Nicola Sturgeon's party lost 21 of the 56 constituencies it had won in 2015 and although the nationalists won the election in Scotland, the party saw both Mr Salmond and Angus Robertson, who had been depute leader and SNP leader at Westminster, lose out to the Tories.
With all of Scotland's seats now declared, the SNP managed to win only 35, in what will be viewed as a major blow for Nicola Sturgeon's plans for a second independence referendum.
"I'm not going to rush to hasty judgements or decisions but clearly there is thinking for me to do about the SNP result", she said.
"Just two years after we were almost wiped out in Scotland, we have staged a remarkable recovery and overturned some huge SNP majorities, and pushed the Nationalists incredibly close in many seats".
Scotland delivered the only good news for a Conservative Party that lost its overall majority in the British parliament.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said her party is seeing some "really encouraging results".
"In Scotland, the SNP won this election".
She lost her parliamentary majority following a late surge for left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He added: "In the last two elections, the Scottish Parliament and council elections, the SNP vote has been down and that has been replicated tonight".
Sturgeon, who is also first minister of Scotland, recently called for such a renewed vote on Scottish independence and has still not ruled out pursuing it.
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Sturgeon said it was a "a disappointing result" for her party, two years after it won a landslide in Scotland.
Yet the election brought the party some important gains, and there will now be intense debate as to whether Labour voters were lured back from the SNP by opposition to IndyRef2, or by Corbyn's more forthright socialist programme.
The first minister also congratulated those who had been elected MPs and paid tribute to those that had lost their seats.
"So I think she's right - despite all the disappointments, she's got the most seats, she's got the most votes by a long way and she's right to sit down and try to work this through".
Many moved towards the party best placed to defeat the SNP; and mainly that was the Conservatives.
In his victory speech, Mr Clark said: "The silent majority have spoken".
Together, we've gone far.
Whether their willingness to remain part of the European Union would be a strong enough argument to trigger a separation from the United Kingdom remained uncertain, however, when Sturgeon launched the new referendum attempt last summer. Across Scotland, the Tories have been heavily defeated, winning just one in seven seats.
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