You never realize how much a person has influenced others until they’re gone. That’s sort of how we felt tuning into Jon Stewart‘s final Daily Show on Thursday night. The host said goodbye after more than 15 years on the air in a pretty epic way, bringing in most of the people who have been on the show over the past decade and a half.
Did we mention we teared up several times? Mostly when Stephen Colbert stopped by to give thanks — Stewart clearly didn’t know it was coming and he teared up himself.
“Actually Jon, we’re not quite done, and you can’t stop anyone because they don’t work for you anymore,” Colbert surprised Stewart, who thought the show was about to break for a commercial.
“Please don’t do this, please don’t do this,” Stewart replied, looking down and trying to roll his chair off camera.
“You’ve said to me and the people who work here never to thank you because we owe you nothing – it was one of the few times I’ve known you to be dead wrong. We owe you, not just for employing us, but we owe you because we learned from you how to do a show with clarity, how to treat people with respect – you are infuriatingly good at your job!” said Colbert.
It was around that point that we — and Stewart himself — broke down into tears.
Of course Colbert wasn’t the only former correspondent to stop by. Steve Carell, Olivia Munn, Ed Helms, Larry Wilmore, Michael Che, John Oliver, and even Gitmo and Darth Vader (Senior Evil Correspondent) popped up in a pretty great montage that we didn’t want to stop.
“I never left, Jon. Becoming an international superstar is just something I did while I was waiting for my next assignment,” Carell said.
Stewart also thanked his staff via a “homemade” video of him walking through all of the departments, including the executive suite which consisted of a bunch of poker-playing dogs. Naturally, there was also a montage of all the politicians, reporters and public figures he’s tackled over the years wishing him a fond farewell. Everyone from Chris Christie, Wolf Blitzer, John McCain and even Hillary Clinton made cameos.
“Darn, and just when I’m running for president,” Clinton joked.
There were other cameos too, including Craig Kilborn, who helmed The Daily Show before Stewart, and Trevor Noah who is taking over in September.
Then it was time for the great man himself to bid a farewell to audiences, refusing to say goodbye but giving a great spiel about bullshit before telling viewers that his career is like an open dialogue. And this was just him hitting pause on that dialogue. Then just like that Stewart was gone and Bruce Springsteen appeared to play “Land of Hope and Dreams” — a request from the former Daily Show Boss Man himself.
We’re gonna miss you, Jon. Trevor Noah, you’ve got some big shoes to fill buddy.