The Halloween icon has arrived. Tom Hanks briefly dropped by Saturday Night Live this weekend as the spookiest man in town, David S. Pumpkins.
But who is David S. Pumpkins, anyway? He’s the brainchild of SNL head writer Streeter Seidell, SNL alum Bobby Moynihan, and cast member Mikey Day, who created the character leading up to Tom Hanks’ hosting the late-night sketch program on October 22, 2016. In an interview with Vulture in 2017 that was republished following David S. Pumpkins’ return to SNL this past weekend, the trio shared that they were initially just looking for a break from the 2016 election. “We were happy to not write a political sketch,” said Seidell. They came up with the sketch “Haunted Elevator”(featuring David S. Pumpkins), which took place on a Tower of Terror-esque ride where a decidedly unterrifying and not- well-known character played by Hanks would greet the riders.
“I think names and suits are funny,” Day said. “Normal names in insane situations and dumb suits are funny. So, I just remember thinking, David Pumpkins. He’s got pumpkins on his suit.” Mystery and confusion were baked into the DNA of David S. Pumpkins. “He’s not part of the known Halloween universe, but he’s acting like he is,” said Seidell. Pumpkins was so elusive that even Hanks was still figuring him out during the episode’s dress rehearsal. “I don’t quite know who this guy is yet, but I’m gonna get it,” Seidell recalled Hanks saying. “Gentlemen, I swear I will figure out who this David Pumpkins is by the time it’s on television.”
And by Jove did he figure it out. The final product involved Hanks in his pumpkin suit, flanked by two dancing skeletwins played by Day and Moynihan. David S. Pumpkins, his two-finger point, and his dance moves delighted viewers so much that Hanks’ fictional character became an instant icon and an actual Halloween costume. David S. Pumpkins made such a splash that the following year NBC released The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special, a 30-minute animated comedy special devoted to all things Pumpkins related, featuring Hanks, Day, Moynihan, Cecily Strong, and Peter Dinklage.