The moment we’ve been dreading is here: Cecily Strong has left Saturday Night Live after 11 seasons. SNL broke the news of her departure on social media just hours before last night’s Austin Butler–hosted episode aired. “Tonight we send off one of the best to ever do it. We’ll miss you, Cecily!” the show’s account wrote on Instagram. The farewell post included a shot of Strong as the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, as well as a clip of her singing in a pool of boxed wine as Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. Strong joined the SNL cast in 2012 and went on to win two Emmy nominations for the show in 2020 and 2021. Her exit comes at the end of a year in which several other long-tenured stars made their exit, including Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, and more.
The season 48 cast took time to say good-bye to Strong with a sketch where she played a RadioShack employee on her last day. “Every time she came to work, she had a new character or a new accent or a new impression that would just blow you away,” Kenan Thompson said. “She’d have a power and a joy to her performance that made you remember why you loved working at RadioShack in the first place.” Butler then allowed Elvis to possess him once again to lead the cast in a cover of “Blue Christmas,” with the lyrics adjusted in Strong’s honor. “You’ll be doin’ alright every Saturday night,” they sang in lightly falling snow. “But we’ll all have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.”
After the show, Strong posted on her own Instagram, explaining that she kept news of her departure hush-hush because it was too emotional for her. “I’m sorry I’ve been a little quiet about it publicly. I didn’t want the extra pressure on something already so emotional for me,” she wrote. “And I’m so grateful I got to have these wonderful past six shows to help me ease into it and get to meet and laugh and probably overly hug Molly, Marcello, Devon, and Michael who I think are not only brilliantly funny but really great humans. I am ready to go, but I’ll always know home is here. I’ve had the time of my life working with the greatest people on earth.” You can look forward to seeing Strong in the second season of Apple TV+’s Schmigadoon!, as well as the upcoming animated Garfield movie. Watch her tear up in her final SNL appearance as a cast member below.
This post has been updated throughout.