Ever since its debut in 1975, Saturday Night Live has been the one-stop destination for biting satire, outrageous caricatures and overall laughs. Considered one of the most influential comedy shows of all time, SNL would be nothing without its long and varied list of cast-members, many of whom went on to establish successful film careers. Given the show’s long-running success, it only makes sense that many fan favorites have emerged over the years, beloved by audiences everywhere. While I could list a good half of the cast as being top tier, the list only calls for five, so without further ado, here are the top 5 SNL cast members of all time, ranked!
5. Chris Farley
The 1990s were a time of revitalization for SNL, after several lackluster seasons in the 1980s put the show on the rocks. But when Farley, a timid boy from Wisconsin emerged, the show gained an energy it hadn’t seen since the early days. With his brand of intense slapstick comedy, Farley became a fan-favorite for his bombastic disposition, which he imbued into characters such as Matt Foley, the hapless motivational speaker whose own motivation was in question.
Sadly, Farley passed away in 1997 from drug overdose, though his legacy as a funny man who would do anything for a laugh lives on.
4. Phil Hartman
If Farley was emblematic of SNL’s manic, childlike side in the 1990s, then Phil Hartman represented its wryer, dryer side. Known for impressions of famous political figures such as Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush and Bill Clinton, Hartman made his characters both outlandish, yet believable, which is no easy feat. After leaving SNL in 1994, Hartman pursed a film career, also appearing in shows such as the Simpsons.
Unfortunately, it was not long-lasted. Like Farley, Hartman tragically passed not too long after departing SNL, being killed by his wife in 1998. However, his versatile performances remain in the hearts of all of his fans.
3. Mike Myers
Whenever one thinks of a movie derived from an SNL property, Wayne’s World probably is the first to come to mind. Thank Mike Myers for that, because without him, the slacking radio host from Aurora, Illinois who jams out to Bohemian Rhapsody might have remained a fantasy. Myers wasn’t quite as prone to hamming it up as Farley, nor was his sense of humor as arid as the Sahara, like Hartman’s. Instead, Myers combined the best of both of the styles, creating oblivious characters who have the slightest hint of just what’s going on.
Myers went on to pursue a film career after leaving SNL, starring in Wayne’s World, Austin Powers and Shrek. His career has slowed down in recent years, but he continues to make movies and entertain millions.
2. John Belushi
One of the very first SNL cast members, John Belushi is rightly known as one of the greatest SNL performers of all time. Not only was he a natural physical comic, he also was a gifted singer, which he utilized in his Blues Brothers sketches, along with frequent partner Dan Aykroyd. Eventually, he starred in several movies such as Animal House.
Belushi sadly passed away at 33 in 1982 from a drug overdose, but it’s impossible to forget the magnetic work of SNL’s first major icon.
1. Dan Aykroyd
Along with his frequent partner John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd is known as one of the greatest SNL cast members of all time. With his partner, he starred in many classic sketches, most notably the aforementioned Blues Brothers, which was later made into a feature film.
Aykroyd continues to star in films to this day and has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood.