Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Every SNL Season Ranked From Worst To Best

In 1975, Lorne Michaels created "Saturday Night Live," a comedy variety show based out of Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. A mix of political satire, social commentary, absurd skits, and recurring characters, "SNL" quickly became a part of the cultural zeitgeist. Some of the greatest movie and television stars of the last 40 years have started their primetime careers at Studio 8H, including Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Kristen Wiig, Adam Sandler, and Amy Poehler.

The formula for an episode of "SNL" hasn't changed much over nearly 50 years. Everything kicks off with a cold open, followed by a celebrity host's monologue, sketches, a musical performance, Weekend Update, more sketches, another musical performance, and goodnights. There have been some tweaks over time, like Weekend Update briefly becoming Saturday Night News, but the leadership of Michaels has kept "SNL" afloat and successful.

Over 900 episodes in, "SNL" remains beloved by many generations. The show doesn't always shine, but few television programs have been able to achieve such consistent success for almost five decades. Some of the show's seasons have been marvelous, while others have floundered greatly. From the days of Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner to Eddie Murphy saving the show and Will Ferrell leaving to become a box office smash in Hollywood, we are looking at each season and weighing the quality of the sketches, hosts, and casts. Live from New York, here's every "Saturday Night Live" season ranked from worst to best!

48. Season 46 (2020-21)

Season 46 was the final season of longtime cast member Beck Bennett, while fan favorites Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant missed most of the pre-Christmas episodes while filming "Schmigadoon!" and "Shrill," respectively, which was a huge blow to the season's momentum.

Still, Season 46 offered numerous great sketches, including the "December to Remember Car Commercial," "Tiny Horse," "Dionne Warwick Talk Show," and "Picture with Dad." Michael Che and Colin Jost delivered another great season of Weekend Update segments, too. On the flip side, "Gen-Z Hospital" and "Rap Roundtable" are some of the worst skits in recent memory.

Recent years have not been kind to the show, and Season 46 squandered a solid cast with an assortment of abysmal hosts and bad writing. Though Timothee Chalamet's episode was one of the best in recent years, Episode 18, which featured Tesla founder Elon Musk as host, is one of the lowest-rated episodes in the show's near-half-century history.

Other than Musk, there were no outrageous hosting choices. Even non-comedic actors like Rege-Jean Page and Adele held their own. The only problem was that nearly every episode failed to register anything resembling the edge that the show had years ago. As has been the case since his first turn as host in 2018, John Mulaney's episode was one of the best of the season, but it was Anya Taylor-Joy, fresh off of her success in "The Queen's Gambit," who delivered the brightest hosting performance in the season finale.

47. Season 6 (1980-1981)

After Lorne Michaels left the show, "Saturday Night Live" Season 6 found Denny Dillon, Gilbert Gottfried, Gail Matthius, Joe Piscopo, Ann Risley, and Charles Rocket as central members of a new, and mostly unfunny, cast assembled by Jean Doumanian. A 19-year-old Eddie Murphy later joined the cast after the third episode, while future Oscar nominee Laurie Metcalf was a featured player in one episode. The season was cut short to 13 episodes due to a writer's strike in 1981. Rocket took over as Weekend Update and was treated like Chevy Chase's proper successor, only to toss out an infamous F-bomb on air and be fired.

The best episode of the year was Bill Murray's, marking his first return as host after leaving the cast the previous year. Though it wasn't a full season, Season 6 showcased the comedic prowess of Murphy, who debuted his recurring "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood" sketch and flaunted his Bill Cosby and Stevie Wonder impersonations for the first time. Murphy was so electric that when Episode 6 was in danger of ending five minutes short, producers sent him on-stage to deliver a stand-up monologue to prolong the runtime.

Dick Ebersol would produce the final episode of the season, which led to him running the show until Michaels' return in 1985. He would fire most of Doumanian's players, again placing the show under a reconstruction. Only Murphy and Piscopo would make it to Season 7, a decision that would change "SNL" forever.

46. Season 20 (1994-95)

By Season 20, "SNL" was still trying to piece itself together without Dana Carvey. Though Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Al Franken, and Norm Macdonald were still in the cast, they mostly rehashed their old characters, including Canteen Boy, motivational speaker Matt Foley, and Stuart Smalley.

Season 20 was in the difficult position of having to replace half of its cast without taking the spotlight away from the big names still around. Phil Hartman, Melanie Hutsell, Rob Schneider, and Julia Sweeney were replaced by Chris Elliott, Janeane Garofalo, and Laura Kightlinger, all of whom had much better careers after their tenure on "SNL."

After the success of the "Wayne's World" movies, Mike Meyers left after Episode 11 and was replaced by future repertory player Molly Shannon. Franken left the show because producers chose Macdonald as the Weekend Update anchor. Steve Martin hosted the premiere and delivered a tremendous outing, as always, while the worst episode came when George Foreman hosted Episode 9.

In "UFO Mission" Farley drops his pants while climbing into a spaceship, Sandler gifts viewers his legendary "The Chanukah Song" on Weekend Update, and Macdonald forged his brand by relentlessly covering the OJ Simpson trial. The "Breaking Into the Central Park Zoo Polar Bear Cage" skit, though unfunny, foreshadowed how Farley, Sandler, and Jay Mohr would get canned before Season 21. Some of the show's best years were on the horizon, but Season 20 remains one of the most inconsistent seasons to date.

45. Season 45 (2019-20)

Season 45 of "Saturday Night Live" deserves an asterisk because it was cut short because of COVID-19. The at-home episodes shouldn't count because it was just cast members trying to be funny on Zoom, though "Let Kids Drink" was timely and hilarious. Before the pandemic hit, "SNL" Season 45 was on pace to be one of the best seasons in recent memory.

Having Harry Styles and Will Ferrell host back-to-back episodes was a brilliant choice, and it also gave audiences some of the best skits of the season, including "Sara Lee" and "Heinz." John Mulaney returned to host again, and his "Uncle Meme" skit was a knee-buckler. J.J. Watt, RuPaul, and Kristen Stewart struggled to find their footing in primetime, but Five-Timers Club veteran Scarlett Johansson balanced them out.

What holds Season 45 in such high regard is that the show's greatest cast member ever, Eddie Murphy, returned to host for the first time since 1984. He reprised some of his, and the show's, most iconic characters, including Mr. Robinson, Gumby, Velvet Jones, and Buckwheat. Murphy would win an Emmy for hosting one of the best "SNL" episodes ever, and if Season 45 had been able to finish properly, it would probably rank much higher.

44. Season 48 (2022-23)

Much like Season 6, "Saturday Night Live" Season 48 is a case of lost identity. Many of the previous season's players, including Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, and Chris Redd, left, leaving a big gap in the cast list. Producers would bring on talented featured players Molly Kearney and Michael Longfellow, but the repertory cast is still trying to find its footing. As has been the case with the previous few seasons, head writers Michael Che and Colin Jost continue to anchor every episode with their Weekend Update segments.

"SNL" is no stranger to tapping musicians to host and perform in the same episode, but producers failed egregiously when they had Megan Thee Stallion and Jack Harlow at the helm in back-to-back weeks. You can learn a lot about a season when one of its best episodes is hosted by Austin Butler, who, at the moment, is pretty unfunny and still knee-deep in his Elvis voice. The brightest part of Season 48 so far was the episode co-hosted by Steve Martin and Martin Short, both beloved veterans of the show.

Comedic troupe Please Don't Destroy remains a weekly highlight with their pre-recorded skits, while sketches like "House of the Dragon" and "ManningCast" have soared. Season 48 may not be the weakest run of the show, but how much hope can be had if your season is doing so poorly that you tap polarizing comedian Dave Chappelle to come back and run the show?

43. Season 44 (2018-19)

The last pre-COVID season, "Saturday Night Live" Season 44 seems like a lifetime ago. Pete Davidson was engaged to Ariana Grande for a little while, and John Mulaney performed a musical skit about bodega bathrooms. Dramatic stars like Liev Schreiber, Claire Foy, and Kit Harington failed to make their episodes memorable, though expectations weren't very high to begin with.

Adam Driver did a great job hosting the premiere, including his incredible performance in "Career Day," though it was marred by Kanye West delivering a pro-Donald Trump rant during the credits sequence. Seth Meyers returned to host, which was a great trip down memory lane, and Five-Timers Club veterans Paul Rudd, Paul Simon, and Jonah Hill all made stops at Studio 8H. Matt Damon's episode gave us two of the season's best skits: "Kavanaugh Hearing" and the very niche "Weezer."

The best part of Season 44 was when former cast member and box-office titan Adam Sandler returned to host for the first time ever. He reprised "Opera Man," one of his most infamous and hilarious characters, and performed a touching, emotional tribute to the late Chris Farley. Season 44 can be defined by its overuse of Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump impression. Unlike Will Ferrell's George W. Bush or Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton, Baldwin's performance wore thin quickly — much like the show overall these days.

42. Season 47 (2021-22)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 47 could've been terrific if it had condensed its cast to a reasonable number. With 21 players and the three members of Please Don't Destroy, "SNL" didn't know what direction to go in. Former cast heavyweights Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte both hosted, but underwhelmingly. Producers tried to capitalize on Jerrod Carmichael's popularity, but his style of comedy failed to translate well in Studio 8H. Kim Kardashian hosted Episode 2, though Paul Rudd's episode was somehow much worse.

Season 47 was the kind of season where the producers tinkered with popular Hollywood names without truly assessing whether or not they would actually perform well on live television. The best episode of the season came when Billie Eilish was tapped for double duty and brought a refreshing wave of Gen-Z sensibilities to a show desperately in need of it.

John Mulaney hosted again, and it was pretty good, though it's clear that "SNL" will quickly lean on him when they're in need of a crowd-pleasing episode. He got inducted into the Five-Timers Club, and it's clear that the show wants him to be a 21st-century Steve Martin. Sadly, this is unlikely, and fans mostly get another instance of "SNL" trying to recreate the magic of the 1980s.

41. Season 11 (1985-86)

When Lorne Michaels returned to "Saturday Night Live" in 1985, he was tasked with bringing the show back into the limelight after Eddie Murphy's departure two years prior. It'd be an understatement to say he failed. Season 11 is easily the show's biggest casting disaster this side of Season 6. Michaels hired Oscar nominee Randy Quaid, 17-year-old Brat Pack alum Anthony Michael Hall, future Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., and Joan Cusack — only for all of them to fail miserably.

Hall and Downey had great chemistry with each other after starring in "Weird Science" earlier that year, but making fart noises on Weekend Update just wasn't going to cut it. Thankfully, the lesser members of Season 11's cast, like Nora Dunn, Dennis Miller, and Jon Lovitz, were all great and would stick around. Damon Wayans would be a featured player throughout the season, but he'd find much better success after creating future "SNL" rival "In Living Color" with his brother Keenen in 1990.

Tom Hanks would host for the first time, but Season 11 was skewed by some much worse hosting choices. Jay Leno failed to bring any life to Studio 8H, Tony Danza should've never stepped foot on the stage, and Pee Wee Herman was an underwhelming fever dream. It says a lot about Season 11 that one of its best episodes was hosted by Ron Reagan — but not that Ronald Reagan.

40. Season 5 (1979-80)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 5 came out of the gates on fire with Steve Martin and Eric Idle hosting back-to-back episodes. Unfortunately, those would be the best episodes of the season until Martin returned to host a second time in the penultimate episode. Season 5 started with just five full-time cast members and a bevy of feature players.

Veterans Bill Murray, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner, and Jane Curtin were tasked with filling the shoes of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, who left after Season 4. Unfortunately, Peter Aykroyd (Dan's brother), Tom Davis, Paul Shaffer, and Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill's brother) could not replicate the magic Aykroyd and Belushi took with them.

Some low points came when Ted Knight and Burt Reynolds hosted. We did get more "Mr. Bill" skits, along with great Ted Kennedy parodies by Murray, but not even a hosting regular like Elliott Gould or a former cast member like Chevy Chase could save Season 5. Further, Season 5 marked the end of Murray's tenure on the show, along with every remaining player from the original season, as Lorne Michaels would leave the show after the finale.

39. Season 9 (1983-84)

Season 9 was a tough go for "Saturday Night Live." The cast wasn't particularly strong beyond Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Brad Hall was a serviceable Weekend Update anchor, but Jim Belushi couldn't live up to her brother John's legacy. Sadly, the rest of the ensemble never presented themselves as having any kind of star power.

Despite a poor cast and subpar hosts, like the Smothers Brothers and George McGovern, Season 9 had its good moments, but not nearly enough to salvage any type of greatness. Murphy pre-recorded most of his appearances, and it was clear that Piscopo couldn't carry the show on his own. Funnily enough, Billy Crystal hosted twice in Season 9. A year later, he'd be a full-time member of the cast.

Murphy left the show halfway through the season to make movies and would find A-list success with "Beverly Hills Cop" in 1984, but not before leaving his mark on "SNL." He was the genius behind the season's best skit, "James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party," in which he played the Godfather of Soul and gave us an enduring line: "Here I go in the hot tub! Too hot in the hot tub!"

38. Season 41 (2015-16)

An election year was on the horizon, so "Saturday Night Live" decided to have Donald Trump on as a host in a misguided attempt to cater to both sides of the aisle. The rest of the season was then stunted because of it. The work of great hosts almost saved the whole thing, especially when Adam Driver, Larry David, Melissa McCarthy, and Ariana Grande stopped by, but Ronda Rousey and Chris Hemsworth struggled.

The cast was led by the trio of budding stars Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Aidy Bryant, while Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, and Vanessa Bayer kept things level. Pete Davidson was still a featured player but quickly became more and more confident after every Weekend Update appearance. Colin Jost and Michael Che anchored Weekend Update together, and it quickly became the most consistent part of every episode.

Though much of Season 41 was lost to a pre-election lull, some terrific sketches came from it, like "Star Wars: Undercover Boss," "Pool Boy," and "Totino's," but two moments came to define the season — "Farewell, Mr. Bunting" and "Close Encounter." In the former, Fred Armisen returned to Studio 8H to host the finale and was the star of a crowd-shocking "Dead Poets Society' parody. In the latter, McKinnon introduced Colleen Rafferty, a hillbilly woman who can't stop getting abducted by UFOs. McKinnon's delivery makes host Ryan Gosling break repeatedly, and the audience eats it up.

37. Season 19 (1993-94)

It's a shame that "Saturday Night Live" Season 19 wasn't very consistent, especially because it was Phil Hartman's last year in the cast. Season 19 was also the first full season without Dana Carvey, and his absence could be felt the most, even though Chris Rock had also departed after Season 18. Carvey would return every so often for "Wayne's World" sketches, but this was the season that Sarah Silverman was a featured player, and her talents were squandered. It's hard to root for a show that gives more airtime to Jay Mohr than one of the funniest women in the last 30 years of comedy.

Most of the hosts during Season 19 were average, like Jeff Goldblum, Nicole Kidman, and Patrick Stewart. Helen Hunt found good chemistry with David Spade in the hilarious "Total B***ard Airlines," while "Christopher Walken's Celebrity Psychic Friends Network" made a lasting impression was the best thing Mohr gave fans during his tenure on the show.

Though Season 18 had been dominated by Chris Farley, Season 19 was Adam Sandler's greatest season. His "Herlihy Boy House-Sitting Service" and "Lunch Lady Land" sketches were incredible, but his biggest moment came with "The Denise Show," where he plays a guy who hosts a talk show that is solely a vehicle for him to mope and scream about how much he misses his ex-girlfriend.

36. Season 4 (1978-79)

No other season has been marred by bad hosts like Season 4. From Frank Zappa to Milton Berle to Gary Busey, the season often had to lean on regular guests like Buck Henry, Elliott Gould, and Eric Idle when the going got dense. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd would be gone after this season, leaving an even bigger hole in a cast that only featured seven repertory players to begin with.

Bill Murray and Jane Curtin anchored Weekend Update together, but it was clear that Murray wasn't fit for the position, as he was much better on the stage during sketches. The most underused player from the original cast, Garrett Morris, finally got more airtime and made the most of it with his "Chico Escuela" character. Only one episode stands out — when Carrie Fisher hosted and The Blues Brothers were musical guests.

Season 4 gave us more "Father Guido Sarducci" and "Mr. Bill," but the best moment of the season came with "Point/Counterpoint," where Curtin and Aykroyd argued about gender. The whole segment was hilarious, but no apex is greater than the infamous phrase uttered by Aykroyd that has become part of "Saturday Night Live" lore: "Jane, you ignorant s***!"

35. Season 23 (1997-98)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 23 was the worst part of the Will Ferrell era, but not because of Ferrell himself. He was great, but the show was overshadowed by the deaths of Chris Farley and Phil Hartman. It was Norm Macdonald's final season, but Tina Fey joined the show as a writer. Farley returned to host just months before passing away from a drug overdose, and his episode is hard to watch, as it was clear that he was not well during his stint.

The "Roxbury Guys," "The Ladies Man," "Delicious Dish," "Spartans Practice," and "Celebrity Jeopardy!" were recurring segments that audiences could count on, but Season 23 is also when Chris Kattan gave us "Mango," the most annoying "SNL" character this side of "Pat," for the first time, though we'd be better off forgetting he ever existed at all.

The hosts this season were lackluster, as Rudy Giuliani and Scott Wolf just didn't fit in, but Hollywood favorites like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Matthew Perry gave us good shows. The best sketch of the season was "Dysfunctional Family Dinner," where Ferrell got to yell a lot and play the role of a pathetic-yet-hard-working dad to perfection.

34. Season 40 (2014-15)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 40 marked the first season where Michael Che and Colin Jost shared the Weekend Update anchor duties. Given how integral they are to the show now, it's odd to imagine a time when Jost and Che were not the funniest parts of each episode. The repertory cast was led by Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Bobby Moynihan, but the featured players, like Pete Davidson, Leslie Jones, Beck Bennett, and Kyle Mooney,  often did much funnier stuff.

Great hosts were plentiful, as Bill Hader, James Franco, Martin Freeman, Scarlett Johansson, and Dwayne Johnson came to do their thing and brought a bevy of laughs with them. The sketches this season were hilarious, and the show had not yet descended into mediocrity. Where the problems for Season 40 came to a head was the cast's inability to fully harness everyone's brand of comedy.

Sketches and characters like "NFL Intros," "A One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male-Driven Comedy," "Teacher Trial," and "Hobbit Office" were brilliant, but the best part of Season 40 came from writer Mike O'Brien's "Grow-A-Guy" short. O'Brien's talents were often squandered by the show. Mooney proved to be just as big of an oddball, and his own shorts, like "Inside SoCal," might have been too highbrow or avant-garde for "SNL." This wasn't the first time that the most talented members of the cast weren't given enough screen time. Here's looking at you, Chris Rock and Laraine Newman.

33. Season 33 (2007-08)

Much like Season 13, "Saturday Night Live" Season 33 was cut short by a Writers Guild strike. Only 12 episodes aired, which hurt even more because Maya Rudolph left the show afterward. The repertory cast was strong, as Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader became the stars of "SNL."

Weekend Update was helmed by Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler, and their chemistry together rivaled that of Poehler and Tina Fey. The hosting choices left a lot to be desired, as LeBron James, Jon Bon Jovi, Brian Williams, and Elliot Page struggled. Fey returned to host for the first time, and Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Amy Adams, and Shia LaBeouf each had great chemistry with the cast.

There were more debates between Poehler's Hillary Clinton and Armisen's Barack Obama, as well as excellent skits like "MacGruber" and strong "Digital Shorts," but Season 13's Achilles heel was the fact that nothing really special happened throughout the shortened season. If the cast had gotten a full, 20-episode season, it's likely that Season 33 would be regarded as an all-time great.

32. Season 42 (2016-17)

Though Season 43 became one of the best "Saturday Night Live" seasons in recent memory, Season 42 was the blueprint that set the standard. Early in the season, Donald Trump was elected president, which gave the cast and writers a bevy of material to work with. While Season 42 episodes were often dominated by Alec Baldwin impersonating Trump during cold opens, the season found itself blessed with one of its strongest batches of hosts in a long time.

Margot Robbie hosted the premiere and gave us "Actress Round Table" and Pete Davidson's "Mr. Robot" parody, while Tom Hanks returned to Studio 8H to host for the first time in 10 years. His episode was easily the best of the year, and it spawned some of the funniest sketches of the season, including "David S. Pumpkins" and "Black Jeopardy." Pre-recorded skits like "Dunkin' Donuts" with Casey Affleck, "Five Stars" with Aziz Ansari, and "Amazon Echo" stole the show, but the best moment of the season came when Melissa McCarthy made a cameo impersonating Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer.

The lows did come in Season 42, especially in the episodes hosted by Octavia Spencer and Felicity Jones, but their struggles were balanced out by former cast members returning to lead the charge, like Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon. You could argue that this cast, which included Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, and Sasheer Zamata for the last time, is an ensemble that hasn't been topped since.

31. Season 43 (2017-18)

The Season 43 of "Saturday Night Live" had a lot to offer, with a big cast and a good slate of hosts. Unfortunately, it also came with more mouths to feed comes less screen time for everyone in the group. Featured players Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, and Melissa Villasenor all had immense comedic chops, yet their talents were squandered by the show having too many stars and not enough sketches to offer.

Hosts like Tina Fey, Donald Glover, John Mulaney, and Natalie Portman were slam dunks, while even the more underwhelming guests, like Jessica Chastain, Saoirse Ronan, and Chance the Rapper, had good outings. This was the first great season for Pete Davidson, who got to do more with his Chad character, and his Lil Pump and Stanley Tucci-inspired "Tucci Gang" was genius. "Spelling Bee" was a season highlight, along with "A Kanye Place" and Larry David's hilarious, recurring Bernie Sanders impression.

The best sketch of Season 43 was "Papyrus," where Ryan Gosling aimed to hunt down the man responsible for making the "Avatar" movie font papyrus. Modern "SNL" is at its best when it revels in absurd humor. Why would anyone care about the font of a 10-year-old movie? Well, that's precisely the point. "SNL" searched deep in its bag of tricks and pulled out a golden ticket, which is rare these days.

30. Season 28 (2002-03)

Losing Will Ferrell is the toughest task that "Saturday Night Live" has had to face since losing Eddie Murphy to Hollywood. The show brought on Fred Armisen and Will Forte to try and mitigate the loss, but they hadn't yet figured out how to flourish. It's safe to say that Jimmy Fallon was not equipped to be the poster boy of any "SNL" season.

Good did come from Fallon's reign, like the hilarious "The Leather Man" and "Aquarium Repairmen" sketches. However, the best moment of the season had nothing to do with Fallon at all, and it came when Christopher Walken stopped by Studio 8H to host. Walken, Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, and Amy Poehler all adopted Southern accents and led the "Colonel Angus" sketch, which still has some incredible laughs.

Yet, this was the year John McCain, Eric McCormack, and Nia Vardalos hosted the show and delivered painfully unfunny episodes. It says a lot about the quality of a season when the best host was NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. Oh, and Adrien Brody hosted and got himself banned for doing a racist impression. Season 28 was going through an identity crisis and called upon the worst guests to help.

29. Season 8 (1982-83)

It's hard to rank a season with Eddie Murphy so low, but "Saturday Night Live" Season 8 failed to live up to the brilliance of Season 7. Much of the season was defined by the fact that Murphy led a two-week-long news story about the death of his beloved character Buckwheat. We did get Murphy's incredible Stevie Wonder impression when the musician hosted the show, but it was clear that the actor's greatest "SNL" material was behind him while Hollywood was firmly in front.

Chevy Chase hosted a brilliant premiere from Los Angeles via satellite, while seven-year-old Drew Barrymore dazzled as the youngest host ever. There was a weird stunt where the audience voted by phone to ban Andy Kaufman from the show. Unlike many of the worst seasons of "SNL," Season 8 didn't really have a terrible crop of hosts.

Brad Hall took over as Weekend Update anchor, though it was called Saturday Night News at the time. He'd get sacked from the role halfway through Season 9, which is a great portrait of what the show was like at the time — a revolving door supporting cast behind Murphy. Season 8 did give fans the best Christmas episode until Jimmy Fallon's in Season 37. We got more Gumby from Murphy while Joe Piscopo reprised his uncanny, hilarious Frank Sinatra impression.

28. Season 30 (2004-05)

This was the season where Rob Riggle was a featured player. If you don't remember that, don't worry. "Saturday Night Live" Season 30 is largely forgettable in the lore of the show. Jimmy Fallon left the show at the end of the previous season and was replaced by Fred Armisen, who would have a much better career in Studio 8H. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler became Weekend Update co-anchors and were the highlight of every episode.

You might remember that Season 30 is where Ashlee Simpson got caught lip-syncing. It's rare that something done by a music guest overshadows most of what the repertory cast accomplished, but that captures the mediocrity of Season 30 in a nutshell. It was an election year, but George W. Bush wasn't a funny parody without Will Ferrell impersonating him.

We did get more "Debbie Downer," but the comedy of it had worn thin by this point. Will Forte's "The Falconer" was a laugh riot every time, and Fallon made a cameo with Justin Timberlake to reprise their "The Barry Gibb Talk Show" skit. Will Ferrell hosted and tore the roof off of 30 Rock with one of the best "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketches ever.

Still, some of the worst hosting gigs in "SNL" history happened in Season 30, including Hilary Swank, Paris Hilton, Paul Giamatti, and Queen Latifah. On the flip side, some great hosts came by, like Jason Bateman, Lindsay Lohan, and, surprisingly, Tom Brady.

27. Season 13 (1987-88)

Ranking "Saturday Night Live" Season 13 this low might seem unfair, but it's not because the season was bad — it's because we didn't get a full season at all. A Writers Guild strike meant only 13 episodes aired, which severely stunted the momentum of an otherwise tremendous season. It was a small cast of eight repertory players led by Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks, with only A. Whitney Brown along as a featured player.

The hosts weren't great, but Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, and Candice Bergen gave great performances. Even the lesser episodes, like the ones hosted by Judge Reinhold and Robert Mitchum, found little nuggets of brilliance. We got more "Pumping Up With Hans and Franz," "Church Chat," and "The Pat Stevens Show," while Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz gave us the annoyingly funny "Girl Watchers."

The entire cast from Season 13 would return for Season 14, which would become one of the best seasons of the show ever. Season 13 is the biggest "what could have been" in "SNL" history, but thankfully, once the strike ended, the cast was able to regroup and remain at their apex.

26. Season 18 (1992-93)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 18 was weird and off-balance. Mike Myers didn't make his first appearance until December, and Dana Carvey left in February. Sinead O'Connor was a musical guest and tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II in protest of the sexual abuse cases within the Roman Catholic Church and was banned from the show. Hosts like Luke Perry, Kirstie Alley, and Sinbad struggled to have good chemistry with a cast going through an identity crisis.

Despite all of the ups and downs, Season 18 gave us iconic characters, including Adam Sandler's Canteen Boy, the Gap Girls, and, of course, Chris Farley's loud, over-the-top motivational speaker Matt Foley in the iconic "Van Down By the River." Skits like "Superman's Funeral," "Hibernol," and "Simon" landed well, but recurring segments like "Coffee Talk" and "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" started to run thin. Dana Carvey's impressions of Ross Perot going toe-to-toe with Phil Hartman's Bill Clinton was another highlight.

The best skit of Season 18 was "The Chris Farley Show" with Paul McCartney as a guest. When Farley asks the former Beatle about the hoax that claimed he was dead, McCartney responds perfectly with "I wasn't really dead." You could never tell if Farley was nervous or just playing a character, which showcased how effortless he made things look on the show. This was him at his peak, which is a shame that, beyond him, Season 18 couldn't quite get its feet off the ground.

25. Season 25 (1999-00)

Much of "Saturday Night Live" Season 25 was odd. Some of that can be summed up by the fact that producers hired Garth Brooks to host an episode where the musical guest was Chris Gaines, Brooks' alter-ego. It was also the final season for Tim Meadows, Cheri Oteri, and Weekend Update anchor Colin Quinn, though their exits were not as immense as past cast departures. Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and Jimmy Fallon were able to pick up the slack with ease.

Some great comedians stopped by Studio 8H to host, like Jerry Seinfeld, Norm Macdonald, and Danny DeVito. However, Dylan McDermott, Christina Ricci, Julianna Margulies, and Britney Spears struggled to wow the audience. We got the best edition of "Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy" and "Devil Can't Write No Love Song," two great, hilarious sketches.

But the most triumphant skit of Season 25 is, without a doubt, "Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult," which you might know simply as "More Cowbell." How many "SNL" sketches have become more quotable in popular culture than "More Cowbell?" With a skit so powerful and so memorable, it'd be fair to assume that the season was successful altogether. Unfortunately, Season 25 failed to do anything spectacular beyond "More Cowbell," which, in retrospect, feels much more like lightning in a bottle than the product of a consistently great season.

24. Season 27 (2001-02)

What loomed over "Saturday Night Live" Season 27 was that the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened two weeks before the show's premiere. In response, "SNL" invited New York mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as first responders from the FDNY and NYPD onto the show to deliver a passionate cold open. However, with a cast that included Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, there was no way that Season 27 could fail. For good measure, future Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers was added as a featured player.

The hosting performances were all over the place, though. For every great episode, like Hugh Jackman's, there was a terrible one, like Jonny Moseley's. The problem with Season 27 is that its brightest star, Ferrell, was running circles around everyone else. His George W. Bush impression still carried cold opens, and the skit "Dissing Your Dog" was ridiculously funny, especially given how perfect Ferrell's deadpan, mean delivery is from beginning to end. Fan-favorite sketches like "Jeffrey's" and "Hardball with Chris Matthews" return, too.

The best sketch of the year came in the second episode. Aptly titled "Short Shorts for the USA," Ferrell's character walked into a work meeting wearing very short American flag shorts. When they rip apart, the audience roars with laughter. Nothing from Season 27 would ever get so funny again.

23. Season 29 (2003-04)

Season 29 often doesn't get enough love. It's not the best iteration of "Saturday Night Live," but the cast was great. Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan made their exits after Season 28, but the combination of Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph worked super well. Not to mention, two of the greatest cast members ever, Fred Armisen and Kenan Thompson, were brought on as featured players.

Skits like "Hermione Growth Spurt," "Corksoakers," "Debbie Downer: Disney World," and Paris Hilton's hilarious Weekend Update cameo make Season 29 much better than most people probably remember. Fallon and Horatio Sanz were consistently breaking during skits, which was often funnier than the scripted material, which says a lot about those first few post-Will Ferrell seasons.

What hurts the legacy of Season 29 the most is that the hosts were so bad. Halle Berry, Kelly Ripa, Andy Roddick, Alec Baldwin, and Al Sharpton hosting five shows in a row did not bode well for anyone involved, let alone audiences. Luckily, Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Aniston gave great performances in the season's second half. The best episode was Justin Timberlake's, which gave us "The Barry Gibb Talk Show," one of the funniest sketches of the Fallon era. Timberlake quickly became a reliable host, which is easily the most important thing to come from Season 29.

22. Season 35 (2009-10)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 35 can't be overlooked, for it gave us the rise of Kenan Thompson. He introduced "What Up With That?" and quickly went from an underloved cast member to the show's most consistent performer. Beyond Thompson, Season 35 found a good cast producing good laughs, but the show rarely outpaced itself. Longtime veteran Darrell Hammond had departed, taking his endless repertoire of impressions along with him.

The hosts were good, though. Drew Barrymore returned for the sixth time, James Franco made the gig look effortless, while both Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm gave performances that led to "SNL" bringing them back to host often. However, the best episode of the season came late when Betty White arrived at Studio 8H to host the highest-rated episode of the show ever.

Still, as soon as newcomer Jenny Slate accidentally said the F-word during the "Biker Chick Chat" skit in the season premiere, it was clear that there was no direction to go in. There were standout sketches, though, including "Punk Band Reunion at the Wedding" and "Ladies' Bowling on ESPN Classic." But Season 35 didn't take as many risks as it should've. With a strong cast that featured Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig better and funnier than ever, what came of their work left a lot to be desired. Still, Hader did make his first appearance on Weekend Update as "Stefon," one of his, and the show's, most infamous recurring characters in Season 35.

21. Season 36 (2010-11)

The epitome of a middle-of-the-road season, "Saturday Night Live" Season 36 perfectly balanced the good and the bad. Will Forte was gone, as was Jenny Slate. That left Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Andy Samberg to keep the show great. Thankfully, they pulled it off — for the most part. It was clear that new faces Vanessa Bayer, Taran Killam, Nasim Pedrad, and Jay Pharoah needed extra time to get accustomed to the "SNL" stage, but once they did, they were electric. Notably, Bayer's "Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy" became a stellar recurring Weekend Update character.

Some of the hosting decisions just made sense, like Amy Poehler returning for the premiere and Justin Timberlake for the finale, but some of the guests were puzzling to watch, like Elton John. The episodes led by Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, and Anne Hathaway, however, rocked.

Some great sketches this season came, too. Kenan Thompson's "What Up With That?" was one of the show's best recurring sketches, Dana Carvey returned and brought Mike Myers with him for a show-stealing "Wayne's World" reunion. Forte even came back to do an "ESPN Classic" sketch with Jason Sudeikis. Still, the best skit of Season 36 was "Kate Middleton Meets the Real Royal Family," where Hatheway played Middleton while Armisen and Hader played Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. What made the skit work so well was Armisen and Hader turning the beloved monarchs into crass caricatures. The result was hysterical.

20. Season 31 (2005-06)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 31 is notable for being the first season with Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, and Kristen Wiig in the cast. It's too bad they were only featured players, though, because, had they been in the repertory ensemble, this might have been the best season of the show ever. Fred Armisen, Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, and Kenan Thompson were fantastic, and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler helmed Weekend Update together.

What keeps Season 31 beneath the best seasons is some truly atrocious hosting performances. Lance Armstrong, Jon Heder, and Dane Cook were not a good fit for Studio 8H. Thankfully, Lindsay Lohan, Natalie Portman, Steve Martin, and Steve Carell picked up the pace.

The introduction of "Digital Shorts" alone makes Season 31 one of the best seasons ever, given how viral "Lazy Sunday" and "Natalie Raps" went during the early days of YouTube. Still, it was some of the lesser loved shorts, like "Laser Cats" and "Close Talkers," that defined the innovative comedic genius of a young, hungry cast. It wasn't a transition year for "SNL," but you could sense that what the cast could become was still in front of them.

19. Season 15 (1989-90)

With no changes to the cast, aside from Mike Myers being upgraded to repertory status, "Saturday Night Live" Season 15 was a good run of episodes with plenty of great comedians hitting their strides. "Toonces, The Cat Who Could Drive A Car," "Wayne's World," "Mr. Short Term Memory," and "Colon Blow" are some of the best skits the show has ever done, while "Anal Retentive Guy" and "Lyle, The Effeminate Heterosexual" brought the house down and pushed the envelope.

Regular guests Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, and John Goodman all hosted for the first time, while Tom Hanks and Candice Bergen returned to further cement their legacies in Studio 8H. However, one of the worst hosting performances ever, from Andrew Dice Clay, happened in Season 15, which is a heavy blow against an otherwise spectacular season.

The best part of Season 15 came during Hanks' episode when an edition of "Wayne's World" included cameos from Aerosmith and Hanks playing an awkward roadie. Two years later, the movie version of "Wayne's World" would gross over $121 million domestically, more than what "The Blues Brothers" made in 1980. Season 15 was full of future movie stars, but thankfully none of them outshone each other when the cameras started rolling in Studio 8H.

18. Season 24 (1998-99)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 24 introduced Jimmy Fallon and Chris Parnell, two future pillars in the cast. With Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Molly Shannon, and Ana Gasteyer leading the charge, Season 24 was an opportunity for the cast to build on a chemistry that was already great. "Mary Katherine Gallagher," "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," and "The Ladies Man" were recurring favorites, while John Goodman playing Linda Tripp was a season-long source of laughs.

However, no episode of Season 24 stood out because of a host. In fact, many of the celebrities tapped to helm the show for one week were pretty mediocre, especially Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Romano, James Van Der Beek, and Vince Vaughn. David Spade and Bill Murray returned to host and did great, while veteran guests Drew Barrymore and John Goodman were season highlights.

We did get "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet" and "Dog Show" for the first time, but the peak of the season came when Alec Baldwin stopped by to host. "NPR's Delicious Dish" introduced Baldwin's Pete Schweddy, thus creating the infamous "Schweddy Balls" joke that lives in the echelons of the show's ridiculously quotable history.

17. Season 38 (2012-13)

The first season without Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg and the last with Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen, "Saturday Night Live" was about to go through one of its biggest transitions since the 1990s. Luckily, the longtime cast went out with a bang, giving us some of their strongest performances ever. Thankfully it was an election year, so the material was immense and the cast ran with it.

Season 38 was great because it had the perfect balance of great veteran hosts and newcomers who could hold their own next to a dazzling cast. Martin Short, Melissa McCarthy, Anne Hathaway, and Justin Timberlake set high bars, while Bruno Mars, Daniel Craig, and Seth MacFarlane surprised audiences with their ability to command Studio 8H.

The best sketches of Season 38 have long floated under the radar in the show's history. "The Sopranos Diaries," "You're a Rat B***ard, Charlie Brown," "M&M Store," and "History of Punk" showcased the prowess of Armisen, Bobby Moynihan, and Hader, while Jay Pharoah's Barack Obama impression was phenomenal. Still, the best part of Season 38 came when Ben Affleck hosted. The "New Beginnings: Summer Camp" sketch soared, as Affleck and Taran Killam lead a gay conversion camp but have trouble ignoring the sexual tension between each other.

16. Season 17 (1991-92)

It might be surprising to see "Saturday Night Live" Season 17 so low on this list, given that the popular crew of Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Chris Rock had almost fully taken over the cast. Still, the days of Dana Carvey and Mike Myers' reign were slowly fading to the wayside, as was the quality of the show altogether. In addition, Jan Hooks left the show after Season 18, and losing one of the funniest women in the show's history is not easy to overcome.

Farley was still the heart and soul of "SNL," and "The Chris Farley Show" became one of his best non-Matt Foley sketches. Kevin Nealon took over Weekend Update after Dennis Miller left the show and he did fine, though his delivery was not as snarky or punchy as Miller's. You can often measure the quality of an "SNL" season by which hosts were the best. This season, the highlight was Macaulay Culkin, followed by Roseanne and Tom Arnold, which emphasizes the weirdness of the later Farley years.

We got "Schmitt's Gay," "Schiller Visions: Hidden Camera Commercials," more "Wayne's World," a hilarious "Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley" with Michael Jordan, "Clarence Thomas Hearings," and "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer." However, the best sketch of the season belongs to "Mr. Belvedere Fan Club," which transforms from an earnest admiration for the Christopher Hewett character to a murderous, cannibalistic overkill that only works on "SNL."

15. Season 37 (2011-12)

Though Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg would be gone by the season's end, "Saturday Night Live" Season 37 was a terrific last dance for them in Studio 8H. The cast was anchored by Wiig, Samberg, Fred Armisen, and Bill Hader, who were firing on all cylinders. For the first time in years, the featured players were incredible. Vanessa Bayer was a show-stealer, Taran Killam perfectly transitioned from Disney Channel to primetime, and Jay Pharoah quickly flashed his impressions mastery. Oh, and future "SNL" legend Kate McKinnon was brought on late in the season.

The hosting choices could have been better, as Charles Barkley, Eli Manning, and Anna Faris struggled, but Melissa McCarthy, Emma Stone, Maya Rudolph, and Jonah Hill all shined. The best episode came when Jimmy Fallon hosted the Christmas episode, which included the hilarious "Michael Bublé Christmas Duets" sketch.

It was going to be hard to replace Wiig, one of the funniest women to ever star on "SNL," but her final season was a true tour de force, and the send-off she received from Mick Jagger was bittersweet. Season 37 gave us Bobby Moynihan's "Drunk Uncle," one of the best characters of the 2010s, and "The Californians," one of the best recurring sketches of the 2010s.

14. Season 12 (1986-87)

It was never going to be difficult for "SNL" to top the dumpster fire of mediocrity that was Season 11. All they had to do was bring in a competent, funny cast and they'd be set. Thankfully, that's exactly what they did. Joan Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, and Randy Quaid were axed, while Jon Lovitz and Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller stuck around. Some of the greatest cast members ever — including Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, and Phil Hartman — were brought in, and they wound up defining a new generation of "SNL."

When Madonna made a cameo appearance in the season premiere to read a statement from NBC about Season 11, audiences instantly knew things were going to change. "It was all a dream, a horrible, horrible dream," she proclaimed. Later in that episode, Carvey would introduce two legendary, recurring characters: the Church Lady and Derek Stevens.

Robin Williams, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray all stopped by to host and delivered great performances. "Liberace in Heaven," "Donahue," and "The Pat Stevens Show" were all funny, recurring segments that propped the season up. But, even though William Shatner's turn as host wasn't the best episode of the season, it did give us the best sketch, "Star Trek Convention," where Shatner infamously tells fans of the sci-fi program to "get a life."

13. Season 10 (1984-85)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 10 didn't have any superstars in the cast, and that's why it worked so well. Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy were gone, so a new batch of performers was tasked with keeping the laughs alive. Jim Belushi and Julia Louis-Dreyfus returned, but Martin Short, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, and Harry Shearer were added to strengthen the ensemble.

The comedic genius of Short, Guest, and Crystal truly catalyzed this season beyond many that came before and after it. The slate of hosts was weak, as Howard Cosell, Ed Begley Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Bob Uecker were famous names unable to assimilate into the live shows. George Carlin came back for a great episode, and Oscar nominee Roy Scheider was surprisingly terrific. Skits like "Reagan Jeans," "Superman Auditions," and "The Contestant" helped define a season that thrived at being a great transitioning phase, unlike the season that succeeded it.

The highlight of Season 10 came when Murphy returned to host. He gave audiences the best sketch of the season, "White Like Me," where he went undercover as a white man. It's a skit that likely wouldn't make it on-air today, but that's what made the early seasons of "SNL" so innovative — the writers took risks, and the cast members were always game to see how far the envelope could be pushed.

12. Season 39 (2013-14)

"Saturday Night Live" Season 39 could've ended up as one of the greatest seasons ever had the cast been thinned out. By the season's end, there were eight featured and nine repertory players. This season marked the end of Seth Meyers' tenure, which meant he'd no longer be anchoring Weekend Update. Cecily Strong and Colin Jost would take over for him full-time, and Jost would flourish in the role for years.

Still, the hosts that "SNL" brought in this season were great, especially Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus, Edward Norton, and Kerry Washington. The best episode of the year was when Jimmy Fallon hosted and Justin Timberlake appeared as the musical guest, giving us sketches like "Family Feud," "(Do It On My) Twin Bed," "The Barry Gibb Talk Show," and "Kimye Talk Show." The show dipped a bit in the back half when Jim Parsons and Lena Dunham hosted, but Anna Kendrick and Andy Samberg restored the comedic harmony.

For as bad as "SNL" would get after this season, Season 39 feels like the last brilliant outing for the show. Sketches like "Wes Anderson Horror Trailer," "Spike Jonze Trailer," "Get in the Cage," "Outside the Lines," and "E-Meth" are still funny and rewatchable.

11. Season 1 (1975-76)

It's hard to rank the first season of "SNL" outside the top 10 — after all, it started an empire — but it was still an unbalanced set of episodes populated with young comedians who each thought they were the stars of the show. In Season 1, the show was called "NBC's Saturday Night" and comprised of only Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. Chase was in charge of Weekend Update, while Belushi carried most of the sketches.

Episode 2 saw a Simon & Garfunkel reunion, while some of the coolest celebrities on Earth came by to host the raw, up-and-coming show, including Elliott Gould, Candice Bergen, Dick Cavett, Rob Reiner, and George Carlin. Early episodes put a lot of focus on the musical guests, but the show had turned into a machine by the season's end.

Some of the most iconic sketches came from Season 1, including "The Killer Bees," "Samurai Hotel," and "Landshark." Still, the best of the best came with "Word Association," where host Richard Pryor got locked in a tense segment with Chase that included racial slurs and Pryor's masterful comedic delivery. The cast was young, and the writers were hungry. Back then, "SNL" took chances. "Word Association" could have led to the show getting canned — instead, it set the stage for nearly 50 years of laughs.

10. Season 16 (1990-91)

Few seasons of "Saturday Night Live" are as focal to the DNA of the show as Season 16. Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, and Mike Myers had returned again after a great year, but "SNL" also introduced some of its most popular cast members ever — Chris Farley, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and David Spade. Carvey kept the momentum spurring with his recurring George H. Bush routine while he and Kevin Nealon teamed up for the gut-busting "Pumping Up with Hans and Franz."

Dennis Miller was still anchoring "Weekend Update," while Myers and Carvey were still at their peaks with "Wayne's World." Rob Schneider joined the cast and brought along his "Makin' Copies" character called the "Richmeister," but it quickly grew annoying after a few appearances. Season 16 saw the introduction of "Coffee Talk with Linda Richman" and "Bill Swerski's Superfans," along with one of the best skits in the show's history, "Chippendales," which featured Patrick Swayze.

Season 16 would rank higher if the hosts had been better. Roseanne Barr, Delta Burke, and Jimmy Smits all struggled on-stage, while Steven Seagal is often regarded as one of the worst "SNL" hosts ever. Luckily, John Goodman and Tom Hanks showed up and saved the day.

9. Season 2 (1976-77)

It's very clear that Season 2 was so good because Bill Murray was a better fit for the show than Chevy Chase. Murray had found success with Second City and National Lampoon, and his deadpan delivery that could easily transition into an explosive comedic effort translated well onto "Saturday Night Live." Chase was always going to do bigger and better things, so it makes sense that he only made it six episodes into Season 2.

Season 2 is where Steve Martin hosted for the first time, and he fit in perfectly with the cast. Candice Bergen, Jodie Foster, Elliott Gould, and Eric Idle did terrific jobs hosting, and the sketches from Season 2 were immaculate. We got "The Coneheads," "Baba Wawa," "Jeopardy 1999," and the hilarious "Consumer Probe: Irwin Mainway," which featured Dan Aykroyd as a sleazy businessman trying to justify selling bags of glass to children.

The best episode of Season 2 came when Paul Simon arrived at Studio 8H to host. He classically played "Still Crazy After All These Years" while wearing a turkey suit, and there's even a skit where George Harrison, the musical guest that night, asked Lorne Michaels for $3,000 to get The Beatles back together. Season 1 was great, but it wasn't until a year later that the original "SNL" cast found its proper footing, leaving Season 2 as a benchmark for every season that followed.

8. Season 26 (2000-01)

Season 26 marked Tina Fey's first year in the cast, which found her teaming up with Jimmy Fallon as co-Weekend Update anchors. They were a perfect match. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch's "Love-ahs" sketch remains an uncomfortable yet raucously hilarious moment in "Saturday Night Live" lore. The season also gave us gems like "Jarret's Room," "Nick Burns: Your Company Computer Guy," "Jeffrey's," and more "Celebrity Jeopardy."

Even though Fallon notoriously couldn't keep himself from breaking during sketches, the cast of Season 26 had an undeniable chemistry together. Terrific hosting appearances by Kate Hudson and Christopher Walken cement the season as one of the best from the Ferrell era. It was the first season since Season 14 that John Goodman didn't host, but the show still thrived without him.

When it was all said and done, Season 26 was the gift that kept on giving, thanks to it being an election year and the fact that Ferrell and Darrell Hammond were sensational as George W. Bush and Al Gore, respectively. Though there have been other great political spoofs on "SNL," it's hard to argue that Bush versus Gore isn't the best out of all of them. If it weren't for Ferrell and Hammond and their particular satirical genius, we wouldn't have "strategery" and "lock box" in our vocabulary. We should all be thankful for that.

7. Season 32 (2006-07)

Season 32 of "Saturday Night Live" walked so Season 34 could run. The cast was smaller, clocking in at only 11, and didn't include any featured players. It wouldn't be outlandish to say that all 11 cast members are some of the greatest to ever appear on the show, but if Will Forte and Seth Meyers are your weakest links, the ceiling is eons away.

Tina Fey, Chris Parnell, and Rachel Dratch left after Season 31 and were replaced by Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, and Kristen Wiig, who were all promoted to the repertory cast from featured player status. Justin Timberlake came to Studio 8H to deliver the best episode of the season, which featured the all-time classic Digital Short "D*** in a Box." NFL star Peyton Manning was surprisingly tremendous, especially in "United Way," and Shia LaBeouf came by to host and participate in "Dear Sister," one of the greatest, funniest, and most absurd skits to ever grace our screens.

This marked the first season where Amy Poehler and Meyers co-hosted Weekend Update together, and they instantly flaunted an unabashed chemistry together. We also got the first iteration of Forte's "MacGruber," which was a slam dunk every single time. The Season 32 cast would stick around and perform together for a few years and somehow go bigger and better later on.

6. Season 22 (1996-97)

Much like Season 21, Season 22 was a masterclass showing for "Saturday Night Live." This was the year when a bunch of former cast members came back to host, including Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, Robert Downey Jr., Phil Hartman, and Martin Short, five weeks in a row. Chevy Chase and Mike Myers also returned later in the season. With veterans and "SNL" legends almost always in attendance and a current cast featuring Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon, Season 22 had no chance of failing.

Season 22 also offered fans some of the show's best sketches, including "Celebrity Jeopardy," "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," "Delicious Dish," and "The Culps." Jeff Goldblum stopped by to host the season finale and could barely contain his laughter next to Ferrell's Harry Caray impression. Norm Macdonald's Burt Reynolds impression has remained a classic for years, especially when he is pitted against Ferrell's Alex Trebek.

Nothing could stop Season 22 from being great — not even Macdonald accidentally dropping an F-bomb on Weekend Update. Ferrell was at his peak, while the hosts gelled nicely with the cast every week. Even the season's lesser episodes, hosted by Pamela Anderson, Rosie O'Donnell, and Bill Pullman, found ways to be funny. When all the parts are turning, "SNL" is unbeatable.

5. Season 14 (1988-89)

After running the show practically by themselves for two seasons, Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman needed another great cast member alongside them. Lorne Michaels heeded the call by hiring Mike Myers. No one could have predicted just how incredible an addition Myers would be, but he quickly built a terrific rapport with Carvey and the rest was history.

Carvey and Myers would become the greatest duo on "SNL" ever, sparked by the creation of their recurring hit segment "Wayne's World," which would spawn two movies, a "Bohemian Rhapsody" revival, and a lifetime of saying "Party on!" Season 14 gave us a bevy of laughs, along with some recurring gems, like "Toonces," "Sprockets," and Carvey impersonating the new President of the United States, George Bush. Oh, and Ben Stiller was in the cast for four episodes.

Some great one-off sketches came, too, including "Mr. Short-Term Memory," Jan Hooks imitating Tammy Wynette, and "Gary Busey Motorcycle Helmets." Hosting vets Tom Hanks and Steve Martin shined like always, while non-regulars Matthew Broderick and Wayne Gretzky proved they could hold their own in Studio 8H. Season 14 was the dawn of a new age, where political spoofs were at an all-time best, "Wayne's World" was king, and Carvey's George Bush was prudent as ever.

4. Season 21 (1995-96)

It cannot be overstated enough how incredibly "Saturday Night Live" was able to transition after the floundering Season 20. Chris Farley and Adam Sandler were gone, replaced by Groundlings alumni Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, and Chris Kattan, Season 20 featured player Molly Shannon, and stand-up comics Darrell Hammond and Jim Breuer. Norm Macdonald helmed Weekend Update once again, where he got overzealous with the O.J. Simpson trial coverage, and future Weekend Update anchor Colin Quinn was waiting in the wings as a featured player.

Some of the most recognizable "SNL" characters were made here, as Ferrell and Kattan introduced the "Night at the Roxbury" brothers, Breuer perfected his Joe Pesci impersonation, Oteri and Ferrell injected life into the Spartan cheerleaders, and Shannon's armpit-smelling Mary Katherine Gallagher soared to incomparable comedic heights. David Spade found his place post-Farley with "Spade in America: Hollywood Minute," which was like an alternate, snarkier, and funnier Weekend Update.

Even though the Season 21 cast was almost totally new, they found electricity quickly. Ferrell, very quickly, began carrying Eddie Murphy's torch, Phil Hartman returned to Studio 8H for an episode, and John Goodman and Christopher Walken returned to solidify their legacies as some of the show's best hosts ever. The "Jacuzzi Lifeguard" sketch in the season finale warrants a high ranking alone.

3. Season 3 (1977-78)

Oh, how terrific "Saturday Night Live" Season 3 was from beginning to end. Chevy Chase returned to host an episode, and it was a smash hit. Steve Martin hosted three times. Buck Henry led another terrific season finale. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin became co-Weekend Update anchors and remained the show's best until the mid-2000s.

Season 3 gave us some of the show's greatest characters — King Tut, Father Guido Sarducci, Roseanne Roseannadanna, and the Festrunk Brothers. The greatest seasons of "SNL" are the ones where subpar hosts are bailed out by a terrific cast. Episodes featuring Hugh Hefner, Art Garfunkel, and Jill Clayburgh were not crown jewels, but the work of Aykroyd, John Belushi, Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray propelled the show to the moon.

But what makes Season 3 a shining entry in the show's history is Episode 18, when Martin returned to host for the third time and the Blues Brothers (Belushi and Aykroyd) appeared as the musical guest. Aykroyd and Curtin debate abortion on Weekend Update, Martin performs as King Tut, and Theodoric of York returns. Few episodes click like that one, but when you have a cast of raw, hilarious comedians in your pocket, it's hard to miss.

2. Season 34 (2008-09)

Anytime there is a presidential election afoot, "Saturday Night Live" thrives off the never-ending supply of material gifted to them by bumbling politicians. Season 34 capitalizes on the heated race between Barack Obama and John McCain. Fred Armisen and Darrell Hammond spoofed the candidates, and the episodes featuring debates between the two are season highlights. However, the best political moments came from Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton and Tina Fey, who returned as a guest performer after leaving the show in 2006, as Sarah Palin.

Infamously, the "I can see Russia from my house!" line uttered by Fey as Palin remains one of the greatest and funniest moments. Beyond the political segments, we got "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals," more "MacGruber," and "Digital Shorts," as well as "The Rock Obama." Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake, Will Ferrell, and Anne Hathaway all dazzled as hosts, but Olympian Michael Phelps' turn at the helm of the season premiere is a demerit against the season.

However, perhaps the biggest reason why Season 34 ranks so high on this list is that it may be the strongest and most well-rounded cast in the show's history. Armisen, Hammond, and Poehler were joined by Will Forte, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, and Kenan Thompson. Everyone was in their prime, and future veterans Bobby Moynihan and Abby Elliott gave some great on-screen moments as featured players. Seth Meyers and Poehler anchored the best iteration of Weekend Update, solidifying Season 34's greatness.

1. Season 7 (1981-82)

Dick Ebersol rebuilt what Jean Doumanian had assembled the year prior while filling in for Lorne Michaels. After retaining Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy, Ebersol brought back the cast members who filled in for the last episode of Season 6 — Christine Ebersole, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, and Tony Rosato. Replacing Charles Rocket, Brian Doyle-Murray was promoted to Weekend Update anchor and National Lampoon Magazine alumni Michael O'Donoghue was the head writer for half the season.

What makes Season 7 the greatest season of all time is much simpler than Ebersol's cast overhaul. Plainly put, this was the season of Eddie Murphy. He turned into a scene-stealing star right before everyone's eyes as he introduced some of his, and the show's, greatest characters — "Buckwheat," "Velvet Jones," and "Gumby." His "Mr. Robinson" character returned for more neighborhood lessons, and he continued to play movie and TV critic Raheem Abdul Muhammed on Weekend Update.

John Belushi may have been the first star of "SNL," but Murphy transformed what power the Not Ready For Primetime players could wield. He and Piscopo provided consistently great material while the newbies found their footing. With a better-supporting cast, Season 7 would be the undisputed best season across the board. The fact that Murphy, practically by himself, carried Season 7 into the echelons of the show's history solidifies that he is the show's greatest cast member, and his 1981 to 1982 season is the greatest anyone has had on the Studio 8H stage.