'SNL' Longest Running Cast Members: Maya Rudolph to Kenan Thompson

They may be “not ready for primetime,” but some of these stars have lasted longer in the big leagues

Thom Geier


Jason Sudeikis — 9 seasons (2005-13) The Second City alum already had an “SNL” connection as the nephew of “Cheers” star George Wendt, who famously played “Da Bears” superfan Bob Swerski. Best characters: Officer Sikorsky, Mitt Romney, Joe Biden, DJ Supersoak

Maya Rudolph — 9 seasons (2000-07)The Groundlings veteran joined the cast for the final three episodes of the 1999-2000 season and then stayed for nearly a decade — and memorably returned to play a spot-on version of VP Kamala Harris in 2000. Best characters: Beyoncé Knowles, Nuni Schoener, Space Creature from “Gays in Space,” Kamala Harris, “Bronx Beat” co-host Jodi Dietz

Kevin Nealon — 9 seasons (1986-95)Nealon joined the cast in 1986 on the recommendation of Dana Carvey — and the two soon broke out as “pump you up” bodybuilders Hans and Franz. He also anchored “Weekend Update” from 1991-94. Best characters: Franz, Mr. Subliminal, Frank Gannon – Politically Incorrect Private Investigator

Bobby Moynihan — 9 seasons (2008-17)Moynihan landed on “SNL” after appearing in the Seth Meyers-directed web series “The Line.” Best characters: Drunk Uncle, second-hand news reporter Anthony Crispino, Pizzeria Uno waiter Mark Payne, underground rock fan Ass Dan

Cecily Strong — 9 seasons and counting (2012 – present)The Second City alum co-anchored “Weekend Update” with Seth Meyers and then Colin Jost before shifting into sketch work that played to her strengths for impressions and deadpan delivery. Best characters: The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, Jeanine Pirro, Kyra from “Girlfriends Talk Show”

Aidy Bryant — 9 seasons and counting (2012 – present)The Second City alum became a go-to player for a wide range of roles. Best characters: Morgan of “Girlfriends Talk Show,” Ted Cruz, Li’l Baby Aidy, Tonker Bell, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Tim Meadows — 10 seasons (1991-2000)Meadows was a clutch utility player throughout the ’90s who in one memorable sketch played both O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings. (Given the dearth of Black cast members, he also was tapped to impersonate Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg.) Best characters: “Ladies Man” Leon Phelps, O.J. Simpson, Dr. Poop, Jingleheimer Joe

Kate McKinnon — 10 seasons and counting (2012-present)The longest serving female cast member of “SNL” (and the show’s first openly lesbian star) has been a dynamo on the show who has earned two Primetime Emmys for her work. Best characters: Hillary Clinton, Old Hollywood star Debette Goldry, Whiskers R We founder Barbara DeDrew, Rudy Giuliani

Al Franken — 11 seasons (1977–80; 1986; 1988–95) The future U.S. senator had an off-and-on run on the show both as a writer and performer — and quit in protest in 1995 after losing the “Weekend Update” anchoring gig to Norm Macdonald. Best characters: Stuart Smalley, Henry Kissinger, Pat Robertson

Fred Armisen — 11 seasons (2002-13) The former drummer for the ’90s punk band Trenchmouth made quite an impression in his 11 seasons — playing a wide range of characters of different genders and ethnicities (including, controversially, Barack Obama). Best characters: Stuart from “The Californians,” Garth of Garth and Kath, Venezuelan comic Fericito

Seth Meyers — 13 seasons (2001-2014)Meyers joined the cast with Amy Poehler and enjoyed a record 10-year run as the anchor of “Weekend Update.” He also served as the show’s head writer. Best characters: “Weekend Update” anchor, Dave “Zinger” Clinger, Michael Caine, Dan Needler

Darrell Hammond — 14 seasons (1995-2009)The gifted impressionist who impersonated more than 100 people on the show used to hold the record for the longest-serving cast member. He also served as the show’s announcer after Don Pardo died in 2015. Best characters: Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, Jay Leno, Donald Trump

Kenan Thompson — 18 seasons and counting (2003-present)Thompson, who first broke out in the 1990s Nickelodeon sketch series “All That” and co-starred with Kel Mitchell in the 1996-2000 sitcom “Kenan & Kel,” joined “SNL” in 2003. After two years as a featured player on “SNL,” he was promoted in 2005 — and has cemented his reputation as the longest-serving cast member in the show’s history. Best characters: Diondre Hall, host of “What’s Up With That,” Steve Harvey, “Cinema Classics” host Reese De’What, Al Sharpton
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