Saturday Night Live: Tonight is Cecily Strong’s final episode

Saturday Night Live fans received a surprise announcement ahead of tonight’s brand new episode: It will be the final show for cast member Cecily Strong.

A tweet from SNL confirmed that tonight’s episode, hosted by Austin Butler with musical guest Lizzo, will be a farewell for Strong. It will also be the show’s annual Christmas episode, adding to the significance.

The timing of Strong’s departure is somewhat of a shock. The veteran cast member already missed the first few episodes of the season while performing a one-woman play in Los Angeles. Tonight will be Strong’s sixth and final episode of the season.

However, the fact that Strong is done with SNL isn’t all that surprising. The past couple of years has led to increased speculation that she would bow out. Many fans expected the announcement to come after last season when Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon also walked away.

We’ll likely hear from Strong over the next few weeks regarding why she chose to come back to Studio 8H for an abbreviated run in season 48. In the meantime, tonight’s show should be all about Strong.

Cecily Strong should be the focal point of Saturday Night Live tonight

When Cecily Strong returned earlier this season, she quickly reminded everyone of her importance to the show. It seemed like every worthwhile sketch featured Strong either as the star or in a supporting role.

Look for tonight to be more of a Cecily celebration. It’s all but guaranteed that she’ll appear in the cold open. From there, it would be surprising to see any sketch without Strong playing some part. Her recurring characters like Gemma or Dana the retail worker could show up.

“Weekend Update” should also give Strong one final chance to shine. The only question is which of her characters will get the honor. The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party? Cathy Anne? Judge Jeanine Pirro? Or will it be Strong as a new character that lets the comedian speak as herself? We’ll find out tonight.

Were you surprised by the news about Cecily Strong? Let us know in the comment section below.