Why Chevy Chase Was Banned From Hosting SNL

One of the first individuals who helped make "Saturday Night Live" a staple of late-night entertainment was Chevy Chase, who, along with the likes of Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi, was part of a now-iconic group known as the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players." And while he lasted just a year as a regular on "SNL," Chase went on to great fame by starring in a number of memorable roles, not the least of these being Clark Griswold in the "National Lampoon's Vacation" film series. The man clearly knows how to make people laugh, and he's had a long and prosperous career thanks to this gift.

Unfortunately, Chase has also been known for his reputation as a cantankerous, short-tempered person behind the scenes, and one can certainly argue that he was essentially playing some version of himself when he starred as Pierce Hawthorne in the NBC sitcom "Community" ... until his issues with the show's creator, Dan Harmon, led to his character getting killed off after four seasons. Numerous reports have also documented how Chase was not always on his best behavior during his stints as an "SNL" guest host, and it all led to him getting banned from ever hosting the show again in the late '90s.

Chase had a history of being difficult and belligerent as a guest host

Even as a young man, Chevy Chase was allegedly difficult to work with, and that seemed to be the case in the early days of "Saturday Night Live"; when he left in late 1976, there were few tears shed over his departure. Despite that, he returned to the late-night show for a guest-hosting spot in 1978, and had a notable incident with his replacement, Bill Murray, who was a newcomer to "SNL" but nonetheless familiar with Chase due to their time working together on "The National Lampoon Radio Hour." 

According to Decider, Chase took exception to Murray telling him that everyone on "SNL" hated him, and things quickly heated up between the two comics, who shouted cruel jokes and personal insults at each other until Chase challenged Murray to a fight right before the show was about to go on air. The men exchanged punches until John Belushi stepped in and broke it up, and the episode went on air as scheduled, with Chase doing his opening monologue as if he wasn't brawling with the guy who replaced him just minutes prior.

Chase would go on to guest-host "Saturday Night Live" several more times in the following years, and in 1985, he got into another incident of sorts with cast member Terry Sweeney, who is openly gay (via Rolling Stone). As Chase allegedly bullied Sweeney by making a series of homophobic comments against him, he would later refer to Chase as a "monster."

He was allegedly abusive while rehearsing for a 1997 SNL episode

It would be 19 years after the fistfight with Bill Murray and 12 years following Terry Sweeney's negative experience working with him that Chevy Chase was finally banned from hosting "Saturday Night Live." For the show's February 15, 1997, episode, Chase was invited to guest-host "SNL' for the eighth time, and it was there where the powers that be seemingly had enough. He was purportedly abusive toward the cast, and in the most egregious example of such abusive behavior, he allegedly slapped Cheri Oteri in the back of her head. It surely didn't help that years later, Will Ferrell would call Chase the "worst host," specifically referring to this 1997 appearance. This prompted the show's creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, to take action and show some tough love to his longtime friend by banning him from hosting.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Chase recalled that at his daughter Cydney's wedding in 2012, he spoke to Michaels and told him he was ready to return to "SNL" and guest-host another episode. However, Michaels was adamant in enforcing the then-15-year-old ban, supposedly telling Chase that it was because he was too old. "We'd had many people older than me hosting," Chase lamented. "What did he mean? I've never understood what he meant. Because I'd be very good, and it would be fun for an audience to see me doing that." He went on to express his disappointment that Michaels was "denying" how he was the person who "made this show really go" during its first year on air.

Despite his hosting ban, he's made a few SNL cameos since '97

It may have been over two decades since Chevy Chase last hosted an episode of "Saturday Night Live," but it appears that the ban only covers guest-hosting appearances. According to his page on the "SNL" Fandom site, he was included in the show's 25th anniversary special in 1999, and later that year, he cameoed in an episode hosted by none other than Bill Murray — same dude he brawled with back in 1978, letting bygones be bygones more than 20 years later. In 2001 (via IMDb), he reprised his Land Shark character in an episode hosted by Seann William Scott, with Sum 41 as the musical guest — you can't get more 2001 than Steve Stifler and the "Fat Lip" band on an episode of "SNL."

Six years after that Land Shark cameo, Chase was back in yet another uncredited role where he appeared as the Weekend Update's special anchor, and after another six-year absence, the veteran actor-comedian made two appearances on the March 9, 2013, episode, both of which saw him reuniting with his "Three Amigos" co-stars and fellow comedy icons, Steve Martin and Martin Short. He was last seen on "SNL" during the show's 40th anniversary special in 2015, proving that Lorne Michaels still trusts him enough to bring him back on occasion ... as long as no hosting is involved.