10. Chevy Chase
Strange as it sounds, Chase might be the most under-rated SNL player. True, he stuck around for only one full season, but so did Farrah on Charlie's Angels — it took him only one season to define the franchise. Of all the original cast members, Chase was the one guy who got how TV worked — the others were theater types. So if you check out the first episode, which is 80 percent unwatchable, Chase is the only one who knows how to stare right into the camera without flinching. He looks like a coldhearted bastard surrounded by a bunch of needy kids. But without that deadpan arrogance, the whole SNL style of humor would fall flat. (By the 12th episode, his castmates are doing jokes about how much they all hate him.) He was famous for his stumbling Gerald Ford impersonation, but he was even sharper and more merciless as Ronald Reagan, the only killer Reagan SNL ever had. Alternate-history question: If Chase had stayed on SNL, would he have sunk Reagan the way he sank Ford?
Greatest hit: Chase reports an item about the Peanuts bird Woodstock. He's getting replaced by "a bird named Altamont, who will beat the other birds to death with a pool cue." The audience gasps. They're horrified. Chase loves it. And this is 1975. The whole Saturday Night Live story in 10 seconds.