Every season finale of NBC’s Saturday Night Live brings anxiety to fans that some of their long-time favorites may be leaving. Tonight’s Season 46 closer left many viewers convinced that we may have seen the last of a number of long-time cast members.
With the pandemic seriously impacting the second half of last season, the entire cast of SNL returned for a do-over, including what could be the most ever cadre of cast members who have been on the show for 7+ seasons. (Seven is the standard length of an SNL contract.)
And tonight, Thompson, McKinnon, Bryant and Strong and Davidson all hinted that this could’ve been their final SNL curtain call as the sketch comedy is likely headed for major cast changes this summer.
What a season ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WxENKTu4k2— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) May 23, 2021
The finale opened with the show’s longest-tenured cast members, Bryant, Strong, McKinnon and Thompson, on central stage, welcomed by a thunderous applause from the show’s first first full audience since before the pandemic, with virtually all of the four tearing up during the Cold Open as they spoke about the past year.
When McKinnon got to the line, “This is a year when we realized we are more than just a cast, we are a family,” she got choked up and had to re-do it.
‘SNL’: Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant & Kenan Thompson Spark Exit Speculation In Emotional Season 46 Finale As Cast Changes Loom https://t.co/p5bQSbh7tT— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) May 23, 2021
McKinnon had been mulling an exit from SNL for a couple of years, while Thompson, who had not indicated that he may leave, had been juggling SNL and his new NBC sitcom, Kenan, which was just renewed for a second season. It films in Los Angeles, while SNL is based in New York.
I hear nothing is final yet but if several of the long-time eight cast members leave, we would have one of the biggest cast overhauls in SNL history.