6 blackout TV episodes that turned the power off in NYC

Sitcoms have taught us a lot about blackouts.

Sitcoms have taught us a lot about blackouts in New York City.

For one, getting trapped somewhere due to a power outage isn’t all bad; it could conjure up a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ask out the woman of your dreams (Chandler Bing) or give you the courage to say what you couldn’t say before (Serena van der Woodsen).

Fifteen years after the 2003 Northeast blackout left 50 million people in the dark, we revisit how the city’s fictional New Yorkers managed to stay amused (and safe) during power outages of their own.


“The One with the Blackout” (1994)

A part of NBC’s “Blackout Thursday” stunt of 1994, this “Friends” episode left Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) trapped in an ATM vestibule with once-Victoria’s Secret supermodel Jill Goodacre. While the rest of the group is huddled around candles in Monica’s apartment, Chandler gifts us one of the sitcom’s memorable lines — “Gum would be perfection.” You can watch the season 1 episode on Netflix.

“Mad About You”

“Pandora’s Box” (1994)

Instead of giving us a glimpse into the blackout aftermath, NBC decided to place blame on “Mad About You’s” Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt). The episode sees her cause a power outage while trying to hook cable up to her apartment without paying.

“Madman of the People”

“Birthday in the Big House” (1994)

Part three of the NBC stunt placed Jack “Madman” Buckner, played by Dabney Coleman, behind bars after getting busted for looting.

“30 Rock”

“Jack Meets Dennis” (2006)

In the case of this season 1 episode, the “blackout is a fortunate coincidence.” An NYC power outage (and a failed backup generator at 30 Rock) saves Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) from having to debut Tracy Jordan’s (Tracy Morgan) new “street cred” look, aka a face full of drawn-on faux tattoos.

“Gossip Girl”

“The Dark Night” (2008)

A citywide power outage serves up the clarity “Gossip Girl’s” Upper East Siders were lacking in this season 2 episode, available to stream on Netflix. Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) gets trapped with Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) in her building’s elevator where they’re forced to dissect their relationship and come to the conclusion we all saw coming: The feelings are still there. Also among the night’s various revelations: Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and her then-beau Marcus figure out the sparks just aren’t there.

“How I Met Your Mother”

“Disaster Averted” (2011)

The gang had to figure out how to handle life without electricity in this season 7 episode. Reflecting on the events of Hurricane Irene, the power goes out in Barney Stinson’s (Neil Patrick Harris) apartment.

Meghan Giannotta