--Must have at least 2 professional teams of the big four sports. (Sorry San Antonio)
--Both past and present performance is considered, with greater weight given to the present.
--Though championships and sustained competitiveness are the greatest indicators used, fan dedication is also a factor. For instance, though the Cubs never win squat, Chicago is a far greater baseball city than, say, Tampa Bay, which has had some recent success but still can't get fans in the stadium.
--For all intents and purposes, Toronto is being included as an "American" city.
--Boston still gets the Pats even though they're technically from New England. Dido for the Minneapolis and the Wild and Dallas and the Rangers. And the whole Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim thing--just no. If you say you're of Anaheim, you're of Anaheim.
--Four teams is better than three, and five is better than four. Still, having less teams isn't a deal breaker.
--Overall championships reflect all championships enjoyed by respective cities, including both current, defunct, and relocated teams. For instance, LA claims eleven of the Lakers' championships, while Minneapolis, their city of origin, claims five. New York gets the Dodgers' one World Series in Brooklyn, and five for the Giants of the Polo Grounds. Baltimore compiled four championships before they were robbed of the Colts, while Philly bolsters its overall tally with five World Series from the early 20th century Philadelphia Athletics. Other considerations include the Boston Braves, Cleveland Rams, LA Rams, Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Bulldogs, Washington Senators, Boston Redskins, Milwaukee Braves, St Louis Hawks, Seattle Supersonics, and Philadelphia Warriors.
- Boston (Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins) -- 9 championships since 2000 and 34 overall
- New York City (Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers, Mets, Jets, Islanders, Nets) -- 4 championships since 2000 and 54 overall
- Chicago (Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, Bears, White Sox) -- 4 championships since 2000 and 28 overall
- Pittsburgh (Steelers, Pirates, Penguins) -- 4 championships since 2000 and 15 overall
- Los Angeles (Lakers, Dodgers, Clippers, Kings) -- 7 championships since 2000 and 20 overall
- Detroit (Tigers, Pistons, Lions, Red Wings) -- 3 championships since 2000 and 22 overall
- St. Louis (Cardinals, Rams, Blues) -- 2 championships since 2000 and 13 overall
- Philadelphia (Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, Flyers) -- 1 championship since 2000 and 15 overall
- San Francisco (49ers, Giants) -- 3 championships since 2000 and 8 overall
- Dallas (Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers, Stars) -- 1 championship since 2000 and 7 overall
- Miami (Dolphins, Heat, Marlins) -- 4 championships since 2000 and 7 overall
- Denver (Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets, Avalanche) -- 2 championship since 2000 and 5 overall
- Cleveland (Browns, Cavaliers, Indians) -- 1 championships since 2000 and 13 overall
- Baltimore (Orioles, Ravens) -- 2 championships since 2000 and 9 overall
- Washington DC (Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 6 overall
- Seattle (Seahawks, Mariners) -- 1 championships since 2000 and 2 overall
- Oakland (Warriors, Raiders, A's) -- 1 championships since 2000 and 8 overall
- Atlanta (Braves, Falcons, Hawks) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 1 overall
- Kansas City (Chiefs, Royals) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 3 overall
- Minneapolis (Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Wild) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 7 overall
- Phoenix (Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Suns, Coyotes) -- 1 championship since 2000 and 1 overall
- Toronto (Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 15 overall
- Anaheim (Angels, Ducks) -- 2 championships since 2000 and 2 overall
- New Orleans (Saints, Pelicans) -- 1 championship since 2000 and 1 overall
- Indianapolis (Colts, Pacers) -- 1 championship since 2000 and 1 overall
- Tampa Bay (Rays, Lightning, Buccaneers) -- 2 championships since 2000 and 2 overall
- Cincinnati (Reds, Bengals) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 5 overall
- Houston (Texans, Rockets, Astros) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 2 overall
- Milwaukee (Bucks, Brewers) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 2 overall
- Charlotte (Panthers, Bobcats) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 0 overall
- Buffalo (Bills, Sabres) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 0 overall
- San Diego (Chargers, Padres) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 0 overall
- Nashville (Titans, Predators) -- 0 championships since 2000 and 0 overall
- Superman (first appearance: 1938) Created by Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster for Action Comics #1 (DC Comics).
- Mickey Mouse (1928) Created by Walt Disney and Ub Iworks for Steamboat Willie.
- James Bond (1953) Created by Ian Fleming for novel Casino Royale.
- Bugs Bunny (1940) Created by Warner Bros and originally voiced by Mel Blanc.
- Batman (1939) Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane for Detective Comics #27 (DC Comics).
- Dorothy Gale (1900) Created by L. Frank Baum for novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Later portrayed by Judy Garland in the 1939 film adaptation.
- Darth Vader (1977) Created by George Lucas for Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
- The Tramp (1914) Created and portrayed by Charlie Chaplin for Kid Auto Races at Venice.
- Peter Pan (1902) Created by J.M. Barrie for novel The Little White Bird.
- Indiana Jones (1981) Created by George Lucas for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Portrayed by Harrison Ford.
- Rocky Balboa (1976) Created and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone for Rocky.
- Vito Corleone (1969) Created by Mario Puzo for novel The Godfather. Later portrayed by Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro in Coppola's film adaptation.
- Han Solo (1977) Created by George Lucas for Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Portrayed most famously by Harrison Ford.
- Homer Simpson (1987) Created by Matt Groening for The Tracey Ullman Show, later The Simpsons as voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
- Archie Bunker (1971) Created by Norman Lear for All in the Family. Portrayed by Carroll O'Connor.
- Norman Bates (1959) Created by Robert Bloch for novel Psycho. Later portrayed by Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock's film adaptation.
- King Kong (1933) Created by Edgar Wallace and Merian C Cooper for the film King Kong.
- Lucy Ricardo (1951) Portrayed by Lucille Ball for I Love Lucy.
- Spiderman (1962) Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel Comics).
- Spock (1964) Created by Gene Roddenberry for Star Trek. Portrayed most famously by Leonard Nimoy.
- Godzilla (1954) Created by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Eiji Tsubaraya for the film Godzilla.
- Winnie-the-Pooh (1924) Created by A.A. Milne for verse book When We Were Young.
- Popeye (1929) Created by E.C. Segar for comic strip Thimble Theater (King Features).
- Forrest Gump (1986) Created by Winston Groom for novel Forrest Gump. Later portrayed by Tom Hanks in Zemeckis' film adaptation.
- Hannibal Lector (1981) Created by Thomas Harris for the novel Red Dragon. Portrayed most famously by Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 Jonathan Demme film The Silence of the Lambs.
- Big Bird (1969) Created by Jim Henson and portrayed by Carroll Spinney for Sesame Street.
- Tony Montana (1983) Created by Oliver Stone for film Scarface. Portrayed by Al Pacino.
- Tony Soprano (1999) Created by David Chase for The Sopranos. Portrayed by James Gandolfini.
- The Terminator (1984) Created by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd for The Terminator. Portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Charles Foster Kane (1941) Created and portrayed by Orson Welles for Citizen Kane.
- Scarlett O'Hara (1936) Created by Margaret Mitchell for the novel Gone With the Wind. Portrayed most famously by Vivien Leigh for the 1939 Victor Fleming film adaptation.
- Marty McFly (1985) Created by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale for Back to the Future. Portrayed by Michael J. Fox.
- Rick Blaine (1940) Created by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison for the unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. Later portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in Michael Curtiz's film adaptation Casablanca.
- Man With No Name (1964) Created by Sergio Leone for A Fistful of Dollars, which was adapted from a ronin character in Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961). Portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
- Charlie Brown (1948) Created by Charles M. Shultz for the comic strip L'il Folks; popularized two years later in Peanuts.
- E.T. (1982) Created by Melissa Mathison for the film E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial.
- Arthur Fonzarelli (1974) Created by Bob Brunner for the show Happy Days. Portrayed by Henry Winkler.
- Holden Caulfield (1945) Created by J.D. Salinger for the Collier's story "I'm Crazy." Reworked into the novel The Catcher in the Rye in 1951.
- Phillip Marlowe (1939) Created by Raymond Chandler for the novel The Big Sleep.
- Jay Gatsby (1925) Created by F. Scott Fitzgerald for the novel The Great Gatsby.
- Lassie (1938) Created by Eric Knight for a Saturday Evening Post story, later turned into the novel Lassie Come-Home in 1940, film adaptation in 1943, and long-running television show in 1954. Most famously portrayed by the dog Pal.
- Fred Flintstone (1959) Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for The Flintstones. Voiced most notably by Alan Reed.
- Rooster Cogburn (1968) Created by Charles Portis for the novel True Grit. Most famously portrayed by John Wayne in the 196
9 film adaptation.
- Atticus Finch (1960) Created by Harper Lee for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. (Appeared in the earlier work Go Set A Watchman, though this was not published until 2015) Portrayed most famously by Gregory Peck in the Robert Mulligan film adaptation.
- Kermit the Frog (1955) Created and performed by Jim Henson for the show Sam and Friends. Later popularized in Sesame Street (1969) and The Muppet Show (1976)
- George Bailey (1943) Created by Phillip Van Doren Stern (then as George Pratt) for the short story The Greatest Gift. Later adapted into Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart as the renamed George Bailey.
- Yoda (1980) Created by George Lucas for The Empire Strikes Back.
- Sam Malone (1982) Created by Glen and Les Charles for the show Cheers. Portrayed by Ted Danson.
- Harry Callahan (1971) Created by Harry Julian Fink and R.M. Fink for the movie Dirty Harry. Portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
- Tarzan (1912) Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs for the novel Tarzan of the Apes.
- Zorro (1919) Created by Johnston McCulley for the All-Story Weekly pulp magazine story The Curse of Capistrano. Later adapted to the Douglas Fairbanks' film The Mark of Zorro (1920).
- Moe, Larry, and Curly (1928) Created by Ted Healy for the vaudeville act Ted Healy and his Stooges.
- Mary Poppins (1934) Created by P.L. Travers for the children's book Mary Poppins.
- Ron Burgundy (2004) Created by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Portrayed by Will Ferrell.
- Mario (1981) Created by Shigeru Miyamoto for the video game Donkey Kong.
- The Dude (1998) Created by Ethan and Joel Coen for the film The Big Lebowski. Portrayed by Jeff Bridges.
- Gandalf (1937) Created by J.R.R. Tolkien for the novel The Hobbit.
- The Joker (1940) Created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane for Batman #1 (DC Comics)
- The Grinch (1957) Created by Dr. Seuss for the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
- Willy Wonka (1964) Created by Roald Dahl for the children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- The Hulk (1962) Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for The Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)
- Scooby-Doo (1969) Created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
- George Costanza (1989) Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld for the show Seinfeld. Portrayed by Jason Alexander.
- Jules Winfield (1994) Created by Quentin Tarantino for the film Pulp Fiction. Portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson.
- Harry Potter (1997) Created by J.K. Rowling for the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
- Travis Bickle (1976) Created by Paul Schrader for the film Taxi Driver. Portrayed by Robert De Niro.
- John McClane (1988) Based on the character Detective Joe Leland, who was created by Roderick Thorp for the novel Nothing Lasts Forever. Later adapted into the John McTernan film Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis as McClane.
- Ellen Ripley (1979) Created by Don O'cannon and Ronald Shusett for the film Alien. Portrayed by Sigourney Weaver.
- Ralph Kramden (1951) Created and portrayed by Jackie Gleason for "The Honeymooners," which became its own show in 1955.
- Edward Scissorhands (1990) Created by Tim Burton for the film Edward Scissorhands. Portrayed by Johnny Depp.
- Eric Cartman (1992) Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the animated short Jesus vs Frosty. Later developed into the show South Park, which premiered in 1997. Voiced by Trey Parker.
- Walter White (2008) Created by Vince Gilligan for Breaking Bad. Portrayed by Bryan Cranston.
- Cosmo Kramer (1989) Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld for Seinfeld. Portrayed by Michael Richards.
- Freddy Krueger (1984) Created by Wes Craven for the film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Most famously portrayed by Robert Englund.
- Shrek (1990) Created by William Steig for the children's book Shrek! Later adapted into the 2001 film starring Mike Myers as the titular character.
- Captain America (1941) Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Captain America Comics #1 (Marvel Comics)
- Bambi (1923) Created by Felix Salten for the children's book Bambi, a Life in the Woods. Later adapted into the Disney film Bambi in 1942.
- Ronald McDonald (1963) Created by Williard Scott for a series of television spots.
- Waldo/Wally (1987) Created by Martin Hanford for the children's book Where's Wally? (Waldo in US edition)
- Frasier Crane (1984) Created by Glen and Les Charles for Cheers. Portrayed by Kelsey Grammar.
- Omar Little (2002) Created by David Simon for The Wire. Portrayed by Michael K. Williams.
- Cliff Huxtable (1984) Created and portrayed by Bill Cosby for The Cosby Show.
- Wolverine (1974) Created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Sr for The Incredible Hulk #180 (Marvel Comics)
- Jason Voorhees (1980) Created by Victor Miller for the film Friday the 13th.
- Betty Boop (1930) Created by Max Fleischer and the Grim Network for the cartoon Dizzy Dishes.
- Bilbo Baggins (1937) Created by J.R.R. Tolkien for the novel The Hobbit.
- Tom Joad (1939) Created by John Steinbeck for the novel The Grapes of Wrath. Later adapted into the 1940 John Ford film and portrayed by Henry Fonda.
- Tony Stark (Iron Man) (1963) Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby for Tales of Suspense #39 (Marvel Comics)
- Porky Pig (1935) Created by Friz Freleng for the animated short film I Haven't Got a Hat. Voiced most famously by Mel Blanc.
- Hawkeye Pierce (1968) Created by Richard Hooker for the novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. Famously portrayed by both Alan Alda and Donald Sutherland.
- Don Draper (2007) Created by Matthew Weiner for the show Mad Men. Portrayed by Jon Hamm.
- Jack Torrance (1977) Created by Stephen King for the novel The Shining. Later adapted into the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film and portrayed by Jack Nicholson.
- Terry Malloy (1954) Created by Budd Schulberg for the film On the Waterfront. Portrayed by Marlon Brando.
- Axel Foley (1984) Created by Danilo Bach for the film Beverly Hills Cop. Portrayed by Eddie Murphy.
- Tyler Durden (1996) Created by Chuck Palahniuk for the novel Fight Club. Later adapted into the David Fincher film and portrayed by Brad Pitt.
- Holly Golightly (1958) Created by Truman Capote for the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. Later adapted into the 1961 Blake Edwards films starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly.
- Patrick Bateman (1987) Created by Bret Easton Ellis for the novel The Rules of Attraction. Most famously portrayed by Christian Bale in the 2000 film adaption of American Psycho.
- J.R. Ewing (1978) Created by David Jacobs for the show Dallas. Portrayed by Larry Hagman.
- Optimus Prime (1984) Created by Dennis O'Neil for the Transformers toy line.
- Keyser Soze (1995) Created by Christopher McQuarrie for the film The Usual Suspects.
- Michael Jackson- They don't call him the King of Pop for nothing. Michael is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for three different acts spanning three generations. Also, he made Thriller. Thriller.
- Elvis Presley- Mike might be the King of Pop, but Elvis is just the straight up King. If rock and roll has a birthdate, it probably has a something to do with this guy's hips.
- Babe Ruth- The man, the myth, the legend. Even all these years later, no one even comes close to the Sultan of Swat.
- John Lennon-Tough to pick between Paul and John for the higher spot, but Lennon's activism and early death earn enough icon points to be the difference.
- Muhammad Ali-So much more than just a boxer, Ali just epitomizes the word icon.
- Bob Dylan- The voice of a generation and perhaps the greatest songwriter to ever pick up a guitar.
- Marilyn Monroe-Maybe the most beloved movie star ever, Monroe bedded the top athlete, playwright and politicians of her era. Not too shabby.
- Michael Jordan-His Airness, the undisputed greatest sports marketing icon of all time.
- Paul McCartney-May be too low on this list. Paul McCartney is pop music.
- Charlie Chaplin-For a solid twenty-year stretch, there was no more famous person on the entire planet than Charlie Chaplin. Film classics like City Lights and The Gold Rush still hold up today.
- Marlon Brando-Brando basically invented acting as we know it today.
- Frank Sinatra-The dopest crooner that ever lived.
- Alfred Hitchcock-Arguably the greatest director of all time, Hitchcock was also a larger than life figure that brought the cameo to new heights.
- Johnny Carson-The guy for thirty years of late night television.
- Jackie Robinson-A true sports icon and a damn good second baseman to boot.
- David Bowie-If every one of Bowie's personas could have it's own vote, he'd probably be up here five times.
- Martin Scorsese-Hitchcock and Kubrick may be the two most important directors ever, but when it comes to modern film, no one's made more classics than Scorsese.
- Mickey Mantle-If you were a seven-year-old boy during the fifties and sixties, there was no one you dreamed about being more than The Mick.
- Bing Crosby-No recording artist more sold more than Bing in the 20th Century.
- Joe Dimaggio-The Yankee Clipper, his 56-game hit streak is one of the most iconic records in any sport.
- Steven Spielberg-He invented the blockbuster with Jaws, perfected it with E.T. and Jurassic Park, and ascended to new heights with Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.
- James Brown-The ultimate frontman and the all-time hardest working dude in show biz.
- Robert DeNiro-The Godfather. Goodfellas. Raging Bull. Taxi Driver. A movie resume to rival any in history.
- Mary Pickford-The OG of pop culture icons, Pickford was the original movie star and possibly the first true celebrity.
- Mick Jagger-The most prolific frontman to ever rock an arena.
- Al Pacino-Before he started drifting into caricature mode in the late 90's, Pacino played some of the most iconic roles in history. Michael Corleone and Tony Montana are the quintessential gangster roles of modern day.
- Harrison Ford-Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Does it get any more iconic?
- Prince-When you can change your name to a symbol and the world just goes along with it, you know you've reached a whole other level of celebrity.
- Paul Newman-From playing Fast Eddie Felson to Cool Hand Luke to Butch Cassidy, there was no cooler star in sixies America than Paul Newman.
- Tom Hanks-Is there anyone more beloved in Hollywood right now than Tom Hanks?
- Stevie Wonder-Stevie signed with Motown at the age of 11 and has been killing it ever since.
- Joe Namath-The first true face of football, Namath's marketability was instrumental to the early success of the NFL.
- Humphrey Bogart-The ultimate leading man during Hollywood's golden age.
- Lucille Ball
- Louis Armstrong
- John Wayne
- Oprah Winfrey-Oprah isn't just a talk show host. She's a media empire.
- Shirley Temple
- Eddie Murphy-Arguably the most important star in SNL history, Eddie single-handedly saved the show from extinction following the original cast exodus.
- Miles Davis-Miles birthed the cool in more ways than one. No modern jazz artist looms larger.
- Richard Pryor-The father of modern stand-up, Pryor transformed his tragic upbringing into comedy gold.
- Bob Marley-10 million dorm room posters can't be wrong.
- David Letterman-A titan of late night, Letterman reinvented what was possible in comedy.
- Meryl Streep-Meryl Streep is to all other actresses what Tiger Woods is to all other black golfers.
- Mel Brooks-The rare five-tool comedian, Mel's writing, directing, and acting talents have earned him the grand slam of entertainment awards (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony).
- Walt Disney
- Bruce Lee-As synonymous with the Kung-Fu flick as any one man could be with a genre of movies.
- Bill Murray
- Elton John
- Denzel Washington
- Liz Taylor
- Bruce Springsteen
- Lorne Michaels
- Tony Bennett
- James Stewart
- Buddy Holly
- Hugh Hefner
- Andy Warhol
- Jayne Mansfield
- Tom Cruise
- Sammy Davis Jr
- Audrey Hepburn
- O.J. Simpson
- Groucho Marx
- Jack Nicklaus
- Jim Brown
- Kathryn Hepburn
- Jon Stewart
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Tiger Woods
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Ray Charles
- Bill Cosby
- Eric Clapton
- LeBron James
- Woody Allen
- Robert Redford
- Magic Johnson
- Jack Nicholson
- Joe Louis
- James Dean
- Sean Connery
- Ernest Hemingway
- Jerry Garcia
- Clark Gable
- Jimi Hendrix
- Johnny Cash
- Clint Eastwood
- Jim Morisson
- Whitney Houston
- Christopher Walken
- Will Ferrell
- Dr. Dre
- Joan Rivers
- Will Smith
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Justin Timberlake
- John Belushi
- Dick Clark
- William Shatner
- Jerry Lewis
- Michael J. Fox
- Notorious BIG
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Rudolph Valentino
- Bo Jackson
- Christopher Reeve
- Kurt Cobain
- Taylor Swift
- Derek Jeter
- Arnold Palmer
- Larry David
- Jay Leno
- Stephen King
- Pamela Anderson
- Grace Kelly
- Evil Kinevil
- Bob Hope
- Hulk Hogan
- Carol Burnett
- Ted Danson
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus
- Cindy Crawford
- Mike Tyson
- Morgan Freeman
- Louis C.K.
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Brad Pitt
- George Clooney
- Dean Martin
- Judy Garland
- Wayne Gretzky
- Julia Roberts
- Stanley Kubrick
- Steve Martin
- Orson Welles
- Diana Ross
- Kanye West
- Sylvester Stallone
- Britney Spears
- Joe Montana
- Shaquille O'Neal
- Alex Trebek
- George Carlin
Marlin Brando once said "To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it his dedication." Just a short generation later, Jim Carrey would observe "Until Ace Ventura, no actor had considered talking through his ass." Yes, there is no recipe for what makes great acting and no surefire way to distinguish it from the talking asses of the world, perhaps in no small part because when it's at it's best, it doesn't seem like acting at all. Ranking artistry is never easy, if not downright impossible. It's undeniably subjective, contentious, and almost sure to offend. Of course, that's never stopped us before.
Rankings were made taking into account overall ability and range, strength of the roles taken, longevity, influence, and awards won. Listed alongside are each actor's best works, also loosely ranked according to how each exemplifies their talents. Actors must have appeared in at least one 21st century feature film for consideration as "modern."
- Robert De Niro: The Godfather II, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Jackie Brown, Once Upon a Time in America, Mean Streets, Heat, Cape Fear, Casino, The King of Comedy, Brazil, The Mission, Silver Linings Playbook.
- Al Pacino: The Godfather II, The Godfather, Scarface, Heat, Scent of a Woman, Carlito's Way, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Donnie Brasco, The Insider.
- Daniel Day-Lewis: There Will Be Blood, Lincoln, Gangs of New York, My Left Foot, The Last of the Mohicans, In the Name of the Father, The Age of Innocence, The Crucible, The Boxer, Nine.
- Jack Nicholson: The Departed, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining, Easy Rider, Chinatown, Batman, A Few Good Men, As Good As It Gets, Terms of Endearment, The Little Shop of Horrors, The Pledge.
- Peter O'Toole (D): Lawrence of Arabia, Beckett, The Ruling Class, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Stunt Man.
- Tom Hanks: Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Road to Perdition, Cast Away, A League of Their Own, Big, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, Captain Phillips.
- Dustin Hoffman: Rain Man, Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Lenny, Marathon Man, All the President's Men, Papillon, Sleepers.
- Paul Newman (D): Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Hud, The Sting, The Hustler, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Color of Money, Road To Perdition, The Verdict, Nobody's Fool.
- Robert Duvall: The Godfather, The Apostle, Apocalypse Now, Network, Tender Mercies, The Great Santini, Get Low, To Kill a Mockingbird, M*A*S*H, The Natural.
- Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs, The Remains of the Day, Shadowlands, Nixon, Amistad.
- Denzel Washington: Malcolm X, Training Day, Glory, American Gangster, Inside Man, Remember The Titans, Courage Under Fire, Philadelphia, The Hurricane, Crimson Tide, Flight, The Bone Collector, The Manchurian Candidate, The Siege, Antwone Fisher.
- Gene Hackman: The French Connection, Bonnie and Clyde, Unforgiven, The Conversation, Mississippi Burning, Hoosiers, Superman, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Poseidon Adventure, Get Shorty.
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman (D): Capote, The Master, Synecdoche New York, Magnolia, Doubt, Almost Famous, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Charlie Wilson's War, The Talented Mr. Ripley.
- Leonardo DiCaprio: The Departed, The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Basketball Diaries, Django Unchained, Shutter Island, Gangs of New York, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Blood Diamond, Inception, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, Titanic, Revolutionary Road.
- Clint Eastwood: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Dirty Harry, Gran Torino, Escape from Alcatraz, In the Line of Fire, The Bridges of Madison Country, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Hang Em High.
- Morgan Freeman: The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Se7en, Million Dollar Baby, Glory, The Dark Knight, Gone Baby Gone, Driving Miss Daisy, Street Smart, The Sum of All Fears, Batman Begins, Outbreak, Amistad, Along Came a Spider, High Crimes.
- Robert Redford: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jeremiah Johnson, All is Lost, The Sting, Out of Africa, The Natural, All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, The Candidate, Tell Them Willie Boy is Here.
- Sean Penn: Mystic River, 21 Grams, Milk, Dead Man Walking, Carlito's Way, The Thin Red Line, I Am Sam, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Colors, Sweet and Lowdown.
- Michael Caine: Sleuth, Alfie, The Dark Knight, The Cider House Rules, Educating Rita, Hannah and Her Sisters, Little Voice, The Quiet American, The Italian Job, Harry Brown.
- Ben Kingsley: Gandhi, Schindler's List, House of Sand and Fog, Sexy Beast, Shutter Island.
- Gary Oldman: Leon, JFK, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter, Sid and Nancy.
- Harrison Ford: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Fugitive, Blade Runner, Witness.
- Geoffrey Rush: Shine, The King's Speech, Quills, Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Kevin Spacey: Se7en, The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, LA Confidential, The Negotiator, A Time to Kill, Glengarry Glen Ross, Outbreak, Superman Returns, The United States of Leland.
- Russell Crowe: LA Confidential, Gladiator, The Insider, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind, Romper Stomper, 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, Master and Commander, Blood Oath.
- Willem Defoe: Platoon, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Boondock Saints, Shadow of the Vampire, To Live and Die in L.A.
- Dennis Hopper (D): Easy Rider, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers, Speed, Apocalypse Now.
- Jon Voight: Coming Home, Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance, Runaway Train, Ali.
- Martin Sheen: Apocalypse Now, The Departed, Badlands, The American President, Wall Street.
- Richard Dreyfus: Jaws, American Graffiti, The Goodbye Girl, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mr. Holland's Opus.
- Matt Damon: Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Rounders, The Martian, The Bourne Identity, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ocean's 11, Syriana, School Ties.
- Brad Pitt: Se7en, Fight Club, The Assassination of Jessie James, Twelve Monkeys, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, Sleepers, Ocean's Eleven, Babel, Inglourious Basterds, Snatch, True Romance, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Legends of the Fall, Interview with the Vampire.
- Christian Bale: The Machinist, American Hustle, The Prestige, The Fighter, The Dark Knight, American Psycho, Batman Begins, 3:10 to Yuma, Empire of the Sun, Rescue Dawn.
- Joaquin Pheonix: The Master, Gladiator, Walk the Line, Her, Inherent Vice.
- Ian McKellan: Gods and Monsters, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Richard III, X-Men, Apt Pupil.
- Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Blow, Finding Neverland, Donnie Brasco, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Platoon, Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood.
- Sean Connery: James Bond films, The Untouchables, The Hunt For Red October, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rock.
- Ralph Fiennes: Schindler's List, Harry Potter Franchise, The English Patient, The Constant Gardener, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Edward Norton: Fight Club, American History X, Rounders, The Illusionist, 25th Hour, Primal Fear, Birdman, Keeping the Faith, The Italian Job, Red Dragon.
- Liam Neeson: Schindler's List, Kinsey, Batman Begins, Taken, Michael Collins.
- Tom Cruise: Magnolia, Rain Man, A Few Good Men, Born on the Fourth of July, Minority Report, Risky Business, The Color of Money, Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai, The Firm, Mission Impossible, Tropic Thunder, Top Gun, Vanilla Sky, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicle.
- Christopher Walken: The Deer Hunter, Catch Me If You Can, A View to Kill, The Dead Zone, At Close Range.
- Tommy Lee Jones: The Fugitive, No Country For Old Men, Lincoln, JFK, In the Valley of Elah.
- Harvey Keitel: Mean Streets, Bugsy, Reservoir Dogs, Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction.
- Samuel L. Jackson: Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill, Django Unchained, Jackie Brown, The Negotiator.
- John Malkovich: Places in the Heart, The Killing Fields, In the Line of Fire, Of Mice and Men, Being John Malkovich.
- James Earl Jones: The Great White Hope, Field of Dreams, Jack Ryan Franchise, Coming to America, Star Wars.
- Jeff Bridges: The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, True Grit, Starman, The Fabulous Baker Boys.
- Ed Harris: Pollock, Apollo 13, The Truman Show, A Beautiful Mind, The Hours, Gone Baby Gone, A History of Violence, Empire Falls, The Rock, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Abyss.
- William Hurt: Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, A History of Violence, Too Big to Fail.
- Benicio Del Toro: The Usual Suspects, Traffic, 21 Grams, Che, Sicario, Sin City, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Snatch, Guerrilla, The Argentine, The Pledge.
- Michael Fassbender: Steve Jobs, 12 Years a Slave, Shame, Hunger, A Dangerous Method.
- Warren Beatty: Bonnie and Clyde, Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Bugsy, Bulworth.
- Javier Bardem: No Country For Old Men, Biutiful, Before Night Falls, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Mondays in the Sun.
- James Caan: The Godfather, Misery, Thief, A Bridge Too Far, Brian's Song.
- Alan Arkin: Wait Until Dark, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, Little Miss Sunshine, Argo.
- Mel Gibson: Braveheart, The Patriot, Lethal Weapon, Ransom, Mad Max.
- Christopher Plummer: The Sound of Music, The Insider, Malcolm X, Beginners, The Last Station.
- Nick Nolte: Affliction, The Thin Red Line, Warrior, The Prince of Tides, Cape Fear.
- Christoph Waltz: Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Carnage.
- Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler, Donnie Darko, Prisoners, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Southpaw.
- Mark Ruffalo: Spotlight, Foxcatcher, The Kids are Alright, The Normal Heart, Infinitely Polar Bear, Shutter Island, Zodiac, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, You Can Count On Me, Avengers.
- Will Smith: The Pursuit Of Happiness, Ali, Six Degrees of Separation.
- Robin Williams (D): Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, One Hour Photo, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire.
- Don Cheadle: Hotel Rwanda, Traffic, Crash, Devil in a Blue Dress, Ocean's Eleven.
- Kevin Costner: Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams, JFK, The Untouchables, Bull Durham.
- Michael Douglas: Wall Street, Traffic, Wonder Boys, The American President, Basic Instinct.
- John Hurt: The Elephant Man, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Alien, Scandal, The Hit.
- Bruce Willis: The Sixth Sense, Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, Sin City.
- Kevin Bacon: The Woodsman, Sleepers, Apollo 13, Mystic River, Animal House.
- Robert Downey Jr.: Chaplin, Tropic Thunder, Less than Zero, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes.
- Max von Sydow: The Seventh Seal, The Exorcist, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Three Days of the Condor, Never Say Never Again.
- Paul Giamatti: Sideways, Cinderella Man, American Splendor, The Illusionist, Cold Souls.
- Billy Bob Thorton: Monster's Ball, Sling Blade, A Simple Plan, The Man Who Wasn't There, Friday Night Lights.
- George Clooney: O Brother Where Art Thou?, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air.
- James Woods: Salvador, Once Upon a Time in America, Ghosts of Mississippi, Casino, Contact.
- Bill Murray: Lost in Translation, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Rushmore, Ghostbusters.
- Joe Pesci: Goodfellas, Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny, Casino, Lethal Weapon, Home Alone.
- Kenneth Branagh: Henry V, My Week with Marilyn, Hamlet, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing.
- Heath Ledger: (D) The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain, The Patriot, 10 Things I Hate About You, Candy.
- Woody Allen: Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Deconstructing Harry.
- Nicholas Cage: Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, The Rock, Raising Arizona, Face/Off.
- Josh Brolin: No Country for Old Men, W., Milk, True Grit, Sicario.
- Tim Robbins: The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River, The Player, Bull Durham, Bob Roberts.
- Forest Whitaker: The Last King of Scotland, Good Morning Vietnam, Bird, Panic Room, American Gun.
- Donald Sutherland: M*A*S*H, JFK, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ordinary People, The Dirty Dozen.
- Colin Firth: The King's Speech, A Single Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
- Martin Landau: Ed Wood, North By Northwest, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Rounders.
- Viggo Mortenson: Lord of the Rings, A History of Violence, The Road, Eastern Promises.
- Steve Buschemi: Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, Ghost World, Living in Oblivion, The Big Lebowski.
- Albert Finney: Murder on the Orient Express, Tom Jones, The Dresser, Under the Volcano, Erin Brockovich.
- Gary Sinise: Forrest Gump, Of Mice and Men, Ransom.
- Laurence Fishbourne: The Matrix, Apocalypse Now, What's Love Got to Do with It.
- Ryan Gosling: Half-Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl, Blue Valentine, Drive, The Ides of March.
- John Turturro: Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Quiz Show, The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing.
- Tom Hardy: Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises, Bronson, Max Max: Fury Road, Locke, The Drop, Inception.
- William H. Macy: Fargo, Seabiscuit, Boogie Nights.
- Daniel Craig: Skyfall, Casino Royale, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Road to Perdition, Defiance.
- Casey Affleck: Gone Baby Gone, The Assassination of Jesse James, Good Will Hunting, Ocean's Eleven, Out of the Furnace.
- Jim Carrey: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Man on the Moon, The Truman Show, Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber.
*Best Actor/Supporting Actor Academy Award winning performances appear in italics
Signature sketches: Celebrity Jeopardy, More Cowbell, W. Bush, James Lipton, Harry Carry, Robert Goulet, The Lovers. SNL Rating: 10
Extracurriculars: Anchorman, Old School, Funny or Die. Post SNL Rating: 9.5
Total Score: 19.5
Signature sketches: Samurai Futaba, Blues Brothers, Olympia Restaurant, Joe Cocker, The Singing Bee. SNL Rating: 9.2
Extracurriculars: Animal House, Blues Brothers. Post SNL Rating: 7.2
Total Score: 16.4
4) Phil Hartman (1986 - 1994)
Signature sketches: Bill Clinton, The Anal Retentive Chef, The Sinatra Group, Ronald Reagan, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. SNL Rating: 9.7
Extracurriculars: NewsRadio, The Simpsons. Post SNL Rating: 6.6
Total Score: 16.3
5) Bill Murray (1977 - 1980)
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Nick the Lounge Singer. SNL Rating: 7.4
Extracurriculars: Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation. Post SNL Rating: 8.5
Total Score: 15.9
6) Chris Farley (1990 - 1995)
Signature sketches: The Chris Farley Show, Matt Foley Motivational Speaker, The Chippendales Audition, Bill Swerkski's Super Fans, Bennett Brauer, El Niño, Schmitts Gay Beer. SNL Rating: 9.6
Extracurriculars: Tommy Boy, Black Sheep. Post SNL Rating: 6.2
Total Score: 15.8
Signature sketches: Blues Brothers, Irwin Mainway, Beldar Conehead, Fred Garvin, Bass-O-Matic, Julia Child, and One Wild and Crazy Guy. SNL Rating: 8.3
Extracurriculars: Ghostbusters, Coneheads, Blues Brothers. Post SNL Rating: 7.3
Total Score: 15.6
8) Adam Sandler (1991 - 1995)
Signature sketches: Opera Man, The Hanukkah Song, Canteen Boy, Schmitts Gay Beer. SNL Rating: 7
Extracurriculars: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Happy Madison Films. Post SNL Rating: 8.4
Total Score: 15.4
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Gerald Ford, Land Shark. SNL Rating: 7
Extracurriculars: National Lampoon, Caddyshack, Fletch, Community. Post SNL Rating: 8
Total Score: 15
10) Tina Fey (2000 - 2006)
Signature sketches: Head Writer, Sarah Palin, Weekend Update. SNL Rating: 7
Extracurriculars: 30 Rock, Mean Girls. Post SNL Rating: 7.7
Total Score: 14.7
11) Dana Carvey (1986 - 1993)
Signature sketches: Church Lady, Garth Alger, Hanz, The Grumpy Old Man, Chopping Broccili, Bush I. SNL Rating: 8.3
Extracurriculars: The Dana Carvey Show, Wayne's World. Post SNL Rating: 5.8
Total Score: 14.1
12) Seth Meyers (2001 - 2014)
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Head Writer. SNL Rating: 7.8
Extracurriculars: Late Night With Seth Myers, The Awesomes. Post SNL Rating: 6
Total Score: 13.8
Signature sketches: Wayne Campbell, Sprockets, Coffee Talk. SNL Rating: 6
Extracurriculars: Austin Powers Trilogy, Shrek Quadrilogy, Wayne's World. Post SNL Rating: 7.7
Total Score: 13.7
14) Kristen Wiig (2005-2012)
Signature sketches: The Target Lady, Kat, Penelope, Michele Bachmann. SNL Rating: 8
Extracurriculars: Bridesmaids, MacGruber. Post SNL Rating: 5.6
Total Score: 13.6
15) Chris Rock (1990 - 1993)
Signature sketches: The Dark Side With Nat X, I'm Chillin'. SNL Rating: 4.4
Extracurriculars: Stand-up, Everybody Hates Chris, The Chris Rock Show. Post SNL Rating: 9.1
Total Score: 13.5
16) Jane Curtin (1975 - 1980)
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Pymaat Conehead. SNL Rating: 6.7
Extracurriculars: Kate & Alley, 3rd Rock From the Sun, The Coneheads. Post SNL Rating: 6.6
Total Score: 13.3
17) Amy Poehler (2001 - 2008)
Signature sketches: Weekend Update. SNL Rating: 6.8
Extracurriculars: Parks and Rec, Baby Mama. Post SNL Rating: 6.4
Total Score: 13.2
18) Al Franken (1977 - 1980, 1985 – 1986, 1988 – 1995)
Signature sketches: Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley, Prolific writer. SNL Rating: 6
Extracurriculars: US Senator, Author, Radio commentator. Post SNL Rating: 7
Total Score: 13
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Barry Gibb, Sully and Denise. SNL Rating: 4.6
Extracurriculars: The Tonight Show, The Jimmy Fallon Show. Post SNL Rating: 8.2
Total Score: 12.8
Signature sketches: Lazy Sunday, Dick in a Box, Mother Lover, I'm On a Boat, Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals. SNL Rating: 7.5
Extracurriculars: Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Post SNL Rating: 5
Signature sketches: Brian Fellow's Safari Planet, Uncle Jemima, Star Jones, Woodrow the Homeless Man. SNL Rating: 6.6
Extracurriculars: 30 Rock, Stand-up, The Tracy Morgan Show. Post SNL Rating: 5.5
Total Score: 12.1
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Burt Reynolds, Bob Dole, Stan Hooper. SNL Rating: 6.7
Extracurriculars: Stand-up, Dirty Work, The Norm Show. Post SNL Rating: 5
Total Score: 11.7
23) Darrell Hammond (1995 - 2009) His fourteen seasons is by far the longest running tenure in the history of the show.
Signature sketches: Sean Connery, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Al Gore, John McCain, Dick Cheney. SNL Rating: 9
Extracurriculars: Assorted bit roles Post SNL Rating: 1
Total Score: 10
24) Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1982 - 1985)
Extracurriculars: Seinfeld, Veep, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Post SNL Rating: 8.2
Total Score: 9.7
25) Molly Shannon (1995 - 2001)
Signature sketches: Mary Katherine Gallagher, Schweddy Balls, Sally O'Malley. SNL Rating: 6.9
Extracurriculars: Superstar!, Assorted bit roles. Post SNL Rating: 2.2
Total Score: 9.1
26) Gilda Radner (1975 - 1980)
Extracurriculars: Gilda Radner - Live From New York. Post SNL Rating: 1.5
27) Kevin Nealon (1986 - 1995)
Signature sketches: Weekend Update, Franz, Mr. Subliminal. SNL Rating: 6.2
Extracurriculars: Weeds, Adam Sandler movies. Post SNL Rating: 2.3
Total Score: 8.5
28) Jon Lovitz (1985 - 1990)
Signature sketches: Tommy Flanagan the Pathological Liar, Harvey Fierstein, Master Thespian, Hanukkah Harry. SNL Rating: 4.7
Extracurriculars: The Client, Newsradio, The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club. Post SNL Rating: 3.7
Total Score: 8.4
29) David Spade (1990 - 1996)
Signature sketches: Hollywood Minute, Buh-bye guy. SNL Rating: 4
Extracurriculars: Just Shoot Me!, Tommy Boy, Rules of Engagement. Post SNL Rating: 4.3
Total Score: 8.3
30) Garrett Morris (1975 - 1980)
Signature sketches: Chico Escuela, News For the Hard of Hearing Translator. SNL Rating: 4.5
Extracurriculars: The Jamie Foxx Show, 2 Broke Girls, The Downtown Comedy Club. Post SNL Rating: 2.8
Total Score: 7.3
Honorable Mentions: Tim Meadows (1991 - 2000), Ana Gasteyer (1996 - 2002), Jim Breuer (1995 - 1998), Chris Kattan (1996 - 2003), Joe Piscopo (1980 - 1984), Jason Sudeikis (2005 - 2013), Martin Short (1984 - 1985), Fred Armisen (2002 - 2013), Harry Shearer (1979 - 1980, 1984 - 1985), Chris Parnell (1998 - 2006), Rachel Dratch (1999 - 2006), Cheri Oteri (1995 - 2000), Dennis Miller (1985 - 1991), Horatio Sanz (1998 - 2006), Will Forte (2002 - 2010), Bill Hader (2005 - 2013), Jan Hooks (1986 - 1991), and Kenan Thompson (2003 - present).
Host Hall of Fame: Steve Martin (15 appearances), Alec Baldwin (16), John Goodman (12), Buck Henry (10), Tom Hanks (8), Christopher Walken (7) and Justin Timberlake (5).
Flashes in the Pan Who Went On To Bigger Things: Conan O'Brien (writer, 1987-1991), Robert Downey Jr (1985–1986), Billy Crystal (1984-1985), Steven Colbert (writer, voice in Ace in the Ambiguously Gay Duo), Steve Carell (voice of Gary in The Ambiguously Gay Duo), Christopher Guest (1984-1985), Michael McKean (1994-1995), Sarah Silverman (1993-1994), Chris Elliott (1994-1995), Joan Cusack (1985-1986), Gilbert Gottfried (1980-1981), Randy Quaid (1985-1986).
1) The Notorious BIG- Ready to Die -(1994) Around the years '87-'88, a young crack dealer named Christopher Wallace began entertaining local passersby by rapping into a beat-up amp on the street corners around Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Six years later, he was the biggest rapper in the world. Three years after that, he was dead. During the short flash that was his career, only one album was to be released, a top-to-bottom classic with the eerily prophetic title 'Ready to Die'. This album has it all. Sick beats, brilliant lyrics, crazy flows, and that intoxicating voice of Biggie Smalls. Key Tracks: Warning, Juicy, Ready to Die.
2) Nas- Illmatic --(1994) Five months prior to Ready to Die, this 20-year-old Queensbridge native paired with producers Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Q-Tip and burst onto the scene with what would be his masterpiece. Calling the album Illmatic after his incarcerated friend Illmatic Ice, Nas originally wanted the cover to feature himself with Jesus in a headlock. Key Tracks: N.Y. State of Mind, Life's a Bitch, One Love.
3) Dr. Dre- The Chronic --(1992) Fresh off of his split with supergroup NWA, Dre took it solo and ended up creating perhaps the best produced rap album of all time. The Chronic would introduce Parliament-laced G-funk to the mainstream and made Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and Nate Dogg stars before they'd ever even released albums of their own. Key Tracks: Nuthin' but a "G" Thang, F*ck wit Dre Day, Let Me Ride.
4) Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt --(1996) In 1996, Jay-Z blew audiences away with his debut effort and first release on label Roc-A-Fella records. Sean Carter had been known as "Jazzy", a nickname that developed into his stage name Jay-Z as an homage to his musical mentor Jaz-O and to the J-Z subway lines that stop by Marcy Avenue. Jaz-O had given Jay-Z his first break by recruiting him on the 1989 song
"Hawaiian Sophie." Two decades later, Jigga is a true hip hop tycoon. Key Tracks: Dead Presidents, Brooklyn's Finest, Can't Knock the Hustle.
5) Public Enemy-It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back --(1988) Channeling the black anger and urban tension so in need of an outlet, Nation of Millions was one of the first truly socially conscious hip hop albums. Key Tracks: Bring the Noise, Don't Believe the Hype, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.
6) The Wu-Tang Clan- Enter The Wu-Tang Clan - 36 Chambers --(1993) In 1993, Ghostface Killah and RZA decided to create a hip hop group whose ethos would be a blend of "Eastern philosophy picked up from kung-fu movies, watered-down Nation of Islam preaching picked up on the New York streets, and comic books." Recruiting the best rappers they could find, RZA set out to produce an album layered with eerie beats, martial-arts movie clips and soul music samples. To decide who appeared on each song, he forced the Wu-Tang rappers to battle with each other. The album's title originates from the 1978 martial arts film 'The 36th Chamber of Shaolin'. Key Tracks: C.R.E.A.M, Protect Ya Neck, Bring Da Ruckus.
7) NWA- Straight Outta Compton --(1988) This debut studio album pioneered gangsta rap and scared a whole lotta white people in the process. Instrumental in shifting power to the West Coast, Straight Outta Compton became the first album to reach platinum status without any airplay support or major tours. Key Tracks: Straight Outta Compton, Express Yourself, F*ck The Police.
8) A Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory --(1991) Fusing hip hop and jazz, childhood friends Q-Tip and Phife Dawg and high school mate Ali Shaheed Muhammad created an unique brand of intelligent, socially conscious music. Low End features contributions from jazz great Ron Carter on upright bass. Key Tracks: Excursions, Jazz (We've Got), Scenario.
9) Snoop Doggy Dogg- Doggystyle --(1993) Following the success of The Chronic, Doggystyle debuted at number one and sold over 800,000 copies in its first week, the record for a new artist. Key Tracks: Gin and Juice, Who Am I (Whats My Name)?, Lodi Dodi.
10) Raekwon- Only Built 4 Cuban Linx --(1995) Raekwon brought producer RZA and Ghostface Killah along for his solo debut, an album widely regarded as the pioneer of Mafioso rap, a genre later perfected by Biggie and Jay-Z (It was also the first hip hop album to name drop Cristal). It's title suggests that the music was as tough as Cuban link chain jewelry. Key Tracks: Criminology, Glaciers of Ice, Rainy Dayz.
11) Outkast- Aquemini --(1998) Outcast's third studio album took its name from a combination of the duo's astrological signs (Aquarius for Big Boi and Gemini for André 3000). The synthesizer-laden, distinctively Atlanta sounding record took only 2 months to go platinum. Key Tracks: SpottieOttieDopaliscious, Rosa Parks, Return of the "G".
12) The Fugees-The Score --(1996) The second and final album of super-group Wycelf Jean, Lauren Hill and Pras. 18 million sold. Key Tracks: Killing Me Softy, Fu-Gee-La, Ready or Not.
13) 2Pac- All Eyez On Me --(1996) All Eyez was released after Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records and baddest mofo on planet earth, bailed 2Pac out of jail in exchange for signing to his label. Arriving in studio to begin work hours after being released, Pac would lay down what would become his crowning achievement. Key Tracks: 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted, California Love, Ambitionz Az a Ridah.
14) Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force- Planet Rock: The Album--(1986) Respectfully known as the "Grandfather" for his monumental impact on the early development of hip hop, Bambaataa recently became one of the first hop hop artists to be nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Representing Zulu Nation, he released the seminal Planet Rock over two decades ago as a collection of previous singles that had up until then never appeared on an album. Key Tracks: Planet Rock, Looking For the Perfect Beat, Renegades of Funk.
15) Boogie Down Productions-Criminal Minded --(1987) With Criminal Minded, KRS-One and BDP laid the groundwork for gangsta rap, as it was the first album to feature gun-toting MCs on its cover and crime narratives within its tracks. Their hardcore lyrics would become all too real after DJ Scott La Rock was shot and killed a mere five months after this seminal release. Key Tracks: The Bridge is Over, Criminal Minded, South Bronx.
16) Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five- The Message --(1982) Releasing their debut album on upstart Sugarhill Records, DJ Grandmaster Flash and MCs Melle Mel, Kidd Creole, Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio, and Rahiem essentially wrote the rule book on turntablism, break-beat deejaying, and rapping. The title track was the first hip hop song to integrate socially and politically conscious lyrics. Key Tracks: The Message, Scorpio, She's Nasty.
17) Eric B. & Rakim-Paid In Full ---(1987) After Rakim responded to Eric B.'s search for "New York's top MC," the duo got to work after Rakim's friend and roommate Marley Marl permitted them use of his home studio. They would end up creating one of the most influential rap albums ever for its use of samples, internal rhyme, complex lyricism, and laid back flow. Key Tracks: Eric B. Is President, I Know You Got Soul, Paid in Full.
18) Dr. Dre-Chronic 2001 --(2001) Almost a decade after releasing his landmark album The Chronic, Dre took back to the studio to begin work on his long-anticipated follow up. Dre did not mince words about his motivations: "For the last couple of years, there's been a lot of talk out on the streets about whether or not I can still hold my own, whether or not I'm still good at producing. That was the ultimate motivation for me. Magazines, word of mouth and rap tabloids were saying I didn't have it any more. What more do I need to do? How many platinum records have I made? O.K., here's the album -- now what do you have to say?" Point made... Key Tracks: Forgot About Dre, The Next Episode, What's The Difference.
19) The Notorious BIG-Life After Death --(1997)-This double album released posthumously featured guest artists 112, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, R. Kelly, The LOX, Kelly Price, and Puff Daddy. Considered a seminal mafioso rap album, it is one of three hip hop albums to ever be certified diamond (10 million US sold). Key Tracks: Notorious Thugs, Hypnotize, Ten Crack Commandments.
20) Run D.M.C.- Run DMC--(1984) Run DMC's debut effort was the first hip-hop album to ever receive a 5-mic rating from The Source. Key Tracks: Rock Box, It's Like That, Sucker M.C.'s
21) Beastie Boys- Licensed To Ill ---(1986)-Some fast facts: It is the first rap LP to top the Billboard 200 chart. It is Columbia Records' fastest selling debut record to date. Kerry King of Slayer made an appearance on the album playing lead guitar on "No Sleep 'Till Brooklyn". The '3MTA3' on the cover image of the plane spells 'EATME' when viewed in a mirror. The original title for the album was Don't Be a Faggot but Columbia Records refused to release the album and pressured Russell Simmons into having the Beastie Boys to come up with another name. Key Tracks: Fight for Your Right, No Sleep Til Brooklyn, She's Crafty.
22) 2Pac- Me Against The World --(1995) Recorded in a matter of weeks before Pac was to go to prison on sexual assault charges, MATW would make the embattled rapper the first and only artist to ever have a number one album while serving a prison sentence. Key Tracks: Dear Mama, Me Against the World, Outlaw.
23) Eminem- The Marshall Mathers LP --(2000) Em's third studio album was gritty, angry, and brutally honest, lashing out against critics and illustrating the troubles that his new found fame had induced. The album sold more than 1.79 million copies in its first week in the US alone, making it the fastest selling solo album ever. Key Tracks: Stan, The Way I Am, The Real Slim Shady?
24) Ice Cube- AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted --(1990) Primarily produced by The Bomb Squad, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted made use of several tracks Cube had originally written for NWA before their acrimonious split. Taking on the American justice system, race relations, poverty, and drug addiction in South Central, L.A., Cube produced an instant classic that is as powerful today as it was two decades ago. Key Tracks: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Endangered Species, Who's the Mack?.
25) Jay-Z- The Blueprint--Despite the bad fortune of being released on September 11, 2001, The Blueprint sold over 426,000 copies in its opening week, becoming Jay-Z's fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Produced by Kanye West and Just Blaze, it was reportedly cut in two weeks, with Jay-Z allegedly writing the lyrics in two days. Key Tracks: Izzo (H.O.V.A.), Renegade, Girls, Girls, Girls.
26) Big L- Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous --(1995) Like Biggie's Ready to Die, Lifestylez was the only studio album to be dropped prior to it's author's murder. The tremendously underrated LP introduced up-and-comers Jay-Z and Cam'ron. Key Tracks: Put It On, M.V.P., Street Struck.
27) Mobb Deep- The Infamous...--(1995) This rap duo is the third act on this list to hail from Queensbridge. Key Tracks: Shook Ones Pt. II, Temperature's Rising, Survival of the Fittest.
28) LL Cool J- Radio --(1985) This first full length album release on Def Jam Records was primarily produced by co-founder Rick Rubin. Key Tracks: I Can't Live Without My Radio, Rock the Bells, I Need a Beat.
29) Outkast- ATLiens --(1996) "It's deep. So deep that listening to 'ATLiens' you might feel like drowning, but the smooth vocals of Big Boi and the earthy flows of Andre always push you back up to the surface. They are players in the truest sense of the word; not just playing for ends but playing to win in the ultimate battle of life over death, good over bad, and righteousness over evil." --Steve Juon, RapReviews. Key Tracks: ATLiens, Wheelz of Steel, Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac).
30) Run DMC- Raising Hell --(1986) One of the most important rap albums ever for its success in taking the infant the genre mainstream, Raising Hell silenced critics who had deemed hip hop a passing fad. It made its biggest mark with Walk This Way, a collaboration with Aerosmith that became the first hip hop video in heavy rotation on MTV. Key Tracks: Its Tricky, Walk This Way, My Adidas.
31) Bone Thugs N Harmony- E. Eternal 1999 --(1995) Released four months after executive producer Eazy-E's death, Eternal spawned the landmark single "Tha Crossroads", which won a Grammy, went double-platinum, and tied The Beatles' 32-year-old record (1964's "Can't Buy Me Love") for the fastest rising single on the pop charts. Key Tracks: The Crossroads, 1st of tha Month, East 1999.
32) Black Star- Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star- (1998) The sole album from this power duo, the hyper-intelligent Black Star moniker is a nod to the Black Star Line, an early 20th-century African-American shipping line incorporated by Marcus Garvey. Key Tracks: Definition, Brown Skin Lady, Respiration.
33) Nas- Stillmatic --(2001) Nas harkened back to his Illmatic days with his fifth release, 2001's Stillmatic, which instantly earned the ever sought 5 mic rating from The Source. Highlighting the achievement was Nas' bitter rebuke of Jay-Z with the "Ether", a scathing counterattack that portrayed his rival as both a plagiarist and sell-out. Key Tracks: Got Ur Self A..., One Mic, Ether.
34) GZA- Liquid Swords --(1995) GZA's second solo album is up alongside Cuban Linx as the best of the Wu-Tang solo efforts. Key Tracks: Duel of the Iron Mic, Liquid Swords, Shadowboxin'.
35) Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill --(1998) After breaking out with The Fugees, Hill released her solo debut in 1998, a fusion of hip hop, soul, reggae, R&B, and gospel. The album garnered ten nominations at the 41st Grammy Awards, winning five, including Best New Artist and Album of the Year. Key Tracks: Doo Wop (That Thing), To Zion, Everything Is Everything.
36) Mos Def- Black On Both Sides --(1999) Mos Def's debut solo album post-Blackstar featured live instrumentation and socially-conscious lyrics. Key Tracks: Ms. Fat Booty, Brooklyn, Mathematics.
37) Wu-Tang Clan- Wu-Tang Forever --(1997) The long-awaited follow-up to 36 Chambers, Forever showcased their trademark stream-of-consciousness style of rap. Key Tracks: Triumph, Visionz, As High As Wu-Tang Get.
38) Jay-Z- The Black Album --(2003) J's 8th studio album was promoted as his last, though he would obviously renege on that pronouncement not long after. This epic has been mixed with everything from the Beatles and Grateful Dead to Linkin Park and Prince. Key Tracks: What More Can I Say, Dirt off Your Shoulder, 99 Problems.
39) Cypress Hill- Black Sunday --(1993) This stoner opus marked the first time a Latino group would go platinum. They would later be banned from Saturday Night Live after Muggs smoked a joint on-air and the band trashed their instruments while playing their second single "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That". Key Tracks: Insane In The Brain, Hits From The Bong, I Ain't Goin' Out Like That.
40) Gang Starr- Moment of Truth--(1998) The fifth studio album from DJ Premier and the late great Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal), Moment of Truth was the high water mark within a brilliant, nearly two decade-long career. Key Tracks: You Know My Steez, Brooklyn Trooper, Moment of Truth.
41) De La Soul- 3 Feet High and Rising--(1989) Produced by Prince Paul, the album takes its title from a Johnny Cash song called "Five Feet High and Rising". Key Tracks: Me Myself and I, Buddy, Eye Know.
42) Eminem- The Slim Shady LP --(1999)-For a kid in 6th grade, I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Eminem introduce himself to the world. This was something unlike anybody I'd ever heard; raw, revealing, humorous, and at the same time brutally violent. The album erupted a firestorm of opposition, as parental groups balked at lyrics that discussed everything from drugging a fifteen-year-old girl to disposing of Em's dead wife's corpse. Key Tracks: Guilty Conscience, My Name Is, '97 Bonnie & Clyde.
43) Beastie Boys- Paul's Boutique --(1989) Incorporating production by the Dust Brothers, the album makes use of samples from 105 different songs. The sampling was uncleared, which was one of the last albums to do so before the landmark Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. case against Biz Markie that forced artists to obtain the rights to any song from which they sampled. Key Tracks: Hey Ladies, Shake Your Rump, The Sounds of Science.
44) Big Pun-Capital Punishment--(1998) As The Source put it, "Capital Punishment is all about execution." To be sure, Pun positively killed it in this debut effort, his spitfire rhyming skills asserting him as one of the most promising figures in hip hop before a heart attack killed him just two short years later. Key Tracks: Still Not a Player, Twinz (Deep Cover 98), You Came Up.
45) EPMD- Strictly Business --(1988) This landmark effort from Eric Sermon and Parish Smith unearthed samples from within a genre to which few other rappers of the era were paying much attention. Contained within its tracks are cuts from ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, and Eric Clapton. Key Tracks: It's My Thing, Strictly Business, You Gots to Chill.
46) The Roots- Things Fall Apart --(1999) The Roots' fourth studio offering turned out to be their commercial breakthrough. During recording, the group laid down an astonishing 145 songs, which they later whittled down to the 14 that appear on the album. Key Tracks: Adrenaline!, The Next Movement, Act Too (The Love of My Life).
47) Wyclef Jean- The Carnival --(1997) Wyclef kicked off his solo debut with an electric record that combined hip hop, reggae, folk, disco, soul, Son Cubano and Haitian music. As a tribute to his homeland, the final three songs are sung in Haitian Creole. Key Tracks: Gone Till November, We Trying to Stay Alive, Guantanamera
48) Jurassic 5- Quality Control-- (2000) The major label debut of Chali 2na and company played a central role in the development of the alternative rap scene that was burgeoning around the turn of the century. Key Tracks: Quality Control, The Influence, World of Entertainment (W.O.E. is Me)
49) Puff Daddy & the Family- No Way Out --(1997) Originally titled 'Hell Up In Harlem' until the The Notorious B.I.G.'s death, the album topped the album charts in the US with 561,000 units sold in its first week of release. It would go on to win the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Key Tracks: Victory, Been Around the World, It's All about the Benjamins.
50) Busta Rhymes- When Disaster Strikes... --(1997) Busta's second solo effort reached #3 on the Billboard 200. Key Tracks: Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, Dangerous, Turn It Up.
Pete Rock and CL Smooth- Mecca and the Soul Brother, Method Man-Tical, Outcast-Stankonia, Nas-I Am..., LL Cool J-Mama Said Knock You Out, Beastie Boys-Check Your Head, Notorious BIG-Born Again, Run DMC-King Of Rock, Ice T-O.G. Original Gangster, Missy Eliot-Supa Dupa Fly, A Tribe Called Quest-Midnight Marauders, Salt N Pepa- Blacks Magic, Kurtis Blow-Kurtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane-Its a Big Daddy Thing, Eric B. & Rakim-Follow the Leader, Gang Starr-Daily Operation, Common-Like Water for Chocolate, KRS One-KRS One, Kanye West-The College Dropout, 50 Cent-Get Rich or Die Tryin', Eminem- The Eminem Show, Nas-It Was Written, Public Enemy-Fear of A Black Planet, DMX- Its Dark and Hell is Hot.
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