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Celebrate 40 years of the show by looking back at its greatest creations.

cathy suhocki
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1 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​The Spartan Cheerleaders (Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri)

This pair of rejected cheerleaders brought their school spirit and unique style to such atypical sporting events as a chess tournament and the match competition. And although Ariana and Craig were outcasts (Ariana particularly always battled an off-screen nemesis named Alexis), they always got the last word with their odd (and hilariously choreographed) cheers: "We are the mighty Spartans riding up your AstroTurf. People say you're so ugly, Godzilla gave you birth!" Perfect cheer, indeed.

2 of 40 RM Lewis Jr./NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Church Lady (Dana Carvey)

Well, isn't that special? Dana Carvey's uptight, self-righteous Church Chat host loved nothing more than admonishing all things secular when the naughty celebrity guest of the moment dropped by for verbal lashing. It's frankly a shame Church Lady was so ahead of her time because she would have a field day with today's tabloid-fueling, fame-thirsty sinful stars.

3 of 40 NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon)

Superstar! Molly Shannon's socially awkward Catholic school girl succeeded because of her manic energy and complete commitment to physical comedy. Whether jumping through walls, smelling her armpits or navigating wild mood swings, Shannon always delivered, making the character a fan favorite that eventually earned its own feature film.

4 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​The Ladies Man (Tim Meadows)

Dr. Drew's got nothing on Leon Phelps. Tim Meadows' lispy, smooth-talking call-in radio host who can woo any "skank" gave hilarious, but perhaps not the best, relationship and sex advice. (Unless you think all your problems can be solved with some Courvoisier.) He does get points for bringing '70s pimp style and 'fro back. The Ladies Man was one of the select few SNL characters to make it to the big screen, though the film didn't too hot at the box office. Now, he lives on as Meadows' Twitter handle.

5 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Mango (Chris Kattan)

As if we needed a reason to love a man who wears lamé shorts and a beret? Male exotic dancer Mango, who was irresistible to women and both gay and straight men, became such a hit with the show he even appeared in an Alexander Wang campaign video. Although we can never listen to the song "Missing" by Everything but the Girl ever again.

6 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Stefon (Bill Hader)

Normally, when an SNL cast member breaks during a sketch it's unbearably annoying (see: Jimmy Fallon). But Hader managed to turn his own inability to stay in character into one of Stefon's most charming qualities. The hands-covering-face absurdity juxtaposed with Seth Meyers' patient responses always combined to be one of the best sketches of the night. Plus, without Stefon we'd never know what New York's hottest club is – or where to find DJ Baby Bok Choy, human fire hydrants, Gay Liotta, or sunburned drifters with soap bubble beards.

7 of 40 NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi)

What started as a sketch in which the duo performed in bee costumes soon took on a life of its own. Soon after the sketch debuted, The Blues Brothers developed their signature style and their 1978 debut album hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart. The characters went on to spawn two feature films, the first of which has become a comedy classic and the second of which… well, let's not get into that. But even Blues Brothers 2000 can't tarnish the great musical legacy of Jake and Elwood Blues.

8 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Roxbury Guys (Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell)

Doug and Steve Butabi are the last two people you would ever want to run into at a club, but we'll never say no to watching them inflict their antics on unsuspecting strangers. The recurring sketch was always a great place to showcase that week's host and even helped give Richard Greico relevance again when he appeared in the movie adaptation. But the real reason we love the Roxbury guys is that they taught us Haddaway's "What Is Love" will never go out of style.

9 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Wayne and Garth (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey)

Schwing! These two metal-loving clowns hosted a public-access talk show in Aurora, Illinois, during which they discussed their favorite bands and, most importantly, babes. The duo's excitable, fun-loving nature was so infectious that the characters translated to twoWayne'sWorldfilms, which are unquestionably the most successful of anySNL-to-big screen translation. Party on!

10 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Babette (Nora Dunn)

Nora Dunn's recurring "Weekend Update" character, foreign correspondent and sex kitten Babette, may be the only person in entertainment who can make something like tax forms sound hilariously sensual (and keep a straight face while doing so). An overly-dramatic French hooker with a heart of gold (or something like that), Babette always managed to keep up appearances even when she was on the run from the IRS.

11 of 40 Al Levine/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer (Phil Hartman)

Sure, Mr. Keyrock – actually, just Keyrock – may seem like a typical snooty pretentious attorney with a place on Martha’s Vineyard and a BMW. But while his “primitive mind” may still be confused by simple things like cell phones and traffic lights, he’s smart enough to know just how to win over any jury. No matter what kind of case he was arguing, Keyrock never failed to play up his struggle as a caveman frozen for 1,000 years, which helped played a big role in his courtroom success. We do not object!

12 of 40 RM Lewis Jr./NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy)

Eddie Murphy's brilliant depiction of Buckwheat (or rather, Buh-wheat) – a grown-up version of the popular Little Rascals character – solidified his place as one of the best SNL performers of all time. Though it's nearly 35 years old, the sketch "Buh-Weet Sings," in which Buckwheat performs his "Greatest Hits" (including a rendition of "Three Times a Lady" re-imagined as "Fee Times a Mady"), is just as funny now as it was in 1981.

13 of 40 Gerry Goodstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Linda Richman (Mike Myers)

As the host of "Coffee Talk," Richman brought out all of our inner Jewish mothers with her big hair, big glasses, lots of gold and New York accent. And without Linda (who was actually a spoof on Myers' real-life mother-in-law), how would anyone outside of New York City know Yiddish words like verklempt?

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​Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin)

A take on the typical American family, the alien-family hilariously tried to blend in with humans despite the fact that they had bizarre habits (like huge appetites), monotone voices and heads shaped like cones. The sketch was so successful it was turned into movie.

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​Wild and Crazy Guys (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd)

The two "Wild and Crazy Guys!" (aka Czech brothers George and Yortuk Festrunk) were a staple on SNL in the 1970s. A precursor for Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan's Night at the Roxbury duo, the political refugee fish-out-of-water characters delighted in acclimating to American culture by wooing "swinging chicks" and bragging about their "large bulges."

16 of 40 ger/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Nat X (Chris Rock)

In the early 1990s, SNL fans were introduced to Nat X, the militant, afro'd host of the radio show "The Dark Side" who continually ranted against white culture and The Man. With much of the material drawn from Rock's own stand-up routines, "The Dark Side with Nat X" featured segments including the "White Man Cam" and interviews with "celebrities" including Vanilla Ice (Kevin Bacon) and director Spike Lee.

17 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch)

Rachel Dratch's perfect deadpan delivery and unique facial expressions were the highlight of every Debbie Downer sketch. Her delightfully off-topic and depressing one-liners ("Feline AIDSis the number one killer of domestic cats") were perfectly scored to thesad trombone sound effect, which usually forced Dratch — and everyone else — to break character.

18 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Margaret Jo McCullen and Teri Rialto (Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon)

Gasteyer and Shannon debuted "Delicious Dish," their culinary NPR spoof, in 1996, turning dull monotone into unintentionally filthy, easygoing listening. But it wasn't until Dec. 12, 1998, that the sketch entered immortality when Pete Schweddy (Alec Baldwin) showed off his Schweddy Balls, a delectable holiday snack the ladies found "tender" and "bigger than I expected."  The ladies last appeared in 2010 to welcome Florence Dusty (Betty White) and her famous Dusty Muffin. We still don't understand how they got through all this without breaking.

19 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Goat Boy (Jim Breuer)

Sure, it's a one-note joke, but Jim Breuer's half-human, half-goat hybrid was a hilarious recurring character on SNL in the 1990s. What's funnier than watching a grown man unable to stop himself from kicking and braying like a goat? Pretending said man is a VJ trying to host an MTV show while doing so. Baaah!

20 of 40 Reggie Lewis/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Hans and Franz (Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon)

Kids these days may not have heard of (or seen) "Pumping Up with Hans and Franz," but they've definitely heard Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon's enduring catchphrases. As cartoony meathead Austrian bodybuilders, the two wore padded muscle suits to mock Arnold Schwarzenegger and other weak "girly men" who can't keep up with their hardcore workout regimen. It's so wonderfully simple and stupid that you wonder why no one had done it before. More than a decade later, The Governator himself would drop "girly men" and "pump you up" in his political speeches. And a decade after that, Hans and Franz pumped up that Discount Double Check dude.

21 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Dooneese (Kristen Wiig)

Kristen Wiig's Dooneese is, um, hands down the weirdest of the Maharelle Sisters singing quartet on "The Lawrence Welk Show." As if the giant, balding five-head, snaggletooth and baby hands weren't a dead giveaway, you could always count on Dooneese to cap off a performance with a total non-sequitur (she likes to eat roadkill, FYI) that Wiig always delivered with a knowing twinkle. If nothing else, she makes for a great Halloween costume.

22 of 40 Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​The Lovahs (Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch)

As if the average American hotel hot tub isn’t enough of a cesspool, Professors Roger and Virginia Klarvin took things to another level at their regular hangout: the Jacuzzi at the Welshley Arms Hotel. The pretentious pair was known for over-enunciating nearly every word and oversharing all of their love-making desires and techniques over spiced lamb shanks and under the moonlight. The only thing more disgusting than hearing about their groping hands and twitching thighs? Virginia’s dated side ponytail and Roger’s unkempt beard. Someone drain this spa STAT!

23 of 40 Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Matt Foley (Chris Farley)

Few sketches used Chris Farley's gift for physical comedy better than those featuring Matt Foley, a motivational speaker whose tactics were anything but motivational. Abrasive, unkempt and clumsy, Foley's commentary was always filled with sarcastic cynicism and wild gestures that often ended with broken furniture. However, despite his lack of skill, Foley did inspire his clients to do better. After all, they didn't want to end up "35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!"

24 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Pat (Julia Sweeney)

Back in the day, Pat was so popular, he/she warranted an original theme song and a movie! But today, audiences might be much more split on whether the androgynous character was light years ahead of its time or wildly offensive because every sketch was defined by society’s struggle to figure out which gender Pat was. The only thing everyone could agree on was that Pat, literally, had the most annoying laugh on the entire planet.

25 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Nick the Lounge Singer (Bill Murray)

Nick the Lounge Singer was a cheesy as his profession implied. Wearing gold chains and loud shirts that exposed his chest hair, the mustachioed Nick delivered his schmaltzy performances with gusto and creativity, changing lyrics when it suited him. His most famous rendition was the Star Wars theme song, to which he added such lyrics as, "Star Wars / Nothing butStar Wars / Give me thoseStar Wars / Don't let them end!" Often, the episode's host or musical guest would be part of Nick's audience, which allowed him to ooze and schmooze with style, often making ridiculous segues from their conversation to his next song. Nick was one of Murray's most popular characters on the show.

26 of 40 NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner)

Radner was one of the first female breakout stars on SNL, and perhaps her best known character was "Weekend Update"'s brash, New Jersey-hating consumer affairs reporter Roseanne Roseannadanna.In answering fan questions, Roseanna often veered into (usually very graphic) tangents about her own personal encounters (often to the disgust of "Weekend Update" co-host Jane Curtin).

27 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Dieter (Mike Myers)

Before Austin Powers, there was Dieter, Mike Myers' understated, gay West German talk show host whose blasé disdain for his guests was always good for a laugh. With his pet monkey Klaus as a sidekick, Dieter andSprocketshelped make Myers one of the breakout stars on SNL in the '90s, with his slicked-back hair, wire-rimmed glasses and black turtlenecks – not to mention his techno-influenced dance moves – still an iconic look today.

28 of 40 Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Stuart Smalley (Al Franken)

Reportedly inspired by people Franken met at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Stuart Smalley was the host of the self-help series "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley" and also spawned the movie Stuart Saves His Family. We can't help but wonder whether Franken, when he was running for Senate, looked into the mirror and recited, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

29 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Kaitlin (Amy Poehler)

This hyperactive ball of energy was always fun to watch because Poehler expertly toed the line of being a precocious brat without actually crossing it. While the character did little else than run around the stage and screech 100-words-a-minute stories at her shlubby, beleaguered stepfather Rick ("Rick! Rick! Rick!"), it always worked — particularly when we met Kaitlin's other pre-teen friends (Lindsay Lohan was a memorable guest) and when Poehler's off-script antics made Horatio Sanz crack up.

30 of 40 Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Sully and Zazu (Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch)

Move over, Matt and Ben! These two, also known as “The Boston Teens” are the real pride of Beantown. Just kidding! When Sully wasn’t talking up the Red Sox – particularly former shortstop “Nomah” Garciaparra – and talking crap about the Yankees, the wicked crazy high school lovebirds furiously made out on camera like it’s going out of style. Even beloved Boston native Ben Affleck made several appearances as Sully and Zazu’s friend Donnie Bartalotti. Although Fallon, sadly, was not onSNL by the time the Sox actually won the World Series in 2004, viewers learned of the couple’s happy marital ending when he returned to host in 2011. Hopefully, Nomah got an invite!

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​Ambiguously Gay Duo (Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell)

A parody of Batman and Robin, these animated superheroes, Ace and Gary, continue to beg the question: Are they or aren't they? While attempting the foil the evil plots of villain Bighead, Ace and Gary cruise around in their penis-shaped vehicle, touch each other's butts and display questionable behavior laden with innuendo. More often than not, Bighead, the evil henchmen and even the police get sidetracked from pressing matters at hand to debate the duo's sexuality.

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​Toonces the Driving Cat (Dana Carvey, Victoria Jackson)

When Lyle and Brenda Clark decide to let their family pet Toonces take the car for a spin, their lives (and ours) were changed forever. "See, I told you he could drive! Just not very well!" they would exclaim, before Toonces inevitably drove the car off a cliff. While the same punchlines and crash footage were used in each sketch, SNL always found ways to keep Toonces fresh with parodies like The Tooncinator, Toonces Without a Cause or even having Brenda and Lyle abducted by Martians.

33 of 40 Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Samurai Futaba (John Belushi)

Inspired by Toshiro Mifune's samurai character Yojimbo, John Belushi created Samurai Futaba, who tries out a variety of regular jobs with only his katana and fake Japanese to help him. After appearing as the mild-mannered Mr. Dantley opposite the Samurai in his debut skit, Buck Henry insisted the Samurai return for each of his subsequent gigs as host. Among the various vocations the Samurai tried were psychiatrist, dry cleaners, tailor, stockbroker, optometrist and baker.

34 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Gumby (Eddie Murphy)

Murphy wore greenface to play the popular children's series claymation character, but his take aged up the character as a jaded, foul-mouthed, has-been actor who punctuates his sentences with, "Dammit!" Besides the outrageously condescending way that Gumby would treat others around him, part of the humor was visual, showing Gumby clutch a cigar in one foam-rubber mitt or dressing him with scarves and hats that somehow stayed put on his asymmetrical head.

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​Land Shark (Chevy Chase)

Following the release ofJaws, the Land Shark made his way into the Saturday Night Livewaters to prey on unsuspecting or incredibly gullible victims. Voiced by Chevy Chase in a deadpan manner, the Land Shark's M.O. involved him trying to convince his prey to open their front doors by pretending to be repairmen, door-to-door salesmen and the like. After a muffled exchange through the door, somehow the Land Shark would convince the victim to invite him into their home, at which point a giant shark's head would then engulf the victim.

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​Canteen Boy (Adam Sandler)

Essentially an overgrown Boy Scout, Adam Sandler's "Canteen Boy" is a shy 27-year-old scoutmaster who's often picked on by other characters and excels at snake-calling. In 1994, the recurring skit drummed up controversy when host Alec Baldwin played a scoutmaster who blatantly hits on Canteen Boy, resulting in the show getting criticism from fans who felt that the sketch was homophobic and mocked pedophilia.

37 of 40 Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Ed Grimley (Martin Short)

Originally created when Martin Short was part of the Second City Comedy Troupe, nerd extraordinaire Ed Grimley is a hyperactive, cowlicked man of indeterminate age who's stuck in arrested development. His SNL antics included playing the triangle, being obsessed with Wheel of Fortune, and once harassing Jesse Jackson for the duration of a nine-hour flight.

38 of 40 Fred Bronson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Mr. Bill (Dan Aykroyd)

Oh, noooo! A children's character designed to amuse adults, Mr. Bill is a clown made of Play-Doh that was created by Aykroyd in the mid-1970s. Decades before South Park made a recurring joke of killing Kenny in every episode, Mr. Bill's dog Spot met his fate repeatedly. And, Mr. Bill's own legacy has endured, with the character appearing on Medium in 2010 and in a 2011 commercial for Wonderful Pistachios. He also has his own iPhone game.

39 of 40 R.M. Lewis Jr./NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar (Jon Lovitz)

Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar (Jon Lovitz)

How did this “Weekend Update” regular become such a notorious fibber? The first indication may have been Tommy’s hand-rubbing. Or his frequent pauses. Or his claim that he’s married to Morgan Fairchild. Despite all of these tics (and more), Tommy would do whatever he could to make himself sound cooler and more important than he actually was, much to the delight of viewers.

40 of 40 Raymond Bonar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

​Sweeney Sisters (Nora Dunn and Jan Hooks)

Following in the footsteps of Nick the Lounge Singer, Liz and Candy Sweeney were also a singing lounge act that specialized in singing standards that would segue into each song based on the last word sung or said. The singing tended to be high-pitched and enthusiastic, and their signature was to include the first few lines of "The Trolley Song" (popularized by Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis): "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley / Ding, ding, ding went the bell."