Saturday Night Live closed out Season 46 with a poignant cold open, its first full audience of the season, a cameo by season premiere host Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy "fitting into sketches with a seamlessness born of belonging" and several cast members looking like they were exiting the show. "Even stubborn non-apologists for a show that puts on a 90-minute live sketch/variety episode every week have to admit that this was one tire-fire of a year, and the degree of difficulty for the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live is something worth applauding, just this once," says Dennis Perkins. "It was the big four who got center stage for the bit, with undisputed all-stars Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson anchoring the cast-wide farewell. Nobody’s talked much about who’s staying or going from this over-full cast, but all four of these busy people could reasonably exit in the off-season, so they’ve certainly earned the honor. It was a sweet and well-earned victory lap for everybody, the long and applause break-swollen opener allowing for a happy variety of gags...This has been a tough, bad year, and everybody deserves both some time off, and some recognition for making it through at all. Never mind those who’ve managed to make comedy right in the chaotic heart of fear and loss. Have a great off season, everyone at SNL. You’ve more than earned it."
Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant and Kenan Thompson all spark speculation that they're leaving SNL: "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," says Deadline's Nellie Andreeva, noting that seven years is the standard length of an SNL contract. "That includes Kenan Thompson (18 seasons), Kate McKinnon (10), Aidy Bryant (9), Cecily Strong (9), Colin Jost (8), Beck Bennett (8), Kyle Mooney (8), Michael Che (7)."