Outside of a few random appearances immediately following his exit as a cast member and during the show's 40th-anniversary special, Eddie Murphy hasn't been on Saturday Night Live for nearly 35 years. That ended on Saturday when Murphy took the stage for his monologue and officially made his return to the show.
The story behind his absence from the long-running late night sketch show is one that involves what some might consider a cheap shot on Murphy's career. But in the end, those old axes have been buried and Murphy is on the radar again after years of success with family-friendly roles.
Murphy brought energy right off the bat to his monologue, soaking up the adoration of the crowd and their chants of "Eddie, Eddie." He joked about his time on the show, his new baby and his 10 children and a hit on Bill Cosby that almost everybody could've predicted dropping.
The Dolemite Is My Name star was joined by fellow SNL alums Tracy Morgan and Chris Rock on the stage. Dave Chappelle also showed up to have a moment together and drop an amazing joke about Netflix paying them so much money. This was quickly upstaged by Morgan noting that he made his millions "on the road," joking about his near-fatal car accident and the lawsuit that sprouted from it.
Murphy's first return to the show following his falling out with the series technically came in 2015 during the SNL40 special. Rock hosted a segment paying tribute to Murphy and his memorable tenure on SNL. Not only was Murphy praised for his talents and characters, but he was also given credit with essentially saving the show during a troublesome time. Along with Joe Piscopo, Murphy was a fixture that helped usher the show from its original cast to its modern format.
He is also the first to truly launch into superstardom during his time as a cast member. While many SNL castmates had moved on to successful film careers in the early days of the series, Murphy kicked off his movie career with Trading Places, 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop all within his few years on the show. Top that off with an incredible stand-up career and you can see that Murphy reached a level of fame that it's hard to ignore. The fanfare for his return to Saturday Night Live makes far more sense in that context.
Dolemite Is My Name is currently streaming on Netflix.