Tina Fey to Adam Sandler: See All the Former 'SNL' Stars Who Returned This Season

8:45 AM 5/16/2019

by Lauren Huff

As the 44th season comes to a close, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back at the familiar faces who came back to Studio 8H this year, including Steve Martin, Bill Hader, Steve Carell and more.

From left: Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Steve Martin
From left: Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Steve Martin
Getty Images

Some of Hollywood's biggest comedic stars got their start on Saturday Night Live, which wraps up its 44th season on Saturday.

The long-running NBC comedy show is no stranger to welcoming some of its alums back to the stage of 30 Rockefeller's Studio 8H, and this year was no different. Several former castmembers, writers and other past contributors to the show made special appearances this season as hosts, guest stars, cold-open contributors and more.

As the season comes to a close, The Hollywood Reporter looks back on the former SNL stars — from Tina Fey to Adam Sandler and Jason Sudeikis to Steve Martin — who returned to the show this year.

  • Seth Meyers

    Episode: Oct. 13

    Will Heath/NBC

    The former SNL head writer and castmember hosted the show on Oct. 13. The episode featured a Donald Trump-centric cold open and a monologue that addressed the fact that the now-president played his father in a sketch when he hosted in 2004. Meyers also talked about not being surprised by rapper Kanye West’s support for Trump.

    Meyers also starred in a commercial parody for a supplement used to counteract male enhancement pills, as a cop in a sketch about "thirsty cops," and he even had a chance to play himself in a bit about a liberal Southern talk show, where he was asked to fight a biscuit wearing a MAGA hat. In that same sketch, castmember Heidi Gardner played the newly political Taylor Swift.

    And, perhaps most notably, Meyers stepped behind the "Weekend Update" desk, which is where he spent most of his time on the show during his lengthy tenure.

  • Steve Carell

    Episode: Nov. 17

    Will Heath/NBC

    Carell returned to the comedy show to host for his third time in November. And although he was never technically a castmember or writer, some of The Office star's first work in television was for SNL. Across 13 episodes from 1996-2011, Carell voiced "Gary" in a series of Robert Smigel-produced animated shorts that also featured Stephen Colbert. The sketches, which were about two men known as The Ambiguously Gay Duo, was originally featured on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show and later lived on on SNL.

    Highlights of the Carell-hosted episode include the cold open, in which Carell's former Office castmates showed up to implore him to sign on for a reboot of the beloved comedy.

    Later on the show, in a prerecorded sketch, Carell portrayed Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who talked about the announcement of the new company headquarters in Brooklyn and northern Virginia. He proceeded to troll President Donald Trump in various ways, like announcing a new delivery service called Amazon Caravan and outfitting delivery drones with a Trump-esque toupee.

    Carell also played a dumb dad trying to tell his kids that he was taking them to Disney World without realizing that his wife had left him, as well as a NASA astronaut on a space mission gone wrong. He also appeared in a Thanksgiving-inspired musical sketch, as well as another musical bit that spoofed Grease’s “Beauty School Dropout” scene, with Carell playing a teen girl’s dad moonlighting as a guardian angel giving advice.

  • John Mulaney

    Episode: March 2

    Will Heath/NBC

    The comedian, who cut his teeth as a writer on SNL for six seasons, returned as host for the second time on March 2. 

    Mulaney, who won an Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics for his work on a Justin Timberlake monologue song in 2011, did a full stand-up routine for his monologue, telling an anecdote about his wife and their French bulldog Petunia running into Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn on a New York City sidewalk and riffing on the prerecorded messages on NYC’s subway system.

    Other highlights include a sketch in which Mulaney appeared in a game show parody called "What’s That Name?" (which was hosted by Bill Hader), a digital short parody of Scream with friend Pete Davidson, a sequel to Mulaney's cult-hit sketch "Diner Lobster" and a commercial parody for a product called the Toilet Death Ejector.

  • Adam Sandler

    Episode: May 4

    Will Heath/NBC

    Sandler made his hosting debut with the May 4 episode, almost 30 years after he first joined SNL as a writer in 1990 and became a featured player the following year. He left the show following poor ratings in 1995.

    Sandler, who popularized such characters as Opera Man, Canteen Boy and the Gap Girls (with Chris Farley and David Spade) during his tenure, made a noteworthy and cameo-heavy return to the show.

    He was joined by Chris Rock during his monologue, which featured a song about getting fired by NBC. He reprised his Opera Man character on "Weekend Update" to poke fun at President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And, in a more touching moment of the night, Sandler paid tribute to former SNL castmate Chris Farley, who died in 1997.

    Other Sandler sketches during the night included a musical short that featured Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett singing about how clothes are just holes, with Sandler appearing for a guitar solo. He also played the host of an Italian tourism company in a commercial parody in which he warned potential travelers that they would still be sad on vacation. Other previous castmembers, including Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig, made cameos on the episode, including in a sketch that featured Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Sandler making out, Lady and the Tramp-style.

  • Tina Fey

    Episode: Nov. 3

    Will Heath/NBC

    Fey was an integral part of SNL from 1997-2006, acting as the show's first female head writer, a performer of countless classic characters (including Sarah Palin) and a long-running co-anchor of "Weekend Update" during her tenure. She also has hosted the show five times.

    During the 44th season, when Jonah Hill hosted the show for his fifth time, Fey, in addition to Candice Bergen and Drew Barrymore, dropped by to be a part of his "Five-Timers"-themed monologue-turned-sketch.

    Donning a robe with a "5" on it, Fey welcomed him to the club, adding, "When we get to the five timers lounge, just be cool." 

    Inside the lounge, Bergen jokingly mixed him up with Seth Rogen, and the sketch showed how different the club looked in the Time's Up era. Fey quipped that the men weren't allowed in the club at the time because "turns out, they're all a bunch of horny perverts — Time's Up on that, you know?"

  • Rachel Dratch

    Episode: Sept. 29

    Will Heath/NBC

    Dratch's tenure at SNL spanned from 1999-2006 — during which she brought to life such recurring characters as Debbie Downer, Abe Scheinwald, Denise, Sheldon and more — although she's appeared on the show several times since then.

    In one such appearance, during the season 44 premiere, Dratch played Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the cold open of the Adam Driver-hosted episode. The memorable cold open featured Matt Damon as (then) Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his contentious confirmation hearing. 

    Dratch's Klobuchar questioned Kavanaugh about his drinking habits during the hearing. "I was the proudest, drunkest virgin you've ever seen," Damon's Kavanaugh said in defense of himself.

    The sketch also featured Sens. Chuck Grassley (played by Alex Moffat), Dianne Feinstein (Cecily Strong), Thom Tillis (Mikey Day), Cory Booker (Chris Redd), John Kennedy (Kyle Mooney), Sheldon Whitehouse (Pete Davidson) and Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon) and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell (Aidy Bryant).

  • Bill Hader

    Episode: March 2

    Will Heath/NBC

    Hader was a castmember from 2005-2013, and has also hosted twice since then. The Barry star also wrote for a handful of episodes during his time on the show.

    More recently, Hader appeared on the Mulaney-hosted March 2 episode in two separate sketches — although he didn't revive his beloved character Stefon, "Weekend Update's" flamboyant New York City correspondent, in either.

    In the first, Hader appeared in the cold open as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan in a sendup of Michael Cohen’s (played by Ben Stiller) testimony before a Congressional committee.

    In the other, Hader played the host of a game show called "What's That Name?" Contestants played by Mulaney and Cecily Strong could name celebrities but struggled to name the girlfriends and wives of their friends and colleagues. Strong’s character was a “woman who doesn’t support other women,” and Hader tormented Mulaney’s character throughout.

  • Fred Armisen

    Episode: Dec. 1

    Will Heath/NBC

    Armisen played dozens of characters and numerous impersonations during his time as a castmember from 2002-2013, and hosted the show on May 21, 2016.

    When he appeared on the Dec. 1 episode this season, Armisen played Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during the political cold open.

    The skit also featured Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen. Armisen appeared with Beck Bennett's shirtless Vladimir Putin in a riff on the president's reaction to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • Steve Martin

    Episode: Jan. 26

    Courtesy of NBC

    Martin's long history with the show dates back to the 1970s. The actor, writer and producer has hosted the show a near-record 15 times, most recently in 2009.

    In SNL's cold open on Jan. 26, Alex Moffat played Fox News personality Tucker Carlson in a rundown of the week’s news, while Martin made a surprise cameo as Trump associate Roger Stone, who had recently been arrested and charged with seven felony counts, including lying to Congress.

    "The whole experience was so harrowing," Martin's Stone said of having his house raided, adding that he could only stomach doing one radio interview, a press conference and two television appearances after posting bond.

    He noted that no one is buying his books "because they’re bad" and said he had set up a donation page because of the financial burden. Martin's Stone quipped that he's naming the foundation after a common phrase he hears Trump tell him: "Hey, Roger — go fuck yourself!"

    "Honestly, I think I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life," added Martin's Stone, insisting that he's not a "poor, helpless old man." He also quipped that he's 66, which means he’s "almost as old as Sting."

    Martin's Stone later directed a message to Trump: “Pardon me!”

  • Jason Sudeikis

    Episode: April 6

    Will Heath/NBC

    Sudeikis was hired as a sketch writer for Saturday Night Live in 2003, and was a castmember from 2005-2013. Some of his recurring characters include his portrayals of real-life figures George W. Bush, Joe Biden and Mitt Romney.

    In season 44, Sudeikis reprised his role of Biden in the cold open of the April 6 episode, which touched on the recent accounts of the potential 2020 presidential candidate’s alleged misconduct. Advisors played by castmembers Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon provided "sensitivity training" for the former vice president.

    “Joe’s a good guy, and he means well. He’s just a little behind the times,” Strong said before Sudeikis’ Biden burst into the room.

    “It’s about all the touchy-feely stuff,” Thompson said when Sudeikis' Biden wondered why they were all gathered. “I’m a hugger, I’m a kisser and I’m a little bit of a sniffer,” Sudeikis’ Biden admitted.

    He also kept requesting that “Legs” by ZZ Top be played throughout the cold open, and when McKinnon entered, he did a prolonged forehead touch with her. “No tickling at all,” she instructed Sudeikis’ Biden.

    “No tickling — even on her birthday,” he repeated for clarification. He also asked if he could do the iconic Dirty Dancing lift with a woman he had just met.

    Aidy Bryant played a Democratic voter meeting Biden for the first time, and Sudeikis wondered how to greet her, deciding to “greet her like a man” by taking her under his arm and rubbing her head.

  • Chris Rock

    Episode: May 4

    Will Heath/NBC

    Rock, who joined the sketch comedy show in 1990 and left in 1993, came back this season to sing about getting "fired by NBC" with host Adam Sandler on May 4. 

    "Why did I leave the show? Well, Adam, I got fired," Rock started singing. "I was fired. I was fired by NBC. Then I went on In Living Color. Three weeks later they took it off TV."

    Current castmember Pete Davidson also joined for the musical monologue, with Sandler warning him that he could be next to get fired.

    Rock has hosted SNL twice himself, and made numerous cameo appearances over the years.

  • Kristen Wiig

    Episode: May 4

    Will Heath/NBC

    Wiig first appeared on SNL during the 2005 season, but was bumped up to full-time castmember in 2006. One of the most lauded former castmates of the show (she left in 2012), Wiig has been nominated for Emmys for her SNL work on six different occasions.

    Wiig, who last appeared on the show in 2016, broke her streak on the May 4 episode, joining fellow former castmember Adam Sandler for a "Sandler Family Reunion" sketch. She played Sandler's mother.

    Despite trying to spark a conversation with her, Wiig consistently yelled, "They’re all gonna laugh at you," as she referenced Sandler's popular song from his debut album. 

    Wiig also played Sandler's character's wife in a sketch named "Last Call." The scene followed a bartender (Kenan Thompson) who witnesses the unfortunate hookup between Sheila Sovage (Kate McKinnon), Bernie Letzman (Sandler) and his wife Melba (Kristen Wiig).

    Jimmy Fallon also appeared in the bit.

  • Jimmy Fallon

    Episode: May 4

    Will Heath/NBC

    The late-night host first appeared on SNL as a featured player in 1998, and was a castmember until 2004.

    During his tenure, Fallon was known for doing impersonations of Robert De Niro, Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern, and he popularized such original characters as Nick Burns, Wade, The Leather Man, Pat "Sully" Sullivan and stoner college student Jarret.

    He would also go on to co-host the "Weekend Update" desk with Tina Fey in his later years on the show.

    This season, Fallon joined fellow former castmember Adam Sandler for a "Sandler Family Reunion" sketch. Dressed in a wig, glasses and suit, Fallon spoke gibberish during the sketch. Eventually, Fallon did break out into song, which ended up being something familiar to Sandler: his iconic "Hanukkah" song.

    Kristen Wiig also appeared in the scene.