List of Saturday Night Live cast members
As of September 2021[update], the late-night live variety series Saturday Night Live (SNL) has featured 159 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||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. At the time of his departure, he was the longest-serving Weekend Update anchor, however, he has been surpassed by current anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che in terms of episodes. 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 promoted to repertory player in season 30 and left after the end of season 38.|
|Kate McKinnon||11||2012–present||McKinnon joined SNL in April 2012, near the end of the show's 37th season.|
|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.|
Two people have been publicly announced as having been hired to the cast, but never performed as cast members:
- Catherine O'Hara, hired in 1981 but quit before ever appearing on air. She has subsequently hosted the show twice.
- Shane Gillis was announced as a cast member in 2019, but the offer was withdrawn due to controversies surrounding his past use of racial slurs.
One person was credited as a cast member but did not actually appear on the show as such.
- Emily Prager was hired as part of Ebersol's temporary season six cast following the termination of Jean Doumanian. She was credited for one episode even though she did not appear on the show, as her skit was cut after dress rehearsal. She was not chosen for season seven of the show. Prager had worked as a writer on the show, and also made several appearances in skits prior to being officially named as a member of the cast.
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 had 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 made a cast member 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-featured 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 featured 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 impressionists
|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)
Robin Williams (1986)[a]
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[b] (2017–2020)|
|Joe Biden||Alex Moffat (2021)|
James Austin Johnson (2021–present)
Jason Sudeikis (2021)[c]
Darrell Hammond had the longest tenure portraying a U.S. president, portraying Bill Clinton from 1995–2001 and George W. Bush during 2003. He, Joe Piscopo, and Phil Hartman are the only cast members to have portrayed two sitting presidents.
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.
Presidents are not usually portrayed on Saturday Night Live after they leave office. Exceptions are limited to the portrayal of president Richard Nixon who left office prior to the launch of the show in 1975, and Donald Trump who continued to be politically active after leaving office. Dan Aykroyd portrayed Nixon from 1975–79, and Darrell Hammond portrayed Nixon on episode 12 of season 34. James Austin Johnson portrayed Trump in several episodes of season 47.
Impersonation of Donald Trump
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." In June 2021, after Trump had left office, it was reported that while Trump was in office he had inquired if the Federal Communications Commission or the United States Justice Department could force SNL to stop portraying him. Trump denied that he has ever made such an inquiry, but claimed that his portrayal by SNL "should be considered an illegal campaign contribution from the Democrat Party." He also criticized Baldwin's portrayal of him, but praised Darrell Hammond's portrayal of him.
Returning to host
Several former SNL cast members have returned to host the show. The first former cast member to come back and host the show was Chevy Chase in February 1978. While the majority of cast members who also hosted the show were first cast members and then hosted after leaving the show, there have been two cast members who have hosted the show prior to joining the cast: Billy Crystal (he hosted the show twice during the ninth season prior to joining the cast in the tenth season) and Michael McKean (he hosted the show in the tenth season and joined the cast in the nineteenth season). McKean is also the only eventual cast member who first appeared as a musical guest (with Spinal Tap, May 1984).
Eddie Murphy is the only cast member to have hosted the show while still a cast member. He also holds the distinction of having the longest gap between successive hosting of the show. There was a 35 year and 6 day gap between his second and third hosting of the show.
Adam Sandler and Dan Aykroyd tie the record of the longest gap between leaving the show as a cast member and returning as a host. Both hosted the show for the first time nine days shy of 24 years from last appearance as cast. However, both made appearances on the show during the gap. On the flip side, Bill Murray holds the record for having the shortest gap between leaving the show and returning to host at 287 days after leaving the cast.
|First hosted||Last hosted|
|Fred Armisen||1||May 21, 2016|
|Dan Aykroyd||1||May 17, 2003|
|Dana Carvey||4||October 22, 1994||February 5, 2011|
|Chevy Chase||8||February 18, 1978||February 15, 1997|
|Billy Crystal||2||March 17, 1984||May 12, 1984|
|Robert Downey Jr.||1||November 16, 1996|
|Jimmy Fallon||3||December 17, 2011||April 15, 2017|
|Chris Farley||1||October 25, 1997|
|Will Ferrell||5||May 14, 2005||November 23, 2019|
|Tina Fey||6||February 23, 2008||May 19, 2018|
|Will Forte||1||January 22, 2022|
|Bill Hader||2||October 11, 2014||March 17, 2018|
|Phil Hartman||2||March 23, 1996||November 23, 1996|
|Julia Louis-Dreyfus||3||May 13, 2006||April 16, 2016|
|Jon Lovitz||1||November 8, 1997|
|Norm Macdonald||1||October 23, 1999|
|Michael McKean||1||November 3, 1984|
|Seth Meyers||1||October 13, 2018|
|Tracy Morgan||2||March 14, 2009||October 17, 2015|
|Eddie Murphy||3||December 11, 1982||December 21, 2019|
|Bill Murray||5||March 7, 1981||February 20, 1999|
|Mike Myers||1||March 22, 1997|
|Don Novello||2||January 14, 1984||May 12, 1984|
|Amy Poehler||2||September 25, 2010||December 19, 2015|
|Chris Rock||3||November 2, 1996||October 3, 2020|
|Maya Rudolph||2||February 18, 2012||March 27, 2021|
|Andy Samberg||1||May 17, 2014|
|Adam Sandler||1||May 4, 2019|
|Paul Shaffer||1||January 31, 1987|
|Molly Shannon||1||May 12, 2007|
|Martin Short||3||December 6, 1986||December 15, 2012|
|Sarah Silverman||1||October 4, 2014|
|David Spade||2||November 7, 1998||March 12, 2005|
|Jason Sudeikis||1||October 23, 2021|
|Ben Stiller||2||October 24, 1998||October 8, 2011|
|Damon Wayans||1||April 8, 1995|
|Kristen Wiig||3||May 11, 2013||December 19, 2020|
Although SNL is best known as the launchpad for many successful careers, seven 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.|
- Performed once when Williams hosted the show, on November 22, 1986.
- Alec Baldwin performed the impersonation as a recurring guest.
- Performed once when Sudeikis hosted the show, on October 23, 2021. Sudeikis portrayed Joe Biden on the show when Biden was Vice President, as well as candidate for president during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.
- "Kenan Thompson: Saturday Night Live repertory-player". NBC.
- White, Peter (October 23, 2021). "'SNL': Colin Jost Breaks Seth Meyers' Weekend Update Record". Deadline. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
- Spirogis, Jeremy (June 11, 2020). "WHY 'SCHITT'S CREEK' STAR CATHERINE O'HARA LEFT THE CAST OF 'SNL' SEASON 6".
- 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.
- Garber, Megan. "Saturday Night Live Can't Resist Donald Trump". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
- 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. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
- 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.
- Johnson, Ted (June 22, 2021). "Donald Trump Denies That He Asked Justice Department To Go After 'Saturday Night Live'". Deadline Hollywood.
- "SNL Archives | Cast | Chevy Chase". SNL Archives. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "Is There A 'Saturday Night Live' Curse?". HuffPost. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
- Caroline Donnelly (28 May 2008). "7 Tragic SNL Deaths". Mental Floss.
- "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.