Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Adam Sandler

Go To
"I never thought about what people would say about me. I was just a young guy who was excited to become a comedian and an actor, and I just wanted to get to do what I got to do."

Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966 in New York City, New York) is an American comedian and actor.

After several years as a Saturday Night Live writer and cast member (from 1990 to 1995note ), he went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over 4.8 billion USD at the worldwide box office and remains as a major box office draw. He is best known for his comedic roles, though he has ventured into more dramatic territory.

His characters usually fall under the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but also with a healthy dose of Manchild with a serious need to grow up. Realizing that he can only take that role so far, he has sought to expand his range into a couple of dramas. Otherwise he takes much of the Deadpan Snarker behavior but adds some more complex motivation behind it.

Responsible for Happy Madison Productions, and often plays a music fan. Expect '70s and '80s music (like Led Zeppelin) to be not only part of the soundtrack, but part of the spoken dialog in some way, shape or form. Also expect Sandler's character to appear at least once wearing sports or college memorabilia (t-shirts, hats, etc.) with a New York or New England connection. Also expect blatant, shameless product placement, to the point that it's so absurdly exaggerated that it's actually funny sometimes ("WHERE'S MY SNAK-PAK?!" or "WILL SOMEBODY GET THE KID A HAPPY MEAL?!")

Enjoys something of a reputation as "one of the nicest celebrities in Real Life".

On Saturday Night Live, Sandler's recurring characters include Opera Man (an opera singer who sings the news), Audience McGee (a random SNL audience member who interrupts the show), Cajun Man, Brian (an obsessed man who hosts a talk show called The Denise Show where he still pines for his ex-girlfriend), The Herlihy Boy (a shy boy whose loud, boisterous father [Chris Farley] yells at people to let his son hire him), Lucy Brawn (one of the Gap Girls [which was Sandler, Chris Farley, and David Spade dressed in drag as Valley Girls]), Hank Gelfand (the miserable husband and co-host to his cheerful wife and host, Beverly [Chris Farley], of Zagat's), and Canteen Boy (a possibly autistic 27-year-old Boy Scout who is often bullied and ostracized for his behavior and, in a now-infamous sketch, was almost molested by his scout leader, Mr. Armstrong [played by frequent guest host Alec Baldwin). Sandler's notable celebrity impressions include: Pauly Shore, Bill Cosby, Axl Rose, Tom Jones, Steven Tyler, Charles Manson, Bono, Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, Richard Lewis, and Eddie Vedder.

Selected filmography:


  • They're All Gonna Laugh At You! (1993)
  • What The Hell Happened To Me? (1996)
  • What's Your Name? (1997) note 
  • Stan and Judy's Kid (1999)
  • Shh... Don't Tell (2004)
  • 100% Fresh (2018)

The price is WRONG, TV Tropes:

  • The Alleged Car: His song "Ode to My Car," from his album What the Hell Happened to Me?, a profane Reggae with the hook "Piece of shit car." The radio version made great use of the Sound-Effect Bleep which arguably made the song even funnier.
  • Alliterative Name: Sandler's love interests tend to have this, especially with the letter "V". There's Veronica Vaughn (Billy Madison), Virginia Venit (Happy Gilmore), Vicky Valencourt (The Waterboy), Valerie Veran (Little Nicky), Lena Leonard (Punch-Drunk Love), Babe Bennet (Mr. Deeds), Mary Mcgarrigle (That's My Boy), Lady Lisa (Pixels), Courtney Clarke (Sandy Wexler), and Violet Valentine (Hubie Halloween). If his fake husband from I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry took his last name, he would be Lawrence Levine.
  • Bawdy Song/Intercourse with You: "At a Medium Pace". You know the one.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He is actually a great actor, having studied at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and delivering his best work in several films such as Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Funny People, The Meyerowitz Stories and Uncut Gems. However, Adam seems to prefer making “stupid” movies with his friends that will be more successful at the box office and often will pick a location if he thinks it will be fun to shoot in. Hawaii was chosen for 50 First Dates simply because he wanted a place to have a vacation while working.
  • Brooklyn Rage: He was born in Brooklyn and he's known for playing very short-tempered characters.
  • The Cameo: In quite a few of his films, especially from the late '90s and early '00s, there is often a scene toward the end in which Rob Schneider stands up out of a crowd and shouts "You can do it!" in a cajun accent. It first appeared in The Waterboy. In at least one Rob Schneider film, Sandler returns the favor, appearing dressed as the same and shouting "You can do it!" to Schneider's character.
  • Card-Carrying Jerkass: Sandler's song "Steve Polychronopolous" is a first-person manifesto of a guy who likes to be a dick to everyone for nothing more than the love of being a dick.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: While much of Zohan's physical prowess was the result of stuntmen and serious suspension of disbelief, Sandler got into the best shape of his life (with a full-on six pack and Heroic Build) to play the Israeli Super Soldier.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: He attended New York University along fellow SNL alum Molly Shannon, personally endorsing her to the SNL producers.
  • Fake Brit: Donald Heffington in The Champion.
  • First World Problems: A common observation about his more recent films, especially Grown Ups and Pixels, is that his characters tend to be, at their very worst, Pottery Barn Poor, and are often exceptionally well-off, without any events in the film putting their lifestyle at risk. More cynical viewers have suggested it's because he doesn't want to play someone worse-off than himself.
    Honest Trailers: Lenny's got Adam Sandler problems: he's too rich, and his wife is too hot!
  • Gender Bender: He's been known to do this a lot. Sometimes it works (The GAP girls, several of his album sketches), and other times not to much (Jack and Jill won him a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress).
  • He Also Did: Has recorded five comedy music albums:
    • They're All Gonna Laugh At You
    • What the Hell Happened to Me?
    • Stan and Judy's Kid
    • What's Your Name?
    • Shh..Don't Tell
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In Eight Crazy Nights and Hotel Transylvania
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Adam's surname is a slang term for 'tramp' in Viennese German (roughly translating to sandal wearer).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sandler's early roles, his characters were these. Then once The Wedding Singer was made most of his characters were straight-up nice guys. Sandler himself is very much a Nice Guy.
  • Large Ham: Most of his roles during Saturday Night Live. A few of his film ones as well, such as Hotel Transylvania.
  • List Song: "The Chanukah Song" and its sequels, which lists Jewish (or half/quarter) celebrities. (except O.J. Simpson, which was always there for "NOT A JEW!")
  • This Loser Is You: A common theme in his films.
  • Manchild: His entire career is built on this trope, most notably Billy Madison. Played with in some of his other roles. In Big Daddy, for example, he portrays a character who actually has the mind of an adult but is extremely lazy and irresponsible.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: In his albums and Eight Crazy Nights, he voices dozens of characters of different vocal ranges, genders and accents. "Calling Home" features a cast of eight, of which he plays all but three.
  • Nice Guy: Adam Sandler seems to be a nice, sweet, friendly person in real life who many people seem to love working with. During production on Eight Crazy Nights, he made an effort to know the name of every member of the animation staff and even asked about their families. In his "Questions Song", Thomas F. Wilson (a classic example of this trope himself) said Adam was "the nicest famous guy [I] know".
  • No Budget: Subverted with his comedies, which would have budgets around $80 million despite showing otherwise. Allegedly, this is because he only uses around 5-10 million of that budget to actually make the movie. He gives the rest of the budget to his friends and single-handedly makes them rich.
  • Odd Friendship: He is close friends with Daniel Day-Lewis, believe it or not.
  • Old Shame: He was NOT in Going Overboard. At least, that's what his official website said.
  • Playing with Character Type: Punch-Drunk Love and Click. More information on the trope page.
  • Product Placement: To the point that most of his movies shown on TV have to be censored to remove the brand names for legal reasons. Happy Gilmore even has an in-character example as Happy becomes a spokesman for Subway.
  • Production Posse: The films he makes at Happy Madison can have a lower cast/crew turnaround than a Coen Brothers movie. For instance, he has a history of working with director Dennis Dugan and Peter Segal and actors David Spade, Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Chris Farley (before his death), Steve Buscemi, Kevin Nealon, and Tim Meadows. Also, if you ever see Peter Dante, Allen Covert and Jonathan Loughran (especially the former two), you can bet the film is a Happy Madison Production. He's also done three romantic comedies opposite Drew Barrymore.
  • Ruder and Cruder:
    • As a general rule, Adam Sandler's stand-up, original songs, and comedy sketches are much more profane than his PG-13 rated films — some of them practically use swears as punctuation. If any of his sketches stand out for sheer profanity, "The Psychotic Legend of Uncle Donnie" stuffs a boatload of them into its 11-minute runtime.
    • Still, Sandler's sketches can't compete with Uncut Gems, his most profanity-laced film. It contains 506 uses of the F-Bomb, the fourth highest usage in film history. And it's not a comedy.
  • Refuge in Audacity: His comedies tend to mock everybody, including minorities (every ethnic stereotype in the book), low-class louts (who would make even John Waters flee in terror), the wealthy (inbred idiots and liars), the physically disabled or stunted, and gay people. When minority groups complained that his films were homophobic, he responded with I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.note  Then he made You Don't Mess with the Zohan to show that Jews can take as much as they dish out.
  • Running Gag: When Anger Management was a coming attraction, a reviewer pointed out that he sings in most of his films, if not all of them.
  • Sung-Through Musical: Operaman, which even adds some Gratuitous Italian/Italianesque words for good measure.
  • True Companions: was this with David Spade and Chris Farley. Sandler said once in an interview on Conan that whenever the hot tempered Farley would get into a fight with Spade, Sandler would be the one to calm Farley down again. In 2018, as part of his 100% Fresh tour, Sandler sang a tribute song he wrote about Farley.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: A recurring theme in his movies is that his characters end up with women who are way out of his league, especially considering that his characters are lower-class louts or straight up have personality issues. While his first two movies as a lead, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, played this straight, subsequent films tried to subvert it in different ways (Little Nicky had Patricia Arquette, but in the film she was made to look as much as Hollywood Homely as possible, and Mr. Deeds had Winona Ryder, but it was invoked, as it turns out that she's a cutthroat tabloid news reporter who poses as a sweet, innocent girl-next-door type in order to get close to Sandler's character, only to fall for real for him), before playing it straight again from Click onwards, in which his character's wife is played by Kate Beckinsale and her gorgeous looks are complimented by several characters (though in the meantime, Marisa Tomei played his girlfriend in Anger Management).
    • Lampshaded in his 2019 SNL hosting appearance during his Opera Man sketch, making fun of Seth Rogen's use of the same trope in Long Shot and then following up with a self-deprecating "Where have I seen this before-o?"
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Many note how Sandler often takes this trope too far. His films frequently insult anyone who isn't him in an almost bullying manner.
  • Vacation, Dear Boy: He's openly admitted to setting several of his movies in exotic spots simply so he can go on a paid vacation.
  • What Could Have Been: Was on Quentin Tarantino's short-list for the role of Donny Donowitz (The Bear Jew), in Inglourious Basterds. The role ultimately went to Eli Roth.
  • Wish-Fulfillment: Many critics note how his films tend to be this. He often plays a schlubby guy who ends up with a hot girl who's several years his junior, is rich, hangs out with his friends and various athletes and goes on expensive vacations to various countries. And in his earlier films, he often played the friendly schmo who would give obvious bullies their just desserts (and steal their hot girlfriends).
  • Written by Cast Member: Co-wrote Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, Little Nicky, Eight Crazy Nights, Jack and Jill, The Ridiculous Six, Hotel Transylvania 2 and did re-writes on Pixels.


Video Example(s):


Chris Farley Song

Adam Sandler delivers a tribute to his close friend and SNL castmate, Chris Farley.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CelebrityElegy

Media sources: