Since its premiere in 2003, ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ – once among the biggest hits of the day – has hosted guests ranging from Hollywood’s biggest stars to politicians to young children who have gone viral online .
As the once groundbreaking (and more recently controversial) daytime talk show host prepares to take her final bow this week (the final episode airs Thursday, though the show finished recording almost a month ago), we look back at some of the most talked about interviews, segments and monologues from DeGeneres’ 19 years as host.
Even for the casual “Ellen” viewer, those moments in the show’s history were unforgettable.
After:Watch Ellen DeGeneres explain why she’s ending her show in 2022 in a four-minute monologue
Ellen DeGeneres delivers her first monologue: “It’s like a family here”
“Ellen” premiered on September 8, 2003, and DeGeneres’ first monologue celebrated every “first” she could, from her “first applause break” to the audience’s “first laugh,” and detailed her plans for the syndicated daily talk show of the very specific (“I’m going out and I’ll land here – this is where I stop. This is my floor and I’m supposed to land on this mark”) in full view of ‘whole.
“It’s like a family here,” she said. “We are starting a relationship. And I am committed to this relationship. I will be here every day, and I hope you will also commit to being here every day. And if you are not or if you are in late, please call me.”
Jennifer Aniston is the first guest of “Ellen”
A few months before the finale of “Friends”, Jennifer Aniston was the first guest of “Ellen”.
The new host was still working on her interview character, but retained her humor and penchant for silly games (see: women fighting in a thumb war, mini boxing ring and all).
“I was so nervous that we were wearing the same thing,” DeGeneres joked to Aniston.
On Thursday, Aniston will also be the show’s last guest.
Sophia Grace and Rosie perform “Super Bass”
Many already big stars have gone on “Ellen,” but two British cousins have proven that an appearance on the show can also launch a career in entertainment.
Sophia Grace Brownlee, then 8, and Rosie McClelland, then 5, went viral on YouTube in 2011 performing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” They first appeared on “Ellen” shortly after, as Brownlee rapped over the song without missing a word while McClelland enthusiastically promoted his cousin.
“We love dancing together, and Rosie gives me more confidence because I have someone with me,” Brownlee told DeGeneres.
The two would go on to appear on the show over 10 times and met Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and, yes, Minaj on the show. Brownlee landed a record deal and the duo scored red carpet correspondent roles, multiple Nickelodeon cameos and their own direct-to-DVD movie, “Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure.”
The cousins, now 19 and 15, returned to “Ellen” earlier this month for an encore performance. (McClelland even sang this time.)
Dakota Johnson calls Ellen’s bluff
With seven words, Dakota Johnson sent social media reeling.
“Actually no, that’s not the truth, Ellen,” the ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ actress said, attempting to set the record straight during a 2019 appearance after DeGeneres accused Johnson for not inviting her to the actress’ recent birthday bash.
In a commendable exchange, Johnson maintained that she had invited the TV host — DeGeneres just didn’t show up.
“Are you sure? I don’t think so,” DeGeneres replied, until a producer suggested off-camera that she was out of town.
“I think I remember being invited. Thank you,” she continued shyly. “I really didn’t remember until now.”
Adele’s Smoothie Ordering Adventure
There were also lighter moments to enjoy.
British singer Adele showed her comedic chops in 2019, when she delivered absurd lines – fed by DeGeneres via earpiece – with a straight face to a group of unassuming Jamba Juice employees.
“I’ll take a big one but in a small cup,” the music icon said. It got more chaotic from there.
Michelle Obama shops at CVS
Stars: They’re like us! They… take the first lady shopping at a convenience store?
Months before President Barack Obama left office, DeGeneres took Michelle Obama out shopping lest she forget how to live a normal life. But it quickly became apparent that one of the women needed more advice on how to act inside a store, and it wasn’t the first lady: DeGeneres took a toll, pouring to shoppers of Franzia’s red solo mugs, using a back scratcher on a store employee and causing Obama to shove her into a shopping cart.
“That’s not how you behave in a CVS,” Obama mocked the talk show host.
DeGeneres apologizes live after workplace toxicity claims
In the summer of 2020, allegations exploded about a toxic environment backstage at the show.
After sending a letter of apology to staff members following an internal review of workers’ complaints about staff facing racism, fear and intimidation – which led to the ousting of three producers executives – Degeneres returned to her show this fall, addressing the allegations publicly for the first time.
“How was everyone’s summer? Good? Mine was awesome. Super awesome,” she joked. “I learned that things have happened here that should never have happened. I take this very seriously and want to say that I am very sorry for the people who have been affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens on my show.”
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“Today we start a new chapter,” DeGeneres said, vowing to make sure the 270 people who work on the show know she’s “very grateful to them.” But the damage was done: Ratings plummeted, and soon after, DeGeneres announced that 2022 would mark the end of the series.