Four decades later, "Saturday Night Live" still has us laughing.

As the sketch series celebrates the big milestone, we take a look back at some of its best moments -- though "best" is highly subjective, of course.

From Eddie Murphy's Gumby to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, here are some of the characters we've loved the most.

GILDA RADNER AS EMMY LITELLA

Mousy-voiced little old lady who'd show up on "Weekend Update" and rant to Chevy Chase about what was on her mind. Unfortunately, she always got the issue wrong (mistaking "Soviet Jewry" for "Soviet jewelry," for instance) and invariably, then timidly apologizing, "Never mind."

ROB SCHNEIDER AS COPY MACHINE GUY

His real name was Richard Laymer, aka Richmeister, the office drone who hung out by the copy machine  ("makin' copies!") and annoyed his coworkers by playing with their names. And most memorably: the 1991 episode in which Sting showed up at the office and was greeted  thusly by Richard: " Dr. Stinglegoffer. The Stingster. Stingatolla! Stinga linga ding dong."

EDDIE MURPHY AS GUMBY

Murphy brought saucy life back to a 1950s character, turning the squeaky-clean claymation Gumby created by Art Clokey into a foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking misanthrope. The juxtaposition of Murphy in a green foam suit, his face painted to match, with a prickly attitude and tagline – "I'm Gumby, dammit!" – made for some of the best sketches from a cast member who had a rich stable of characters.

WILL FERRELL AS GEORGE W. BUSH

Ferrell's portrayal of our 43rd president helped cement an image of a language-mangling incompetent ("Strategery").

RACHEL DRATCH AS DEBBIE DOWNER

Debbie is the one friend who is always delivering bad news (feline AIDS is the No. 1 killer of domestic cats!) that brings everybody down, matched with a close-up on her depressed face and sagging horn sound effect. The first sketch, featuring Long Island’s own Lindsay Lohan, had everybody in stiches desperately trying to hold it together. A classic!

TINA FEY AS SARAH PALIN

From the updo to the accent, Tina Fey nailed her recurring Sarah Palin sketches on the show in fall 2008, shortly after Palin announced her vice presidential run. Who can forget "I can see Russia from my house"?

MARTIN SHORT AS ED GRIMLEY

Resurrecting a character from his SCTV days, Short made perfect use of his singing background and body control as spastic man-child Ed Grimley. An ultra-nerd with a swath of hair that channeled Alfafa of "Our Gang" times 100 and pants so high-waisted he almost didn't need a shirt, Short's Grimley matched smooth physical moves with a roller-coaster voice. Plus, he loved that underused musical instrument, the triangle.

MIKE MYERS AND DANA CARVEY AS WILL AND GARTH

Broadcasting from a basement, the goofy hosts of the Aurora, Illinois-based public-access show, protoslacker metalheads Wayne Campbell (Myers) and Garth Algar (Carvey) gave the world two hysterical movies and a slew of catchphrases. (Excellent! We're not worthy! Not! Schwing!")

WILL FORTE AS MACGRUBER

Sure, it referenced rather specifically a 1980s TV show, but even if viewers didn't know the "MacGyver" reference, the ever-changing theme song -- "making lifesaving inventions out of household materials" -- caught everyone up. Unlike his predecessor, MacGruber was actually not so good in high-pressure situations, so, with the clock ticking, as he worked to disarm bombs with, say, gum and a Sharpie, Forte's deadpan, quick-tempered character exploded, figuratively, then literally.

PHIL HARTMAN AS UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

A surrealist high point for "SNL," Hartman's Key Rock skewers our gullibility for innocence. "I'm just a cave men. … Your world frightens and confuses me," a prostetically enhanced Hartman  says, in the same breath referencing a knowledge of complex legal terms. He may be confused by the "demons" in his fax machine and our modern "flying machines," but that childlike wonder helps him win cases. Bonus points for the good-bad theme song. 

MIKE MYERS AS DIETR

As the black-turtlenecked, androgynous host of West German TV's "Sprockets," Myers had fun with German cultural stereotypes while giving a nice nod to fans of Krautrock. With his slicked-back hair and stern look, love of robotic dance moves ("Now is the time on 'Sprockets' when we dance!"), regular references to genitals and segments including "Germany's most disturbing home videos," the faux talk show felt like a collabration between Kraftwerk and Werner Herzog. With plenty of catchphrases -- "I'm happy as a little girl!" and "Would you like to touch my monkey?" (the monkey wore all black, too, naturally) -- Myers understandly got plenty of screen time for Dietr.

JOHN BELUSHI AS THE GREEK DINER MANAGER

Inspired by the Windy City's famed Billy Goat Tavern, Belushi's crude-and-rude Olympia Diner manager  immortalized the joint's limited offerings: "Chizzburger Chizzburger." "Chips." and "No Coke. Pepsi.")

 
DAN AYKROYD AS FRED GARVIN

Fred Garvin is a male prostitute with very little sex appeal, but he takes his job seriously trying to seduce Margot Kidder. Dan Aykroyd brings this character to life with his signature stern delivery. When he turns his head, looks into the camera and says, “That’s because I’m … Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute,” it’s impossible not to laugh.
 
EDDIE MURPHY AS MR. ROBINSON

Mr. Robinson and "Mr. Robinson's Neghborhood" put an inner city spin on Fred Rogers and his “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” with Murphy acting both silly and tough as nails. (“Oh, look, an eviction notice brought by Mr. Landlord. Can you say scumbucket?”) Murphy, who scores every time he’s on screen, makes this skit work simply because of his delicious charm and sharp wit.
 
CHRIS FARLEY AS MATT FOLE
Y

The late Chris Farley had a ferocious energy and innocence about him that was irresistible. The first Matt Foley Motivational Speaker sketch has him trying to scare David Spade and guest host Christina Applegate away from drugs and motivate them in school or they’ll end up “living in a van down by the river!” Farley’s funny physicality mixed with his over-the-top delivery makes this one of SNL’s Hall of Fame sketches.      
 
JIMMY FALLON AS PAT 'SULLY' SULLIVAN

Here a young Jimmy Fallon does a dead-on Boston Southie accent where he tries to show just how cool he is to his girlfriend Denise (played by Rachel Dratch), whom he can’t stop making out with as his buddy Tommy films everything. Fallon goes for it on every line, making you want to “pah-tee wicked haaad, ya creepa!”  
 
CHERI OTERI AS NADEEN

Cheri Oteri, one of the best female cast members in the history of the show, could have you crying with three simple words: “SIMMA DOWN NOW!” Her spunky counter clerk Nadeen would cut people down to size with her edgy tone and unforgettable catchphrase. Remember, simma + down + now = SIMMA DOWN NOW!