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  • Accidentally Correct Writing:
    • The season 34 episode had a sketch about people who would benefit from the 2008 bailout that happened when the global economic meltdown was still fresh. Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson played a couple named Herbert and Marion Sandler (no relation to Adam) who screwed Wachovia Bank out of a lot of money and profited from the economic meltdown. Now, considering that there were two other fictional characters introduced before them, you'd expect Herbert and Marion to be fakes, too, right? Not in this case: turns out Herbert and Marion Sandler were real people who did exactly what the sketch said they did (Lorne Michaels didn't realize this until after the sketch aired), making the brief clip of them being described as "People who should be shot" by a lower-third graphic tasteless and explaining why the NBC website video and the televised reruns got rid of that scene in the "2008 Bailout" sketch. When Netflix aired the sketch as part of their Saturday Night Live 2000s collection, they aired the scene with Herbert and Marion Sandler, but got rid of the "People who should be shot" lower-third and removed Herbert's line thanking the government for letting them get away with their crime.
    • Chevy Chase had a joke on Weekend Update about the murder of performer "Professor Backwards" (who was able to read, write and speak backwards written words). Chase said he wasn't saved because people ignored his cries of "Pleh Pleh". Chase later apologized, saying he had no idea there was such a performer and that he had actually been murdered.
  • Acting for Two:
    • When he hosted in 2017, Jimmy Fallon played both 1977 John Travolta and 2017 John Travolta in a live "Family Feud" sketch.
    • Alec Baldwin appeared as both Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly in an "O'Reilly Factor" sketch from 2017.
    • Dana Carvey once played both George Bush and H. Ross Perot in a cold open centered around a political debate (The George Bush segment was taped.) Carvey even pokes fun at this by having Bush say to Perot, "Why don't you [open the show], Live Boy?"
    • When show did its Twin Peaks parody, Jan Hooks played Nadine Hurley and then, because (as explicitly noted during the sketch) the show only had two female castmembers at the time, dashed off stage, changed outfits and came back on as the Log Lady.
    • Gal Gadot features in a sketch about reality shows, as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid alongside Kate Mc Kinnon as Gigi Hadid (yes, one of the actual siblings has a much stronger likeness with an unrelated person).
    • Thanks to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, all of the cast and crew end up filming their sketches from home, and Chloe Fineman gets the genius idea to play both the beleaguered AirBNB host and the kinky European guest, who thanks to the lockdown turns into The Thing That Would Not Leave.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • The Tidal power outage sketch has Jay Pharaoh claiming that Chloe the intern (played by Ariana Grande) is Latino, but then she says "that's a common mistake, I'm just really really Italian."
    • Cecily Strong, who speaks French, has gotten several roles as French people like Marion Cotillard and Catherine Deneuve.
    • Vanessa Bayer is Jewish, leading to certain recurring roles like Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy. Even when the scene involves a When Harry Met Sally..., she goes for the Billy Crystal role rather than what they normally go for.
    • Aidy Bryant is of Irish lineage, which has come up a couple of times, like the "Kiss Me I'm Irish" sketch about an Irish dating game show, where everyone else acts Irish and she's the only Irish-American contestant.
    • In the season 44 Matt Damon episode, Boston native Matt plays the boyfriend of the Girlfriend of the Boxer in Every Boxing Movie Ever, as a stereotypical Hollywood New England character.
    • Season 46 has a sketch about how the It Gets Better campaign has evolved, headlined entirely by the show's own LGBT players, Bowen Yang, Punkie Johnson, Kate Mc Kinnon, and host Dan Levy.
  • Approval of God:
    • Famously, Arnold Schwarzenegger to Hans and Franz, despite their Catchphrase being mistakenly attributed to him... at first.
    • A more recent example would be then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who not only took the Melissa McCarthy act in stride, but subtly and boldly shouted out to it in front of the White House press pit.
    • Fred Rogers found Eddie Murphy's Mr. Robinson parody amusing.
    • Gerald Ford loved Chevy Chase's portrayal of him, to the point where they became friendly. Ditto for George H. W. Bush and Dana Carvey.
    • According to Carvey himself, Ross Perot loved his impersonations of him, to the point Perot asked him on the possibility to join him onstage during Election Night in 1992.
    • Alex Trebek has spoken very highly of Will Ferrell's portrayal of him in the Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches. Not only did he cameo in one sketch, but he has also incorporated references to the sketches during actual Jeopardy! episodes.
    • Miley Cyrus was a great fan of Vanessa Bayer's "Miley Cyrus Show" sketches, and even appeared in one when Cyrus hosted SNL in 2010, playing Justin Bieber to Bayer's Cyrus. Bayer would later introduce Cyrus' infamous performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Bayer would later that year appear as "Old Miley" in a 2013 SNL sketch traveling by time machine to convince "New Miley" (played by returning guest host Cyrus) not to perform her risqué act at the 2013 VMAs and disappoint her fans.
    • Dionne Warwick had high praise for Ego Nwodim's portrayal of her on The Dionne Warwick Show.
    • Eminem loved Pete Davidson's portrayal of him in the show's music video parodies of "Stan" and "Without Me".
    • Several members of Celtic Woman have praised the aptly-named season 46 finale sketch as hilarious.
    • Andrew Giuliani admitted he found Chris Farley's parody of his antics at his father's NYC mayoral inauguration hysterical and wishes he could've met the man before he died.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Roughly sums up Leslie Jones' initial response to being cast as Oprah Winfrey after the 2018 Golden Globe Awards.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Bill Murray auditioned for the first season, but narrowly lost out to Dan Aykroyd. Then when Chevy Chase announced he was leaving the show in 1976, Lorne Michaels reached out to Murray to take his place.
  • The Cast Showoff: There have been past cast members who have proved that they can do more than just funny characters and spot-on celebrity impressions:
    • Garrett Morris was a talented singer who would occasionally get to sing classical music on the show. One segment featured Morris singing a Schubert aria whle captions rolled on the screen explaining that the show only let him sing because everyone was scared of him.
    • Charles Rocket from the Jean Doumanian era was an accordion player (on the Season Six premiere, there was a sketch where he played a deranged man who killed his dates with accordion music, only to get killed by bagpipe players) and an actual news anchor (making Rocket the first and, so far, only Weekend Update anchor who actually had experience as an actual news anchor).
    • Maya Rudolph has shown off her singing ability (she was a keyboardist for the Weezer spin-off band The Rentals before being on SNL and had parents who were involved in the music industry; her mom, Minnie Riperton, is best known for the hit song, and famous high note, "Lovin' You", a song conceived as a lullaby for baby Maya).
    • Fred Armisen is another cast member who has shown he has music ability (He was the drummer for '90s indie rock band Trenchmouth, also plays guitar, and later went on to become the band leader for the studio band of Late Night with Seth Meyers, though whenever he played Liberace, he faked playing the piano).
    • A. Whitney Brown (a writer-cum-feature player from 1985 to 1991 who often appeared on Weekend Update's "The Big Picture" segment) can juggle, as seen in this video, a talent he picked up while doing time in a Texas prison.
    • Jason Sudeikis was a college basketball player, so that scene on the LeBron James episode from Season 33 where he plays a boom mike operator who challenges James to a game of basketball was just an excuse for Jason to show off his moves.
    • More recently, the Chris Hemsworth episode allowed Cecily Strong to show some considerable pipes in the "Sing Along" sketch.
    • Cecily Strong speaks French, which she used following the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, delivering a tribute message in French as well as English.
    • The episode with Donald Glover has him singing in nearly every sketch.
    • Justin Timberlake may already be known as a singer, but the "Mascotville Mascot" sketches also show off how he can still dance in awkward and constraining mascot suits.
    • Kristen Wiig has clearly had some dance training, which pretty much forms the premise of her Triangle Sally character (well, that and the triangle).
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer:
    • There is a common misconception that Steve Martin (one of SNL's most frequent hosts) was a cast member. He was on Lorne Michaels' failed ABC sketch show The New Show, but he was never an SNL cast member.
    • Tina Fey's monologue in one of the episodes she hosted begins with her saying she is excited to do all of her characters, before saying that she "actually" didn't have any. She actually had three original characters and some celebrity impressions she did twice
    • During the 40th Anniversary Special, Martin Short mentioned that he only hosted SNL once. He actually hosted three times at that point.
      • When James Franco hosted in Season 43, guest star Seth Rogen said he himself only hosted SNL twice. He actually hosted three times.
    • During Elon Musk's hosting gig in Season 46, he revealed he has Asperger Syndrome and claimed to be the first host publicly known to have the condition. That distinction actually belongs to Dan Aykroyd, who hosted the show back in Season 28 after being an original cast member.
  • Creator's Apathy:
    • Frank Zappa was banned from ever appearing on the show again after his one and only time as a guest host. Zappa (a vocal straight edge) frequently clashed heads with the cast and crew over their more lax stance on drug use in their skits, and decided to get back at them by giving an abysmal performance as a host by frequently mugging into the camera and informing audiences whenever he was reading from cue cards.
    • Since the series was unionized, The Land of Gorch skits from Jim Henson were left in the hands of the show's unenthused writing team; who often tried to avoid the skits as much as possible due to the stigma of Puppet Shows being children's material. Head writer Michael O'Donoghue made his feelings for the skits clear when he was tasked with developing them:
      Michael: I don't write for felt.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Eddie Murphy refuses to acknowledge his characters from the show (Gumby as a faded, Jewish comedian, Mr. Robinson,note  Buckwheat, etc), though they are some of his most enduring legacy and he even performed them when he came back to host in 2019. It's probably because of a 1995 "Weekend Update" sketch in which David Spade, as part of his "Hollywood Minute" segment, made a brutal Take That! at Murphy's then-fading Hollywood career, saying "Look, kids, a falling star! Make a wish!" (Murphy wasn't amused), and also due to fans asking Murphy to do those sketches for them when they meet him. Allegedly, he wrote the SNL sketch where Buckwheat is assassinated for this reason.
    • Garrett Morris was frequently unhappy during his tenure, and expressed the opinion that he was usually typecast in stereotypical roles.
    • Laraine Newman was also unhappy during her tenure, as she disliked living in New York.
    • Chris Rock has expressed disdain for the famous "Chippendales" sketch, claiming that exploiting Chris Farley's physique for laughs only to have his character rejected by the judges was "just fucking mean".
    • Colin Quinn admitted he was never comfortable being the Weekend Update anchor, especially since he only got the gig because NBC forced Lorne Michaels to replace Norm Macdonald, and he preferred his prior role as a writer and featured player.
    • As of Season 45, Pete Davidson has become unhappy with the frequency the other cast members make jokes at the expense of his personal life as well as typecasting him as Book Dumb characters.
    • Leslie Jones stated a year after leaving the show that she didn't miss it at all, as her five year run was incredibly stressful and restrictive to her style.
    • Taran Killam disliked working on the 2015 episode hosted by Donald Trump, stating the production "was not enjoyable at the time" and that the episode "only grows more embarrassing and shameful as time goes on."
    • Alec Baldwin wasn't shy about discussing how he absolutely despised playing Donald Trump on the show. He only took the job in the first place because he figured it would only last a couple months, which then turned into four years when Trump unexpectedly won the presidency. This was actually noted as improving the period's political sketches, as the writers often couldn't count on Baldwin making an appearance and were forced to develop numerous other members of Trump's cabinet to focus them on.
    • Tina Fey would later express regret at the Weekend Update sketch she participated in following the 2017 Charlottesville attack, in which she suggested protesting from now on by doing things such as eating cake, agreeing with the criticism that it came off as out of touch and it looked as if she was implying that protesting/arguing with people of different views was pointless.
    • In a slightly milder example, John Mulaney regretted his joke about how the 2020 election was an "elderly man contest" and that "some things will never change," as it gave the impression that he had no clear preference for one or the other when there was one he actually supported and one he despised.
    • The show acknowledged that the "Wario on Trial" sketch during the Elon Musk/Miley Cyrus episode wasn't very good when they jokingly included it as the only season "highlight" in a montage during the Season 46 finale Cold Open.
  • Creator Killer:
    • At the end of its fifth season, the show aired what was clearly intended as its final episode. NBC, however, refused to let their cash cow die, replacing the cast and writers entirely, and hiring the show's talent coordinator Jean Doumanian to replace Lorne Michaels as executive producer (snubbing Al Franken after network head Fred Silverman took personal offense to Franken's "Limo for the Lame-O" piece and Harry Shearer, who didn't like how Lorne Michaels was running SNL and wanted to add more experienced comic actorsnote ). While Doumanian did have a knack for getting good musical guests and treating the talent right, she was out of her depth for running a comedy show.

      Though Doumanian claims that she was sabotaged because the mostly male higher-ups at NBC did not feel comfortable having a woman run the show, the TV special Lost and Found: SNL in the 1980s places the blame of the show's horrid sixth season on Doumanian because of her incompetence and inexperience. She passed up a lot of potentially funny cast membersnote , tried to make the sketches more dramatic, had no idea how to make the humor edgy (and when she did try, it ended up being dour, flat, and obvious in an intelligence-insulting way), brought on cast members who weren't seasoned in comedy at allnote , and did nothing to improve the show's quality when the reviews tore her season apart and began to praise ABC's Fridays as the new sharp, satirical sketch show (until ABC screwed the show over).

      After Charles Rocket's "f-word" debacle on the Charlene Tilton-hosted episode, Doumanian was fired (along with most of her cast, except for cast members Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Denny Dillon, Gail Matthius - though Dillon and Matthius would be fired later - and writer Brian Doyle-Murray). The season lives on as one of the lowest points in the show's peak-and-valley history (seasons 11note  and 20note  are the only other seasons that have spelled doom for SNLnote , but those seasons have been Vindicated by History, as most modern viewers will claim that the Weekend Update segments, done by Dennis Miller and Norm MacDonald respectively, are Actually Pretty Funny). It earned an (dis)honorable mention in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History and was one of the last straws for NBC regarding Silverman, who was fired for nearly killing the network shortly afterward.
      • Doumanian resurfaced in The '90s as the producer of a number of critically acclaimed and moderately successful Woody Allen films. Two of them (Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite) even won Best Supporting Actress Oscars. Then her momentum ended in 2000 when she suddenly backed out of a movie, leaving Allen stranded, eventually resulting in both of them filing lawsuits against each other.
      • The denouement of that season may have literally killed Charles Rocket. Before that season he was seen as an up-and-comer whose "Rocket Report" newscast segments made him seem like a natural successor to Chevy Chase. But after the series and his dismissal, he got only supporting roles in films like Dumb and Dumber and failed TV pilots. It was enough to pay the bills, but he never became the big star he could have been, and in 2005 he was found dead in a field near his home with his throat cut, apparently a suicide.
    • In his 2019 memoir, Chris Kattan revealed that the true reason his career declined so sharply after he left the show was a severe neck injury he suffered while filming the show. Not only did this seriously interfere with his extremely physical comedy style, but caused an addiction to painkillers and even ended his marriage.
  • Creator's Favorite: Laraine Newman named Lina Wertmuller as her favourite character of her own. She described her as a character "which, I think, pleased only me and no one else".
  • The Danza:
    • The second person to play Special Counsel Robert Mueller after Kate McKinnon, Robert De Niro.
    • While obviously a coincidence, season 45 newcomer Bowen Yang is going to be saddled with the role of politician Andrew Yang for a good long while.
  • Dawson Casting: Many sketches in which the cast members play teens or children (usually if they're making fun of a live-action kids' show or have a sketch featuring a family with kids or a sketch about kids or teens). Obviously unavoidable, but it has become prevalent in latter-day seasons where most of the cast members currently hired are younger than the show itself (starting with Kenan Thompson, who was born three years after SNL premiered).
    • One of Amy Poehler's recurring characters was Kaitlin, who is supposed to be ten years old (and remained that age for several years).
    • Notably subverted by Aidy Bryant's Melanie, who still attends grade school even though season 39 reveals that she fell into a vicodin coma as a child and didn't awaken till she was about 20.
  • Dueling Shows: ABC's Fridays, SCTV Network 90, The New Show, In Living Color!, House of Buggin, The WB's Hype, FOX's Saturday Night Special, and FOX's MADtv, to name a few — all of which were canned for one reason or another:
    • Fridays had been initially panned by critics for being a cruder, less funny carbon copy of SNL, but in its second season it started finding its own niche with elaborate parodies and topical satire (exemplified by "The Ronnie Horror Picture Show"), while SNL struggled with its 1980-81 cast. The show has been cited by critics and viewers as the only sketch show that could have easily surpassed Saturday Night Live in terms of humor and quality had ABC treated it better and/or SNL was canceled with no chance of coming back and Fridays channel hopped to NBC. Unfortunately, Fridays ended up suffering from a timeslot change thanks to Nightline and a failed attempt at trying to beat Dallas in the ratings as a primetime sketch show. It was canceled after its second seasonnote . The show did rerun on the USA Network in the late 1980s, but got pulled for reasons unknown and for a while, there were no video or DVD releases of episodes, though the later success of Fridays cast members Larry David and Michael Richards with Seinfeld boosted its reputation and created some demand for it. As of 2015, Fridays is available on DVD and Tubi TV thanks to Shout! Factory — initially, it was supposed to have all the seasons, but it was changed at the last minute to just sixteen episodes that are considered the best/most memorable. Fridays sketches (some of which are from Shout Factory, but most are from videotaped airings) are also available on YouTube.
    • The New Show: Once upon a time in the mid-1980s, while Dick Ebersol was struggling to keep his version of Saturday Night Live afloat after Eddie Murphy left for a movie career and Joe Piscopo left due to exhaustion, Lorne Michaels decided to create a new version of SNL for NBC. The show included a lot of '70s-era SNL hosts like Buck Henry and Steve Martin, but sadly, even with a talented cast at the helm, the show was a failure. It only lasted two months (January 1984 to March 1984) and made Lorne rethink his decision of leaving SNL, prompting an initially shaky, but overall satisfying return to the show in November 1985.
    • In Living Color was Screwed by the Network from Executive Meddling over censorship and eventually died when the Wayans siblings left and Jim Carrey pursued a movie career. A revival was planned for 2012, but due to negative test audience reactions and fears it would only last one season, it's been shelved until it can be fixed. As of now, it looks as if an In Living Color reboot will never happen.
    • House of Buggin, Saturday Night Special, and Hype weren't received warmly by critics and ended up being canceled as quickly as they premiered.
    • MADtv — serving 14 years as SNL's worthiest late-night sketch show rival — was canned in 2009 due to low ratings and budget constraints. There was word of MADtv coming back as a cable show, but, unless one were to count the Cartoon Network sketch show MAD and Comedy Central's Key & Peele, MADtv as viewers know it is gone. It did briefly come back in 2016 on The CW, but was hardly seen by anyone (and those who have seen it panned it for its bad writing and acting).
    • Almost Live! lasted 15 years and kickstarted Bill Nye's television career while also providing early exposure for Joel McHale, but got cancelled as ratings dropped heavily in later years, and a new company bought the hosting station in Seattle.
    • The only competition Saturday Night Live has these days in terms of ratings and quality are: Adult Swim's Saturday anime line-up, The Daily Show with Jon Stewartnote , The Colbert Reportnote , Comedy Central's comedian-headlined sketch shows, like Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele, and Internet-based comedy troupes (some of which can be found on YouTube) and humor sites, like CollegeHumor and Funny Or Die.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Barbra Streisand's appearance on Coffee Talk with Linda Richman was kept secret - Streisand had just made an appearance across the street, and Lorne Michaels saw a golden opportunity. Mike Myers, Madonna, and Roseanne all managed to stay in-character when reacting.
    • Stefon's giggly delivery and habit of hiding his face behind his hands was due to John Mulaney rewriting jokes between dress rehearsal and broadcast, meaning Bill Hader had no idea what he was going to read off the cue cards and would start Corpsing.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Norm MacDonald's firing. Don Ohlmeyer, NBC's West Coast Executive, stated that he thought Norm simply wasn't funny and demanded his removal. Interestingly, Don had two justifiable reasons to get rid of Norm that both parties agree had nothing to do with this. Don forgave Norm for accidentally launching a Precision F-Strike live on air (and then calling attention to it), and Norm denies that his removal had anything to do with his attacks on O.J. Simpson, who was a close friend of Don's.
    • Season six (1980-1981): The first season without Lorne Michaels. Jean Doumanian was hired as the new showrunner (it would have been Al Franken, but he pissed off Fred Silverman with his "Limo for the Lame-O" segment on Weekend Update, and Harry Shearer even expressed an interest in being showrunner, as he felt the show's current sensibility didn't mesh with his brand of humor), and, with every agonizingly unfunny episode, it became clear that Doumanian was in over her head (though Doumanian claims that she was doing the best she could with a limited budget and NBC staff treating her like crap because she's a woman). Add to the fact that she rejected a lot of potential cast members (Jim Carrey being one of them), relegated Eddie Murphy to background roles (which would be her undoing, as Eddie Murphy's stand-up piece on the Ray Sharkey episode would be the guarantee that he'd be the show's next big star), and was accused for setting up Charles Rocket saying "fuck" at the end of the Charlene Tilton episode (though Rocket himself has stated that it wasn't a set-up and he didn't know he said anything wrong until the backlash), and NBC had to be rushed in to save the show with new blood, knowing full well that they would probably have to give it a mercy kill (they didn't, but back then, they were thinking it and jokes were made about how Saturday Night Live should be called Saturday Night Dead due to its drop in quality).
    • Season 11 (1985-1986): Another bad season, only this time, it was Lorne Michaels' fault. After his sketch show The New Show got canned and learning that NBC was going to cancel SNL after its 10th season due to low ratings and Dick Ebersol deciding to quit after NBC nixed all the ideas he had planned for his vision of SNL, Michaels swooped in to rebuild his show, with a new cast and new writers. With the exception of Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz, and Nora Dunn, no one cared much for the new cast (which included such now-famous faces as Joan Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., Damon Wayans, and Randy Quaid, along with the first time the show hired homosexual cast membersnote  and the only time the show hired a teenagernote ), and, after the bizarre debacle that was the March 1986 episode hosted by George Wendt with Francis Ford Coppola and musical guest Phillip Glass, NBC rushed in again and decided to shut the show down for good. While the season 11 finale did end with everyone locked in a room with Lorne setting it on fire and saving Jon Lovitz, Lorne begged NBC to give his show another chance, which they did, but only for 13 episodes of season 12 (they later rescinded this after season 12 brought SNL back from its early 1980s slump). Lorne fired everyone (except for the three aforementioned newcomers who were actually good, along with Al Franken and A Whitney Brown), brought in people like Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, and Kevin Nealon, and everything about season 11 was written off as a bad dream.
    • Season 20 (1994-1995): Unlike seasons 6 and 11, which were bad because of new cast members who were barely experienced with working in sketch comedy and/or as an ensemble and writing that wasn't top shelf, this season was plagued with an overcrowded cast that hated each other, Phil Hartman leaving for other projects (mostly The Simpsons and News Radio), and overexposure of Adam Sandler and Chris Farley. Once again, NBC confronted Lorne Michaels about it and told him that the show was ending due to low ratings and bad reviews — and Lorne Michaels, once again, dodged cancellation by weeding out the bad cast members and writersnote , keeping in the good ones, and hiring newer, better talent. Lorne Michaels has cited season 20 as the closest he's been to being fired and having his show canceled.
    • Lorne Michaels forbade the writing staff from attacking Donald Trump as hard as they wanted prior to the 2016 election, not least because he'd actually hosted the show. After he actually became the president, the gloves promptly came off.
  • Fake Brit:
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The SNL girl group uses "Nasty Girls" or "your girls" at times, but according to fans it's "Fifth Harmony in ten years".
    • In the Sofía Vergara episode, One Direction made an additional appearance as stereotypical South Americans, intended as Sofia's children, briefly earning the name "Juan Direction".
  • Follow the Leader: Norm MacDonald has admitted that "Celebrity Jeopardy" was inspired by the recurring "Half Wits" sketch on SCTV, but says that he got Martin Short's blessing before debuting it.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny:
    • Defied. Improvising is a good way to find yourself banned from the show by Lorne Michaels if you're a guest (unless something really goes wrong and you have to do something to keep the dead air at bay). Just ask Adrien Brody (who introduced musical guest Sean Paul while dressed as a rudeboy and rambling in a Jamaican accent when he hosted during the penultimate episode of season 28note ).
    • Damon Wayans had a rather dull part as a prison guard in a "Mr. Monopoly" sketch (based on the game). He decided to ad-lib and play the character as a gay stereotype (who sounded like his Blaine Edwards character from the "Men on Film" sketches). He was immediately fired by Lorne Michaels, which is why he was available when In Living Color! premiered.
    • When Bill Murray wrote sketches that Gilda Radner appeared in, he would often write part of the sketch and then simply, "Gilda does something funny".
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Various game show skits over the years have recycled sounds, generally ones from whatever they're parodying; some of the Celebrity Jeopardy! skits have utilized the "Fast money board reveal noise" from Family Feud, and the "square reveal" noise from Classic Concentration (which also aired on NBC and was hosted by Alex Trebek); both of those noises in-turn originated from the short-lived Trivia Trap. One mid-90s skit (not Jeopardy) even recycled "Tuning Up" by Ken Aldin, better known as the 70s theme of Pyramid, albeit sped-up and high-pitched.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Averted with Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, and Amy Poehler who all appeared pregnant in SNL sketches before going on maternity leave (some of which had their pregnancies written in the sketches, such as the case with Amy Poehler in the "I'm No Angel" Perfume Commercial parody on the Josh Brolin/Adele episode of Season 34 and a sketch where Ana Gasteyer played Elizabeth Hurley, who was also pregnant at the time). Tina Fey, however, didn't appear in any sketches for the first couple episodes of Season 31 because of maternity leave. However, when Tina Fey hosted the 700th episode (on season 36), this trope was zigzagged. Some sketches (like the monologue, "The Little Mermaid Meets bin Laden's Corpse" sketch and the "2012 Presidential Candidates" sketch, where Fey once again appears as her doppelganger Sarah Palin) had Tina Fey's pregnancy hidden (albeit poorly in the "Little Mermaid Sketch" — you can tell she's pregnant because of her large breasts peeking out of the seashell bra and the beginnings of her baby bump can be seen between the seashell bra and her mermaid tail half); others (like some of the commercial bumpers and the "Home Pregnancy Video" sketch) had her pregnant for all to see.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • Lorne Michaels had a tense relationship with John Belushi during the latter's entire tenure. Michaels was uninterested in hiring Belushi for the show in the first place, only doing so because Michael O'Donoghue pushed for him. Afterwards, the two clashed due to Michaels having the final say in the show's creative decisions, while Belushi had been used to having creative control at The Second City and National Lampoon Radio. Their problems were exacerbated by Belushi's frequent drug use, which Michaels had little tolerance for, and Michaels came close to firing him several times.
    • Chevy Chase was disliked by his costars, particularly when he got famous (it got to the point where everyone hid so they wouldn't have to share an elevator with him). He had a terrible rivalry with John Belushi that went back to their days on National Lampoon Radio and by the time he left, he couldn't even get on with Lorne Michaels. When he returned to host the show in the third season, Belushi allegedly egged Bill Murray into provoking Chase. This resulted in the two hurling insults at each other, which escalated into a near brawl moments before they went onstage that was broken up by Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Chase's antagonistic behaviour towards his coworkers when he hosted in 1985 and 1997 resulted in him being banned from hosting the show.
    • In a 2011 interview, Jane Curtin accused Belushi of being a misogynist who sabotaged sketches by the two female writers, Anne Beatts and Rosie Shuster, by not performing them to his full capacity. It did not help that Curtin sneered at him, either... also not helping was Belushi's words or two that he said to Curtin, inciting a verbal Unstoppable Rage of epic proportions that Lorne forcefully paired them together in some sketches as punishment. After Michaels told her that he was unable to do anything about him and things deteroriating between Curtin and Michaels, Gilda Radner was used as an intermediary between them. She described him and Dan Aykroyd as the bully boys of the show...though both Belushi and Samurai Widow, written by Belushi's wife Judy Belushi-Pisano, claim that Jane actually didn't like John at ALL and described his willingness to put effort into female-written sketches (primarily Marilyn Miller's, the third female writer at the time) by his family, also saving Marilyn Miller's life at one point and getting her out of danger. Curtin and Aykroyd were able to reconcile after a few years.
    • Murray and Radner had an affair that ended so badly that they couldn't be in the same room together. Tellingly, she only mentions him once in passing in her autobiography. Radner did become close friends with Laraine Newman, although there was a degree of rivalry between them.note 
    • The first season featured "The Land of Gorch," a series of sketches developed by Jim Henson in hopes of trying to create puppets to appeal to an older audience. Henson shared agent Bernie Brillstein with Lorne Michaels, John Belushi and Gilda Radner, and the presence of the well-established Muppets was a big factor in NBC greenlighting the show. However, due to Writer's Guild rules, Henson and company couldn't write the sketches, the SNL writers had to, and they hated doing so (former writer Alan Zweibel said that whichever writer drew the shortest straw had to write the sketch). This led to the crew and writers developing a dislike for Henson and co. note  Noticeably, the final few "Land of Gorch" sketches are very meta, and have the characters realize that they're not welcome on SNL and try to get in their good graces, but eventually end up in filing cabinets. Henson later said he had no ill will towards anyone on the show, admitting their two styles of comedy just didn't mesh. Radner later guest starred on The Muppet Show, and Muppeteer Frank Oz had a small role alongside Belushi in The Blues Brothers, suggesting that there wasn't as much ill will between the two camps as has often been reported.
    • The cast didn't gel in Season 11, when Lorne Michaels returned as producer and tried to recreate the celebrity-led dynamic Dick Ebersol had used in the previous season. Featured performer Damon Wayans, specifically, felt hemmed in by the show's format. A sketch where Wayans had only one line was disrupted when Wayans chose to play his police officer character as Camp Gay without telling anyone else. Michaels, normally even-tempered if distant, exploded in anger and fired him on the spot, although Wayans got to make guest appearances later in the season.
    • Season 12 note  was plagued with dramatic behind-the-scenes ego battles, and tensions eventually forced out Nora Dunn (whom, according to Jon Lovitz, no one liked working with by that point anyway; her refusal to appear on the season finale because Andrew "Dice" Clay was the host was seen as a way of garnering public sympathy by making it appear she was forced off the show for protesting as she knew she wasn't going to be asked to return for the next season). Victoria Jackson has been critical of both Jan Hooks and especially Dunn, who was romantically involved with Lorne Michaels at the time.
    • David Spade mentioned a supposed rivalry between him and Rob Schneider:
      We sort of had a little friction. We got hired together; we were best buddies. But some things happened. I think he didn't put my name on a sketch the first time [and] he didn't tell me about a writers' meeting. So I thought he was trying to get me fired, which was very easy at that point.
    • Season 20 note  was such a mess that a cover article in New York magazine from that time about the show's Dork Age was heavily devoted to the behind-the-scenes clashes that were going on. Janeane Garofalo's tenure on the show during this season started with great enthusiasm on her part, but only lasted six months before she quit in disgust after feuding with several cast members and writers (including Adam Sandler, Al Franken, and Fred Wolf). She described the experience as the most miserable thing she'd ever been through, and the sexist atmosphere backstage as comparable to a fraternity hazing, remarking that, every time she arrived on set, she'd wonder "okay, who's mad at me today?". Chris Elliott later claimed to have blocked out much of his time on the show and expressed envy for Garofalo's having the guts to leave mid-season. Laura Kightlinger also had little nice to say about the experience in the writers' room, describing many of them as immature man-children who were obsessed with crude humor and would bitterly argue with each other, comparing it unfavorably to her experience writing for Roseanne (itself not an easygoing job).
    • A relatively minor example, but Tina Fey recounted on her autobiography Bossypants that one time, when trying to help a colleague in writing the show, said colleague "dropped an angry C-bomb" at her in return. Fey initially declined to name the person, but she would eventually reveal that it was Colin Quinn, while adding that they had since made up.
    • During his tenure, Jimmy Fallon was at one point more famous for breaking character and laughing during sketches than he was for any impression or character he played. Staying in character is one of the cardinal rules of sketch comedy. Breaking character in small doses can be amusing and charming (think Phil Hartman), but done constantly it's seen as unprofessional, taking all the attention off everyone else and putting it squarely on you. Not only did this not endear him to several of cast mates, but Tracy Morgan was so furious about it he threatened Fallon with physical violence if Fallon did it once during one of Morgan's skits. To his credit, Fallon didn't crack during a Morgan sketch, and years later when he found out what a problem it was, he actually said during his host monologue, "I laughed during a lot of sketches and nearly ruined ALL of them".
    • There have been guest hosts that didn't quite gel with the main cast:
      • Richard Pryor disliked Chevy Chase, as evidenced by this appearance on The Tonight Show.
      • Louise Lasser had been arrested on drug charges two weeks before her show in the first season, leaving her an emotional wreck when she got to New York for the show. With SNL and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as the two most innovative and subversive comedy shows on American TV at the time, this episode should've been a great moment for underground '70s comedy. Instead it became one of the most trying weeks of the show's first season. Hours before showtime, there was still a real concern that Lasser would just ditch the show, and contingency plans were made for the broadcast (allegedly, they were going to have Chevy Chase play Lasser's parts wearing a Mary Hartman wig). Michael O'Donoghue recalled that even considering her very real issues, he still wanted to cut off her pigtails and feed them to her (Due to her near-breakdown on air talking about her issues at the end of the episode, that show was never rerunnote )
      • Frank Zappa didn't get on with most of the cast due to his anti-drug stance and their liberal drug use. They, in turn, recall him as spending the whole week imperiously bossing the writers around; he made it worse during the actual show by mugging for the camera and more or less lampshading the fact that he was reading all his lines off the cue cards. Tellingly, everyone stands as far away from him during the goodbye (except John Belushi) as they can get and still be on camera.
      • The cast hated Milton Berle due to his constant upstaging and mugging. Five minutes into his monologue, Bill Murray dropped a large pipe, making a loud noise and disrupting his routine. Shortly after, Berle was told by a producer at the foot of the stage that the monologue was over, which he responded incredulously to and briefly contested. During the audience's applause while transitioning to commercial, he can be seen angrily yelling while the house band looks on nervously.note 
      • These experiences notwithstanding, Ruth Gordon has been recalled as the guest host who had the worst relationship with the cast and writers. She turned down almost every sketch proposed for her, sometimes understandably (like the one Franken and Davis wrote where she would have apparently dropped dead in the middle of). The minute the camera went off, she walked offstage and out of the building without saying goodbye to anyone.
      • Jane Curtin named Walter Matthau as the worst guest host she ever experienced:
        Curtin: "I had a hard time with Walter Matthau. He came in thinking that it was, 'Hey, come on now. Let's play.' Not knowing that this show was — down to the minute, down to the second — everything had to be precise and he was going, "Come on. Let's play". It was disrespecting our space, and it really pissed me off."
      • Charles Grodin didn't make any friends onset due to skipping rehearsals and ad-libbing through his performance. Belushi said of Grodin, "He doesn't smoke dope. He's not one of us".
      • Former writer Dave Sheffield described Robert Blake as the worst guest host he ever experienced:
        My vote for worst host is Robert Blake. He was sitting in a room and a sketch was handed to him by Gary Kroeger, who was a writer-actor - a sketch called "Breezy Philosopher", a one-premise sketch about a lofty teacher who's kind of a biker tough guy, talking about Kierkegaard. Students kept asking questions while he combed his hair, and he’d say, "Hey, I don't know". Blake sat there and read that, with his glasses down his nose, then wadded it up, turned to Kroeger, and said, "I hope you got a tough asshole, pal, 'cause you're going to have to wipe your ass with that one". And he threw it and bounced it off Gary's face.
      • Norm MacDonald and David Spade named Steven Seagal as the worst guest host they ever experienced. He refused to go along with the scripted sketches and at one point, he locked himself in his dressing room and wouldn't come out to show his protest of the show rejecting his ideas for what he should star in. What were these sketches? He expressed a desire to appear in Hans and Franz only on the condition that he'd get to beat them up and another where he was a psychologist and Victoria Jackson was to be his patient, a rape victim.note 
        Spade: "He was a little tough. He was actually tough and he was tough to work with. It was hard. He did not want to play along."
      • Michaels' willingness to let Andrew "Dice" Clay host in 1990 provoked rebellion within the cast, with arguments during rehearsals and Nora Dunn famously refusing to perform on the same show with him.note 
      • Neither of Donald Trump's guest host stints (2004 and 2015) were great experiences for the cast and crew. The main issue both times was Trump not having much in the way of a sense of humor and not really giving the writers any help in coming up with material for him, with Seth Meyers recalling that when he participated in one of Trump's sketches in the 2004 appearance, Trump constantly made it known to the cast he did not see what was funny about the sketch. 2015 had the added element of political controversy, as it was done after Trump announced his 2016 presidential campaign, with anti-Trump protests in front of 30 Rock all week contributing to the tension. In particular, the sense was that Trump and SNL were just using each other for exposure and neither camp really wanted to be there. The only sketch he showed any enthusiasm for was the Vanessa Bayer/Cecily Strong "Porn Stars" bit.note  Since then, Taran Killam and Colin Jost have spoken candidly about how much they hated the episode, and Bayer has admitted that she felt uncomfortable working with Trump in the "Porn Stars" sketch.
      • Tina Fey named Paris Hilton as one of her least favourite guest hosts. Hilton refused to do a sketch that mentioned 1 Night in Paris and would not leave her dressing room until the writers agreed to discard the script. Hilton also requested to play a fat Jessica Simpson in a sketch because Hilton hated Simpson.note  When Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen were once guests on fellow castmember Seth Meyers's Late Night, the three recalled that the cast also set up a betting pool on whether Hilton would ask anyone a personal question, which Meyers won when Hilton asked him if Rudolph is Italian.
      • Fey also named Paula Abdul as a difficult guest to work with when she made a cameo appearance in the 2005 hosted by Johnny Knoxville. Abdul was supposed to play herself in an American Idol parody sketch, only to demand on set that the sketch be changed to have Amy Poehler play her, with Abdul then appearing to correct her impersonation.
      • Bill Hader and Jay Pharoah both named Justin Bieber's 2013 guest host appearance as their worst experience on the show due to his prima-donna behaviour.note 
        Hader: "He just was in a bad place... Maybe he's in a better place, but back then he was in a very... it was rough, [...] Everybody's usually on great behavior... Bieber is the only one in my experience... he just seemed like exhausted or just at the end of a rope. I mean, he was just so huge."
      • Played With in 2021 when Elon Musk was announced as host in Season 46. He didn't endear himself to anybody when, in what proved to be a poor attempt to be funny on social media, he put out a tweet questioning if the show really went out live, insulting a cast and crew that takes pride in working up the last minute to polish sketches and rundowns. Aidy Bryant, Bowen Yang, and Andrew Dismukes published social media posts directly and indirectly criticizing Elon Musk being chosen to host the show due to their socio-political beliefsnote  and threatened to refuse to work on the episode. Ultimately, though, they all did. Bryant would later say her comments were overblown and Pete Davidson said Musk actually got along well with the cast during the week.
  • In Memoriam: SNL often pays tribute to deceased cast members, guest hosts and musical guests. Sometimes, they'll have a photo and a moment of silence (like they did with Charles Rocketnote  and Don Pardo), but other times, they'll take time off from the laughs to say goodbye and do a memorial piece:
    • When John Belushi died in 1982, a rerun of a season seven episode had a monologue from Brian Doyle-Murray, who told the story of how Belushi cared for him when he was just starting out in comedy and saved him from getting hit by a truck (with Belushi taking the hit and not getting injured).
    • Gilda Radner had died the same day of the 1988-89 season finale, so instead of his planned monologue, host Steve Martin replayed a 1978 sketch featuring himself and Radner.
    • When George Carlin died in June 2008, rather than rerun a 2008 episode hosted by Ellen Page, the very first episode of SNL, which was hosted by Carlin, was aired instead.
    • Jan Hooks also received a tribute on October 11, 2014 (the episode hosted by Bill Hader and the 39th anniversary of the show's first episode) with a reprise of a skit she performed with the also deceased Phil Hartman ("Love is a Dream," a Tom Schiller-written short film about an elderly woman who visits a bank vault to wear her old jewelry and is transported into a musical where she dances with a prince who turns out to be the bank's elderly security guard).
      • The same short was showed in the 25th anniversary special in 2000, as a tribute after the tragic death of Phil Hartman. Jon Lovitz and Jan Hooks presented the skit (visibily grieved), together with the main cast of the Hartman's era (Nora Dunn, Victoria Jackson, Kevin Nealon, Dennis Miller and Mike Myers; Dana Carvey wasn't present).
    • The 40th anniversary special featured a lengthy tribute, presented by Bill Murray with Leon Pendarvis at the piano, to all the deceased SNL cast and crew members in the show's history (from cast members like Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks, to behind-the-scenes people like Tom Davis, Michael O'Donoghuenote , Dave Wilson, Bernie Brillstein, and Don Pardo). But to keep things from being too depressing, the final tribute was to cast member Jon Lovitz. The cameras then cut to a very alive and confused Lovitz sitting in the audience. A similar gag occurred during Steve Martin's opening monologue. At the end of the segment, Bill Murray give the audience one last death notice that came later to included it properly on the tribute.
      Bill Murray: (in a respectful and solemn manner) This just came in from Spain. Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
    • When David Bowie died during Season 41, Fred Armisen returned to the show for a special tribute segment to the singer, in which Armisen recalled watching Bowie's musical performance in Season 5 in high school. A clip of Bowie singing "The Man Who Sold the World" during that appearance shown immediately afterwards.
    • Prince died later in Season 41, and instead of a segment during the show like Bowie got, SNL produced an entire hour-long memorial special featuring his various appearances over the years (and some clips from the recurring sketch, "The Prince Show", which had Fred Armisen as Prince).
    • At the end of Adam Sandler's hosting gig in Season 44, he performed his song "Farley" from his 100% Fresh special in tribute to Chris Farley.
    • In season 45, in the At Home episode, the final segment is a giant eulogy for music director Hal Willner, with appearances from Mulaney, Sandler, Fey, Poehler, Shannon, Rudolph, Armisen and Hader, among other alums.
  • Irony as She Is Cast:
    • Chris Farley, who played Chicago Bears Superfan Todd O'Connor, was actually a fan of the team's longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers.
    • Kate McKinnon, who usually plays heterosexual women, is a lesbian in real life.
    • Vanessa Bayer, cast as the lead in a Real Trailer, Fake Movie about the Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, is actually Jewish.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Zigzagged. Seasons one to five are available uncut and uncensored on DVD, Hulu, and on Peacock, but every season after thatnote  is a bit of a struggle to legally find. NBC once aired older SNL episodes after Showtime at the Apollonote  until 2007. Comedy Central and E! aired the 1980s to the early 2000s episodes (as does VH1 Classicnote , but regular VH1 only airs the late-2000s into the New-Teens episodes). Netflix once had every episode from seasons one to 38 (and even then, seasons six to 38 had sketches and musical performances cut for licensing issues, the sketches not being memorable/funny enough to be included, and/or particular performances being too controversial to air) and Hulu only airs the first five seasons, edited-down versions of seasons 30 to 38, and full episodes of seasons 39 to whatever the current season is. If you want to see an old episode of Saturday Night Live these days, your best bets are semi-legal tape/DVD trades, torrenting, or watching the collections of memorable sketches on YouTube and NBC's webpage for SNL.
    • As of October 2020, however, all of Saturday Night Live's episodes are available for streaming on NBC's Peacock service. However, the episodes from seasons 6 to 38 are the same ones from the Netflix/Xfinity version where the episodes are cut down to less than an hour. Also, seasons 1 to 45 are free, while the current season (season 46) is only available for those who bought a paid subscription to Peacock (though, for the latter, it shouldn't be too much of a problem to see for those who can catch it on free-to-air TV, cable, or even on Hulu).
  • Missing Episode: There are a few episodes that have only aired once and were either never seen at all (or in full) after that point:
    • The Season 4 episode hosted by Milton Berle was so fraught with cast tension over Berle overrunning the show (which he did, if the Texaco Playhouse cold open is indicative of anything) that Lorne Michaels barred the show from being rerun on TV. The full episode does appear, however, on the Season 4 DVD set and the "Saturday Night Live: The 1970s" collection on Netflix.
    • The Season 5 episode hosted by Strother Martin was scheduled to rerun during the summer of 1980, but then Martin died (the fact that the episode contained a sketch with him filming a video will didn't help matters). This episode, too, can be found on the Season 5 DVD set and the "Saturday Night Live: The 1970s" collection on Netflix.
    • Season 6 was so poorly received that it's considered an Old Shame by all involved (including NBC). Very few 1980-1981 episodes have ever aired on American TV since then, and there will likely never be a DVD release (because of that and music licensing issues). The versions of season six usually shown are clips used for an Eddie Murphy retrospective or a documentary about Saturday Night Live's history. Netflix once had season six in their "Saturday Night Live: The 1980s" collection that featured episodes from seasons six to fifteennote , but those were edited to remove poor(er)-performing sketches, the musical performances, and Charles Rocket's infamous "I'd like to know who the fuck did it" line on the episode hosted by Charlene Tilton. Netflix has since removed that collection (and the others). Season six was also shown on Xfinity OnDemand's Streampix, which had every episode of SNL from season one to season 38 (also gone).
    • The Season 7 Halloween episode hosted by Donald Pleasence (with musical guest Fear) was banned after its first appearance due to Fear's raucous performance and the dark, disgusting humor of the sketches. They were rather tame compared to what was supposed to air — a sketch about Nazi soldiers thinking of "good reasons" for killing Jewish people, another sketch in which Donald Pleasence drains his date's blood and serves it as wine note , and a third sketch featuring puppets cannibalizing Jane Fonda. The Donald Pleasance episode, like all of season six, was shown on Netflix's Saturday Night Live: The 1980s collection.
    • For reasons unknown, the Season 27 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin (with musical guest POD) never reran after its premiere, though some of the sketches featured can be found on the DVD release of the special Saturday Night Live: The Best of Alec Baldwin and it is available on Peacock (albeit edited down).
    • Many NBC affiliates refused to air the Season 29 episode hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton – at the time of airing, he was a U.S. Presidential candidate, and affiliates didn't want to break equal-time laws. The episode itself lampooned this with frequent impersonations of other candidates and a "Weekend Update" segment entitled "Jimmy and Tina Make Fun of the Cities that Won't Be Airing SNL Tonight".
    • The season 30 episode hosted by Kate Winslet (with Eminem as musical guest) has not been seen since it premiered and is not included on Hulu or Peacock (going from the Jude Law/Ashlee Simpson episode to the Liam Neeson/Modest Mouse episode). It's currently not known why the Kate Winslet episode isn't included, though speculation ranges from the episode being so bad that no one wants to see it again to some kind of copyright issue involving Winslet's appearance.
    • A handful of skits/bits have never been re-aired thanks to the negative response from the public or sponsors. Some examples include: Martin Lawrence's infamous monologue about female hygiene (in reruns, the first half of the monologue is seen before it fades into a series of title cards saying that the rest of the monologue is so raunchy that it can never be aired again, it nearly got everyone fired on SNL, and Martin Lawrence is not allowed back on the show), Sinead O'Connor's infamous musical performance where she attacks the Catholic Church, a skit titled "The Attack Of The Masturbating Zombies" (which Conan O'Brien wrote), which many advertisers found so offensive that that yanked their promos from the show, the TV Funhouse cartoon, "Conspiracy Theory Rock" that originally aired on the Julianne Moore episode from season 23 (1997-1998 season)note .
    • A Season 44 sketch titled "Dad Christmas," in which two kids spend their first Christmas with their father after a bitter divorce, was removed by NBC, presumably due to backlash over negatively stereotyping divorced fathers.
    • A 2017 sketch about a middle school production of Legally Blonde, based on a real and memetic So Bad, It's Good production of the show, has been removed from reruns and official SNL social media, possibly to avoid sending negative attention towards the child actors involved in the real show.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: Zigzagged. The child actors they sometimes use do slip up at times but can also turn into the high point of the sketches, while anything involving animals will definitely go sideways at some point. "Whiskas R We" sometimes has younger cats that are a little harder to control, and any dogs they bring on will sometimes mess with the props. One sketch about "The Dionne Warwick Talk Show" involved Andrew Dismukes as an animal expert bringing in a parrot, who kept cawing loudly before it was introduced, and then started crawling all over Andy once the camera was on it - fortunately the real joke was Dionne singing over them regardless.
    • One digital short in season 36 found a way around this, as it's done in Candid Camera style with host Zach Galifianakis interviewing a string of kids to employ an assistant.
  • Old Shame:
    • The 12 episodes produced by Jean Doumanian during the 1980-81 season has been barred from syndication (in America, barring the Bill Murray episode that aired on Comedy Central in the 1990s and the Jamie Lee Curtis episode that aired on NBC in 2005note ; Canada's Comedy Network has aired all of Jean Doumanian's episodes) in America due to how poorly it was received by viewers and the network. Netflix did have the Jean Doumanian episodes (albeit edited to only the bestnote  performances and to get rid of the musical performances due to copyright reasons. Also, Charles Rocket's "fuck" in "I'd like to know who the fuck did it" was bleeped out, and has been ever since) and two episodes (one hosted by Robert Hays and the infamous Charlene Tilton episode) aired during VH-1 Classics SNL Rewind marathon (again, edited down to one-hour episodes).
    • Season 11 (the 1985-1986 season) is also a season everyone would like to forget, most especially for the writers at the time (who would go on to write for The Simpsons during its Golden Age) who simply didn't know how to create funny material for the cast hired at the time. Unlike season six, season 11 has aired in reruns on Comedy Central, Comedy Channel in Canada, NBC (during its NBC All Night block on Saturdays), and E! and, while being regarded as the weirdest/most disconnected season, has been Vindicated by History for the most part and does have memorable moments/performances/facts — specifically, Terry Sweeney as Nancy Reagan, Dennis Miller reviving Weekend Update with his brand of snarky humor, the fact that most of the writers would later be famous for The Simpsons, Danitra Vance's charactersnote , and the fact that the show had the actor who would later be known for playing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
    • Janeane Garofalo described her time on the show as the most miserable of her life, citing the sexist, juvenile and homophobic humour of the sketches as why she left midway through season twenty. On an HBO special, she said it was like "...being the Indian who was given the smallpox-infested blankets by the white settlers").
    • Alec Baldwin has admitted to getting tired of impersonating Donald Trump.
    • John Mulaney quickly came to regret his joke about the 2020 election being an "elderly man contest" that wouldn't have much effect on people's day to day lives, saying he didn't think through the implications of sending that message out just three days before the election and he absolutely deserved all the backlash he got for it.
    • The Season 46 finale makes clear that just about everyone regretted giving Morgan Wallen a second chance to be a musical guest on the show after he was dropped the first time for going to a party with no COVID-19 restrictions, after his career was killed for good when he was recorded making a drunken, racist rant at some fans.
  • Only Barely Renewed: Having NBC exec Dick Ebersol take over as producer was probably the only thing that saved it from getting the ax after season 6. NBC did in fact cancel the show after season 10, before Brandon Tartikoff decided that it was worth another shot if he could talk Lorne Michaels into coming back to produce. The plan worked.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Zigzagged and justified in some cases - impressions of actual people can be passed on to a remaining actor, like Alec Baldwin famously taking over as Donald Trump from Darrell Hammond, and sometimes depends entirely on the guest host at the time (Margot Robbie played Ivanka Trump one time, but Scarlett Johansson's take was so popular she was brought back three times). Original characters tend to be retired when the actor departs since they are very often the actor's own creation, except in special cases, when Melissa McCarthy got to be Chris Farley's Matt Foley for a Milestone Celebration. Certain other characters don't fall into either category and are subject entirely to availability - after Andy Samberg's take on Batman in one digital short, a more recent episode with Chance the Rapper has Beck Bennet as Bruce Wayne instead.
    • In a case of this being played straight, after Mike Myers left the show, John Goodman took over his role of Chicago Superfan Pat Arnold for a sketch airing after Michael Jordan announced his return to the NBA. The difference in appearance was handwaved by the group claiming Pat had gained weight due to the depression resulting from Jordan's retirement causing him to overeat.
  • The Pete Best: George Coe, one of the original cast members of the show, who was hired against Lorne Michaels' wishes and was let go after only a few episodes.
  • Playing Against Type: Leslie Jones, often saddled with the "loud and horny" characterization, as Oprah Winfrey.
  • Post-Script Season:
    • More of a mid-script season if there's such a thing. The infamous and memetic political upheavals of early 2017 led to the SNL crew making a special half-hour Summer Edition of Weekendnote  Update well before the actual premiere of season 43.
    • Seasons 6, 11, and 20 were all slated to be the final seasons for the show due to how disastrous they were and how much they were hated by fans and critics for being weak and humorless (11 and 20 especially, since people complained that Lorne Michaels has lost his touch and Saturday Night Live has gone bad because it's not like the 1970s episodes most fans remember). All three of these seasons were saved from the chopping block by cast and crew overhauls and, for better or worse, SNL is still on the air.
  • Production Posse: Chances are if a SNL cast member is working on a movie or television show, one or more other people associated with SNL will be involved as well. In fact, there have been a number of collaborative duos and groups that have come about because of SNL. Some noteworthy examples are:
    • Dan Aykroyd/John Belushi
    • Chris Farley/David Spade
    • Will Ferrell/David Koechner/Adam McKay
    • Tina Fey/Amy Poehler
    • Tim Herlihy/Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider/Robert Smigel.
  • Promoted Fangirl: Emma Stone grew up doing Roseanne Roseannadanna for her friends, and got to play the character in the anniversary show.
  • Queer Character, Queer Actor:
    • As an open lesbian, Kate McKinnon often plays lesbian characters, such as Barbara DeDrew in the "Whiskers R We" sketches and the Butch Lesbian Dre who (alongside Aidy Bryant's Megan) mistakes Themyscira for an island of lesbians and ends up kissing Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman.
    • A Season 46 sketch about the "It Gets Better" project had all the gay characters in the sketch played by gay cast members (McKinnon, Bowen Yang, and Punkie Johnson) and the gay host Dan Levy. During the finale of that same season, those same three cast members (plus the host Anya Taylor-Joy, who is not an example) played a group of gay characters celebrating (and crying about) LGBT Pride Month.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • The season 38 premiere has Fred Armisen as a speaker announcing for Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah), while quipping "wouldn't want his job, am I right?" Fred had been heavily criticized for his own portrayal of Obama, since it was akin to blackface (though Armisen was never actually put in black make-up when he played Obama. It was just that viewers complained that SNL had no black male cast members to fill the role, as they didn't hire Jordan Peele or Donald Glover, nor did they let Kenan Thompson lose enough weight for the role and had to wait until Fred Armisen's final season [season 38] just to switch him out with Jay Pharoah's take on Obama).
    • The first episode of "SNL From Home" has a music video by Pete Davidson, parodying the general music style of Drake by going on and on about a bad breakup. One has to wonder whether Pete having actually been in a high-profile breakup with Ariana Grande had something to do with it.
  • Refitted for Sequel: The show lucked out with Kamala Harris wearing a white suit at the announcement of Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election which looked nigh-identical to one they'd already made for Melania Trump, allowing Maya Rudolph to look perfect in it for the sketch of their acceptance speech despite the short notice.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor:
    • Nora Dunn was fired after boycotting the show following Andrew "Dice" Clay's appearance. Jon Lovitz discussed her boycott of the show in detail during an episode of the podcast The ABC's of SNL with director Kevin Smith:
      Anyway, it's the second to last episode of the season, and Nora, uh, you know, she caused a lot of trouble and she was very hard to get along with, so [SNL] wasn't going to ask her back, anyway. And it's the [second to] last show, and she goes to the press and says, I'm not doing this show. He's against women, and I'm not doing it. And this is how the press works, and I'm telling you, I'm on the inside of this. They don't know this story. They don't know she's just doing it to get press. It's her last hurrah. They're not asking her back on the show.
    • Comedy writer Katie Rich was fired from the show after Tweeting a joke that President Donald Trump's son Barron would become "the world's first homeschool shooter." Rich later deleted the tweet and apologized, but the backlash from Trump's supporters forced NBC to fire her. Fortunately for her, Dan Harmon swooped in and hired her as a writer on Rick and Morty, all the while arguing the irony that the same people that voted for Trump to rally against political correctness considered Rich's comments to be worse than Trump's even though the office of President was held to a much higher standard than that of a comedy TV writer.
    • Damon Wayans, tired of the minor roles he was getting, was fired for playing a cop as gay in one sketch without prior approval.
    • Probably the most infamous example - Charles Rocket saying "fuck" in a sketch parodying Dallas led to not only him being fired, but the entire cast and most of the writing staff, save for a select few, including Eddie Murphy.
    • Shane Gillis (a stand-up comic who was hired alongside Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang) was fired just one week after being chosen as a new cast member for Season 45, when a clip of him making horribly racist and sexist statements on a podcast a few years earlier was unearthed, and he didn't help at all by defending it as being edgy.
  • Role Reprise: While the TV Funhouse sketches would typically have actors voicing notable cartoon characters of pop culture (such as Disney). They were able to get Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) and Jeff Bergman (Bugs Bunny) to reprise their roles for the 2003 sketch "X Presidents".
  • Romance on the Set:
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: In 2019, then-president Donald Trump felt incensed at Saturday Night Live for mocking him and considered suing to get them off air. He grudgingly backed out when told that satires are seen as free speech under the First Amendment and that the suit itself would be considered frivolous.
  • Scully Box: Leslie Jones of all people needs one, when she plays a basketball player who towers over the already imposing Idris Elba. A tall order to be sure.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate looked and sounded enough alike that viewers kept mixing them up during their one season together on the show, and they did end up playing sisters in sketches.
  • Similarly Named Works:
    • SNL has always been an NBC show, but confusingly and rather bizarrely in its first year (as NBC's Saturday Night and Saturday Night) it competed with a completely different show on ABC, also named Saturday Night Live and hosted by Howard Cosell, intended to be a successful Spiritual Successor to The Ed Sullivan Show. When the ABC version of Saturday Night Live became a flop, the NBC version took the show's name (and Bill Murray) for their own.
    • A 2014 sketch and a 2016 film are both named "Office Christmas Party". Despite the similar name and premise, the fact that both the sketch and film feature Kate McKinnon, and the film also features SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer, the film is not based on the sketch.
  • Star-Making Role:
  • Talking to Himself: The Sarah Silverman monologue in 2015 leads up to Sarah taking questions from archive footage of herself when she was just the plant in the audience, more than once.
  • Throw It In!: Being always live leaves a lot of things improvised on the set, often with the actors cracking up. Even though Lorne hates improv and is almost certain to fire/ban you for doing it, he's been known to let it slide in extreme cases.
    • A famous one from the 1970s — Gilda Radner and episode host Candice Bergen are in this sketch that's really a public service announcement for the Right to Stupidity. Bergen accidentally calls Radner "Fern", which is Bergen's character's name. After much cracking up, Gilda flips the sketch around so that way Bergen's character's the stupid one and not her.
    • In a sketch entitled Black History Minute, Eddie Murphy was playing an Angry Black Man giving a hectoring monologue to the camera. At one point he stumbled over some words, and a couple of audience members tittered. Without breaking character, he addressed the crowd: "So I messed up. Shut up!"
    • In the infamous first Matt Foley sketch with Chris Farley, near the end Matt tumbles over and breaks the table. This was purely accidental; Farley tripped and crashed into the table, and it went from there, thankfully managing to continue the sketch uninterrupted. The moment was so memorable though that most later Foley sketches had the character crashing into walls or breaking the furniture.
    • In the "Massive Headwound Harry" sketch, a dog on the set started chewing at Dana Carvey's headwound prosthesis and trying to pull it off.
    • There's the ending to one of the Bennett Brauer (Chris Farley) Weekend Updates, where he was supposed to fly but the wires he was hooked to got caught in the lights, keeping him from being fully lifted. Chris Farley ad-libbed: "Do something, please! I have a weight problem." After a bit of fiddling with the wires, Chris finally took flight as intended.
    • A famous one was a simple costume change for the "More Cowbell" sketch. During rehearsals the cast admitted it wasn't really working out, then for the live performance Will Ferrell changed his shirt to something about two sizes too small and everything just snowballed from there.
    • During a Scorpion King sketch with The Rock, he accidentally skipped several lines. However, having made his name with his ability with a microphone on live TV, he kept his cool and somehow seamlessly linked his lines back together, then told the audience, "Don't worry, I've got this!"
    • On the episode hosted by Jason Lee, there was a "Falconer" sketch where a landowner (Lee) appears and calls Forte's character (the Falconer) a "dickhead" instead of a "dickweed". While Lee corrects himself, Forte ad-libs that he is neither a dickweed or a dickhead.
    • Bill Hader would later admit that Stefon's odd body language during the character's early appearances was actually the result of Hader having actual panic attacks onstage. In at least one sketch Seth Meyers can be clearly seen saying "Are you okay, buddy?" to Stefon, but ostensibly was also directed to Hader himself.
    • Seth Meyers ripping up Jebidiah Atkinson's (played by Taran Killam) note card on Weekend Update after the latter ended up flubbing a joke about A Christmas Carol.
    • During a "What Up With That" sketch, Sam Jackson dropped two no-no curse words (which he blamed Kenan Thompson for not cutting him off earlier), which Kenan ran with without breaking stride.
      Thompson: Well, that's all the time we have! I want to thank my guest, the incredible Samuel L. Jackson!
      Jackson: Hey, fuck y— (stops himself)
      Thompson: (as Cole) HEY!
      Jackson: That's bullshit!
      Thompson: Come on, now, Sam! (beat) That costs money!
    • In the March 11, 2017 Scarlett Johansson episode, a sketch featured a device around a (live) dog's neck that translated his thoughts, with Beck Bennett voicing the dog from off-stage. However, midway through the sketch, the dog actually took the prop off of himself, with Scarlett having to put the prop back on. It worked marvelously well, as the dog character was ranting at Scarlett, thus ripping off the device was totally in-character, and Beck rolled with it by ad-libbing the dog as saying "ugh get it off of me!"
    • Naturally a big part of every "Whiskers R We" sketch as Kate McKinnon and the host have to deal with a bunch of unpredictable cats. The biggest was a hairless cat who suddenly lunged at Tiffany Haddish, seemingly because of her saying "He shaved everything off for a gay circuit party," to which Haddish went into a boxing stance. During another part of the sketch, a kitten nearly escapes from its cage, so Haddish grabs it and remarks, "I got the pussy!" nearly cracking McKinnon up.
    • In the Season 45 premiere's Inside the Beltway sketch, a wardrobe assistant badly jumped her cue to do a quick change on Aidy Bryant, and even sheepishly looked directly into the camera as she was hurried offstage. Everyone struggled to get through their giggles about it for the rest of the sketch, and Bryant was even still cracking up during the episode's final sketch.
  • Troubled Production: The fifth and sixth seasons together count as this.
    • The fifth season, the last to feature any of the original cast members as regulars, was very nearly the series' last ever.
      • At the beginning of the fifth season, despite the departure of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, the show was still riding high, one of NBC's few successes at the time. However, all was not well with the cast and crew. Many were burned out from four very intense years and the fame they had accumulated in the process, secretly hoping this season would be the last, at least for a while. Lorne Michaels took the unusual step of scheduling a preseason retreat at Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York. Significantly, though, none of the major cast members or writers attended.
      • With Aykroyd and Belushi gone, the show relied a great deal on Bill Murray to carry the load. This stressed him out a great deal, and he often used the role to do deals with Lorne ... he'd do, say, another Nick the Lounge Singer sketch if Lorne agreed to another sketch he wanted to do, or booked this band or that guest host. Despite this star power, Murray would often succumb to fits of temper, walking off the set during blocking sessions on Friday or even on Thursdays, saying he was quitting ... only to return in time for dress rehearsal on Saturday, and nailing his performance live.
      • He took out his anger with Belushi and Aykroyd in a Weekend Update review of 1941 in December. Noting that Carrie Fisher and Christopher Lee, "two old friends of mine" who had previously appeared on the show, were in the cast, he excoriated them for doing the movie, wondered what they had been thinking and said they should have never left the show, to much knowing laughter from the audience. Instead of seeing their movie, he recommended audiences go see Meatballs, his successful debut from the previous summer, again.
      • Murray wasn't the only one who missed Aykroyd and Belushi. During the infamous vomitorium sketch, considered the nadir of the show's first five seasons, Al Franken nearly missed his cue to come on as a bratty young boy because he was musing aloud offstage as to how this would have been a perfect part for John.
      • At the beginning of the season, Murray was splitting his time between the show and making Where the Buffalo Roam. He had spent so much time hanging out with Hunter S. Thompson in prepration for the part that he had effectively become Thompson, down to wearing the same dark glasses constantly and using a cigarette holder. His fellow castmates and writers, some of whom also knew Thompson, said that while he might have been fun to hang out with and carouse, he was not someone you wanted to do a weekly sketch comedy show with. Fortunately Murray started toning it down after the movie wrapped, and abandoned it completely later on after the movie bombed.
      • Harry Shearer had been added to the cast and writing staff as a replacement. He quickly clashed with Lorne and alienated the other writers over his vision for the show, which he felt, in the absence of two big stars, should focus more on the sort of ensemble-based humor that he did in his later movies and his second stint in the cast a few years later, rather than the kind of recurring-character, Catchphrase-based humor it had come to specialize in. While no one agreed with him exactly, the show's writers eventually did try to rise to the challenge and take more risks as a way of making up for the loss of Aykroyd and Belushi.note 
      • The heavy drug use that later claimed Belushi's life was also taking its toll on the cast and crew. Where they had during earlier seasons generally relaxed and developed their comedy surrounded by clouds of pot smoke, now to keep up with the pace they worked at they snorted line after line of coke during the day ... with the attendant effect on everyone's temper and ego. Garrett Morris was heavy into freebasing, sometimes going on paranoid rants during rehearsals and at one point convinced an invisible robot was controlling him. Laraine Newman, on the other hand, cooped herself up in her dressing room where she slept off her drug binges, emerging only for blocking, dress, and the show. Gilda Radner's bulimia only got worse. By Christmas, almost everyone involved with the show was hoping this season would be the last.
      • During the latter half of the season, Lorne became preoccupied with his contract renegotiations, despite being upset slightly with his manager for also representing one of the creators of ABC's competing Fridays, and at NBC for having forced Herb Schlosser, SNL's best friend in the executive ranks, out when Fred Silverman had taken over the previous year. He was hoping to be able to take at least a year off, along with others, with the possibility of doing some specials. NBC wanted the show to continue for a sixth season as it was not only doing poorly in the ratings, it had taken a huge financial hit when President Carter chose to boycott that summer's Olympics. If the show did go on, Michaels wanted the season to start only after that fall's election, as it had in 1976, and would commit to no more than six episodes (NBC in turn wanted at least 17). He was pushing them toward hiring either James Downey or Franken & Davis as producers as they were writers, and the show's producer had to be able to understand its writers. The network put the talks on the back burner as NBC was focusing on keeping Johnny Carson, who had publicly expressed his discontent with the current state of affairs, on board.
      • After they succeeded at that, they turned to Lorne. All they seemed interested in doing was offering him more money, incensing Lorne and his manager, who had given NBC plenty of time to go over their much more specific demands. NBC was also upset that Gilda Radner nixed Fred Silverman's idea for a Variety Show she would host, since she did not want to leave SNL and could not handle two shows at once.
      • In May 1980 Lorne requested a meeting with Silverman. The network head put it off because he had stayed up all night the night before putting together the fall schedule for a presentation to the affiliates' board of governors, which did not go well for him. Lorne gave the network 24 hours to come up with a final offer. He was able to meet with Silverman briefly to start working things out, and they scheduled another meeting for the next week.
      • But during the ensuing show that Saturday night, Franken rewrote his "A Limo for A Lame-O" Update commentary into an even stronger "The Reason You Suck" Speech directed at Silverman after Barbara Gallagher, the NBC executive in charge of comedy and late-night programming, had asked him to tone it down, because Franken, unaware of the specifics of the situation, felt Silverman had deliberately blown Lorne off. After it aired, Silverman called the studio in a fury, looking for the other executives, and then canceled his meeting with Michaels, assuming Lorne had let Franken deliver the speech on purpose as retaliation for the missed meeting.
      • Postcards requesting Franken be provided with limo service in response to his commentary flooded Silverman's office the next week. Silverman, who did not appreciate Belushi's take on him but tolerated it because of the comedian's talent, had no such ambivalence toward Franken, whose humor he had always considered somewhat mean. He refused to accept Franken's apology and has reportedly never forgiven him.
      • That also ended Franken and Davis's chance of producing the show in Lorne's absence. That season's last episode, two weeks later, had some of the hallmarks of a Series Finale. While Buck Henry promised the show would go on in his opening monologue, he also introduced a purported "new cast",note  and in the final shot of the end credits the "On Air" sign was shown flickering out. NBC had no intention of allowing that to happen, and continued to look for a new producer. Gallagher suggested her friend, the show's longtime associate producer Jean Doumanian, and after being offered the job on the provision she not disclose it if she accepted, she did so.
      • When Michaels, who not only had been trying to recruit Doumanian to work for him but had warned the network that not only was she not a writer as he had suggested a replacement be, no one presently associated with the show's creative side would work for her if she was the producer,note  found out a month later that not only had the network disregarded his advice but had provisionally hired Doumanian while still making a last-ditch effort to bring him back, he went ballistic, both at NBC and Doumanian, whom he has reportedly never spoken to since, much less forgiven.
    • Thus started the show's sixth season, widely remembered as SNL's first Dork Age:
      • The cast, all severely burnt out, left. Whether the writers did so as well or were fired depends on who tells the story. Some of them have said the word came down that Doumanian wanted them all out by the end of July, while she says that three writers who agreed to stay on under her changed their minds once Lorne found out she had been hired. In any event, the offices were stripped bare by August ... Joe Piscopo recalled that not even the pencils had been left behind.
      • To be fair to the oft-maligned Doumanian, she thus had only ten weeks to put together a new writing staff and cast, a task which Lorne had had almost a year to do before the show's first season. And she had to do this on a third of the budget the show's fifth season had had, since not only was NBC pinching pennies, she had no established stars. Nonetheless, she managed to pass on up-and-coming talent like Jim Carrey and John Goodman, and only hired Eddie Murphy after others lobbied her hard for him.
      • However, that's as far as fairness goes. The putative stars of her cast - Denny Dillon, Gilbert Gottfried and Charles Rocket - acted like they had it made just by virtue of being on Saturday Night Live, and to others it showed. At the end of a meeting after the cast and writers had worked on material for several weeks, Doumanian asked if anyone had any comments or suggestions. Piscopo, dismayed by what he had seen so far, was about to suggest she fire everyone and start over, until Dillon spoke up that she didn't like having white wine in her dressing room and wanted a bottle of red instead. At that point he realized the problem went all the way to the top.
      • Dillon's request pointed to Lorne's concerns about Doumanian, her associate producer credit notwithstanding, not being a writer as having been on target. She had mainly been responsible for guest relations during the previous five seasons, and the care she devoted to their needs assured that no guest ever refused to return because they had been neglected in that department. But she was at sea with the writers. Many recall her notes primarily being limited to "make it funnier" or "It isn't hip enough" (and no, those aren't paraphrases, they are direct quotes); many writers seriously wondered if she was even reading what they sent her, based on the size of the pile on her desk. At one point she handed down a requirement that every sketch have three jokes per page. Unlike Lorne, she also decided to actively enforce NBC's policy forbidding drug use on company property, even posting signs to this effect, further alienating those who felt more comfortable writing after they had smoked a joint or two. Barry Blaustein recalls that he had barely settled into his desk on his first day when another writer came into his office with a petition demanding Doumanian be fired.
      • The season got off to a bad start with criticsnote  and didn't get better, as Rocket's Weekend Update appearances, despite his background doing that sort of spoof news, were often so devoid of laughs as to be painful, and sketches like the "Leather Weather" bit that made the previous season's vomitorium sketch look inspired in comparison. Doumanian insisted on booking Malcolm McDowell as host despite the network's concern that he was (at the time) too obscure for most of the audience.
      • About two-thirds of the way through the season, the cast started to gel as Dillon, Rocket and Gottfried realized that comedy was something that, like the original cast, they had to work at no matter how talented they were. An episode hosted by Karen Black managed to be consistently funny. Murphy started to emerge.
      • But then came the infamous show hosted by Dallas's Charlene Tilton, which had a Running Gag parodying the "Who Shot J.R." plotline of her show with brief intercuts in which every cast member supposedly had a reason to kill Rocket, and he was finally shot just before the last commercial break. With, unusually, a few minutes more left than expected, they gathered on stage and improvised before learning who had shot Rocket. Tilton asked a wheelchair-bound Rocket how he felt, and he answered "I'd like to know who the fuck did it" ... on live air.
      • That sealed Doumanian's fate. Three weeks later, on what would be the last show she produced, Murray returned as the first member of the original cast to guest host. The show went well enough, but at the end, he apologized to all his former castmates, even Belushi and Aykroyd, for what he had just done. Afterwards, he refused to embrace all of the cast except Murphy, quite blatantly turning away from Rocket in the process.
      • Dick Ebersol was hired to replace Doumanian; he fired all the cast except Piscopo and Murphy, and all the writers except Blaustein. After almost two months, he was able to produce one show, hosted by Chevy Chase. Its most notable moment was another Weekend Update commentary by Franken, in which he recounted the events of the past year and proposed another write-in campaign to NBC, this time telling them to "put this tired old format to sleep", until Chevy "reminded" him that he and Davis were due to host the show next week (actually, as they both knew, that was the end of the season as that year's writer's strike was imminent).
  • Typecasting: One thing they do a lot is re-deploy an actor in a one-shot role that's similar to one of their regular ones:
    • Terry Sweeney, the first openly gay actor, always got cast doing female impersonations or gay caricatures. Sweeney called this tendency frustrating in a 2017 interview.
    • Bill Hader, and later Kenan Thompson, as a game show host.
    • Taran Killam as a loud and sometimes obnoxious Large Ham.
    • By the middle of season 44, Mikey Day always played the Only Sane Man.
    • Leslie Jones almost always played loud, assertive, and often man-crazy women.
    • As one of the younger members of the show, Pete Davidson tends to play ditzy millennial burnouts, though he's spoken out against this.
    • Beck Bennett tends to play boisterous Bumbling Dad characters and fratbros.
    • Most of Bowen Yang's roles make him a theatrical Camp Gay character.
  • Undermined by Reality: The show's turn towards mocking the Trump presidency is undermined by the fact that they ignored viewer complaints that they were promoting Trump's then-candidacy when he hosted in November 2015, with several performers later admitting that they were uncomfortable working with him.
  • Unfinished Episode: The following episodes were scheduled, with announced hosts and musical guests, but never happened for one reason or another
    • Season 6 was troubled for many reasons, but it also had the most canceled episodes of any season. The first, the March 14, 1981 episode with host Robert Guillaume and musical guest Ian Dury and The Blockheads, was pulled from the schedule after Jean Doumanian was fired as showrunner to give new producer Dick Ebersol time to retool the show. Only one more episode was completed after that before the season ended early due to the 1981 Writers' Guide strike. This resulted in six episodes being canceled: April 18 (Al Franken and Tom Davis with the Grateful Dead), April 25 (Dan Aykroyd with Pat Benatar), May 2 (Steve Martin with Neil Young), May 9 (Brooke Shields with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers), and May 16 (Buck Henry and REO Speedwagon). Of these, Guillaume, Aykroyd, and Martin all returned to host, while Petty went on to have seven further musical appearances. Young, who was scheduled to make his first appearance on the show, didn't appear as a musical guest until 1989. Franken and Davis, both former writers and cast members, would both return to the show often, and Franken even had another tenure in the cast, but neither ever got to host the show. Henry and the Grateful Dead, both of whom had guested on the show previously, would never appear on an episode again. Shields has yet to host the show, while Dury, Benatar, and REO Speedwagon never got the chance to appear as musical guests.
    • The March 9, 1985 episode was to feature hosts John Candy and Eugene Levy with musical guests Daryl Hall & John Oates. Candy and Levy even appeared during the "SNL Film Festival" Clip Show that aired the week before to promote their episode. However, the March 9 episode was canceled due to a writers' strike. Candy and Hall & Oates had already hosted and performed on the show before 1985, but Levy has never hosted on the show, and didn't even appear on the show until 2021 when he appeared during the monologue of an episode his son Dan hosted.
    • Gilda Radner was set to host the May 14, 1988 episode with musical guest U2, but the thirteenth season ended early due to a writers' strike. Radner would die of ovarian cancer the following year, before ever having hosted. If she had hosted, she would have been the first female cast member to do so, an honor that would eventually go to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who first hosted in 2006, eighteen years later! U2 did not appear on the show again until 2000.
    • The November 10, 2007 episode was supposed to feature Dwayne Johnson as host and Amy Winehouse as musical guest, but it was also cancelled due to a writers' strike. Johnson had hosted SNL before, and would host again after the strike was settled, but Winehouse never got a chance to appear on the show before her death in 2011.
    • John Krasinski was slated to host on March 28, 2020 with Dua Lipa as musical guest, but then the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City forced the show to take a production hiatus. Krasinski would host the next season with Machine Gun Kelly as the musical guest, while Lipa also appeared that season as the music guest in the episode hosted by Kristen Wiig.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Inevitable for such a topical show. The sketches and musical guests will date an episode to the year and even the very week it aired. Sometimes, this borders on We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, but, much like South Park and MAD Magazine in its heyday, this show tries to avoid being behind the times.
    • The Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches maintain the look and feel of the show's "sushi bar" set used from 1996-2002, even after that set was retired. The real Alex Trebek shaved off his mustache in 2001, although Will Ferrell kept it for the sketches.
    • In the second Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch, Alex Trebek asks the three celebrities to write the current year for Final Jeopardy! Alex drops a hint that "It starts with a 19"; it would no longer be true three years after the episode aired.
  • Wag the Director: When Macaulay Culkin hosted in 1991, his infamous Stage Dad Kit forced the show to eschew using cue cards during the sketches because he considered the practice unprofessional.
  • What Could Have Been: Has its own page.
  • The Wiki Rule: The SNL Wiki.
  • Write What You Know: According to Paul Mooney, the famous "Word Association" sketch was inspired by an incident that he had with NBC executives. According to Mooney, he was subjected to an intense job interview before he was allowed to write for the episode.
  • Write Who You Know: A lot of SNL's recurring characters are actually based on people that either the writers or the cast members have encountered in life:
    • Jay Pharoah's Principal Frye, the wheezing high school principal of Booker T. Washington High who constantly interrupts assemblies with news of some kind of disaster happening at the school, is actually based on the principal from Pharoah's high school in Chesapeake, Virginia. The only thing that's changed is the name: the principal's name in real life is James while the character Jay Pharoah plays is named Daniel.
    • Bill Hader's Stefon character is actually based on two people: a wannabe club promoter John Mulaney (the writer behind the Stefon segments on Weekend Update) met while in New York (and the wannabe club owner's email), and a barista Bill Hader met who actually looked, dressed, and spoke like Stefon.
    • Julia Sweeney's androgynous Pat character was actually based on a woman Julia saw who looked so much like a man that Sweeney questioned her gender.
    • One of Kristen Wiig's characters was "Aunt Linda", who appeared on Weekend Update to review/complain about new movies. Kristen Wiig got the idea for the character from a woman she saw on a airplane, who was very confused by the in-flight movie (The Matrix, in case you were wondering) and very vocal about her confusion.
    • Mike Myers' recurring sketch Coffee Talk With Linda Richman was based on his mother-in-law, Linda Richman.
    • Dana Carvey based Garth Algar (from Wayne's World) on his brother Brad.

    Trope Trivia 
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    Casting Trivia 
  • Tina Fey: the first female head writer on SNL. She holds the record for the longest running Weekend Update anchorwoman on SNL (though Seth Meyers broke the overall record held by Dennis Miller and Fey was on maternity leave for a few episodes, she is still considered the longest-running female Weekend Update anchor).
  • Harry Shearer: the only cast member to be such for two non-consecutive seasons (1979-80 note  and 1984-85 note ), making him the Grover Cleveland of SNL. Also the only cast member to be a regular cast member on another long-running American comedy show that heavily influenced modern pop culture, is considered a goldmine of modern satire and memorable catchphrases, memes, and comic moments, and whose humor and quality has been called into question in every year it's run (specifically the recent episodes vs. the older ones) — The Simpsonsnote 
  • Seth Meyers, the only cast member to have a family member who was on a rival show (Josh Meyers, his younger brother, was on MADtv for the show's eighth and ninth seasons). Meyers is now the longest-running male cast member on the show following Darrell Hammond's departure in 2009 (Meyers has been on the show since 2001, but he didn't become popular until he replaced Tina Fey as Weekend Update anchor). Meyers has now beaten Dennis Miller as longest-running Weekend Update anchor (and is the second Weekend Update anchor after Charles Rocket to alternate between having a female co-anchor and doing the segment by himself).
  • Eddie Murphy, the first black SNL cast member to be famous, the youngest black male cast member to be hired (Murphy was only 19 when he joined the 1980-1981 cast) and the only host to host an episode while still a cast member — specifically the December 11, 1982 show that was supposed to be helmed by Nick Nolte, but Nolte was too hungover from partying to make it to rehearsals, so Murphy took over...much to the shock and anger of the cast, who felt that Eddie Murphy was overtaking the show (even his overexposed-on-the-show partner-in-crime Joe Piscopo thought Eddie was hogging the spotlight too much). Murphy's star power was obvious enough that he survived the 1981 purge of the Jean Doumanian cast (along with Joe Piscoponote ), and he quickly became probably the biggest star the show has ever created. Murphy left the show in 1984 for a wildly successful film career. He boycotted SNL after David Spade made an unflattering joke about him during a "Weekend Update" segment in the 1990s but returned for the show's 40th anniversary special... although even then, he didn't do any skits or comedy bits and some observers thought he looked a bit disinterestednote . Murphy also has the longest gap between hosting episodes at 35 years (and, technically, the shortest gap between being a cast member and hosting an episode as he hosted while still an active cast member in 1982); Murphy hosted a season ten Christmas episode in 1984 and didn't come back to host again until 2019 (which, coincidentally, was a Christmas episode).
  • Darrell Hammond, the cast member with the most celebrity impersonations (107, with Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, most of George W. Bush's Cabinet [particularly Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney], Hardball host Chris Matthews, and Sean Connery as his most frequent and most popular)note , the last cast member hired in the 1990s to leave the show (Hammond left at the end of Season 34), the oldest cast member to leave the show (Hammond was 55 when he left the show), and the longest-running white male cast member at 14 seasons. With the death of Don Pardo in August 2014, Darrell Hammond has been hired back to the show, this time, as the new announcer (appropriately, considering that he sometimes filled in for Pardo whenever he was sick or otherwise unavailable and Hammond's Pardo impression is almost like the real thing. Ironically, Darrell Hammond decided not to do a Pardo impersonation for his role as announcer, both out of respect and the fact that SNL is always trying to reinvent itself).
  • Joan Cusack (from the 1985-1986 season) and Kristen Wiig (who was on show from 2005 to 2012) are the only female cast members to be nominated for Academy Awards; Cusack, twice (for Best Supporting Actress in Working Girl and In & Out), and Wiig, once (for Best Original Screenplay, as the co-writer of Bridesmaids).
  • Jason Sudeikis (2005-2013) and Paul Brittain (2010-2012): Both are nephews to two sitcom actors who have hosted the show more than once. Jason Sudeikis's uncle is George Wendt (Norm from Cheers), who first hosted during the 1985-1986 season note  and made frequent appearances in the 1990s as one of Bob Swerski's "Super Fans"; Paul Brittain is the nephew of Bob Newhart, who first hosted during the 1979-1980 season note  and hosted again during the notoriously awful 20th season.
  • Al Franken: The first — and so far only — SNL cast member to be elected U.S. Senator (and, like most Senators that the show has mocked during its tenure, had to resign in disgrace over sexual misconduct allegations).
  • John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Michael O Donoghue, Laraine Newman, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin,Garrett Morris and George Coe: The original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, a.k.a. the debut cast on October 11, 1975. When the show premiered the sketch comedy was only one part of the larger whole, and the cast was billed all at once as a group in the opening credits. They would soon be regarded as a unique collection of comic talent and today are still looked at as one of the best casts (the Hartman-Carvey era from roughly 1986-1993 is another contender). After Chase became the first departure early in the 1976-77 season, he was replaced by Bill Murray, who became one of the biggest stars the show has ever created.
  • Michael McKean, the oldest male to be hired as a regular cast member (he was 46 years old when he first joined the cast near the end of the 19th season). While George Coe was technically older by a few days, he only appeared in two episodes and was forced upon the show by NBC rather than actually hired by Lorne Michaels. McKean is also the only Saturday Night Live cast member to host and be a musical guest before joining the show.
  • Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Peter Aykroyd, and John Belushi and James Belushi are the only three sets of brothers to both be in the cast. In the case of the Murray brothers, the younger of the two was hired first. Brian Doyle-Murray originally was only hired as a writer, but became a featured player during the fifth season, making he and Bill the only brothers who were cast members at the same time. He then went back to being a writer only for the sixth season, but rejoined the cast (again as a featured player) for the seventh season. John and Jim Belushi were the only two brothers who were both repertory players, but in fairness, during the time Jim Belushi joined the show, there were no featured players. He joined the cast a couple of years after his older brother's death.
  • Anthony Michael Hall (no relation to Brad Hall or Rich Hall): the youngest cast member ever hired, at only 17 when he joined the 1985-1986 cast, and the only one to have been under the age of both 18 and 21 when hired (SNL has had cast members who were over 18, but under 21, such as Robert Downey, Jr., Eddie Murphy, and Pete Davidson).
  • Abby Elliott, the first (and so far only) cast member who is the child of another cast member (her father is Chris Elliott, who was on Saturday Night Live during its 20th season [1994-1995]). Chris' own father was Bob Elliott of Bob & Ray (who appeared on a Christmas episode of SNL in 1978), making it three generations of Elliotts who have appeared on the show in some capacity. Elliott was also the youngest female cast member in the show's history (21 and five months when she first appeared as a cast member in 2009), beating out Julia Louis-Dreyfus (21 and eight months when she first came on the show in 1982). Her departure from the show in 2012 makes her the only member of the Elliott family who has been on SNL the longest (her grandfather cameoed in one episode and her father was on the show for a seasonnote ), with four years (2008 to 2012) under her belt.
  • Jeff Richards, the first cast member who was also a MADtv cast member (Richards was on MADtv from 2000-01, then left for SNL and stayed on there from 2001 to the middle of the 2003-04 season).
  • Billy Crystal, one of two cast members who hosted prior to being cast on the show (the other was McKean, who also holds the distinction of being the only cast member to host and be a musical guest before becoming a cast member).
  • Rob Riggle, the only member of the U.S. Marine Corps to be a cast member. Also the third former cast member to later become a correspondent on The Daily Show, joining A. Whitney Brown note  and Nancy Walls note .
    • On the other side, Michael Che is the only cast member so far who had previously served as a correspondent on The Daily Show. In fact, he left The Daily Show to join SNL no long after having joined the former show, making him have one of the shortest tenures for a correspondent.
  • Tony Rosato, Pamela Stephenson, Morwenna Banks, Horatio Sanz, Nasim Pedrad, Sasheer Zamata, and Bowen Yang are the only cast members to be born outside of North Americanote  (Rosato was born in Italy before his parents emigrated to Canada, Stephenson was born in New Zealand and is now an Australian citizen, Banks was originally from England and moved back there after getting fired from SNL, Sanz was born in Chile, Nasim Pedrad is Iranian-born, Sasheer Zamata was born to African-American parents in Okinawa, Japannote , and Bowen Yang was born in Queensland, Australia to Chinese immigrants who then moved to Quebec and then to Colorado).
    • Tony Rosato and Robin Duke are also the first former cast members of SCTV to be on Saturday Night Livenote , though the SCTV cast member who crossed over to SNL most people would remember is Martin Short, as he brought his Ed Grimley character from SCTV to SNL. Short is also the only cast member whose recurring character has his own Saturday morning cartoon: The Completely Mental Misadventures Of Ed Grimleynote  and, as of December 2012, is the only Dick Ebersol-era cast member to host three times.
  • Leslie Jones is the oldest cast member ever hired at 47 years oldnote , beating out Michael McKean (who was 46 when he was hired almost 20 years ago) and the only member of the current cast to be born before Saturday Night Live premiered on television (Leslie Jones was born in September 1967) and the oldest black female cast member ever hired.
  • Christopher Guest (from the 1984-1985 season — season 10): Is the only SNL cast member who is a member of British nobility (his real title is, "Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest," or "Lord Haden-Guest" for short).
  • Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus: The only SNL cast members to be married to each other. Hall was on the show from 1982 to 1984 (spanning seasons eight and nine, though he was fired from his stint as Weekend Update anchor and replaced with whoever was the episode host at the timenote ) while his wife stayed on until season ten, when everyone was fired and NBC had plans to cancel the show until Lorne Michaels decided to return.
  • Rich Hall (no relation to Brad or Anthony Michael): The only cast member from Fridays note  to be a cast member on SNL, though Rich Hall wasn't credited as a cast member on Fridays. He, like Michael O'Donoghue on SNL, was a writer who often appeared on-camera performing bits that he wrote himself.
  • Noël Wells: Was the first Hispanic female cast member (Cecily Strong was thought to be the first Hispanic cast member due to her slightly brown complexion and exotic looks), the third Hispanic cast member overall (after Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen), the second one after Fred Armisen to not be a full-blooded Hispanic, and the second cast member to have ancestry from a Middle Eastern country (Wells is part Tunisiannote  and Nasim Pedrad is Iranian).
    • The most recent Hispanic cast member is Melissa Villaseñor, who, like Noël Wells, is Mexican, despite having fair skin.
  • Kenan Thompson (2003-ongoing): From Nickelodeon in his youth (All That and Kenan & Kel), he is the first cast member to be born after the show debuted (Thompson was born in 1978; SNL first came on in 1975), the first cast member to get his start on a Nickelodeon kids' show, and now surpasses Tim Meadowsnote  as the longest-tenured black male cast member.
  • Pete Davidson (2014-present): Davidsonnote  is now the first SNL cast member to be born in the 1990s (Davidson was born in November of 1993).
    • Other 1990s-born cast members include one-season wonder, Luke Null, and current (as of the 2019-2020 season) cast member, Bowen Yang. As of the 2020-2021 season, the show's newest 1990s born cast members are Andrew Dismukes (who was one of the show's writers) and Lauren Holt. Dismukes has now beaten Pete Davidson as the youngest male current cast member (Dismukes was born in 1995, making him two years younger than Pete) while Holt (born in 1991) has beaten both Chloe Fineman and Ego Nwodim (along with Aidy Bryant and Melissa Villaseñor) as the youngest female current cast member, though Nwodim is still the youngest African-American cast member and Villaseñor is the youngest Latina cast member).
  • Denny Dillon, Terry Sweeney, Danitra Vance, Kate McKinnon, John Milhiser, Bowen Yang, and Punkie Johnson: These seven are, so far, the only Saturday Night Live cast members who are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum note :
    • Denny Dillon, from the show's notoriously awful sixth season (from 1980 to 1981), is the show's first LGBTQ+ cast member overall and the first lesbian cast membernote . Dillon is also the show's shortest female cast member at 4'11", the only lesbian cast member who never worked under Lorne Michaels as a cast member, and is one in a handful of cast members who have appeared on Saturday Night Live in some capacity under all three showrunnersnote , joining Eddie Murphy (who started out as a Jean Doumanian cast member, became a major star in the Dick Ebersol episodesnote , and appeared on two Lorne Michaels-produced episodes: the 40th anniversary special and the season 45 Christmas episode with Lizzo as musical guest), Yvonne Hudson (was an uncredited bit player during Lorne Michaels' fifth season, was a feature player for Jean Doumaniannote , and then was relegated back to bit roles for Dick Ebersol before disappearing completely from the public eye), and Bill Murray (was cast by Lorne Michaels when Chevy Chase left the show, hosted a Jean Doumanian episodenote , hosted a Dick Ebersol episode (the season seven Christmas episode), and hosted some Lorne Michaels-produced episodes (one in 1987, one in 1993, and one in 1999, with some cameo appearances in 1994, 2008, 2016, and 2018).
    • Terry Sweeney, from the 1985-1986 seasonnote  (though Terry Sweeney got his start as a writer for Jean Doumanian back in the early 1980s) is the first openly gay cast member hired, as well as the show's first homosexual male cast member, and the first openly gay actor to ever appear on American televisionnote . Sweeney's lover was another SNL writer named Lanier Laney, and the two are the show's first (and, so far, only) known same-sex couple and the only SNL writer to cross over to MADtv (Sweeney and Laney wrote for MADtv during its third season, then went on to create the short-lived WB sketch show Hype)note .
    • Danitra Vance, also from the 1985-1986 season, was the show's only lesbian of color, not to mention the show's first female African-American repertory player (as opposed to being a feature player and never being promoted, like Yvonne Hudson), the only SNL cast member with a learning disability (Vance was dyslexic, though Vance's acting and ad-libbing covered it up for the most part), and the only deceased African-American cast member as of 2020 (Vance died of breast cancer in 1994). It should also be noted that Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance being put in the same cast was the first time Saturday Night Live had two LGBTQ+ cast members in the same cast (and the first time they would be interracial. There wouldn't be another case of this until 2019 with Kate McKinnon and Bowen Yang [white lesbian and Chinese gay male], and again in late 2020 with Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, and Punkie Johnson [white lesbian, Chinese gay male, and black lesbian], the latter of which is also the first time in SNL history to have more than one or two LGBTQ+ cast members)
    • In April 2012, SNL, for the first time in 27 years, has hired Kate McKinnon, a cast member who, like Terry Sweeney, is openly gay and often cross-cast as the opposite sex; and, like Denny Dillon, is a white lesbian with blond hair and a penchant for playing strange characters. Like Erica Ash on MADtv's 14th season, McKinnon got her sketch comedy start on Logo's The Big Gay Sketch Show. McKinnon is also the first lesbian cast member to actually be popular (much like how Eddie Murphy became the show's first popular black cast member in the early 1980s) and the first cast member to win the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress (though several cast members were nominated before) and only the third overall actually win one (after Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner, from the original "Not Ready for Primetime" cast).
    • John Milhiser: SNL's second openly gay white male cast member, who, like Terry Sweeney before him, only lasted a season (and, unlike Terry Sweeney, wasn't cross-dressed in any of his rolesnote ).
    • The most recent gay male cast member the show hired is Bowen Yang, who was initially hired as a writer on the show in season 44 (2018-2019 season). Yang is the first non-white gay male cast member (and one of only two LGBTQ+ cast members who isn't a white person, joining Danitra Vance) and the show's first Chinese-American cast member (though not the first Asian-American cast member, as Rob Schneidernote , Fred Armisennote , and even Nasim Pedradnote  have come before him).
    • Punkie Johnson, a stand-up comedian, is the latest LGBTQ cast member hired for the 2020-2021 season. Not only is she the seventh LGBTQ+ cast member on the show, she's also the first one since 1985 to be a black lesbian after Danitra Vance, the third non-white LGBTQ+ cast member (after Danitra Vance and Bowen Yang), and the first black lesbian to be open (Vance, much like Denny Dillon, was a lesbian, but it wasn't made public until her 1994 obituary stated that she was survived by a widow named Jones Miller).
  • Michael Che: The first African-American Weekend Update anchor as of 2014. His pairing with Colin Jost will make this the second time SNL has had a same-sex Weekend Update team (after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), the second time SNL has had an interracial Weekend Update team (the first was the temporary hiring of Horatio Sanz with Amy Poehler while Tina Fey was on maternity leave for most of the 2005-2006 season), and the first time the Weekend Update team consisted of two male castmembers instead of one mannote  or one man and one woman note .

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