The album Toxicity was number one on the charts during the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the controversy surrounding the popular single at the time led to Clear Channel Radio placing the song on a list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles. Although it was never actually banned completely from the air, Clear Channel Radio stations were advised against playing any of the songs on the list.
The song was included on Blender magazine's "500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" list.
In an interview, Daron Malakian explained, "The song is about how we are regarded differently depending on how we pass. Everyone deserves to die. Like, if I were now to die from drug abuse, they might say I deserved it because I abused dangerous drugs. Hence the line, ' 'I cry when angels deserve to die'. The lyric passages 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' and 'why have you forsaken me?' are a reference to Jesus' death on the cross, as, according to the Gospels, it was one of the seven things Jesus said while dying."
The music video, directed by the acclaimed Marcos Siega, is set in the parking lot of a motel in Los Angeles, hometown of the band. The band members are performing the song on stage, surrounded by approximately 1,000 fans. Editing devices are used to create the effect of the band members "walking through" one another and teleporting on and off the stage. One scene briefly shows Tankian eating chop suey with some fans, the only reference to the title dish in either the song or the video. The video makes use of the SnorriCam technique, in which an actor will have a camera attached to them with a harness, making it appear as though the background is moving and the actor is stationary. In the middle of the video the Armenian flag can be seen. The video has over 184 million views on YouTube, as of December 13th, 2013.
"Chop Suey!" was a moderate success on the charts around the world. In Australia, after hitting No. 3 on the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2001, with virtually no airplay on commercial radio, it debuted and peaked at No. 14 in February 2002. It is System of a Down's highest charting single in Australia. In the United States, the song peaked at No. 76, making it the band's lowest peaking song on the Hot 100. On the Modern Rock Tracks, "Chop Suey!" peaked at No. 7, becoming the band's first top ten single. In the UK Singles Chart, it debuted and peaked at No. 17.