3. Tina Fey
You could argue that most of her onscreen contribution was "Weekend Update," but Fey did a lot more than salvage "Update" from a decade-long losing streak — it swiftly became the highlight of the show, as the entire franchise remade itself around the wry, sardonic, not-afraid-of-her-brain Fey style. She slapped SNL out of its late-Nineties coma. Suddenly the skits were full of ass-kicking women, just because Fey proved how much they could get away with. And her 2008 return as Sarah Palin might be the most brilliant move SNL ever made. Talk about a hot streak — it was a moment when all America spent the week waiting to see what Fey would come up with on Saturday.
Greatest hit: "I can see Russia from my house!" almost made it worth having Palin around.