famous snl characters

Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been a comedy staple for decades, bringing laughter to millions of viewers. From hilarious sketches to unforgettable performances, the show has introduced us to some of the most memorable characters in television history. These characters have not only entertained us but have also become a part of our pop culture. Let’s take a look at the famous SNL characters that have left a lasting impact on comedy and our lives.

23 Famous SNL Characters

1. The Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman)

Coneheads

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The Coneheads are a family of aliens from the planet Remulak who try to blend in with humans despite their conical heads and peculiar behavior. Their catchphrase, “We come from France,” and their bizarre dietary habits, such as eating massive quantities of strange foods, made them an instant hit.

The humor of their attempts to assimilate into American culture, combined with their deadpan delivery and outlandish appearance, made their sketches a staple of the show. The characters’ popularity transcended the show, leading to appearances in commercials, animated specials, and a feature film in 1993, which further cemented their place in pop culture history.

2. Samurai Futaba (John Belushi)

Samurai Futaba

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John Belushi’s Samurai Futaba is a character who performs everyday tasks with the intensity and style of a traditional samurai warrior. Whether he’s a deli owner, hotel clerk, or tailor, Samurai Futaba’s exaggerated movements and grunts, combined with his commitment to the role, made this character a standout on SNL.

Belushi’s physical comedy and ability to convey a range of emotions through simple grunts and exaggerated gestures were key to the character’s success. The absurdity of a samurai engaging in mundane activities, paired with Belushi’s over-the-top performance, made Samurai Futaba an unforgettable character that showcased Belushi’s comedic talent.

3. Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner)

Roseanne Roseannadanna

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Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna was a brash, opinionated, and hilariously clueless television newswoman. Known for her trademark curly hair and New York accent, Roseanne would go off on tangents that had little to do with the news topic, much to the chagrin of her co-anchors. Her segments always ended with the phrase, “It’s always something,” highlighting her tendency to find the absurd in everyday life.

Radner’s portrayal of Roseanne Roseannadanna captured the character’s eccentricities and obliviousness, making her a favorite among SNL viewers. The character’s catchphrases and memorable rants have endured as iconic moments in the show’s history.

4. The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi)

Blues Brothers

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The Blues Brothers, Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), are a pair of sunglasses-wearing, suit-clad musicians on a mission to save an orphanage by putting their band back together. Their energetic performances of classic blues and soul songs became a staple on SNL, leading to a hugely successful movie in 1980 and even live tours.

The chemistry between Aykroyd and Belushi, combined with their musical talent and comedic timing, brought the characters to life in a way that resonated with audiences. The Blues Brothers not only entertained but also paid homage to the rich history of blues music, making them cultural icons.

5. Emily Litella (Gilda Radner)

Emily Litella

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Another beloved character by Gilda Radner, Emily Litella was a hard-of-hearing, elderly woman who delivered editorial replies on “Weekend Update.” She often misunderstood the topic at hand, leading to hilarious monologues based on her misinterpretations. For example, she would confuse “violence on television” with “violins on television.”

Her segments would conclude with her realizing her mistake and saying, “Never mind,” adding to the character’s charm. Radner’s ability to portray Emily’s earnestness and confusion made her one of the most endearing characters on SNL, highlighting Radner’s versatility and comedic brilliance.

6. Lisa Loopner and Todd DiLaMuca (Gilda Radner, Bill Murray)

Lisa Loopner and Todd DiLaMuca

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Lisa Loopner and Todd DiLaMuca are nerdy teenagers who epitomize awkward adolescence. Lisa, portrayed by Gilda Radner, and Todd, played by Bill Murray, share cringe-worthy moments and uncomfortable romantic tension in sketches that highlighted their quirky personalities and relatable high school struggles.

Lisa’s overprotective mother, Mrs. Loopner, played by Jane Curtin, often added to the comedic dynamic. The chemistry between Radner and Murray, along with their commitment to the characters’ awkwardness, made these sketches a hit with audiences. Their portrayal of teenage angst and innocent romance resonated with viewers, capturing the essence of high school life with humor and heart.

7. Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello)

Father Guido Sarducci

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Father Guido Sarducci is a chain-smoking, gossiping priest who shares humorous insights on religion and life. Played by Don Novello, Father Sarducci’s sardonic commentary and distinctive Italian accent made him a memorable and beloved character on SNL. His segments often included satirical takes on Catholic doctrine and current events, delivered in a deadpan and conversational style.

Novello’s creation of Father Sarducci allowed him to explore social and religious themes with humor, making the character both controversial and beloved. The character’s appearances on “Weekend Update” and other sketches provided a unique and irreverent perspective that resonated with audiences.

8. Church Lady (Dana Carvey)

Church Lady

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Dana Carvey’s Church Lady, also known as Enid Strict, is a judgmental and sanctimonious host of the talk show “Church Chat.” With her catchphrase “Well, isn’t that special?” and her signature condescending tone, Church Lady would often interview celebrities and criticize their moral failings.

Carvey’s portrayal of the character, complete with a prim and proper dress, horn-rimmed glasses, and a high-pitched voice, made Church Lady an iconic figure. The sketches were a satire on religious hypocrisy, and Carvey’s impeccable delivery made Church Lady a beloved and enduring character from the 1980s.

9. Mr. Robinson (Eddie Murphy)

Mr. Robinson

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Eddie Murphy’s Mr. Robinson is a parody of the beloved children’s television host Mr. Rogers. Instead of a wholesome neighborhood, Mr. Robinson lives in a rough urban area and often teaches viewers about the harsh realities of life in a humorous way.

His catchy theme song, “It’s a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood,” and his mischievous antics, like dodging bill collectors and explaining how to steal, made the sketches both hilarious and poignant. Murphy’s charisma and sharp wit brought Mr. Robinson to life, and the character became one of the standout features of SNL in the 1980s.

10. Fernando (Billy Crystal)

Fernando

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Billy Crystal’s Fernando is a suave, self-absorbed talk show host known for his catchphrase, “You look mahvelous!” Fernando’s sketches often involved him interviewing celebrities and fawning over their appearances, all while making self-aggrandizing remarks.

Crystal’s exaggerated Spanish accent, slicked-back hair, and flashy suits added to the character’s comedic appeal. Fernando’s blend of charm and vanity resonated with audiences, making him one of the memorable characters from the 1980s era of SNL.

11. Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) from Wayne’s World

Wayne’s World

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Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s Wayne and Garth are the hosts of a public-access television show filmed in Wayne’s basement. Their catchphrases like “Party on!” and “Excellent!” became cultural phenomena. The sketches featured Wayne and Garth discussing music, pop culture, and their personal lives with a blend of teenage enthusiasm and absurd humor.

The success of the sketches led to two feature films, further cementing Wayne and Garth as iconic figures. Myers and Carvey’s chemistry and the characters’ lovable goofiness made “Wayne’s World” a defining part of the 1980s SNL landscape.

12. Matt Foley (Chris Farley)

Matt Foley

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Chris Farley’s Matt Foley is a motivational speaker who lives “in a van down by the river.” Foley’s over-the-top energy, exaggerated body movements, and constant yelling made the character both hilarious and endearing. Farley’s commitment to the character’s intensity, combined with his physical comedy, made Matt Foley one of the most memorable characters of the 1990s.

The sketches often involved Foley attempting to motivate teenagers, only to end up causing chaos and delivering his infamous catchphrase. Farley’s performance as Matt Foley remains one of the standout moments in SNL history.

13. Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon)

Mary Katherine Gallagher

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Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher is a socially awkward Catholic schoolgirl with a penchant for performing exaggerated monologues and smelling her armpits. Her dream is to become a superstar, and her sketches often involve her nervously auditioning for various roles, only to end in comedic disaster.

Shannon’s physical comedy and fearless portrayal of Mary Katherine’s quirks made the character a favorite among SNL fans. The character’s catchphrase, “Superstar!” and her high-energy antics led to a feature film, “Superstar,” in 1999.

14. The Spartan Cheerleaders (Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri)

Spartan Cheerleaders

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Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s Spartan Cheerleaders, Craig and Arianna, are enthusiastic, if not particularly skilled, high school cheerleaders who perform over-the-top routines at events where they are usually not welcome. Their relentless optimism, synchronized claps, and catchy cheers, like “Who’s that Spartan in my teepee?” made the characters instantly recognizable.

Ferrell and Oteri’s chemistry and commitment to the characters’ unyielding spirit, despite often being out of place, resonated with audiences and made the Spartan Cheerleaders a standout feature of the 1990s SNL.

15. The Ladies Man (Tim Meadows)

Ladies Man

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Tim Meadows’ Leon Phelps, also known as The Ladies Man, is a smooth-talking, afro-wearing love expert who hosts a radio show offering dubious romantic advice. With his deep voice, glass of Courvoisier, and penchant for calling women “sweet thing,” Phelps’ character was both charming and absurd.

Meadows’ portrayal of The Ladies Man, with his mix of confidence and cluelessness, made the character a favorite. The popularity of The Ladies Man led to a feature film in 2000, where Leon Phelps continued his quest for love and adventure.

16. Stefon (Bill Hader)

Stefon

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Bill Hader’s Stefon is the flamboyant, eccentric city correspondent for “Weekend Update.” Known for his exaggerated mannerisms, bizarre club recommendations, and frequent breaking of character, Stefon provides “Weekend Update” viewers with tips on the hottest spots in New York City, often filled with absurd and surreal descriptions.

Stefon’s catchphrases, such as “This place has everything,” became instantly recognizable. Hader’s ability to improvise and his chemistry with Seth Meyers made Stefon one of the most beloved characters of the 2000s. Stefon’s unique blend of humor and unpredictability made every appearance memorable.

17. Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch)

Debbie Downer

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Rachel Dratch’s Debbie Downer is a character who brings up depressing or unpleasant facts at the most inappropriate times, much to the dismay of those around her. Whether at a family gathering or a theme park, Debbie’s morose comments and her signature “wah-wah” sound effect highlight her pessimistic outlook.

Dratch’s deadpan delivery and the frequent breaking of character by the cast, often leading to uncontrollable laughter, made Debbie Downer sketches both hilarious and iconic. The character’s ability to derail any conversation with her negative observations made her a standout figure in the 2000s.

18. Brian Fellow (Tracy Morgan)

Brian Fellow

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Tracy Morgan’s Brian Fellow is the host of the fictional animal show “Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet.” Despite having little knowledge about animals, Brian’s over-the-top confidence and frequent outbursts, such as “I’m Brian Fellow!” make the sketches hilarious.

Morgan’s portrayal of Brian Fellow, with his wide-eyed innocence and frequent misunderstandings about the animals featured on his show, created a unique and memorable character. The absurdity of Brian Fellow’s lack of expertise, combined with Morgan’s comedic timing, made this character a favorite during the 2000s.

19. The Target Lady (Kristen Wiig)

Target Lady

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Kristen Wiig’s Target Lady is an overly enthusiastic cashier who loves everything about her job at Target. Her exaggerated Minnesotan accent, passion for Target products, and tendency to share too much personal information with customers made her a comedic gem.

Wiig’s ability to embody the character’s quirks and enthusiasm, along with her impeccable comedic timing, made the Target Lady one of the standout characters of the 2000s. The character’s love for her job and her unique interactions with customers provided endless comedic material, making the Target Lady a beloved figure on SNL.

20. Chad (Pete Davidson)

Chad

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Pete Davidson’s Chad is a laid-back, monosyllabic character who responds to every situation with a simple “Okay.” Whether he’s involved in dramatic scenarios, romantic encounters, or dangerous missions, Chad’s nonchalant attitude and lack of reaction make for hilarious sketches.

Davidson’s portrayal of Chad, with his deadpan delivery and minimalistic responses, highlights the character’s obliviousness to the chaos around him. Chad’s ability to remain unfazed in any situation has made him a standout character in recent years, resonating with audiences for his simplicity and unexpected humor.

21. The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party (Cecily Strong)

Cecily Strong

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Cecily Strong’s character, known as The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, is a satire on the self-righteous and uninformed opinions often encountered in social situations. Her rapid-fire delivery of nonsensical statements, combined with a misplaced sense of moral superiority, makes her sketches both cringe-worthy and hilarious.

Strong’s ability to embody the character’s arrogance and cluelessness, while delivering tongue-twisting monologues, has made this character a favorite on “Weekend Update.” The character’s blend of satire and humor captures the absurdity of certain social interactions.

22. Jebidiah Atkinson (Taran Killam)

Jebidiah Atkinson

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Taran Killam’s Jebidiah Atkinson is a 19th-century newspaper critic who reviews modern-day events and pop culture with brutal honesty and a biting wit. His scathing reviews and disdainful attitude, delivered with an old-timey flair, make for hilarious commentary on contemporary topics.

Killam’s portrayal of Jebidiah, with his exaggerated expressions and sharp-tongued critiques, provides a unique and comedic perspective on current events. The character’s anachronistic approach to modern criticism, combined with Killam’s performance, made Jebidiah Atkinson a memorable and standout figure on SNL.

23. David S. Pumpkins (Tom Hanks)

David S. Pumpkins

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Tom Hanks’ David S. Pumpkins is a bizarre and enigmatic character who appears in a Halloween-themed sketch. Dressed in a pumpkin-patterned suit and flanked by two skeleton dancers, David S. Pumpkins confounds and entertains those who encounter him. His catchphrase, “Any questions?” and the absurdity of his presence in a haunted elevator ride make the character both surreal and hilarious.

Hanks’ commitment to the character’s oddness and the sketch’s unexpected humor have made David S. Pumpkins a cult favorite, especially around Halloween. The character’s inexplicable charm and eccentricity have left a lasting impression on SNL fans.

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