17 Truly Shocking "Saturday Night Live" Moments That Were NOT Supposed To Happen On Live TV

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the most memorable times things went unexpectedly wrong on Saturday Night Live. Here are the hilarious, wild, and even controversial results.

1.When Bill Hader accidentally rearranged the entire set by running into it with his electric scooter in "Girlfriends Game Night," making everyone break character.

Bill Hader running into things with his electric scooter

Suggested by golddustniamh

Cecily Strong and James Anderson wrote the "Girlfriends Game Night" sketch about a woman who's so desperate to get pregnant that she tries having sex with her geriatric partner while playing cards with friends. Bill Hader was in an electric wheelchair the entire time, and Cecily Strong had to sit on his lap to do the deed, but maneuvering throughout the sketch proved very difficult for a few reasons. On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Hader revealed that they weren't allowed to simulate sex in any way: "They came down and said, 'Bill, you are not allowed to move a muscle when she sits down on you, or we're gonna get in trouble.'"

Instead, he moved the wheelchair, only he didn't have much control over it and kept running into the set, even accidentally dragging Melissa Villaseñor all the way across the room without knowing it: "It was bad 'cause I backed up, and I knew I hit something, but I didn't know what it was, and I could hear Melissa behind me going, 'It's me.' And I look, and I see Aidy Bryant. I'm like, 'Well, if Aidy's alone, that means I have the entire table behind me.'"


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2.When Kristen Stewart accidentally dropped the F-bomb during her 2017 monologue, and she immediately tried to recover by joking that she'll never come back to the show.

Kristen Stewart on stage during her "SNL" monologue with Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant

Suggested by kevind4ac

Kristen Stewart talked about the incident on The Tonight Show, even saying that multiple people approached her before performing the monologue to remind her that she can't curse on live TV: "I had numerous people come up to me, like, four different times before the show because I had been, like, kind of stumbling through rehearsal 'cause I was really self-conscious and embarrassed...and a lot of that was cursing, and they were like, 'You can't do that on the show. You cannot do that on the show.' And I did it on the show." Stewart ultimately hosted SNL for a second time in 2019, so it's safe to say that Lorne Michaels forgave her.


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3.When Kate McKinnon kept making Ryan Gosling laugh because of her absolutely wild alien abduction story in "Close Encounter."

Ryan Gosling laughing while sitting next to Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon

Suggested by golddustniamh

Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell, the writers of "Close Encounters," revealed that Ryan Gosling couldn't even get through the rehearsals without laughing: "During the first blocking rehearsal on Thursday...he always seemed to lose it after Kate [McKinnon] described being tossed onto the roof of Long John Silver’s. ... But we loved it because he seemed to always be having fun up there."

Day and Seidell said that Kate McKinnon was pure magic on stage and would try her best to make everyone else break during the scene: "Kate was like an assassin, taking them out one by one. She’d get Bobby to laugh, then spread her legs wider and wider until Aidy lost it. It was really fun watching Kate just completely control the scene and have fun up there."


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4.When Adrien Brody went off-book and introduced musical guest Sean Paul while wearing fake locs and speaking in Jamaican Patois, resulting in him allegedly being banned from the show.

Adrien Brody on the "SNL" stage wearing fake locs

"I remember cringing so hard when this happened." —cheersavl

Oscar winner Adrien Brody hosted SNL in May of 2003 but ad-libbed his entire 45-second introduction to Jamaican rapper Sean Paul while wearing fake locs and speaking in a Jamaican accent. The entire thing was clearly offensive and cringeworthy, and the audience had no idea how to react. Rumor has it that Brody was immediately banned from ever appearing on the show again, but during an interview in 2012 he claimed that he's not actually sure if that outcome is true, saying, "I've heard that [rumor], but I don't know."


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5.When Will Ferrell tried as hard as he could to distract Jimmy Fallon and make him laugh in "The Love-ahs" sketch, and it absolutely worked.

Jimmy Fallon laughing in a hot tub

Suggested by melissab56

Will Ferrell revealed that this sketch was basically only made because he wanted "to make Jimmy Fallon laugh, which was not hard to do." He even reminisced about it on The Tonight Show, admitting that he'd change things up and do everything in his power to make Fallon break character during the live broadcast: "I just remember trying to get my foot in your crotch during the sketch. I kept trying to reach under the water to grab you...I would always try to pinch you." Fallon said that he "got in so much trouble" because Lorne Michaels and the writers didn't like that he kept breaking, but he and Ferrell loved it.


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6.When Kanye West was the musical guest in 2018 and went on a pro-Trump rant while on stage, and the cast was visibly uncomfortable.

Kanye West on stage at "SNL" while some of the cast awkwardly stands behind him

Suggested by swifty_girl

Immediately after the SNL episode was done taping, Kanye West performed a third song and brought most of the cast back on stage. West, wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, interrupted himself mid-song, saying: "They bullied me backstage. They said, 'Don't go out there with that hat on.' They bullied me backstage! They bully me! And then they say I'm in the Sunken Place!"

Chris Rock was actually at the taping and documented most of West's speech on his Instagram story. The cast and crew had no idea what to do, and most of them either looked away or at the floor, waiting for everything to end. Kenan Thompson spoke about the event on Late Night with Seth Meyers, saying, "He voiced his opinion very loudly, for a long time. We're all entitled to our opinions. I don't know if that's the moment, necessarily, to hold people hostage like that, but, hey."

@chrisrock / Instagram / youtube.com

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7.When Pete Davidson kept breaking during John Mulaney's Les Misérables parody in the "Diner Lobster" sketch.

Pete Davidson laughing in a fake diner

Suggested by meghanakiran

John Mulaney and Colin Jost originally wrote this sketch in 2010, but it never made it to air. They later revived it when Mulaney hosted the show in 2018. According to Mulaney, the sketch "crescendoed into, like, the biggest applause I'd ever experienced in the studio."

Pete Davidson even said this was his all-time favorite sketch, simply because it was so ridiculous. As for him breaking character throughout the entire thing, he claimed it would have been impossible not to: "To do Les Mis with a lobster in a diner, like, I couldn't not laugh the entire time. It's the most insane thing I've ever seen. Once in a while I'll get to do a sketch, but, like, I'm not good at sketch comedy. I don't know how to do that or write it. I just like to do standup, so whenever they get to throw me in or I get to do something then I'm very lucky."


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8.When Sinead O'Connor protested against the abuse of children in the Catholic Church by ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II while performing as the musical guest in 1992.

Sinead on stage holding up a photo of the Pope and then ripping it into pieces

Suggested by karas4e07

In October of 1992, Sinead O'Connor covered Bob Marley's "War" on the SNL stage, holding up a picture of John Paul II while singing the word "evil." In an act of protest, she tore the photo into several pieces and told viewers to "fight the real enemy" before blowing out a few candles in front of a completely silent audience. O'Connor spoke about the incident with Dr. Phil in 2017, saying, "We in Ireland knew 10 years before you all did about child abuse within the Catholic Church. The photo [of the Pope] had been on my mother's bedroom wall all my life. I was genuinely very angry with what the Church was doing."

O'Connor was attacked for her protest – her albums were steamrolled, crowds would boo her, and she was perceived as "crazy." In June of 2021, she spoke to the co-hosts of The View and recalled the events, saying, "I was like a square peg in a round hole in the pop world...I couldn't be what everybody – whether it was media or management or whatever – wanted me to be...Everybody wanted me to be a pop star, and I felt I was a protest singer."

At the end of the day, O'Connor has no regrets about her planned SNL stunt: "It was a blessing because I had to make my living doing the thing I loved doing, which is making music live...I'm not sorry I did it. It was brilliant...But it was very traumatizing."


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9.When Candice Bergen's character was supposed to be much smarter than Gilda Radner's, but Candice kept messing up, and it played perfectly into the script.

Candice Bergen cracking up next to Gilda Radner on the couch

Suggested by angels4d4

Not only was Candice Bergen the first woman to host SNL, but she's also the first person to host it more than once (she's done it a total of five times now). In a recent interview, she said that the above sketch from Season 2 was one of her favorite episodes she's done.

Bergen also opened up about how pretty much everyone was high during production in those early years: "It started being sort of marijuana-based, and they realized in a second that the show was almost impossible to produce, and to do it stoned on grass made it just a lost cause because you’d be backstage – you have literally split-second costume and wig changes and makeup changes...that’s when the coke came in."


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10.When a bunch of fake blood squirted into Leslie Jones' mouth during the "Gift Wrap" sketch, and she literally threw up.

Leslie Jones getting fake blood squirter into her mouth

Suggested by briannarose15

The Christmas sketch was pretty simple, but things went soooo wrong. Basically, James Franco played an overzealous gift wrapper and sliced his fingers off, causing a stream of blood to shoot everywhere, even hitting Leslie Jones in the face. Jones later talked about what went through her mind when the fake blood squirted into her mouth, saying, "I immediately threw up in my mouth. But I was in my head, mentally, like, 'You are not about to throw up on live TV. You are NOT finna do that! Swallow it! Swallow it!'"


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11.When the whole "Cork-soakers" sketch was a little too NSFW, causing Janet Jackson, Horatio Sanz, and Jimmy Fallon to get verrrrrrry close to breaking character several times.

Janet Jackson laughing in a fake Italy sketch

Suggested by acarrig

Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, and Steve Higgins all wrote the famous "Cork-soakers" sketch together. On an episode of Vulture's Good One podcast, Sanz opened up about how it was common for him to break character on the show but that something was different for him with this particular sketch: "It’s important to see people having fun on a live show, but there were certain sketches that I was like, 'I’m really proud of this sketch. It’s not a recurring sketch. It’s probably only gonna happen once, so let’s do it really well. 'Cork-soakers' is that sketch.'"

In fact, Sanz wanted to do such a good job during it that he literally spoke to Jimmy Fallon – another SNL castmate who typically broke character on stage – insisting that they had to try their hardest not to laugh at all: "I really loved the jokes. I really loved the sketch, and I was like, 'Jimmy, let’s not laugh, because it will be dismissed. Let’s just keep it real and try not to laugh.' And we did. There’s a moment where we almost laughed, but we don’t, and I’m very proud of that scene because of it."


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12.When Aidy Bryant's dresser got the wrong cue and accidentally walked on during the live sketch, and Aidy just couldn't stop laughing.

Aidy Bryant's wardrobe person walking onto set during the live episode

"Her costumer got the timing of the wardrobe change wrong and came on a whole segment earlier than she needed to. The whole thing ended up being hilarious, especially because Aidy could barely get through the rest of the sketch and was laughing between each line." —tessafahey

Aidy Bryant spoke about the incident on The Tonight Show and even said it was the worst break of her lifetime: "There were so many changes between dress and air that my dresser walked in while the camera was on me. I was, like, looking in the monitor, being like, 'That's Audrey! Audrey's on camera!' I could also feel her there, and I heard someone yell, 'No!'...It was really bad. Not good." It also didn't help that Cecily Strong, who was just off-camera, couldn't stop laughing, which made Bryant laugh even more.


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13.When Chris Farley dove onto the table and broke it during the now-iconic "Van Down By the River" sketch.

Chris Farley dressed as Matt Foley in a living room

"David Spade cracked up several times, but the funniest was when Farley broke the table and nobody was expecting it to happen." —dougfancy10

Julia Sweeney was an SNL cast member in the early '90s and appeared in this famous sketch with Chris Farley, playing the mother to David Spade and Christina Applegate's characters. During a 2020 "Women of SNL" panel, Sweeney recalled how she was laughing so much on stage that the camera angles literally had to be adjusted so she wasn't visible: "They had to cut around me because I was laughing...It was like I had the best seat in the house for the funniest friggin' thing that was happening on the planet."

It's been nearly 30 years since that sketch aired, but Sweeney still feels bad for laughing: "Spade was laughing too, but they were mad at me. They had to change camera angles, and that's terrible. That is terrible. I just feel awful about it actually." SNL's Cheri Oteri, who was also on the panel, and Will Forte, who moderated it, both comforted Sweeney by assuring her that her breaking definitely added to the sketch, and it must be "an amazing thing to have been part of."


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14.When Adele had such a big laughing fit during a problematic "Africa Tourism" sketch that she had to crouch down and hide from the camera.

Adele laughing while standing in front of a beach backdrop

Suggested by laurengarafano

Adele broke character several times in this four-minute sketch. Its premise follows three divorcées in a tourism video for Africa, but it immediately received a bunch of backlash online for fetishizing and perpetuating offensive stereotypes about Black men. For example, some lines from the sketch involve finding "a deep, deep connection here," and others talked about how tourists would enjoy the "massive bamboos." Shirtless Black men walked behind Adele several times during the sketch, and at one point two of them carried a white women above their shoulders.


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15.When Fred Armisen delivered terrible news in "The Californians," but Bill Hader completely lost it and kept laughing throughout the six-minute sketch.

Bill Hader covering his laughing face

Suggested by pipermurreyj

The whole "Californians" sketch was based on a bit that Bill Hader and Fred Armisen did for years before each episode's table read. They'd ask each other if they recently went to Los Angeles and, if so, how they got back to their hotel, always answering in a surfer-like voice. As time went on, other cast members would join in, so one day Fred Armisen and SNL writer James Anderson approached Hader with a script based on the bit, but as a soap opera.

While on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Bill Hader said that the first rehearsal for the sketch went pretty smoothly, but during the actual broadcast Fred Armisen changed things up a bit, 'causing everyone to absolutely lose it: "Fred, during rehearsal and everything, he would--his first line was, 'Hey. What are you guys doing here?' That's how he said it. On air, he came out and said, 'Hey. Wwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhat are you doing here?!,' like that." Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader were so caught off guard that they both looked at each other, confused, and immediately started to laugh: "I was gone. If you see the tape, I'm laughing through the--well, I laugh through every freaking sketch," said Hader.


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16.When Martin Lawrence went off-book during his 1994 monologue to inappropriately talk about feminine hygiene, which "nearly cost everyone at Saturday Night Live their jobs."

Martin Lawrence on stage during his monologue

Suggested by murrays3

Martin Lawrence's infamous SNL monologue has since been edited in all reruns and online clips, and the disclaimer above has been added. You can read the full transcript of his monologue here where he basically "jokes" about douching and oral sex and yeast infections before going back on script, saying, "You know, some women’ll let you go down – you know what I’m saying? – knowing they got a yeast infection. I’m sorry. Sorry. Come up with dough all on your damn lip…Got a bagel and a croissant on your lip. 'Anybody got any butter?' I like jelly on mine."

Paradoxically, Lawrence began his monologue by talking about censorship, saying, "This is a dream come true for me, hosting Saturday Night Live...Ain't no stopping me now. It's crazy though. I gotta talk about some things. The daggone censors are following me everywhere around. Wish they'd get off my ass. Oops! Damn. Did I slip? It's bothering me, man. You can't say this, you can't say that. I'm like, 'Well, how am I gonna talk about the world?!'"


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17.And when Rachel Dratch made everyone laugh so hard that Horatio Sanz literally had to wipe away his tears with a Mickey Mouse waffle in "Debbie Downer."

Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz laughing during the "Disney World" sketch

"It brings me to tears every single time I watch it." —pattiecolvin23

Rachel Dratch talked about this sketch and the morose origins of "Debbie Downer" at the Chicago Improv Festival in 2017, saying, "There is a downer attached to the story of how I came up with her. I was on a vacation in Costa Rica. ... People were just making conversation, and someone was like, 'Oh, where are you from?' And I said I'm from New York, and then they were like, 'Oh. Were you there for 9/11?'"

About a week later, that conversation popped back into Dratch's mind, and she thought she could create a full character around it, so she took the idea to former SNL writer Paula Pell: "We were trying to think of how to write Debbie Downer. We had her set in an office and it wasn't really flowing and we were like, 'Wait, we need somewhere that's really happy.' So we set it at Disney World."

Jimmy Fallon spoke about how funny it was to be part of this iconic Disney World sketch, saying, "I didn't laugh until the way end. Horatio [Sanz] was losing it throughout the whole thing. ... At one point, he was laughing so hard and trying not to laugh that tears were coming out of his eyes, and he was dabbing the tears with the waffles to try to make me laugh." Fallon also talked about how SNL is actually a floating studio that's built on springs so the subway that runs below it doesn't shake the set, but the laughter in the audience was so loud that the studio physically shook: "The whole place exploded, and it vibrated. The whole studio vibrated. ... If it's a really killer sketch, the place shakes. The place shook, and I started crying laughing. ... It was one of the funniest moments. I loved it."


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