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A Year of Surprises: A Look Back at NBC News' Best Features of 2016

Whether you loved 2016 or hated it, one thing is clear: It was a year full of the unexpected.
Image: Ajmal, 11, pushes Sangeer, 7, through the garden at Emergency Surgical Center
Ajmal, 11, pushes Sangeer, 7, through the garden at Emergency Surgical Center in Kabul.Victor J. Blue

Whether you loved 2016 or hated it, one thing is clear: It was a year full of the unexpected.

President-elect Donald Trump pulled off an impossible upset; fake news played a very real role in the world’s psyche; and cameras captured shocking, trying moments in our nation’s race relations.

There were also celebrations big and small, from the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, to lives of innocents saved at a tiny hospital in Afghanistan.

Read on for some of NBC News’ best coverage of the year.

The Wrong Man

Thomas Webb survived a false conviction, but freedom failed him. Then he met his accuser. Read and watch the story.

Thomas Webb sits at a table he uses as a meditation area outside his home in Oklahoma City. Webb was wrongfully convicted of rape and spent nearly 14 years in prison.Jennifer Weiss / NBC News
United States of Trump

Donald Trump’s impending inauguration is a crowning achievement for a man who went from a cultural curiosity at the start of the 2016 campaign to an unexpected president-elect. But it’s also the pinnacle of a mass political movement lying just under the surface of American politics until he emerged. Read and watch the stories of how we got here.

The 141 Stances Trump Took During His White House Bid

President-Elect Donald Trump took 141 distinct stances on 23 major issues during his bid for the White House. His campaign's constantly-evolving views — often championed as a way for Trump to use unpredictability to cut better deals for the nation — make it difficult glean a political agenda, or even a set of clear, core policy views ahead of his presidency. This is how we tracked every single move.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 30, 2016, in Albuquerque, N.M.Evan Vucci / AP, file
Body Cams: ‘Propaganda Tool’ or Impartial Record?

Body-worn cameras are increasingly being adopted by law enforcement across the country, offering a potential antidote to police brutality but also raising fears about mass surveillance and questions about how the footage is used.

The use of body cams by cops has broad bipartisan political support, with the Obama administration and members of both parties in Congress lined up behind a broad rollout of the devices, which run from $300 to more than $1,000.

We get to the bottom of the findings here and here.

The Healers

In a small hospital in Kabul, doctors and nurses struggle to keep pace with a rush of civilians wounded in an unrelenting civil war. Photographer Victor J. Blue spent two months at the hospital last fall, documenting the latest fighting season’s toll. Here's the inside look at the Emergency Surgical Center in Kabul where many come to heal.

Ajmal, 11, pushes Sangeer, 7, through the garden at Emergency Surgical Center in Kabul.Victor J. Blue
Fake News: How a Partying Macedonian Teen Earns Thousands Publishing Lies

Fake news ran wild during the presidential election — and even though the contest is over, the gold rush continues for dozens of enterprising teens in a remote Macedonian town. Their main cash cow: president-elect Donald Trump.

"Nothing can beat Trump’s supporters when it comes to social media engagement," says 18-year-old Dimitri, who claims to have made $60,000 in the past six months from the fake news phenomenon. NBC News takes you inside the small town of Veles, where the teens spend big on cars, clubbing and real estate as they cash in on an empire of lies that shook a presidential election.

National Parks at 100

To recognize the centennial of the National Park Service, NBC News featured stories from 10 national parks and recreation areas — from California's Yosemite to New York's Gateway.

Photographer Bradly Boner revisited the original sites of William Henry Jackson’s images that helped convince Congress to create Yellowstone National Park in March 1872. This image combines Jackson’s 1871 photo of the Yellowstone River with how the same site looks today.William Henry Jackson / Bradly J. Boner

The series — the first of its kind from NBC News — chronicles the case of New York State inmate Richard Rosario, who was convicted of a 1996 murder in New York City. Rosario has always insisted that he is innocent, and that 13 alibi witnesses will swear he was a thousand miles away in Florida while the crime was happening in New York. Follow along here.

Behind Barbed Wire: Remembering America's Largest Internment Camp

NBC Asian America spoke with five Americans who recounted the years of their lives spent behind the camp's barbed wire, the ways in which their community fought back, and how, years later, they continue to find healing through collective memory. Read about it here.