Below, the 31 things you didn't see on TV:
5:27 p.m.: There's a palpable buzz in front of the Microsoft Theater, but it's not very crowded since most fans are hanging out at the red carpet on the other side of the large complex. Justin Bieber is clearly still a force, with many young fans walking around L.A. Live with "What Do You Mean" signs.
5:30 p.m.: Max Joseph and Nev Shulman from Catfish are a greeting committee at the bottom of the orchestra pit inside the Microsoft Theater, where other MTV stars like Dr. Drew are also seated.
5:35 p.m.: Wayne Coyne -- a newfound Miley BFF who will eventually join the VMA host for her finale performance -- arrives in the house.
6:02 p.m.: Outside of the crowd at the front and side of the stage, only about one-quarter of the people in the sold-out venue are standing for Nicki Minaj's performance.
6:06 p.m.: Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj high-five fans as they walk off the stage through the crowd after their surprise joint performance.
6:10 p.m.: During introductions, Justin Bieber and Kanye West get the loudest reactions from fans inside the venue.
6:14 p.m.: People in Santa hats and wizard caps and robes gather around Miley in what looks like a scene out of Elf.
6:24 p.m.: Miley takes the stage before the commercial break is over and says, "I knew I should've worn underwear."
6:29 p.m.: Kanye is totally grooving to The Weeknd -- standing and dancing by himself in the aisle.
6:43 p.m.: Right after Kanye jumps up from his seat to pump up the crowd for Taylor Swift as she heads onstage to accept best female video, an alternate camera angle catches him pretend-sleeping in his seat after the sweet gesture.
6:55 p.m.: During Demi Lovato's performance -- which beams in from outside the Orpheum Theater, down the street from the awards show -- many people inside the venue use the downtime to check their phones to post and read social media.
7:05 p.m.: The majority of the Microsoft Theater stands for Justin Bieber's entire performance.
7:08 p.m.: Bieber collects his breath and emotions after his "What Do You Mean" performance. Then a stagehand helps him out of the contraption that helped him fly during his performance. After he walks off the stage, he pulls his black hat off and runs his fingers through his hair as he is whisked backstage.
7:25 p.m.: The crowd responds to Tori Kelly's sensational performance with a thunderous roar and a standing ovation.
7:44 p.m.: The majority of the people inside the Microsoft Theater clearly get fatigue from standing during Kanye West's lengthy acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award. While everyone is standing at the beginning, most take a seat before he finishes.
7:46 p.m.: After dropping the mic, West heads to the front row to hug wife Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and the Jenners.
8:18 p.m.: As Taylor Swift accepts the award for video of the year, the crew frantically prepares the main stage for Miley Cyrus' surprise performance.
8:20 p.m.: Tyler Joseph from Twenty One Pilots -- who had just performed with A$AP Rocky -- isn't pre-ordering his Kanye for President bumper sticker just yet. "I still need to hear a little bit more about his policies before I give him my vote," he quips to reporters backstage.
8:30 p.m.: Security guards flank the stage right after the show ends, and the audience slowly files out of the venue.
8:35 p.m.: Fans leaving the building are reeling from Miley's announcement that her new album is now available online for free.
8:38 p.m.: Fans in the standing-room-only area and on sides of stage are finally allowed to leave after waiting for the majority of the crowd to disperse from the building.
8:45 p.m.: L.A. Live is packed with fans who attended the show and others hoping to catch a celebrity sighting. Many take an opportunity for one last selfie in front of the Microsoft Theater.
9:01 p.m.: Miley takes the press room by storm, coming in to take photos and quickly grabbing the mic and announcing that she has a gift to share with the media. "Since you're all my friends, and because the [new] song is about the love of marijuana and the love of humankind, I've got a little joint, if anyone would like any," she says. "Anyone?" And that wasn't Miley's last gift: She returns to the press room with a bag of avocados and hands them out to reporters and photographers. What a good hostess!
--Reporting by Katie Atkinson, Keith Caulfield, Jeff Cornell, Shirley Halperin and Leslie Richin