Saturday Night Live, or SNL, first premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975. Now, 40 years later, it is still one of the most popular shows on American television. They had a countless number of celebrities hosting the show over the years, from actors to comedians and singers. Their comedy sketches, that tackle cultural and social situations, but also provide criticism of politics and political figures, provided us with many unforgettable impressions and original characters. Some of these characters became so ingrained in our culture that it is sometimes hard to remember that they are not actual people. Here is a list of the 8 most beloved SNL characters of all time.
Stefon - Bill Hader
The New York City correspondent for Weekend Update never failed to deliver crazy recommendations on things to do around the city for any occasion. From Mother's Day to New Years Eve, he also seemed to know the best clubs to frequent and all the passwords to get in. The character is so hilarious due to its special mannerism and bizarre suggestions that it was difficult for even Bill Hader to keep it cool while portraing him. They even had to add the hand gesture over the mouth that is so recognized with Stefon to allow Hader to break out of character and release some giggles. We can't wait for the next time he appears on the show, though we can all agree that it is not the same without Seth Meyers by his side.
Debbie Downer - Rachel Dratch
You can tell by her name, a slang phrase for someone that frequently has bad news and brings the mood down, what this character is all about. No matter what the situation is and where it takes place, Debbie has something horrific to say about it. She is always up to date with the world's greatest dangers and risks, and she definitely lacks the ability to realize the best timing to share them. Every Debbie Downer sketch starts with her own theme song that basically summarizes in a nutsheel her persona and ends with a close-up of Debbie's pained expression. One of our favorite sketches is Debbie Downer in Disneyland. No one is able to keep it together with her outrages negative remarks.
Roseanne Roseannadanna - Gilda Radner
Another Weekend Update reporter, but this time from the earlier years of SNL. Roseanne was responsible for consumer affairs but you will hardly ever find her speaking on topic. Add to that her lack of tact and class, combined with her truly crazy hair and "special" voice, Roseanne was definitely outstanding. Her appearances on the Weekend Update followed a similar routine. A letter from Richard Feder from New Jersey with questions about a current social issue, Roseanne's derogatory insults about New Jersey, and finally answering the questions in her own special way. Though the character is mostly known to people who watched the show during the 70s, the younger generation got introduced to it in Emma Stone's portrayal of her during the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special.
Matt Foley - Chris Farley
The motivational speaker none of us would have wanted to know in real life. As opposed to any other motivational speaker you might know, that are usually positive and charismatic, Foley has a very violent temper that usually seem to come from anger about the poor conditions of his life. He does seem to have a passion for his career, but it looks like he wants to help others mostly out of frustration with himself and his life choices. A frustration he is not able to contain very well. His love for caffeine definitely does not help in making him a more cool and collected person. This character was so funny that it became Farley's best-known character. It was even planned to do a film version for it, but the plans have been shelved after Farley's death in 1997.
Garth and Kat - Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig
The singing duo, whose relationship have never truly been clarified, are another returning guests of Weekend Update. The genious level of improvisation and great connection between Armisen and Wiig is definitely what made this couple so memorable. Every time they would come on the show they would claim to be completely ready with a brand new set of songs specifically for the occasion, be it Valentine's day or Christmas. However, the songs will clearly be made up on the spot, with Wiig following Armisen's lead perfectly. These are one of the only sketches that are not rehearsed and depend completely on the talent of the actors. It is almost impossible to watch their renditions without cracking up, especially when seeing Seth Meyers' reactions.
Judy Grimes - Kristen Wiig
This is the last Weekend Update character we are going to mention. We just couldn't leave it behind. The Weekend Update's Travel Expert with her drastic stage fright makes you wonder why would she take on a TV role. She is pretty determined though to come back every time, and seem to regert her decision a momet later. After she is encouraged by Seth Meyers to give some travel tips, she usually goes into a long speech of very quick run-on sentences that often end with the phrase "just kidding". Apart from the brilliant and extremely funny written monologue, Wiig's execution is superb. She is not missing a beat and delivers it all with perfect clarity without breaking character.
The Church Lady - Dana Carvey
Also known as Enid Strict, the Church Lady is the host of her own talk show, Church Chat, where she usually interviews celebrities. Except the celebrities do not actually have a chance to speak as they are only invited by her so that she can call them out on their sins and bad behavior. In order to make her guests feel comfortable, she sarcastically starts the show by praising them and then goes into tearing to pieces their secular lifestyle and habits. The character was so successful and coined so many catchphrases that it became a recurring character on the show, appearing from 1986 to 1990, and again in 1996, 2000, 2011, and 2016. As a result, it is known to many generations.
Mary Katherine Gallagher - Molly Shannon
The unpopular, teenage Catholic school girl is an extreme caricature of the conflicts of the teeenage years. As such, she suffers from severe mood swings and conflicting character attributes. For example, she has expressed stage fright while at the same time being egomaniacal and wanted to engage in a sing-off with Whitney Houston. Her complete lack of social skills and very weird and sometimes discussting habits, made her and her interactions with others very impactful. People loved this character so much that Shannon also gave life to her in the 1999 film, Superstar.