Jake Gyllenhaal's Scooby-Doo Story Takes A Dark Turn On Saturday Night Live

"Saturday Night Live" might be a late-night show in New York, but since it airs before 10 p.m. in some regions it has to abide by the FCC's quirky rules on "indecent and profane" content.  Swearing is a capital crime; in 1981, Charles Rocket was fired immediately after he accidentally dropped an F-bomb on air. Sex and nudity are also big danger zones; the 1988 sketch "Nude Beach" with Matthew Broderick, in which the word "penis" is uttered dozens of times, was permitted to air following a fierce debate within NBC's Broadcast Standard Department, and resulted in 46,000 complaints and the loss of multiple sponsors.

Fortunately for this "SNL" season 49 finale sketch, which stars guest host Jake Gyllenhaal as Fred in a twisted spin on "Scooby-Doo," violence on TV is basically a blood-soaked free-for-all with almost no limits ("Hannibal" showrunner Bryan Fuller was once told to add more blood to the bodies of two flayed corpses, in order to cover up their FCC-offending butt cracks). 

Musical guest Sabrina Carpenter co-stars as Daphne, with regular cast members Mikey Day and Sarah Sherman as Shaggy and Velma, and a pretty-decent-for-the-budget CGI Scooby-Doo. It takes a while to get to the punchline, with the first half of the sketch mostly being set-up. But after Fred accidentally rips a guy's face off, things escalate quickly.

SNL's Scooby-Doo sketch is secretly a sequel

If the structure of this sketch feels naggingly familiar, then the final punchline reveals why. Yes, this is actually a spirital sequel to the "Christmas Carol" sketch starring Martin Short and Martin that aired back in December 2022. In that sketch, Scrooge's well-intentioned toss of a coin to a street urchin results in said urchin being gruesomely blinded, and efforts to remedy the situation only lead to a total bloodbath (and a beheading). Just as that sketch was revealed to be a stealth ad for Apple Pay, the "Scooby-Doo" bit turns out to be an ad for Apple Face-ID ("Never get ripped off again").

As the Looney Tunes have taught us, there's a lot of comedy to be mined from violence — and "Saturday Night Live" isn't afraid to plunder that mine. A Jason Sudeikis-led sketch titled "Acupuncture Gone Wrong" drenched the set in frankly an impressive quantity of fake blood. When you're talking about sketches with an initial shocking act of violence that then snowballs into bizarreness and hilarity, you have to give a nod to The Lonely Island's "The Shooting" (a.k.a. "Dear Sister")

And when it comes to sudden accidental beheadings, well, it's hard to top "Farewell Mr. Bunting."