List of Saturday Night Live cast members
As of September 2020[update], the late-night live variety series Saturday Night Live (SNL) has featured 156 cast members. The ensemble was originally referred to as the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players."
The list below includes both repertory and featured players past and present, but omits SNL writers and others who were not listed as cast members during the show's credits. The dates given are those of the years they were part of the cast. The chart also shows whether the cast member has served as a guest host, appeared as the anchorperson of the "Weekend Update" segment (by any of its titles), or has been the subject of their own "Best of" home video collection. Many of the cast members were writers as well. "Middle group" performers are introduced after the main cast by the announcer saying "...with" and reading off these performers before ending with featured players.
Lighter colors denote "featured players" versus repertory cast members.
|Performer||No. of seasons||Years on the show||Notes|
|Darrell Hammond||14||1995–2009||Hired after a cast overhaul, he was the last cast member hired in the 1990s to leave the show, and the oldest cast member to leave the show (age 53 when he departed). At the time of his departure, he held the record for the longest tenure with the show, a record that lasted for eight years until broken by Thompson. In 2014, Hammond returned to the show as the announcer following the death of longtime announcer Don Pardo.|
|Seth Meyers||13||2001–2014||Meyers anchored Weekend Update from 2006 to 2014, making him the longest-serving Weekend Update anchor (breaking the records held by Dennis Miller and Tina Fey). He left the show to become the host of Late Night.|
|Fred Armisen||11||2002–2013||Armisen joined the show in season 28 as a featured player, then upgraded to repertory player in season 30 and left after the end of season 38.|
|Al Franken||10||1977–1980; 1986 (one episode); 1988–1995||Worked as a writer the first two seasons, and promoted to cast member in Season 3. He left the show in 1980, but returned when Lorne Michaels came back in 1985, regaining his writing and on-air featured status until 1995. Despite the long tenure, he was only credited for about 90 episodes. Franken later served as a United States Senator from Minnesota from 2009 until 2018.|
The following cast members spent less than a full 20-episode season on the show.
|Performer||No. of episodes||Notes|
|George Coe||1||He was one of the original "Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players", because NBC wanted someone older in the cast. He was credited as a cast member for only the first episode, though he continued to make several uncredited appearances throughout the first season.|
|Laurie Metcalf||1||She was hired as part of Ebersol's temporary season six cast following the termination of Jean Doumanian, and appeared on-camera in a Weekend Update piece. When the show was put on hiatus for retooling, she was not chosen to return to the show for season seven.|
|Emily Prager||1||She was hired as part of Ebersol's temporary season six cast following the termination of Jean Doumanian. Although she did not appear in the single episode for which she was credited as a featured player, she had appeared uncredited in five previous episodes, between 1977 and 1981. When the show was put on hiatus for retooling, she was not chosen to return to the show for season seven.|
|Dan Vitale||3||Hired as an on-and-off featured player for season 11, he was only credited with appearing in three episodes throughout the season.|
|Morwenna Banks||4||She was hired as a repertory player for the last four episodes of season 20, but was let out of her contract as part of a major cast overhaul Lorne Michaels had planned for season 21.|
|Ben Stiller||4||Before becoming a cast member, he submitted a short film – a parody of the film The Color of Money – that was shown on the season 12 episode hosted by Charlton Heston. He was hired during season 14, but quit after four episodes due to creative differences. Despite this, he returned to host in 1998 and 2011 and later had a recurring role as Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's ex-lawyer.|
|Fred Wolf||4||He's been a writer since 1992. However, he became a featured player in near the end season 21 for the last four episodes, however, he only appeared and was credited for episodes 17, 18, and 20. His last episode was in the 3rd episode of the 22nd season. After that episode, he decided to leave the show for good.|
|Tom Schiller||7||One of the show writers who was upgraded to cast member status during season five, he left the show at the end of the season.|
|Patrick Weathers||7||Hired as a featured cast member for season six, he was fired along with many of Doumanian's cast.|
|Yvonne Hudson||8||She was a recurring extra during season five, and became the first black female cast member in season six. Like many of Doumanian's cast, she was fired mid-season.|
|Jim Downey||9||He was hired as one of many writers-turned-feature players in season five, and though he left the cast after the season, he returned to the show as a writer in the mid-1980s and has remained with it.|
|Matthew Laurance||10||Hired as a feature player during season six, he was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Alan Zweibel||11||A writer for the show before joining the cast in season five, he left after the season finale.|
|Gilbert Gottfried||12||He joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Michael O'Donoghue||12||One of the original "Not Ready for Primetime Players" and the show's first head writer, he was dropped as a cast member after a few episodes. He remained with the show as a writer (leaving and returning twice) and occasional on-screen performer.|
|Ann Risley||12||She joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Charles Rocket||12||He joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul, after having said "fuck" one episode prior.|
|Damon Wayans||12||Hired for season 11 as a featured player, he was fired mid-season for improvising on the air. He returned as a guest to perform stand-up comedy on season 11's last episode and hosted SNL in 1995.|
|Beth Cahill||13||She joined the show during season 17 as an off-and-on featured player. She did not return the following season, as she was fired along with castmate Siobhan Fallon.|
|Denny Dillon||13||She joined the cast for season six and was let go after the finale as part of the cast overhaul. She auditioned for the show's first season, but did not make the cut.|
|Gail Matthius||13||She joined the cast for season six and was let go after the season ended.|
|Paul Shaffer||13||After being the band's pianist for the first five seasons, he joined the cast during season five, but left after the finale. He hosted SNL in 1987, making him the only member of the house band to do so.|
|Janeane Garofalo||14||She joined the cast during season 20, but quit mid-season due to creative differences.|
|Michaela Watkins||15||She joined the show on the first episode after the 2008 United States presidential election, then was let go before the start of season 35.|
|Peter Aykroyd||16||He joined the show midway through season five, but left at the end of the season, after only 16 episodes.|
President of the United States impressionistsEdit
|Sitting President||Performer (years)|
|Gerald Ford||Chevy Chase (1975–1976)|
|Jimmy Carter||Dan Aykroyd (1977–1979)|
Joe Piscopo (1980–1981)
|Ronald Reagan||Charles Rocket (1981)|
Joe Piscopo (1981–1984)
Harry Shearer (1984)
Randy Quaid (1985–1986)
Phil Hartman (1986–1989)
|George H. W. Bush||Dana Carvey (1989–1993)|
|Bill Clinton||Phil Hartman (1993–1994)|
Michael McKean (1994–1995)
Darrell Hammond (1995–2001)
|George W. Bush||Will Ferrell (2001–2002)|
Chris Parnell (2002–2003)
Darrell Hammond (2003)
Will Forte (2004–2006)
Jason Sudeikis (2006–2008)
|Barack Obama||Fred Armisen (2009–2012)|
Jay Pharoah (2012–2016)
|Donald Trump||Alec Baldwin[a] (2017–2020)|
|Joe Biden||Jim Carrey (2020)|
Alex Moffat (2021-)
George H. W. Bush grew fond of Dana Carvey's impersonation of him. Carvey was invited to headline a White House Christmas party in 1992, during the lame duck period after Bush had lost the elections. Two years later, on October 22, 1994, when Carvey hosted the show for the first time, Bush appeared in pre-recorded videos, in both the cold open and the opening monologue, critiquing Carvey's impersonation of him.
Impersonation of Donald TrumpEdit
Donald Trump, having been a public figure before being president, was portrayed by several cast members over the years. He was portrayed by Phil Hartman (1988–1990), Darrell Hammond (1999–2011, 2015–2016), Jason Sudeikis (2012) and Taran Killam (2015). Alec Baldwin started impersonating Trump as a guest during the 42nd season of SNL in late 2016, when Trump was the Republican nominee during the 2016 United States presidential elections. Baldwin continued with the guest impersonations of Trump after the elections when Trump was president-elect, as well as after Trump was sworn in as president. Baldwin continued to impersonate Trump throughout Trump's presidency.
Alec Baldwin's impersonation of Donald Trump earned him an Emmy award in 2017, in spite of his public declaration that he "loathes the role." At the end of Season 44, Baldwin publicly announced that he will cease impersonating Trump, but changed his mind prior to the beginning of Season 45 after SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels convinced him to continue with the impersonation.  Following the 2020 presidential elections in which Trump lost re-election, Baldwin tweeted "I don't believe I've ever been this overjoyed to lose a job before!"
Trump has criticized Baldwin's portrayal on multiple occasions. In response, Baldwin taunted Trump with statements such as "release your tax returns and I'll stop."
Although SNL is best known as the launchpad for many successful careers, nine former cast members have died before the age of 60. This has given rise to a superstition known as the "Saturday Night Live Curse".
|Cast member||Age||Date of death||Cause of death|
|John Belushi||33||March 5, 1982||Belushi died of a drug overdose from a speedball injection (cocaine and heroin). His death led to the conviction of Cathy Smith for administering the fatal injection.|
|Gilda Radner||42||May 20, 1989||Radner died from ovarian cancer. She was originally scheduled to host the season 13 finale, a first for a former female cast member. However, SNL was canceled due to a 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. Radner's health worsened the following year. Moments before the season 14 finale, news broke of Radner's death. In lieu of the opening monologue Steve Martin, visibly shaken, introduced a replay of the "Dancing in the Dark" sketch he and Radner had performed in a 1978 episode; her ex-husband G. E. Smith performed a musical tribute to Radner with the SNL Band.|
|Danitra Vance||40||August 21, 1994||Vance died of breast cancer, which had returned after a remission three years earlier.|
|Michael O'Donoghue||54||November 8, 1994||O'Donoghue died from cerebral hemorrhage after suffering from severe chronic migraine headaches for most of his life. Bill Murray honored O'Donoghue's memory in an appearance on a season 20 episode (hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker with musical guest R.E.M.) by replaying his sketch "Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bedtime Stories: The Soiled Kimono" from 1977.|
|Chris Farley||33||December 18, 1997||Similar to Belushi, Farley died of a drug overdose from a speedball. His death occurred less than two months after he came back to host SNL, which turned out to be his final television appearance.|
|Phil Hartman||49||May 28, 1998||Hartman was murdered by his wife, Brynn, while he slept in his Encino, California, home. Before committing this crime, Brynn had allegedly consumed a combination of cocaine, alcohol, and the antidepressant drug Zoloft, and later killed herself. During SNL's 25th anniversary special in 1999, several of Hartman's peers honored his memory by replaying his sketch "Love is a Dream" from 1988.|
|Charles Rocket||56||October 7, 2005||Rocket was found dead in his Canterbury, Connecticut, backyard. Local police concluded his death a suicide; Rocket had allegedly taken his own life by slashing his throat with a box cutter.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Not Ready For Prime Time Players.|
- Alec Baldwin performed the impersonation as a recurring guest.
- "Saturday Night Live: Season 46". NBC.
- Otterson, Joseph (September 16, 2019). "Shane Gillis Out From 'Saturday Night Live'". Variety. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- Graham, Mark (September 10, 2009). "21 SNL Cast Members Who Only Lasted a Season". Vulture. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- "Why It's Time For Fred Armisen to Hand Over SNL's Obama to Jay Pharoah". Movieline.com. November 29, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- Rosenwald, Michael S. (December 2, 2018). "'Wouldn't be prudent': George H.W. Bush's unlikely friendship with Dana Carvey". The Washington Post.
- "Bush Cold Open". NBC.
- "George H. W. Bush Supports Dana Carvey Cold Open". NBC.
- Kreps, Daniel (June 7, 2019). "Alec Baldwin 'So Done' With Portraying Trump on 'SNL'". Rolling Stone.
- Schaffstall, Katherine (October 21, 2019). "Alec Baldwin on Why He Returned to 'SNL' as Trump". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Hibberd, James (November 8, 2020). "Alec Baldwin 'overjoyed' to lose SNL job playing Donald Trump". Entertainment Weekly.
- Butler, Bethonie (June 7, 2019). "All the times Alec Baldwin has suggested he's done playing Trump on 'Saturday Night Live'". The Washington Post.
- "Is There A 'Saturday Night Live' Curse?". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013.
- Caroline Donnelly. "7 Tragic SNL Deaths". Mental Floss.
- Robert Rorke. "9 'SNL' stars we lost too soon". New York Post.
- "SNL Transcripts: Steve Martin: 04/22/78: Dancing In The Dark". SNL Transcripts Tonight. October 8, 2018.
- "Michael O'Donoghue Tribute". snltranscripts.jt.org.
- "SNL Transcripts: Miskel Spillman: 12/17/77: Least-Loved Bedtime Tale: The Soiled Kimono". snltranscripts.jt.org.