With hundreds of episodes from each season of Saturday Night Live finally available on Netflix Instant Watch, we thought we’d put together a few of the highlights to help you get your bearings. Obviously, it’s an overwhelming amount of material that’s available, so this guide will help point you to interesting or historic episodes, notable guest hosts, and where the appearances are of classic characters.
It should be noted that a few of the seasons are still not yet available, specifically seasons 26-30. Netflix will presumably be adding those at some point, and we’ll update this guide when they do. But until then, here’s a somewhat obsessive guide to all of the seasons of SNL currently available to stream on Netflix.
Update: Netflix has added seasons 26-30, and I have added those seasons to the guide below, so this is now complete!
Season 1, Episode 1: The first episode — George Carlin hosts, Andy Kaufman makes a guest appearance.
Season 2, Episode 15: The first episode to be nominated for and to win an Emmy. Sissy Spacek hosts.
Season 3, Episode 18: Steve Martin hosts, the show includes Martin performing “King Tut,” a Fenstrunk Brothers sketch, a Nerds sketch, and an appearance from the Blues Brothers. This one was nominated for an Emmy as well.
Season 5, Episode 14: The 100th episode! The show goes without a host to celebrate.
Season 5, Episode 20: The last episode Lorne Michaels produced until he came back to the show in 1985. Also the last episode for almost the entire season five cast.
Season 6, Episode 7: Eddie Murphy’s first episode as a repertory cast member.
Season 10, Episode 1: First episode with Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Martin Short as cast members.
Season 11: Lorne Michaels returns as producer and brings back many of the shows original writers. He also adds veteran comics and a few new faces to the cast, such as Joan Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Randy Quaid, Terry Sweeney, and Damon Wayans.
Season 12, Episode 1: Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, and Kevin Nealon appear as cast members for the first time.
Season 16, Episode 1: First episode for Chris Farley, Chris Rock, and David Spade.
Season 23, Episode 10: Colin Quinn takes over as Weekend Update anchor.
Season 25, Episode 16: Christopher Walken hosts, the episode includes his “Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult” sketch, as well as an early appearance of Tiny Fey, and Dana Carvey as George H. W. Bush in the cold open.
Season 26, Episode 1: Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey’s first episode as anchors of Weekend Update.
Season 26, Episode 12: Molly Shannon’s last episode as a cast member.
Season 27, Episode 1: The first episode to air after the attacks of September 11th. Rudy Giuliani and members of the New York City Fire Department appear during the cold open to introduce the episode and urge everyone to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Season 27, Episode 20: Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer’s final episode as cast members.
Season 28, Episode 1: First episode featuring Will Forte and Fred Armisen.
Season 29, Episode 20: Jimmy Fallon’s final episode. Also the Olsen twins host! Great.
Season 30, Episode 1: Amy Poehler appears as co-anchorer of Weekend Update for the first time.
Season 31, Episode 9: Digital short “Lazy Sunday” is featured.
Season 31, Episode 13: Natalie Portman hosts, and digital short “Natalie Raps” is featured.
Season 32, Episode 1: Seth Meyers takes over for Tiny Fey as co-anchor of Weekend Update.
Season 32, Episode 9: Justin Timberlake hosts, and digital short “Dick in a Box” is featured.
Season 1, Episode 7 : Richard Pryor hosts and is put on a seven-second delay.
Season 1, Episode 17: Ron Nessen, press secretary for Gerald Ford. (Gerald Ford also opens the show with, “Live from New York…”)
Season 2, Episode 5: Steve Martin, the first of 15 hosting gigs.
Season 3, Episode 11: Chevy Chase, the first former cast member to come back as a host.
Season 8, Episode 7: Drew Barrymore, the youngest host at seven years old.
Season 8, Episode 8: Eddie Murphy, the only person to host while still a cast member. Also during the cold open he announced, “Live from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy show!”
Season 15, Episode 11: Christopher Walken hosts for the first time, debut of The Continental sketch.
Season 20, Episode 4: Dana Carvey hosts and is joined by George H. W. Bush during the cold open.
Season 26, Episode 3: Dana Carvey hosts.
Season 26, Episode 6: Tom Green brought along his own writers for this episode. Also, during the monologue he asks Drew Barrymore, who is in the audience, to marry him on air that night. (She declines.)
Season 26, Episode 14: Conan O’Brien hosts.
Season 27, Episode 12: Brittany Spears hosts to promote Crossroads and brings with her, for a few sketches, fellowCrossroads and former SNL cast member Dan Aykroyd and then-boyfriend and future SNL host Justin Timberlake.
Season 28, Episode 2: John McCain hosts, becoming the first and only active US Senator to host SNL.
Season 1, Episode 4: First appearance of Chevy Chase’s “Land Shark.” The character also appears in seasons two and three, and once during Weekend Update in the second episode of season 27.
Season 2, Episode 11: First appearance of the “Coneheads,” who also show up in seasons three and four.
Season 3, Episode 1: First appearance of the “Fenstrunk Brothers.”
Season 3, Episode 10: First appearance of the “Nerds” sketch.
Season 3, Episode 15: First “Point/Counterpoint” on Weekend Update.
Season 14, Episode 13: First appearance of “Wayne’s World.”
Season 14, Episode 15: First appearance of Mike Myers as Dieter in the “Sprockets.”
Season 14, Episode 20: First appearance of “Toonces the Driving Cat.”
Season 15, Episode 14: Host Fred Savage, dressed as the Church Lady, plays the Church Lady’s niece, Enid.
Season 16, Episode 10: Debut of the “Superfans.”
Season 16, Episode 11: The first reading of one of Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts.”
Season 17, Episode 7: First appearance of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.
Season 17, Episode 18: Adam Sandler’s first appearance as Opera Man.
Season 18, Episode 19: Chris Farley’s first appearance as Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, with Christina Applegate hosting.
Season 19, Episode 13: Adam Sandler, as Canteen Boy, is molested by his scoutmaster, Alec Baldwin.
Season 21, Episode 4: Molly Shannon’s first appearance as Mary Katherine Gallagher.
Season 21, Episode 5: First appearance of Will Farrell and Cheri Oteri as the “Spartan Cheerleaders.”
Season 21, Episode 16: First appearance of Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as the “Roxbury Guys.”
Season 22, Episode 1: First episode featuring Robert Smigel’s “Saturday TV Funhouse,” with an Ambiguously Gay Duo cartoon.
Season 22, Episode 8: First “Celebrity Jeopardy!”
Season 22, Episode 17: First appearance of Jim Breuer, Chris Kattan, and Molly Shannon’s “Goth Talk.”
Season 23, Episode 2: Tim Meadow’s first appearance as the “Ladies Man.”
Season 23, Episode 3: Chris Kattan’s first appearance as Mango.
Season 27, Episode 2: Chevy Chase makes an appearance during Weekend Update as the Landshark.
Season 28, Episode 2: In Will Ferrell’s absence, Chris Parnell takes over as George W. Bush.
Season 28, Episode 8: Al Franken appears as Stuart Smalley in this Al Gore-hosted episode.
Season 29, Episode 12: Will Forte’s first appearance as George W. Bush.
Season 29, Episode 17: Tracey Morgan returns to reprise his role as Brian Fellow.
Season 29, Episode 18: Rachel Dratch’s first appearance as Debbie Downer.
Season 30, Episode 16: All promoting different projects, Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, and Justin Timberlake appear during a “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch.
Season 30, Episode 18: Host Will Ferrell appears as Gene Frenkle (“More Cowbell!”) in musical guest Queens of the Stone Age’s performance of “Little Girl.”
Season 31, Episode 6: Bill Hader appears as Vincent Price in “Vincent Price’s Holiday Special.”
Season 34, Episode 1: Tina Fey appears as Sarah Palin.
Season 34, Episode 5: Andy Samberg appears as Mark Wahlberg in “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals.”
Season 1, Episode 3: In lieu of a music guest, John Belushi, as Joe Cocker, performs “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
Season 1, Episode 18 and Episode 21: Lorne Michaels appears on the show and offers the Beatles $3,000 to perform three songs. He appears again to up the ante with hotel accommodations.
Season 2, Episode 16: Billy Murray, “urged,” as he says, by Lorne Michaels, appeals directly to the audience to let them know that he doesn’t think he’s “making it on the show.”
Season 4, Episode 13: Andy Kaufman plays the bongos. You know what we’re talking about.
Season 5, Episode 10: Chevy Chase hosts and, during the monologue, brings Bill Murray on stage to sing a duet and make amends for fight they allegedly had backstage the previous time he hosted.
Season 7, Episode 5: William S. Burroughs performs spoken word, which is a weird thing.
Season 8, Episode 7: The audience is given a choice of whether or not Andy Kaufman would appear on the show again. Through viewers at home calling a 1-900 number, Andy Kaufman is banned from performing on Saturday Night Live.
Season 17, Episode 14: Madonna is a guest in the Coffee Talk sketch, Barbra Streisand makes a surprise appearance unknown by the panelists in advance.
Season 18, Episode 2: This is the one during which Sinéad O’Connor rips up the picture of the Pope.
Season 19, Episode 1: Mike Judge’s “Office Space” cartoon premieres.
Season 22, Episode 6: Bob Dole shows up in the cold open to tell Norm McDonald to stop impersonating him after he lost the 1996 election.
Season 22, Episode 10: Monty Python’s Michael Pail and John Cleese appear in the cold open and a few sketches, and perform the Monty Python sketch “Dead Parrot.”
Season 26, Episode 10: Janet Reno appears in a sketch with Janet Reno, played by Will Ferrell.
Season 27, Episode 3: In the third episode back after September 11th, Colin Quinn appears during Weekend Update to give his “New Yorker’s” take on the current events.
Season 29, Episode 2: As a parody of all of the celebrities running for governor when the episode aired in 2003, Carl Weathers appears in a sketch announcing his candidacy as governor of any state.
Season 29, Episode 8: Chris Kattan returns to make an appearance in host Elijah Wood’s monologue, as Gollum.
Season 30, Episode 8: TV Funhouse’s “Blue Christmas” airs, in which Santa skips over the red states that reelected George W. Bush.
Season 33, Episode 4: Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama makes a cameo during the cold open.
Season 33, Episode 6: Then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a cameo during the cold open.
Season 34, Episode 5: Sarah Palin makes an appearance during the cold open and Weekend Update.
Season 35, Episode 7: Host Joseph Gordon-Levitt performs Singin’ In the Rain‘s “Make ‘Em Laugh” during the opening monologue.
Okay, what’d I miss? Obviously this guide isn’t complete, so leave any other gems you’ve found in the comments!
Kelly Conaboy writes a lot, but it’s never about anything.