Are Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, & More Really Leaving 'SNL'?

- Saturday Night Live -
Are Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, & More Really Leaving 'SNL'?

The Saturday Night Live circle of life is as follows: sketches create breakout stars, those stars get other projects, stars stay a few seasons after they break into Hollywood, stars leave (and/or get fired by Lorne Micheals for reasons only he knows). It's the natural order of things — just ask Maya Rudolph, Jason Sudeikis, or Tina Fey. And that means some SNL cast members might be leaving before Season 47 premieres this fall.

Contracts for SNL's upcoming season won't be finalized until the end of the summer, and with no official announcements from the stars themselves on whether they're staying or going, it's really anybody's guess. However, there are a handful of beloved SNL stars who have hinted that they might not come back. Most notably, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, and Aidy Bryant, all of whom sparked rumors that they were leaving after the Season 46 season finale cold open, which featured personal messages that felt like they could double as farewells. (McKinnon said that the SNL cast were "a family," while Davidson's "Weekend Update" segment ended with him telling the audience, "It's been an honor to grow up in front of you guys."

As Oprah once said, what is the truth? Here's what the SNL cast has said about leaving the show, and/or returning for Season 47.

Cecily Strong

What she's said: While promoting her new Apple TV+ show Schmigadoon!, Strong responded to the speculation surrounding her SNL future. "I'll be thrilled if I go back, I'll be thrilled if that was my last show," she told Entertainment Tonight, referencing her masterful Jeanine Pirro "Weekend Update" performance. "I feel good either way." Not exactly the definitive answer fans were hoping to hear.

The SNL contract: Based on Strong's non-committal answer, it sounds like she's still finalizing a potential Season 47 contract. (Last year, Deadline reported that Strong had one more year left on her SNL contract, which means she's likely renegotiating for another season.) Strong hinted at this when speaking to ET, saying that "things are a bit more up in the air and I'm Ok with that." She added, "My lesson from last year is sort of see what happens."

Odds she'll return to SNL: Given that Schmigadoon! is Strong's first major lead on a non-SNL project, I'm guessing that Strong will stay on for at least one more season to shore up her fan base one last time before heading out into the unknown.

Kate McKinnon

Image: Kyle Dubiel/NBC

What she's said: McKinnon has always been pretty tight-lipped when it comes to her SNL future, but in April, she told Variety that it was too "early" to say for sure if she'd be back for another season. "I really love working there, and I really love everyone who works there, so we will see."

The SNL contract: Deadline reported that McKinnon renegotiated her SNL contract last summer, but it's unclear how many more seasons she committed to. Based on her comments to Variety, it's possible she's taking it year by year, which would mean she's either still deciding what to do, or in negotiations. (Or a little bit of both.)

Odds she'll return to SNL: I truly have no idea. McKinnon is a strange case because she's always been such a stand out that I often felt that she could leave the show easily and get other gigs later (vs. the usual order of doing big projects and then leaving). Granted, she's starred in big(ish) movies over the years — Ghostbusters, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bombshell — and still hasn't left, but with the highly anticipated Joe Exotic project coming up, who knows what her calculations are.

Aidy Bryant

Image: Will Heath/NBC

What she's said: Like Strong and McKinnon before her, Bryant has avoided giving any certainty on her SNL future. "I don't know. I really don't know," she told Arizona Republic in May. "I kind of keep thinking I'll have a moment of clarity where I feel like OK, it's the time, or no, I need to stay. And I haven't quite had that moment yet."

In that same interview, Bryant said that she was hoping to work on new ideas this summer now that Shrill is over. So, if one of those ideas has any real momentum behind it before she has to commit to another season of SNL, it could be over.

The SNL contract: Bryant's SNL contract reportedly ended this year, meaning she's probably in negotiations right now — if she wants to come back at all.

Odds she'll return to SNL: Personally, I think it would be kind of a bummer for Season 46 to be Bryant's last season, since she had to miss so much of it to film Shrill. I can see her sticking around for one more season before leaving.

Pete Davidson

Image: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC

What he's said: As The Dipp previously reported, Davidson has been kind of all over the place when it comes to his SNL future. In June, he told Gold Derby that he hadn't made up his mind about staying on for Season 47, saying, "I don't know what the plan is. Everything's kind of up in the air right now just depending on scheduling." But before that, Davidson told The Hollywood Reporter that he was "ready to hang up the jersey."

The SNL contract: Davidson told Gold Derby that his contract was also up this year, and basically implied that he was still hammering out scheduling details before he signs on. I'm guessing this means that he wants freedom to do other projects and could be aiming for a lower episode count.

Odds he'll return to SNL: I fully expect Pete Davidson to be back at SNL next season, especially if Lorne Michaels agree to give him a reduced episode count to allow him to work on other projects. It just doesn't feel like he really knows what he wants, which to me means he'll stay. That said, Davidson is relatively unpredictable, so, I wouldn't be surprised if he came back for just one episode and then left for good.

Other longtime cast members like Beck Bennet and Kyle Mooney also seem about at the right time to leave, but there haven't really been any rumors about them either way, so I don't think fans should worry about them. Meanwhile, Michael Che told The View in May that he was "99.9% sure" he'd be back for another season and Kenan Thompson has said publicly that he wants to hit 20 seasons as a cast member, which means he'll probably stick around for at least three more years.

Who would you want to see stay or go?


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Image: Will Heath/NBC

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