Like sands through the hourglass, so are the cast of Saturday Night Live. At the end of each season, there is a sense of limbo as the status of cast members is unknown. Many come back, some leave, but it's been proven time and time again that in the cut-throat halls of 30 Rockefeller Center, it's safe not to get too attached to a cast member. So let's break it down and see how the cast fared this year.
Beck Bennett - Safe
Bennett has settled in nicely as the go-to voice man, ala Bill Hader and Phil Hartman. He's a solid impressionist and serves well for many of their game show/commercial bits. He's also the best straight man the show could ask for.
Aidy Bryant - Safe
Bryant is one of the reasons why I feel that SNL's female talent is outshining the men right now. I think she's really found her groove, especially in bits like "Aidy B".
Michael Che & Colin Jost - Safe
Although I think Weekend Update isn't as strong as it has been in previous years and relies on its guest bits rather than its hosts, Che and Jost are fine. I don't foresee a change at the desk anytime soon.
Pete Davidson - On the Bubble
Now that Davidson's got a handle on his mental health issues, I do think he has a strong future on the show. The only problem with Davidson is that he's not a strong sketch player. Most of the time he's either breaking or looks incredibly awkward reading lines. The man is a stand up comedian and is at his best during his 3 min spots on Weekend Update. That may be where he needs to have the most visibility next season if he wants to remain there.
Leslie Jones - Safe
Leslie Jones is a fan favorite and isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. As mean as it sounds, any momentum she had for a break out film career has stalled a bit, so there isn't a threat of bigger things taken Jones from SNL anytime soon. But she's a strong player, writer and even her breaks have charm. As far as I'm concerned, she can stay as long as she wants.
Kate McKinnon - Safe
As the MVP for the past couple of years, I'm going to enjoy the McKinnon ride as long as I can. With her film career taking off, I won't be surprised if the upcoming season is her last. Six seasons is a good run for anyone and McKinnon is an SNL Hall of Famer for sure. So enjoy these bits while you can.
Kyle Mooney - On the Bubble
Maybe I'm just not a fan of absurdist comedy, but Mooney has never really done it for me on the show. However, he has settled in with some strong performances in sketches. The problem is when he and Bennett settle into their old Good Neighbor type of material which is really a hit or miss for the show. Mooney's status never feels like it's a sure thing for the following year. I think he'll be back but I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't.
Cecily Strong - Safe
Strong is the heiress apparent to the Queen Bee throne once McKinnon departs. She's a solid impressionist, has a good roster of characters and is a welcomed presence in any sketch. Getting her off the Update desk was the best move for her.
Kenan Thompson - Safe
If I told you in 2003 when he made his first appearance, that Thompson would go onto become the longest-tenured cast member in the show's history(Going on 16 seasons), I would have said you were nuts. For the past couple of seasons, I thought they would be his last but he keeps coming back strong. As a big proponent of the diversity on the show, Thompon's importance can't be understated. So I think he'll be back for at least another season with a big send-off when he finally departs.
Mikey Day - Safe
I've been a fan of Day's since his David Blaine street magic skits on Youtube(if you haven't seen them, make the time). But Day has really become a strong player on the show. While he's not a strong impressionist, he's great in sketches and his Donald Trump Jr is fantastic. Not going anywhere soon.
Heidi Gardner - On the Bubble
Gardner's a bit one dimensional on the show right now. Her baby-voiced flighty characters all seem the same. And her best impression(Kristen Schaal) is so obscure, it barely registers with the audience. She's got to come through with some characters or strong sketch work in her second season if she wants to remain.
Alex Moffat - Safe
On the bubble until this season, Moffat has started to come through on the show. He's the next best straight man option to Bennett and has some strong characters lined up. He's on the verge of becoming one of the stars of the show.
Luke Null - Gone
I would be surprised if Null is brought back for another year. He had some chances but everything pretty much fell flat. Unless he's making a big impression in the writing room, he'll go by the way of Brooks Wheelan and Jon Rudnitsky. Who? Exactly.
Chris Redd - Safe
Redd was certainly at risk at the beginning of the season but by the Will Ferrell episode, Redd's value to the cast seemed to quadruple. He's a solid player with some budding impressionist skills. Redd's strong turn this year certainly bought him another year on the show.
Melissa Villaseñor - Safe
On the bubble last year, Villaseñor has settled in nicely. Her Dirty Talk bit has worked the two times they've done it. Going forward I'd like to see them use her impressionist skills a bit more, especially Celine Dion. It's not as over-the-top as Ana Gastyer's was, but more accurrate.