“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 [WB Unscripted TV President] 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,” DeGeneres, 63, told THR. “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.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which debuted in 2003, came under scrutiny last year after multiple allegations of toxic set behavior surfaced. Following an internal investigation, DeGeneres vowed to make sure things changed. The Finding Nemo star noted that the reports “almost impacted the show” but they are not the reason she’s ending it.
“It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season. So, it’s not why I’m stopping but it was hard because I was sitting at home, it was summer, and I see a story that people have to chew gum before they talk to me and I’m like, ‘OK, this is hilarious.’ Then I see another story of some other ridiculous thing and then it just didn’t stop,” she explained. “And I wasn’t working, so I had no platform, and I didn’t want to address it on [Twitter] and I thought if I just don’t address it, it’s going to go away because it was all so stupid.”
DeGeneres added that her “being” is all about making others happy and she’s wanted to spread compassion her entire life.
“It destroyed me, honestly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. And it makes me really sad that there’s so much joy out there from negativity,” the comedian said. “It’s a culture now where there are just mean people, and it’s so foreign to me that people get joy out of that. Then, on the heels of it, there are allegations of a toxic workplace and, unfortunately, I learned that through the press. And at first, I didn’t believe it because I know how happy everybody is here and how every guest talks about, ‘Man, you have a great place here. Of all the talk shows I’ve done, everyone here is so happy.’ That’s all I’ve ever heard. … I can see people looking at that going, ‘You don’t care about what people [went through.]’ I care tremendously. It broke my heart when I learned that people here had anything other than a fantastic experience — that people were hurt in any way.”
In fact, after the investigation, the Ellen alum considered ending her talk show.
“It was four solid months. And you have to understand, in that time, someone got into our house and robbed us and I lost four animals — three cats and a dog died. It was a tsunami,” she shared. “I really, honestly, felt like, ‘I don’t deserve this. I don’t need this. I know who I am. I’m a good person.‘ And I was sitting back going, ‘If I was someone watching this, I would think, “Well, there must be some truth to it because it’s not stopping.”‘ Of course they’re going to believe this because I’m not addressing it because I was told not to and you can imagine what that felt like. And it’s a lot to live up to. I started saying ‘be kind to one another’ because I really believe people should be kind to one another and so it was easy clickbait to say, ‘Oh, the be kind lady isn’t so kind.’ I am kind, I’m also a woman and I’m a boss.”
It wasn’t the first time she thought about ending the show, however. After season 16, the Finding Dory star was going to leave but they asked her to sign on for four more years. “I said I’d sign for maybe for one. They were saying there was no way to sign for one. ‘We can’t do that with the affiliates and the stations need more of a commitment,'” she recalled. “So, we [settled] on three more years and I knew that would be my last. That’s been the plan all along. And everybody kept saying, even when I signed, ‘You know, that’s going to be 19, don’t you want to just go to 20? It’s a good number.’ So is 19!”
“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,'” the activist, who married de Rossi, 48, in 2008, said. “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.”
DeGeneres will discuss the show’s ending on the Thursday, May 13, episode.