bow. Then Clair tells Cliff that she wanted a bracelet. There's a lovely bit of acting by Cos as his face just drops while Clair upbraids him for confusing him with the girl who wanted the barrette. In anger, she opens the box, takes out the bracelet, realizes what she's holding as Cliff grins, and hugs Cliff with a delighted squeal. It's one of the best-acted scenes in the whole series.
  • The family performing Ray Charles' "Night Time is the Right Time" for Grandpa & Grandma Huxtable. Watch it!
  • The dancing in the season 1 episode Jitterbug Break, especially Denise's unnamed friend who becomes a One-Scene Wonder with his moves.
  • Theo thinks he has some impressive jump rope skills when he goes to start working at the community center. He gets one-upped big time.
  • In season 6, Sondra has to give up an evening with Elvin and two girls he once knew, but while Elvin insists that he stay home, Sondra repeatedly insists that he go for the evening, which he does. The events that followed for Sondra put her in quite a sour mood, and when Elvin comes home late and having paid the whole bill, Sondra won't even speak to him. Later, while Cliff is blaming Elvin for being an idiot, Clair places the blame on Sondra for being dishonest with Elvin and herself.
  • Theo and Cockroach breaking down Marc Antony's "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech from Julius Caesar into a rap. In that same episode, Cliff's father and two professors from his college days perform a scene from the very play, then perform the play that little Rudy wrote.
  • After Theo scrapes by on a test on Macbeth without actually reading the play he's pretty confident that he's done with Shakespeare. Clair promptly bursts his bubble by declaring that he will be taking another exam over the play, given by her. Of course, Clair has to re-read the play herself first...
  • How about the fact that the show itself spent 5 straight years as the #1 show on TV? Often, it brought in more than 50 percent of the audience in its time slot. Not only that, but those ratings actually led to several other NBC shows scoring high ratings as well, most particularly its longtime Thursday night stablemates Family Ties, Cheers, and Hill Street Blues, which were all struggling in the ratings before The Cosby Show came on the scene, the latter two shows actually ranking dead last in the ratings in their inaugural first seasons.
  • In one season 5 episode, Cliff has had more than enough of Rudy and Vanessa's fighting not only disturbing the peace of the house, but also causing structural damage, and he exiles them to the basement. Clair ends up in full support of the idea. He also doesn't give in to their fake attempts at trying to make up and they stay in the basement until all of the damage is repaired.
  • Another one from Cliff: When Theo's "colloquy" ends up destroying the house, Cliff drags him to the Army Recruitment Center. Even though that fails, the alternate solution is still very fitting. It gets a follow-up in season 8 when Cliff and Clair punish Rudy and her friends with something similar after one of their escapades.
  • Season 2: Theo getting an 89 on what was described as one of the hardest math tests that year. Cliff explains that Theo completely earned it after spending an entire week studying for it. This is also the moment when Theo begins taking his school work much more seriously.
  • One of the season 4 episodes has Cliff sit in on Clair's book club and offer an observation about one of the events in the book being discussed, with Clair believing all the while that he'll only put his foot in it since he hasn't read the book. Turns out, to Clair's delighted astonishment, Cliff has indeed read the book and knows exactly what he's talking about, to the approval of the rest of the club. Subverted almost immediately after when, in typical Cliff fashion, he doesn't quit while he's ahead, makes one comment too many, and does indeed put his foot in it.
  • Although she did so because she was being petty and stubborn about her broken toe, seeing Clair hop up the stairs with one foot is quite impressive to watch.
  • Rudy gets one when she takes control of the nightmare she's having about Olivia and turns it around in her favor. It ends with her sleeping peacefully while Olivia is now the one tossing and turning.
  • In his first appearance, Dr. Foster substitutes in for Cliff's pinochle partner. When Cliff talks to him about setting up some hand signals, Dr. Foster shoots him down with, "I would rather lose as a gentleman than win as a scoundrel." Magnified even further when they do win despite Cliff's father and his partner cheating.
  • One of Cliff's patients is in a taxi outside of the house and in labor. Cliff takes charge in directing the kids on getting the proper materials and contacting the right people. They all perform their jobs flawlessly, showing they either had to help out like that before or had prepared and practiced for such a scenario; especially as Cliff tells Rudy, "You know what to do."
  • The family learns that Rudy has a talent for Football. After she joins her local little league team and becomes a star player, they give her the nickname of "Sweet Feet." The truly awesome part is Rudy's attitude during the whole thing: She never lets it go to her head, takes losing the championship game in stride, and always treated it as a game rather than the Serious Business the rest of the family turned it into.
  • Denise has one in Season 1 when her date keeps ogling another woman at dinner, so she orders the most expensive things on the menu before telling him to take her home. Cliff even tells her, "I like your style."
  • Kenny's brother has an Offscreen Moment of Awesome in the final episode when he manages to get ahold of enough tickets to allow everyone to attend Theo's graduation. It's also the only time in the series where he gives Kenny some legitimately good advice.


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