Ellen DeGeneres quits controversial talk show: ‘It’s not a challenge anymore’

Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Ellen DeGeneres is ending her legendary talk show at the end of the 19th season, saying the show is “not a challenge anymore”.

The controversial TV host is planning one more, final season to air in 2021/2022, saying the decision to cancel the long-running show has been years in the making. The Ellen DeGeneres Show debuted in September 2003 has run over 18 seasons and more than 3,000 episodes featuring everyone from politicians and celebrities to LGBT+ activists.

But DeGeneres informed her staff on Monday (11 May) that the show will be ending after its upcoming 19th season. She is also set to discuss the news with her longtime pal Oprah Winfrey on her show this Thursday (13 May). DeGeneres told The Hollywood Reporter that the show is no longer a “challenge”, which she said is detrimental to her creativity.

“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun, as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres said.

The decision to end The Ellen DeGeneres Show after its 19th season was confirmed by Warner Bros’ Unscripted TV president Mike Darnell. He said the series was an “absolute phenomenon” which established itself over nearly two decades on-air as the “premiere destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human-interest stories”.

“Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” he said.

DeGeneres told The Hollywood Reporter that she had initially wanted to stop the show after season 16, but she eventually decided to sign on for “three more years” after negotiations with Warner Bros. But she said she knew her 19th season “would be my last”, and she never wavered from that decision. She described how Darnell questioned if she wanted to end the program after they aired their 3,000th show – an amazing milestone for daytime TV.

“When we did our 3,000th show, they showed that highlights montage and everybody was emotional,” DeGeneres said. “We all hugged and everyone had tears in their eyes, and Mike Darnell was here going, ‘You really want to [end this]?'”

She continued: “Look, it’s going to be really hard on the last day, but I also know it’s time.”

DeGeneres added that she doesn’t know what the future will hold for her, but she has “some ideas”. She described herself as being like a “Ferrari in neutral” because she is “constantly needing to go”.

“I wouldn’t have thought I was ever going to do a talk show when I stopped doing movies and sitcoms,” DeGeneres said. “I thought that that was the only path. And then all of a sudden there was a talk show that took me on this 19-year journey.”

She also opened up the series of allegations that she has been “notoriously mean” behind cameras and that her show after staff accused senior producers of bullying, sexual misconduct and racism on set. DeGeneres said the scandal was “very hurtful to me”, but it wasn’t the reasoning behind ending the show.

“If I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season,” DeGeneres explained. “So it’s not why I’m stopping, but it was hard because I was sitting at home, it was summer, and I see a story that people have to chew gum before they talk to me and I’m like, ‘OK, this is hilarious.'”

She continued: “Then I see another story of some other ridiculous thing and then it just didn’t stop. And I wasn’t working, so I had no platform, and I didn’t want to address it on [Twitter] and I thought if I just don’t address it, it’s going to go away because it was all so stupid.”

DeGeneres admitted the scandal “destroyed” her because she wanted to spread “kindness and compassion”. She said: “I’m not a scary person. I’m really easy to talk to. So, we’ve all learned from things that we didn’t realise – or I didn’t realise – were happening.”

DeGeneres added: “I just want people to trust and know that I am who I appear to be.”