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The cast of Saturday Night Live has included many actors and actresses. Since the show's fifth season, the cast has been divided into upper and lower groups, with cast members often promoted up.

The Not Ready for Prime Time PlayersEdit

Main article: The Not Ready for Prime Time Players

The original cast was called The Not Ready for Prime Time Players, a name intended to mock Howard Cosell's "Saturday Night Live", whose cast members were known as the "Prime Time Players".

Repertory PlayersEdit

When Lorne Michaels and the original cast departed at the end of season five, new producer Jean Doumanian decided to retain the two-tier system that had been created the season before (see below). "The Not Ready for Prime Time Players" would become reserved for the original cast, and the new top tier of Doumanian's cast became known as the Repertory Players, a name still used today.

Few large turnovers have taken place since season 21. As such, no new cast members are hired directly as repertory players- all repertory players are promoted from featured. The last cast members hired directly to repertory status were Ana Gasteyer and Tracy Morgan, both hired for season 22 (though Chris Parnell was fired after season 26 and rehired directly to repertory in the following season).

Featured PlayersEdit

The Featured Players are the lower tier of cast members.

The separate grouping was created for season five. At the end of the previous season, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi had departed.Michaels decided to also create a lower tier of cast members for bit parts. Previously, writers had played these parts uncredited, and indeed, most of the new credited cast members were long-time writers on the show. (During the season, Harry Shearer was promoted to The Not Ready For Prime Time Players; he was the first featured player ever promoted and the only person to ever be promoted to The Not Ready For Prime Time Players.)

When Doumanian took over the following year, she decided to keep this two-tier system. While the entire cast was new, she placed the actors into separate categories. That season also marked the first time a featured player was promoted to repertory, when Eddie Murphy was moved.

After Doumanian's firing, new producer Dick Ebersol made little use of the featured player category, with only one in season 7 (Brian Doyle-Murray, a featured player in season five and writer under Doumanian), and none in the following three seasons. When Lorne Michaels returned for season 11, he did as Doumanian had done in the sixth season and placed his new cast into two groups, thus cementing the system. From Michaels return into the 1990s, featured players were only credited when they were scheduled to appear; in any given episode, only some of the featured players on the cast roster would appear in the opening montage.

The featured players are where new cast members are placed; all new cast members since season 23 have started as featured.

Middle cast categoryEdit

Seasons 16-18 used a system of dividing the cast into three groups. The new middle group didn't have an official name; announcer Don Pardo simply prefaced the first name with the word "with", while variously using "with" or "starring" to introduce the repertory players. When the category was created, it was comprised two new cast members, Chris Farley and Chris Rock; after season 18, all five members of the category were promoted to repertory status.

TimelineEdit

  Repertory     Featured     Middle group     Other role  

Vertical lines indicate season start dates
A horizontal black line indicates the anchor(s) of Weekend Update

Seasons 1-20Edit

Molly ShannonMorwenna BanksMark McKinneyLaura KightlingerChris ElliottJanene GarofaloMichael McKeanNorm MacDonaldJay MohrSarah SilvermanMelanie HutsellEllen CleghorneRobert SmigelSiobhan Fallon HoganBeth CahillAdam SandlerTim MeadowsJulia SweeneyChris FarleyChris RockDavid SpadeRob SchneiderBen StillerMike MyersKevin NealonPhil HartmanDana CarveyVictoria JacksonJan HooksA. Whitney BrownDan VitaleDamon WayansDennis MillerJon LovitzNora DunnDanitra VanceTerry SweeneyRandy QuaidAnthony Michael HallRobert Downey, Jr.Joan CusackPamela StephesonMartin ShortRich HallChristopher GuestBilly CrystalJim BelushiJulia Louis-DreyfusGary KroegerBrad HallMary GrossChristine EbersoleEmily PragerLaurie MetcalfTony RosatoTim KazurinskyRobin DukePatrick WeathersMatthew LaurenceYvonne HudsonEddie MurphyGail MatthiusDenny DillonCharles RocketAnn RisleyGilbert GottfriedJoe PiscopoAlan ZweibelTom SchillerPeter AykroydDon NovelloBrian Doyle-MurrayJim DowneyPaul ShafferAl FrankenTom DavisHarry ShearerBill MurrayGilda RadnerLaraine NewmanGarrett MorrisJane CurtinJohn BelushiDan AykroydChevy ChaseMichael O'Donoghue

Seasons 21-40Edit

Leslie JonesPete DavidsonSasheer ZamataKyle MooneyBeck BennettBrooks WheelanNoël WellsJohn MilhiserMichael CheCecily StrongAidy BryantTim RobinsonKate McKinnonJay PharoahTaran KillamVanessa BayerPaul BrittainMike O'BrienBobby MoynihanNasim PedradJenny SlateAbby ElliottMichaela WatkinsCasey WilsonColin JostBill HaderKristen WiigAndy SambergRob RiggleJason SudeikisKenan ThompsonFinesse MitchellFred ArmisenWill ForteSeth MeyersAmy PoehlerJeff RichardsDean EdwardsJerry MinorMaya RudolphRachel DratchHoratio SanzChris ParnellTina FeyJimmy FallonTracy MorganAna GasteyerChris KattanColin QuinnFred WolfDarrell HammondWill FerrellCheri OteriJim BreuerNancy WallsDavid KoechnerMolly ShannonTim MeadowsNorm MacDonaldMark McKinney

Seasons 41-presentEdit

Chris ReddLuke NullHeidi GardnerMelissa VillaseñorAlex MoffatJon RudnitskyMikey DayLeslie JonesPete DavidsonMichael CheColin JostKyle MooneyBeck BennettCecily StrongAidy BryantKate McKinnonVanessa BayerBobby MoynihanSasheer ZamataJay Pharoah

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