Essential Viewing: 13 Adam Sandler Movies and TV Shows You Must See


Most actors start with menial roles, often uncredited. Once they have a few jobs under their belts, they choose a path of movies or TV shows.

Sometimes both.

Adam Sandler has made a name for himself as a low-key celebrity loyal to his friends.

His unique slapstick humor appeals to a wide range of ages, making him a family-friendly actor with a dark side.

His first TV appearance was as an extra in The Cosby Show. He’s also been in shows like The King of Queens and Kevin Can Wait featuring Kevin James, The Chris Rock Show, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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Since launching his movie career, Sandler has also started his own production company and has a string of actors in his movies.

You can expect to see at least one or more of the same names in any film. He often has his real-life wife, Jackie Sandler, in a role.

Husband and wife Sandler team

Other names often seen with Sandler include Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Henry Winkler, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Buscemi, Chris Farley, Allen Covert, Nicholas Turturro, Peter Dante, Blake Clark, and Jonathan Loughran.

Saturday Night Live (1990-1995)

Role: Various. Stream on Peacock

If it wasn’t for the ongoing comedic brilliance of SNL, fans wouldn’t have many of our favorite celebrities, including the great Adam Sandler.

Sandler was a regular cast member on the satirical series from 1990 to 1995.

Fans fell for his immature humor, oddball characters, and catchy music, even though the network didn’t.

Adam Sandler at the start of his career

He left SNL at the end of the 20th season, but it wasn’t the last time he’d join the ranks.

Sandler returned in 1996 and again in 2002. He also appeared in the show’s 25th and 40th anniversary episodes. 

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He didn’t host SNL until 2019, nine days short of the 24th anniversary since he left the cast.

We also received the gift of Sandler’s humor during the lockdown when he made cameo appearances in the first two episodes of Saturday Night Live at Home.

His music skit “Stuck in the House” with Pete Davidson became the motto for when things got too serious.

Sandler’s time on SNL jumpstarted his career and led him to friendships with other SNL alums who’ve gone on to make it big.

Billy Madison (1995)

Role: Billy Madison. Watch on Peacock

Billy Madison was Sandler’s first role as the main character. Until then, he had played minor roles with other SNL cast, like Coneheads with David Spade and Dan Aykroyd.

Adam Sandler as Billy Madison

Madison is the 27-year-old son of a rich hotel mogul. He thinks he’ll one day take over his father’s empire.

But Daddy dearest has zero faith in his son’s abilities when he has the maturity of a 10-year-old.

After admitting he had paid the school so Billy could pass each grade, the two work out a deal.

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If Billy could go through all twelve school grades, spending two weeks in every grade, he would get the company.

BM gave us a taste of the type of roles that Sandler perfects and the start of his working with friends.

Adamn Sandler in the tub

Steve Buscemi and Chris Farley had minor roles but didn’t get credit for their appearances.

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Role: Happy Gilmore. Watch on Netflix or Starz

Happy Gilmore is the other half of the inspiration for Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison.

Sandler nailed the role of Happy Gilmore, a down-on-his-luck wannabe hockey player with an undiscovered talent for hitting golf balls really, really far.

Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore

When his grandmother risks losing her house to the bank, Gilmore goes on a professional golfing tour to earn enough money to pay her debts.

Only he doesn’t plan on making a nemesis from Shooter McGavin, played by Christopher McDonald.

McGavin is appalled at Gilmore’s crass behavior, blue-collar antics, and effortless talent.

They compete for the win and also for the girl, played by Julie Bowen. Other familiar faces include Ben Stiller (uncredited), Carl Weathers, and Allen Covert.

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If you’re an OG’er, you’ll be thrilled they’ve just announced a Happy Gilmore 2 coming soon! Be sure you’re following TV Fanatic to find out when it’s released.

Waterboy (1998)

Role: Bobby Boucher. Watch on Hulu

Adam Sandler demonstrated his immense talents by playing Bobby Boucher (pronounced Boo-shay) across from the uber-talented Kathy Bates as Mama.

Bobby Boucher is a momma's boy

Boucher is a bit slower intellectually and socially. His Mama kept him isolated from the world in their swamp in Louisiana.

To fill the void, he became obsessed with wrestling and water.

Bobby devotes his time as an underappreciated waterboy to a college football team. He ends up on a team that can’t win when he gets fired.

The head coach — the amazing Henry Winkler — discovers Boucher isn’t just a genius with H2O. He’s even better at hitting people.

He helps his team make it to the playoffs, where they face his ex-boss and the players who tormented him for years.

Sandler’s portrayal as the Cajun Boucher led many fans to quote the movie’s most popular phrase, “My momma said …”

Bobby Boucher is the waterboy

Other familiar faces you’ll peep include Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Blake Clark, Jonathan Loughran, and Rob Schneider.

Big Daddy (1999)

Role: Sonny Koufax. Watch on Hulu

Sandler plays Sonny Koufax, a grown man stuck in life. He’s graduated law school but works at a toll booth one day a week.

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His girlfriend dumped him because he was immature and unambitious. So, his solution is to adopt Julian, the unknown love child of his best friend, who is out of the country.

While the adoption fails to make his girlfriend take him back, Sonny is stuck as the dad to an orphan boy.

Twin Disney stars Cole and Dylan Sprouse played Julian. It’s not the only time Sandler has starred in a movie with a Disney celeb.

Adam Sandler and his adoptive kid

Descendants star Cameron Boyce played in Grown Ups 1 and 2 before sadly passing away in 2019 at the age of 20.

Sonny and Julian form an unlikely bond as they teach each other about life and love. Sonny finds the perfect woman, another lawyer, Joey Lauren Adams.

Then, he ends up in court for kidnapping.

You’ll recognize many of his friends, like Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, and Peter Dante. Rob Schneider and Steve Buscemi have minor roles, and we first see Adam’s real wife, Jackie Sandler.

Mr. Deeds (2002)

Role: Longfellow Deeds. Watch on AMC+

While Sandler’s earlier characters were immature and childish, his later films moved toward more mature roles.

His performance as Longfellow Deeds gave us a taste of him as a small-town guy thrown into the big city and millions of dollars. 

Mr Deeds with a black foot

Unlike his rich guy role in Billy Madison, Deeds is a considerate and romantic millionaire.

He uses his wealth to help others while being manipulated by a TV tabloid reporter who is doing an expose on him.

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Cast members include Winona Ryder as the reporter, John Turturro as the butler, and appearances from regulars like Steve Buscemi, Peter Dante, Blake Cark, Rob Schneider, and Allen Covert.

50 First Dates (2004)

Role: Henry. Watch on Hulu

50 First Dates stars Adam Sandler in a predominately romantic role as a womanizing player who meets his match in Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore.

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates

He has an incredible first date that leaves him wanting more.

But when he tries to score a second date, he discovers a major problem.

Lucy has a head injury that took away her short-term memory. She forgets everything — and everyone — she’s met once she goes to sleep.

At first, it’s perfect. He can keep dating the same chick without worrying she’ll fall in love with him.

He didn’t plan on falling in love with her.

Adam Sandler as vet Henry Roth

Seeing Sandler in a romantic flick was a new experience that introduced him to a new audience. This film featured more of Rob Schneider, and Kevin James briefly appeared.

Other actors include Sean Austin, regulars Blake Clark, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran, Jackie Sandler, and SNL alum Dan Aykroyd and Maya Rudolph.

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The Longest Yard (2005)

Role: Paul Crewe. Watch on Paramount+

When The Longest Yard came out, wrestling fans celebrated the collaboration between two of the sexiest bald pro wrestlers in the biz – Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bill Goldberg.

On a side note, you’ll spot Steve Austin appearing in another of Sandler’s films, Grown Ups 2, in 2013.

Adam Sandler plays Paul Crewe

But those two weren’t the only big-time names in the 1970s cult classic remake.

This football dramedy featured a who’s who of popular names, making it a movie for everyone.

Some dark prison humor was thrown in for good measure.

Sandler plays Paul Crewe, a former football player sent to prison after violating his probation for throwing a football championship, making him hated by the entire country and all the inmates.

Except for Caretaker, played by Chris Rock.

When Crewe ends up at odds with the crooked prison warden and the guards, comedic gold occurs.

Chris Rock and Adam Sandler play football

Who else should you expect to see?

As far as regular celebs go, there’s Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell, rapper Nelly, William Fichtner, Tracy Morgan, the D12 band, Nicholas Turturro, and former football player Terry Crews.

Other wrestlers include Kevin Nash, The Great Khali, and kickboxer/MMA fighter Bob Sapp. Regulars include Rob Schneider and Allen Covert.

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Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Role: Dracula. Watch on Netflix

Hotel Transylvania is the perfect piece for younger audiences, making it an awesome rom-com family animation.

Adam Sandler is Dracula

This family flick casts monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man in a new light, where humans are the ones who are scary.

Humans except for Johnny (Andy Samberg), who falls in love with Mavis, Dracula’s daughter.

While Drac is determined to keep his daughter locked in their Monster hotel, she has dreams of exploring the world.

Johnny shakes things up for Mavis’ 180th birthday party and makes all the monsters change their minds about people.

Andy Samberg is Johnny in Hotel Transylvania

Lending their voices to the cartoon faces include Selena Gomez as Mavis, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Cee Lo Green, and Jackie Sandler.

Blended (2014)

Role: Jim. Watch on Netflix

Blended stars Adam Sandler in a romantic comedy role as a single dad to two girls. He goes on a blind date with Drew Barrymore, a newly divorced mom with two boys.

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Their date goes badly, and they swear never to see each other again.

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in Blended

Then, they decide to take their families on vacation to Africa under another person’s name.

The stars align, and they all end up on vacation together. Lauren hits it off with Jim’s girls, and he connects with her boys.

Both parents learn something from each other and fall in love. And Terry Crews makes a hilarious cameo.

Pixels (2015)

Role: Brenner. Watch on Starz

Pixels is THE movie for boomers, Gen-Xers, and Xennials who remember their youth fondly spent in arcades.

Adam Sandler has to save the world

Adam Sandler plays a former video game master who lost a major competition to his nemesis, Eddie, played by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones).

When aliens come to Earth for a battle, they use their technology to pixelate some of our favorite video game characters.

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The government requests Brenner, Eddie, Ludlow (Josh Gad), Violet (Michelle Monaghan), and Cooper’s (Kevin James) help to stop the alien invasion.

Fans get the nostalgia of seeing our favorite characters in their raw pixelated forms, just like the old days. 

Adam Sandler leads the team

Who are the bad guys? There’s Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Centipede, Frogger, Galaga, Q*bert, and others.

Murder Mystery (2019 and 2023)

Role: Nick Spitz

Sandler plays Nick Spitz, an average police officer with a penchant for being cheap.

He gets caught lying about planning a European vacation for his wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston).

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Audrey makes friends with Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) on the plane as she’s fuming about her husband.

The billionaire invites them to join him for a party aboard his private yacht. Only things don’t go as planned when a murder happens.

Spitz uses his police skills to solve the case and find the real killer.

The same plot occurs with Murder Mystery 2, only that time they’re on a private island: same billionaire and rich friends.

Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler on a yacht

Leo (2024)

Role: Leo. Watch on Netflix

Leo is a heartwarming family comedy animation starring Adam Sandler as an old classroom lizard approaching his 75th birthday.

He believes this is his last year to live, so he decides to go out with a bang by experiencing life outside his classroom, terrarium, and turtle roommate.

But when Leo meets an anxious child, his plans change.

Suddenly, he decides to give his friends a memory of him they’ll never forget.

Who could forget a talking lizard!?

He’s seen a lot of living in his lifetime and is full of good advice.

And best of all, we find out he’s not at risk of dying at the age of 75. He’s still got decades to go.

Adam Sandler is a lizard

Celebrities who added their talents to this children’s animation include Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider, Bill Burr, his daughters Sadie and Sunny Sandler, Jackie Sandler, Nick Swardson, Robert Smigel, and Nicholas Turturro.

While we only mentioned 13 of Adam Sandler’s greatest movies, he’s amassed over 170 credits.

Honorable mentions go to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a raunchy LBGTQ comedy starring Jessica Biel, Grown Ups (1 and 2) starring celebrities like Shaq, and Don’t Mess with the Zohan, featuring Rob Scheider.

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He’s received numerous awards for his acting performances — some comedic and some for his drama.

We encourage you to stock up on your favorite junk foods and spend an entire weekend binge-watching Sandler’s work.

And then, come back here and tell us which you like the best and why! We’re nothing without our fanatics at home telling us how we’re doing.

If you’re bad and know it, drop us your favorite Adam Sandler quote, and let us see if we can guess it correctly!

Sara Trimble is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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