Over the last 45 seasons, Saturday Night Live has seen a long list of popular recurring sketches and skits. Some were so popular they led to movies, like the Blues Brothers and The Ladies Man. Others continue to be quoted to this day, like Hanz and Franz and their desire to “pump YOU up!” “two wild and crazy guys,” and “feeling verklempt.”
The most popular skits have gone “viral,” blowing up online to reach millions of additional viewers after the original Saturday night air date. From funny skits of cast members talking about their encounters with aliens to videos about wearing mom jeans and skits about those entering the five-timers club. From Adam Sandler’s Opera Man to the coneheads, a woman opening her front door to a shark, Christopher Walken screaming for “more cowbell,” Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood, and Tina Fey’s impressive impersonation of Sarah Palin. There are way too many skits to mention, proving that the series has still got it.
It was hard to pare this list down to the 10 most viral skits of all time, much less rank them. Nonetheless, here’s a list of 10 specific skits that are among the best and still talked about or referenced often today, ranked.
10 Bring It Down to Wrappinville
Arguably the best guest host of modern times, when Justin Timberlake is booked, you know it will be a great show. Especially if Jimmy Fallon makes a cameo as well since the pair are always doubly hilarious together.
In this skit, aired in 2013 though there have been a few different versions, Timberlake dresses in a ridiculous full-body costume to promote a local gift-wrapping business. A competitor tries to sell her services by singing terribly. To combat this, Justin busts out some sick rhymes, soon joined by Fallon, using modern hits to sing about wrapping paper.
9 Debbie Downer With Lindsay Lohan
What made this clip go viral, even before “going viral” was really a thing, was the fact that no one in the skit could keep a straight face. A family reunites at Disney World, presumably the happiest place on earth. But Debbie Downer, played by Rachel Dratch, keeps bringing down the mood with her sad responses to everything.
First it was Jimmy Fallon, then Lindsay Lohan, who was hosting at the time. Soon, no one could keep themselves from laughing, including Dratch herself as she recited the ridiculously drab lines and contorted her face.
8 D*** In A Box
One of the pre-filmed music video clips, D***In A Box, starring Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, became an instant Christmas classic and was re-played on television, computer, and phone screens again and again.
Originally aired in 2006, the music video was a parody of ‘90s boy bands. The two, dressed like members of Color Me Badd in suits, gold chains, and sunglasses, sing a song to their romantic partners about what they are getting them for Christmas. The tune seems sweet…until the camera pans down and they get to the hook.
7 Stefon on Halloween
Stefon, played by Bill Hader, was one of the funniest Weekend Update guests of this decade. Dubbed a New York City correspondent, no matter what he was asked to provide advice on, he would delve into promoting the latest and weirdest night clubs and their eccentric offerings.
His descriptions of the places were always totally bizarre, like “visions a dying gay man would have if he was under too many blankets.” Huh? What made them funnier is that Hader would often start laughing, resorting to using Stefon’s shy habit of putting his hands over his mouth to hide it. This particular Stefon skit is one of the funniest, but they’re all worth watching.
6 Celebrity Jeopardy!
These skits, with Will Ferrell playing Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, were all incredibly hilarious. So much so that they continue to bring in the laughs should you find them online.
In the skit, Connery repeatedly insults Trebek any chance he gets as the increasingly frustrated host tries to keep the game going. Hammond (as Connery) purposely misreads category titles (referencing “therapists” for example, as “the rapists”) or gives the answer “your mom” frequently, giggling at Trebek’s expense. Hammond’s spot-on impression of Connery’s voice, along with the ridiculous way he acts, makes for a great skit.
5 The Delicious Dish With Pete Schweddy
From 1998, this sketch, yet another Christmas-themed one on the list, sees Alec Baldwin playing Pete Schweddy, a local business owner who comes on NPR’s Delicious Dish radio show to talk about his latest recipe for Schweddy Balls.
The two hosts, played by Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, delve right into the treats and, well, you can guess how the conversation goes from there as they discuss how great they smell, taste, and even feel. The radio show gets dirtier than anticipated while all three are completely oblivious to how what they’re saying actually sounds.
4 Chippendales with Patrick Swayze
Chippendales is holding auditions for its latest dancers, and up comes Adrian (Patrick Swayze) who seems like a shoo-in, until he’s joined by Barney (Chris Farley) who shows some serious belly-jiggling moves.
The two are the final candidates in this 1990 sketch, but there’s only one position left. So they have to dance for their lives in the final audition. Spoiler alert: the judges pick Adrian and make it clear that it had nothing to do with Barney’s dancing (which was truly terrible) but just his body. The controversial skit made fun of Farley’s weight though the root of the joke was that his ridiculous dancing with actually considered “sexy” by the judges.
3 Wayne’s World
We can’t really limit this to just one Wayne’s World sketch because they were all total hilarity. Starred Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and airing through the ‘90s, they were two rocking dudes who had their own show, filmed in their basement.
The skit led to two feature films, the first of which was the highest-grossing film of 1992 and remains the highest-grossing film based on a Saturday Night Live skit ever. It even helped reignite popularity of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.
2 Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker
One of the late Chris Farley’s most memorable characters, Foley was a motivational speaker who was, well, anything but. He would visit people in his dark-rimmed glasses and checkered blazer and scream at them at the top of his lungs.
He was abrasive, clumsy, and depressed – essentially everything a motivational speaker shouldn’t be. Appearing eight times throughout Farley’s time on the show in the ‘90s, his most notable line included telling people he lived “in a van down by the river” and mocking and dismissing his clients’ problems by declaring “la-dee-frickin-da!” or “Whoo-dee-frickin-doo!”
It might not be the most influential skit in the history of the series, but it is one of the most viral, clocking more than 10 million views to date on YouTube over the last two years. In the sketch, Ryan Gosling ponders the use of the Papyrus font in the movie Avatar. And apparently, he has some strong feelings about it.
It’s something so simple and ridiculous, but the video, created by SNL writer Julio Torres, struck a chord and had everyone laughing. While there isn’t going to be a movie made about this skit and it didn’t create a memorable recurring character, it’s one of those sketches that will forever have an impact, marring the font used in one of the biggest movies of this generation.