Saturday Night Live is one of the most popular weekend entertainment programs in the United States. It was created in 1975 by Lorne Michaels. He left the show in 1980 to pursue other projects but returned in 1985 and has been the show-runner for the series ever since. Saturday Night Live has now run for 43 seasons consisting of 847 episodes. The premise of the show is a series of comedy sketches that feature an ever-changing cast that includes a different celebrity guest each week. This guest will take part in the sketches and present different aspects of the show. This award-winning series remains popular and has millions of viewers each week. One reason for this is the wide range of talented cast members that have featured in the series. Here are 20 of the top Saturday Night Live cast members of all-time.
20. Jan Hooks
Jan Hooks was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for five seasons between 1986 and 1991. She had previously been considered for the show in 1985 but the producers favored Joan Cusack. However, the ratings for that season were a failure and they reconsidered their decision and invited Hooks onto the show. It is believed that Hooks left SNL as she found the stress of performing live very tiring. Although she left the show in 1991, she occasionally returned to make cameo appearances until 1994. After SNL, she had regular roles in ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ and ‘Designing Women’. She also appeared in episodes of many other television series. Sadly, Jan Hooks died from throat cancer on October 9, 2014.
19. Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers is the third longest-standing cast member on Saturday Night Live as he appeared in thirteen seasons of the show between 2001 and 2014 before making a return in 2014. In addition to hosting the Weekend Update segment of SNL, he was also the co-head writer for this series, along with Andrew Steele and Tina Fey. Some of the people he impersonated on the series included Carrot Top, Sean Penn, John Kerry, Prince Charles, Michael Caine, Stone Phillips, Anderson Cooper, Tobey Maguire, and Nicolette Sheridan. While working on SNL, he also had several other jobs. He was in the 2008 film ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ and he was the host of the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. He also provided the voice of Jeremy ‘Prock’ Awesome in the animated series ‘The Awesomes’ from 2013 to 2015.
18. Darrell Hammond
Darrell Hammond is the second longest-serving cast member on Saturday night live as he appeared in 14 seasons of the show between 1995 and 2009. He can also claim that he has appeared in more episodes of SNL than any other celebrity. He has impersonated more than 107 celebrities during his time on the show and the most common of these was the impersonation of Bill Clinton. Since he left the show, he has returned for a total of eight episodes. His other work has included appearing in episodes of various television series and advertisements. He married his wife, Elizabeth, in 1990 but the couple divorced a few years later. They then remarried in 1997 and their daughter, Mis, was born the following year. Sadly, the couple divorced for the second time in 2012.
17. Kristen Wiig
Now a successful Hollywood actress, it is easy for people to forget that Kristen Wiig was a long-standing cast member of Saturday Night Live. She was in the show from 2005 until 2012 which covered seven seasons. However, it was her role in this show that rose her to prominence. One of the most famous films in which she has starred since leaving SNL is the 2012 comedy film ‘Bridesmaids’. For her role in this, Wiig won a Golden Globe for Best Actress- Musical or Comedy. Other films in which this actress has appeared include ‘The Martian’ and ‘Ghostbusters’. Her next project is to play the villainous character Cheetah in the sequel to ‘Wonder Woman’ for the DC Extended Universe. In 2005, Wiig married Hayes Hargrove but the couple divorced in 2009.
16. Mike Myers
Another cast member who appeared in seven seasons is Mike Myers as he was on Saturday Night Live from 1988 to 1995. However, many people forget that Mike Myers was ever part of the cast because he has since gone on to star in many blockbuster movies and has worked in many other aspects of the entertainment industry. This Canadian American actor is also a comedian, a screenwriter, a producer, and a director. His directorial debut was the 2013 documentary ‘Supermensch: The Legend of Sheep Gordon’. He has starred in the title roles in the ‘Wayne’s World’ and ‘Austin Powers’ movie and provided the voice for Shrek in the ‘Shrek’ series of films. In his personal life, he has been married twice and has three children. He has stars on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Canada Walk of Fame.
15. Andy Samberg
Andy Samberg also appeared in Saturday Night Live for seven seasons between 2005 and 2012. During his first year on the show, his roles were limited. However, by his second season, he was appearing in many more parody advertisements and comedy skits. In fact, he is often credited with having popularized the SNL Digital Shorts. Other than SNL, Samberg is also known for being a part of a musical comedy troupe and is often known by his alternative stage name ‘Young Sandwich’. This successful actor and comedian’s career has extended into the film industry. Some of the films in which he has appeared include ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and its sequels, ‘That’s My Boy’, ‘I Love You Man’, ‘Storks, ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’, and ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’. Currently, Samberg plays the role of Jake Peralta in ‘Brooklyn None-Nine’. He is married to Joanna Newsom and they have one daughter together.
14. Tracy Morgan
Tracy Morgan was a much-loved cast member for seven seasons of Saturday Night live between 1996 and 2003. At the beginning of his career, Morgan played a character called Hustle Man on ‘Martin’ along with many other small roles in television. He was then a regular cast member of the sketch comedy show ‘Uptown Comedy Club’ between 1992 and 1994. Becoming a cast member for Saturday Night Live was his big break and it is still this series for which he is best-known along with playing Tracy Jordan in ’30 Rock’ between 2006 and 2013. For the latter, he was nominated for an Emmy Award. Morgan has continued to work in television, usually in the comedy genre, and has also hosted many televised events. In his personal life, Morgan has been married twice. He has three sons with his first wife and a daughter with his second wife.
13. John Lovitz
Appearing in five seasons, Andy Lovitz was a cast member on Saturday Night Live between 1985 and 1990. Two of his most memorable characters were Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar, and Hanukkah Harry. Lovitz has often said that his stint on SNL was one of the best times in his life. It turned around his fortunes as he went from broke to receiving an offer for a film contract worth half a million and was nominated for multiple awards during his time on Saturday Night Live. Lovitz has also had a successful career in film with his film credits including ‘Rat Race’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, ‘The Benchwarmers’, ‘The Brave Little Toaster’, ‘Big’, ‘High School High’, and ‘A League of Their Own’. Lovitz has also provided voices for animated characters, appeared in commercials and worked in theater.
12. Chris Farley
Chris Farley first appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1990 and was a cast member for five seasons until 1995. During his time at the show, his appearances were often alongside Adam Sandler, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Chris Rock. They earned themselves the nickname of the ‘Bad Boys of SNL’. Some of the most popular characters played by Farley included an over-the-top motivational speaker called Matt Foley, a Chippendale dancer, and the Weekend Update commentator Bennett Brauer. Farley was well-known for playing pranks on his co-stars during his time at SNL. Chris Farley also enjoyed a successful career in film and had roles in movies including ‘Wayne’s World’, ‘Airheads’, ‘Coneheads’, ‘Black Sheep’, and Tommy Boy’. Although Chris Farley enjoyed professional success, things were different in his personal life. He was severely obese and was abusing both drugs and alcohol. This caused him to suffer from a range of health problems. He was found dead in his apartment by his brother on December 18, 1997 when he was just 33. The cause of death was recorded as an overdose of morphine and cocaine. In 2005, he was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
11. Bill Murray
Although Bill Murray was only in Saturday Night live for four seasons between 1976 and 1980, he made a big impact on the show during that time. Although he began his career in 1973, it was SNL that first drew attention to this actor, comedian, and writer. It was also his appearances on this show that led to him winning his first Emmy Award. After leaving Saturday Night Live, Bill Murray went on to enjoy a successful career in comedy films. Some of the movies in which this actor has appeared include ‘Caddyshack’, ‘Tootsie’, ‘Meatballs’, ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Ghostbusters II’, ‘Stripes’, ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘Scrooged’, and ‘What About Bob?’. In his personal life, he has been married twice and has six children.
10. Tina Fey
Tina Fey was a Saturday Night live cast member for six seasons between 2000 and 2006. She was initially hired as a writer for the show and was eventually promoted to head writer before becoming one of the cast members of Saturday Night live. This actress, comedian, writer, and producer is also well-known as the creator of the hit comedy series ’30 Rock, in which she stars in the leading role. Another sitcom for which she is known as the creator is ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’. Fey is also known for her work in films. Some of the movies in which she has starred include ‘Muppets Most Wanted’, ‘Baby Mama’, ‘Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot’, ‘Sisters’, and ‘Date Night’. She wrote the screenplay for ‘Mean Girls’ which is an adaptation of a book called ‘Queen Bees and Wannabes’ and also co-starred in this film. She is a multiple award-winner has she has won nine Primetime Emmy Awards, seven Writers Guild of America Awards, five Screen Actor Guild Awards, and three Golden Globes. Tina Fey has been married to Jeff Richmond since 2001 and the couple have two children.
9. Bill Hader
Bill Hader’s time on Saturday Night Live spanned eight seasons from 2005 to 2013. Hader has received three Emmy nominations for his role in this series. In television, Hader is also known for his roles in ‘Documentary Now!’, ‘Barry’, and ‘South Park’. Since leaving SNL, Hader has predominantly worked in film. Some of the movies for which he is best-known include ‘Paul’, ‘You, Me, and Dupree’, ‘Men in Black 3’, ‘Hot Rod’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, and ‘Tropic Thunder’. He has also worked extensively as a voice actor, including the movies ‘Inside Out’, ‘The Angry Birds Movies’, and ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’.
8. Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler appeared in eight seasons of the show from 2001 to 2009. She is now a famous actress, comedian, voice artist, writer, producer, and director. At the beginning of her career, she worked as part of a improvisational comedy group. During her time at SNL, she was best-known for her role as the co-anchor of the Weekend Update alongside Tina Fey. Other than her role in this series, she is best-known for playing Leslie Knope in the NBC sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation’. She is also well-known for providing the voices of many famous characters in film and television. She was the voice of Joy in ‘Inside Out’, Bessie Higginbottom in ‘The Mighty B!’, and Sally O’Malley in the movie version of ‘Horton Hears a Who!’. Poehler received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.
7. Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner was one of the original cast members and appeared in the show for five seasons from 1975 to 1980. Her specialist area was delivering parodies of television stereotypes, such as news anchors and advice specialists. As a cast member of SNL, she became established as an iconic figure of comedy in the United States. After leaving Saturday Night Live, Radner continued to work in theatre, film and television. She married actor Gene Wilder in 1984. He was her second husband. Sadly, Gilda Radner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She thought she was in remission when the cancer returned. She was sedated to undergo a CT scan and slipped into a coma during the scan. She died three days later on May 20, 1989, from ovarian cancer and complications relating to a perforation of her intestines.
6. Dana Carvey
Dana Carvey is one of the most memorable impressionists to have appeared on Saturday Night live and she was a cast member for seven seasons between 1986 and 1993. He is widely considered one of the most talented cast members in the history of the series. He had the ability to create insightful characters while also blending into the background when needed. Carvey began his acting career in 1978 but, prior to Saturday Night Live, he usually had only small roles in television and film. His break came when he starred in ‘Tough Guys’ in 1986 with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. However, it was his work on SNL that shot him to fame. He is also known for playing Garth in ‘Wayne’s World’ and for having his own show, ‘The Dana Carvey Show’. For the latter, he reprised many of his characters from SNL.
5. Dan Aykroyd
Although he was only on the show for four seasons between 1975 and 1979, Dan Aykroyd was one of the original stars that contributed to Saturday Night Live’s success. A musical sketch he performed with fellow cast member John Belushi led to the production of the film ‘The Blues Brothers’, in which they both starred. In addition to appearing in SNL, Dan Aykroyd is most famous for creating and starring in the ‘Ghostbuster’ series of films. He is also known for his role in the 1989 film ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. His career on television has been equally successful since leaving SLN as he had his own sitcom ‘Soul Men’ between 1997 and 1998. Outside of the film and television industries, Aykroyd is a successful businessman and co-founded a chain of music venues called the ‘House of Blues’.
4. John Belushi
John Belushi also appeared in four seasons of Saturday Night Live between 1975 and 1979 alongside Dan Aykroyd. It is an interesting fact that his brother, Jim Belushi, also later appeared as a cast member in Saturday Night Live. John Belushi was one of the original seven cast members of the series and it was this series that launched his career in the entertainment industry. During his career, he starred in many films, such as ‘The Blues Brothers’, ‘Neighbors’, and ‘1941’. Despite his professional success, Belushi had a troubled personal life and was known to abuse drugs. Sadly, this is what led to his death on March 5, 1982, when he was just 33 years of age.
3. Phil Hartman
Viewers first saw Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live in 1986 and he remained a cast member for eight seasons until 1994. He first rose to prominence in this series but has since become well-established in many different aspects of the film and television industry. In addition to being an actor, voice, actor, and comedian, he is also a screenwriter and graphic artist. He is particularly well-known for his roles in films, including ‘Jingle All the Way’, ‘Sgt. Bilko’, ‘Small Soldeirs’, ‘Houseguest’, and ‘KiKi’s Delivery Service’. Sadly, Hartman was killed by his wife on May 27, 1998. She shot him once in the head and once in the side while he slept following a heated argument.
2. Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell was a popular member of the Saturday Night Live cast for seven seasons between 1995 and 2002. This series helped to launch Ferrell’s career and made him a household name. Since leaving the show, he has predominantly focused on a career in the film industry and made his film debut in the 1997 comedy film ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’. Other films for which he is famous include ‘Elf’, ‘Blades of Glory’, ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ and its sequel, ‘Zoolander’, ‘The Internship’, and ‘The House’. He has been nominated for and won multiple awards throughout his career.
1. Eddie Murphy
Despite only appearing for four seasons of Saturday Night Live between 1980 and 1984, Eddie Murphy made a big impact because he arrived at a time when the show needed him the most. Ratings had been dropping and Saturday Night Live was at its lowest point. When Eddie Murphy joined the cast, he helped to revive the show and its ratings. It was a two-way street as this show helped to launch Murphy’s career. Murphy now predominantly works in film and he won a Golden Globe for his role in ‘Dreamgirls’. He has also been nominated for awards for his roles in the ‘Beverley Hills Cop’ series of films, ‘Trading Places’, ’48 Hrs’, and ‘The Nutty Professor’. Other films for which he is well-known include ‘Coming to America’, ‘Bow Finger’, and ‘Meet Dave’. Murphy had two sons, Eric and Christian, with two different women before marrying Nicole Mitchell in 1993. The couple went on to have five children together; Bria, Miles, Shayne, Zola, and Bella.