You may be surprised, but Saturday Night Live does have these kinds of moments.
- In 1978, Gilda Radner won an Emmy Award for her work on the show. In her speech, she said that, like her dressing room, she shared it with Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman.
- Season 7: On the rerun of the episode hosted by Robert Urich with musical guest Mink DeVille, Brian Doyle-Murray appears in a memorial piece about John Belushi (who had recently died, becoming the first SNL cast member to do so) and tells the story of how John Belushi looked after him when he came to New York and saved him from getting hit by a ten-ton truck (also a Moment of Awesome, as Belushi pushed Brian out of the way and Belushi got hit, only to reveal during a hospital visit that he wasn't hurt — no broken bones, no bruises, no head injuries, nothing).
- A 1970s episode had a sketch where President Jimmy Carter answered phone calls from Americans. A teenager named Peter calls in, tripping on acid and freaking out. Surprisingly, Carter gives very sound advice to calm the strung-out kid down. While it's an ironic joke about the President knowing about how to come down from a bad high, it's a sweet scene, as Carter informs Peter what he's taken, reminds Peter that he's safe, and encourages him to listen to music and relax for the next five hours as the effect wears off. Carter also notes that he's against drug use, but chooses not to lay into Peter in that moment.
- Season 10: In this sketch, a man (Christopher Guest) who is in charge of interviewing potential Wheel of Fortune contestants, is prepared to jump out the window since his life is so mundane. Instead, he has to meet with Ed Grimley (Martin Short), who is hoping to compete on Wheel. Grimley excitedly monologues about how much he loves Wheel and would be overjoyed should he get to compete. When he finds out that he's clear to participate, Grimley gratefully tells the man that sometimes it takes a little thing to completely brighten his mood. As he's leaving the building, Grimley is hit by the man on his descent, but the man says he was thinking about what Grimley said on the way down and wants to give life a second chance. The two leave arm in arm to grab coffee.
- Season 14: Steve Martin ended up hosting the program the same day Gilda Radner passed away (May 20, 1989; S14E20). Instead of the planned monologue (where Martin discusses his good and bad sides in photography), Steve pays tribute to Gilda by flashing back to the Season 3 episode he hosted in 1978 where he and Radner did a takeoff of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon in a sketch set at a discotheque. At the end of the clip, Steve mentions how much he's going to miss Gilda and there are visible tears in his eyes.
- Years later, on the season 37 episode hosted by Emma Stone, one of the bumpers showed episode host Emma Stone as Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna. That they did this (and the fact that Emma Stone looked so much like Gilda) showed that, despite all of SNL's changes and peaks and valleys, they still remember the people who made the show great (be they living or dead).
- Season 14: The Schillers' Reel short film "Love is a Dream" which, while a departure from the usual comedy fare, is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming things to be shown on SNL. It involves an elderly woman (Jan Hooks) flashing back to her younger self while looking at her safety deposit box containing a tiara and a necklace. In the flashback we see a man played by Phil Hartman in uniform and taking her by the hand as they waltz together. It's just so romantic, but the capper is when the flashback ends and we see the elderly woman again. She departs from the bank and she glances at the security guard (who had previously let her in) and it's the same gentleman from the flashback. Unfortunately, with Hartman's death in 1998, and Hooks' dying 16 years later, this now doubles as a major Tear Jerker. In her honor, they re-aired the sketch on the season forty episode hosted by Bill Hader (with Kristen Wiig as a special guest).
- Season 18: On the May 8, 1999 episode, ''The Ladies Man'' manages to be particularly empathetic when interacting with their 2nd special guest, Monica Lewinsky, who was coming hot off the heels of the scandal involving her past affair with President Bill Clinton and being shamed by the media for her sexuality, her poor decisions, and curvaceous body shape and fluctuating weight. Leon manages to make Monica feel secure about opening up and backing her up when she alludes to her own mistakes and shows respect for her skill set in matters of sex and the heart, while allowing her the opportunity to riff about her experiences.
- Season 19: This sketch which features Woody Harrelson encouraging all of his beach-going friends to take their shirts off and enjoy the sun. Each one has a different body deformity (lots of hair, a gigantic outie bellybutton, etc.), but Harrelson convinces them to love their bodies and defends them when outsiders make fun of them. Even if the extremeness of the different looks is part of the joke, it's got a surprisingly sweet message about body positivity at its core. The only reason they put their shirts back on is because a man (David Spade) considerately reminds them that the hole in the ozone layer makes them more susceptible to skin cancer.
- Season 19: The last sketch on the season finale with Phil Hartman (his last episode as a castmember) and Chris Farley singing "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music, now a Harsher in Hindsight moment as both Farley and Hartman died within six months of each other in the late 90s.
- This 1995 Weekend Update sketch. Norm Macdonald introduces Cheri Oteri to give her review of Dangerous Minds... and it quickly goes off the rails as they, along with Molly Shannon and David Spade, turn WU into a would-be high school hallway...and then Lorne Michaels enters, playing the stern principal. It's just a piece of genuine SNL silliness/sweetness.Norm: It's fun to pretend.
- From the 2000-2001 season, a parody ad for the drug Homocil, intended to help parents deal with the fact that their children were showing signs of being gay. The underlying message being that parents should be loving and supportive of their kids, no matter what.(voiceover)"Because it's your problem. Not theirs."
- During the 25th anniversary special, some screentime is devoted to honoring cast members that have passed on. A couple involve some good natured ribbing of the departed, of course, but there's no doubt they're honoring the departed. Appropriately, Dan Aykroyd and Laraine Newman do a segment about John Belushi; Steve Martin again about Gilda Radner; David Spade about Chris Farley; and Jon Lovitz (backed up by the 80s cast) about "[his] big brother, Phil Hartman."
- Season 28: The end of the Queen Latifah episode, where Horatio Sanz does a tribute to Fred Rogers (the episode first aired around the time that Mr. Rogers died).
- Season 30:
- An episode had Darrell Hammond as Rodney Dangerfield (who had recently passed away at the time of the episode's premiere) doing his "I don't get no respect" schtick for St. Peter (Horatio Sanz). Rodney thinks he has to do it to get into Heaven, but really St. Peter just wanted to hear Dangerfield's jokes just because. Oddly enough, that episode was also hosted by Queen Latifah (this time as host and musical guest; the first time she was on, she just hosted)...
- Back in the late nineties, Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan used to do an annual Christmas song. When Fallon, Morgan, and Kattan left, The Muppets came in to cheer up Horatio!
- Season 31: The Catherine Zeta-Jones episode had a brief still shot of Charles Rocket (with the caption: "Charles Rocket: 1949 - 2005") that appeared after Weekend Update (Rocket had committed suicide two weeks before this episode premiered). It's just nice that SNL acknowledged him, even though he was part of a cast that most — of not all — fans have branded the worst season ever and most people these days wouldn't know him from SNL (Charles Rocket, in his post-SNL years, has been on such shows as Max Headroom and Normal, OH and had supporting roles in movies like Dumb and Dumber and Titan A.E., but sadly couldn't find any lasting fame, which depressed him immensely)
- Season 33:
- On the episode hosted by Elliot Page, there was a final sketch where a girl (Page) tells her boyfriend (played by Andy Samberg) about the fun time she had at a Melissa Etheridge concert, and her boyfriend keeps accusing her of being a lesbian because of how much she enjoyed it. You would expect the boyfriend to dump her or only keep her around so he can watch her make out with other girls, right? Wrong. The boyfriend told his ex that if she's going to go gay, then he'll go gay too so they can share the apartment they live in and still be friends. It's more Heartwarming in Hindsight and based in Reality Subtext after Elliot Page had come out as a lesbian, and eventually trans.
- After seven years on the show, Kristen Wiig got a sendoff at the end of the 2011-2012 season finale hosted by Mick Jagger in a sketch where she "graduates" from "high school" and dances with all the cast members note and Lorne Michaels. Probably the most tearjerking and heartwarming goodbye of a popular female cast member since the "Steve Martin tribute to Gilda Radner."
- Season 35:
"And now I'm here tonight because you wanted me to be. I just want to say that I feel so loved. Thank you."
- On the Tina Fey/Justin Bieber episode, there's a sketch where Fey plays a nine-inch-tall hooker named Loleen who sells her body so she can raise money to go to Paris. When she hears that a priest (Bill Hader) has to come up with $1,300 overnight or his orphanage will be shut down, Loleen gives the priest her money to save the orphanage, telling the priest not to tell the kids who the donor is or what she had to do to get it.
- Betty White's episode as host counts as a Moment of Awesome, Heartwarming, and Funny the first for the simple fact that White is now the oldest SNL host ever (hosting the show at 88-and-a-half years old), the second for the standing ovation she got just before her monologue, and during the closing credits, and the third for several of the skits during the show.
- After the closing, the cast handed White a bouquet of flowers.
- And, in the opening monologue she states how grateful she is:
- From the season 36 opener, on Bronx Beat musical guest Katy Perry made fun of her recent Sesame Street controversy where a clip of her in a cleavage-baring dress went unaired by playing a teen who volunteers at the library reading books to children, but got criticism after her chest started to develop. Betty and Jodi urge her not to be ashamed of her body, and point out how her cleavage is no big deal: "they come for the boobs, they stay for the books, everyone wins."
- From the season 39 Christmas Episode, a spoof of the classic "Baby It's Cold Outside" done as an Immediate Sequel, but subverting whatever Unfortunate Implications there were by showing something real blossoming between them.She: Do you mind if I sleep in this? (already wearing one of his football jerseys)
He: This is getting too serious...
She: You know I'm just as nervous as you / But who knows what this could turn into?
He: I don't know what to do...
She: Here's a clue. (she kisses him)
- Phil Hartman's daughter Bergen who is now 23 and engaged, being invited to SNL's 40th Anniversary.
- Season 41: Tracy Morgan returning to the show after the car accident that nearly claimed his life (and saying that the accident showed him that he had a lot of love and support in the world, along with referring to Lorne Michaels as his Obi-Wan Kenobi), with cameos from some of his 30 Rock costars.
- The Season 42 opening managed to include a tribute to Gene Wilder, which had Hillary Clinton limping to the presidential debate on a cane while coughing, then she drops the cane and does a somersault.
- The Zooey Deschanel episode, in which a brief still of Whitney Houston on a Mary Katherine Gallagher sketch was shown before commercial break in complete silence (the episode aired within minutes of Whitney Houston's death being announced on the 11PM news.).
- When George Carlin died in 2008, rather than rerun the season 33 episode hosted by Elliot Page, the network decided to air the very first episode (which Carlin hosted) in his memory.
- The "What's Up With That" sketches headlined by Kenan Thompson are about a talkshow with actual surprise guests that keeps getting sidelined by randomly breaking musical numbers until it's an Overly Long Gag, and the guests are supposed to find it annoying - but Ernest Borgnine is shown to have a big fat smile on his face the whole time, clearly having a ball. It's also bittersweet when you realise this was one of his last TV appearances.
- Bobby Moynihan and the other cast members hugging the real Big Bird (who appeared in that episode's Weekend Update) in the final goodbyes.
- The pretaped sketch "Sad Mouse" on the episode hosted by Bruno Mars. Mars plays a man who is depressed over his girlfriend breaking up with him and his dad leaving him for another family he had behind his mom's back, but has to go to work as a mouse, greeting tourists at Times Square. Throughout the short film, the man tries to keep a brave front, but is totally miserable, until he meets a girl in a frog costume who's also upset despite having to be all cheery for tourists and comforts her. It's the sweetest, strangest thing SNL has come up with (at least until the "Stefon's Wedding" segment of Weekend Update on the Ben Affleck/Kanye West episode).
- A day after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 28 people, including 20 first graders, were killed, SNL opens its Christmas episode with the New York City Children's Chorus singing "Silent Night", in lieu of the usual comedic cold opening (very much like what happened after the 9/11 attacks when the usual funny cold opening is replaced with something more somber). Also a Tear Jerker.
- From that same episode, Paul McCartney, the musical guest, giving a rare third musical performance of none other than his Christmas classic "Wonderful Christmastime", featuring that same choir. You can see the smiles on the kids' faces.
- A small one, from the Natalie Portman and Fall Out Boy episode: during most of Fall Out Boy's first musical number, the lead singer, Patrick Stump, looked totally shell-shocked and terrified of screwing up. At the end of the number, he moved away from the microphone and faced away from the audience to compose himself/hide... only for the rest of his band to go over and pat his head and hug him before the show cut to commercial.
- From the Vince Vaughn/Miguel episode, there was a pretaped sketch about a late 1970s punk rock group from Britain who became popular for their anti-establishment songs like "Cunt in a Crown," "Hey Police Man," and "Living in the Gutter"...until the lead singer (played by Fred Armisen) begins performing songs supporting Margaret Thatcher (who was Prime Minister at the time and was considered a very controversial choice, with a lot of people branding her a terrible person) and causes a strain within the group. The reason he killed his career and sold out: because he genuinely liked her (even saying Thatcher reminded her of his mom, and that he would miss her now that she was dead). He even had tea with Thatcher (played by Vanessa Bayer) when she was pushed out of office in 1991.
- Seth Meyers stopping Stefon's (Bill Hader) bizarre wedding to Anderson Cooper after realizing that, for all his Cloudcuckoolander ways and constant badgering into dating him (despite that Seth has a girlfriend), he does love him.
- Ben Affleck appearing as Stefon's brother, Dave note at his wedding. If you'll recall, Bill Hader's first appearance as Stefon was in a one-shot sketch about a screenwriter named Dave who invites his weird, estranged brother Stefon to help him pitch a movie (even though Stefon interrupts it with descriptions of bizarre, homoerotic imagery), only for executives to pick Dave's movie (a family-friendly sports drama) over Stefon's alleged pitch (described as a "...half-remembered gay nightmare.") and that was the last we heard of Stefon and his brother Dave (until Stefon became a Weekend Update character). It shows that Dave actually cares for his brother, even if he's weird and there's a slight chance that they may not be blood-related.
- During a segment of "Bill Swerski's Superfans" (you know, "DA BEARS" and all that...), fill-in host Bob Swerski (George Wendt) introduces his daughter (1991-92 featured player Beth Cahill), who starts flirting heavily with Todd O'Connor (Chris Farley). As Cahill's character sits in his lap, he briefly considers cheating on his wife with a younger woman, until an interjection by Carl Wollarski (Robert Smigel) gives way to an Imagine Spot of his wife (also played by Farley in drag). While she's not much of a looker, she tells him that she knows how much he enjoys watching DA BEARS and made Bratwurst for him for the game, then she tells him "You're MY Ditka..." This brings Farley's character to near tears as he spurns her advances proclaiming "I'm her Ditka!!" and remains faithful to his wife.
- The first time Sarah Michelle Gellar appeared on SNL, after she thanked the cast, crew and musical guests, she held up a sign reading "I Miss You, Aly! Willow Rules!" Later that week, when Alyson appeared on a talk show, she held up a sign reading, "Hi, Sarah! I Miss You, Buffy Rules!"
- Ian Rubbish'snote (Fred Armisen) song, It's A Lovely Day. Since the Ben Affleck/Kanye West episode is the last episode featuring Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis (also Tim Robinson, though Robinson has now been hired as a show writer after a mediocre stint as a cast member), the song was Fred's way of thanking viewers for the 11 years on the show ("It's been all right/I've had a lovely night with you") and assuring fans out there that the cast and crew need to stay strong in the face of cast turnover and the critics and fickle fans coming after the show for "not being the same" now that he, Hader, and Sudeikis will be leaving ("If your mates are not around/And you need them when you're down/You gotta hang on/It's still a lovely day").
- The "24-Hour ENERGY" commercial from season 39 shows three boyfriends (Taran Killam, Mike O'Brien, and Kenan Thompson) drinking the titular drink in order to have the energy to deal with their extroverted, hyper-energetic actress girlfriends (Kate McKinnon. Noël Wells, and Cecily Strong). Most of the commercial has them guzzling the drink while the girlfriends do things like get emotional over callbacks or practice accents during dinner, but at the very end, Thompson and Killam are shown being enthusiastically supportive of them, with Thompson giving Strong a standing ovation at her off-Broadway show and Killam excitedly complimenting McKinnon on her audition monologue (and her giving a happy Squee). While the drink has definitely helped them finally match their girlfriends' energy, they were clearly willing to support them all along, and now they finally can express it.
- Hilariously subverted at the end when the female equivalent is shown to be for dating comedians, with Vanessa Bayer downing a whole bottle while her boyfriend (Kyle Moody) does prop comedy.
- Bill Hader nearly crying during the goodnights to the episode he hosted, saying hello to his wife (Maggie Carey) and his daughters, and calling the show "his home."
- He made a point of doing this even back when he was a regular cast member! Pay attention to how many times he pops his head over the crowd and mouths "hello" to his wife (and later, children) on-camera during the closing of nearly every episode.
- The sketch with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a stage hypnotist who picks Taran Killam out of the crowd, only Taran is a skeptic who manages to resist hypnotism but plays along deliberately, leading up to stripping down to his tightey-whiteys. Then there's a Mood Whiplash when the hypnotist breaks out his strongest suggestion yet, making the guy confess that he's been cheating on his wife, played by Vanessa Bayer, who immediately leaves in tears... only to reveal quietly that both husband and wife were in on it. You know what they say, the couple that punks together...
- Seth Meyers' final Weekend Update, where he's reunited with Amy Poehler and his "husband" Stefon (the burned-out club kid played by Bill Hader), who are ready to take him to his new post-SNL life. There were some funny moments (like Stefon hissing at Cecily Strong and telling him to keep her hands off his man and Andy Samberg's surprise appearance where he sings a heartfelt goodbye song, then just realizes that Seth Meyers is leaving), but mostly it was a heartfelt goodbye to a long-running head writer and Weekend Update anchor.
- Cecily Strong welcoming Colin Jost (who has been on the show since he was 22 as a writer, until he worked his way up to head writer and was recently chosen to be Seth Meyers' replacement on Weekend Update) as the new Weekend Update anchor.
- The end of this "web exclusive" backstage video featuring host Lena Dunham and cast members Vanessa Bayer, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant.
- From 2014's Seth Rogen episode, the "Monster Friends" short. In the same vein of being strange, but very sweet and human as "Sad Mouse" (from the Bruno Mars episode) and the "Seth Rescues Stefon" segment from the Ben Affleck/Kanye West episode, this short centers on two monsters who are friends, despite being bullied by humans. One of the monsters decides to get plastic surgery to look human and promises his friend that he'll always be there for him even though he looks different. The next day, the first monster returns to the bar and finds that his friend isn't there and goes around New York City looking for him (there are some funny moments, like the Asian girl shouting, "Holy shit!" when she sees the monster, the monster complaining about the movie Monsters University, the monster scaring off little kids, and the monster appearing on The Today Show) until he finds his friend at the pier (who turns out to be guest star James Franco).
- After the friction between the Jim Henson company and SNL due to a failed Crossover attempt, someone must have extended the olive branch because we've had both Big Bird and Kermit the Frog appear on Weekend Update. Kermit in particular is a perfect fit.
- The one "behind the scenes" sketch for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Andrew Garfield and surprise guest Emma Stone doing the important kissing scene, except it becomes one Awkward Kiss after another, including one where he takes her entire chin into his mouth. It could only be pulled off if both of them were dating in real life - and guess what, they were!
- From the Mothers' Day special, Kate McKinnon is a mother who organises a game show with all her kids as contestant, and they're all just as reluctant to go along with it as you expect real kids to be. Then you realise that nobody gives a wrong answer, subtly hinting at how close they really are anyway.
- J. K. Simmons not killing Pushy (Bobby Moynihan) in the Microsoft Assistant sketch.
- In the Reese Witherspoon episodes, the mothers of every current cast member (save Taran Killam, Jon Rudnitsky, and Leslie Jones) appear during the monologue and show adorable home movie footage of the comedians when they were kids (except for Kenan Thompson, which was just a clip from the movie The Mighty Ducks, as Thompson has been working in TV and movies since he was a childnote ). Continuing the trend, Colin Jost and Michael Che each read a joke from their respective mothers in Weekend Update (even though a picture of Michael Che's mother was replaced with a still of Diana Ross from the 1970s since Che's mom took too long at the salon to get a photo done and was aiming for that look).
- From the monologue: Kate McKinnon apologizing to her mom, Laura Bertholdnote for playing the Amy Fisher/Joey Buttafuco/Mary-Jo Buttafuco sex scandal and shooting from the early 1990snote when she was a child instead of something more traditional for girls, like princesses (with Laura nodding and cringing at the memory). Kate then apologizes for being weird, but Laura assures her daughter that she shouldn't apologize for being weird because, "...weird got ya here."
- Cecily Strong's bilingual condolences to the city of Paris in the episode that aired the day after the horrific attacks.
- The crossover between The Wiz Live! and The Wizard of Oz has the former's leads and Wiz, and the latter's Scarecrow, gradually agree that despite the cultural differences between their respective settings of East Oz and West Oz, they can also find qualities to admire in the other Oz's respective denizens. The West Oz Scarecrow declares that East Oz has "so much
colorheart and soul", while the East Oz people commend the victory the West Oz Scarecrow and his friends accomplished in ridding West Oz of its Wicked Witch of the West, rumored to act even scarier than East Oz's Evillene. The sketch closes with the East Oz people teaching the West Oz Scarecrow how to Dab and sing "Ease On Down the Road".
- Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, the cast & surprise guests Maya Rudolph & Paul McCartney close the Christmas episode of 2015 by joining Bruce Springsteen onstage for a rousing rendition of 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town'.
- The Saturday after Prince passed away, instead of rerunning the Peter Dinklage episode from early April (though it did end up airing the week after this), NBC created a tribute clip show episode called Good Night Sweet Prince, hosted by Jimmy Fallon (who looked and sounded like he was about to cry at any moment when he was telling stories about what it was like to meet Prince) and highlighting Prince's performances on the show, including his first from the infamous season six episode hosted by Charlene Tiltonnote , his performance on SNL's 15th anniversary in 1989, Prince's return to the show after 21note years in 2006, never-before-seen footage of his performance at the 40th anniversary afterparty, and three installments of the recurring sketch "The Prince Show" (with Fred Armisen as Prince).
- Though it borders on Cringe Comedy, Pete Davidson's mom, Amy, videotaping his commentary on Weekend Update on how she needs to start dating again (as she stayed single after her husband, Scott Davidson, died during the 9/11 attacks) and trying to defend his performance on the show from trolls criticizing him on Twitter (and asking Lorne Michaels to include him more) on the Brie Larson episode is very sweet.
- From the Tom Hanks episode, we get a "Black Jeopardy" sketch where Hanks plays a rural, white conservative named Doug. Host Darnell Hayes (Kenan) is understandably wary of his participation but is delightfully surprised when Doug answers all of his questions correctly. As the game goes on, Doug, Darnell, and the other contestants bond over their shared worldviews such as distrust of the government and enjoying Tyler Perry movies and prove that working class white and black people are not so different. Of course it's ruined by the "Final Jeopardy" question ("Lives That Matter"), but Darnell still notes their banter was great while it lasted.
- After one more sketch playing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon get tired of all the bile and hatred that ran throughout the election. So they break character, go out into Times Square together and hug people at random, just to show that the world needs this kind of love before things turn ugly.
- "I'm not giving up, and neither should you." With all the melodrama, it's easy to have missed that Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton performing "Hallelujah" wasn't just a tribute to Hillary's groundbreaking presidential campaign, but to Leonard Cohen, who passed away that week.
- Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata singing "To Sir, with Love", in tribute to the departing President Obama.
- The real point of the "Hunt for Hil" sketch, all about hunting down Hillary Clinton after the 2016 election when she supposedly went into hiding in some forest, done like a mythbusting reality show. It wasn't in flagrant disregard of her privacy like some paparazzi. It was just to thank her for making the effort.
- The show re-running the episode Bill Paxton hosted in wake of his death.
- Louis C.K.'s tribute to Don Rickles at the end of the episode from two days after his death.
- Many people were introduced to Melissa Villaseñor when she appeared on an episode of America's Got Talent. There, she described how she always wanted to be a comedian and was able to impress the audience with her impressions. It's heartwarming to see how far she's come and how she was able to make it to what's considered to be the highest honor of being a comedian: to be a cast member of SNL.
- During the Jimmy Fallon episode, we had the Civil War sketch, in which we see this group of war-torn soldiers enjoying themselves and singing with one another. Even their prisoner, played by Harry Styles, is allowed to sing with them.
- There's something so goofy and heartwarming about the SWAT Recon sketch that involved a SWAT team (played by Kenan Thompson and observing a target (played by Bobby Moynihan) only to be charmed and enthralled by the silliness going on next door which involves two men (played by Mikey Day and host Chris Pine) having a cotton candy dance party followed by a backpack fashion show and then bouncing on some exercise balls while a tall woman (played by Leslie Jones) in a zoot suit eating a huge gummy bear. The display ends up charming the target as well and it ends with one of the SWAT guys going over to dance and the other one going to join them. It's just a nice wholesome little sketch of silliness.
- Steve Martin appearing out of nowhere at the end of Melissa McCarthy's fifth hosted episode to welcome her to the five-timers' club.
- Vanessa Bayer as romantic comedy expert Daisy Rose checks off all the tropes like Cute Clumsy Girl, and Vanessa's own Disney Princess charm just sells it further.Michael: We just met 70 seconds ago!
- On the season finale when The Rock hosted, after Bobby did one last sketch as his arguably most famous character, "Drunk Uncle", Colin gives him a big hug for his last show.
- Not to mention, that him and Vanessa (who will also be leaving this season), got quite a few sketches to themselves. The last sketch in general has a nice vibe to it. Its about departing seniors relaying their last year of high school, and all the crazy stuff that happened during it. Its mostly played straight, and a very nice sketch for their final goodbye.
- The Emily Blunt episode has a sketch about a super-long stretch limo at a drivethru, leading to an Overly Long Gag when the limo advances slowly so the occupants behind every window of the vehicle can order. The payoff comes when the owner of the vehicle is revealed to be Bruno Mars, who lets the beleaguered drivethru worker join them in their party.Pete Davison: I can't, I'm working now...
Bruno Mars: Didn't stop your friend!
(Melissa Villasenor pops into view from inside the limo; the scene ends with Pete climbing through the window to join them)
- The show extends a rare olive branch by being rather sympathetic to Kellyanne Conway, about a week after that Fatal Attraction thing they did.Michael Che: You know when you lose your luggage at the airport and you end up yelling at this woman who ends up spending her lunch hour crying over a Lean Cuisine? Well that woman is Kellyanne Conway. [...] Can you imagine being customer service to Donald Trump?
- Season 43: The cold open of the second episode had Jason Aldean simultaneously paying tribute to the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting and to Tom Petty (who died of a heart attack that same day) by performing Petty's classic, "Won't Back Down".
- Kumail Nanjiani plays a customer service employee who forms an Odd Friendship with Melania Trump, bonding over their shared frustrations with their lives and ultimately seeing Melania come over to tell off the people bullying Nanjiani, after her insecurities over not doing enough to help the problem back home.
- One Family Feud sketch in season 43 has Steve Harvey (Kenan)'s own family up against a mostly white family, by which we mean that they have what is obviously a Chocolate Baby played by Special Guest Chance the Rapper in his best Steve Harvey impression. With all the turmoil from the wave of sexual harassment allegations rocking the media, you half expect this to be a reference to that... until it's gradually revealed that it was from a completely consensual encounter from before the boy's mother was married (although from Mrs Harvey's Death Glare, there's a chance that Steve was...)
- A sketch for Christmas 2017 has a bunch of real little kids who are all clearly overjoyed to be on the show. A couple even get so excited they can't get their lines out, leading to Keenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon adorably helping them out.
- April 7, 2018: T'Challa playing Black Jeopardy. The host Darnell Hayes, played by Keenan Thompson, is moved by T'Challa's Sincerity Mode:
Darnell Hayes: "That's really nice. It's wrong, but it's really nice."
- T'Challa answers that you put your cable bill in your grandmother's name because she is a foundation of the family and it's to honor her.
- When T'Challa answers that he would send a "smart-ass child" to a free Wakandan college to educate her, where "she can apply her intelligence, and become a great scientist." (It's obvious that he's thinking of his little sister Shuri.) The host gives him the points even though it's technically wrong.
- T'Challa finally gets the hang of the game and comments about "bland-ass potato salad," winning the competition. Darnell Hayes has a So Proud of You look.
- The Career Day sketch where Adam Driver plays an insane oil baron who preaches about crushing your enemies has an unlikely heartwarming moment when one student, Samantha, excitedly tells Driver's oil baron she wants to be him when she grows up. Without missing a beat and dramatically declares she WILL, being utterly supportive of her dream.
- On the Mother's Day Weekend Update, Melissa McCarthy appears as Michael Che's stepmother, gushing over him in classic Amazingly Embarrassing Parents fashion. But he never once tells her to stop, and finally says she should read the next joke from the teleprompter herself, which turns out to just say she's the world's greatest stepmom.
To all mothers everywhere - Thanks for pretending it was easy.
- The Cold Open is also sweet, since it features all the cast members' moms, though when all the moms begin complaining about their children's sketches, it becomes a subversion.
- From the same episode, the short film "The Day You Were Born", about guest host Amy Schumer as a young mother sweetly telling her son how the day he was born was the best moment of her life - only to be contrasted by the utter chaos in the delivery room in flashbacks. And the birth wasn't even the end of it, as we see the poor woman in the process of raising the infant, like breastfeeding while on the can to save time. The final message sums it all up:
- The show re-airing the October 2002 episode that the late John McCain hosted in tribute to him.
- One that's acknowledged In-Universe involves Special Guest Jonah Hill as his recurring character Adam Grossman, a six-year-old who inexplicably sounds like an old-school insult comic - one sketch involves him meeting a Straight Gay couple for the first time, and rather than the outrage and scarring that the Moral Guardians would warn you about, Adam likens it to him and his BFF from kindergarten, and doesn't see anything wrong with making a wedding out of it.
- After a couple weeks of anticipation/dread over how the show would address Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande breaking up after pushing their engagement so much, Pete stays totally classy about it, saying it's no one else's business, and he continues to have great respect for Grande and wishes her the best.
- One week after insulting Dan Crenshaw for his physical appearancenote , Pete Davidson appeared on Weekend Update to apologize. Crenshaw himself appeared to accept the apology and rib Davidson in response, and they both stressed the importance of respecting and honoring our veterans. Especially when Crenshaw acknowledged that Pete's father, one of the first responders who gave their lives on 9/11, deserves the same recognition as them.
- A few weeks later, after Davidson made an alarming Instagram post—"I really don't want to be on this Earth anymore"—Crenshaw was one of the first people to contact him and assure him, "God has a purpose for you." The first episode of 2019 reveals that a friend of the show, John Mulaney also reached out to him with moral support.
- Leslie Jones appears on Weekend Update with a huge spiel of Self-Deprecation, pointing out that she's now 51 and a torn meniscus is just a reminder that she should swear off the dating scene already, but Colin cheers her up by saying "any man in this studio now would love to have you." Right on cue the audience cheers.
- For the 2018 Christmas show, host Matt Damon shares how his father would let him watch the show if he could stay up that long, which he finally did at age 8. And now a year after his father passed away, his youngest daughter is now 8 and he's carrying the tradition on, ending with "Here's to all the parents who let their kids stay up too late for all the right reasons."
Tommy: We're naming the baby Gronk!
- From the same episode, Weekend Update seemingly does a sendoff for recurring character Angel (Heidi Gardner), Girlfriend of the Boxer in Every Boxing Movie Ever, with some rare but much needed closure - Matt plays Tommy Ray Donovan, the titular boxer, and they confront each other for the first time on stage, and things come to a head when Tommy reveals he's been doing it all for her children, likely from past relationships, before bringing up that she's now pregnant with another one. Yes, somehow HE needs to tell HER.
Angel: Even if it's a girl!
- After Pete Davidson made a frightening post where he seemed suicidal, he returns to the show to riff on The Mule along with his good friend John Mulaney, assuring everyone he's okay. Earlier that night, a sketch about an earthquake has Pete dressed as a first responder just like his late father was, heavily implying he's found some closure.
- While the "Fortnite Squad" sketch runs on Totally Radical and how the father is absolutely clueless about how to actually play the game, it starts off with this.
- March 9, 2019: When revived allegations against R. Kelly and Michael Jackson led to the withdrawal or boycott of their music, Pete Davidson argues that taking away their work isn't the best response because pretending that they hadn't existed also means pretending the terrible things they allegedly did hadn't happened, either, and that it's possible to appreciate their work as long as you're willing to acknowledge that they were deeply flawed people.
- On a more minor note, at the end of the segment there's a bit of light ribbing about Pete and his new girlfriend, Kate Beckinsale. He's clearly very happy to talk about it, and shuts down any comments on their age difference right away.
- The show continuing it's tradition of honoring celebrities who have passed away by airing an episode that they hosted by showing Luke Perry's episode for "SNL Vintage"
- Adam Sandler closes his return to the show in 2019 with a song paying tribute to his friend Chris Farley, saying he's still the immediate answer whenever Sandler is asked who the funniest person he's known is, and his kids still get huge laughs from Farley's movies and YouTube clips. He ends by asking the audience to make enough noise that Farley will hear them. No jokes, no irony, just a beautiful tribute to one of the show's brightest stars who left this world a million times too soon.Yeah, I miss hanging out watching you try to get laid
But most of all I miss watching you mess with Spade
You're a legend like you wanted but I still wish you were here with me
And we were getting on a plane to go shoot Grown Ups 3
- Slotted in the traditional ten-to-one spot, some of the cast members can still be seen teary-eyed during the goodbyes.
- The "Joan" music video in the Harry Styles episode is this for dog owners who know that Joan's treatment of her dog as her one true love is barely an exaggeration. Even though she treats it like an Interspecies Romance, Joan doesn't go the Ax-Crazy route that many SNL shorts like this do, and her activities with her dog (before she imagines it turning into a human) are pretty relatable for anybody who sees their pets as family. There's an audible "awww" from the audience when Joan gives her dog a little "Best in Show" ribbon at the video's end.
- A decidedly twisted one in their take on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," where the titular act turns out to be a cuckold/murder roleplay. At first their daughter is disgusted, but then realizes she could be judged just as harshly for how long she just sat and watched it, and "we all each have our thing" that doesn't hurt anyone, and she can now be just as happy with.
- Velvet Jones attends Black Jeopardy where he promotes his books "I Wanna Be A Ho" and the host tries to tell him of the #MeToo movement and how it's important to respect women and not call them hoes and then one of the questions came up about how he'd react if his niece showed up to dinner in a crop top. Velvet averts My Girl Is Not a Slut by proudly replying that "What you not gonna do is judge this woman. It's 2019 and she has every right to be sexy and to show off her beauty. She is independent and she can make her own money, she doesn't need to have sex with anyone" and promotes his new book How to be an Instagram Ho.
- A skit about a "sneak peek" of No Time to Die features James Bond on a mission at a casino and betting on a game of craps. It begins much like a typical Bond film, only for him to find that he won the round. He's utterly estatic about it and becomes completely immersed into the game, forgetting about his mission. While it's a bit silly, there's something very nice about seeing Bond letting his guard down and enjoying himself for a bit by playing a casino game, even if it's just for a comedy skit.
- There's also the other casino attendees, who show Bond how to play, gladly cheer him on, and are perfectly friendly to him. It's clear that Bond enjoys their company. After Bond shoots an undercover SPECTRE agent, the first thing he does is ask if everyone's alright.
- From the at-home edition that starts off with Dr. Anthony Fauci talking to the audience in the cold open, annotating all of Trump's soundbites regarding the virus and making cracks, there is the reveal where the actor portraying him was none other than Brad Pitt taking his wig and glasses off to reveal himself and give his gratitude to the real life Dr. Fauci for his calm and clarity and the first-responders and medical workers and their families for sacrificing their time. Adding to this is that when asked who he'd want to portray him in a movie, Dr. Fauci answered Brad Pitt, so he appreciated his impersonation.
- John Mulaney is in a wholesome skit called "The Cha Cha Slide". He plays a man called Daniel who is attending a wedding on his girlfriend Lisa's side. He's worried about embarrassing himself or Lisa by not getting along with her family, while she reassures him with a smile that he's going to be fine. Sure enough, he gets into the Cha Cha Slide, identifies it as the remix, and reveals he packed a backup church fan for Lisa for one dance move in it. Then he greets a fellow fraternity member, Lisa's Aunt Georgette, and her brother DeMarcus who is the DJ. DeMarcus thanks Daniel for producing his mixtape, giving him a shoutout. Daniel gives a friendly greeting while Lisa gives a big grin. She is totally thinking, "That's my boyfriend."
- At the end of the first at-home edition of Weekend Update, Michael Che signs off as "Martha's grandbaby," referencing his recently diseased grandmother.
- Kate's solo take on "Whiskers R We" has Barbara DeDrew shill her online adoption services by having one cat (Kate's real cat Nino) play various other cats, and by the end of it she implies she wants to keep this cat rather than let it get adopted.
- In a strange way every appearance of Alex Moffat's Eric and Mikey Day's Donald Trump Jr on "Weekend Update" or in various The Teaser appearances is very heartwarming. Despite Eric's Manchild tendencies and his tendency to say the wrong things at the wrong time and use of Malaproper, Don Jr. clearly loves his little brother, never gets upset, is always patient with him and compliments Eric whenever he gets something right.
- There's also the way they expand on this by adding Chloe Fineman as Tiffany Trump, someone even the actual mainstream media doesn't really bother focusing on, which is lampshaded when Eric fails to recognise her. Despite that, they hit it off when they realise they're not so different (albeit because she's a Hard-Drinking Party Girl, and he only consumed alcohol for the first time because he swallowed hand sanitiser).
- The show once again honors a host who passed away by re-airing Chadwick Boseman's episode.
- The Cold Opening of the Dave Chappelle/Foo Fighters episode, during which the studio audience sincerely cheered and applauded Joe Biden's win of the 2020 presidential election, particularly Kamala Harris' citing that she's the first female, black, Indian, and biracialnote vice-president.
- After the major Running Gag with Biden had been his inability to pronounce Kamala's name, he actually gets it right when officially introducing her as the VP.
- After a song that quite effectively turns Kyle Mooney into The Woobie for his inability to effectively join in with his friends' jokes, he finally gets them to genuinely laugh. Anyone who has this kind of social awkwardness can relate and root for him.
- The Saturday after Alex Trebek died, they reaired the first Celebrity Jeopardy sketch (which also featured Sean Connery, who died shortly before Trebek) along with a clip from the last Celebrity Jeopardy sketch (from Will Ferrell's last episode as a cast member) featuring the real Alex Trebek, ending with a tribute calling Alex the greatest game show host of all time, in the form of a Jeopardy clue-and-response.
- During Timothée Chalamet's monologue, he tells viewers that his mother used to occasionally work as a background extra on the show. After a clip is played showing her alongside Dana Carvey and Chris Farley in the famous "Massive Head Wound Harry" sketch from 1991, Chalamet point his mother out in the audience and everyone gives her a round of applause.
- At the conclusion of the John Krasinski episode, the show briefly paid tribute to actress Cicely Tyson, who had died several days earlier, and had been the first African-American woman to host the show (Season 4, Episode 11).
- When she guest hosted in 2012, Maya Rudolph honored her mother, the late soul singer Minnie Riperton, with a title card based on the cover of Riperton's hit album Perfect Angel.
- The Season 46 episode hosted by Dan Levy had a parody video based on the "It Gets Better" project depicting various gay people (played by Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, Punkie Johnsonnote , and episode host Dan Levy, who all are gay in real life, giving this sketch some Reality Subtext) who have survived homophobic abuse and live in a more accepting world. The joke is that they now have different problems to deal with, like taxes, relationship problems that they thought only applied to heterosexuals, being bullied by members of the LGBT community for having different tastes in music, or dealing with a pet iguana. Nevertheless, the message of the project is intact, that LGBT people can ultimately have happy lives where they don't get bullied and harassed for who they love or how they identify, even if they're not necessarily perfect lives.
- Also on the same episode: Eugene Levy (Dan Levy's father) applauding for his son backstage as he comes out to do the monologue. It's been speculated that the reason he didn't appear in the episode beyond this was due to not wanting to upstage Dan.
- One sketch in the Rege-Jean Page episode features a southern white family inviting their new black neighbors over for dinner. Tensions soon rise as each side tries to one-up the other's pre-dinner grace and prove their family is more spiritual. However, by the end both sides are so captivated by the black family's gospel song that they all forget about the competition and everyone cheers on the white family's dad as he dances to the music.
- The Daniel Kaluuya episode features a group of frat bros planning their first big post-COVID blowout party, which is derailed when Kaluuya insists on bringing his mother along, simply because it would be a good thing for Mother's Day. He gradually wins all the others over and the party becomes much more about just spending time with their moms again, with everyone pointing out the specific considerations that should be made for them.
- The Elon Musk episode, which aired the night before Mother's Day, opens with Miley Cyrus singing "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" (by her godmother Dolly Parton) intercut by the cast members being joined by their mothers on the set. Once Miley finishes singing, her own mother joins her on the stage with everyone else as they all make the "Live From New York, It's Saturday Night" announcement. Then when Elon comes out for his monologue, he's joined by his mother.
- The Season 47 premiere pays tribute to the recently deceased Norm Macdonald during Weekend Update, with Pete Davidson wearing a shirt commemorating him and Colin Jost making a short speech about how Macdonald was a big inspiration for him before ending the segment with several choice clips.
- When Daniel Craig made his cameo appearance during Rami Malek's episode, he was greeted with thunderous applause from the audience and took several minutes to stop and acknowledge it, seeming genuinely touched.
- A running gag in the TikTok sketch from the Billie Eilish episode is a teen girl making TikToks about her alleged sex life. The last TikTok we see from her is captioned, "When you finally ask out the cute quiet guy at school and he say yes, and now you don't have to pretend anymore" while she wholesomely cuddles her new boyfriend (the guy reacting to trailers earlier in the sketch).
- Jason Sudeikis opens his hosting gig with a completely sincere tribute to the show's massive cultural imprint, describing his watching its early years as a kid and being inspired to take his career to the heights it's reached, and noting several of the big names from across the entire near-half century it's existed, saying what an honor it is to be associated with the same place.
- The Kieran Culkin episode featured another edition of The Dionne Warwick Talk Show, but this time the real Dionne Warwick cameos at the end of the sketch and even sings with Ego Nwodim's portrayal of her with the roaring applause from the audience. As a bonus, Warwick enjoyed Nwodim's impression of her, making her cameo even more meaningful.
- During the heartbreaking "Goober, the Clown Who Had an Abortion When She was 23" sketch, which is Cecily Strong coming out about her actual abortion story, Colin Jost breaks character to quietly tell Cecily that she didn't have to do this if she didn't want to.
- The story also reveals that a doctor at the clinic told a joke that made Cecily—sorry, Goober feel a little bit better, and it's now her favorite joke.It's not funny like "ha-ha," it's funny like, "You're not an awful person and your life isn't over."
- During the episode's goodbyes, Kieran thanks his older brother Macaulay for allowing him to participate in sketches during the latter's Season 17 hosting gig 30 years prior. He also wanted someone from the cast to pick him up at the end of the show again, which is what Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson did in the goodnights.
- At the end of the Jonathan Majors / Taylor Swift episode, Bowen Yang comes out wearing one of the cardigans Taylor sold to promote folklore (2020). As the credits roll, the two can be seen hugging and talking happily.
- The February 26 episode opening with the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, which then performed Prayer for Ukraine on the SNL stage. In front of the chorus was a table full of candles that spelled out KYIV'.
- The Season 47 finale was the final episode for four major players — Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, and Kyle Mooney. With the exception of Kyle, all of them were given sweet "sendoff" sketches.
Rafferty/Kate: Well Earth, I love you. Thanks for letting me stay a while.
- The cold open features the return of Mrs. Rafferty, one of Kate's first major recurring characters, with yet another degrading alien abduction story. However, this time, the aliens want to take her with them. She accepts, feeling she always felt like an alien on Earth anyway. She then walks into a spaceship and looks at the audience, clearly close to crying as she gives the "Live from New York" line.
- Aidy teams up with Bowen for one last "Trend Forecaster" feature on Weekend Update. Their last segment, "Future Trends," predicts "ten long years" as a happy couple together. At the end of the feature, Bowen thanks Aidy for being a great friend, and he and Michael both give her a peck on the cheek.
- Pete's final update feature has him discuss how far he's come, and while it's full of his usual Self-Deprecation humor, he thanks Lorne and the crew for helping him through all these years.
- Cut for time but equally useful as a sendoff is "Forgot About Lorne," in which Pete raps a tribute to how awesome Lorne Michaels is (because Lorne was upset he never got to do a music video with Pete) while also shouting out the three other cast members departing that season.