“I had to be here,” the iconic Oprah Winfrey said to Ellen DeGeneres during Thursday’s (May 13) episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the first since Ellen, 63, announced she was ending the show after 19 seasons. “When you told me that this was going to happen,” said Oprah, 67, “I just wanted to be here for you, on-camera, off-camera, to support you.” Oprah said that she knows the feeling that Ellen is experiencing. “It’s almost ten years ago – will be next week – when I was in that exact position,” said Oprah, referencing how she decided to wrap her own legendary show after 25 seasons on the air.
While Oprah sympathized with the feelings Ellen must have gone through to call it a night, she did give her some lighthearted ribbing. “You know, I think what you said about needing new challenges – for me, in every job I ever had,” said Oprah, “and I didn’t even consider the Oprah show a job, because it was just a part of my life as I know it is for you. It’s an extension of yourself…And you know inside yourself. So, I’m proud of you for trusting your instinct because I know there has to be, as there was in the case for me, a lot of people around you who want to keep that train moving….so, the fact that I don’t argue with the 19 – even though I probably would have gone to 20, because I’m just that – ‘well, I got to go to 20.’”
“But I had [Jerry] Seinfeld on after he ended his show,” added Oprah, “and I said, ‘nine [seasons]? You quit in nine? Why not ten?’ and he said, ‘Because I was ready in nine.’ So I applaud 19.”
Ellen’s interview with Oprah comes just one day after she shared the headline-making announcement that she decided to end her talk show after 19 years on the air. The news was first released by The Hollywood Reporter after she told the outlet that part of the reason she came to her decision was because the show was no longer “a challenge” to do. “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,” she said.
The initial announcement was followed by the May 12 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which included an emotional monologue about the bittersweet ending. “Today, I have an announcement to make. Today, I’m announcing that next season, Season 19, is going to be my last season,” she said while standing on the stage of her show. “So, the past 18 years, you have to know, has changed my life. You all have changed my life and I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing… sometimes crying.”
She went on to add that she thought a lot about the decision before making it and even confided in her wife Portia de Rossi, 48, but ultimately knew in her “heart” that the 19th season would be the last one. “You may wonder why I’ve decided to end after 19 seasons. The truth is, I always trust my instincts,” she explained. “My instinct told me it’s time. As a comedian, I’ve always understood the importance of…timing. In all seriousness, I truly have felt like next season was the right time to end this amazing chapter.”
The end of The Ellen DeGeneres Show comes after the show’s had many challenges throughout the past year. After claims that her show was a workplace with an allegedly toxic environment for employees, an investigation was launched. Although she came back on the air, apologized, and vowed to make employees “proud” to work for her, viewership dropped with the exception of the season 18 premiere.
The comedian is embracing what’s she learned and is looking at the end of the show as “a new chapter” that can bring new opportunities. “So, I don’t look at this as the end at all. It’s the start of a new chapter and hopefully my fans will go with me wherever I go,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “That being said, if I never do anything else ever again, I’m so proud of what this show stood for and still stands for and what we’ve made it through.”