Winning Hearts: The Ellen Degeneres Show's Unforgettable Talk Show Journey
(Winning Hearts: The Ellen Degeneres Show's Unforgettable TalkShowJourney/ImageCredits: People )

Since its premiere in 2003, Ellen DeGeneres's talk show has stolen the hearts of viewers and celebrities alike. Thursday's episode was the final time the comic would grace the TVs of viewers nationwide, and it came with plenty of tears.

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Degenere Welcomed Jennifer Aniston As The New Host Of The Show

DeGenere welcomed Jennifer Aniston as the new host of the show
(DeGenere welcomed Jennifer Aniston as the new host of the show/ImageCredits:Variety)

DeGeneres, 64, celebrated the finale by welcoming back her friend Jennifer Aniston, who was the first guest she ever had on the show in 2003. Pink who wrote the show's Emmy Award-winning theme song  performed one of DeGeneres' favorite songs, What About Us, and Billie Eilish also made an appearance on the final episode.

Though the show hit a rough patch last year, facing controversy over allegations of workplace toxicity, DeGeneres said the scandal was not the reason why season 19 would be the show's last. Despite its possible missteps, The Ellen DeGeneres Show broke barriers and became a staple of daytime television. In honor of the series finale, PEOPLE is taking a trip down memory lane to remember all of the incredible things DeGeneres accomplished and shared with the world while hosting the show. When Oprah Winfrey ended her iconic daytime talk show in 2011, over 16.4 million people tuned in and the New York Times hailed it as the biggest moment in TV history. When DeGeneres tearfully said goodbye to the show that she hosted for nearly two decades, there was no such grand display.

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Guests On The Final Episode Of The Show

Guests on the Final Episode of the Show
(Guests on the Final Episode of the Show/ImageCredits: Fox News)

The final episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show featured guests Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink who all shared fond memories of the host. There were also segments that celebrated DeGeneres’ achievements as an openly gay woman in media and her philanthropic efforts.

DeGeneres started the final episode with a monologue explaining the hurdles she faced in the early days of her talk show.

Twenty years ago, when we were trying to sell the show, no one thought that this would work. Not because it was a different kind of show, but because I was different, DeGeneres said. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has gone on to win numerous Emmy awards throughout its 3,200-plus episode run.

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Restrictions Of Words That Ellen Got To Say On Live Show

Restrictions of Words that Ellen Got to say on Live Show
(Restrictions of Words that Ellen Got to say on Live Show/ImageCredits: USA Today)

When the show was first aired, DeGeneres was barred from saying the word “gay” and even the pronoun “we,” since it implied that DeGeneres had a partner. She didn’t specify who imposed the ban.

Sure couldn’t say ‘wife,’ and that’s because it wasn’t legal for gay people to get married — and now I say ‘wife’ all the time,” DeGeneres said to thunderous applause. Her wife, actor Portia de Rossi, attended the taping of the final episode and watched from the studio audience. The two were married in 2008.

Aniston was the first guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show when it started in September 2003, and she marked her appearance by giving DeGeneres a “Welcome” doormat. Aniston was also the first guest on Thursday’s final episode, and she gifted DeGeneres another mat. This time it read, “Thanks for the memories.”

Former and current employees began speaking out about intimidation, racism, and fear they experienced from producers while working on the show and claimed that the workplace was a toxic environment.

DeGeneres apologized on air for “things that shouldn’t have happened,” but defended herself as being the same genuine person — if an imperfect one — on- and off-camera.

Her Final Words On The Show

Her Final Words on the Show
(Her Final Words on the Show/ImageCredits: The Hollywood Reporter)

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DeGeneres said, “There was a time a couple of months out where I was crying every day,” as the show was drawing to a close. DeGeneres decided to end the show last year in the midst of plummeting ratings.

“I knew it was time to end this chapter and to do something different, but still it was really emotional.”

The talk show represented a second major TV act for DeGeneres. In 1997, she made an indelible mark when she came out as a lesbian and brought her character on the ABC sitcom Ellen with her. The series was axed the next year.

Twenty-five years ago, they cancelled my sitcom because they didn’t want a lesbian to be in prime-time once a week. And I said, ‘OK, then I’ll be on daytime every day, how about that?'” DeGeneres said Thursday.

The comedian, actor and producer has said she’ll take time to consider her next career move, but first she and de Rossi are making a trip to Rwanda. DeGeneres wrapped her daytime show with a plea to her audience, one she said was worth repeating.

If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself, your true authentic self. And if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand,  DeGeneres said. By opening your heart and your mind you’re going to be that much more compassionate, and compassion is what makes the world a better place.