This year’s Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live was laced with more tears than expected. Just hours before the Dec. 17 episode aired, NBC revealed longstanding cast member Cecily Strong would be departing the program after one more appearance. And she certainly sent herself off in style. Make sure you have some tissues handy before watching Cecily Strong’s farewell SNL routines since they are really sad.
Strong was one of the most visible members of SNL’s 2022 cast, having been a part of the show since 2012. Her departure midseason was unexpected but not surprising given her success outside of the show and the recent mass migration of longstanding SNL cast members like Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, both of whom joined the cast the same year Strong did.
Although Strong featured in several sketches on her farewell appearance, two of them were particularly poignant. She played the crazy complainer Cathy Anne one last time on Weekend Update. The cameo began out as silly as any previous Cathy Anne visit, but as she stated she’d been sentenced to life in prison, it became evident that this was Strong bidding her final goodbyes. She also called out McKinnon and Bryant, suggesting that they were her “inside buddies.”
Strong did weep up during the final Cathy Anne comedy, but the true emotional gut punch came at the close of the broadcast when host Austin Butler and the rest of the SNL ensemble serenaded her with Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”
It was obviously an emotional night for both Strong and all her followers. Her resignation makes her the ninth SNL cast member to quit the program in 2022, an unusually high amount for the long-running sketch series, which typically loses just a handful of actors every year. McKinnon, Bryant, Kyle Mooney, and Pete Davidson left the show earlier this year, followed by Chris Redd, Alex Moffat, Melissa Villasenor, and Aristotle Athari.
Although there have recently been a lot of heartfelt farewells on SNL, Strong’s musical sendoff will remain in the hearts of viewers.