NBC's Saturday Night Live has always sought to push the envelope of what you can and can't do on television. Nevertheless, a few performers throughout the past four decades have gone over the line to such an extent, they were either officially or unofficially permanently banned from ever appearing on the show again.
Honestly, though, some of these verdicts should definitely be reconsidered. Here are 10 people who are banned from Saturday Night Live, along with the incidents that led to their banishment from Studio 8H.
1. Martin Lawrence
Martin was banned from SNL 15 years ago this month, and his case is definitely one where the punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime. Martin delivered a very blue routine about women with questionable hygiene that didn't go over well with a lot of viewers and certainly not with series creator Lorne Michaels.
Apparently the producer was so upset by the jokes, future broadcasts of the episode censored a good portion of the routine along with a disclaimer assuring viewers they didn't approve of Martin's words. The edict from on high was that the comedian was never again allowed to host, appear or even be mentioned on the show. However, Leslie Jones did name-drop the Bad Boys star in 2016 so maybe in another five years he'll be allowed back in the studio for a cameo.
2. Steven Seagal
Perhaps the worst crime a host could commit is not being funny. After hosting the sketch show in 1991, Lorne claimed he was the "worst host ever." On top of giving a poor performance, everyone seems to agree he was superlatively difficult, rude, and uncooperative throughout their week together. One cast member from the period, Norm Macdonald, recalled him being shockingly arrogant and "just not a nice guy."
3. Adrien Brody
It's also not a good idea to go off-script, especially if your idea of funny is being kinda racist. Adrien thought it would be hilarious to don a dreadlock wig and adopt an exaggerated Jamaican accent when introducing musical guest Sean Paul in a 2003 appearance. The offensive routine, which went on for nearly a minute, prompted Lorne to condemn his actions and bar him from future shows.
4. Robert Blake
Also not a good look? Anger management issues. Beretta star Robert Blake got blacklisted in 1982 after crumpling up a script and hurling it in the face of a writer. We're guessing it wasn't too much of a surprise to Lorne and staff of the time when Blake was later accused of murdering his wife. Though he was acquitted, he was found liable in a civil wrongful death suit.
5. Sinéad O'Connor
Nowadays, Sinéad's protest of the Catholic Church on Saturday Night Live is celebrated by many, especially survivors of abuse at the hands of priests who were protected by the Church for years. However, at the time, her statement was misunderstood and widely condemned by the media, including Lorne. It resulted in an unofficial ban of future appearances, though the showrunner seems to view the incident differently nowadays. In his book, Live From New York, he wrote, "I think it was the bravest possible thing she could do."
6. Elvis Costello
Elvis's ban is lifted, but he was blacklisted for more than a decade for rebelling against his record label, RCA, which then owned NBC. They wanted him to play "Less Than Zero," but he stopped the performance a few bars in and decided instead to play "Radio, Radio." On top of this not being the song his label had wanted him to play, they weren't too happy about the lyrics, which are against the sort of corporate stranglehold of the airwaves that RCA was complicit in.
NBC has changed hands about 235092385 times since then, so Elvis was invited back for the 25th anniversary show, where he parodied the once-controversial performance.
7. Chevy Chase
Chevy is one of the original "Not Ready for Primetime Players," but he's been under an on-again, off-again ban since 1997, when he reportedly slapped cast member Cheri Oteri in the back of the head. Will Ferrell reported the assault to Lorne, and Chevy insisted it was "a joke." Ha. Ha. Soooo funny.
Chevy seems to have been forgiven — at least by Lorne — since he appeared on the 40th anniversary special, but don't expect to see the notoriously volatile actor hosting again.
8. Cypress Hill
It isn't news to anyone who's heard a single Cypress Hill song or seen them perform, but the hip-hop group crossed the line when they sparked up live on TV. Even though SNL has been well-known for some pretty wild and crazy after-parties, especially in the late '70s and early '80s, using drugs openly and on camera was enough to ensure the California rappers would not be welcome at 30 Rock again.
9. Rage Against the Machine
Rage appeared only once on the program in 1996. Though most musical guests perform two songs during the 90-minute broadcast, Lorne and Co. sent them packing after their first performance, during which they hung upside-down American flags on their amps. What made the political statement even more charged is that billionaire and one-time presidential hopeful Steve Forbes was the host that evening.
Though the crew removed the flags and the band was allowed to perform their first song as scheduled, they were shown the door before their encore.
The punk band, fronted by Lee Ving (who starred as Mr. Boddy in the '80s cult classic Clue), had one of the most infamous performances in SNL history. The group had a huge fan in John Belushi, who secured them a slot on the 1981 Halloween show. A group of slamdancers appeared on stage with them — Belushi included — and their riotous "dancing" wreaked such havoc they caused $20K in damages to the set. They smashed pumpkins before Smashing Pumpkins was a twinkle in Billy Corgan's eye, and the crew were removing gourd guts for days. They also ruined cameras and a piano.
Rather than feel ashamed about the incident, Ving and his crew bragged about the incident and even inflated the price of their mayhem, saying they caused $500K worth of damage.