Saturday Night Live - Season 42

First comes denial: “Wait, what? Bill Hader can’t leave SNL — he’s in, like, every sketch! There must be a mistake.” Next is anger: “This is crap. How could you do this to us, Hader? How could you deprive us of Stefon, and James Carville, and a screen presence that single-handedly elevates every dumb game show parody? We’ll never forgive you. Never.”

That’s followed, of course, by bargaining: “Listen — if you stay, we’ll stop complaining that the show hasn’t been funny since [insert year here]. We’ll laugh at all the musical monologues, and sympathize when you’re forced to fill a hole with a commercial parody rerun. We’ll even stop harping about how lame The Californians is. Just… just please don’t go.”

And then comes depression… the stage in which many of us find ourselves now.

We may never truly accept the fact that Hader is exiting SNL after eight rubber-faced, wonderfully goofy years. Perhaps, though, the road to acceptance is paved with Hulu videos — and if nothing else, we’ll take any excuse to watch and rewatch Hader’s greatest Saturday Night Live creations. Which of them will you miss most when the comedian takes his final bow this Saturday? Click through our unscientifically compiled list of his 10 best recurring characters — both impressions and originals, all of which have appeared at least three times on the show — and vote for your favorite at the end of the post.

James Carville

Hader imbues many of his celebrity impersonations with a unique, absurd energy, transforming them into full-blown characters in their own right. Case in point: His ragin’ Cajun James Carville, a giddy swamp creature who may as well be a completely original creation. And while a cartoonish Louisiana accent makes anything sound funny, it really does wonders with this line: “Now, it doesn’t matter why, but I am friends with some alligators.”

Alan Alda

Of course,even when Hader does play an impression relatively straight, he’s still great. Alan Alda is probably his most technically proficient impersonation; close your eyes, and you’d have no idea that Hader was the one speaking.

Keith Morrison

In Hader’s eyes, the Dateline host is a loveable sadist who takes not-so-secret delight in all the horrible things his interviewees have experienced. If you can keep a straight face while he’s grinning and saying “oooooooh nooooo!”, you’re a stronger person than most.

Vincent Price

Like his frequent costar Kristen Wiig, Hader has an old-fashioned quality that makes him particularly good at playing vintage types. And even if his spooky, nasal Vincent Price was occasionally overshadowed by the guests at his Halloween soirees, he still had plenty of moments.

Clint Eastwood

A furrowed brow, an ultra-gravelly voice, and a pair of very, very high-waisted pants are all Hader needs to transform into the bundle of old, white male rage known as Clint Eastwood, a.k.a. Batman. Watch it before the Chinese get you.

NEXT: Hader’s original characters, starting with a certain fan favorite


What’sleft to say about the fey club kid who’s racked up an astonishing 15 Weekend Update appearances in the past three years? Just this: If we don’t see him one last time this Saturday, there will be hell to pay.

Greg, who is not an alien

Definitely not. Nope.

The third Merryville brother

It’s always impressive when a guest host is talented enough to play a robot in this recurring sketch — but the bit is really made by the creepy grin Hader wears whenever he pops up to play that triangle.

Herb Welch

The mumbly veteran reporter and his wandering mic can be hit or miss — literally — but when he’s on, he’s on. Imagine Hader’s Clint Eastwood, only about 150 years older.

The quintessential game show host

This one’s sort of a cheat, because Hader isn’t technically playing the same character every time he stands behind a podium and reads off a set of absurd questions. Still, these parody sketches won’t be the same without Hader’s perma-grin and perfectly smarmy delivery, which go a long way toward redeeming even the most uninspired premise (The Secret Word, anyone?).

Did I miss any of your favorites? Feel free to nominate them in the comments!

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Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 47
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
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