Late Night with David Letterman was a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night franchise and went off the air in 1993, after Letterman left NBC and moved to Late Show on CBS.

After his morning show on NBC got cancelled in October 1980 after only 18 weeks on the air, David Letterman was still held in sufficient regard by the network brass (especially NBC president Fred Silverman) that upon hearing the 33-year-old comedian was being courted by a syndication company, NBC gave him a $20,000 per week deal to sit out a year and guest-host a few times on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

The staff responsible for preparing Late Night consisted of Letterman's girlfriend Merrill Markoe in the head writing role, in addition to seasoned TV veteran Hal Gurnee directing the show, Jack Rollins as executive producer, and a group of young writers – most of them in their early twenties. The plan from the start was to resurrect the spirit of Letterman's morning show for a late-night audience, one more likely to plug into his offbeat humor. The show also got a house band, hiring prominent musician Paul Shaffer to lead the group named The World's Most Dangerous Band.