RICHMOND, Va. -- Ellen DeGeneres says that after she signed her last contract extension two years ago, she knew she would end her long-running talk show in Season 19.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which premiered in September 2003 and is billed as the "daytime destination for laughter, generosity, and inspiring stories," was rocked by scandal when the show faced allegations of a toxic work environment and sexual harassment by three producers. Those producers were later reportedly fired, and Ellen apologized to staffers in an email.
"I’m so, so sorry for what this has become," the host wrote to show staffers in August of 2020, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "I’ve left this to be a well-oiled machine, and I realize it’s not a machine…its human beings."
But DeGeneres said that was not the reason she was ending the show.
"If it was why I was quitting, I would have not come back this year," DeGeneres told "Today" host Savannah Guthrie Thursday.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” airs weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6
Ellen on decision to end show: 'I always trust my instincts'
In fact, DeGeneres said that she sat with and thought about the decision. She also discussed it with her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, and even meditated about ending the show.
"The truth is, I always trust my instincts," DeGeneres said during the opening of Thursday's show. "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."
DeGeneres talks about her decision to end the show, which she called "the greatest experience" of her life, with daytime legend Oprah Winfrey, who is a guest on Thursday's 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," DeGeneres said. "This show has been the greatest experience of my life, and I owe it all to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Ellen on final season: 'Every day will be a celebration'
DeGeneres also promised fans "a fantastic final season" during her monologue on Thursday's show.
"It will be a season where I truly get to say, 'Thank You. Thank you all.' Every day will be a celebration. There will be a lot of surprises, there will be trips down memory lane, and a few detours through Why Did I Wear That Alley," DeGeneres joked.
The final season of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is set to premiere Monday, Sept. 13.
Here's a transcript from DeGeneres' monologue:
If you’ve been watching this show, and I trust that you have, you know that a few weeks ago we celebrated our 3000th show. 3000 shows! So, that means as of today, we’ve done 3000 shows, plus 14, which is um...3000, plus 14 shows. I know, it’s a lot.
And today, I have an announcement to make. Today, I’m announcing that next season, Season 19, is going to be my last season.
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. This show has been the greatest experience of my life, and I owe it all to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I want you to know that I’ve thought a lot about this decision. I sat with it for a while. I meditated on it. I talked to Portia. I talked to myself. A few times, I was talking to myself, and Portia thought I was talking to her. One time I was talking to Portia, but she thought I was talking to myself because of the other times when I was talking to myself, and she thought I was talking to her. One time, I was talking to Alexa and Siri answered, and then another time I was talking to the TV, and I accidentally texted my eye doctor. The point is, I need to take a break from talking.
Two years ago, I signed a deal for three more years and I always knew in my heart that Season 19 would be my last.
Nineteen is a great number. First of all, the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. This may be controversial, but I believe women should be allowed to vote. I said it. I said it. Also, on the periodic table, 19 is the atomic number for potassium.
You may wonder why I’ve decided to end after 19 seasons. The truth is, I always trust my instincts. 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.
In 1997, I knew it was time to come out on my sitcom and live my truth. Back then, I had a vivid dream that a bird flew out of a cage and set itself free because it needed to get out of that cage. Recently, I had a dream that a bird, a beautiful bird with bright red feathers, came to my window and whispered, “You can still do stuff on Netflix.” And, that was the sign I was looking for.
Eighteen years ago, on the very first show, I said this was gonna be a relationship and we’re gonna continue that relationship even when this show ends. But not in this house cause you know, I love to move.
I promise you that we’re going to have a fantastic final season. It will be a season where I truly get to say, “Thank You. Thank you all.” Every day will be a celebration. There will be a lot of surprises, there will be trips down memory lane, and a few detours through Why Did I Wear That Alley.
Of course, we still have a lot of celebrating to do this season. So, let’s bring out one of my favorite people in the entire world – tWitch!