You never know what you’re going to get with television shows. There are plot twists and character deaths that you would never, ever see coming. Of course, live TV adds a whole new element of unpredictably.
Sometimes, the most exciting thing that happens during a live broadcast is that someone reads the teleprompter wrong. Or, someone gets accidentally bleeped when they weren’t swearing. Rarer are the times when live TV captures some shocking and controversial moments. Spoiler alert: There are a number of them that involve Saturday Night Live and Kanye West. The are the times when TV networks probably wish they went with a pre-recorded option, but for us viewers, they go down in pop culture history.
18. Sam Rockwell Swears On Saturday Night Live
Everyone was excited for Saturday Night Live to return in 2018. The show kicked off with a bang — or make that a F-bomb. Sam Rockwell was hosting. When it came time to perform a sketch about a science experiment, he got very into his character. When he was trying to explain the experiment to two very nervous students (Cecily Strong and Mikey Day), he dropped the F-word. You’ve got to hand it to the guy for picking up like it was NBD, and give props to Cecily and Mikey for not losing it. Unfortunately, SNL takes live-cursing pretty seriously, and he likely won’t be asked back to the show anytime soon.
17. Ashlee Simpson “Sings” on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live makes it onto the list for a second time. Ashlee Simpson might just have the most iconic SNL flub of them all. Way back in 2004, the singer was performing on the show. Her first performance of “Pieces of Me” went down very well. When it came time to perform her second song, “Autobiography,” the track for “Pieces of Me” started playing again… with Ashlee’s vocals. What did she do? An Irish jig. They quickly cut to a commercial. At the end, Ashlee and host Jude Law tried to apologize with Ashlee claiming “her band starting playing too early.” Yup.
16. Kanye West Says “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
When Kanye West is in the building, someone better have their hand on that button because you never know what the dude is going to do. Just think back to the “A Concert For Hurricane Katrina” special in 2005. Celebrities were trying to raise money for victims of the Hurricane and Mike Myers and Kanye were somehow put together. Mike read what the teleprompter said, but Kanye being Kanye did his own thing and said the infamous line about the then-President of the United States. Perhaps the best thing of all was Mike’s face after Kanye’s surprise speech.
15. Jenny Slate Swears On Saturday Night Live
That’s right, it’s another Saturday Night Live moment. This time it’s with Jenny Slate when she was a new cast member. In her very first episode in 2009, she was in a sketch with Kristen Wiig. It seems that the comedienne got a little too into the biker chick role because she ended up dropping the F-bomb. When she realizes her error, her expression is all of us. She ended up getting fired at the end of the season because of it.
14. The Super Bowl’s “NippleGate”
You were for a major surprise when you watched the 2004 Super Bowl Half-Time Performance live. Justin Timberlake was a new solo star and singing with Janet Jackson. Things were going well until Justin had to sing, “I’ll have you naked by the end of this song.” It turned out he meant it literally… he just didn’t know it. When he went to grab Janet’s top when a little too much came off, revealing a full intricately pierced nipple. There have been countless apologies and debates about what actually happened that day. Still, JT is coming back to the Super Bowl this year and Janet has been ostracized from the event for good. But like… it wasn’t her fault?
13. Dan Walker Drops C-Word On BBC Breakfast
It’s really bad to swear on live TV, but it’s even worse when it’s in the morning. That’s what happened to poor Dan Walker. He was talking about the upcoming events on BBC Breakfast, and let’s just say that he ended up getting his words a little wrong. He ended up saying, “Now, what better way to gain an understanding of a community than to immerse yourself in their c*nture.” His co-host Naga Munchetty swiftly responded, “That was a mixture of ‘country’ and ‘culture,’ wasn’t it?” Good save, but we still did notice.
12. Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift At The MTV Video Music Awards
There has been plenty of Taylor Swift/Kanye West drama since the 2009 VMAs, but it was the place where the real tiff began. Taylor won the VMA Video of the Year Award for “You Belong With Me.” Kanye being Kanye was worked up about it and stormed the stage. Taylor initially thought he was going to congratulate her but he ended up stealing the mike and uttered the infamous line, “Imma let you finish but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Bey later showed grace when she won an award and allowed Taylor to come on stage to finish her speech. People were talking about this one for years. In fact, they’ve never stopped talking about it!
11. BBC Expert’s Kids And Wife Interrupts Him
This is the video that probably made door lock sales skyrocket. The BBC had Professor Robert Kelly on to discuss North Korea in 2017 via webcam. Things were going well until his daughter came in through the door. Things got even better when his baby somehow rolls into the room in his bouncy chair. Then Robert’s wife came in to try and get the kids off-screen. Meanwhile, he tries to continue discussing the serious situation happening. The video became more controversial because many thought that Robert’s wife was actually the nanny. But, confirmed, it was his wife.
10. Katie Lee Gifford Asks Martin Short How His Dead Wife Is Doing
Reporters have a lot of stuff to research before they interview a guest. Sometimes, facts can get forgotten about. That must have been what happened when Kathie Lee Gifford was interviewing Martin Short on The Today Show in 2012. Kathie asks Martin how his wife is doing… but she had already passed away in 2010 of ovarian cancer. Martin graciously handled the situation as best as he could then told Kathie about his wife’s passing off-air. After the commercial, she apologized on-camera to him and his family.
9. Reporter Thinks Sex Toy Flag Is ISIS Flag
This was an occasion where a reporter thinks that they have a great story, but the best story of them all ended up being about their reporting. CNN International reporter Lucy Pawle saw what she believed was an “unnerving” ISIS-supporting flag at the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in London. In actuality, the flag had been subverted with sex toy symbols. The fact was completely lost on Lucy during the live broadcast. Instead, she thought that it was written in some kind of Arabic and had terrorism experts discuss it.
8. Kristen Stewart Says F-Word on Saturday Night Live
Are you noticing a trend yet with F-bombs on Saturday Night Live? In 2017, Kristen Stewart was hosting the show. She was working on her monologue where she hilariously called out Donald Trump for tweeting about her relationship with Robert Pattinson. In closing, she got very excited about hosting and said the F-word. It was fast and kind of mumbled (classic K. Stew) so you might have missed it, but Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon and Kristen sure didn’t. All of their reactions were priceless.
7. Steve Harvey Announces Wrong Miss Universe Winner
If you have ever been confused by the “First Runner Up” thing in beauty pageants, you probably felt for Steve Harvey during the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant. The presenter announced that Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez was the winner… but she was actually the First Runner-Up. When he realized his error, he had to cut her celebration short and present Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach the crown. We felt for them all.
6. M.I.A. Flips The Bird At The Super Bowl
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake might have the most infamous Super Bowl Half-Time Performance, but M.I.A. comes in at a close second. When she was performing with Madonna at the 2012 show, she gave the cameras the middle finger without any notice — not giving producers nearly enough to time to blur it out. It might just have been one little finger, but it was definitely the wrong one. The NFL sued the performer for the act. Meanwhile, Madonna kept her performance tame. Who would have thought?
5. Reporter Has Wardrobe Malfunction On Live TV
Poor reporters have to deal with a lot of unexpected things when they’re doing live broadcasts. Chilean reporter Bernardita Middleton from Good Morning Everyone had to deal with one major cringe-worthy moment. She was reporting at the beach in January 2016 when she lost her bikini top in the midst of a strong wave. We give her major points for handling the situation like a pro.
4. Tom Hanks Swears On Good Morning America
Tom Hanks is a lovable guy that’s basically the dad of America. You don’t expect him to do anything wrong. Yet, he surprised everyone — including himself — when he dropped a F-bomb live on Good Morning America. Yes, morning TV. Of course, he handled it in a very Tom Hanks way by apologizing multiple times and feeling so bad for what he did. For the record, he was promoting his new film at the time, 2012’s Cloud Atlas.
3. Ryan Lochte Gets Ambushed On Dancing With The Stars
We almost expect Dancing With The Stars to have some wardrobe malfunctions given that there are so many flips with very little material covering body parts. What we weren’t expecting is for anyone to storm the stage, especially in protest. Well, that is what happened when Ryan Lochte finished performing his debut dance in the 2016 season. Two protesters came onto the stage after the routine. Presumably, they were upset with his whole Rio Olympics drama that had happened just before he signed on to be a part of the show. As you may remember, Ryan and his group of Olympic swimmer pals said they’d been robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the games, when security footage actually appeared to show that the boys had gotten drunk and allegedly proceeded to trash a convenience store. The DWTS protesters ended up getting charged for the incident.
2. The Best Picture Award Gets Mixed Up At The 2017 Oscars
You can go ahead and stick a massive #cringe hashtag on this one. In what might be the biggest Oscar mess up in history, La La Land was mistakenly presented with the Best Picture award, only for the real winner to be Moonlight. Something went wrong with the envelopes, but ultimately it seemed that the Best Actress envelope had been given to the presenters — and it said “Emma Stone – La La Land.” You could tell Warren Beaty knew something was amiss, but he gave the envelope to Faye Dunaway who ended up announcing the wrong winner.
1. Mariah Carey Has Disastrous New Year’s Eve Performance
If the success of a New Year’s Eve performance indicates what a year is like, we should have known that 2017 wasn’t going to be good based on Mariah Carey‘s disastrous performance. The singer was performing on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest and it seemed like everything went wrong. There were a number of technical errors like a supposed faulty ear piece and her singing differing from the background track. There were silences then she pretty much just admitted defeat. #Awkward We give her kudos for returning to the stage to ring in 2018.