Eddie Murphy Returning to 'SNL' After 31-Year Absence

NBC's three-hour February special will feature past and present cast members from the iconic sketch series

Mary Gross as Margorie, Eddie Murphy as Dion during the SNL skit 'My Date with Dion' on February 19th, 1983. Credit: NBC

Eddie Murphy became a comedy legend during his early Eighties run on Saturday Night Live. But he hasn't graced the show's iconic stage since hosting an episode on December 15th, 1984 – months after leaving the series during Season Nine – with bad blood souring the relationship over the years. Now Murphy is making his long-awaited return for the series' three-hour 40th anniversary special, scheduled for February 15th. "It's just timing," the comedian-musician told News One in a recent interview. "It just never worked out where the timing was right for me to do it. . . They're actually having a 40th anniversary I think in two weeks. I'm going to that, and that'll be the first time I've been back since I left."

The special will reportedly feature cast members from throughout the sketch series' four-decade run, though no official appearances have been announced by NBC. Regardless of who shows up, Murphy's return will be a major highlight. (Here's hoping Mr. Robinson makes a cameo.)

In recent years, Murphy has slowed down his acting schedule, appearing most recently in the 2011 all-star comedy Tower Heist and the critically panned 2012 dramedy A Thousand Words. Though his last studio album, Love's Alright, came out in 1993, he's unexpectedly released a handful of new reggae singles in recent years, including the Snoop Lion-featured 2013 track "Red Light" and the newly shared "Oh Jah Jah."   

In 2011, Murphy talked to Rolling Stone about all the facets of his career and his rocky history with SNL. "They were shitty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I'd left the show," he said. "They said some shitty things. There was that David Spade sketch [when Spade showed a picture of Murphy around the time of Vampire in Brooklyn and said, 'Look, children, a falling star']. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, 'Hey, come on, man, it's one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I'm one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are fucked up, and you guys are shitting on me?' And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know Lorne or whoever says, [Lorne Michaels voice] 'OK, it's OK to make this career crack...

"I felt shitty about that for years, but now, I don't have none of that," Murphy continued. "I wouldn't go to retrospectives, but I don't let it linger. I saw David Spade four years ago. Chris Rock was like, 'Do you guys still hate each other?" and I was like, 'I don't hate David Spade, I'm cool with him.'"