The upcoming season of Ellen DeGeneres’s eponymous talk show—season 19—will be its last. The actor and comedian confirmed this news exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, May 12. And she’ll discuss the decision with Oprah Winfrey on the May 13 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“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,” DeGeneres told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” Mike Darnell, Warner Bros. unscripted-TV president, said to THR. He added that DeGeneres’s show is an “an absolute phenomenon” that’s established itself as “the premier destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human-interest stories.”
“Ellen was and is an indelible piece of the television landscape, and it will be sorely missed,” Darnell added.
It’s hard not to think about last year’s Ellen-show controversy as this news breaks. Allegations of a toxic workplace environment surfaced on the internet, leading to an investigation by Warner Media.
On how this impacted DeGeneres’s decision to end the show, she told THR, “It almost impacted the show. 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, ‘Okay, this is hilarious.’ Then I see another story of some other ridiculous thing and then it just didn’t stop. 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.”
When THR noted that the controversy didn’t go away, she said, “My whole being is about making people happy. And with the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion, and everything I stand for was being attacked. So 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. 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.”
She continued, “So there was an internal investigation, obviously, and we learned some things but this culture we’re living is [is one where] no one can make mistakes. And I don’t want to generalize because there are some bad people out there and those people shouldn’t work again, but in general, the culture today is one where you can’t learn and grow, which is, as human beings, what we’re here to do.”
DeGeneres said it “broke her heart” when she learned her employees were having “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,” she said. “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.”