Saturday Night Live is one of the longest running television series in the United States. The recipe for its success is pretty simple: a combination of repertory and guest actors parodying current cultural and political events in a sketch-comedy show format. On live television.
Now, anything can happen on a live programme. And that’s what makes for a great show. Actors breaking character in fits of laughter, improvising and reacting genuinely to their fellows’ ad libs, forgetting their lines… Sometimes those moments of spontaneity can be the best part of the show, but sometimes things can be taken a bit too far and stray into the “this is crossing the line” territory.
Whether it’s because they said something they really shouldn’t have on live television, or because they behaved inappropriately on or off-screen, some celebrities have been banned from ever appearing on SNL again. The show has been on air for more than 40 years, and in all that time hundreds of stars have been part of it, but only a handful of them have managed to get on the Saturday Night Live’s wall of shame.
Here is a list of some of them, compiled by Ranker.
1. Sinéad O’Connor
One of the most infamous moments on SNL was when Sinéad O’Connor performed “War” by Bob Marley in October, 1992. She made the song into a protest against the Catholic Church. Instead of the original lyrics, O’Connor started singing about child abuse and finished her performance by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II and asking the people “to fight the real enemy.” The incident was edited out of repeats of the show and the Irish singer was never invited to come back.
2. Steven Seagal
One of the biggest stars of action movies, Steven Seagal was supposed to host SNL on April 20, 1991. However, he was so disagreeable in his interactions with the cast and crew that he angered the show’s producer Lorne Michaels to the point that Michaels called him “the biggest jerk to ever be on the show.” The producers decided that they would rather have no host at all than continue working with Seagal, so his hosting duties were cancelled and he was never again invited to make another appearance.
3. Adrien Brody
During the pre-production of the episode he was hosting in May, 2003, Hollywood star Adrien Brody kept dismissing “good” ideas that the writers were suggesting. At one point during the live show, he even ditched the script when he announced the Jamaican rapper Sean Paul while wearing dreadlocks and a horrible Jamaican accent. This caused a lot of disapproval from the producers, and the Oscar-winning actor received a permanent ban from SNL.
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4. Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase was one of the original SNL cast members, but that didn’t prevent him from getting a soft ban in 1997. The actor hosted the show many times, but he didn’t really get along with the cast. These disagreements led to him being banned from returning to host. However, despite the ban, Chase has had a few more guest appearances on the show, including doing a segment of Weekend Update in 2007.
5. Martin Lawrence
Martin Lawrence’s rant during his monologue in 1994 resulted in many SNL employees nearly losing their jobs and Lawrence receiving a ban from ever coming back on the show. The monologue, which started as a bit about the John and Lorena Bobbitt incident, veered off course as Lawrence started talking about female hygiene habits. “The frank and lively presentation” was subsequently edited out of repeats and replaced by a graphic which offered a general description of what he had said.
6. The Replacements
The rules regarding drugs and alcohol abuse on the show are very strict as can be seen from the fact that the punk rock band The Replacements were banned for failing to follow them. The band appeared on the show on January 18, 1986, and they were more than a little tipsy while performing. The last straw was when the lead singer, Paul Westerberg, cursed on live television. Time cooled the tensions though, and Westerberg returned as a solo musical guest in 1993.
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7. Robert Blake
The American actor is best known for his role in the detective TV show Baretta and for being accused of murdering his wife (he was found not guilty at the trial). He hosted SNL on November 13, 1982, but he was a real grouch behind the scenes. He disliked the scripts provided so much that he even through one in the face of cast member/writer Gary Kroeger. After wrapping his hosting duties, Blake never came back on the show.
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8. Milton Berle
Legendary actor and comedian Milton Berle took complete control of the whole show when he hosted SNL on April 14, 1979. He was “a comedy train accident in slow motion, on a loop,” according to one of the show’s writers. He kept upstaging the cast members and inserting bits that were never approved of. As a result he got banned from ever coming back.
9. Charles Grodin
Talk show host Charles Grodin used to be a comedian and actor. He hosted SNL in 1977, but after apparently missing rehearsals, his live performance was very clumsy and badly improvised. His poor showing meant that he never got invited to come back.
10. Louise Lasser
Louise Lasser was the first person ever to be banned from SNL. She is said to have been incoherent during her hosting of an episode of the first season back in 1976. The actress refused to do any of the sketches in which she wasn’t either alone or accompanied only by Chevy Chase. And according to production assistant Neil Levy, she was also high and she kept searching the SNL offices looking for drugs.