One of the most successful daytime talk show hosts in TV history, Ellen DeGeneres has spent nearly two decades interviewing celebrities, scaring the bejesus out of celebrities, and (of course) dancing with and near celebrities. Things took a downward turn in 2020 thanks to an employee and fan backlash over DeGeneres' alleged workplace behavior, among other troublesome issues, but the show survived that turmoil, even though viewers were sacrificed time and again. Now, DeGeneres has gone public with her finalized decision to end The Ellen DeGeneres Show after 19 years, but she's not blaming the past year of problems for it.
The way Ellen DeGeneres put it, she's been slowly approaching the impending 2022 end date ever since she signed her last contract extension that took things to Season 19. And even though seemingly everyone else involved with the show has tried to convince her otherwise, DeGeneres claims she hasn't wavered, telling THR:
When we did our 3,000th show, they showed that highlights montage and everybody was emotional. We all hugged and everyone had tears in their eyes, and Mike Darnell was here going, 'You really want to [end this]?' Look, it’s going to be really hard on the last day, but I also know it’s time. I’m a creative person, and when you’re a creative person you constantly need to be challenged, which is why I decided to host the Oscars or why I decided to go back to stand up when I didn’t think I would. I just needed something to challenge me. And as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore. I need something new to challenge me.
While the timing of Ellen DeGeneres' announcement will likely have some current and former viewers questioning the legitimacy of her motives, it's hard to deny that doing the same job for 19 years straight would be taxing on anyone, regardless of the job. (And especially when one gets COVID in the middle of it all.) Once something gets to the point where it feels purely like work, it's lost its sheen, and moving on might be the best option, even when that job affords one the opportunity to win awards and force celebrities to play messy games.
To that end, DeGeneres said that even though she understands why her producers and her family have lightly attempted to reverse her thought process, she's at a point in her life where she wants to put more focus on the things she truly enjoys, while also seeking out new challenges. In her words:
Yeah. Obviously the producers … But you’re right, my brother was like, 'People look forward to this show every day, and there aren’t many shows out there that are just pure joy like this.' He’s always been my biggest advocate and, not that Portia isn’t, but she’s also selfish and wants me to do things that I’m challenged by and she’s watched me come home every day saying, 'I just feel like there’s something more I could be doing.' I care about the environment. I care about animals. I care about design and furniture … So, definitely people have been saying, 'Why don’t we just try to go a little longer?' But 19 years is a long time to do anything.
Ellen DeGeneres is not leaving the entertainment world altogether, of course. As confirmed by Warner Bros. Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell, who was one of the aforementioned talk show producers urging her to keep going for another season, DeGeneres is indeed sticking with Warner Bros. for future ventures, having already worked with them on a slew of unscripted series in recent years, including Ellen's Game of Games for NBC, The Masked Dancer for Fox, Ellen's Next Great Designer for HBO Max, and the upcoming Family Game Fight with Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. So even though she won't be doing the talk show thing anymore after 2022, DeGeneres' impact on TV will likely continue for many years to come.
While there isn't yet a finale date locked down, expect to say farewell to The Ellen DeGeneres Show at some point in 2022, but don't sleep on all the awesomeness hitting the 2021 Summer TV schedule in the meantime.