Saturday Night Live season 49 episode guides: Hosts, musical guests, best sketches

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: "Saturday Night Live" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: "Saturday Night Live" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal) /

Saturday Night Live season 49 had to get over some hurdles before it even began. But once things got rolling in Studio 8H, SNL season 49 delivered.

The Writers Guild of America strike cut Saturday Night Live season 48 short by three episodes. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new for a show that has had other recent seasons and episodes disrupted by the pandemic.

Fortunately, the WGA received an acceptable offer and allowed the Saturday Night Live season 49 release date to avoid major delays. And with only Chloe Troast being added to the cast, SNL season 49 cast changes were minimized. Here’s a list of the SNL season 49 cast members:

  • Michael Che
  • Mikey Day
  • Andrew Dismukes
  • Chloe Fineman
  • Heidi Gardner
  • Marcello Hernandez
  • James Austin Johnson
  • Punkie Johnson
  • Colin Jost
  • Molly Kearney
  • Michael Longfellow
  • Ego Nwodim
  • Sarah Sherman
  • Kenan Thompson
  • Chloe Troast
  • Devon Walker
  • Bowen Yang

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 1

  • Date: October 14, 2023
  • Host: Pete Davidson (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Ice Spice (first time)
  • Songs: “In Ha Mood,” “Pretty Girl” feat. Rema
  • Cameos: Travis Kelce, Taylor Swift, John Mulaney
  • Most Popular Sketch: “I’m Just Pete”

Former cast member Pete Davidson returned after initially being scheduled to host in May during season 48. Davidson delivered a moving monologue to address the violence in Israel and Palestine before doing what he does best. In SNL’s season premiere, it parodied the Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce crazeBarbie, and Deion Sanders’ college football splash.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 2

  • Date: October 21, 2023
  • Host: Bad Bunny (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Bad Bunny (second time)
  • Songs: “Un preview,” “Monaco”
  • Cameos: Pedro Pascal, Mick Jagger, Fred Armisen, Lady Gaga
  • Most Popular Sketch: “Protective Mom 2”

Bad Bunny’s star power was on full display from his monologue to the goodbyes. He proved he was up for anything, playing absurd characters in sketches like “Telenovela.” And the rapper got a major assist from Pedro Pascal and Mick Jagger cameos, while Lady Gaga introduced his first musical performance. Toss in a Fred Armisen pretape appearance and a Jim Jordan cold open, and episode 2 had something for everyone.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 3

  • Date: October 28, 2023
  • Host: Nate Bartgatze (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Foo Fighters (ninth time)
  • Songs: “Rescued,” “The Glass” feat. H.E.R.
  • Cameos: Christopher Walken, Padma Lakshmi
  • Most Popular Sketch: “Washington’s Dream”

Nate Bargatze didn’t come into his first SNL hosting gig as a household name. But by the time the episode ended, it’s safe to say he earned a lot more fans. The episode seemed perfectly tailored to his sense of humor and delivery, making it the strongest show of the first three. Christopher Walken’s cold open cameo also gave him a chance to introduce the Foo Fighters 20 years after they served as his musical guest. Mikey Day also became the eighth different performer to play Joe Biden on SNL.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 4

  • Date: November 11, 2023
  • Host: Timothee Chalamet (second time)
  • Musical Guest: boygenius
  • Songs: "Not Strong Enough," "Satanist"
  • Cameos: Alec Baldwin
  • Most Popular Sketch: “Museum of Hip-Hop Panel”

Timothee Chalamet’s second time hosting Saturday Night Live leaned into sequels. We got “Giant Horse,” the follow-up to “Tiny Horse,” and “Museum of Hip-Hop Panel,” the sequel to “Hip-Hop Roundtable.” Chalamet seemed to enjoy the SNL stage, which translated well in the sketches and with the audience. Ron DeSantis also made his debut as John Higgins stepped into the role. An Alec Baldwin cameo came as a surprise, while boygenius proved to be a band that can’t miss.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 5

  • Date: November 18, 2023
  • Host: Jason Momoa (second time)
  • Musical Guest: Tate McRae
  • Songs: "Greedy," "Grave"
  • Cameos: None
  • Most Popular Sketch: “Thanksgiving Week Airport Parade”

Jason Momoa returned to Saturday Night Live with the same energy as the first time, along with the same willingness to do the absurd. It was the first episode of season 49 without a cameo, making the Aquaman actor was the star of the show. Bowen Yang also delivered on “Weekend Update” with another perfect parody of George Santos. A touching gesture for Dana Carvey at goodnights following the death of his son closed out a strong episode.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 6

  • Date: December 2, 2023
  • Host: Emma Stone (fifth time)
  • Musical Guest: Noah Kahan (first time)
  • Songs: "Dial Drunk," "Stick Season"
  • Cameos: Tina Fey, Candace Bergen
  • Most Popular Sketch: “Posters”

Emma Stone became a member of the Five-Timers Club at just 35 years old. This episode proved why the Oscar winner deserves to come back to Studio 8H again and again. While none of the sketches were mind-blowing, Stone rose to the occasion and delivered. Bowen Yang gave George Santos the sendoff he deserved in the cold open. Meanwhile, Michael Longfellow had a homerun at the “Weekend Update” desk where he’ll hopefully have an open spot going forward.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 7

  • Date: December 9
  • Host: Adam Driver (fourth time)
  • Musical Guest: Olivia Rodrigo (second time)
  • Songs: "Vampire," "All-American Bitch"
  • Cameos: Julia Stiles
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Airplane Baby"

Adam Driver managed to salvage an otherwise uneven episode. Things started poorly with an ill-conceived cold open attempting to parody a congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses. Thankfully, Cecily Strong backed out of a planned cameo in the opening sketch. From there, Driver once again proved he's one of the best SNL hosts of his generation. Julia Stiles brought down the house in a Save the Last Dance bit during "Weekend Update."

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 8

  • Date: December 16
  • Host: Kate McKinnon (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Billie Eilish (third time)
  • Songs: "What Was I Made For?," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  • Cameos: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Greta Gerwig, Paula Pell
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Whiskers R We"

SNL welcomed back Kate McKinnon for its 2023 Christmas episode. The former cast member brought positive vibes back to Studio 8H and reminded fans how she can get laughs even when the material isn't the strongest. The nostalgia continued when Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph joined the monologue and popped up in multiple sketches during the night. But the real highlight was at the "Weekend Update" desk where Colin Jost and Michael Che revived their "joke swap" gag in perhaps the best edition yet.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 9

  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Host: Jacob Elordi (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Reneé Rapp (first time)
  • Songs: "Snow Angel," "Not My Fault" feat. Megan Thee Stallion
  • Cameos: Megan Thee Stallion, Rachel McAdams
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Club Shay Shay Extended Cut"

Saturday Night Live got off to a false start in 2024, delivering the weakest episode of the season. Host Jacob Elordi didn't seem to have quite the same range as previous hosts. At the same time, the material became repetitive at times as the focus was largely on the actor's appearance. Reneé Rapp delivered on her end of the bargain, getting assists from Megan Thee Stallion and Rachel McAdams along the way. Perhaps SNL would have been better served asking the singer and Mean Girls star to pull double duty.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 10

  • Date: January 24
  • Host: Dakota Johnson (second time)
  • Musical Guest: Justin Timberlake (sixth time)
  • Songs: "Sanctified" featuring Tobe Nwigwe, "Selfish"
  • Cameos: Jimmy Fallon, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Please Don't Destroy - Roast"

Dakota Johnson's second time hosting Saturday Night Live didn't make the same splash as her debut. But the Madame Web star seemed genuinely happy to be there, even if the material didn't match her enthusiasm. Johnson was at her best in the Please Don't Destroy sketch and won over the audience by laughing at herself. Justin Timberlake teamed up with Jimmy Fallon for "The Barry Gibb Talk Show" to deliver a nostalgia sketch.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 11

  • Date: February 3
  • Host: Ayo Edebiri (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Jennifer Lopez (fifth time)
  • Songs: "Can't Get Enough" feat. Latto and Redman, "This Is Me...Now"
  • Cameos: Nikki Haley
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Bad Couples"

Ayo Edebiri proved why she cleaned up at awards shows this season with an impressive SNL debut. The Bear star seemed at ease and navigated different characters without breaking a sweat. The episode made headlines for inviting Nikki Haley to cameo in the cold open. However, the presidential hopeful was noticeably absent during goodnights. Jennifer Lopez had two energetic performances but didn't make her way into any sketches, leaving some fans a little disappointed.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 12

  • Date: February 24
  • Host: Shane Gillis (first time)
  • Musical Guest: 21 Savage (first time)
  • Songs: "Redrum," "Should've Wore a Bonnet/Prove It"
  • Cameos: None
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Trump Sneakers"

Shane Gillis finally got to perform in Studio 8H years after being fired from the Saturday Night Live cast after just four days. Not much was made of just why SNL dumped Gillis outside of a brief mention in the monologue. Gillis' strong following helped build hype for the episode and the comedian largely delivered once the nerves died down. The highlight was his dueling Trump impression with James Austin Johnson in the "Trump Sneakers" sketch. Gillis did enough to show what SNL saw in him a few years ago, even if neither side is currently hurting from the split.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 13

  • Date: March 2
  • Host: Sydney Sweeney (first time)
  • Musical guest: Kacey Musgraves (third time)
  • Songs: "Deeper Well," "Too Good to Be True"
  • Cameos: Glen Powell, Gina Gershon
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Hooters Waitress"

Sydney Sweeney's Saturday Night Live debut brought strong ratings as the actress' popularity gave SNL a boost. Despite some initial nerves, Sweeney did what she could with the material she had. SNL continued a season 49 trend of reminding the audience that the host is attractive. Another weak cold open got the show off to a slow start, but Bowen Yang's pretaped sketch managed to elevate the episode.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 14

  • Date: March 9
  • Host: Josh Brolin (third time)
  • Musical guest: Ariana Grande (third time)
  • Songs: "We Can't Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)," "Imperfect For You"
  • Cameos: Scarlett Johansson
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Sandwich King"

Josh Brolin had the difficult task of following two popular first-time hosts. But the Dune star outshined them both with a willingness to dive headfirst into the material and bring some old-fashioned silliness back to SNL. The cold open delivered on the hype of parodying Senator Katie Britt thanks to a Scarlett Johansson cameo. And Ariana Grande proved she's an asset anytime she's in Studio 8H, appearing in two sketches.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 15

  • Date: March 30
  • Host: Ramy Youssef (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Travis Scott (second time)
  • Songs: "My Eyes," "Fe!n" with Playboi Carti
  • Cameos: None
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Immigrant Dad Talk Show"

Comedian Ramy Youssef became the latest comedian to get the SNL hosting job. His monologue included a passionate speech about Palestine, but from there, it was a much lighet mood around SNL. Youssef proved to be a skilled sketch actor, and SNL kept the spotlight on him. "Immigrant Dad Talk Show" was a hit with a potential future for Marcello Hernandez.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 16

  • Date: April 6
  • Host: Kristen Wiig (fifth time)
  • Musical Guest: Raye (first time)
  • Songs: "Escapism," "Worth It"
  • Cameos: Paul Rudd, Paula Pell, Matt Damon, Fred Armisen, Jon Hamm, Will Forte, Lorne Michaels, Martin Short, Ryan Gosling, Kaia Gerber
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Jumanji"

Kristen Wiig proved why she's one of the most beloved cast members in Saturday Night Live history when she returned to join the Five-Timers Club. SNL pulled out all the stops with a parade of cameos to start the show. From there, Wiig starred in one quality sketch after another, culminating with "Jumanji." Like any good Wiig sketch, this one can be watched over and over again.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 17

  • Date: April 13
  • Host: Ryan Gosling (third time)
  • Musical Guest: Chris Stapleton (third time)
  • Songs: "White Horse," "Mountain of My Mind"
  • Cameos: Morgane Stapleton, Emily Blunt, Caitlin Clark, Kyle Mooney
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Beavis and Butt-Head"

Ryan Gosling's third time hosting went off the rails in the best possible way from the start. Kate McKinnon's cold open cameo set the tone as Gosling laughed his way through every sketch but without losing the audience. However, it was Heidi Gardner breaking that broke the internet as he reaction during the "Beavis and Butt-Head" went viral. Add in cameos by Caitlin Clark and Emily Blunt, and it's a contender for the best episode of the season.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 17

  • Date: May 4
  • Host: Dua Lipa (first time)
  • Musical Guest: Dua Lipa (third time)
  • Songs: "Illusion," "Happy for You"
  • Cameos: Jerry Seinfeld, Troye Sivan
  • Most Popular Sketch: "OBGYN"

Dua Lipa earned the honor of pulling double-duty as host and musical guest. And while the popstar was up to the task, she wasn't done any favors by the writing staff. The sketches were mostly bland and uninspired. It all added up to one of the weakest episodes of season 49. We'll likely see Lipa back in Studio 8H before long -- hopefully with better material to work with. Even Jerry Seinfeld's cameo couldn't move the needle. Thankfully, SNL has two more tries to end the year on a high note.

Saturday Night Live season 49, episode 18

  • Date: May 11, 2024
  • Host: Maya Rudolph (third time)
  • Musical Guest: Vampire Weekend (fourth time)
  • Songs: "Gen-X Cops," "Capricorn"
  • Cameos: None
  • Most Popular Sketch: "Hot Ones with Beyonce 2"

Saturday Night Live celebrated Mother's Day by bringing back crowd favorite Maya Rudolph. The cold open let cast members share a moment with their mothers before Rudolph's monologue declared her "mother" of Studio 8H. Rudolph won the audience over with a sequel to Beyonce on Hot Ones. But from there, SNL couldn't make the most of what they had.