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The 10 Funniest Scenes From National Lampoon Movies, Ranked

Content Warning: This list contains mention of animal abuse

After leaving behind Harvard and its humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon, Doug Kenney and Henry Beard teamed up with Robert Hoffman to launch a countrywide spin-off called The National Lampoon. The magazine was a hit and the Lampoon has grown into a global comedy empire over the years.

RELATED: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) '80s Comedies

In addition to branching out into radio, books, and live theater, the National Lampoon brought its absurdist sensibility to the big screen in 1978 with the classic college comedy Animal House. Since then, the Lampoon has produced a bunch of classic comedies (and some not-so-classic ones that went straight to home media).

10 Double Secret Probation (Animal House)

Ranking alongside Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil and Happy Gilmore’s Shooter McGavin, Animal House’s Dean Wormer is one of the most memorable villains from a comedy movie.

In a hilarious early scene, the dean puts the Delta Tau Chi fraternity on “double secret probation.” He explains, “The time has come for someone to put their foot down. And that foot is me.”

9 John McClane’s Cameo (Loaded Weapon 1)

The National Lampoon team took aim at buddy cop movies with Loaded Weapon 1, in which Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson star as a mismatched pair of detectives. Bruce Willis cameos as his iconic Die Hard character John McClane – grubby undershirt and all – in one of the movie’s funniest scenes.

The bad guys are trying to blow up the lead characters’ homes, but they get the wrong address for Estevez’s character Jack Colt and accidentally destroy McClane’s home.

8 Clark Accidentally Kills Aunt Edna’s Dog (Vacation)

When the Griswolds stop off to visit Ellen’s cousin Catherine and her family, they unexpectedly end up giving the cranky Aunt Edna and her dog Dinky a cross-country ride home.

During one of their stops, Clark ties Dinky’s leash to the bumper and forgets to untie it before driving off. A police officer pulls the car over and gives Clark a furious lecture about the despicableness of animal cruelty, but Clark is none the wiser because he doesn’t realize what he’s done.

7 Toga Party (Animal House)

When the Deltas are trying to plan a party, they all get on the same page about the theme with a simple chant: “To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!” This is one of the movie’s most quotable lines (and there are a lot of them).

RELATED: 14 Funniest Quotes From National Lampoon's Animal House

Toga parties – which are basically just regular parties except everybody wears a bedsheet – have since become a staple of college campuses, but they were immortalized in Animal House.

6 Clark Goes Sledding (Christmas Vacation)

Sledding is a holiday tradition for many people. In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark takes his family sledding and introduces them to an old trick he used to use to make his sled go faster. He lathers the underside in a special lubricant to speed up his downhill descent.

Then, when he starts off down the hill, his sled takes off at a speed of sound. He races to the bottom of the hill, then slides across a busy highway and into a parking lot, fearing for his life.

5 The Laxative Scene (Van Wilder)

Long before playing the title role in Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds played the title role in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. From Dumb and Dumber to American Pie, many movies have explored the comedic potential of laxatives.

In Van Wilder, Tara Reid’s character Gwen slips some laxatives into her boyfriend Richard’s drink after learning about his infidelities. The laxatives hit at the worst possible time, when Richard is in the middle of an important exam.

4 Walley World Is Closed (Vacation)

The best comedy scripts don’t just have punchlines in the dialogue; they have punchlines as plot beats. The first and second acts of National Lampoon’s Vacation revolve around the Griswold family’s disastrous attempts to get to Walley World, dubbed “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.”

Then, in the third act, when they finally get to the Walley World parking lot, Clark and Rusty gleefully race to the entrance in slow-motion – only to find that the park is closed.

3 The Christmas Lights (Christmas Vacation)

Clark spends hours nailing Christmas lights to his house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and when he’s finally done, he invites the family out to see the grand unveiling. And then, when he plugs in the lights, nothing happens.

RELATED: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: 10 Reasons Why It's Still The Best Holiday Movie

He messes around with the cables a little and tries again, but nothing happens. There’s a switch in the basement that turns them on, blinding Clark’s neighbors, but it’s only over flipped when he’s not looking.

2 Food Fight (Animal House)

John Belushi was such a comedic genius who director John Landis simply needed to point a camera at him in a college cafeteria to create a classic scene.

In the role of Bluto, Belushi samples every single dish available in the cafeteria before taking a seat at a table that doesn’t appreciate his boorish behavior. This culminates in a food fight that all the other students in the cafeteria get in on.

1 Clark Griswold’s Meltdown (Vacation)

At the climax of National Lampoon’s Vacation, when everything that could go wrong on the Griswolds’ road trip to Walley World has gone wrong, Clark’s wife and kids decide their family vacation isn’t worth the bother.

Then, Clark snaps and launches into a foul-mouthed tirade: “I think you’re all f**ked in the head! [...] This is no longer a vacation! It’s a quest! It’s a quest for fun! [...] You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ out of your a**holes!” Chevy Chase nails his portrayal of an '80s dad at his wits’ end.

NEXT: The 10 Funniest Scenes From Mel Brooks Spoofs, Ranked

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