Are some of Saturday Night Live’s longest-running cast members about to leave the show?
This past episode of Saturday Night Live was the finale for season 46. The episode also happened to be the first episode to have a full audience since the coronavirus pandemic began. To honor these two occasions, the episode started with the show’s longest-tenured cast members, Kennan Thompson (18 seasons), Kate McKinnon (10 seasons), Aidy Bryant (9 seasons), and Cecily Strong (9 seasons) addressing the audience. This ominous Cold Open saw the four talking about how the show survived during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a year when we realized we are more than just a cast, we are a family,” said McKinnon after having to re-start her sentence due to choking up.
But that’s not all. Pete Davidson (7 seasons) also included a heartfelt (yet ominous) sentiment while appearing in Weekend Update.
“I’m very grateful to be here, and it has been an honor to grow up in front of you guys,” he said.
Strong also appeared on Weekend Update and reprised one of her signature impersonations. As Judge Jeanine Pirro, Strong closed out her appearance by belting out the “My Way” lyrics, “I did it my way.”
All of these comments have left SNL fans speculating whether a major cast shakeup is around the corner. While no official word is out yet, the summertime between seasons 46 and 47 could see many of these longtime members officially leaving the show.
i apologize for the person i’ll become if aidy bryant, kate mckinnon, cecily strong, and kenan thompson all leave snl tonight
— ∅ (@umaeri) May 23, 2021
I have no idea if this is the last show for any of the #SNL cast members. But tonight's episode sure is doing a good job *implying* this is it for Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, and even Kenan Thompson.
— Brendan Noel (@BrendanDNoel) May 23, 2021
Life has taught me that SNL will survive and thrive through anything.
— Peter O'Malley 🏠 (@peterjomalley) May 23, 2021
If Kenan Thompson leaves SNL I’m gonna need 8 months off and intensive therapy #SNLFinale
— nadia 🇵🇸 (@mcavoyfiIms) May 23, 2021
— Austin (@AustinPlanet) May 23, 2021
Next season, every character will be played by Kenan Thompson
— Makena (@MakDPostmodern) May 23, 2021
Seeing some of the show’s longest-tenured cast members leave would surely be sad, but it makes sense for several of them. Kate McKinnon has previously talked about wanting to transition away from the show for a couple of years now.
As for Kenan Thompson, the comedian has said that he is “never in a rush to leave” SNL. That said, he’s been juggling the sketch program with his new NBC sitcom, Kenan. Kenan is filmed in Los Angeles while SNL is filmed in New York. And while he made doing both shows work for one season, Kenan was recently renewed for a second season. Could the comedian continue such a daunting schedule?
On top of this, clearing out the cast could create room for the newer members who’ve yet to get enough time to shine. This includes Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, Melissa Villaseñor, Ego Nwodim, and Alex Moffat.
Again, no official departure news has been announced. But, it looks like the writing is on the wall.