Lorne Michaels May Be Leaving Saturday Night Live, And Maybe He's Serious About It This Time

America's most influential and long-running live comedy show might be losing its showrunner in the semi-near future. "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels, 77, is talking about retirement and has already chosen the ideal time to take a bow.

Michaels, who created "SNL" in 1975, thinks the 50 year mark may be the best time to retire. He told CBS Mornings (via The Hollywood Reporter) that the semicentennial is the earliest he could envision himself leaving the show. "I'd like to see that through and I have a feeling that'd be a really good time to leave," he told the outlet. The show is currently airing its 47th season, which just this past week featured a sure-to-be-historical episode featuring a super-limited live cast in light of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

A Three-Year Plan

Michaels doesn't promise to be entirely hands-off after season 50, though. "I won't ever want the show to be bad," he continued when speaking with CBS about the future. "I care too deeply about it. It's been my life's work. So I'm gonna do everything I can to see it carry on." Michaels is known for being highly involved in the audition process for "SNL" cast members and has worked with several series alums to produce TV shows of their own for NBC and elsewhere. Could one of his frequent collaborators fill his shoes once he's gone?

The showrunner isn't ready to talk about choosing a successor yet. "I have a sense of where we're headed with that," he said in response to a question about the show's future, but, "I'm not going to go on about it — it's three years away." This surely won't stop "SNL" fans and industry professionals from speculating their way to 2024. My money is on Tina Fey topping the list of potential successors. Fey has worked with Michaels on several successful projects besides "SNL," including "Mean Girls" and "30 Rock."

Michaels has already left "Saturday Night Live" once before, from 1980 to 1985. That era of the hit show's history is often cited as one of its less fruitful periods, but the show was still in its relative infancy then. Now Michaels has a whole league of "SNL" alums who already seem eager to return for hosting duties or guest appearances. If the 2024 cast resembles the current line-up, which includes Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, and a whole host of talented newcomers, Michaels will be going out on a high note. When he does step down, there's no doubt the show will be left in good hands.

"Saturday Night Live" airs on NBC, with past episodes available on Peacock. The show is set to return from midseason hiatus in early 2022.