Ellen DeGeneres shares poignant ‘full circle’ moment after final talk show airs

Ellen DeGeneres says tearful goodbye to talk show after 19 years

Ellen DeGeneres has ended her talk show after 19 years, as the show’s finale aired on Thursday (26 May).

The finale featured Jennifer Aniston, who appeared on the talk show’s first episode in September 2003, along with Oprah Winfrey, Bruno Mars, and musical guests P!nk and Billie Eilish, among other stars.

DeGeneres, 64, said to an audience including her wife Portia de Rossi: “I walked out here 19 years ago, and I said that this is the start of a relationship. And today is not the end of a relationship. It’s more of a little break. It’s a, ‘You can see other talk shows now. And I may see another audience once in a while’.”

She referenced a recent interview with The Advocate in which she explained at the beginning of The Ellen DeGeneres Show she could not wear jeans as higher-ups thought they were “too gay”, and she could not speak about her relationship with De Rossi. 

“When we started this show I couldn’t say gay on the show… I said it at home, a lot. ‘What are we having for our gay breakfast?’ Or, ‘Pass the gay salt.’

“We couldn’t say gay. I couldn’t say we because that implied that I was with someone. Sure couldn’t say wife, and that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married, and now I say wife all the time.

“Because of this platform, we have been able to change people’s lives, and this show has forever changed my life. It is the greatest experience I have ever had, beyond my wildest imagination.”

Ellen DeGeneres ended the finale show with an homage to the series’ debut, which featured her seated on a sofa watching herself on TV. She later posted this clip to Twitter, captioning it “full circle”.

The comedian said in her final moments of the show: “If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself; your true, authentic self.

“And if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand. They’re showing you who they are, and that is the biggest gift anybody can ever give you.

“By opening your heart and your mind, you’re going to be that much more compassionate, and compassion is what makes the world a better place.”

DeGeneres launched her talk show in 2003 after her sitcom Ellen was abruptly cancelled in 1998 after she – and her character of the same name – came out as gay.

For more than a decade, the show and DeGeneres herself were admired as one of America’s household names, however the comedian was hit with criticism after former staffers alleged a “toxic” work environment on set in 2020.

An unnamed former employee of DeGeneres told the Daily Mail that she was “the worst person” they had ever met.

“Sometimes she would yell at us but it was more about the incredibly condescending tone she would use,” the staffer told the news outlet.

“Ellen was the worst person that I’ve ever met in my life. She takes pleasure in firing people.”

DeGeneres hit back in an interview in 2021, claiming she had “no idea” about any problems on her talk show because all she had heard from “every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere it is”.

She added: “I do wish somebody would have come to me and said ‘hey, something’s going on that you should know about’.”