Ellen DeGeneres revealed how she feels about moving on from her long-running talk show.
The comedian, 63, spoke on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which will air on Thursday, May 13, about why she decided to conclude her series with season 19 in spring 2022.
"The past 18 years, you have to know, has changed my life. You all have changed my life. And I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing, sometimes crying," she said while tearing up on air. "This show has been the greatest experience of my life, and I owe it all to you. So thank you, thank you, thank you."
Ellen explained that she has "thought a lot about this decision" and discussed it with her wife, Portia de Rossi.
"I sat with it for a while. I mediated on it," she said. "Two years ago, I signed a deal for three more years, and I always knew in my heart that season 19 would be my last."
For those wondering why she wanted to end the daytime show, Ellen went on, "The truth is, I always trust my instincts. My instinct told me it's time. As a comedian, I've always understood the importance of timing. In all seriousness, I truly have felt like next season was the right time to end this amazing chapter."
She then compared this move to her coming out publicly nearly 25 years ago.
"In 1997, I knew it was time to come out on my sitcom and live my truth," the Emmy winner shared. "Back then, I had a vivid dream that a bird flew out of a cage and set itself free, because it needed to get out of that cage. Recently, I had a dream that a beautiful bird with bright red feathers came to my window and whispered, ‘You can still do stuff on Netflix,'" she joked to laughs from the crowd. "And that was the sign I was looking for."
She assured viewers this isn't the last they'll see of her. "Eighteen years ago on the very first show, I said this was going to be a relationship. And we are going to continue that relationship, even when this show ends. But not in this house, because you know I love to move," she continued. "I promise you that we are going to have a fantastic final season."
Ellen vowed "every day will be a celebration" on season 19. "There will be a lot of surprises. There will be trips down memory lane," she explained, adding, "We still have a lot of celebrating to do this season."
Watch the sneak peek from Thursday's episode below.
On May 12, the host announced that she has decided to end The Ellen DeGeneres Show after 19 seasons and 18 years on the air. The decision, she explained, was a long time in the making, even if fans were not aware of it.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Ellen shared, "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."
The Finding Nemo star added that her initial plan was to stop after season 16.
"That was going to be my last season and they wanted to sign for four more years and I said I'd sign for maybe for one," she continued. "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.' So, we [settled] on three more years and I knew that would be my last."
Ellen said that while it's been the "plan all along," it hasn't stopped people from encouraging her to take on at least one more season.
"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,'" she recalled. "So is 19."
The news that Ellen's show was coming to an end comes less than a year after staffers reported experiencing toxic behavior while working on the series. Last September, Ellen addressed the allegations on the show.
"As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation," she said. "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."
Click here to read about how she informed her staff that the TV show was ending.