Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report

Comedy Central

Well, it's the end of an era.

After nine wonderfully satirical years, Stephen Colbert has taken his final bow as host of The Colbert Report, and it could not have been more glorious. Of course, he would never leave us without the biggest most beautifully self-congratulatory episode of the Report ever.

Aside from giving one last Shout Out and one final installment of The Word, Stephen did the unthinkable: He defeated death. This rendered him immortal, so if anyone went into this series finale thinking it would pull a Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad and (spoilers!) kill off its main character, you would be very wrong.

Then, of course, it was time for a musical number. Stephen started out solo on "We'll Meet Again" before he was joined by Daily Show host (and Stephen's former boss) Jon Stewart. After that, we tried to keep track of the various stars streaming into the studio, but we soon found it impossible.

Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Big Bird, Cyndi Lauper, Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels, Katie Couric, Willie Nelson, Patrick Stewart, Andy Cohen, George Lucas, Rod Stewart, Bill Clinton, JJ Abrams, and Smaug are just a few of the potentially hundreds of faces and voices who showed up at some point during the massive yet fairly somber musical number. We'd be lying if we said we weren't crying at least a little. 

The camera then panned across an empty studio to find Stephen in the rafters, holding a sword and shield and wondering out loud what he should do now. Luckily, Santa Claus and Abraham Lincoln showed up just in time to reveal that Abraham Lincoln is a unicorn and to introduce Stephen to the "one with all the answers." That turned out to be Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who reminded Stephen that the two of them would always be there for America (despite the fact that Trebek is Canadian).

With that, Stephen signed off one last time, and we cut back to Jon Stewart for a sweet character-breaking moment of zen between the two colleagues from 2010. 

Even though we know the man will be back on our late night TV screens sometime next summer when he takes over for the retiring David Letterman on the Late Show, this truly is a goodbye to the character of Stephen Colbert that we've come to know and love over the years. We will miss him. 

"Thanks for that report, Stephen," indeed. 

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