Why is Cecily Strong leaving mid-season in SNL? The star speaks up about her decision

The hilarious Cecily Strong is officially leaving Saturday Night Live after 11 seasons. Here is why.

Cecily Strong
(Image credit: Noam Galai / Contributor)

This past weekend, fans were shocked to learn that Saturday Night Live veteran Cecily Strong has officially left the NBC show after 11 seasons. 

The news was made public by SNL right after the airing of this past Saturday's episode, which was hosted by Elvis actor Austin Butler. 

"We'll miss you, Cecily!," read a message posted on the show's official Instagram account, followed by a series of photos of the 38-year-old actor in character as real-life Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and popular character Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party.

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The caption to the photos read, ""Tonight we send off one of the best to ever do it. We’ll miss you, Cecily!"

Fans and fellow celebrities alike were quick to note their surprise and disappointment at the news. 

Actor Keke Palmer commented on the post twice, writing, "NOT MY GIRLLLLLLLLL" and "I LOVE HER."

Kenan Thompson, currently the longest-tenured cast member in the show's history, also expressed his feelings, using emojis "😢😢😢😢😢" in his comment.

A fan went so far as to say that "SNL just died tonight."

Cecily herself used the social media platform after the airing of the episode to explain her decision.  

"I’m sorry I've been a little quiet about it publicly," she wrote in the caption accompanying a clip of her fellow cast mates bidding goodbye while Austin-as -Elvis serenades all with a cover of Blue Christmas. "I didn’t want the extra pressure on something already so emotional for me. 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."

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In her post, the comedian also reminisced about her first experience with SNL, eleven seasons ago.

"Ten and a half years ago I got my dream job. The first actual work day I tried to be very cool and make it look like I knew what i was doing and I was supposed to be there," she wrote. "left that night around 11 after saying goodbye to everyone. I got stuck wandering around the building because none of the elevators went to the first floor and I was trying so hard to avoid having to go back upstairs to ask for help because I’d already said goodbye!!! I think I went to every floor trying to figure out if there was another exit I was missing. I might have even gone into a stairwell. I ended up going back upstairs and my soon-to-be great friend Colin Jost helped me out and walked me over to the secret night time elevator. It felt as impossible to leave that night as it does now."

This a big loss for the program as Cecily is just the last in a number of cast members leaving the show in 2022, including Aristotle Athari, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd and Melissa Villasenor.

In her last sketch, which ended up becoming Cecily's swan song, the actor played a RadioShack employee enjoying her last day at the store while surrounded by her co-workers, including Kenan, who, while playing the part, surely-yet-indirectly spoke everyone’s mind about the situation. 

"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," the actor is heard saying in the sketch. "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."

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.