Kathy Griffin

29+ Celebs Who Got Themselves Banned From Late-Night Television


| LAST UPDATE 07/19/2023

By Carmi Carson

Almost every celebrity has been in the hot seat at some point. However, for some, they won't be returning anytime soon. We're looking back at stars who found themselves banned from our favorite talk shows (and why)…

Forgive but Not Forget

First up, the Tonight Show feud: back in 2001, NBC agreed to make Conan O'Brien the future host of the series... without Jay Leno's knowledge. Eventually, when the time came for Leno to step aside, things didn't go as planned.

Conan O'Brien Jay Leno feud Conan O'Brien Jay Leno feud
Kevin Winter/Staff via Getty Images

Sadly, ratings for his new series, The Jay Leno Show, declined, leading him to return to The Tonight Show. O'Brien consequently started his own show, Conan, on TBS. But he never forgot about the switch-up, telling Playboy that Leno would never be a guest on his series. "There are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price."

Going Off Script

Hosting Saturday Night Live is the holy grail of comedy. The series always attracts the hottest celebrities to take the rotating weekly role of the host. Every host gives an opening monologue filled with jokes, riffs, and sometimes bits. But when Martin Lawrence hosted, he found himself in hot water for his monologue.

Martin Lawrence SNL MonologueMartin Lawrence SNL Monologue
Saturday Night Live via YouTube

Why? The comedian took a major departure from his rehearsed opening monologue and dove into something much more graphic about female body parts and hygiene. His monologue was so offensive he was banned from the show. And for years afterward, they wouldn't even say his name.

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About a Boy Who Is Banned

He's the king of romantic comedies: over the years, audiences have fallen in love with Hugh Grant's performances as a bumbling bookshop owner, a hopelessly romantic Prime Minister, and a childhood crush turned romantic interest. Except, there is one person that his charms did not work on - Jon Stewart.

Hugh Grant Stephen Colbert interviewHugh Grant Stephen Colbert interview
Amy Sussman/Staff via Getty Images

The former Daily Show host told Stephen Colbert that Grant was his least favorite guest that he had come on his show. Stewart recalled, "Grant spent his time at the studio complaining that he had other places to be." As a result, Stewart vowed he would never have the Notting Hill star back on his show again.

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Identity Theft

Kathy Griffin has made a name for herself with her outlandish and brazen comedy style. She is known for taking it too far, which has landed her in the hot seat more than once. Griffin has been banned from not just one or two late-night shows. She's been barred from multiple!

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Brent N. Clarke / Contributor via Getty Images

She has reportedly been banned from appearing on CNN broadcasts after she posted politically charged photos on the internet. Griffin was also banned, un-banned, and then banned again from the daytime talk show The View. Most recently, she has been suspended from Twitter for impersonating Elon Musk. This girl has quite the resume.

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It Was All a Blur

Actor and podcast host Dax Shepard spilled the beans about his ban from Late Night With Conan O'Brien. In an interview with Blake Griffin on Griffin's podcast, The Pursuit of Healthiness, Shepard described the appearance that led to his eventual ban from the late-night talk show. 

Dax Shepard sobriety interviewDax Shepard sobriety interview
Amy Sussman/Staff via Getty Images

As Dax revealed, he was under the influence and did not remember any of the talking points he had rehearsed with O'Brien. He confessed, "I can tell he's cueing me up for stories I've told, but I don't know any of the stories." Sure enough, Shepard was banned from the show for several years before the duo eventually made amends.

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All Fired Up

Need a guaranteed way never to be invited back to someone's house? Set their furniture on fire. That is exactly what comedian Bobcat Goldthwait did when he was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Goldthwait took out lighter fluid and a lighter... and then set the seat on fire.

Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait InterviewComedian Bobcat Goldthwait Interview
Rommel Demano/Contributor via Getty Images

Understandably, Leno was not exactly pleased. And Goldthwait was never welcomed back to the show. Not only that, though, he was also charged with arson! The comedian had to pay a $3,880 fine for his reckless behavior. Clearly, some actions come with prices to pay.

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Removed Mid-Performance

Rage Against the Machine is a rock band from Los Angeles, California. Over the years, they have made a name for themselves for their rock music and political views. In 1996, they were asked to be the musical act alongside billionaire host Steve Forbes on Saturday Night Live. But things soon took an unexpected turn.

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Tim Mosenfelder/Contributor via Getty Images

During their first song, they put up upside-down American flags, typically seen as a sign of distress. The flags were removed as quickly as possible. And shortly afterward, the band was asked to leave before they performed their second song of the show. From that point on, the band was never invited back to SNL

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One-Sided Feud

Piers Morgan has made it very clear over the years that pop singer Madonna is not welcome as a guest on his show. He has said things like, "Madonna and I, we've never really seen eye-to-eye," and even called her a "walking, talking trainwreck" on Good Morning America

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TheEllenShow via YouTube

In all this time, Madonna has never retaliated against the British news host. Despite his tweets and comments about her, the Material Girl singer has been steering clear of Morgan. If only we could all play nice and live in harmony on La Isla Bonita...

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An Unwelcome Introduction

Even Oscar winners can make mistakes. Adrien Brody proved that during his appearance as host on Saturday Night Live. In 2003, he hosted the variety comedy show with musical guest Sean Paul. The Jamaican-born reggaeton was getting ready to perform when things went in an unexpected direction.

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VCG/Contributor via Getty Images

When it was time to introduce the musical guest, Brody came onstage in a tank top and a wig with dreadlocks. He used an offensive Jamaican accent and said, "We got original rude boy Sean Paul here!" His inappropriate actions were not taken lightly, and he has not been back on the show since the incident.

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No More Action

Action star Steven Seagal was an obvious choice to host Saturday Night Live. He was at the height of his career in 1991. Hard to Kill and Marked for Death had been released a year earlier, and he had a new action film, Out for Justice, coming out shortly. However, what may have been a good idea on paper was different in reality.

Steven Seagal SNL skitSteven Seagal SNL skit
Saturday Night Live via YouTube

When he arrived for the writing and rehearsals week, Seagal was a tough guy to work with. SNL alum David Spade said, "He didn't want to go along with what the plan was that week. As a result, I think that was the first week that I heard talk about replacing the host and just doing a cast show." Perhaps Seagal was too tough? Perhaps we'll never know.

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A Mysterious Disappearance

The late comedian Gilbert Gottfried is known for his shrill voice and edgy comedy style. He was a recurring guest star on The Howard Stern Show, appearing on the show a total of 122 times. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, Gottfried stopped appearing on the radio talk show. 

Gilbert Gottfried howard stern showGilbert Gottfried howard stern show
Late Night with Seth Meyers via YouTube

No one knows why the comedian was no longer invited onto Stern's show. Some theories say it has to do with an uncomfortable encounter on the street involving Howard Stern's wife, while others say it has to do with the time Gottfried spit on cupcakes in the hallway. No one knows for sure.

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Walking Out & Never Looking Back

Back in 2005, Vivica A. Fox was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! The Independence Day actress was promoting her new series on the Lifetime network, and Kimmel took the opportunity of having Fox on his show to crack a few jokes.

Vivica Fox viral interviewVivica Fox viral interview
Laura Cavanaugh/Contributor via Getty Images

But they did not sit well with Fox. The actress was not pleased with Kimmel's jeers at her friend, View co-host Star Jones. So much so that she stood up mid-interview and walked off stage. Since the incident, Kimmel has stated he will never have Fox on his show again. It seems like the feeling is mutual.

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Breaking the Ban

Joan Rivers is viewed by most as a legend. She was a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and was even hired as a writer! The two were great friends, but it all came crashing down. Upon learning Rivers wasn't being considered to take over once Carson retired, she accepted an offer to have her own show on a rival network. 

Joan Rivers Jimmy FallonJoan Rivers Jimmy Fallon
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon via YouTube

Carson was so devastated that he banned Rivers and never spoke to her again. His successor, Jay Leno, continued the ban throughout his run. It was only until Jimmy Fallon (above) took over the desk that Rivers was finally welcomed back - 49 years after her first appearance on the show!

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Bowie Wasn't Telling Lies

David Bowie was the musical guest of Saturday Night Live in 1997. After host Neve Campbell introduced him, Bowie and his band played his song Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). It does not seem like that big of a deal, right? He was there as the musical guest, after all. Try again...

David Bowie SNL performanceDavid Bowie SNL performance
Kevin Mazur/Contributor via Getty Images

The issue was that Bowie had a specific request from the show's producer, Lorne Michaels, not to play that song. Bowie had agreed during rehearsals to play his most recent single, Telling Lies, but switched the plans up last minute. Michaels was not happy and banned Bowie from the show. 

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Chased Out

Chevy Chase was one of the original members of the Saturday Night Live cast and was the first to anchor the Weekend Update segment. The National Lampoon actor left the show after a season but would return multiple times afterward to host - that was, until he was banned forever.

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Saturday Night Live via YouTube

In 1997, Chase returned to the show to host. But his inappropriate and offensive behavior caused him to be banned from the show forever. While he has made several guest appearances since, his ban has never been formally lifted. He is the only cast member to have a ban so far. Clearly, he's not winning employee of the month.

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No Deal

It is definitely a no-deal when it comes to Howie Mandel being a guest on Piers Morgan's show. The two had been co-hosts of America's Got Talent together, but it doesn't seem like they will be having a reunion anytime soon. Morgan did not take a liking to Mandel's pranking and shenanigans. 

Howie Mandel Piers MorganHowie Mandel Piers Morgan
America's Got Talent via YouTube

One time Mandel put a soda machine directly in front of Morgan's dressing room so that he couldn't get out. While Mandel may have thought it was a hilarious prank, Morgan did not. The Brit said of Mandel, "He is, without a doubt, the most annoying man in the history of planet earth."

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A Stern Sabotage

Being in comedy, it is expected to have a few jokes written at your expense. It is all part of the game. However, sometimes things can be taken too far: Howard Stern and Jay Leno have had a longstanding feud. Stern has accused Leno of plagiarism and has repeatedly gone after him.

Howard Stern radio hostHoward Stern radio host
Scott Gries/Staff via Getty Images

But it seems Stern pulled the final straw when he appeared on The Tonight Show. During his segment, Stern had adult film stars come out and continued to interrupt other guests' interviews with more shenanigans. Leno had enough and banned the radio show host.

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He Has Exited Stage Left

When Kelsey Grammer appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight, he did something that no one expected - he left the stage. Why did he do such a thing? The show's opening credits included a photo of his ex-wife Camille Grammer. (Grammer had asked for it to be removed for his appearance.)

Kelsey Grammer Late Night interviewKelsey Grammer Late Night interview
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert via YouTube

However, the photo was not removed. So, Grammer walked off the set before giving his interview. Morgan told audiences, "He has exited stage left… He may or may not come back, I guess we'll see." Since the incident, Grammer hasn't been welcomed back. Don't think he's losing any sleep over it...

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“Fight the Real Enemy!”

The Nothing Compares 2 U singer was set to be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live for the second time in 1992. For Sinéad O'Connor's second song of the night, she performed an a cappella version of Bob Marley's War. Toward the song's end, she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II and said, "fight the real enemy!"

Sinead O'Connor snl performanceSinead O'Connor snl performance
Paul Natkin/Contributor via Getty Images

O'Connor threw the pieces of the torn-up photo toward the camera. The audience was absolutely stunned, and so were the show's producers. Safe to say, the incident was an instant scandal. Since her infamous act, O'Connor has never been invited back inside Studio 8H.

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Fired Before the First Day

Most comedians can only dream of getting a job on Saturday Night Live. It is the holy grail of comedy, and some of the most legendary comedians have come out of the show. So, when Shane Gillis was announced as the newest cast member of the famed show in 2019, it was a dream come true. Or so he thought.

Shane Gillis Fired SNLShane Gillis Fired SNL
Comedy Central Stand Up via YouTube

Things fell apart quickly. Clips surfaced of him making racist jokes and using slurs that caused him to be fired from the show. Before even starting his first day, he was told not to come anywhere near Rockefeller Center. Talk about the past coming to bite ya!

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A Friendly Firing

Artie Lange is a stand-up comedian who appeared on the sketch series Mad TV and on the radio talk show The Howard Stern Show. Except, this incident does not involve Howard at all. Lange was known for partying hard. And in this case, he seemingly went a bit too hard.

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon via YouTube

He was invited as a guest by longtime friend Conan O'Brien to The Tonight Show when O'Brien hosted briefly. But when Lange showed up, he was visibly under the influence, and O'Brien banned his friend until he vowed to get clean. Lange later tweeted, "No guys, Conan banned me years ago he felt I needed help. It was good intentions."

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Slippery Hands

Throughout his career, director Harmony Korine has become known for his eccentric and erratic behavior and films. He has directed movies like Spring Breakers and Gummo. His unconventionality is also what got him banned from The Late Show With David Letterman.

Harmony Korine david lettermanHarmony Korine david letterman
George Pimentel/Contributor via Getty Images

According to The Guardian, Letterman has revealed that he banned Korine because he found him going through Meryl Streep's purse: Letterman had gone to greet the actress. When he knocked on her dressing room door, he saw Korine rummaging around in her purse. From that moment on, Korine was banned from the series.

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Voted off the Island

This next ban all started from one bit that seriously backfired. Comedian Andy Kaufman had been on Saturday Night Live since its very first episode. After that first appearance, Kaufman continued to come onto the show, always making audiences laugh. 

Andy Kaufman Dump Andy snlAndy Kaufman Dump Andy snl
Saturday Night Live via YouTube

They decided to try out a new bit during what would become Kaufman's final appearance. They asked viewers to call a phone hotline to either vote to keep Andy coming back or dump him from the show. Ultimately, "Dump Andy" won, and Kaufman never returned.

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"Stay Out of Times Square"

Stephen Colbert had a very clear message for Kanye West: He was not welcomed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After a series of scandals involving the College Dropout rapper, Colbert made a big announcement on air to viewers and the rapper himself.

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Piers Morgan Uncensored via YouTube

Colbert revealed, "After much thought and soul-searching, I, Stephen Colbert, am banning Kanye West from the Ed Sullivan Theather. I have to. I have to. Line in the sand." He continued, "I am banning Kanye from coming north of Bubba Gump Shrimp… Stay out of Times Square." Colbert's message was loud and clear.

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Keeping Away From the Kardashians

They are one of the most famous families in the entire world. The Kardashians have built an empire, starting with the reality TV show that put them on the map to their multiple billion-dollar businesses. Except there is one party they aren't invited to.

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Jimmy Kimmel Live via YouTube

Anderson Cooper shared with his friend Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that he would never have anyone from the Kardashian family as a guest. A few years later, Cooper's assistant confirmed that his boss still would not have any Kardashian on his show on Watch What Happens Live. Bible, we've got lots of questions.

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No Longer Invited

This stand-up comedian was a regular on the Late Show With David Letterman. Then, out of nowhere, Sandra Bernhard stopped receiving an invitation to appear on the show. When the Roseanne actress appeared on Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen asked some tough questions.

Sandra Bernhard Andy Cohen wwhlSandra Bernhard Andy Cohen wwhl
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen via YouTube

He asked if she did something to offend Letterman. Bernhard replied, "Apparently, I did, but I don't know what it was. Cause he said, he asked me last time I was on if I was trashing him, and I said, 'I've never, why would I trash you, Dave?'" What could have happened that dissolved this friendship?

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Too Punk Rock

Saturday Night Live alum John Belushi wanted the punk rock band Fear to appear on the show. So after making a deal with producer Lorne Michaels, Fear would perform if Belushi appeared on the show. The producers brought in real fans to make the show more authentic. But that was when things went awry. 

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Jeff Kravitz/Contributor via Getty Images

Their fans went nuts on the dance floor. They threw each other around, typical of a punk rock band show. Except this was Studio 8H. They broke equipment, threw a pumpkin at a producer, and then one fan grabbed a mic and started to yell out expletives! The network cut away from the chaos, and Fear was banned forever.

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You Get a Ban, You Get a Ban, Everyone Gets a Ban!

Oprah Winfrey was the queen of daytime television. She ran her talk show for twenty-five years, created a magazine, and now has her own television network. Winfrey would also make regular appearances on The Late Show. Then, she stopped appearing on Late Show without any explanation. What happened?

Oprah Winfrey late show interviewOprah Winfrey late show interview
Jimmy Kimmel Live via YouTube

Apparently, their feud started in the 80s. According to Business Insider, Winfrey felt uncomfortable while on the show and refused to be a guest again. Then, Letterman responded by making jokes about how much Winfrey hated him. Since then, there has never been any confirmation of why the two did not speak for 16 years. 

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Deleted Scenes

On the twelfth time on Letterman, Bill Hicks was given a big banning. The stand-up comedian was known for his satiric and controversial stand-up routines. The live audience was able to enjoy his set on Letterman, but they were the only ones. It never made it to air.

Bill Hicks Stand-Up lettermanBill Hicks Stand-Up letterman
Fathom Events via YouTube

The show's producers thought the material was too racy to appear on-air, and his entire segment was cut entirely from the show. And Hicks was ultimately banned. Sadly, Hicks passed a few months later due to cancer. Years later, Letterman had Hicks's mother, Mary, on the show and finally aired his routine.

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A Bad Joke

Vince Vaughn is known for his raunchy comedies like Old School and Wedding Crashers. The actor made many jokes in his time, but when he starred in the movie The Dilemma, he made a joke about the LGBTQ+ community that did not sit well with some. One of them is Ellen DeGeneres.

Vince Vaughn Ellen DeGeneres ShowVince Vaughn Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon via YouTube

When Anderson Cooper appeared on The Ellen Show, he mentioned the joke made in Vaughn's movie trailer. After his comment, Vaughn did not appear on The Ellen Show for around two years. The rumors, according to Aol.com, were that this joke was the reason for his ban. After that, Vaughn began to make appearances again. 

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