Saturday Night Live aired its twelfth season during the 1986-1987 television season on NBC. The 12th season started on October 11, 1986, the 11th anniversary of the show's first episode, and ended on May 23, 1987.
Despite plans to have Saturday Night Live canceled due to the ratings of its previous season, producer Lorne Michaels convinced Brandon Tartikoff to give the show another chance, provided that a better cast be found for the next season. As a result, many of season 11's cast members were fired, except for Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, featured player A. Whitney Brown, and Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller. Al Franken was rehired as a writer. The rest were relative unknowns, led by Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, and Kevin Nealon. Hooks had auditioned to be in the season 10 and 11 casts, but had been turned down. Hartman helped write sketches in season 11's Thanksgiving episode hosted by Pee-wee Herman, and appeared in a sketch as a Pilgrim.
The first show of the 1986-1987 season opened with Madonna, host of the previous season opener, reading a "statement" from NBC about season 11's mediocre writing and bad cast choices. According to the "statement", the entire 1985-1986 season was "...all a dream. A horrible, horrible dream."
Alien star Sigourney Weaver hosts the season premier, with special guest appearance by Madonna.
The Cosby Show's Malcolm-Jamal Warner hosts with a special guest appearance by Sam Kinison.
Golden Globe nominated actress Rosanna Arquette takes a turn as host.
After numberous special appearances, Sam Kinison officially hosts this 1986 episode.
Robin Williams brings his wild antics to SNL, featuring cameos by Paul Simon, Art Garfunkle and Whoopi Goldberg.
The Three Amigos -- Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short -- host. Plus, a cameo by Eric Idle of Monty Python.
Hosting duties belong to Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg with special guest performance by Penn and Teller.
TV institution William Shatner captains SNL for a night.
Football legends Joe Montana and Walter Payton co-host.
David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer beings his many talents to SNL as host.
Bronson Pinchot, star of the hit sitcom Perfect Strangers, is the host, with special guest appearances by Paulina Porizkova.
Country music star Willie Nelson is host and musical guest, with a special guest appearance by Danny DeVito.
Two-time Golden Globe winning actress Valerie Bertinelli is your host.
Former SNL cast member, the one and only Bill Murray takes center stage as host.
The Planet of the Apes star and Oscar winning actor Charlton Heston lends his authoritative persona to SNL, as this week's host.
John Lithgow is back again as hosts this week.
The Emmy winning actor from Night Court, John Larroquette, hosts.
TV mainstay and Emmy winning actor Mark Harmon takes the stage as host.
Actor and comedian Garry Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show) is the host, with a filmed cameo by Tracey Ullman.
Two-time Oscar nominated actor Dennis Hopper brings the season to a close as guest host.