Ellen DeGeneres plans to end her long-running daytime talk show in 2022. DeGeneres announced the decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”
An exact date for the Ellen finale was not announced. DeGeneres reportedly told her staff about the decision on Tuesday, May 11th, and she’ll discuss it on Ellen Thursday, May 13th, with Oprah Winfrey. DeGeneres noted that she’d previously planned to end the show after its 16th season, but signed a three-year contract in 2018 knowing that it would be her last.
Ellen launched in 2003 and it’s since won 64 Daytime Emmys and aired over 3,000 episodes. At the time of its debut, though, success was far from guaranteed: DeGeneres was coming off her wildly successful voice-over performance in Finding Nemo, but in the early 2000s, television executives were still unsure whether audiences would be receptive to an openly gay talk show host (DeGeneres famously came out publicly in 1997, only to have her eponymous ABC sitcom canceled the following year).
DeGeneres ultimately built a rock-solid niche for herself, turning her show into a hub of daytime joy and dancing, and a requisite stop for anyone on a promotional tour. But last summer that beatific bubble and DeGeneres’ reputation as the “be kind lady” took a hit when BuzzFeed published two reports in which numerous current and former staffers detailed a hostile work environment that included allegations of intimidation, racism, sexual misconduct, and harassment. Several top producers were fired from the show and DeGeneres apologized when Ellen returned for its 18th season in September 2020.
DeGeneres told The Hollywood Reporter that the allegations “almost impacted the show,” but they were not the reason she was ending Ellen. “[I]f I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season,” she said.
She added, “It broke my heart when I learned that people here had anything other than a fantastic experience — that people were hurt in any way. I check in now as much as I can through Zoom to different departments and I make sure people know that if there’s ever a question or ever anything, they can come to me and I don’t know why that was never considered before. I’m not a scary person. I’m really easy to talk to. So, we’ve all learned from things that we didn’t realize — or I didn’t realize — were happening. I just want people to trust and know that I am who I appear to be.”
DeGeneres said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do after Ellen wraps. She said she would be open to potential film or TV roles, but noted she wants to focus on her animal and environmental conservation efforts as well.
“I don’t look at this as the end at all,” DeGeneres said. “It’s the start of a new chapter and hopefully my fans will go with me wherever I go. That being said, if I never do anything else ever again, I’m so proud of what this show stood for and still stands for and what we’ve made it through.”