30. Keenan Thompson
Former child actor Keenan Thompson has found himself quite the home with Lorne Michael and co. The Atlanta native has been a fixture on the show for more than a decade. As of 2022, Thompson is currently the longest-tenured cast member on SNL. From a versatility standpoint, Thompson has exceled at playing a host of different characters. Among his many impressions, we specifically love whenever he’s tasked with playing a talk show host.
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29. Kate McKinnon
McKinnon had been acting on SNL since 2012. Though initially a bit character, she quickly garnered the status as a core member of the show. As other notable cast members (Kristen Wiig) departed, McKinnon quickly took the torch as the show’s brightest star. Some of her most notable impersonations include Jeff Sessions, Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres, and Elizabeth Warren. In 2022, she left the show for other opportunities.
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28. Laraine Newman
Newman was noteworthy from the standpoint that she was part of the show’s original cast back in the mid-70s. The Los Angeles native was known primarily for her role as Sherry — the over-the-top ‘valley’ girl. However, she also enjoyed the role of Lina Wertmuller. Over the years, we’ve seen Newman participate in plenty of comedic roles via television and film. One prominent role was as the antagonist in Problem Child 2.
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27. David Spade
For six years, Spade cut his teeth as a young comedian on SNL. Starting off initially as a writer, Spade transitioned into the realm of sketch comedy. His sarcastic, dead-panned delivery resonated with a large chunk of the show’s fanbase. The show also cultivated a strong bond with the late Chris Farley. On-screen chemistry between the duo was palpable. As such, it led to multiple feature films — including Tommy Boy and Black Sheep.
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26. Molly Shannon
From 1995-2001, Shannon starred on SNL. The Ohio native ultimately replaced Janeane Garofalo in what was considered to be a transitional time for the show. Shannon quickly garnered a cult following with her eccentric on-air personalities. The most notable role from Shannon’s time on SNL includes Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher. Shannon’s success with the character led to a feature film (Superstar) — as well as an uptick in inclusion for women writers on the show.
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25. Adam Sandler
Sandler was a megastar all throughout the ’90s. His introduction to the public came in the form of his roles on SNL. The quirky yet highly energetic actor will forever be known for his guitar playing on the catchy tune “The Chanukah Song.” Sandler parlayed SNL popularity into films including Billy Madison, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, and Happy Gilmore.
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24. Jane Curtin
Curtin developed into a very accomplished actress. The two-time Emmy winner first garnered hype as a member of SNL’s inaugural cast. Curtin was both efficient and highly successful as a straight-laced part of the show. Curtin is most known for her role in the Conehead skit, and also as the co-host of the ‘Weekend Update’ segment. To this day, Curtain still acts rather steadily in a number of different roles.
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23. Jon Lovitz
Lovitz is one of those actors who seems like they’ve been around forever. Previously a relative unknown, Lovitz starred on SNL for six seasons. Aside from a multitude of clever impressions, Lovitz carried scenes when playing Hanukah Harry and Tommy Flanagan (The Pathological Liar). Lovitz’s impressive work as a sketch actor netted him two Emmy nominations. You can still see Lovitz participating in stand-up, as well as on the panel for a number of noteworthy celebrity roasts.
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22. Chris Rock
Rock was a part of a new SNL movement featuring himself, Sandler, Spade, Rob Schneider, and Chris Farley. As a group, they were known for their rather notorious behavior on and off set. Rock himself was a beacon of humor. Though his tenure wasn’t very long (three years), Rock is one of the most talented individuals to ever perform for SNL. He continues to be a fixture today in the world of comedy (when he’s not getting slapped at an awards show by Will Smith).
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21. Ana Gasteyer
Without question, Gasteyer was one of the most underrated members of the SNL universe. Her timing was brilliant — as was Gasteyer’s uncanny ability to stay in character during outrageous segments. Gasteyer played a multitude of roles. However, her role as NPR host Margaret Jo McCullen remains her best. No one will ever forget the correspondence between herself, Shannon, and Alec Baldwin during the ‘schweddy balls’ sketch.
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20. Darrell Hammond
Hammond wore many hats during his tenure at SNL. He may be the best impersonating comic of all-time. Starting in 1995, Hammond appeared on SNL until 2009. His ability to manipulate his voice was freakishly good. Most often, Hammond killed it when it came to impersonating presidents (Donald Trump, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton are among his best). However, Hammond’s best impression may come in the form of Sean Connery — particularly during the ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’ skit.
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19. Rachel Dratch
The Massachusetts native spent nearly seven years as a member of the SNL cast. Having been trained in multiple comedy troupes for years, Dratch was an immediate hit upon entering the show. She ironically enough had known Adam McKay and Tina Fey prior to being co-workers on SNL. Dratch was unapologetic in consistently extracting laughter from the audience.
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18. Maya Rudolph
Rudolph is simply an uber-talented person. She’s succeeded in all realms of acting — whether it be comedic or dramatic. Rudolph has also been wonderfully potent in both film and television. She was a member of a very famous Los Angeles-based comedy troupe before being hired by SNL. For seven years, Rudolph delighted with a number of characters and impressions.
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17. Andy Samberg
Samberg has become rather significant in the realms of television, music, and film. This is largely due to his versatility on the set of SNL. Samberg was off-the-wall and kooky — though his big break came in the form of digital shorts. He won an Emmy for his duet with Justin Timberlake (“Dick in a Box”). His parody musical group — The Lonely Island — was also nominated for a Grammy (for the song “I’m on a Boat).
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16. Kristen Wiig
Wiig deftly passed the torch to McKinnon. For a spell, she was the headlining act on SNL. The seven-year run included highly popular roles as Penelope, Gilly, the Target check-out clerk, Aunt Linda, and her role on the hit skit “The Californians.” Wiig’s disarming charm made her wildly successful. After her SNL stint, she embarked on a successful film career which has included Bridesmaids, The Skeleton Twins, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
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15. Fred Armisen
Armisen is the human version of a chameleon. The SNL vet can play virtually any role — including changes in accent, ethnicity, profession, and even gender (as seen above). Armisen was the swiss army knife for SNL during his tenure. He was plugged into virtually any leaky hole with relative ease. This sort of adaptability is quite impressive. Armisen’s most hilarious role came as Stuart in “The Californians” skit.
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14. Gilda Radner
Radner — along with Curtin and Newman — represented the female contingent on the show’s initial cast. Along with being an expert sketch actress (see her characterizations of Baba Wawa and Roseanne Roseannadanna), Radner was also an excellent writer. Sadly in 1988, she passed away due to ovarian cancer. Despite Radner no longer being with us, her memory still continues to shine brightly within the SNL family and the world of comedy as a whole.
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13. Bill Hader
Hader’s time on SNL didn’t go smoothly. He suffered from severe anxiety — and even had one instance in which he suffered a panic attack on-air. However, Hader lasted eight seasons on the show. His ‘average guy’ persona made him very well-liked — as did his array of impressions. Hader’s most noteworthy character was Stefon — an eccentric New Yorker with a passion for the underground club scene. Since leaving the show, he’s been absolutely terrific in the hit drama Barry.
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12. Chevy Chase
Chase is bar none the most polarizing person in SNL history. On one hand, he was brilliant as a comic. He was the creator of the ‘Weekend Update’ segment — and often killed it as a performer. Chase was also sublime as a physical comic. On the other hand, his alleged brash and sometimes unpredictable personality rubbed cast members the wrong way. Feuds grew with cast mates, and Chase has consistently continued to reportedly bad mouth the show ever since.
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11. Will Ferrell
Ferrell is easily one of the biggest movie stars from this list. A staple in comedy for the last 20+ years, Ferrell first became a universally known actor from his time on SNL. The southern California native captivated audiences with his immense improvisational skills and ridiculous timing. Ferrell’s George W. Bush impression is legendary — as his his role in ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’ as Alex Trebek.
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10. Amy Poehler
Poehler was a giant within the show. She — along with Tina Fey — truly shattered the ceiling when it came to female comics having huge involvement as writers/actors. Poehler’s facial expressions within various characters were truly dynamic. She had great comedic timing, and also had the capability to play a number of rather challenging roles. Poehler remains a fan favorite to this day.
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9. Dana Carvey
Speaking of impressions, Hammond is perhaps only rivaled by the theatrics of Carvey. The Bay Area native was integral in revitalizing SNL from what had been a bit of a lull (from a popularity standpoint). The Church Lady (as seen above) is unequivocally Carvey’s signature sketch. Another highly lauded performance came from Carvey’s character Garth Algar (one half of the famed Wayne’s World duo). Though Carvey hasn’t been as commercially successful as some of his SNL peers, the one-time Emmy winner still remains one of the best when it comes to sheer comedic ability.
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8. Bill Murray
Murray is a national treasure, a comedic icon, and virtually everything in-between. The Chicago native came to SNL after a very successful career with the acting troupe Second City. Murray essentially replaced Chase as the main player on the show. Though he was only with SNL for three seasons, Murray’s talent shone brightly. He went on to have a long and illustrious film career. Notable hits include Rushmore, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, and Stripes.
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7. Mike Myers
Myers was immensely well known for his skit “Wayne’s World.” Ironically enough, many of his notable ideas were brought over to SNL from his prior experience in a Toronto-based comedy troupe. One prominent example of that is the skit “Sprockets.” Myers parlayed his popularity from “Wayne’s World” into two feature films. From there, he captivated audiences with Shrek and the Austin Powers trilogy.
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6. Phil Hartman
Hartman was not only highly gifted as a performer, but he may be the most underrated cast member in the show’s vast history. Hartman’s comedic breadth enabled him to play virtually any role — whether it be the good guy, the bad guy, a professional, someone charming, and someone conniving. Sadly, in 1998, Hartman was murdered by his wife. He was only 49 years of age.
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5. Tina Fey
Fey is brilliant as both a writer and an actor. With that said, her primary claim to fame comes with the written word. Fey crafts scenes with the precision of a surgeon. She knows exactly when to drop the hammer in terms of timing — whether that be a joke or some semblance of physicality. When looking at the scope of the show, Fey is undoubtedly the most influential female cast member of all-time. Hell, she may play Sarah Palin better than Palin herself.
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4. Dan Aykroyd
Aykroyd has been in the business for upwards of 40 years. He’s played a multitude of roles during this time. However, his five-year stint in SNL is what made him unequivocally famous. Though he was great at impersonations, Aykroyd boasted terrific writing skills. This helped him create The Blues Brothers, as well as the ‘Bass-O-Matic’ character. Aykroyd was also brilliant as a member of the Coneheads.
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3. Chris Farley
There hasn’t been another comedian boasting Farley’s talent from a physical standpoint. Overly endearing and rather oafish, Farley was sublime when it came to throwing his body around — particularly when ‘Matt Foley the Inspirational Speaker’ would fly through a coffee table. Farley’s energy was unparalleled. Though his off-screen issues have been widely documented, the Wisconsin native was a truly special performer. This includes his ‘Chippendales’ skit alongside Patrick Swayze.
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2. John Belushi
Before Farley, there was Belushi. Original and brash, the Chicago native wasn’t afraid to push the proverbial envelope. Fellow cast members and the audience alike were in awe of Belushi. He did things few — if any — would attempt. Belushi’s incredibly gifted comedic ability was only taken down due to his considerable drug use. Sadly, Belushi passed at the age of 33 due to a drug overdose.
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1. Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy is the king of comedy when it comes to SNL. Quick-witted and controversial, Murphy captivated audiences all over the world. His adult version of Buckwheat (from The Little Rascals) was one of his most noteworthy characters. Mr. Robinson, Velvet Jones, and Gumby were also three original roles that had audiences in stitches. After four years of being ‘the man’ on SNL, Murphy left to pursue a movie career. However, many consider Murphy’s four-year run on SNL the most significant in the history of the show. Lorne Michaels had left, and SNL was in danger of being cancelled. Credit Murphy for virtually carrying SNL back to a period of relative health.
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