‘SNL’ Season 49 Finale Sets Stage For Anniversary As Cast Leave Possible Goodbyes For Next Year

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There are a plenty of longtime Saturday Night cast members, yet there were no big exits — or hints of departures — on tonight’s Season 49 finale of the venerable NBC late-night program.

No SNL veterans were tearing up at the end of their sketches like Kate McKinnon did in the 2022 finale, it was all smiles and fist bumps at the curtain call, and, after another brutal joke swap, Colin Jost and Michael Che wrapped their 10th season together on Weekend Update by wishing everyone a great summer.

This was to be expected, given that no one from this year’s 17-strong troupe would willingly miss next year’s big celebrations – The Big 50.

Host Jake Gyllenhaal set the stage for what is to come in his opening monologue, noting that the finale was “the last episode before the big anniversary season.”

“I know, we all are waiting for Season 50,” he said, revealing jokingly that he was tapped to host the Season 49 finale after a lot of big stars had declined.

“I guess they are all holding out for the 50th,” he quipped.

Saturday Night Live is expected to take a lap of honor for its fiftieth season, culminating with a celebratory weekend planned in February, punctuated by a live primetime special on Sunday, Feb. 16. Many of the show’s iconic stars and other A-listers are expected to be involved in it.

As SNL boss Lorne Michaels prepares to go all out for Season 50, he himself may decide to cut some cast members over the summer but is not expected to add to the cast as he heads into the show’s half century.

There are also a number of featured players expected to be promoted; Deadline understands that Marcello Hernández, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker are all likely to become repertory players next season after joining in Season 48.

Michaels future after the 50th anniversary is uncertain. He has previously said that he is considering retiring after the celebration, although the likes of Seth Meyers and Adam Sandler don’t expect him to go anywhere. “I think this is a false narrative that Lorne is going anywhere,” said Meyers. “I think it made sense for Lorne — who’s, yeah, got a flair for the dramatic — to say, ‘I think I’ll be done at 50. It’s not like Lorne’s got something else he wants to do more than this.”

Whatever happens with Michaels, the spring and summer of 2025 is expected to be another moment of transition for the show, drawing parallels to the post-pandemic changeover of 2022, which saw the departure of veterans McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney in the May Season 47 finale, followed by Cecily Strong’s exit in December.

But that is business for next year. Tonight, Gyllenhaal closed out the show by congratulating SNL’s team “on the end of an incredible season.”

For several newer cast members, the celebration will be extra special at the wrap party. “It’s a lot of people’s first big finale,” one SNL performer said.

This is because last year’s season ended abruptly as a result of the writers strike and the seasons before were under Covid protocols.

Weekend Update‘s Jost started as a writer in 2005 before becoming a co-anchor in 2014. Che joined the show as a writer in 2013 before becoming co-anchor alongside Jost in 2014.

Mikey Day joined as a writer in 2013 before being promoted to on-air cast in 2016. Heidi Gardner and Ego Nwodim have been on the show since 2017 and 2018, respectively, while Bowen Yang, who joined as a writer in 2018 and cast member in 2019, has seen his stock rise with appearances in films such as Fire Island and Bros as well as a turn in the upcoming Wicked.

Then, there’s Keenan Thompson, who at this point will likely be the last one out the door.

Thompson, along with Nwodim, Devon Walker and Punkie Johnson, joined Gyllenhaal in the opening monologue for a rendition of Boyz II Men “End of the Road” to see off the current season and celebrate SNL‘s longevity.

“It’s been 49 years, over 900 shows, costumes and wigs, and a room full of blow,” they sang.

You can watch below the song and the rest of the opening monologue as well as the finale curtain call.

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