As Seth Meyers takes over, a look at great 'Late Night' moments

5:44 PM, Feb 24, 2014   |    comments
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Seth Meyers visits 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center on January 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

(USA TODAY) As Seth Meyers takes the reins of Late Night Monday, USA TODAY Network lists memorable moments from the talk show that boosted the careers of David Letterman and Conan O'Brien.

MORE: Seth Meyers' new job 'might not be boring'

David Letterman

Lawler vs. Kaufman

One of the more unforgettable moments from Letterman's 11-year run on NBC's Late Night was an on-air face-off between comedian Andy Kaufman and wrestler Jerry Lawler. The two had participated in a wrestling match months earlier, which left Kaufman in a neck brace.

Their joint interview soon became heated as Kaufman told Lawler he was lucky he didn't sue. Not long after, Lawler stood up and struck Kaufman in the face. After Letterman came back from commercial, Kaufmann, who had left the stage, returned and hurled obscenities at Lawler before throwing a beverage at him.

Kaufman died in 1984. Lawler later revealed the entire feud had been fake.

The lists covered everything from the latest news to pop culture to seemingly random topics, such as "terrifying thoughts that come to you as you're falling asleep." No. 10: What if there are other Stallone brothers?

Another recurring segment for Letterman was Stupid Pet Tricks (Late Night would also feature Stupid Human Tricks). What were these? Anything from a dog who buys beer for his owner to a tightrope-walking cockroach.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

After Letterman jumped to CBS in 1993, O'Brien assumed the Late Night mantle. He would host the show until 2009, when he would leave to take over the Tonight Show, albeit briefly.

One of the recurring characters on O'Brien's Late Night was "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog." Triumph's trademark line - "for me to poop on! - would become the punchline for many of his barbs. Few would escape Triumph's biting, often raunchy humor - from celebrities to politicians.

'In the year 2000'

In the years leading up to the new millennium, O'Brien and sidekick Andy Richter would don black robes and, in a darkened studio, offer humorous prophecies about what would come to pass in the year 2000.

Ironically, O'Brien would continue the gag after the year 2000 passed. Celebrities would join the bit, too, after Richter left the show. In one appearance, Mr. T can't contain himself as he offers a prediction about the Friends series finale "in which it is finally revealed that New York has black people."

In a rare emotional moment, O'Brien bid farewell to Richter, who left the show in 2000 to pursue acting.

Choking back tears, O'Brien salutes his long-time partner: "When I got this show, it was a very difficult time for me. It was a really big challenge. I would not be here today if this guy hadn't made it so fun for me."

But this goodbye wouldn't last forever. Richter would rejoin Conan on The Tonight Show, then move with him to TBS.

Jimmy Fallon

Slow jamming the news

Fallon would take over in 2009 following O'Brien's departure. The Saturday Night Live alum would put his own stamp on the show, such as when he would "slow jam the news" with NBC News' Brian Williams.

In 2012, while taping at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, President Obama would fill in. As Obama made statements in support of keeping student loan interest rates down, Fallon said, "The Pell Grant is a beautiful thing, but with college getting more expensive, is it enough by itself to satisfy all your collegiate needs? Aw, Pell no!"

In January of this year, Obama's 2012 Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, would join Fallon to slow jam the news, as well.

Thank you notes

The humorous thank-you notes would poke fun at celebrities in the news, among other subjects. For example: "Thank you, Tara Reid, for wanting to see a Sharknado 2 script before signing on. And for letting us know that you exactly read the first Sharknado script and then said yes."

Blurred Lines

Fallon would frequently employ musical numbers on Late Night, such as his "History of Rap" segments with frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake, which he revived during his first week on The Tonight Show. In 2013, he would offer his unique take on one of the songs of the summer: Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. Joined by Thicke and the show's band, The Roots, Fallon and company performed the hit song using classroom instruments.

Appropriately, Fallon would end his tenure on Late Night with a song, playing drums with The Muppets on The Band's classic, The Weight.

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