No comedy franchise has ever generated as many unforgettable characters as Saturday Night Live. Fans develop an intense bond with their favorite SNL heroes — we love our Stefons, our Mr. Robinsons, our Roseanne Rosannadannas. So here’s a salute to the 40 greatest — not necessarily the most famous, just the funniest. Some are legendary, others obscure. Some recurred week after week; others only showed up once or twice. (Better one dose of Gene Frenkle than a herd of Goat Boys.) No impressions — that’s a whole other list — so no Sarah Palin or Buckwheat or Mark Wahlberg. (And only the SNL incarnation, so no Blues Brothers, who had to wait until their movie to hit “We’re on a mission from God” mode.) This Top 40 comes from every era of SNL‘s 40-year history — the only thing these characters have in common is that they’re classics.