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Top 10 Saturday Night Live Characters

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Lorne Michaels’ creation “Saturday Night Live” debuted October 11th, 1975, and since then the show has given birth to hundreds – if not thousands – of original characters, ridiculous sketches, and spot-on impersonations. In honor of Andy Samberg’s birthday on August 18th, 1978 and Kristin Wiig’s birthday on August 22nd, 1973, counts down our picks for the top 10 "Saturday Night Live" original characters of all time. For this list, we’ve excluded impressions of real people, and have tried to pick a few personalities from every era of the show. Special thanks to our user Daniel McDonald for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page!

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Top 10 Saturday Night Live Characters

Live from New York, they’re the personalities that crack us up most. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 “Saturday Night Live” original characters.

For this list, we’ve excluded impressions of real people, and have tried to pick a few personalities from every era of the show.

#10 – Stefon (Debuted: November 1, 2008)

If you need to find something for your family to do while visiting New York, he’s not your guy. No, “SNL” city correspondent Stefon is better suited to find you a freaky, nightmarish club experience. Written specifically to make Bill Hader break on live-TV, this gay club kid was a bright spot during recent years, whose love for Seth Meyers got him a helluva memorable “SNL” send-off.

#9 – Opera Man (Debuted: April 18, 1992)

Weekend Update was never the same after Opera Man came to town: this caped correspondent comments on current events with signature operatic skills. By that we mean he babbles his way through jokes in a way only Adam Sandler can pull off. Sure, the nonsense Italian may seem clichéd now that we’ve seen him do similar stuff for decades, but at the time this was his breakout character.

#8 – Spartan Cheerleaders (Debuted: November 11, 1995)

They put the “pep” in “pep rally” – sorta. School spirit soars to new heights with Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as Craig and Arianna, better known as the Spartans. With energy to spare, this perky pair actually didn’t make the cheerleading squad, so they’re relegated to rooting for the chess or swim teams. Physical comedy, weird personalities and great rhymes made this one of the ‘90s’ most frequently-seen couples.

#7 – The Coneheads (Debuted: January 15, 1977)

They’re like any family: they wear pajamas everywhere, have boring jobs and consume mass quantities of cigarettes, junk and beer. Except they hail from the planet Remulak, speak in monotone and have oddly-shaped heads. Played by “SNL” originals Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman, the Coneheads were some of the first recurring characters, and with their memorable quirks it’s no surprise they also have a cult fave film.

#6 – The Blues Brothers (Debuted: January 17, 1976)

Elwood and Joliet Jake form one of the most unforgettable pairings in “SNL” history. Brought to life by a harmonica-playing Dan Aykroyd and a blues-singing John Belushi, these well-dressed rock star bros bring R&B to the “SNL” stage. The duo only showed off their genuine musical chops on the show a few times, but their popularity grew with the release of their album, and their full-length feature.

#5 – Mr. Robinson (Debuted: February 21, 1981)

What’s our special word for today, Mr. Robinson? In Eddie Murphy’s “SNL” days, he was about all they had to show off, and show off he did – but mostly with impersonations. However, this original character was a standout. When we say “original,” we mean a ghetto, street-wise Mr. Rogers, complete with cardigan and sneakers, puppet show, and life lessons. We’d love to be your neighbor, Mr. Robinson.

#4 – The Festrunk Brothers (Debuted: September 24, 1977)

With groovy polyester clothes, strong accents and slightly off American slang, Yortuk and Georg aren’t your average Czechoslovakian immigrants: they’re trying everything to fit in with Americans, and to touch as many big American breasts as possible. Without Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s crazy party animals and their many swinging adventures, we’d never have been introduced to characters like Doug and Steve Butabi, or even these guys.

#3 – Matt Foley (Debuted: May 8, 1993)

He’s constantly giving wacky advice, hitching up his slacks, and reminding people where they’ll be if they don’t stay on the straight-and-narrow. Motivational speaker extraordinaire Matt Foley is a textbook example of a performance-driven “SNL” character: without the temper, hyperactivity and willingness to withstand physical injury that Chris Farley brings to the smashed table, this would be a chuckle-worthy skit. But with them, his co-stars can’t keep themselves together.

#2 – Samurai Futaba (Debuted: December 13, 1975)

Much like Farley did later, John Belushi turned a simple premise into comedy gold with his physical skills. In this case, that premise involves a skilled samurai out of his normal milieu, performing feats of awesomeness in bizarre places. By wielding his katana, doing everything with honor and speaking gibberish faux-Japanese, Belushi transcends the racist-ness of the idea to create a classic “SNL” personality.

#1 – Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar (Debuted: February 18, 1989)

While both Mike Myers and Dana Carvey had success with solo characters, and other hilarious team-ups, they’re at their most totally excellent as Wayne and Garth. Two heavy metal die-hards, hosting a cable-access show in their parents’ basement, talking tunes and Schwing-worthy babes. Fortunately, their big-screen adaptation was totally worthy of its source material, and reminds us why Queen and car rides go hand-in-hand. Party on!

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think are the best “SNL” characters? If your favorite wasn’t on the list, be sure to check out our Top 10 “SNL” Sketches, and subscribe to for more great top 10s.

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