SNL's Kate McKinnon Explains Why She Left The NBC Show After 'The Best Decade'

Kate McKinnon on SNL
(Image credit: SNL Studios)

It’s been just two months since Saturday Night Live ended its season with multiple surprise cast departures, and it’s still hard to get over that mini-exodus without new episodes around for comfort. One such departing star was Kate McKinnon, whose exit was actually rumored for a while beforehand (and even ahead of past seasons). Now, the comedian has opened up ever so much about leaving the series.

Kate McKinnon appeared on Live! With Kelly & Ryan, where she discussed her general reasoning behind leaving the long-running variety sketch series. While McKinnon dubbed her wildly successful stint on SNL as “the best decade,” she said it was time for her to move on. In her words:

I thought about it for a very long time, and it was very, very hard. Because I mean, all I ever wanted to do in my whole life was be on Saturday Night Live. So, I did, I loved it, I had the best decade. And then I was just like, ‘My body was tired,’ and I felt like it was time.

It’s not surprising that Kate McKinnon would feel that way despite her love of being on the series. Not only was she working on SNL (and reaching big milestones) during that decade, but she was also working on other projects at the same time, whether it’d be adding to her feature filmography or filming high-profile series like Peacock's Joe v. Carol. However, she still has all the love for the NBC series, even if she won't be around to bring that energy to the stage. 

McKinnon mentioned that while she has yet to formulate other plans for her now-open Saturday nights, she already knows that she won’t be watching SNL, at least for a while. Instead, McKinnon has a reality series in mind that would definitely keep her mind off of all things sketch-related. 

I don’t know what I will do. I don’t know that I can watch the show yet because it’s just too emo, because I miss everyone so much. I mean, it’s my family for sure. . . . So it’s too emo. I think I’m just gonna tape The Bachelorette and watch it on Saturday.

Watching SNL for the first time after exiting the series would definitely be a hard and emotional choice, so I don’t blame McKinnon for wanting to check out something else until the point where she doesn't still feel as connected to it. It just shows how much the series (and its cast and crew) meant to her, and although the decision was a hard one to reach and put into action, she knows that she made the right call for her own needs. Hopefully, she’ll come back for a guest spot or hosting gig in the near future!

As for what McKinnon has in store post-SNL, she’s keeping pretty busy with the upcoming animated film DC League of Super Pets and the much-anticipated Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling out next year. Now that she’ll be more open for roles, fingers crossed we’ll see her in more projects soon. Maybe not any competing sketch shows set for post-primetime weekend hours, though.

Kate McKinnon exited Saturday Night Live along with Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, and Kyle Mooney at the end of Season 47. Their departures definitely left a vacancy at Studio 8H, with cast member Bowen Yang commenting on the emotional finale and saying that the four “defined what that show is in the last decade.” Although the series is known for its rotating cast, it will certainly take some getting used to without McKinnon and co. in Season 48.

As of now, there isn’t a set premiere date for Season 48 of Saturday Night Live or if any new cast members will be joining. It’s hard to tell if anyone else will be saying goodbye ahead of the new season, but if anyone else leaves, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

All seasons of Saturday Night Live are currently streaming on Peacock now with a subscription!

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.