Saturday Night Live aired its 11th season during the 1985-1986 television season on NBC. The season started on November 9, 1985 and ended on May 24, 1986, 18 episodes were produced.
Dick Ebersol left the show after the 1984-85 season, when the network refused his request to shut the program down entirely for six months and shift much of the material onto tape, not live broadcast. Once again, NBC briefly considered cancelling the show, but programming head Brandon Tartikoff decided to continue the show and re-hire erstwhile producer Lorne Michaels.
In some ways the job Michaels returned to was more challenging than the one he took on in 1975. For starters, Michaels' "golden boy" reputation was somewhat tarnished. His most recent effort, the previous season's The New Show confused critics and was ignored by audiences. Also, the 1984-1985 season had been a critical and ratings hit, generating memorable characters and stand-out performers. However, Michaels would not be the only member of the old guard to return: original writers Al Franken and Tom Davis would return as producers, and Jim Downey would be head writer. Fans and critics welcomed Michaels and many of the original producers and writers back, calling it a return to the show's roots.
Madonna helps kick off the 1985/86 season, with a special guest performance by Penn and Teller.
Original SNL cast member Chevy Chase returns to host.
Children's TV star Pee-Wee Herman brings his unique sense of humor to SNL.
Academy Award-nominee and Tony-winner John Lithgow hosts, with a special guest performance by Sam Kinison.
One of Tom Hanks' many guest host spots, guest performance by Steven Wright.
Teri Garr returns to host the Christmas episode of 1985.
Hollywood veteran Harry Dean Stanton comes to SNL to host.
Ecclectic Arthur star Dudley Moore hosts.
First Son Ron Reagan comes to NYCto hosts this 1986 episode, which features a guest performance by Penn and Teller.
Model/actress Jerry Hall hosts, with a guest performance by Sam Kinison.
Comedian Jay Leno hosts a different late night show.
After Hours star Griffin Dunne guest stars.
Francis Ford Coppola directs and co-hosts with George Wendt.
Media giant and The Color Purple star Oprah Winfrey hosts.
Tony Danza comes home to NY to host.
Special episode co-hosted by Catherine Oxenberg and Paul Simon, special performance by Penn and Teller.
Journalist Jimmy Breslin leaves the news for a night to host
The unlikely couple of Anjelica Houston and Billy Martin co-host the finale episode of the 1985/86 season.