The 46th season of Saturday Night Live commenced on October 3, 2020, and concluded on May 22, 2021.
After the string of Saturday Night Live At Home episodes, the season premiere marked a return to studio 8H. The entire season 45 cast returned, the first time there were no cast departures since season 41.
Featured player Ego Nwodim was promoted to repertory status, and three new cast members were hired as featured players: SNL writer/stand-up comic Andrew Dismukes, UCB alum Lauren Holt, and stand-up comedian Punkie Johnson. It was announced that six episodes would premiere in a row, a first. The fifth would fall on October 31, making it the first time that a new episode would premiere on Halloween since 1992. Cast members Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong were mostly absent from the season's early episodes, because COVID-related rescheduling caused their other projects (Bryant's Shrill and Strong's Schmigadoon) to conflict with SNL's dates. Strong returned to SNL for the December 5, 2020 episode, and Bryant returned for the January 30, 2021 episode.
Jim Carrey took over the cameo role of Joe Biden; Woody Harrelson and Jason Sudeikis had intermittently cameoed as Biden for previous episodes, and John Mulaney had protrayed him on the episode he hosted. His performance proved unpopular among fans, however, and he departed the role before the mid-season break.
On October 7th, 2020, it was announced that Morgan Wallen's appearance as musical guest on the October 10th episode was dropped due to many videos surfacing of Wallen partying without a mask and not social distancing; Jack White was rushed in as a replacement. Wallen was instead rescheduled for December 5.
The season debuted a new opening montage with new title cards, replacing the previous videos and block lettering with script over still photos.