Lorne Michaels probably didn’t anticipate 40 seasons of Saturday Night Live when he began the show in 1975. In order to keep up with the ever-shifting comedy world (“Jane, you ignorant slut” probably wouldn’t go over as well today), and because of the show’s inherent catapult mechanism, cast changes are inevitable, though some departures have been more contentious than others.
The last season, the show’s 39th, saw the second-largest turnover in the show’s history with eight new cast members. The biggest was in 1995, when Will Ferrell was one of nine new players in the 21st season. The upcoming 40th season has only two new members, but six of season 39’s performers are out. To help everyone keep up with the change, and put it in the context of SNL’s history, Entertainment Weekly has crafted a helpful timeline. It’s a fascinating look at the long-running show’s ebbs and flows, and seeing all the fired cast members who have gone on to be big stars could be a beacon of hope for Brooks Wheelan.