Why Netflix Suddenly Pulled 'Chappelle's Show' From the Streaming Service

"When I found out they were streaming 'Chappelle’s Show,' I was furious."

dave chappelle
Lester Cohen/Netflix
Lester Cohen/Netflix

At the beginning of the month, Chappelle's Show, the classic Comedy Central sketch series starring stand-up Dave Chappelle that aired in the '00s, appeared on Netflix and quickly shot towards the top of the streaming service's Top 10. During his recent hosting gig on SNL, the comedian mentioned that he wasn't too happy about the new streaming arrangement, noting that ViacomCBS, the company that owns Comedy Central, was licensing the series without his permission, and today he took action: The three seasons of the show are no longer available to stream on Netflix. 

In an 18-minute clip posted to Instagram with the title "Unforgiven," Chappelle explained his reason for being frustrated with ViacomCBS, the company that controls the streaming rights to his show. At the moment, the series is still available to stream on CBS All Access and HBO Max, but Netflix, which has produced and released several new Chappelle stand-up specials, made the show unavailable at the comedian's request. You can check out the video below.

"People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show," says Chappelle in the video. "When I left that show, I never got paid. They didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract. But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal because I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either."

In the video, Chappelle goes on to urge his fans to not watch the show. "I think if you are fucking streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods," he says at one point. "They stole that from me."

Will the other streaming platforms follow Netflix's lead and remove the show? It's unclear, but the other companies don't exactly have the same relationship with Chappelle, who has a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix. "That’s why I fuck with Netflix," says Chappelle in the video. They obviously want to keep things positive. If you want to enjoy old episode of Chappelle's Show and not piss off the guy who made it, you might want to go dust off your old DVD copies. 

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Dan Jackson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.