Saturday Night Live Is Losing Leslie Jones, But What About Kate McKinnon?

leslie jones saturday night live season 44 nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

While Saturday Night Live is technically an ensemble series with a huge cast of comedic actors, it has arguably had two leading ladies for the past several years: Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Both became big names on the big screen while still starring on SNL, so it may have only been a matter of time before one or both left. Well, now Leslie Jones is leaving the series behind. There is good news, though; Kate McKinnon will still be around to deliver the laughs. That should help make up for the loss of Leslie Jones!

Although standard Saturday Night Live deals run for seven years, Deadline reports that Leslie Jones made the decision to leave after only five, as contact options are picked up on a yearly basis and actors can request to be released early. She's reportedly leaving to focus on new opportunities, including a standup comedy special on Netflix, a part in the long-awaited Coming To America sequel, and more movie projects.

Leslie Jones was a key member of the cast, and she'll undoubtedly be missed by many. Honestly, I still go back and watch her Naked & Afraid: Celebrity Edition sketch with Peter Dinklage if I need a comedy pick-me-up. She scored two Emmy nominations over her five years on the show, became a regular guest on Weekend Update, and nailed some impersonations, including Whoopi Goldberg.

It's too bad for fans that it wasn't announced sooner that Leslie Jones wouldn't be around for the upcoming Season 45, as there wasn't the chance to say goodbye to her on screen. Still, I'd bet that she'll be back to host at some point! Hopefully it just won't take her as long to come back as it took Eddie Murphy to come back as host. She was one of the biggest names on the show, and she'll be missed.

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At least we'll still have Kate McKinnon! Her return was far from a sure thing, as her contract was up following Season 44. Rumors abounded that she would be out ahead of Season 45, and the odds off that seemed pretty good that she was out. She has another TV show in the works, and she has worked on some major movies. Assuming she had the seven season contract, Season 44 would have been the end of it.

That said, Kate McKinnon's work on SNL won her the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy trophy twice already, and she's up for the award again at the 2019 Emmys. I wouldn't be surprised if SNL and NBC pulled out all the stops to keep McKinnon on board into Season 45, especially with Leslie Jones leaving.

Kate McKinnon will be present at least into her eighth season. It's reportedly not clear at this point if McKinnon will be back full-time, but some McKinnon is better than no McKinnon! Find out when Saturday Night Live returns to the airwaves along with a bunch of other shows on our 2019 fall TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.