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‘Saturday Night Live’: All 145 Cast Members Ranked

Our insanely ambitious, ruthlessly exhaustive ranking of every ‘SNL’ player ever

Saturday Night Live

Illustration by Anita Kunz; Photographs by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Let’s break it down. The entire cast of Saturday Night Live, all 40 years of it, ranked from top to bottom. Insanely ambitious? You bet. Absurdly exhaustive? No doubt. Ruthlessly complete? Damn straight. From the Samurai Hitman to the poor bastard who played Walter Mondale. Everybody.

So — live from New York — a passionate, definitive, opinionated, subjective, irresponsible and indefensible breakdown of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. It’s a celebration of Lorne Michaels’ creation 40 years on — and as every SNL fan knows, part of loving the show means surfing through the lows along with the highs. Keep in mind: We’re not ranking their careers, merely their stints on SNL. Also, we’re ranking them strictly for what they did onscreen, not behind the scenes. As for who counts as an SNL player, there’s a lot of gray area. The whole point of this list is ranking everybody, not just the big names, so it tries to err on the side of being inclusive. “Writers who occasionally showed up in sketches” is a mighty crowded category, but they’re ultimately judged by onscreen impact. It’s a game of inches out there. And no guest hosts, no matter how often they return. No Alec Baldwin or Andy Kaufman or Justin Timberlake, even though they’ve had way more airtime than many cast members.

Some of these stories get grim, especially below the Joe Piscopo Line. (You don’t want to be on the Cleghorne side of the Piscopo Line.) But these are all comedians who made it to the big leagues. This list is full of worthy performers SNL bumbled, or ugly ducklings who turned into swans elsewhere. So if you were funny in Anchorman 2 or you ended up a legend on Seinfeld, that’s sweet, but it doesn’t factor in here. The hilariously disastrous misuse of talent is part of what makes it SNL — we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Also crucial: If you were an SNL player and your feelings get bruised easily, you might want to stop reading now. Like Stuart Smalley says, it’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the world.

Siobhan Fallon

WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Siobhan Fallon attends the screening of "Greedy" on February 22, 1994 at Mann Bruin Theater in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ron Galella Ltd./WireImage

115. Siobhan Fallon

Era: 1991-1992

In her sole season, she snagged a three-second close-up in the credits — times 20 episodes, that’s a solid minute, which must’ve been 90 percent of her screen time. Went on to play Björk’s prison guard in a Lars von Trier film, proving anything is possible.

Nancy Walls, David Koechner, Laura Kightlinger, Morwenna Banks, Fred Wolf and Melanie Hutsell

NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty; ©NBC/Everett Collection; Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty; ©NBC (2); NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

109-114. The Nineties One-Shots: Nancy Walls, David Koechner, Laura Kightlinger, Morwenna Banks, Fred Wolf and Melanie Hutsell

Eras: Nancy Walls (1995-1996); David Koechner (1995-1996); Laura Kightlinger (1994-1995); Morwenna Banks (1994-1995); Fred Wolf (1995-1997); Melanie Hutsell (1991-1994)

Mostly bit players trapped in the god-awful years after the big Myers/Hartman/Sandler exodus. The SNL equivalent of Marcy Playground or the Primitive Radio Gods.

Mark McKinney

Mark Mckinney.tif

NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

108. Mark McKinney

Era: 1994-1997

Another comedy star with his own . . . look, people. You’re already famous. So stay the hell away from “SNL.” It’s a homeless shelter, not a spa. It’s for lonesome newbies who have no other hope. The Billy Crystal Scenario happened exactly once. You’re so welcome!

Chris Elliott

GROUNDHOG DAY, Chris Elliott, 1993. ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

©Columba Pictures/Everett Collection

107. Chris Elliott

Era: 1994-1995

Another comedy star with his own thriving career joins the cast of . . . wait, what the fuck was wrong with these people? They never heard of Randy Quaid?

Janeane Garofalo

Actress and comedian JANEANE GAROFALO. (Credit Image: © Jonathan Alcorn/ZUMAPRESS.com)

© Jonathan Alcorn/ZUMA Press

106. Janeane Garofalo

Era: 1994-1995

A comedy star with her own thriving career joins the cast of SNL. What could go wrong?

Sarah Silverman

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 4 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kevin Nealon, Sarah Silverman during "Weekend Update" skit on October 23, 1993 (Photo by Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

105. Sarah Silverman

Era: 1993-1994

Yeah, no surprise SNL had no clue what to do with her — she barely appeared in her entire season. For years afterward, she went abysmally wasted in Hollywood until finally she got famous by writing her own show, Jesus Is Magic, flaunting her distinctive “I was raped by a doctor, which is a bittersweet experience for a Jewish girl” humor. Best SNL rebound of all time!

Danitra Vance

Danitra Vance, 1985. (Photo by NBC/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

104. Danitra Vance

Era: 1985-1986

SNL’s long history of failing to do right by black women begins here. (Well, it probably begins with Garrett Morris as Tina Turner.) Vance got such shoddy treatment from the writers it became a joke in itself when she sang the Barry Manilow parody “I Play the Maids.” She died in 1994.

Georgoe Coe

George Coe SNL screen grab credit: tk

©NBC

103. George Coe

Era: 1975-1976

The token old guy in the original cast, left behind when Michaels figured out it was funnier to dress young guys as old guys.

Bobby Moynihan

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Season: 37 -- Pictured: Bobby Moynihan -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

Dana Edleson/NBC

102. Bobby Moynihan

Era: 2008-present

He’s an uncle and he’s drunk. Got it. Saving grace: His brilliant Chris Christie imitation.

Gary Kroeger

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Season 8-- Pictured: Gary Kroeger -- (Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

101. Gary Kroeger

Era: 1982-1985

Well, somebody had to play Walter Mondale. Kroeger’s other highlight: Donny Osmond to Louis-Dreyfus’ Marie, as they sang a duet that turned into a full-on make-out session.

Brian Doyle-Murray

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Brian Doyle-Murray during the 'SNL Newsbreak' skit on October 17, 1981 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

100. Brian Doyle-Murray

Era: 1979-1982

More of a writer than a performer, Bill’s big brother was still years away from his most memorable screen turn, in Wayne’s World. (“He blows goats. I have proof.”)