Saturday Night Live's Most Shocking Fired Cast Members: From Robert Downey Jr. to Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Entertainment Jul. 19, 2014 AT 11:25AM
Robert Downey Jr and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Robert Downey Jr. and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were both fired from Saturday Night Live. Credit: Karwai Tang/Getty; Mike Pont/FilmMagic

Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells, and John Milhiser are in good company! After just one season, the Saturday Night Live newbies were fired from the NBC sketch comedy this week, but they weren’t the first to be let go before their time. Over the years, tons of comedy stars couldn’t hack it on SNL. Stars like Mindy Kaling, David Koechner, Anthony Michael Hall, and Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer had short-lived careers on the hit show.

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Here are the most shocking stars who didn’t last on SNL:

1. Robert Downey Jr. 

These days he’s best known as “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” Iron Man, but in 1985 he was let go from SNL after just one year. He went on to many noteworthy roles, and returned to TV as love interest Larry Paul on Ally McBeal. Now he’s an Avenger. Way to go, Lorne Michaels. 

2. Sarah Silverman

The no-holds-barred funny woman only served 18 weeks as a writer and featured player on SNL in 1993 before getting the axe. She went on to her own show, The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran from 2007 to 2010, and now stars in big films like 2003’s School of Rock, 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, and 2014’s A Million Ways to Die in the West

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3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The Seinfeld star made history in 1982 at age 21 as SNL’s youngest female cast member. Though she compared landing the role to being Cinderella at the ball, the environment proved to be too demanding and cutthroat for her. Luckily she met Larry David behind the scenes of the show in 1985, and they went on to make their own mark on TV via Seinfeld. (She even broke that show’s so-called curse with acclaimed followup shows The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep.)

4. Joan Cusack

The ‘80s/‘90s comedy standout spent one season on SNL in 1985 (perhaps hanging with Iron Man), and even played the recurring character of Salena, a socially challenged girl looking for love. Three years after exiting SNL, she starred in Working Girl and the next year she worked alongside brother John Cusack in the classic romantic comedy Say Anything

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5. Damon Wayans

Apparently SNL isn’t that into improv. In 1985 Wayans was quickly fired after he played the character of a cop with flamboyant gay touches, going against the part that was written. In the show’s book Live From New York, authors Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller said the sketch occurred after Wayans' frustrations mounted over not getting sketches selected for the show. Wayans quickly helped kickstart his own hit sketch comedy show with his siblings on Fox’s In Living Color

Tell Us: Who was the most shocking former SNL cast member?

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