- In "Banks Shot", Will ends up in serious debt after being swindled by some hustlers at a pool hall. When Uncle Phil comes down to help, he attempts to play the hustler to get the money back, only to end up even deeper in debt than before, as Will pleads with him to just pay. After getting the hustlers to agree to an even higher stakes game, Uncle Phil then says "Geoffrey, break out Lucille", his trusty special pool cue, and proceeds to mop the floor with the pool hustler in a second game (at one point even eating a sandwich while bopping along to ''Soul Man''!) winning back Will's debt before soaking the hustler for almost a thousand dollars in extra cash (thus proving his earlier pool mishaps were just a bluff). Back at home, Will asks if Uncle Phil can give him the money he lost, but Uncle Phil only smiles and offers to let Will play him for it.
- The look on the hustler's face when he saw Geoffrey assembling "Lucille" is just the cherry on top. You can see the gears turning in his head as he realizes that he's been hustled and can't back down.
- Also, this line makes it a small Heartwarming Moment:Phillip: You think I'm trying to ruin your fun. I just want you coming home in one piece.
- Even earlier, when Phil warns the hustlers, "Don't mess with my boy again. You mess with him, you're messing with me", showing that even from the beginning, he thought of Will as one of his own.
- And now set to Guile's theme!
- 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."
- Hattie then proceeds to subconsciously beat Will in two games of cards while they're talking.
- This happens again in a later episode; Will tries to sneak in. He gets past Geoffrey in the kitchen, tries sneaking up the stairs behind Phil and Vivian, who are sleeping on the couch together. Then, without either of them even moving...Viv: Good night, Will.
Phillip: You're grounded.
- Turns into a funny moment when Will, after having been silent as a mouse in sneaking past Geoffrey, straight-up pouts and stomps up the stairs.
- And another Call-Back in a Season 6 episode when Will falls asleep waiting for Ashley to come home from her date, yet instantly realizes it when she does.
- In "72 Hours," Carlton gets one when he goes to Jazz's home in Compton and becomes a straight-up gangsta, AND Will's friends end up liking Carlton (and his sound financial advice) better than Will!
- Will gets nervous when Carlton announces that he and his new friends are heading to MacArthur Park, which was one of the most dangerous and violent neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles at the time. Thankfully, Vivian arrives to knock some sense into him, outright forbidding him to go—and she then turns and tells everyone in the room, none of whom she knows, that they're not going either. The biggest guy in the group, who's about a foot taller than her and has muscles the size of watermelons, stands up to protest:Tiny: Wait a minute!Vivian: Boy, do not test me.Tiny: (sitting back down, instantly cowed) Yes, ma'am.
- It's meta-awesome since said guy who backed down was Deebo!
- Will gets nervous when Carlton announces that he and his new friends are heading to MacArthur Park, which was one of the most dangerous and violent neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles at the time. Thankfully, Vivian arrives to knock some sense into him, outright forbidding him to go—and she then turns and tells everyone in the room, none of whom she knows, that they're not going either. The biggest guy in the group, who's about a foot taller than her and has muscles the size of watermelons, stands up to protest:
- Any time Carlton dances. To literally anything.
- Though, Carlton dancing like Carlton can be its own special kind of awesome.
- And as anyone who's tried to do it themselves can tell you, doing the Carlton Dance both properly and in time is ludicrously difficult. Just look at any time Will tries to do it and comes off looking even more ridiculous than Carlton does. Ribiero makes it look easy.
- Though, Carlton dancing like Carlton can be its own special kind of awesome.
- In "Mistaken Identity," Will and Carlton get arrested for driving Mr. Firth's car in Palm Springs. The racist cops think they're to blame for some car thefts in the area. After they fail to reach him by phone, Uncle Phil sees them on the TV making a false confession and goes to the jail.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!
Phillip: Legal partner. Now, 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.
- A small one goes to Firth as well, as well as the show for not falling into the trope of generalizing older white males being just as racist as the officer. You can tell by his tone of voice that he's just as annoyed by the situation as Phil is, and likely for the same reason.
- Notice the Meaningful Background Event of him smiling and backing away as Phil gets going, clearly enjoying the scene.
- In "Papa's Got a Brand-New Excuse," Will's deadbeat father Lou comes back and spends a few days around, building up Will's hopes, only to get a big job and plan on leaving without telling Will again. Phil, who shows a seething resentment for Lou throughout the episode, finally lets him have it in a fiery rant that shows even uncles (by marriage, no less) can be first-class Papa Wolves. Here's the exchange in all its glory:Phil: Sit down.
Lou: (starting to leave) Ain't got time for no lecture.
Phil: I said sit down, Lou. (Lou stops and sits down on the couch) You know, Will was doing just fine until you showed up. But now that you're back, you have responsibilities to him.
Lou: Look, we still gonna take the trip--
Phil: OH, BULL! BULL! Will is not some coat that you hang up in the closet and you pick it up when you're ready to wear it! His life goes on! He's not supposed to be here for you! You're supposed to be there for him!
Lou: (standing back up) Hey, you get off my back! You think I want this?! It! Just! Happened! Now, Will was a baby and I was scared--
Phil: Cut the crap, alright?! Cut it! Cause I've been there. But I didn't run out on my family. I was there every day for them, because that's what a man does!
Lou: Fine, Phillip! You win! You da man! You a better man than me! You happy?! Now you gonna tell Will or not?
Phil: I'm not going to do your dirty work for you.
- These two lines from Vivian also show her Mama Bear tendencies:Vivian: (to Phil) You're not gonna hit him, are you? Because I don't wanna miss that.
Vivian: Lou... if you walk out of Will's life now, don't you ever come back.
- Will's furious rant against his father's disloyalty is practically made of this, in no small part to Will Smith's knockout delivery through all the rage and tears that unfold. Even James Avery considered this scene as one of Will's best.
- Preceding said rant when Will sees his dad for what he really is:Lou: It was great seeing you, son.
Will: You too... Lou.
- Even Hilary gets one early in the episode when she point blank tells Lou what she really thinks of him. Doubles as a much needed moment of funny for such an intense episode.Hilary: Will's father is a deadbeat who left him and his mom flat.
- These two lines from Vivian also show her Mama Bear tendencies:
- Another scene that really shows how well Will can act is his confession in "Just Say Yo," where he admits to Uncle Phil, then the whole family that he was given drugs that led to Carlton taking them by accident and nearly overdosing. The heart-breaking sadness and genuine regret Will shows for what could've happened makes it a powerful scene that both shows Will genuinely cares for the Bank family and how well he can get into character.
- How powerful is this scene? Even with an inappropriate laugh track added into it, many commentors admit the moment was so strong, that the laugh track couldn't ruin or hamper the sadness. That's how you know it's an incredible Tearjerker.
- How we got this scene, as well as the now famous Papas Got a Brand New Excuse episode. Will Smith himself asked the writers to come up with more serious and dramatic plot lines, so he could stretch out beyond the silly comedic actor he was becoming at that time. The writing staff happily agreed, and ultimately gave what would become some of the most memorable episodes of the series.
- 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. Will starts to call out Top Dog, but Carlton stops him and says he's got this. Carlton then replies with this:Carlton: You think I'm a sellout, why? Because I live in a big house or I dress a certain way? Or maybe it's because I like Barry Manilow.
Will: (to the other pledges) Uh, he meant Barry White, y'all.
Carlton: 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.
Will: Yeah! And in the words of my illustrious cousin, we're going to make like a tree and leave!
Phil: You know, this... this really irritates me. I have worked very hard to give my family a good life and suddenly somebody tells me there's a penalty for success? I'm sorry you had to go through this, son. When are we going to stop doing this to each other?
- 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.
- Look at the whole scene.
- Phil caps it, as well as the episode off, with a very poignant line:
- From "The Big Four-Oh": Vivian is reminded of how she gave up her dancing 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 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 (played by 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.Janet: Yo, Gia. I need more ice.
Carlton: You need more ice, what?
Janet: I need more ice in my warm soda.
Carlton: You need more ice, please.
Janet: [stands up] What did you say to me?
Waitress: He said, "You need more ice, please."
Jazz: Heads up.
Will & Jazz: [scoot away to far end of their table]
Carlton: [stands up as well] Will, I'm sorry. I've got to say something. Janet, your behavior this evening has been completely unacceptable.
Will: [shakes his head at Carlton, warning him to stop] Carlton.
Carlton: Where I come from, manners count for a lot. I'm sorry I've got to say this, but I simply can't sit back and allow this rudeness to continue. You owe every one of us an apology, especially that poor waitress. If you refuse, we're taking you home and continuing the evening without you. Do I make myself clear?
Will: [to Jazz] You know, I'm going to miss him.
Carlton: Do I make myself clear?
Janet: [in full Crush Filter mode] [dreamingly] Yes, Carlton.
Will & Jazz: [look at each other like silently asking "what the hell just happened?"]
- Even when he was calling her out, Carlton was still a perfect gentleman — never raising his voice, nor for one moment did he insult her. Some people do like that sort of polite assertiveness; in Janet's case, she may have fallen for Carlton for being the first man to stand up to her while not tearing her down.
- 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:Jazz: You're the idiot!Will: Well, date's over.Jazz: 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!
Marissa: Oh, shut up. Look, this is what you gotta do. I need run to an all-night liquor store—Hillary: No.Marissa: Excuse me?!Hillary: What do you think I am? I shouldn't be treated like an idiot. I'm not an idiot, I'm smart. And another thing, your last five movies really sucked big time.Will: Six.Marissa: You can't stand here talking like that tone.Hillary: No, you're right, because I have a prior engagement with someone from the "A" list. Come on, Jazz, let's go.
- 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 out that he can't be thrown out because they're already outside. 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 in "Hex and the Single Guy." 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!
- In an early second season episode, Ashley has been getting bullied, so Philip and Vivian call the bully's parents over to talk. The bully's parents are convinced that Ashley is the problem and won't hear otherwise (despite the fact that their daughter is twice Ashley's size), 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! (turns to the other father, who is lying on Will and clutching his face in pain) You know, I'd be happy to prescribe something for that.
- 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 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 his friend that way, he sticks up for his nephew:Ernest: Aw, now come on, Moose, you know the way of the world. You can't name me one man who's become a success without, ah, bending the law.Ernest: Hey! Even if he would've gotten caught, it wouldn't have been that bad.
- 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... (leans in, as if to kiss her, then...) ...Bye, Denise.
- In "There's the Rub, Part 2," Philip and Will are arrested on false solicitation charges during a raid on a house of ill repute (Philip had hurt his back and Will took him to a massage parlor). Philip, finally deciding that enough is enough (especially as it was on Thanksgiving):Philip: HENDRIIIIIIIIIIICKS!Hendricks: Listen, Banks. If it's a sandwich you're after, they're all gone.Philip: In the first place, it's not "Banks," it's "Your Honor." Now you get your butt over to that telephone, and you pull the district attorney from whatever meal he may be eating, and you tell him you have Judge Philip Banks in jail under a bogus charge. And you might want to mention the fact that we have been denied due process, a phone call, access to legal representation, and every other conceivable right guaranteed to us by the Constitution. And don't forget to mention the fact that no statements have been taken, no witnesses interviewed, and none of the most fundamental procedures that the newest rookie on a beat would know have been followed! My nephew and I are completely innocent, and if you don't take care of this matter, it will be you, having your picture taken with NUMBERS ACROSS YOUR CHEST!
- 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.
- Even more surprising, when people close to Judge Robertson say disparaging things about him at his funeral, Will tells them all off:Will: A man is dead here, people. I mean, did he not feel pain when he was hurt? I mean, did he not shiver when he was cold? Did he not dream? I mean, he was only human, but yes, he was human. And I fail to believe that the world can profit from a man's death. And I think each and every one of you should be really ashamed in yourselves.Man: And who are you?Will: I'm the dude that killed him.
- After that, everyone applauds at Will. Whether it was his speech or that he more-or-less was the cause of Robertson's death is up to debate.
- Even more surprising, when people close to Judge Robertson say disparaging things about him at his funeral, Will tells them all off:
- The pilot episode's ending when Phil straightens Will out after Will calls him soft. He gets 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.Philip: Thats your problem. You cant take anything seriously.
Will: Hey, look, man, I dont have the problem, all right. You have the problem. I remind you of who you are and what you used to be. Now I dont know, somewhere between Princeton and the office, you got soft. You forgot who you are and where you came from.
Philip: You think youre so wise. (Will scoffs and turns away) Look at me when Im talking to you. Let me tell you something, son. I grew up on the streets just like you. I encountered bigotry you could not imagine. Now, you have a nice poster of Malcolm X on your wall. I heard the brother speak. I read every word he wrote. Believe me, I know where I come from!
Will: You actually heard Malcolm speak?
Philip: Thats right. So before you criticize someone, you find out what hes all about.
- That isn't the only time Phil lets someone have it for calling him soft. When Marge, 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), and 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 fire hoses. 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.
- That isn't the only time Phil lets someone have it for calling him soft. When Marge, 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), and Phil lets her know that he is far from soft.
- In "Grumpy Young Men", Carlton is able to knock Will out and give him a bloody nose. For extra points, Carlton had his hands glued to his head during the fight.
- In "Will Steps Out", Uncle Phil gives Geoffrey tips on how to be more creative with fat jokes.
- A Heartwarming Moment as well, but when Geoffrey's long-lost son Frederick 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 Frederick scornfully asks "This is the man you're 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.
- Viv's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Will and Carlton after they enroll in her Black History class expecting a free ride.Vivian: You can read the books, you can sing the songs, you can shout the slogans. But unless you know all the history behind it, you are trivializing the entire struggle!
- In "The Wedding Show (Psyche)!", Carlton receives sexual advancements from an IRS agent and this show is one of the few that averts the Double Standard and actually has Carlton threaten to sue her for sexual harassment with a tape recorder as proof. This is awesome on both Carlton's and the show's part for showing viewers that female-on-male sexual harassment exists and it's just as wrong as male-on-female harassment.
- Will beating up the robber in "Love Hurts".
- In "Eyes On The Prize", Will chooses Carlton to go on a game show with him and Carlton absolutely refuses to so he can maintain his public image. Carlton says he might go on if Will begs him to and his response is:Will: Okay, I beg you to remember last Saturday when you came home around ten, and your draws ain't get here till the next morning.
Carlton: Let the games begin.
- What Will did to the Banks' house in "Deck the Halls" could give the Griswolds a run for their money. Plus, even with the uptight neighbors complaining about the "K-Mart look" of the decorations, it eventually took Will, Ashley, some local kids who stopped by to sing Christmas carols at their front door and compliment them on the decorations and Evander Holyfeld and President Reagan to get them to come around.
- Also, the fact that Geoffrey helped Will and Ashley put up the decorations.
- Jazz of all characters gets one in "Fresh Prince: The Movie". Will and Carlton hustle Jazz out of his money in a poker game by telling him an absurd story about how the Banks had to go into witness protection after Will witnessed a murder by a hitman. At the end of the episode Jazz returns to Will's place wearing a mask resembling the face of the killer whom Will made up and scares the daylights out of Will.
- Carlton gets a huge one in "Sooooooooul Train". As the family is invited to Soul Train's 25th Anniversary special due to Phil and Vivian being among their 10 most memorable guests (as he proposed to her on the show during the word scramble segment), at the show, both he and Will are competing to be Don Cornelius' co-host. Whereas Mr. Cornelius is understandably dismissive of Will's cockiness and lackluster dancing, Alfonso Ribeiro, who plays Carlton, gets to pull out all the stops as The Cast Showoff with some wonderfully impressive tap dancing skills and even a back flip to match, which is set perfectly to Zhane's "Groove Thang". Then while in the soul train dance line, he does some smooth Michael Jackson moves including a Moonwalk, which itself is set to a "Billie Jean" soundalike song. This also doubles as Awesome Music.
- And to top it all off, after he's done and he sits at the edge of the stage, not only does the entire family congratulate him, but Don himself sits down with him and shakes his hand.
Awesome / The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air