Samuel L. Jackson drops F-bomb on Saturday Night Live

During Saturday Night Live's all-star holiday special tonight, Samuel L. Jackson said the word "fuck," followed by "bullshit." It looked like an unplanned goof during a skit with Kenan Thompson.

"That cost money," said a surprised Thompson.

If so, any price NBC may or may not pay in FCC fines is a small price for the immediately renewed relevancy and mindshare this incident grants on the show. A verbal nip-slip, if you will.


Below, Jackson's tweet immediately following the incident.

Do you believe him?

I asked on Twitter if anyone smarter than I could recall the last time someone said "fuck" on SNL. Alex Pareene of (and others) say Jenny Slate did this in 2009, and Google proves him to be correct. It was on the season premiere of her only season with the show. Andy Ihnatko adds, "Charles Rocket, in the 80's; first SNL F-bomb was by Paul Shaffer the year he was a castmember." There have been others, according to this pretty great Wikipedia article on the history of SNL— but it's nice to see the tradition renewed.

We can only hope parents out there took to heart Mr. Jackson's lullaby strategy, "Go the Fuck to Sleep."

(YouTube clip HT: @ditzkoff)


    1. Well I for one am horrified.  If I wasn’t, then who would care for the Hypothetical Children of Midnight?

      Also, does anybody actually watch network TV any more?

      1. Yes. It is very happy important to protect our children from bullshits, not from assault weapons.
        (My apologies for hijacking the subject)

    1. I was watching it and it did sound like he said “fuh”. Was it planned or did he just catch himself? Not sure. But he definitely said “bullshit” loud and clear.

  1. I can’t believe that you can’t say ‘fuck’ at 11:30 at night.  What the fuck is up with that?  Shouldn’t children be in bed?  And isn’t fucking the proximate cause of children, anyway?

      1. Honestly now, is there anything in life for which there *isn’t* an appropriate Jethro Tull song reference?

    1. It’s un-fucking-believable. You know, we had the Daily Show uncensored in Australia for a while on the government free to air network, ABC2. Then something happened with licensing, and a cable network got sole rights again, and it was back to being beeped.

      It was amazing how much difference it makes. The whole rhythm of the show is different and fluid. The beeps are like a mosquito.

    2. wait…. what ? – he said this at 11:30 at night and this isnt ok ??? – really ?!? – wow, think British TV got over itself about this sometime in the 80’s… ahh the Tube, you are sadly missed… does Homeland get cut for US audiences then ?? – people swear all the time.

      1. If the first amendment ever gets trashed for good, you can rest assured that the FCC will w00t and cheer.  Fucking assholes.

        The way the current fucked up laws works such that cable can do whatever they want, but broadcast has to adhere to a bunch of puritanical rules under the excuse that is broadcast through the air.  To some asshole judge somewhere, this makes all the difference.

        That isn’t even the whole story.  Technically, cable can do whatever the want.  In practice, they don’t.  You will see no nipples or almost no f’bombs on cable.  There is then another tier of paid for content that comes in on top of cable.  HBO and Showntime and the like are in this third magical category.  For them anything goes.  Nipples and F’bombs for everyone.

        There is a reason why I don’t own cable.  I’m an adult.  Apparently, the only way to watch adult programming is to buy it off of the ‘tubes.

        Fuck the FCC.  Seriously, fuck those guys.

          1. Please don’t remind me.  I could almost stomach the Republicans, even when I violently disagree with them fiscal policy, if they actually followed through with small government.  Small government* just doesn’t do it for me.

            *void when talking about the military, spy agencies, morality laws, religions, alcohol, anything that involves joy, sex, and liberty in general.

      1.  Yeah, but they can fuck off if they think they’re watching TV in the middle of the night, the little shits. I’m not telling them again…

    3. It’s natural to expect Samuel L. Jackson to say that…it’s sort of his signature saying – like you would be surprised if you saw Michelle Bachmann, and she didn’t say something stupid – (though I would like to say (imo) if you want to talk waste of money, it would be that really lame skit – it’s never been funny, a total waste of airtime, and I’m honestly surprised they keep pulling it out – the writing room needs new talent.)

  2. I don’t think the FCC regulates networks after 11pm, so an f-bomb would be legally acceptable. NBC standards and practices, however, is another story.

    1.  Nope, that’s not quite how it works. You’re thinking of the “safe harbor” times of day– from 10pm until 6am. “Indecent” and “profane” stuff is allowed during this time, but not “obscene.” Of course, the FCC’s definitions of these terms are completely bizarre and unhelpful, so it really works out to mean that they get to do whatever they want.

      1. Does the FCC think naughty words are a safety, security or health risk and therefore part of its remit, or what?

        1.  As I understand it, these decisions come from an understanding of television as pervasive media (or invasive, I’ve seen both terms used.) Basically, it means that you can turn on a TV (and they apply this to radio as well) and have it unexpectedly saying “fuck” to you or your kids, or whatever… and although this is entirely the case with a channel like HBO, they don’t worry about it there because you can’t get HBO over the airwaves, you have to pay for it directly. I don’t agree with it, but that’s what the situation is.

          1. But there’s no requirement for television news programs to tell the truth about actual events?  I find Fox “News” to be the most pervasive media EVAR and they get to fucking make shit up.

  3. It sounds to me like there’s a “k” sound at the end of the utterance.  Maybe he intended to say, “fuh” but it came out wrong, or maybe there was some other noise in the studio right as he said it?

  4. I’m so proud to live in a country where saying “Fuck!” in the middle of the night on a TV show for adults results in thousands of dollars in fines. No serious gun control laws worth talking about, though. But cursing? This, we nailed. USA! USA! USA!

    1. I’m afraid our nation isn’t particularly exceptional in regards to convoluted censorship laws. It’s actually kind of interesting how many varied ways different cultures have found to tell each other what they’re not allowed to say. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of STFU.

    1. Alex Cox was asked to do a TV version of Repo Man to be shown on BBC, he settled on “Melon Farmer” and actually preferred the dubbed version to the original. On the same season of films, the BBC got David Lynch to edit Blue Velvet for violence and language, and ended up with a longer version of the film; extra language, extra violence.

    2. One of our local morning radio shows had an absolute field day with this.  Probably because it’s on a Canadian radio station and Usian prudery is some funny fucking shit.

  5. I wonder if Misfits gets shown in the USA. The characters in that are very sweary. If you’ve not seen Misfits, imagine Alphas with more profanity, violence, sex and dead probation workers.

    1.  Nope, i can’t hear it either. But his accent is pretty heavy.

      Any folk care to tell us at what point on the video he says fuck?

      1. Partial transcript from what I hear:
        Keenan: I want to thank my guest, the incredible Samuel L. Jackson!
        Sam Jackson: Man, fuh!
        Keenan: Hey! I don’t… so… c’mon, Sam!
        Sam: This is some bullshit!
        Keenan: C’mon, now! That costs money.

          1. Yeah, personally it sounds like “fuck” to me, but I’m giving Sam Jackson the benefit of the doubt :)

          2. I’m kind of surprised that there’s no fuckyeahsamueljackson tumblr. There’s a fuckyeah tumblr for pretty much everything else.

  6. This is news in the US? Stop the press – someone said fuck on the telly! I knew USian in general are puritan/prude but thats just ridiculous. 

  7. When ever a US / Canadian / etc personality come to the UK they are always amazed that they are allowed to swear on the TV, light cursing is ok up until 9pm, with stronger late in the evening.

    So for me its the halarity of the situation rather than the swearing itself

    1. It is still rather situational; Reginald D Hunter might be allowed to get way with the “N-word”, while the “C-word” is generally bleeped, event though it is obvious from context. We even got mild swearing on Strictly Come Dancing, though it was unscripted and they did apologise afterwards. My favourite was the responses to David Cameron’s first Tweet as Prime Minister:

    2. The rules in Canada seem to be similar to the UK actually. Shit and bullshit for example seem to be perfectly fine to say during the day. And 9pm seems to be when fuck becomes ok. The problem is that a lot of shows produced in Canada are intended to be shown in the US as well so they have to stick to the US rules.

      1. What shows?  The only Canadian show that I can think of that I’ve seen on regular broadcast tv was “The Newsroom” which they showed on PBS for a while. Great show btw.

  8. Yeah, as a Yank living in the UK for 5+ years I can only roll my eyes at this nonsense. It’s SO refreshing here to be able to watch uncut films on the telly. I’ve lost track of how many movies I’ve seen here and either forgot or never knew there was cursing and nudity in them! How come the conservatives get to crow about an imaginary war on Christmas but no one hollers about the very real Christian war on culture and art in general? Don’t adults in America get tired of being treated like children watched over by a purse-faced Sunday school teacher?

    1. Don’t adults in America get tired of being treated like children

      Hey! American kids can still go out and get their legs blown off in oil-strategic countries for rich people any time they want!

    2. You’ve lived outside the US long enough to have forgotten that nearly every statement that comes out of the right-wing is chock-full of projections.

  9. When I was 6 years old I figured out that people on TV didn’t talk like real people and didn’t say the same words we said on the playground when adults weren’t around.

    Can you say the Arabic word “fak”, which is the imperative of “to think”, on television? Can you pronounce the name of the French town “Pussy”?

  10. The expression F-BOMB fucking cracks me up. Like its such an explosive, incendiary, seismic, dive for cover event when somebody throws all caution and social propriety to the wind and drops that f-bomb.

  11. I’m more offended that SNL still thinks people like “What’s Up with That” sketches. It was barely funny the first time, and given that it only has one joke, it has no business being done 9 different times.

    1.  Looks like it’s a good way for them to have surprise guests do cameos so it’ll probably be around for a while..

    2. To each his own. I could watch Jason Sudekis do the running man all 90 minutes every single week. 

  12. Dropping in to point out that a very successful  TV series substituted the nonword (in our time and galaxy, anyway) “frak,” and they frakking got completely away with saying ‘frak’ whenever the ‘frak’ they wanted to.  Everyone knew what it meant and the FCC ignored the whole thing. Reminds me of the infamous Lenny Bruce thing about “can’t say cocksucker, so I’m going to say blah my blah, you blahblah-er”

  13. What’s strange is that they didn’t cut it out. I know it’s live, so you’re saying “how could they cut it out?” Well I actually interviewed for the job of SNL censor a number of years ago, and that job basically involved reviewing scripts making sure there wasn’t anything too bad in them, but it also involved being “on the button” every Saturday night during the live performance which it turns out is actually delayed by 30 seconds or something, giving the censor a chance to cut audio for that portion of the show. At least that’s how I understood the job. Either I’m misremembering or the guy on the button fuh’d up, and now he’s in deep shit.

  14. It’s outrageous! My children were asleep at the time, but fortunately I DVR’d it and was able to play the clip for them several times this morning. They were very upset each and every time I hit repeat.

  15. It’s basically 2013 and we’re still watching videos of television screens and still have people having conniptions over curse words…. sigh…

  16. I wonder whether this was really impromptu, or a PR stunt like Janet Jackson’s nip-slip.  I hate to imagine a room full of TV execs doing a cost-benefit analysis of Mr. Jackson dropping an F-bomb, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised.

    1. I thought this was obvious. These little “slip-ups” are practically written into the scripts nowadays. It’s how Jimmy Fallon got famous. Low quality television programming.

  17. It is funny to me that BB obfuscated ‘fuck’ in the headline, but has no issues posting nudity on their front page. 

    Is that to prevent problems with the RSS feed or something?

    edit – I just noticed the Onion story further down the page uses ‘fuck’ in the headline. So I don’t know what the heck is going on!

    1. BB is a blog, not a newspaper — the Boingers don’t actually follow any strict rule about what they post or how, different posters have different standards and so on.

  18. Just like Rick Santorum said “Blah people.” Mmmhmmm. I notice Sam’s lips quiver just after he utters “Fuh,” as if he was catching himself. Always one of my all-time favorite actors. He probably just punched up their ratings.

  19. They said “Dick” on SNL last week. I honestly didn’t know they could do that either. “Bitch” has crept into use in recent years too. I guess it’s just a matter of time before “fuck” gets its pass..

  20.  You’re right: The FCC provides a “safe harbor” for exactly that type of language, which runs from 11 pm to (I think) 6 am. This is a big deal over nothing.

  21. The real crime is that Carrie Brownstein didn’t get to say ANYTHING (wondering if she was paid for the appearance)

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