Brooklyn Nine-Nine's 10 Best Cold Opens From The Series (So Far), Ranked

B99 screenshot

Say it ain’t so: the upcoming eighth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be the last rodeo for Jake, Holt, and the rest of the gang at the 99th Precinct. While it’s sad to see the beloved sitcom go, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has given audiences plenty of hysterical moments that will keep everyone laughing long after the final season. One particularly famous aspect of Brooklyn Nine-Nine? The cold opens, of course. Ranging from absurd to completely unhinged, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cold opens have contained some of the show’s funniest scenes. With the Season 8 premiere quickly approaching, it seems like the perfect time to count down the 10 best Brooklyn Nine-Nine cold opens - so far.

B99 screenshot

10. Dianne Wiest Infection - ‘The Overmining’: S4 Ep 9

This is one of several times a Charles Boyle-centric cold open makes this list, and for good reason.The specificity of Charles’ character could only exist on a sitcom, but he’s so funny that it doesn’t matter. The infamous ‘Bullets Over Broadway’/Dianne Wiest joke actually made Andy Samberg break, as well as several other cast members. This cold open succeeds for two reasons. One: a truly horrendous pun. Two: Joe Lo Truglio’s pristine comic timing. He shows it off throughout the series, but this cold open puts his comedic chops front and center.

B99 screenshot

9. Hitchcock Drinks A Fish - ‘The Mattress’: S3 Ep7

Hitchcock and Scully have provided tons of laughs over Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s seven seasons. Bumbling, fumbling, and just plain dopey, the hot dog-loving partners always seem to be unwittingly involved in some sort of tomfoolery. Case in point: the Season 3 episode “The Mattress” cold open, in which Jake gleefully announces to his coworkers that Hitchcock and Scully have identical mason jars. One contains a goldfish, the other contains lemonade. As soon as Jake bets that Hitchcock will drink his own goldfish, Rosa informs him that the goldfish has indeed been imbibed. Hitchcock and Scully are a pillar of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s comedic value, and the goldfish incident is the paragon of their endearing stupidity.

B99 screenshot

8. Amy Runs Late - ‘Jake and Sophia’: S2 Ep6

Detective Amy Santiago is known for a lot of things (anal retentiveness, color-coded binders, an undying love for informational seminars), but being late is not one of them. Season 2 episode ‘Jake and Sophia’, however, finds the 99 wondering why Amy hasn’t shown up a full minute after her designated start time. The crew offers up multiple explanations, ranging from a mundane missed alarm (Terry) to a nocturnal kidnapping (Charles) to a simple line at the bank (Holt). When Amy finally arrives exactly 70 seconds after 9 am, she admits there was an issue at the bank. While this cold open is relatively simple, it’s a great character study and a brilliant example of the ensemble’s ability to effortlessly throw quips back and forth. And we have Holt yelling “Hot damn!” when he finds out he was right. Nothing beats that.

B99 screenshot

7. Charles Likes Them Old - ‘The Vulture’ S1 Ep5

Oh, Charles. The poor guy can’t catch a break. His misunderstanding of nearly every situation is prime comic fodder, and ‘The Vulture’ is a pristine example. Long story short: the gang is wondering who’s arrested the oldest criminal. Charles overhears a bit of this chat and, being Charles, assumes that his friends are talking about the oldest people they’ve slept with. A few actors even break character because they can’t help but laugh. Watching actors break usually takes away from a show, but everyone’s laughter is so sincere that it makes the viewer crack up as well. It’s also the mark of a genuinely funny show when the actors can barely keep it together because they’re laughing so hard. How the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine manages to film anything at all without giggling is beyond me.

B99 screenshot

6. Breakfast in Bed And Halloween Heist Prep - ‘Hallo Veen’: S5 Ep4

Even a casual Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan knows the importance of the Halloween heists. The competition that began as a one-off episode became a series signature, giving each member of the 99th Precinct the opportunity to be named Best Detective/Genius. Part of the comedy in later heist episodes is derived from the ridiculous amount of preparation the characters put into the contest. 

By Season 5, Jake and Amy are an established couple, but all’s fair in love and war. Jake and Amy both wake up that Halloween to find that the other is already dressed and ready to go - Jake even shows off the remains of an omelet he scrambled in the middle of the night. The kicker is that none other than Captain Raymond Holt is sitting in their bedroom, turning on a lamp at the perfect moment to scare the bejesus out of them. This cold open perfectly displays Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s ability to improve on an already funny idea by upping the stakes - and the ludicrousness.

B99 screenshot

5. “Thanks, Dad” - ‘The Apartment’: S1 Ep18

The relationship between Jake Peralta and Captain Holt is a cornerstone of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. While they butted heads upon first meeting, they quickly grew to respect each other despite their differences. Jake even begins to view Holt as a father figure. It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that the cold open from Season 1 episode ‘The Apartment’ finds Jake accidentally calling Holt ‘Dad.’ The entire crew hears and naturally begins to roast Jake. Captain Holt is impervious as always, creating the perfect foil to Jake, who immediately becomes flustered. This cold open shows how well Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher could already riff off of each other, and it was only Season 1. They had nowhere to go but up.

B99 screenshot

4. Marshmallows - ‘Mr. Santiago’: S4 Ep7

Captain Holt’s stony demeanor and utilitarian lifestyle is commonly aped and ridiculed, to sometimes cringe-worthy and often very funny results. Take the ‘marshmallow’ cold open from Season 4. The gang correctly assumes that Holt has never eaten a marshmallow, and each member is tasked to imagine what they think Holt’s reaction would be to the fluffy confection. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s ensemble is one of the show’s strongest suits and this cold open perfectly illustrates that. Each character thinks Holt will react in a suitably stoic way except for Charles, who emits a high-pitched giggle. Watching Holt then arrive, eat marshmallow, and start laughing like Charles is a comedic experience unparalleled on modern television.

B99 screenshot

3. Hula-Hooping For Fitness And For Fun - ‘Unsolvable’: S1 Ep 21

This is the third cold open from Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1 to make the top 10. Some might say that means the show’s best days are behind it, but I disagree: it just goes to show how solid the first season was and laid a ton of groundwork for future gags. This cold open in particular also establishes that Captain Holt knows exactly how his staff perceives him and doesn’t mind having a little fun with it. It also demonstrates just how methodical Captain Holt can be. Think about it: he would have had to take all the hula hooping photos he shows Jake with the explicit intention of showing them to his lead detective and then deleting them. That requires planning, execution, and a mild sadistic streak. For a character on a drama or crime show, that translates to serial killer. For Captain Holt, it just makes him one of the funniest characters on TV.

B99 screenshot

2. Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way - ‘DFW’: S5 Ep 17

Everyone has seen this scene, and if they haven’t, it’s because they don’t have an Internet connection. The well-known ‘I Want It That Way’ cold open finds suspects breaking out into song while standing in a line-up - a farce that could have only happened on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. They are prompted by Jake, who’s trying to figure out which perp did the deed. Everyone gets really into it, resulting in some tight harmonies, until the witness and sister to the victim identifies one of them as a murderer. Oops. This cold open holds first place on a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine ‘best of’ lists, so why not here? It’s simple - while Andy Samberg is indeed a national treasure, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is at its best when it utilizes its full ensemble. It’s like cake without icing. Yeah, it’s still good, but it’s better with frosting and sprinkles.

B99 screenshot

1. The Full Bullpen - ‘Skyfire Cycle’: S4 Ep8

That being said - here we are, the number one pick: The Full Bullpen. Yeah, it’s funny, but why is it the best? A couple reasons. First, the reason the Backstreet Boys cold open is second place: the Full Bullpen makes full use of the ensemble. Every character makes an appearance and the scene is better for it. Second: this cold open includes nearly every element that makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine so hilarious. Absurd situation? Check. Perfect use of slo-mo? Check. And, most importantly, a classic comedic reversal? Check. Of course the gang thinks that Captain Holt will be furious with them for goofing off at work. And of course, like in the Marshmallow cold open, his reaction is the total opposite. It’s also a sweet character moment. Holt has settled into his role as captain of the 99th precinct and knows all of his team’s lingo.

This poll is no longer available.

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.