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Ranking Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Captain Holt: The Best Episodes Explored

André Braugher’s Captain Raymond Holt played a major role in the popularity of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the sitcom that aired on FOX and later moved to NBC. The show followed the adventures of a close-knit gang of detectives in a Brooklyn precinct. Renowned for his work on Homicide: Life on the Street, a police procedural with a decidedly darker tone, Braugher infused the seriousness of that position into the humor of the Nine-Nine, serving as a counterbalance to the team’s lightheartedness while also injecting his own unique sense of humor. Here is a list of Braugher’s funniest and most surprising cold opens from his time practicing law on the other side of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We wait for him to make his The Good Fight debut in the upcoming season as lawyer Ri’Chard Lane, a “wild mix of brilliance, geniality, religion and joyful hedonism” according to the casting announcement.

Hot Damn! – “Jake and Sophia” (Season 2, Episode 6)

Ranking in the top three, this cold open gives us one of the series’ most quotable and gif-worthy Holt moments. Amy is a minute late for work, and the team alternates in conjuring up the most horrible and ridiculous thing that might have happened to her. Holt w ins the game with the outlier entry, “I’d say she’s…in line at the bank,” much like Charles’ marshmallow chuckle. This is enjoyable! Holt reacts to Amy’s admission with a clap, a victorious fist in the air, and an explosive “Hot damn!” This explosive celebration is a startling and amusing turn for cool-as-a-cucumber Holt, whose demeanor never wavers even in the face of extreme happiness or despair. It’s all the more humorous (and true) because it stems from something as unimportant as a bank line backup.

Holt eats a marshmallow – “Mr. Santiago” (Season 4, Episode 7)

According to Jake, this episode hinges on our presumptions of Holt and his “lack of flair.” Turn-by-turn, the squad members mimic Holt’s first-ever marshmallow consumption. Most keep to what is anticipated, which is a dry, pretentious, and incredibly academic description of the treat’s attributes. Detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) is the only one who anticipates Holt’s unexpected, happy, elfin grin when he enters the break room and accepts the given “marshed mallow.” For the captain, Holt’s innocent laughter is a whole new color, and it makes us laugh right along with him.

Holt has no pants – “Beach House” (Season 2, Episode 12)

Holt is the straight man who then takes the joke too far, much like number nine on the list. But in this instance, the humor comes from the way the camera plays down his character. Jake is putting in extra hours to demonstrate that Holt secretly took off his soiled pants in his office after spilling his soup. After numerous failed attempts (mostly due to Holt’s extensive knowledge of Yo-Yo Ma’s tour schedule), Holt eventually tells Jake the truth in an attempt to stop him, only for Jake to celebrate by promptly spilling hot soup on his own pants. The most memorable scene is when Melissa Fumero’s character, Detective Amy Santiago, discovers Jake sitting strangely near to Holt’s desk. Holt calmly tells Amy there is “no story here” while Jake is dressed only his boxers. Although Holt has a strong, controlled demeanor, the camera delightfully upends that by revealing the hidden silliness of his position.

Holt zings Wuntch – “Stakeout” (Season 2, Episode 11)

Sometimes to an extreme, Captain Holt was renowned for his maturity and sobriety. The one reliable weak point in that stern armor? The only person who can pierce Holt’s propriety is Deputy Chief Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), who is also Holt’s adversary and the head of the NYPD. Before getting a medal, Holt declares, “Wuntch time is over,” to Jake and Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), stating that he has spent the most of the night preparing his nasty burn. Holt is persuaded to remain silent by Rosa and Jake, who are really worried and unimpressed. Holt concurs: “I ought to be the larger person! Considering that Madeline isn’t technically a person, that shouldn’t be difficult. But he has only so much composure when it comes to maintaining a respectful quiet. Holt yells, “Boom, did it!” with a gleeful expression after delivering the one-liners he’s so pleased of. Had the best of both worlds. I have no regrets. One of the best-running jokes on the show, the simmering hostility between these two is a great way to see the normally reserved Holt reveal a more prickly, unexpectedly vicious, and perpetually hysterical side of himself.

Jake calls Holt “Dad” – “The Apartment” (Season 1, Episode 18)

The team starts making fun of Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) for his increasingly frantic denials when he responds to some modest compliments from Holt with an inconsiderate “Thanks, Dad.” Holt’s only real task during the frigid open is to try to diffuse the issue. Jake’s downward spiral is steadily countered by his authoritative presence, which culminates in Holt’s masterful use of the phrase “I believe you…son.” He offers to play catch with Jake, a sliver of a smile on his face. It’s the ideal conclusion to the joke and a great fusion of Holt’s sardonic humor and his enduring enjoyment of making jokes about Jake, two qualities that will recur on this list.


Podium prank – “Sicko” (Season 6, Episode 17)

Although the first two items on the list capitalize on Holt’s straightforward approach, this one exploits that dynamic to the most. Jake arranges a practical joke on Holt prior to the morning briefing. Jake’s safety in the face of Holt’s anticipated fury worries the team, especially Amy, so he dials down the practical joke to the point where it’s as simple as shifting his podium a half-inch to the left rather than handing Holy ink-stained hands. Although Jake doesn’t think he’ll notice, the audience anticipates that he will and that he will be upset. What we don’t anticipate is Holt’s “You’re crazy!” exclamation, followed by an uncontrollably joyful shriek and full-throated laugh. How did you manage to do this? This frigid open challenges our presumptions and unveils a deliciously surprising aspect to the captain, all the while preserving and evoking laughter from his meticulousness.

Power walking in Florida – “Coral Palms, Part 1” (Season 4, Episode 1)

We were curious to see how Holt would adapt to life in the sunny Florida witness protection program after the third season finale. That question was addressed in the fourth season’s cold open, which saw the cast join the local women for their weekly power walk and gab session. Although he’s still himself—a pharmacist is not a doctor, he maintains—he’s making a lot of effort to keep his disguise. He charms his neighbors, tells sarcastic jokes, and says he only knows Jake due of problems with their shared fence. The irony that creature-of-routine Holt is thriving while covert enthusiast Jake is having difficulties defies our assumptions. Additionally, Holt’s heartbreakingly side-spitting lament for his late alter ego’s adored wife—a “strong, female woman, with nice, heavy breasts”—should be considered if you ever need a pickup line.

Secret handshake extravaganza – “The Bimbo” (Season 6, Episode 13)

For the sixth time in his six-year bad habit, Holt offers to help Jake when he arrives late for a morning meeting. Holt says that Jake is the only member of the team who has not been encouraged to create a “intricate personal high-five” as a form of punishment. Although Holt claims that “every minute of it was hell,” he detests high fives less than he does tardiness. So, with a perturbed Jake watching from the table, he dismisses the team to shake hands with each of them individually. Holt gives butt bumps and wiggles, a snake charmer performance, and an air guitar “Pete Townsend strum” replete with rock star pursed lips in a delirious flood of physical humor. Leonard from Xerox receives one as well. The collection of gags is incredibly humorous and effectively displays Braugher’s meticulous attention to detail in both physical comedy and Holt’s personality.

The Oopsie Doodle, “Unsolvable” (Season 1, Episode 21)

While some of these frigid openers have thrived on surprise, others have shifted to take use of Holt’s tough, uncompromising demeanor. This one takes first place for fusing the two into one of the funniest lines in the entire show. Holt wears a wrist brace, so the team, led by Jake as usual, seeks to figure out how it happened. After giving a dull explanation and sending everyone back to work, Holt sneaks over to Jake and gives him the truth in a plot. He informs the investigator in a cool manner, “I was hula hooping,” as he scrolls through his camera roll to show a number of hilariously goofy pictures.I’m an expert at every maneuver, including the oopsie doodle, tornado, scorpion, and pizza toss. The nearly unbelievable surprise of seeing and hearing about Holt doing anything at all known as the “oopsie doodle” makes Jake and the audience happy. To Jake’s surprise, he then calmly and coldly deletes every photo, telling him that “no one will ever believe you.” And he ends the chapter on one of his most unexpected, cunning, and gut-busting puns with a long, deep, gloating look.

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