"It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point," Hader told The New York Times. "It got to a point where I said, 'Maybe it's just time to go.'"
Hader, who joined SNL in 2005, has become one of the most prominent Not Ready For Primetime Players over the years, emerging as a master impressionist and go-to-guy for turning off-beat characters (Vincent Price, microphone wielding reporters, Stefan) into fan favorites.
But Hader feels he's leaving the show in great hands as new castmembers, like Taran Killam and Cecily Strong, have really come into their own this season. "There's a new sensibility happening," he said, "and if it isn't totally apparent on the show yet, I see it on Wednesdays at the table reads. I found myself looking up and watching the new people do their sketches. I like watching Kate McKinnon do something -- there's a joy in seeing a new move from somebody and going, 'Oh, she can do that.'"