Season 39 began on September 28, 2013 and ran to May 17, 2014. Prior cast members Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis had left the show at the end of season 38, and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers left mid-season on February 1st to prepare for his new job, hosting Late Night. Tim Robinson, who had joined the show as a cast member in the previous season, transferred to the writing staff.
This was the first season for Beck Bennett, Colin Jost, Kyle Mooney, and Sasheer Zamata as cast members, as well as the only season for John Milhiser, Mike O'Brien, Noël Wells, and Brooks Wheelan; Jost and Zamata were added at different points mid-season. Cecily Strong became co-anchor of Weekend Update at the beginning of the season.
The season was more eventful than the last several. Kenan Thompson gave an interview to TV Guide in October, where he criticized the show's lack of black females on the cast, and publicly refused to continue to dress in drag on the show. This was a point of humor in the November 2 show, hosted by Kerry Washington. With the flurry of press attention that followed, Lorne Michaels and NBC decided to add a black woman to the cast, leading to Sasheer Zamata joining after Christmas break.
Also in the news was the shift in late night programming, an extension of the 2010 Tonight Show conflict, which meant SNL alum Jimmy Fallon moving from the 12:35 Late Night to the 11:35 Tonight Show, and current cast member Seth Meyers taking over the 12:35 show. The transition took place during the gap created by the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi; Meyers last show was February 1, his Late Night started in the last week of February, and when SNL resumed on March 1, Meyers was gone and head writer Colin Jost had joined the cast in his place. (Jost had been a writer since Season 31, and was head writer for seasons 38 and 39.) Jost joined Strong at the Weekend Update desk.
- Beck Bennett
- John Milhiser
- Kyle Mooney
- Mike O'Brien
- Noël Wells
- Brooks Wheelan
- Sasheer Zamata (first episode: January 18)
- Colin Jost (first episode: March 1)
- Claire Mulaney, the younger sister of former writer John Mulaney,and Groundlings member Mikey Day, joined the writing staff.
- Michael Che, a guest writer for the previous season, was hired full-time.
- This season's head writers are Seth Meyers, Colin Jost, and Rob Klein. As of March, Jost and Klein will continue as co-head writers.
- Following the departure of Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis, Meyers, who was born in 1973, was the only cast member born before the premiere of the show on October 11, 1975. After Meyers left, everyone in the cast was younger than the show, with featured player Michael Patrick O'Brien being the eldest (O'Brien was born in 1976), and Jay Pharoah and Aidy Bryant being the youngest male and female, respectively.
- LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones joined the writing staff in January of 2014, after both had auditioned in December to join the cast.
- Second City, Chicago theater alum Katie Rich joined the writing staff in December of 2013.
- This was Don Pardo’s final season. He died before the primere of the 40th season.
(2013 - 2014)