15 Fights That Broke Out Behind the Scenes of Saturday Night Live

For more than 40 years, Saturday Night Live has been a breeding ground of some of America’s greatest comedy minds. But when you put that much talent in an enclosed space, you’re asking for trouble. Even the best SNL members have their bad moments. Stories of fights at SNL almost outnumber the stories of how great bits were written, or even wild drug stories – maybe that’s just a symptom of a bunch of people in the 20s and 30s staying up for days at a time with the intense pressure to produce hanging over their heads. Not all of the behind the scenes SNL fights ended with someone getting punched in their face. Some of the fights backstage at SNL were started with a joke that turned into a two decade long feud, and others spilled out onto other talk shows and exploded from there.

You would think that in an era where everyone knows everything thanks to the Internet, fights on set at Saturday Night Live wouldn’t be a thing. But it turns out that almost the opposite is true. Special guests and even cast members rant and rave to anyone who will listen about their SNL beefs, thus making everyone wish they worked on the show so they could witness some of that drams. If you don’t mind having your views changed on a few of your favorite comedic performers, feel free to keep reading for some bts SNL D-R-A-M-A.

Read about the craziest and most out of character backstage scuffles, bicker fests, and wars of words to come out of Saturday Night Live.

  • David Spade vs. Eddie Murphy

    David Spade vs. Eddie Murphy
    Photo: NBC

    Back in the '90s, David Spade's biggest breakout on SNL came from his Hollywood Minute segment on Weekend Update. The whole scthick was that he would be rude and viewers would go "OOOOOOOH!" and that was that. But when he joked about Eddie Murphy being a "falling star," the SNL alum was not pleased. Murphy called Spade on the following Monday and went off on the young comedian, saying, "David Spade, who the f*ck do you think you are?!! Honestly? Who. The. F*ck. Going after ME?? You dumb motherf*cker! I’m off-limits, don’t you know that? You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me. Talking sh*t about me??" It would take another 20 years for their beef to be squashed. 

  • John Belushi vs. Every Female Writer and Performer

    John Belushi vs. Every Female Writer and Performer
    Photo: NBC

    One of the most annoying conversations in the world of comedy is that female writers and performers aren't funny. This isn't just sexist, it's straight up not true. But John Belushi was such a misogynist that he actively tried to torpedo sketches written by women.

    Jane Curtin, one of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, told Oprah, "You’d go to a table read, and if a woman writer had written a piece for John, he would not read it in his full voice. He felt as though it was his duty to sabotage pieces written by women.”

  • Chris Kattan vs. Norm Macdonald

    Chris Kattan vs. Norm Macdonald
    Photo: NBC


    Is there a more '90s feud than Chris Kattan vs. Norm Macdonald? Maybe Technotronic vs. Jesus Jones. During a radio interview in 2015, Kattan revealed that he and Norm had an intense feud during their tenure at Saturday Night Live that culminated in a bizarre argument during a pitch meeting that didn't make anyone look good.

    After Kattan suggested a Mango sketch with Garth Brooks Macdonald replied, "Nobody wants to do a sketch with a f**.” To which Kattan responded, "Norm, go sexually abuse your assistant.” After all of this came out on air, Macdonald's people and his former assistant issued multiple statements that no abuse had ever happened, and Kattan withdrew his statement. 

  • Chevy Chase vs. Bill Murray

    Chevy Chase vs. Bill Murray
    Photo: NBC

    It's the age old question: do you prefer Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? Obviously, time has landed firmly on Murray's side, but in the '70s that wasn't the case. In 1976, Murray replaced Chevy Chase as the resident tall, handsome, smarmy white guy on SNL and he quickly began winning over fans. Chase allegedly hated Murray, and when he returned to host the show in season 3, they got into what Murray describes as "a Hollywood fight." As legend has it, as Murray's brother was pulling them apart, Murray was shouting that Chase was a "medium talent."

  • Chevy Chase vs. The Mid '80s Cast

    Chevy Chase vs. The Mid '80s Cast
    Photo: Warner Bros./NBC

    Ten years after getting into a fist fight with Bill Murray, Chevy Chase returned to Saturday Night Live just in time to insult everybody. Notably, he made fun of Robert Downey Jr.'s recently deceased father. ("Didn't your father used to be a successful director? Whatever happened to him? Boy, he sure died, you know, he sure went to hell.") He also pitched a sketch about the first openly gay performer on SNL getting AIDS and having to be weighed every week. Terry Sweeney (the performer in question) says that Chase was so out of line that he was forced to apologize. "He was really furious that he had to apologize to me."

  • Chevy Chase vs. The Mid '90s Cast

    Chevy Chase vs. The Mid '90s Cast
    Photo: NBC

    When Chevy Chase returned to host the show in the mid '90s, he definitely didn't make any new friends. Tim Meadows, who seems like one of the most level-headed guys in comedy, likened Chase's return to "watching a car accident over and over again just watching him deal with people." And he even managed to get on Will Ferrell's bad side after the pre-mega star witnessed Chase telling a female staffer, "maybe you can give me a handjob later."