With live TV, anything can happen… in the blink of an eye, a moment that was carefully rehearsed and practiced could go horribly wrong with thousands (or even millions) of people watching at home. It can make for moments that are awkward at best, and downright cringe-worthy at worst. I’mma let you finish, but these are 12 of the craziest moments in pop culture history that have ever happened on live TV! We’re still not over them. Warning that some of these videos are NSFW!
1. Tom Hank’s F-Bomb
Tom Hanks is known for his generally pretty squeaky clean image, and he’s one of the most beloved actors of all time. So it was definitely a surprise when he accidentally let an f-bomb slip live on the air when promoting Cloud Atlas on Good Morning America. He was clearly embarrassed at the gaffe and apologized profusely, and it made for a pretty hilarious moment. It happened so quickly that it would have been honestly easy to miss, but it’s hard not to giggle.
2. The Oscars Streaker
In a complete throwback moment, the 1974 Oscars had a seriously bizarre moment when host David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor to give out the highly coveted Best Picture award. All of a sudden, a naked man ran across the stage behind Niven, and the audience was stunned. The man, a 33-year-old named Robert Opel, flashed a peace sign as he ran off the stage, and allegedly got backstage using a press badge. Some people have suggested this was a planned publicity stunt, but the world may never know the truth about the butt-naked Oscars bandit!
3. Samuel L. Jackson Shuts it Down
Entertainment reporters are supposed to, at the bare minimum, know the name of the person they’re interviewing. One KTLA reporter clearly didn’t pay attention that day when he asked Samuel L. Jackson about his Marvel Super Bowl ad… the problem is, it was Laurence Fishburne, who is clearly another African American actor, in the ad! Samuel called the reporter out for his flub, saying “we don’t all look alike!” and the reporter apologized but later called him out saying he was simply asking about the actor’s thoughts on the Super Bowl, not the specific ad with Laurence.
4. Kanye’s First Awkward Moment
Kanye West is known now for his unscripted and often unhinged moments on live TV, but back in 2005 at NBC’s “A Concert for Hurricane Relief,” Kanye stunned everyone (most of all his co-presenters Mike Myers and Chris Tucker) when he proceeded to go off cue and tell the entire world that he felt President George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shout out to Mike, was able to continue reading the script from cue cards pretty flawlessly throughout.
5. I’mma Let You Finish…
Just four years after his off-the-cuff remarks at the Hurricane Katrina telethon, Kanye’s celebrity status continued to rise steadily. He loved to shock people, but nothing was more shocking than the moment he decided to interrupt Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech for “Best Female Video” at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. A stunned into silence Taylor stood awkwardly by as Kanye told the audience he felt Beyonce was the real winner. The crowd booed, Kanye was removed from the ceremony, and Bey let Taylor join her on stage later on in the ceremony, and now Kanye and Taylor are tight, so all’s well that ends well.
6. We’ll Never Get That Duet
At the Billboard Music Awards in 2004, the late Anna Nicole Smith took to the stage to introduce her buddy Kanye West (Oh, Kanye!) and it was instantly clear that Anna Nicole wasn’t of sound mind. Deep into a substance abuse problem, she barely made it through her introduction and it was obvious how ill she was. And it just goes to show that even when Kanye isn’t on stage, he still manages to court controversy.
7. On A Monday, She Is Waiting…
Poor Ashlee Simpson. She made her big debut on Saturday Night Live back in 2004, and things seemed to go well when she was set to start her second song of the night, “Autobiography.” That is, until “Pieces Of Me” cued up again, and she didn’t sing, revealing that she had been lip syncing the entire time. She blamed the issue on her band playing the wrong song, and then later admitted she’d been lip syncing. Her career never quite recovered. We’ll always have the hoe down!
8. Girl, You Know It’s True
Ah, Milli Vanilli. Long before Ashlee Simpson did a jig to save her singing career, Milli Vanilli was the ultimate example of a band shamed and exiled for lip syncing. The duo’s track skipped during a performance on MTV in 1990, revealing that they were not singing live to 80,000 people. Even worse, it was later revealed that they weren’t even the two vocalists behind all of Milli Vanilli’s songs. Four days after the snafu, they were stripped of their Grammy for Best New Artist. And sadly, we knew it was true: Milli Vanilli was dunzo.
9. Nowadays, She’d Make An Instagram Post
In 1992, Sinead O’Connor took the opportunity to express her feelings about Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live, with millions of viewers watching… and let’s just say, they weren’t nice feelings. Sinead ripped up a photo of the Pope and told the audience to “fight the real enemy.” People were outraged and most didn’t understand where the vitriol stemmed from, until she later revealed it was due to abuse in her past (and childhood abuse allegations stemming from the Catholic Church became even more apparent). Sinead has never shied away from controversy, and now takes to social media to air her grievances. But nothing compares to this…
10. So, So Sad
Martin Short was making the promotional rounds for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in 2012 when he stopped by The Today Show to chat with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. The trio were discussing Martin’s kids, when Kathie Lee started discussing how in love Martin and his wife were and how great of a couple they are, which is lovely except that Martin’s wife had died two years prior to ovarian cancer. Martin graciously answered the questions and did not embarrass Kathie Lee, who did not realize that she had passed, but the pain in his eyes was so apparent. Ugh, right in the feels.
11. This One Takes the Crown
When announcing the winner of Miss Universe at the 2015 competition, host Steve Harvey… well… you know the rest. In an incredibly uncomfortable moment, Miss Colombia was stripped of the crown, while the crowd was confused when Steve came back two minutes later to announce that he’d made a mistake, and that the real winner was Miss Philippines. The gaffe was horribly awkward for all involved, but most especially the two contestants, who handled it with as much grace as one could possibly have with the whole world watching. Eesh!
12. By The End Of This Song…
In the moment that birthed the term “wardrobe malfunction,” the rip heard round the world happened when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were finishing their Super Bowl halftime show performance. The two were wrapping up Justin’s hit “Rock Your Body” when Justin reached over and removed a piece of Janet’s outfit, revealing her bare breast to millions of viewers before censors could catch it. This event not only gave us the first wardrobe malfunction, but it also spurred the creation of the 7-second delay and “nipplegate.” And it will forever be an iconic moment in pop culture history.