15 of the greatest TV insults of all time, from Santana Lopez to Finn Wolfhard
From Santana Lopez and Homelander to Kenya Moore and Plankton, Twitter has gone into overdrive with people sharing their favourite insults from TV shows – and the responses are as iconic as they are savage.
There’s something about a withering insult that never fails to stun. Whether it’s the brutality of the burn or the sheer creativity of the read – or both, as the case may be – there’s certainly no shortage of iconic comebacks from books, films and TV shows that will leave your jaw on the floor.
So when Twitter user Zaza Man (@Zazamyodor) asked people to share insults that are imprinted on their minds for eternity, the internet truly delivered.
From everyone’s favourite Cheerio Santana Lopez eviscerating Kurt Hummel on Glee to Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore brutally shading Michael Rapaport, here are just a handful of the most memorable TV insults ever to grace our screens.
Santana Lopez to Kurt Hummel (and everyone else)
It should come as no surprise to pop culture aficionados that Glee‘s Santana Lopez ranks highly on this list. Known for her sharp tongue and acerbic wit, several of Santana‘s best moments were shared in the Twitter thread.
Alongside her iconic ‘welcome back’ to character Sam, in which she declares, “I’ve missed you so much since your family packed their bags, loaded them in your mouth and skipped town,” the most popular burn cited by Twitter users was, somewhat unsurprisingly, Santana’s epic takedown of Kurt Hummel in the third episode of Glee season six. Referring to Kurt with eloquent putdowns such as “judgmental little gerontophile with a mouth like cat’s ass” and “sexless self-centred baton-twirler”, Ryan Murphy pulled no punches when it came to coming up with harsh insults.
“Maybe Blaine didn’t wanna be with someone who looks like they just removed their top row of dentures every time they smile.” Ouch.
Finn Wolfhard to Jimmy Kimmel
The phrase ‘Never work with children or animals’ immediately springs to mind after watching Finn Wolfhard‘s incredible takedown of Jimmy Kimmel on his own show – only the saying really ought to be upgraded to ‘Never work with children from the Stranger Things cast or animals’.
After the young stars of Netflix’s sci-fi smash appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote the show in 2016, Kimmel got more than he bargained for when Wolfhard delivered an epic burn during a game of ‘Stranger Strings’.
“Can you read?” he asked the actor.
“Can I read? Can you host?” answered Wolfhard, who was merely 14 years old at this point.
The Graham Norton Show(downs)
It seems that The Graham Norton Show is a hotbed for shade, even if some of it is accidental.
Sitting pretty in the psyche of Twitter users are two interactions that are fiery enough to singe eyebrows – one between Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter, and the other between Jack Whitehall and Olivia Colman.
Let’s start with the former. The year was 2018 when Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and Bonham Carter appeared on the infamous red sofa while promoting Ocean’s 8, in which a group of female felons stage a heist during the MET Gala.
When Norton asked whether they’d all been to the real MET Gala, which occurs on the first Monday in May, HBC ruefully remarked that she’d never attended.
Before anyone could get a word in, Rihanna fired back: “That’s because you wear dresses like that.” Burn.
The second (and arguably more shady) Graham Norton insult that’s getting appreciation concerns comedian Jack Whitehall and a clip from his Disney film Jungle Cruise, which was shown to viewers as he sat opposite Academy Award winner Olivia Colman on the red chairs (the Covid-19 pandemic prompted some interior design changes).
After the clip was shown, Norton remarked that it was very exciting to see Whitehall use an “American accent.”
“Yes, I was doing an American accent,” Whitehall affirmed, before Colman interrupted: “What, in that clip?”
Cue thunderous laughter, a very flustered Oscar winner, and Whitehall scrambling to recover as best as possible.
Rihanna Vs. Ciara
Speaking of Rihanna, a short but distinctly not sweet insult bestowed by the Super Bowl star to fellow hitmaker Ciara lives on in Twitter infamy.
Following a 2011 interview in which Ciara told Joan Rivers on her show “Fashion Police” that Rihanna wasn’t particularly nice to her the last time she saw her, Rihanna tweeted: “My bad Ci, did I 4get to tip u? #howrudeofme”.
Ciara then fired back: “Trust me Rhianna u don’t want to see me on or off the stage.”
But it was Rihanna who ultimately delivered the now-iconic clapback: “Good luck with booking that stage u speak of.”
Proof that an insult doesn’t always have to be a monologue.
The primary antagonist of Amazon Prime‘s superpowered romp The Boys, Homelander is the personification of the answer to the question: ‘What if superheroes were real people, and also awful?’
In the fourth episode of season 3, Glorious Five Year Plan, “Poor Ashley,” a much beleaguered PR executive working for the company that markets Homelander as anything other than a laser-eyed, homicidal maniac, asks the villain a very simple question.
Homelander then responds: “Is your idiot brain getting f**ked by stupid?”
There’s just no recovery from that, is there?
Kenya Moore to Michael Rapaport
Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore is no stranger to an insult, having been on the giving and receiving end plenty of times over the years.
Aside from Phaedra Parks reading her down to the ground in a “crazy as hell” clip from one particularly feisty season reunion, Moore decided to open up the library herself when appearing on Watch What Happens Live with Housewives host Andy Cohen.
Actor Michael Rapaport had been lightly shading Moore, which initially prompted the delicious line: “A peasant can never summon the queen.”
Then Moore really turned up the heat. After some flustered responses from Rapaport and another assertion that the reality TV star “knows she’s a villain”, Moore hit back more decisively.
“I don’t need you to tell me what I am and am not; I appreciate you being a fan, though, thank you for watching, keep the cable on.”
Foolishly, Rapaport went back for one more try: “You wish you were me, Kenya.”
“A middle-aged, fat white guy?” she fired back.
While hours could certainly be spent scrolling the hilarious responses in the Twitter thread, there are a fair few insults that do warrant a special mention. From Spongebob villain Plankton “frying [an] entire family” to iconic lines from The Devil Wears Prada, Twitter users have delved deep into the pop culture canon to find the most creative putdowns.
There’s also Charlie Kelly using “twink” as a “slur” in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the character of Katara roasting her brother Sokka in the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender and more withering insults from Stranger Things.
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