3.6k voters

The Most Shocking Moments From 'Saturday Night Live'

Updated September 20, 2021 15.7k votes 3.6k voters 242.1k views18 items

List RulesVote up the transgressive and controversial moments from Saturday Night Live - the moments that made America say "did they really just go there?!"

Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975. That's right, this sketch comedy show has been running for more than 40 years. With all those hours of television and all those crazy personalities in one place, making live television, there are bound to be more than a few truly shocking moments. The top 18 most shocking SNL moments on this list are legendary.

SNL has brought so many hilarious comedians to the mainstream and kick-started many wonderful film careers (and also some not-so-wonderful ones). But not everyone was successful as a host or a musical guest. Some hosts decided to take matters (and material) into their own hands after feeling censored by producers and/or the network. Some musical guests changed their playlists at the last minute, or just forgot what they were up there doing altogether.

Below we celebrate the most shocking moments from the television institution that is Saturday Night Live. Vote up the moments you were most shocked by below. And remember: It's never a good idea to rip up a picture of the pope on live television.

  • 1

    Chevy Chase And Richard Pryor Get Racist

    Video: YouTube

    Even now this video is pretty edgy as far as racism goes, but in 1975 it was downright shocking. In the video Chevy Chase interviews Richard Pryor with a round of word association.

    We'll let you watch and see the results for yourself. Just remember: this aired on national television.

    Was this shocking?
  • 2

    Sinead O'Connor vs. Pope John Paul II

    Video: YouTube

    Sinead O'Connor does what she wants. In rehearsals for her performance on SNL, she held up a photo of an African child showing that we need to fight hunger and help those in need. But for the live show, she decided that while singing about the enemy, she would bring up a picture of Pope John Paul II, tear it up on live TV, and encourage viewers to "FIGHT THE REAL ENEMY!"

    She was banned from SNL and her career hasn't been too hot since the incident. 

    Was this shocking?
  • 3

    A Sketch That Made Fun Of The Blind

    Video: YouTube

    In 2008, "Weekend Update" took jabs at David Paterson, then the governor of New York. Depicting Paterson as a short-sighted fool with no idea where he was, the writers failed to realize not only was Paterson actually legally blind, but that their sketch openly mocked disabled people. Paterson came out against the sketch, calling it "third-grade humor," while the National Federation of the Blind also denounced the depiction.

    While the video above doesn't depict the infamous '08 sketch, it still showcases how SNL used Paterson's disability to make him a moron.

    Was this shocking?
  • 4


    Video: YouTube

    The video really speaks for itself, and we don't want to give anything away, but while Christoph Waltz (of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained) was hosting SNL, they presented this skit which pissed off ALL the people. JC Penny and Sears even pulled advertising from NBC.

    Christians were pissed, Muslims were pissed, Fox News was stoked to have to something to yell about.

    "The 'H' is silent."

    Was this shocking?