The final episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” aired Thursday with an emotional goodbye from the eponymous host after 19 years on the air.
The show ended at least in part due to controversy stemming from allegations of a toxic work environment. DeGeneres has denied any knowledge of these claims, and at least for the last episode, that drama was put aside for the 64-year-old comedian to look back on almost two decades of her talk show.
Thursday’s episode began with clips of DeGeneres making entrances in various ways over the years. Finally, she came out and made her final entrance, which included a monologue.
“Welcome to our very last show. I walked out here 19 years ago and I said, this is the start of a relationship. And today is not the end of a relationship, it’s more of a little break,” DeGeneres told the studio audience.
“You can see other talk shows now. I may see another audience once in a while. Twenty years ago when we tried to sell this show no one thought this would work, not because it was a different kind of show. It was because I was different. Very few stations wanted to buy the show and here we are 20 years later, celebrating this amazing journey together.”
She continued, “When we started this show, I couldn’t say ‘gay’ on the show. I was not allowed to say ‘gay.’ I said it at home a lot. ‘What are we having for our gay breakfast?’ Or ‘pass the gay salt.’ [Or] ‘Has anyone seen the gay remote?’ — things like that.”
“I couldn’t say we, because that implied that I was with someone. Sure couldn’t say wife, that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married. And now I say wife all the time. Twenty five years ago they canceled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in primetime once a week. So I said, ‘Ok, I’ll be in daytime every day, how ’bout that?’”
“What a beautiful, beautiful journey that we have been together,” DeGeneres concluded. “If this show has made you smile, if it has lifted you up when you’re in a period of some type of pain, some type of sadness, anything you are going through, then I have done my job. Because of this platform we have been able to change people’s lives. This show has forever changed my life. It is the greatest experience I have ever had, beyond my wildest imagination.”
Actress Jennifer Aniston was a guest on the last episode for the twentieth time, per Deadline. Billie Eilish was there, too, recalling how she first came on the “Ellen” show at 16 years old. Pink performed her song “What About Us,” and said, “I love you so much it’s dumb. You help people find their joy.”