saturday night live bid farewell to four veteran cast members tonight, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney. McKinnon, Bryant and Davidson, who have all become household names since SNL launched their careers, all received one-on-one mailings with some of their most popular recurring sketches. Mooney, who spent most of his time on the show as a valuable but underrated performer, made a low-key — but dramatic — exit.
Overall, the episode, hosted by Natasha Lyonne, was a throwback to a time when SNL the cast members used to get proper send-offs in the season finale, wrapping up their runs. The last big event came during the 2012 season finale, with host and musical guest Mick Jagger. He said goodbye to Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig who had completed seven-year terms. The episode ended in famous fashion with Jagger leading a dance send-off for Wiig to The Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow” and “Ruby Tuesday.”
McKinnon, Bryant, Davidson and Mooney are the main members of the SNL generation that succeeded Sudeikis, Samberg and Wiig. McKinnon has been on the show for 11 seasons (tonight marked her 211th episode, more than any woman on SNL history), Bryant was on 10, Mooney for 9, Davidson for 8. In addition to the quartet, there are several other very popular cast members who have been on the show for eight or more seasons, including Michael Che, Colin Jost, Cecily Strong and SNL Kenan Thompson institution.
The pandemic has likely delayed the late cast turnover, with only veteran Beck Bennett leaving last summer and the show’s cast hitting a record 21 members this season. With the exits of McKinnon, Bryant, Davidson and Mooney, the generational change in the series started.
the SNL The Season 47 finale set the tone for the farewell with the Cold Open, which revisited one of the most popular recurring sketches of the past decade, “Close Encounter”, which included Kate McKinnon in one of its the show’s most popular characters, Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant. It ended with McKinnon’s character, Coleen Rafferty, boarding a spaceship to leave Earth for good.
“Well, Earth. I love you, thank you for letting me stay a while,” McKinnon said, as Rafferty said, fighting back tears, before adding, “Live from New York, this is saturday night live.”
weekend update starred Pete Davidson and Bryant.
It’s no surprise that Davidson, who first left his mark on SNL with its segments on weekend update, returned to the fake newscast for his final appearance as a cast member. He ended it with a heartfelt message of gratitude to the show and his boss, Lorne Michaels.
“I appreciate saturday night live always behind me,” he said. “Thank you, Larne, for never giving up on me or judging me, even when everyone else was and for believing in me and allowing me to have a place I could call home, with memories that will last a lifetime. So thank you guys.
In other weekend update sketch, Bryant and Bowen Yang reprized their flamboyant personas from Trend Forecasters. The track ended with Bryant announcing “My Best Guys Kiss Me” is in it, leading to Yang and weekend update co-presenter Michael Che giving her a kiss and a shout, with a flirtatious flower arrangement.
Mooney, who was able to reprise one of his most popular characters, Baby Yoda, last week, went unrecognized in his latest full sketch, a 9 to 5 parody, which also featured SNL former Fred Armisen. But it ended with the characters of Mooney and Armisen making a spectacular exit by jumping out of a window and were last seen flying into an office building.
In the final skit of the evening, McKinnon and Bryant, who have done a slew of goofy business sketches, including popular vacation spot HomeGoods and an Apple Picking ad, delivered one final collaboration, an ad for Gray Adult Pigtails. Appropriately, it featured a cameo from Mooney. (You can watch the outgoing cast’s final sketches as well as their final encore below.)
While the entire finale served as a farewell to the four departing cast members, there was no mention of their exit during the traditional curtain call which featured a Mooney giving McKinnon an emotional hug (pictured above).
The high-profile departures from the cast came after Michaels recently admitted he expects this year to be a “year of change” for the show. That’s no surprise considering this season featured 21 stars and eight cast members heading into their eighth season and beyond.
Davidson has been on SNL since 2014 as one of its youngest cast members. He has become one of the show’s standouts in recent years, co-writing and starring in The King of Staten Isle and co-create and perform in Bupkis, which recently landed a straight-to-series order from Peacock. The latter is produced by Lorne Michaels, with whom Davidson will continue to have a relationship.
He has been largely absent this season, only appearing in a handful of episodes as he films feature films including The House.
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McKinnon has been on the show since 2012 and was promoted to repertoire player on Season 39 in 2013, becoming one of the show’s MVPs and winning two Emmys.
There had been persistent rumors over the past few years that she might leave, but she stayed, albeit not as regularly as she had in the past. McKinnon recently took some time off to film tiger king scripted series Joe versus Carol for Peacock, where she played Carole Baskin.
Bryant joined the series in 2012 and was raised in its second season. She has played characters such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Ted Cruz. Likewise, she’s been back and forth recently, starring in three seasons of the Michaels-exec produced Acute for Hulo.
Mooney, meanwhile, who most recently played Johnny Depp in last week’s episode, has been on the show since 2013 and was elevated to repertoire player at the start of the 41st season.
Here are the latest from McKinnon, Bryant, Davidson and Mooney SNL sketches:
Thank you @nlyonne, @JbrekkieFred Armisen, and @MayaRudolph! And thank you all for watching! See you next season!!! #SNLFinal pic.twitter.com/JO4QDfGKE5
— Saturday Night Live — SNL (@nbcsnl) May 22, 2022