Follow TV Tropes


Awesome / Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Go To
"Let tomorrow be about solutions. Today is about vengeance. Fuck you, 2020. Get fucked."

    open/close all folders 

    Season One 

    Season Two 
  • The revelation that, as a response to Philip Morris bullying countries like Uruguay, Togo and Namibia into revoking cigarette warning labels, the show created a new cartoon advertising mascot for P.M. International free of charge — Jeff, the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat. And put up Jeff on bus stop ads in Montevideo. And shipped Jeff T-shirts to Togo. And is now attempting to start Jeff trending worldwide. The show even brutally ends with Oliver and a group of kids wearing Jeff shirts dancing happily around a man in a Jeff costume with a wet, hacking cough. It became the first LWT segment to get its own Wikipedia page.
    • Philip Morris International later sent out a press release in the wake of news sites giving them almost uniformly negative coverage, which charged that the segment wasn't truly investigative journalism because Oliver "embellished [our approach to marketing and regulation] in the spirit of comedic license"; in other words, John revealing their fraudulent business practices and playing the "Don't Be a Maybe" commercial uncut in its entirety, to the laughter of the audience, was judged to be moot simply because he was a comedian telling jokes along with it. Naturally, this resulted in only more backlash against PMI.
    • Jeff, the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat, has now actually trended worldwide, and since the show created him as a fair-use icon, anti-smoking protesters everywhere have been able to make costumes, signs and posters of him free of charge.
  • The star-studded trailer for a movie about keeping infrastructure in good repair.
  • Skewering the U.S. for its treatment of the people in its territories, including not letting them vote. Especially Guam and Samoa and their many veterans.
  • After a long talk about the Patriot Act and the provision in it that allowed the NSA to conduct their controversial surveillance, Oliver notes the best person to talk to openly about this sort of thing is Edward Snowden, who's in Russia, and that is not a comfortable flight to make to talk to him... and he knows this because Oliver flew to Russia to interview Edward Snowden.
    • Said interview is the Crowning Moment Of Awesome on Oliver's career to date; a perfect example of unbiased journalism in which Oliver not only gets Snowden to admit that the release of sensitive American intelligence is very likely to harm innocent American soldiers, but which Oliver also uses his satire to make perfectly clear just how important that the information be released despite such consequences. Best part? He permanently imprinted it on American consciousness in a brilliantly satirical manner; Dick jokes.
    "So there you have it, America — all of us should now be equipped to have this vital debate, because by June 1st, it is imperative we have a rational, adult conversation about whether our safety is worth living in a country of barely-regulated, government-sanctioned Dick Sheriffs."
    • When he arrived for the interview they agreed upon a 12:00 meeting time, but he knew going in that there was a real possibility that Snowden would just not show up. The time clicked by and as he was ready to call it quits Snowden FINALLY arrived around 1:30. You would assume that that Oliver would be exceptionally kind and peaceable with him. Instead, he took a confrontational tone, focusing on how irresponsible it was to hand over all these documents that could very well result in the loss of life. He even showed him a montage of interviews where regular people did not know who he was. But the brilliant part is Oliver coached him into streamlining his message through a "dick pic" idea (handing him a picture of his own), and then showed him the same people on the street who all agreed the government should not be in possession of their "dick pics." It was about this episode everyone understood that Last Week Tonight was going above and beyond any contemporary news program note .
  • Getting Michael Bolton to sing about the importance of the IRS to the tune of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?".
  • Martin Sheen narrating a video to play at the end of the world, so that the last thing anyone sees will be "this sick basketball shot."
  • When Dr. Oz tries to claim that the doctors denouncing him are trying to stifle his right to free speech, John not only retorts that he doesn't understand what that right means, but then uses his own free speech to launch a scathing critique of Dr. Oz.
    "And it says something, that even if you do a show of seven fake models of human feces, the biggest piece of shit on the stage has his name on the title. Isn't freedom of speech great?"
  • This article gives some pretty good examples of his awesomeness, to the point where John is willing to insult HBO and Time Warner Cable.
    • In a later episode, during a segment on Daily Fantasy, John specifically mentioned that Time Warner, HBO's parent company, is sponsored by Fan Duel. Not only does he then continue to critique the industry, but he mentions Fan Duel specifically in a later fake ad pointing out how horrible these companies are. Biting-the-Hand Humor, thy name is Oliver.
    • It's a small one, but during that same segment John is able to successfully pronounce the word "chutzpah" after a news anchor flubbed it in some footage they were showing. As another gentile would have said, not bad for a goy!
  • After Sepp Blatter won reelection as President of FIFA, even as investigations were beginning to indict members of FIFA for corruption, John had another segment and absolutely eviscerated him, ending with John calling on FIFA's sponsors to withdraw their support. Two days later, Blatter resigned! Guess John is going to have to drink that Bud Light Lime. And he did!
    • Also notable is that, since the sponsors didn't actually pull out and Blatter had left for entirely different reasons, John could've easily backed out on a technicality. But no, he goes for it anyway.
  • John responding to Jack Warner after Jack replied to "The Mittens Of Disapproval Are On" and used "Ash" by The Secession as background music.
    "And so to you I say this Jack: If you really want to continue trading shit-talking videos with increasingly high production elements, then consider your challenge accepted, my friend! Because you have magnificent music under yours- well played. Well, I see your music choice... and I raise you... FIRE!!! (John raises his hands dramatically as columns of fire erupt from the sides of his desk) YOUR MOVE JACK! YOUR MOVE! Either respond to me by this time next week, with a more spectacular video than this, or I will accept your graceless defeat! THAT'S OUR SHOW!"
    • Not actually mentioned in the segment but adding to the awesome is the reason they used the same music: its creators were so incensed at someone as blatantly corrupt as Warner using it without permission that they gave John carte blanche to use it any way he wanted.
  • John getting Helen Mirren to do an audiobook version of The Senate Intelligence Report on Torture.
    • His proclamation that America should never be a nation that is known for torture, and that if America should be known for anything, it's Kiefer Sutherland jumping into a tree while drunk.
  • John outlining the problems of online harassment towards women, namely the fact that local police are unable to study such breaches in law and that there is no federal legislation on how to handle "Revenge Porn" while women are receiving death threats. And he rickrolls the audience during the segment to break up the heartbreaking interviews with women and the sobering facts that "to stop strangers from seeing nude photos," women have to send nude photos to an office in Washington DC to be copyrighted.
    • More awesome is how he features Anita Sarkeesian, inspiring Broken Base in the viewers. Regardless of how John feels about Sarkessian, he points out that no one, not even a video game critic, should be subject to that type of harassment.
  • Taking the opportunity to talk about transgender rights during Pride Week, with the bonus of coming just a couple days after gay marriage was legalized across the whole country. After playing a number of clips of interviewers asking invasive questions about the particulars of transgender persons' naughty bits, he stated that "It is no more okay to ask transgender people about their sex organs, than it would be to ask Jimmy Carter whether or not he's circumcised. Which, by the way, he is. Smooth like a boiled carrot." However, the real payoff to this bit comes a bit later.
    "Let's take that minute to fill in that bamboozled weatherman, and everyone else, on some basic details. Transgender people have a gender identity that differs from the one they were assigned at birth, and that gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Gender identity is who you are, sexual orientation is who you love. Some transgender people do undergo hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery as part of their transition, some do not, and interestingly, their decision on this matter is, medically speaking, none of your fucking business!
  • John Oliver's Rousing Speech, in the vein of dozens of sports films, against sports franchises demanding communities build them stadiums free of charge.
  • Highlighting a trio of teenage girls who managed to pull off a Nigerian Prince scam on ISIS, declaring it the greatest thing anyone did that week.
  • When John brings up concerns that making DC a state would require adding an extra star to the American flag, he points out that the show has been using a 51-star flag the entire episode on the (probably correct) assumption that nobody would notice the difference.
    Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton: "I will not yield, sir! The District of Columbia has spent two hundred and six years yielding to people who would deny them the vote! I yield you no ground, not during my time! You have had your say, and your say has been that you think that the people who live in your capital are not entitled to a vote in their house! Shame on you!"
    John Oliver: (amidst applause from the studio audience) "Yeah, that is fantastic!"
  • Finding an old sex ed video starring Jonathan Banks was great enough. Then they went the extra mile by getting Banks to appear in the show's own video on the subject to correct a certain piece of misinformation in it: that a girl will somehow become a good bowler after getting her period.
  • After a long segment in which John discusses the fraudulent nature of healing televangelism, and reveals a long correspondence between him and previously exposed con artist Robert Tiltonnote  — which consists almost entirely of asking for money and strange kindergarten-like activities like footprint tracing and colored oils — that bilked him out of $319, he decides the only way to get one over on them is to beat them at their own game. He then reveals that, with the help of a lawyer to navigate the loopholes in the U.S. tax code, the show actually got federally registered as a not-for-profit "church", with the New York studio as its place of worship and debunking phony televangelists as their gospel. The show finally ends with John in an ugly sweater vest, Rachel Dratch as his loving wife "Wanda Jo Oliver", and an entire choir singing the praises of calling their 1-800 number.
    • It also turns out they will donate any proceeds to Doctors Without Borders, so your money will actually do some good! As if that wasn't amazing enough, the IRS is actually being pressured into taxing the televangelists as a result from that segment.
    • When John reprises the bit a week later, he notes that the show was somewhat under-equipped to handle the flow of donations. The camera promptly cuts to a mountain of assembled letters, manila folders, and packages, all having come from fans of the show.
    • From a religious point of view, one bit earlier in the televangelist segment where, after hearing Gloria Copeland basically say that Science Is Bad and instead recommend that her flock attend church in the hope of curing their cancer, John says what the vast majority of actual Christians are thinking.
    Copeland: Now, which do you want to do? Do you want to [get chemo], or do you want to sit here on Saturday morning, hear the word of God and let faith come into your heart? Hallelujah.
    John: It's pretty clear that woman cannot hear the word of God because, if she could, I'm pretty sure He'd be shouting "F*CK YOU, GLORIA!" right in her ear.
  • The segment about the migrant crisis in Europe, condemning European politicians for their racism and xenophobia.
  • John's finisher for his segment on mental health, after replaying clips of several Republicans using it to dodge the issue of gun control:
    John: And if I remember rightly, there are some politicians who claim to be pretty motivated to address this problem. [plays clips of candidates] Ok, fine. Do it then. Because if we're going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control, then the very least we owe them is a fucking plan.
  • After thoroughly exposing the sordid details of Canada's current prime minister Stephen Harper, John reveals that he can't actually tell people not to vote for him as the country actually has a law forbidding non-citizens from doing it. So he then does it anyway and dares them to actually prosecute him for it, declaring he's fully prepared to pay the fine or do the jail time. For good measure, John also brings out Canadian Mike Myers to give his own completely legal anti-endorsement.
    Myers: I love Canada. But the fact that it has a law banning outsiders from telling Canadians how to vote is one of the least Canadian things possible. Oh - and don't vote for Stephen Harper.
    • And the following day, Harper was indeed soundly defeated.
      • Made slightly less awesome when Elections Canadanote  found out and took action... by pointing out that John had actually misunderstood the law: It prohibits people from inducing Canadians in order to get them to vote a certain way, and inducing requires offering them something tangible in exchange for them voting the way you want a.k.a. bribery. Him simply stating his opinion and point of view in an attempt to convince people to vote a certain way is completely legal, and the United States has similar laws against foreigners donating money to influence their election.
  • Getting Kenny G to play 'Going Home' so China will calm down about disputed waters.
  • With just two days to work out something to say about the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, John goes for simply denouncing them as profanely as possible, and then telling the perpetrators that if they want to win a culture war with France, "good fucking luck."
    "As of now, we know this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes. Unconscionable flaming assholes, possibly, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery. Second, and this goes almost without saying, fuck these assholes. Fuck them—if I may say—sideways. And third, it is important to remember that nothing about what these assholes are trying to do is going to work."
  • After tearing apart the rhetoric several politicians are using against Syrian refugees in the face of the Paris attacks, John points out that France itself is continuing to let them in, noting that this should give everyone pause no matter what side of the issue they're on.
  • In a segment about immigrants, the show presents us with a Syrian immigrant who learned English by watching Days of Our Lives. It then proceeds to bring EJ back from the dead so that he and Sami can be together, and comment on the difficulties of immigration.

    Season Three 
  • John has now become such a force in the journalism world that when New Zealand politician Stephen Joyce had a dildo thrown in his face, he made a Twitter post saying that someone should just send the footage to the show to "get it over with". John adds that he was actually going to let the story go before that happened, figuring that he'd done more than enough Kiwi mocking already.
  • John starts the season strong by blasting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over refusing to allow President Obama to appoint a new Justice to the US Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia's sudden passing by arguing that it should wait until after the 2016 election, showing that this was the complete opposite of how he behaved when Chief Justice William Rehnquist had died in 2005.
  • The segment about voter fraud, which reveals that not only is it not a major problem, but the measures meant to prevent it actually serve to disenfranchise poor and/or minority voters (and John includes footage of two Republican officials mentioning how the measures improved elections for their party), and the politicians who devise these measures actively indulge in it themselves (and weakly deny so if exposed).
  • After Ted Cruz's attempts to justify waiting a year to replace Antonin Scalia because a Supreme Court justice hasn't been appointed in an election year for 80 years, John and his team went full MythBusters, putting in the research to demonstrate that the statement is false no matter what criteria you use. Even better, he shows a series of Republican claims about the nomination history, pointing out how each (increasingly specific) claim is false in a new way.
    "... that is so close to being true."
  • After detailing the Loophole Abuse many states are using to make it impossible to operate abortion clinics, we get to see one doctor who found a loophole of his own: he may be legally required to give demonstrably false medical information to anyone who comes in for an abortion, but there's nothing stopping him from adding that it is indeed false.
  • After his episode-long look at Donald Trump, simply stating he looks forward to the lawsuit in the morning, which will probably be written in gold sharpie, and dropping the mic.
    • Unveiling a Chrome plugin to automatically change his name from "Trump" to "Drumpf" whenever it is displayed on the screen. Amusingly, this has resulted in said plugin vandalizing This Very Wiki, on the show page no less.
  • On his episode on Special Districts, John shows a clip of two special district members of a mosquito control issue. Problem is, they're the only ones to show up and even though that is the case, they're still following the rules to a T! While this sounds silly, the fact that we've had so many episodes on various types of government corruption, it's nice to see two guys following the rules even though they don't really have to.
  • His dissection of the debate between Apple and the FBI over the FBI wanting Apple to undo their encryption so as to get into two terrorists' iPhones. John Oliver depicts the Grey-and-Gray Morality, with Apple not being upfront and the government not being understanding, as well as the likelihood of terrorists also accessing that sort of "back door". John believes that it's better to not undo the encryption because the consequences would be more devastating than terrorists and child pornographers hiding behind data protection. Then he ends it with an honest Apple commercial that reveals just how much privacy would be compromised if you lose your iPhone, with the Apple engineers going nuts at trying to protect stolen data.
  • The episode on Donald Trump's proposed border fence with Mexico. John demonstrates that not only are Trump's highest estimates not even close to the amount it would cost, but also shows that the current fence that's already there has no effect at keeping illegal immigrants out, since most of them are simply people who have overstayed their work visas after legally entering the country. It also shows that the flow of illegal drugs hasn't stopped because of the current immigrant fence, since smugglers can dig tunnels under it or just throw the drugs over the wall. John also points out the number of laws that had to be broken or bypassed to get the current fence built, which includes forcing landowners to give up their land and building the fence partially in-land so the flow of the Rio Grande would not be affected. Finally, John brings it back to racism and xenophobia by giving statistics that show that illegal immigrants in America have lower crime rates than legal immigrants or natural-born citizens. In essence, John showed that there really is no good reason to build a border fence besides making people feel safer from a non-existent threat.
  • John hits back against the absurd elitism of the New York Yankees by buying up several tickets in their premium seating section and selling them for just 25 cents to whoever can send them a picture of the most embarrassingly cheap looking clothes they're going to wear to the game. Said fans ended up being two guys dressed as Ninja Turtles, four girls as unicorns and Katy Perry's sharks, and two guys as a dinosaur and a dragon.
  • Towards the end of the segment on credit reports, after detailing numerous instances of mistaken identity hurting ordinary people, John introduces his own similarly-sounding companies which do horrible things, saying that the credit companies shouldn't be bothered by any cases of mistaken identity since they should be far and few.
  • To top off the segment on the topic, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and performed a song about Puerto Rico's debt crisis, pleading with Congress to help his struggling island and its four million American citizens.
    • Prior to this, John goes into complete Sincerity Mode to gush about how awesome Hamilton is and declares that we owe Puerto Rico for giving us Miranda.
    • Really, John is in Sincerity Mode for the entire episode. His outrage at the the inequality that Puerto Ricans are forced to deal with as well as his hatred for the "vulture fund" is palpable.
  • John's burner of a response to a Today clip advocating just picking which contradictory scientific study fits for you:
    "No! No no no no no no no! In science, you don't just get to cherry-pick the parts that justify what you are going to do anyway; that's religion! You're thinking of religion!"
  • John gives the finger to the debt buying industry by using their own methods to buy up and then forgive almost fifteen million dollars worth of debt. To elaborate, he takes advantage of the horrifyingly loose laws surrounding incorporating debt collection agencies to create his own. He then used that to buy up fifteen million dollars worth of medical debt (at a total cost of around $60,000) that had passed its statute of limitations, and which unscrupulous debt collectors could use to threaten patients into giving them money. John then took that debt information (now legally his property) and with the press of a single button he gave it all to a non-profit organization that helps patients get out from underneath old medical debts. In effect, John gave away fifteen million dollars in cash, which also broke the record for the single biggest giveaway on television history.
    Fuck you Oprah! I am the new queen of daytime talk!
  • After mostly giving the Brexit his usual light tone, John hits his Rage Breaking Point at a woman who'd lodged a protest vote in favor of it, and was dismayed when it actually passed. He goes on to warn Americans that this kind of thing could happen with Donald Trump, and there are no do-overs for it.
    "Well, you're actually in luck, because it turns out, incredibly, there is going to be another vote coming up, and it's happening one week from OF COURSE THERE ISN'T, THAT WAS THE FUCKING VOTE! IT WASN'T A PRACTICE ROUND! THAT WAS IT!"
  • The sheer disgust and contempt in his voice over Donald Trump's response to Khizr Khan's accusation that he hasn't sacrificed anything in his life to be worthy of the horrible statements he makes. John ends up concluding, devoid of any hint of humor, that he'd be physically incapable of the presidential duty of speaking to the families of slain soldiers, which he hadn't thought was possible before. It should be remembered that John's wife is a combat veteran.
    John: Honestly, the main takeaway from the last two weeks is that, incredibly, we may be on the brink of electing such a damaged, sociopathic narcissist that the simple presidential duty of comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities, and I genuinely did not think that that was a part of the job that someone could be bad at.
  • From the same segment is the explanation of how despite all he's said and done, Trump is currently a serious candidate for President of the U.S.A. It's equally applicable to other far-right and far-left political leaders around the world.
    John: ... Trump hasn't said one crazy thing, he's said thousands of crazy things, each of which blunts the effect of the others. It's the bed of nails principle. If you step on one nail, it hurts you. If you step on a thousand nails, no single one stands out and you're fine.
  • After a commercial for the American Petroleum Institute blatantly copied the style of the show's credits, they fought back by redoing their credits in the style of another API ad, including some big potshots at the company.
  • At the end of his August 21, 2016, show, John points out that the book The Kid Who Ran for President eerily mirrors the candidacy of Donald Trump. He then calls on Donald Trump to come to the show and bow out as the kid in the book did, having demonstrated that there are serious flaws in the system which Trump himself has pointed out.
  • At the 68th Primetime Emmys, Last Week Tonight netted itself its first Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Talk Series, following the win the year before of Oliver's boss, Jon Stewart.
  • In the wake of Wells Fargo's scandal of creating thousands of fake accounts, the show tracked down a decade old company video about ethics. And then it turned out the actor in the video now works on the show himself, and he was naturally quite happy to do another one chastising the bank for not listening to him.
  • After the leak of Donald Trump and Billy Bush laughing over sexually harassing women, John not only rakes them both over the coals, but also saves some ire for all the Republicans who denounced it, saying it's really not that much worse than any of the things that Trump has pulled over the past year, and they don't get to act like they had nothing to do with him becoming the party's nominee for president now that it makes them look bad.
  • In his segment on third parties in U.S. politics, John addresses the two major choices — Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — not as political spoilers, but as genuine candidates. He reveals the major flaws in both their platforms and rejects the idea that voting for either of them is somehow better than the two major candidates. Namely, John goes after Johnson's plan to eliminate huge branches of the government and replace everything with one tax, and Stein's plan to forgive student loan debt. Not only are the plans completely unfeasible according to John, but they also require using powers of authority that the President doesn't have. In addition, John calls them out, respectively, for complete lack of foreign policy and playing to conspiracy theorists.
  • John comes up with another way Trump could claim to have won the election, by making a bet that he'd lose. As for what they'd actually be betting over, John has something he knows Trump wants...his Emmy.
  • John talks about how schools are more segregated than ever, despite the push for schools to be the opposite. He shows a clip of an interview where an African-American man recalls how he was met with racial slurs such as "Go home to Africa" when he was in an exchange school program and was sent to a school of mostly white students, yet they had to sit next to him in class. John had this to say:
    John: I hope the kids who heard that had the opportunity to go 'Oh, you want to borrow a pencil? Oh, I'm sorry. I must have left mine in Kenya this morning.'" *pretends to go in his jacket pocket to get the pencil and produces a middle finger instead*
  • From his segment on Guantánamo Bay, John says that closing Guantánamo would be an act of strength rather than one of weakness. He backs this up with a clip of Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, saying:
    Wilkerson: What do we do with them? Do we leave 'em there forever? As an American citizen who is not a coward?! I'd be willing to release every one of them tomorrow morning! And face 'em on the battlefield again if necessary! But we've got a lotta cowards in this country these days...
  • In the season finale, Oliver goes through a number of horrifying consequences of the election and suggests that listeners take action by donating to or volunteering for a number of organisations that can help marginalised segments of the population that are likely only to become even more marginalised under a Trump presidency. He also eviscerates the media coverage of the election and the proliferation of fake news, and also urges viewers to remind themselves regularly that this is not normal and that Trump should not be normalised. He then closes out the episode by having a long litany of people, including celebrities like Larry David, Amy Schumer, Jeffrey Tambor, and Larry Wilmore, saying "fuck you" to the year because of the election (except "Weird Al" Yankovic, who said the year "ffffffffffffffalls well below my standards of quality"), other horrifying political events of the year, and the huge number of beloved celebrities we've lost, and then literally blowing up the year (well, a sign saying "2016", anyway) and setting it on fire.

    Season Four 
  • Since Donald Trump doesn't watch the show, they go the extra mile to forcibly educate him about things they're pretty sure he doesn't know by buying commercial airtime on the Washington feeds of shows he regularly watches, about the likes of the nuclear triad, how not all black people live in inner cities and vice versa, the name of his other daughter, and the location of the clitoris.
  • The episode on Obamacare ends with the grim satisfaction that the Republican Party has finally gotten itself stuck in a situation they can't wriggle out of. After eight years of blasting Obamacare, they've blown their chance to show how they could do better, and people are inevitably going to be calling for their heads when they can't deliver on promising literally everything.
    • The replacement bill proceeded to fail even more spectacularly than many had predicted, due to Trump forcing a vote on its original form literally one day after Congress decided to delay a vote until it could be made more palatable, as it was clearly going to fail.
  • John traveled to India to interview the Dalai Lama, resulting in a view of the man both awe-inspiring and imminently relatable as he shows his sense of humor. Plus, John may or may not now be carrying the "demon" the Chinese government has accused the Lama of being.
  • In the episode about the American Health Care Act:
    • After bringing up how a quite inordinate amount of the Republican health care plan is devoted to what happens if someone wins the lottery, John says they might as well also cover the effects of a "Freaky Friday" Flip, with a rapid fire and completely straight-faced recitation of impressive legalese about such a thing. It gets some well-deserved applause.
    • The Catheter Cowboy makes his return, this time to warn Trump about how endorsing the new Republican healthcare plan is likely going to make him and millions of other elderly or poor Americans lose a lot of money, which will make him really unpopular.
  • John's retort to Geraldo Rivera's over-glee at the April 2017 Afghanistan airstrike that used the "Mother of All Bombs" after footage of the airstrike is shown on Fox and Friends.
    Geraldo Rivera: One of my favorite things in the 16 years I've been here at Fox News is watching bombs drop on bad guys.
    John: Oh, that's a coincidence, because one of my favorite things in four seasons of this show is going to look directly into the camera and say: Fuck you Geraldo, I hope that your mustache gets caught in a box fan.
  • In "Net Neutrality II":
    • John notes the FCC Chairman's attempts at presenting himself as a funny guy, including making appearances with an oversized Reese's brand name mug, which the FCC Chairman himself refered to as "infamous", and John raises it by getting an identical mug, but one that is as wide across as his chest.
      John: You know what I'm drinking? The blood of smaller mugs. Cheers!
    • With net neutrality again under threat, John calls on all the darkest corners of the Internet to flood the FCC's website just like last time. Since then, it's become a lot harder to actually get to the appropriate page to make a comment on this the show created a shortcut straight to that page at
      John: Fly my Pretties! Fly once more! Fly away!
    • Just like last time, the website was soon crashed from all the comments that resulted, and this time the FCC tried to cover it by claiming it was a DDOS attack that just happened to line up perfectly with the episode's airing. Naturally, pretty much no one buys it.
  • In a follow up episode to the net neutrality issue, John shows a reporter claiming that all the racist and bigoted comments left on the FFC's comment section came from John's fans. John calls out the people who left said comments, saying that such actions doesn't get people to listen and instead, saying hurtful things is how Donald Trump got elected.
  • "Stupid Watergate" is one big 30-minute Moment of Awesome, as John lambastes everyone involved in the current Presidential scandal. No one is spared, least of all the President himself.
    John: Of course your old life was easier! Your old life was basically having a name, charging people to use it, and firing Dee Snider! Of course being the President is harder! Say what you will about Nixon, at least he wanted the fucking job!
  • John's pure fury is out in full force after Trump's exit from the Paris Accord. After every clip, he quivers with rage for a few seconds before giving a Tranquil Fury "Okay" and tearing it to shreds.
  • Lord Buckethead, a joke candidate in the 2017 UK election, is normally fairly in-character and patently ridiculous in his policies, but his speech on the UK's post-election negotiations for Brexit, he sensibly outlined that Prime Minister May did not have a publicly stated plan, and that both either she or a newly-elected Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn would enter a room of negotiations with over twenty-seven prime ministers from the European Union in little under a fortnight from the election - and this was before May completely lost her government's majority and started trying to establish a minority government with the much-maligned DUP. In his words, "it will be a shitshow." He impressed Oliver so much that Oliver flew him to New York so he could propose that the Prime Minister nominate him as a negotiator for Brexit. John also notes that they could easily have just made their own costume and gotten some intern to wear it, but they went the extra mile because that's just how the show rolls.
  • John deals a big hit to the accusations that the show is nothing but Republican bashing by flatly calling James Thomas Hodgkinson, the man who shot several Republicans during a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, "an idiot," just like he has done to any other mass shooter/terrorist.
  • On the episode about the coal industry:
  • The fact that the show was able to get five big name actors — Campbell Scott, Michael McKean, Anna Kendrick, James Cromwell, and Laura Fucking Linney (as the trailer called her) — to star in a fake trailer for a biopic about Warren G. Harding built around a wax sculpture of the President in question.
    • Speaking of which, despite also being hilarious because of said wax sculpture, the trailer itself looks like it'd be a great movie.
  • John decides to represent Alex Jones and Infowars in their full context... but he first sets aside and briefly attacks Jones' conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged by the government, calling it "disgusting" and something that should be "disqualifying in terms of ever taking him seriously."
  • After several days of newscasters struggling with how to describe Anthony Scaramucchi's notorious comment about Steve Bannon, John takes advantage of being on HBO to simply say the real thing: "Suck my own cock."
  • Doubling as a Funny Moment, but the surprise appearance of "Weird Al" Yankovic playing a song on the accordion called "Please Don't Nuke Us, North Korea."
  • Telling Trump that "Nazis are like cats, they only like you if you feed them."
  • His tirade about the Confederate Flag still being flown in parts of the South, even after a massacre at a black church.
  • His glorious deconstruction on the argument that Confederate memorials should be allowed to remain to preserve their history even though he provides pretty damning evidence that it's mainly propaganda through historical revisionism and hostility towards black people.
  • Weighing in on the NFL player controversy and President Trump's commenting on it. "When you've lost the moral high ground to Roger Fucking Goodell, something has gone seriously wrong."
  • John's sick burn on Jeanine Pirro, after her scathing tirade against protesting NFL players:
    John: Wow. But she's right. No one wants to hear about politics from a wildly-successful athlete. You only want to hear about them from an abject failure of a prosecutor who somehow let Robert Durst slip through her fingers.
  • The "And Now, This" segment debunking the assertions that NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was "too controversial" to sign to any team due to his protests, showing that many teams are willing to sign or show tolerance towards players implicated in various transgressions, including domestic abuse (a more troubling issue that the NFL has struggled to properly address, as mentioned above).
  • John has proven time and time again that he is more than willing to spend HBO's money on something that he thinks is a worthy cause, so after the citizens of Scranton, Pennsylvania mistook his mention of their local forecasters' model train set as a joke, John proceeded to commission a giant rotating train set composed of Scranton landmarks for the news show to use. The amount of detail poured into the structure has to be seen to be believed. While Scranton's news station couldn't actually fit the new model into their backyard, they instead donated the train set to the Electric City Trolley Museum, where they made a slight modification to its design.

    Season Five 
  • Discussing the recent Parkland school shooting, John lays out how this one is different:
    John: These events are now so familiar, we basically know how each side will play out: "Thoughts and Prayers." "Fuck your Thoughts and Prayers." "It's a mental health problem." "Yeah, but it's also a gun problem." And then someone says, "Now is not the time to talk about gun control," and everyone moves on until it inevitably happens again. But this time felt slightly different. Because when the "Now's not the time" argument came out, the kids from that school said, "You know what? Yes, it fucking is."
    • The segment continues by showing a rambling response from a pundit who talks about violent video games, Tide Pods, prayer in schools and Andy Griffith. John response is to point out that 1) The Andy Griffith Show wasn't even airing when this guy was alive, and 2) Sheriff Andy didn't carry a gun, and then promptly shows a clip from the show where he explains why he doesn't.
      Andy: When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear, so I don't carry a gun, because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they respect me.
    • A meta-example: When John's response to the Parkland school shooting and his subsequent speech about how he loves America even though it has great things and terrible things all mixed together led to the ever-infamous Piers Morgan to attack him on the grounds that John is a British man, not an American, one of the Parkland school shooting's survivors came out to say that he's a proud follower of John, and not of "that Pierce Morman dude."
  • After going down the list of candidates for Italy's next Prime Minister in the 2018 Italian election, John sees no good options. However, after talking with Italian legal experts, it turns out there is no law explicitly saying that non-Italians cannot be Prime Minister of Italy, so John announces that he's running for Prime Minister of Italy.
    John: As far as I'm concerned, we have ourselves an Air Bud scenario! Remember: the rules of basketball did not explicitly state that he couldn't play. Next thing you know, the dog's dunking. Well, I am that dog, Italy, so alley-oop, motherfuckers!
  • The show gives the ultimate middle finger to Mike Pence by scooping his upcoming children's book about his pet rabbit with their own released 24 hours before, in which the rabbit is gay and fights for the right to marry his boyfriend. And they put together a star-studded audiobook with the likes of Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler-Ferguson, and John Lithgow. And 100% of the profits go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United. It proceeded to rack up hundreds of glowing reviews on Amazon within hours. And the next day it not only trounced the sales of Pence's book but became the #1 book on Amazon, which John himself got to hear about live during an appearance on Ellen. Ultimately the entire initial print run sold out within two days, to which John sheepishly said they weren't expecting anywhere near this kind of response.
    • Several fans did some epic trolling by writing positive reviews on Amazon that they nonetheless rated with one star, just to screw with the people who would be trawling the one star reviews to make themselves feel better about the whole thing. On a less positive note, some fans did post negative troll reviews of Pence's book, which was also received pretty well even if John's book overshadowed it. Amazon now requires people to actually buy it to review it.
    • Charlotte Pence, Mike's daughter and the writer of their book also seems to love the book, as she has praised it in social media, supports the charities the book's revenue go to, posted a picture of Marlon Bundo wearing the bowtie seen in John's book, and even Bundo's own social media has positively endorsed it.
    • Will & Grace show runner Max Mutchnick upped the ante by shelling out the cash to put over a thousand copies in school libraries all across Pence's home state Indiana.
  • John Oliver loves to spend HBO's money, and he once again proves that he has no qualms about giving his superiors the strangest invoices when he buys a bunch of Russell Crowe's memorabilia at an auction, and proceeds to send it to, of all places, the few remaining Blockbusters in Alaska. Check it out here.
  • The piece on Crisis Pregnancy Centers, more commonly known as "those pro-life places that pretend they're Abortion Clinics to trick women into going there", has John informing the crowd of some of the disgusting, manipulative and just downright predatory tactics of said centers before stealing a page from their book, reviving Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption as "Our Lady of Choosing Choice" and making a mobile Crisis Pregnancy Center in a van called "Vanned Parenthood" specifically to viciously mock the idea that there's no law stopping literally any unqualified nobody from parking on private property and giving women seriously awful unsolicited medical advice and that there really should be. He also mocks Catholic Priest and CPC founder Thomas Euteneur for an incident where he tried to circumvent an abortion clinic's fence to literally and figuratively talk down to the women going there until someone called the cops on him before shifting gears, getting serious and revealing to the crowd that Euteneur also molested a woman who he was supposed to be exorcising.
  • In his Venezuela piece, John Oliver explores how conservatives claim that Bernie Sanders would do to America what Maduro did to Venezuela, by showing an Infowars reporter interviewing (or shaming) an incredibly chill Bernie Sanders supporter, identified by Teen Vogue as Dasha Nekrasova, and receiving one hell of a burn.
    Dasha Nekrasova: Honey, you sound like you have worms in your brain.
  • Liu Xiaobo's Dying Moment of Awesome: during his last few days under house arrest for promoting democratic ideals, he took a picture with his wife while prominently holding a Winnie the Pooh coffee mug, in reference to Chinese president Xi Jinping's hatred of their supposed resemblance.
  • When discussing workplace sexual harassment, John Oliver interviews Anita Hill, who testified in front of Congress and accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, to get her opinions on the topic and how it can be eliminated.
  • When discussing Facebook's financial downturn following the reveal of user data being harvested and sold, Facebook's newest ad is shown, where they promise to be more careful and focus all the good reasons people joined Facebook in the first place. John's response is withering:
    John: Fuck you. Facebook was doing literally, exactly what it was built for! That's why it was worth 600 billion dollars. You didn't build history's most profitable data harvesting machine by accident. It's not penicillin! Or Applebee's cheeseburger eggrolls!
  • After diving into the episode on Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against him, John brings back LWT's Supreme Dog Court and decides that Kavanaugh does not even deserve his own dog counterpart. So he gets Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers' new, terrifying mascot as the proper stand in to remind us all of Kavanaugh's hostility and general unpleasantness.
  • While the family separation segment is mostly a very tearjerking one which ends with a clip of a Honduran child crying after being reunited with his mother and refusing her, John's "The Reason You Suck" Speech on the cruelty of the zero tolerance policy and the trauma it left on separated families is spot-on:
    John: Yeah. We did that. And not because we had to, but because we chose to. [...] [Family] separation is by far the most emblematic moment of [Trump's] presidency so far. It was cruel, sloppy, needless, racist, and ultimately, exactly what we should have expected. And I would argue that the biggest threat to our status as "the greatest nation on Earth", is not a caravan a thousand miles south from us, it's whoever thinks that doing THIS is an acceptable fucking response.
    • A bit earlier in the video, John shows the head of ICE making a "immigrants should enter the country the right way" argument, then immediately proceeds to break down why it's bullshit:
    John: A few things there regarding "the right way": First, many of these people were applying for asylum, meaning they're seeking protection from persecution, and under international and U.S. law, it's legal to apply for that, no matter how you enter the country. Second, while the Trump administration has insisted that "the right way" for asylum seekers to enter the country was at a port of entry, such as an official border crossing, they made it far more difficult to do that, with many being repeatedly denied entry into the country, forced to wait days or even weeks. And you can't just arbitrarily delay people that long. They're aslyum seekers looking for safety, not AT&T customers trying to speak to a representative.

    Season Six 
  • John calls Trump out on how, despite calling the border wall situation a national emergency, he then immediately admitted the situation could be handled over a longer period of time, before taking a holiday weekend.
    John: Then it's not a fucking emergency, is it?
  • John calling out TV shows that give fake psychics a platform, and so-called psychic detectives that exploit families of missing children for financial gain. John also praised a local news team's Batman Gambit in exposing a psychic detective as a fraud. They gave her $160 to find a boy from a photograph who was supposedly missing and the psychic determined that he was dead (while he was actually listening to the conversation from the booth behind her). As the woman walked out the news team followed her to confront her. Her reaction is priceless.
  • John calls out Ivanka Trump on her BS by saying that, despite her claims to the contrary, it's clear she's only had all the major successes in her life due to the advantage of being her father's daughter.
  • With the FCC refusing to do anything to stop robocalls, John sets up his own to send to all the organization's top people every 90 minutes until they decide it's worth addressing. And sets up a giant version of the usual Big Red Button to do it. "Unleash hell!"
  • In the episode about public shaming, in addition to calling out Jay Leno for making crude jokes in The '90s about Monica Lewinsky, the intern that then-President Bill Clinton had an extramarital affair with (though admitting he himself fell into the same trap, doing a tenth year anniversary piece about the scandal on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart titled "Ten Years of Sucking"), John interviews Lewinsky herself. John addresses Lewinsky with respect during the interview, discusses her work on public shaming since the scandal, and praises her for still being a good person in spite of all she went through.
  • John calls out the WWE and Vince McMahon for using Loophole Abuse to avoid giving wrestlers health insurance. By signing wrestlers as independent contractors, WWE legally doesn't have to provide them with medical insurance or paid leave, despite signing them to exclusivity contracts so they can't work anywhere else. John tears into the idea, showing that wrestler deaths tend to be extraordinarily premature due to a lack of insurance once their careers are over, how elderly wrestlers well past their prime keep being forced back into the ring because of mounting medical bills, and how the company pushes its wrestlers to perform with injuries or concussions due to a lack of an off-season. However, knowing that WWE and McMahon might listen to their fans if they chant loud enough, John "encouraged" WWE fans to chant for workman's comp and insurance at WrestleMania 35, which would air the following Sunday, in an attempt to get them to pay attention.
  • Following up on the Opioid Crisis, John calls out Purdue Pharma president Richard Sackler, noting some of the awful comments he made about Oxycontin and how little he cares about the epidemic. He notes how the news isn't capable of conveying how awful these comments are, so he hired four different actors to do that. Then he compiled them all into multiple videos for the site Sackler Gallery, referencing how the Sackler family loves to put their name on art galleries.
  • Bill Nye explaining the severity of global warming and calling out people who oppose any propositions made to combat it.
    Bill: Grow the fuck up, you're not children anymore! I didn't mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were twelve, but you're adults now and this is an actual crisis! Got that?!
  • John calls upon the remaining thirteen states who have not ratified the ERA to do so, and make history with their contribution.
  • While Adventures Indoors Luxepeditions and making a fake photo of yourself on Mount Everest are all played for laughs, it also emphasizes that Everest should be reserved for serious, experienced climbers and not for inexperienced tourists who pose a danger to themselves and others just for a selfie on the summit and bragging rights.
  • After an episode on how Boris Johnson has used Obfuscating Stupidity for decades to endear himself to the public with dismaying effectiveness, John closes by noting that the EU isn’t buying any of his shit as the Brexit deadline approaches, and the new Prime Minister is now stuck in a mess of his own making with no way out.
    • Sure enough, a few weeks later Johnson panicked and made a move to stop all Parliament meetings until the Brexit deadline in such a blatant autocrat move that even several other Conservatives jumped ship from the party, costing him the party’s majority. Within a few days even his own brother Jo quit and publicly denounced him. John responded by simply referring to the Parliament member who can be heard in the footage of his vote going down in flames saying “Not a good start, Boris.”
  • John does a whole episode about the oddness of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan. As a tyrannical dictator, Berdimuhamedov wants his image carefully controlled, so John naturally tears his aura of power to pieces. After finding out that Berdimuhamedov likes marble, horses, and Guinness World Records, John wanted to make the world's largest marble cake showing a picture of Berdimuhamedov falling off of a horse (which he tried to have suppressed) while getting Guinness World Records to validate it. However, despite working with Berdimuhamedov to get new world records to come up with, Guinness refused to send a validator because they said their book is for "kids and families" (after John showed that they were willing to work with brutal dictatorships like Saudi Arabia). John then reveals that they made the huge cake anyway, both as a crack at Berdimuhamedov and Guinness.
  • The entire segment on legal immigration: It deconstructs the concept, debunks the misconceptions that people not familiar with the process have about it, emphasizes how stressful waiting to achieve legal status can be with John sharing his own experience with it, and proves that Trump and other American politicians who spew anti-immigration rhetoric have no idea what they're talking about. John also calls out the same politicians for making it harder for poorer, potential immigrants to achieve legal status and secure life in the country, pointing out how it completely goes against the ethos of the American Dream: It's not about who you are, it's about who you could become.
  • When Trump claims that the Kurds not helping the US in WWII justifies his decision to pull US troops out of Syria, John calls bullshit on it, pointing out that Syria had aided us in both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq war, two more wars than Trump ever fought in his entire life.
  • The ending to the segment on SLAPP-suits. The entire segment had been a giant takedown of Bob Murray and people like him, after the lawsuit he filed against John for his initial segment on coal mining was dropped. It exposed the culture of fear people like Murray cultivate by filing SLAPP suits against people who speak negatively of them, from journalists to citizen activists. John celebrated his victory in his lawsuit by organizing a gigantic musical number performed by John himself, with dancers, singers, giant setpieces and a parade on Times Square, for the express purpose of openly daring Bob Murray to try and sue him again. A bunch of wild claims are made about Murray, such as that Murray caused both World War I and World War II, that he fucks squirrels (sung courtesy of Mr. Nutterbutter and his barbershop quartet), was Jeffrey Epstein's prison guard and Bill Cosby's drug supplier, masturbates to Tear Jerkers like Schindler's List and Old Yeller, and crippled Nancy Kerrigan for fun. The best part of all this nonsense (as pointed out by John many times) is that because the things Murray is being accused of in the song are all obviously jokes, they cannot be used as grounds for a libel lawsuit. Or, as the start of the final verse puts it: "Hey Bob, is this as bad as you feared? It doesn't count as slander, 'cause it's way too weird!"
    • At one point, a HBO lawyer (played by Brian d'Arcy James) runs in and shouts at John to stop the show. He then hands John his briefcase, and launches into a story about how Bob Murray (spoiler for explicit content) walked into an M&M store naked, shoved a bunch of candy up his butt, walked outside, spread his buttcheeks and told tourists to eat the candy out of his butthole. All the while dancers dressed as judges dance around him, punctuating the scene with lifts of their robes, revealing WILDLY colorful skirts.
      Lawyer: See you in court, fuckface!
    • John is also finally able to tell us just what happened to the initial lawsuit. After a tense period where it looked like one of the judges on the case was someone that Last Week Tonight had mocked for his cheesy campaign ad, all four of the appointed judges got caught in their own scandal and were impeached. Murray dropped the whole lawsuit shortly afterwards.
    • In a mix of heartwarming and funny, the musical number itself is a way of telling Bob Murray to eat shit on behalf of others who were abused by him but couldn't stick it to him.
    • And in a bit of Fridge Brilliance, if Bob Murray sues him again then the whole video will be entered as evidence, which means the judge and/or jury will have to watch it, exposing Murray's new lawsuit as exactly the abuse the video talks about and disarming it before it can even get going.

    Season Seven 
  • In spite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent controversial acts targetting Muslims, people all around India of all different classes, faiths, and races still united against him to protest the discrimination.
  • John calls out Trump for not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously at all, and treating the panic over it as a political ploy by the Democrats to beat him at the polls.
    John: Oh, for fuck's sake! No-one is thinking about you! These guidelines did not revolve around you! For once, something has come along that's more toxic and more threatening than this president, and somehow he's got fucking stage envy!
    • Not to mention how that segment ends:
      John: What is clear is that a crisis of this magnitude ends up revealing a lot about who you are as a nation. And not all of what's being revealed is good. This virus is exposing some central vulnerabilities in our medical system, our political system, and our national psyche. Hospitals that have spent years trying to operate at maximum efficiency are now watching that efficiency turn into scarcity. Our decentralized government — which can be good when local leaders are empowered to protect their communities — has also led to states fighting each other and a patchwork quarantine strategy that will almost certainly draw out the agony of this crisis. Meanwhile, we're being forced to confront some of the strangest, darkest implications of our national mindset, in which market worship threatens to become a fucking death cult.
  • John taking on Chantel Rion's "question" comparing coronavirus deaths to abortions:
    John:...if only one of them is growing exponentially every single day, that should probably be the one we focus on right the fuck now. But, by all means, come back to that when abortions become involuntary and wildly contagious.
  • In Coronavirus IV, John lays out, in no uncertain terms, that going "back to normal" won't be an option after the coronavirus passes: He points out the need for universal healthcare, fair wages for employees, prison reform, and various other social programs. He caps it off with this lovely line:
    John: The real test here isn't whether or not our country will get through this. It will. The question is how we get through this and what kind of country we want to be on the other side.
  • When discussing the protests following George Floyd's death, John shares a clip of Tucker Carson condemning the protesters as worse than the Police Brutality they're protesting, and proceeds to go into a whole rant about how Carson is only supporting the "order" brought by aggressive policing due to being protected from it by his race. Which starts off with this gem:
    John: First of all — go fuck yourself, Tucker. Just a general thought.
    • He gets Tucker again during the same episode's main story about voting-by-mail. After a clip of Tucker admitting he doesn't understand the problem in the situation, John sarcastically congratulates him on admitting fault, then passive-aggressively lists all the benefits of voting-by-mail that conservatives are deliberately overlooking, before finishing by once again telling Tucker to fuck himself.
  • From "Coronavirus VII: Sports":
    • After John's story calling out the UFC for continuing fight tournaments even in the midst of the pandemic and sarcastically suggesting they call their island tournament "UF-SEA", UFC chief Dana White responded by stating John's story was built on "selective facts" and grabbing the copyrights for UF-SEA. To counter this, John points out that UFC are the ones indulging in selective facts (by improperly presenting the number of COVID-19 tests done on their employees), mockingly suggesting alternate names for White himself that he can copyright, and then mocking White's habit of copyrighting impressive phrases by stealing the UFC's lapsed copyright of the phrase "You Will Submit".
    • Towards the end of the segment, John shows the viral clip from Jelle's Marble Runs of the 2017 Sand Marble Rally. After noting that the upcoming Marble League was in danger of cancellation due to lack of funds, John announces that Last Week Tonight had sponsored the entire event, and would donate money to various charities (food banks for indiviaual events, and the International Rescue Committee for the overall winner) in the teams' names.
  • In "Police", John states outright that the problems with America's police are so deep-seated that mere reforms aren't enough and that America has to start over again with addressing how the police should exist, ending the episode with a clip of activist Kimberly Jones' speech to the American public.
  • Adam Driver's appearance in the season finale.
    Adam Driver: Explore the fucking space, you hollowed Mr. Bean cosplayer. Look around you, you underbaked gingerbread boy.
  • The season finale also allows John to take some catharsis for how terrible 2020 was by having him exit the white void he's spent most of the year in, revealing it to be contained in a giant model of the number 2020. After a long list of all the bad things that happened this year, John then blows up the model in a glorious slo-mo show.
    John: Let tomorrow be about solutions. Today is about vengeance. Fuck you, 2020. Get fucked.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: