9 Times Famous People Actually Dropped F Bombs On Saturday Night Live

Norm Macdonald

One of the hazards of live television is that it is just that – live. Without the cushion of tape delay, whatever someone says on-mic (and sometimes off-mic) will end up being aired. Slips of the tongue are not uncommon. And when that slip of the tongue results in an F-bomb or other obscenity being heard on-air, it tends to be a very big deal – the audience notices, the media notices, and the FCC notices. The consequences of an obscenity airing on live television can vary. As the history of Saturday Night Live proves, sometimes the person dropping the expletive is let off the hook, while other times the accidental or deliberate slip of the tongue costs the person their job.

Since SNL debuted in 1975, the late-night sketch comedy/variety show has had multiple incidents where some variation of the F-word has been dropped, with the first known time coming back in 1980. Sometimes, the slip-up has been accidental, such as when Jenny Slate dropped the F-bomb on her very first episode as an SNL cast member. Sometimes it is deliberate, such as when Prince refused to change an obscenity-laced lyric in his song “Party Up.” In fact, musicians have been common offenders when it comes to dropping F-bombs on this show – more than half of the incidents listed below came during a musical performance. But as individuals such as Kristen Stewart and Norm Macdonald have shown, guest hosts and cast members are not immune from letting an obscenity (or two) slip. 

These slip-ups – or deliberate acts – have certainly kept the censors working on SNL busy over the years.

1. Prince


Prince made the first of his three appearances (not including anniversary specials or retrospectives) on SNL on February 21, 1981. He performed his song “Party Up,” which contains the line “Fightin’ war is such a f***in’ bore” – and that’s exactly what the artist sang during his SNL performance.

According to Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, the censor in the control room was asked to confirm that Prince had actually said “f***in’.” He reportedly replied, “Nah. He said ‘friggin’.” So the use of the obscenity pretty much went ignored.

Oddly, this was the same episode that SNL cast member Charles Rocket, while portraying the character of J.R Ewing, dropped an F-bomb at the end of the show. 

It would be around 25 years before Prince made his next appearance on a regular episode of SNL (February 4, 2006).

2. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart

Donald Trump had officially moved into the White House just weeks prior to Stewart’s guest-hosting stint on the February 4, 2017, episode of SNL. The show and the actress were well aware that the new president was not a fan of hers and they were more than happy to address this fact.

Stewart’s monologue opened by talking about how in 2012 Trump had been obsessed with tweeting about her on-and-off relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. She was then joined onstage by SNL cast members Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon – the latter of whom is openly out – as Stewart touched on her own sexuality. At the end of her monologue, she accidently said, “coolest f***ing thing ever,” to express how excited she was about the night’s show. She immediately covered her mouth then rebounded to ruefully remark, “I’ll never come back.”

But she did. SNL invited Stewart back, and she made her return as a guest host on November 2, 2019.

3. Norm Macdonald

Norm Macdonald

Macdonald ‘s five-year (1993-1998) stint on SNL was highlighted by his work as the anchor on the “Weekend Update” segment. On the April 12, 1997, episode, he was in the midst of the “Weekend Update” when he flubbed a line while trying to do a story, then mumbled, “What the f*** was that.”

Immediately recognizing what he had said, Macdonald wryly remarked to the audience, “My farewell performance,” and ended the segment with, “Maybe we’ll see you next week.”

Although the comedian survived the immediate aftermath of him dropping an accidental F-bomb, he was later taken off the “Weekend Update” and was fired after the 1997-1998 season.

4. Kanye West

Kanye West

Kanye West’s SNL appearance on September 29, 2018, got heavy media coverage for what didn’t get aired –  the rapper gave a pro-Trump rant in front of the studio audience and the SNL cast members who had joined him on stage as the end credits rolled. As SNL had run over its time slot, NBC cut away from the show before West’s rant got going, but comedian Chris Rock, who was in the audience, posted it on his Instagram.

But it turns out that West’s actual performance was also controversial. Rolling Stone reported that the FCC received several complaints from viewers who stated that the artist (wearing a costume that made him look like a bottle of Perrier) had rapped the line “I’m a sick f***. I like a quick f***” while performing his duet with Lil Pump, “I Love It” – although they did change the original lyric of “You’re such a f***in’ Ho” to “you’re such a freaky girl.” Because West rapped the line with the F-bombs in it so quickly, it got past the censor.

5. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson appeared on the December 15, 2012, episode of SNL. In “What Up,” a skit where he plays himself, he appeared to drop an F-bomb. Later that night, the actor tweeted that he didn’t actually drop the F-bomb. Instead, he claimed that what he said was “Fuh.”

On December 18, Jackson went on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he blamed Thompson for his use of obscenities, saying Thompson was supposed to have interrupted Jackson before he could get the words out. He told Kimmel, “I’m used to working with professionals who know their lines, even the ones that are written on cue cards in front of you.”

6. Charles Rocket

Charles Rocket

When SNL started its sixth season with a completely new cast, NBC and the show’s new producer Jean Doumanian hoped that Rocket could become a breakout star. He was made the “Weekend Update” anchor and appeared in more sketches that most of the other male cast members. 

But Rocket’s tenure on the show was brief. On February 21, 1981, SNL featured a parody  of the “Who Shot J.R.?” story arc from the hit show Dallas. Rocket portrayed J.R. Ewing in the skit, and right before SNL went off the air for the night, he was asked how it felt to get shot. Still in character, he replied, “Oh man, it’s the first time I’ve been shot in my life. I’d like to know who the f*** did it.” 

The actor told Doumanian that he hadn’t meant to use the expletive. He and the producer apologized in person to numerous NBC executives, and Rocket even signed a formal written apology to the network. But he later admitted that he didn’t take the situation seriously, even joking with Doumanian about the angry reactions they would get from the executives. 

NBC President Brandon Tartikoff, however, wasn’t amused. He fired the actor, abruptly ending Rocket’s run on SNL after just 12 episodes.

7. Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler

The rock band Aerosmith has been a musical guest on SNL four times, with the first of these appearances coming on February 17, 1990. On that episode, the band took part in a Wayne’s World sketch with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, and performed two songs – “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Monkey on My Back.”

The lyrics to the latter song include the line “You best believe I had it all and then I blew it feeding that f***ing monkey on my back.” When it came time for the live SNL performance, Tyler left the F-word in the song. In Aerosmith: The Fall And Rise of Rock’s Greatest Band, the author suggests that the Aerosmith frontman’s refusal to censor himself was a response to NBC’s earlier refusal to air the band’s music video for “Love in an Elevator.”

8. Jenny Slate

Jenny Slate

Slate had an inauspicious debut as a cast member on SNL. Hired as a cast member for the 2009-2010 season, it was during the first episode of the season that Slate accidentally dropped her F-bomb. Teamed with Kristen Wiig for the “Bikers Chicks Chat” sketch, Slate accidentally said, “I f***ing love you,” instead of “I friggin love you.” 

While the obscenity aired live, it was cut out of the pre-recorded version of the show that aired later in the evening. Slate later claimed that while Lorne Michaels was sympathetic, some of the reaction on social media was very harsh. She also denied that she was let go from the show (following the 2009-2010 season) because of this flub.

“Everyone thinks I got fired for saying f***: I didn’t, that’s not why I got fired. I just didn’t belong there,” she told InStyle magazine in 2019.

9. Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell

Rockwell was the guest host of the January 13, 2018, episode of SNL. In the sketch “The Science Room with Mr. Science,” Rockwell played the host of a TV science show. As his character becomes increasingly frustrated with his students’ (played by Mikey Day and Cecily Strong) wrong answers to even the simplest questions, the actor accidentally blurted out, “You can’t be this f***ing stupid.”

Rockwell realized his mistake and, while still in character, quickly apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. Kids aren’t stupid.” As SNL had been airing live in the United States since the spring of 2017, Rockwell’s obscenity was heard by audiences across the country, except by those who got the West Coast feed, which NBC typically aired on a few seconds’ delay.

This wasn’t the only controversial part of this episode. Later in the show, “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost used the word “s***hole” when discussing how President Trump had recently used that same term to describe some foreign countries.