SNL Throwback: The 10 Best Female Cast Members

SNL is one of TV's best comedy shows, and that wouldn't even be close to true without a strong cast of players. Over its 40+ year history, the show has had more than a hundred cast members. While some didn't leave much of an impression, the women on this list did. These are SNL's best female cast members. This list will only include cast members that have left SNL, so current favorites like Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong are not included.

Honorable Mentions: Vanessa Bayer, Laraine Newman, Jan Hooks
All three of these ladies delivered some all-time great performances on SNL, and I wanted to include them all on this list. Unfortunately, they all came up a bit short. That's not to discredit their great SNL careers, however, as they all made great cases for inclusion in the list.

10- Maya Rudolph
Maya Rudolph spent nine seasons on SNL, and in that time was always one of the cast members you looked forward to seeing the most. She brought Beyonce and Donatella Versace onto SNL with stellar, hilarious impressions. She worked alongside Ana Gasteyer (Gemini's Twin) and Amy Poehler (Bronx Beat) to create some of the most memorable recurring sketches. There's nothing she didn't do during her time on SNL, having one of the most diverse groups of recurring original characters and impressions to her name. In the past season of SNL, she returned to play Kamala Harris in Democratic debates and, despite the big names gathered on the stage to play the ridiculously long list of Democratic candidates, she always stood out the most.

9- Molly Shannon
Molly Shannon was a major comedic force on SNL. She brought some of the zaniest, most high energy characters to the screen, such as Mary Katherine Gallagher and Sally O'Malley (who is 50!). She also was part of the iconic duo from the Delicious Dish, playing a character that was, to put it mildly, a bit different from the "superstar" Mary Katherine Gallagher. Shannon gave her all in every single performance and it was hard not to look forward to her SNL appearances throughout her seven-season run. She constantly brought something fun and unique to the table.

8- Ana Gasteyer
Ana Gasteyer was a part of SNL during two of my favorite eras, both the mid-late 90s and the early 2000s. In that time, she brought many famous characters to the SNL stage. Most notable would probably by Delicious Dish's Margaret Jo McCullin, known mainly for the Schweddy Balls sketch. She's so much more than just that one sketch, though. Her Martha Stewart impression is one of my very favorite impressions from the history of SNL. The Culps, her sketch with Will Ferrell, was unbelievably stupid but in such a good way. The list of characters she played is so versatile that it's almost unbelievable that the same person is behind them all.

7- Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is probably one of the most famous of the women from SNL, and there's a good reason for that. She's truly is one of the funniest people to ever be on the show. Her SNL career is very impressive, with popular original characters, multiple famous impressions, and a long tenure behind the Weekend Update desk. It's not easy to do all of that on a show like SNL, where it's really a competition to get on air, and it's impressive that she managed to do it all, and do it all so well.

6- Rachel Dratch
Debbie Downer holds a very special place in my heart. The most unpleasant character in SNL history is something that shouldn't really work, but Rachel Dratch makes it happen. I find her to be one of SNL's most underrated cast members. She doesn't have a long line of characters that are famous on the level of Debbie Downer, but whenever she was in a sketch, she always made it better and that's the mark of a great comedic talent. I'm so glad that she returned the past year to play Amy Klobuchar so that she could be reintroduced to new generations of SNL viewers.

5- Kristen Wiig
One of the brightest stars from SNL in the past few decades, Kristen Wiig is behind some of the 2000s greatest recurring characters. The full list of her iconic characters is too long to list here, but Dooneese and the Target Lady are probably my favorites. The characters she brought to life were all so silly, and we all need a bit of silliness in our lives. I can always count on watching an old Kathie Lee and Hoda or Judy Grimes sketch to put a smile back on my face.

4- Jane Curtin
The original woman to host Weekend Update, and part of SNL's all-time great original cast, Jane Curtin was never the silly one on SNL. She usually ended up as the straight (wo)man in the sketches, but it worked so well. Every great sketch needs someone like that and nobody did it better than Jane Curtin. That she could say something in such a serious way and still make you burst into laughter is a true gift.

3- Cheri Oteri
The Spartan Cheerleaders are my favorite recurring character ever on SNL, and while I loved Will Ferrell in the sketch, Cheri Oteri is what made it for me. She was able to spit off a thousand jokes a minute as Arianna, on top of performing some of SNL's best-ever physical comedy. The Spartans always bring back a certain level of nostalgia from me because the episodes from the mid-1990s were my first taste of SNL. Cheri Oteri's sketches from that era were always the ones I looked forward to most, be it the Spartans, or Morning Latte, or Leg Up, or Nadeen, or Rita DelVecchio.

2- Sarah Palin Tina Fey
When I think of SNL, Tina Fey is one of the first people that comes to mind. Her time at the Weekend Update desk is the best of any Update host, between her time with Jimmy Fallon and her time with Amy Poehler. She's also one of the most reliable SNL hosts of any former cast member.
More than anything, though, her impersonation of Alaska's former governor Sarah Palin is the best political impression this show has ever seen. Her SNL resume is so impressive that it's impossible not to put her near the top of any list of SNL cast members.

1- Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner isn't just my pick for the best female cast member of all time, I'd also say she's the best cast member of all. She's responsible for such characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Baba Wawa, and Emily Litella, though she was more than just her recurring characters. She was a gifted comedian, who wasn't afraid to get a bit silly when she needed to, occasionally cracking up on screen, which she somehow turned into a positive even though breaking usually is discouraged. She was someone who made a real impact on SNL. It's hard to imagine what those early shows, or even today's shows, would be like without her. She was the greatest of all time.

What do you think of my list? Who are your favorite women of SNL? Let me know in the comments and vote in the poll!

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