When it was announced that Grimmy the Grim Reaper would be Stephen Colbert's final guest on The Colbert Report, fans speculated whether the future Late Show host was killing off his satirical character. Instead, Colbert's Colbert became immortal, and he closed out his nine-year Comedy Central run with a performance for the ages.
The host ended his Report with an all-star performance of Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again," featuring "We Are the World"-style appearances by an incredible cast of singers, actors, politicians and pundits. First out to say goodbye to Colbert was longtime Daily Show host and the man who helped Colbert on the map, Jon Stewart, who held hands with Colbert as they walked towards a piano where Randy Newman was playing. Then the celebrity floodgates opened.
Bryan Cranston, Willie Nelson, Tom Brokaw, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mandy Patinkin, Cyndi Lauper, The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston, Keith Olbermann (in a hot pink suit!), Big Bird from Sesame Street, the Cars' Ric Ocasek dancing with Katie Couric, friend-of-the-show Michael Stipe singing alongside James Franco and Cookie Monster, Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barry Manilow, Patrick Stewart, George Lucas, Bob Costas, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy – just to name a few – also joined in on the performance.
The song continues with video footage of even more well-known faces singing "We'll Meet Again": Pussy Riot, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, Bill Clinton, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams (complete with the film's iconic upwards credit scroll showing the "We'll Meet Again" lyrics) and more before we loop back into the studio for a star-studded sing-along.
"We'll Meet Again" was a wise choice for The Colbert Report as the song also notably soundtracked the end of another satirical masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. In the end, after the song fades out, Colbert, brandishing a Captain America shield, ponders his future atop the Colbert Report studios. He's then greeted by Santa Claus, a vape-smoking Abraham Lincoln and "The One With All the Answers," Alex Trebek. Colbert boards Santa's sled and takes off into his bright future.