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After 19 seasons of daytime memories, Ellen DeGeneres signed off from her eponymous talk show for the last time on Thursday. The Ellen DeGeneres Show's final episode kicked off with the opening from her very first show, back in September 2003, before flashing back through the openings from all 19 seasons.
DeGeneres was clearly emotional as she walked on set for the last time, as were her friends, family and fans in the crowd -- including wife Portia de Rossi, who could be seen tearing up even before the host began her monologue.
A source told ET of the milestone, "Ellen's last show was emotional for her. It feels like an end of an era, but she is ready for the next chapter of her life. It feels bittersweet."
"Twenty-five years ago, they canceled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in primetime once a week. I said, 'OK, then I’ll be on daytime every day. How about that?'" DeGeneres joked as she opened the show with a reflection on how much the world has changed since she started her show, especially for the LGBTQ population.
“We couldn’t say 'gay.' I couldn’t say 'we,' because that implied that I was with someone," she noted. "I 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."
The host then shared one last dance with her DJ, Stephen Boss aka tWitch, before the pair took a seat onstage.
"If you don’t mind me saying this, your show is a reflection of what the world actually looks like. Not what’s in the headlines," tWitch said. "You look out and you see people of various colors, shapes, creeds, whatever, all showing love to each other. It’s been that for 19 years, and we thank you for that."
DeGeneres' first final guest was, appropriately enough, longtime pal Jennifer Aniston, who was the very first guest on her premiere episode and has appeared on the show 20 times throughout the years. Aniston, DeGeneres noted, also knows something about saying goodbye to iconic TV shows, and the host asked about how she handled saying goodbye to Friends after 10 seasons back in 2004.
"Well, I got a divorce and went into therapy. And then I did a movie called The Break-Up," Aniston joked. "I just kind of leaned into the end."
Billie Eilish was the next guest, sharing that she was "so scared" to make her daytime debut on Ellen back in 2018, when she was just 16.
"You started this show the year after I was born," Eilish shared. "This was in my house constantly. Every day. I would walk into the kitchen and my mom would be watching you."
Finally, Pink joined as the show's last guest, performing "What About Us" after gifting DeGeneres a sourdough starter, birdwatching binoculars, knitting needles and jumbo yarn for her newfound free time.
"This is a very strange feeling for me, because I’ve known you for so long, and you’ve meant so much in my life, personally, but in everybody’s life," the singer said. "I wanted to be a singer because I wanted to grow up and change the world and make it a better place. You’ve done that in so many ways. Maybe I help people find their pain. You help people find their joy."
DeGeneres closed out the show by thanking her staff, notably executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, as well as her longtime chief of staff, Craig Peralta, before addressing her devoted audience.
"If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself. Your true, authentic self," she shared. "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 gonna be that much more compassionate. And compassion is what makes the world a better place," she added. "Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love and I send it back to you. Bye."
DeGeneres shared some thoughts on the end of her show when she taped the final episode last month. The comedian and host took to Twitter, writing, "When we started this show in 2003, the iPhone didn’t exist. Social Media didn’t exist. Gay marriage wasn’t legal. We watched the world change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not."
"But whatever was happening, my goal was always for the show to be a place where we could all come together and laugh for an hour," she continued. "Being invited into your lives has been the greatest privilege of my life and has brought me incredible joy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."