Brian Dunkleman, Kelly Clarkson, Ryan Seacrest, American Idol

Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX

Who says you can't go home again? Brian Dunkleman certainly doesn't because he returned to American Idol for the series finale.

It was actually kind of perfect. Ryan Seacrest took the stage to make his introductions as he normally does, but he didn't get very far before the announcer announced another name we haven't heard in a long time. 

"Well, well, well, Seacrest" Dunkleman said after taking the stage next to Seacrest. "Looks like after tonight, you're going to be out of a job. And trust me, nobody knows the pain of a life without Idol more than me. But don't worry, buddy. Actually being unemployed? It's not that bad!" 

Ryan assured his former cohost that he will not actually be unemployed thanks to his radio show and other projects, but Dunkleman wasn't convinced. 

"Yeah, that's what I said too." 

So why did Dunkleman decide to appear tonight

"I just wanted to stop by and congratulate the show on struggling along for another 14 seasons without me," he said, to much applause. "And because, Ryan, there's something that I've been waiting to say to you for a very long time now--you've done an amazing job hosting the show all these years. I congratulate you on all your success." 

The guys hugged before Dunkleman introduced the judges.

American Idol, Brian Dunkleman


Of course viewers will remember Dunkleman hosted Idol with Ryan Seacrest during the first season of the Fox singing competition show. Dunkleman has popped up in Hollywood from time to time, acting on such shows as Las Vegas, Ghost Whisperer and even Friends. After leaving American Idol, he went on to VH1's Celebrity Fit Club.

For tonight's big finale, Idol pulled out all the stops. Former judges are returning, as are winners, including Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

Other veterans on hand include Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Candice Glover, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, Ace Young, Clay Aiken, Constantine Maroulis, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Tamyra Gray, Sanjaya, Kimberly Locke and more.

American Idol's 15-year run concludes tonight with the series finale at 8 p.m. on Fox. 

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