Why SNL's Pete Davidson Nearly Quit The Show After Last Season

saturday night live pete davidson nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

Pete Davidson started making worldwide headlines back in 2018, but not for reasons connected to his growing comedy career courtesy of Saturday Night Live. His relationship with Ariana Grande, followed by an engagement, followed by a breakup and a whole lot of fallout thrust him into the spotlight... and also resulted in making Davidson the butt of the joke more often than he apparently would have liked. In fact, Davidson has since revealed that he nearly quit SNL after last season.

In a conversation on Live Your Truth: An Honest Conversation with Charlamagne Tha God, Pete Davidson opened up about why he nearly quit Saturday Night Live:

Here’s the thing is, I personally think I should be done with that show because they make fun of me on it. I get it, but, like, I am cold open political punchlines. I am Weekend Update jokes. When I’m not there, they’ll be like, ‘Uh huh, well Pete’s a fucking jerk face.’ It’s like, whose side are you on? I have a weird feeling in that building where I don’t know whose team they’re playing for. If I’m the joke or if I’m in on the joke. I really wanted last year to be my last year, but I’m still around and trying to knock it away.

Saturday Night Live was Pete Davidson's big break into showbiz, but last year clearly wasn't easy on him. Davidson was open about the online bullying he encountered after the breakup with Ariana Grande, and it was enough to prompt Grande herself to speak out. An Instagram post from Davidson had fans worried about him, although he did turn up on the next episode of SNL. News later broke that Lorne Michaels actually pulled some of his sketches after that post.

That said, any Saturday Night Live viewer can probably see Pete Davidson's point about frequently being a punchline on the series. For example, in late 2018 former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw, who Davidson roasted during a previous Weekend Update segment of SNL, was invited onto the show to get revenge on Davidson, and I think it's safe to say that the former SEAL unloaded on Davidson a lot more than Davidson did on him, and had fun doing it.

Dan Crenshaw didn't seemingly feel any anger or malice toward Pete Davidson, but it's not hard to understand if Davidson wasn't a fan of this kind of treatment. Davidson does have some other things going for him on top of Saturday Night Live, so SNL isn't his only avenue in showbiz.

Pete Davidson landed an unexpected role on ABC's The Rookie with the potential to return (short of being killed off), and has been attached to The Suicide Squad, to name only a couple! His feelings about being the butt of SNL jokes certainly seem strong:

If I’m just fodder now, though, maybe I shouldn’t be there, that’s all I’m saying. I literally was just like, picture what it’s like to be made fun of and then cut to immediately, and try to get the audience on your side without being like, ‘Look at this fuckin’ idiot.’ You try to do that.

So will Pete Davidson leave Saturday Night Live? He seems willing to stay for now, but SNL would lose one of its higher-profile performers not too long after Leslie Jones moved on. Rumors have circulated about Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong leaving as well. Losing Pete Davidson sooner rather than later could mean a significant change, although only time could tell. SNL is and always has been an ensemble series.

For now, you can see Pete Davidson on new episodes of Saturday Night Live. The next new installment airs Saturday, February 29 at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).