A teary-eyed Ellen DeGeneres bid farewell to her daytime audience of 19 seasons on the final episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show by asking everyone to “be your true authentic self” and to show compassion to others so the world can become a better place.
After visiting with guests Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink, DeGeneres wrapped the final episode of her eponymous talk show, which taped in late April ahead of airing Thursday, with a heartfelt plea. “If someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them even if you don’t understand,” she said, choking up. “They are showing you who they are and that’s the biggest gift anybody can ever give you. By opening your heart and your mind, you are going to be that much more compassionate. Compassion is what makes the world a better place. ”
The final episode opened with video snippets from past seasons that showed the always jubilant host greeting her studio audience. DeGeneres then made her final entrance to a standing and cheering crowd that included her wife Portia de Rossi and several family members.
“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 crowd. “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.”
“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,” she continued. “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 said. “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.”
After dancing with her longtime deejay/cohort tWitch, aka Stephen Boss, to “Best of My Love,” DeGeneres greeted Aniston for her 20th and final appearance on the show. The Morning Show actress was also DeGeneres’ first-ever guest when the Telepictures talk show launched on September 8, 2003.
Naturally, DeGeneres asked Aniston how she coped with the end of Friends in 2004. “I got a divorce and went into therapy,” the actress recalled. “I did movie called The Break-up. I kind of leaned into the end.”
Aniston teed up the requisite goodbye video package that featured moments like when Oprah Winfrey told DeGeneres “You make everybody feel better” and President Barack Obama giving the comedienne the Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Next up was Eilish, who reminisced about appearing on the talk show when she was a mere 16 years old. Pink followed with a performance of “What About Us.”
“I love you so much it’s dumb,” said Pink. “You help people find their joy.”
DeGeneres wrapped the hour by thanking her longtime executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner and sharing how she hoped “I’ve inspired you to make other people happy and to do good in the world.”
“I feel the love and I send it back to you,” she said.
DeGeneres then ended the show the way it began 19 years ago — sitting on a couch, with her back to the audience, watching herself on TV.