Season 11 Series 1,447
The Colbert Report
18 December 2014
Original air date
18 December 2014
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"We'll Meet Again" "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel
The untitled final episode of American late-night comedy television series The Colbert Report is the 1,447th episode of the series overall and is part of the eleventh season. The final episode of The Colbert Report originally aired in the United States on December 18, 2014 on Comedy Central. In the episode Stephen becomes immortal after accidentally killing "Grimmy" during the opening of the segment of "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A.". This leads to Stephen singing "We'll Meet Again" in its entirety along with a large crowd of several recognizable figures, before meeting with Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek on the roof of the studio.
In April 2014 Stephen Colbert was chosen to replace David Letterman as the host of Late Show on CBS. It was announced that day that The Colbert Report would conclude in December 2014, and Colbert would be retiring his conservative character when he hosts The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which premiered on September 8, 2015. Colbert said in advance, before the final week of the show aired, that it would be a special week "like every other week". The final episode was the highest rated episode of the series ever, and was the number one show on cable in its time slot. The final episode received generally positive reception including several tributes and positive reviews from critics.
The episode opens during the ending of the December 18, 2014 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart checking in with Stephen to "toss over" the show (a discontinued practice used earlier in the series run). Colbert does not acknowledge it being the final episode, but quickly has Jimmy start The Colbert Report, abruptly ending The Daily Show without closing credits or a Moment of Zen.
The first segment begins with a news story about a "Mark 1 plumbing" truck now being used as an anti-aircraft gun in Syria. Colbert continues by announcing the winners of the auction for his desk and fireplace set from the show's one-on-one interview area, which collectively accumulated a total of $313,420 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund and DonorsChoose. He then starts the final installment of "The Wørd" segment with "Same To You, Pal", including a series of clips features memorable moments and ventures done by Stephen over the past nine years.
After returning from a commercial break, Stephen begins the final installment of "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A." The opening of the segment deviates right away when "Grimmy" tries to kill Stephen after watching him cheat in their chess match. Colbert draws his pistol Sweetness and kills "Grimmy" on the spot, throwing his pistol into the crowd with a fan getting it, leaving him without a guest and making him immortal. Returning from a commercial break Stephen explains he was going to say goodbye before ending the series, but now that he has become immortal, he realizes it would be meaningless and begins singing the song "We'll Meet Again." Soon after he starts singing he is immediately joined by Jon Stewart, as the song proceeds the studio continues to fill rapidly with several recognizable figures who have been involved in the show throughout its run.
After the song ends, the studio now empty, Stephen is on the roof of the studio questioning what he should do now. Santa Claus' sleigh suddenly lands in front of him; Santa is accompanied by a unicorn-hybrid Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek, "the man with all the answers". Stephen agrees to join them, but worries that this means he will be gone forever. Trebek assures Stephen that they will always be there for the American people, when they need them the most.
The episode ends with Colbert thanking everyone involved in the show throughout the run, and he calls upon Mavis Staples to help do so. Signing off with the words, "From Eternity, I'm Stephen Colbert," he then throws the show back to Jon Stewart, paying homage to his character's beginnings on The Daily Show and hinting that the entire series was just a nine-year-long correspondent segment. Jon thanks Stephen for the report and introduces the Moment of Zen, which is a previously unaired clip of Stewart checking in with Colbert from June 3, 2010. After being told that the said footage will not be used on air, Stewart says, "let's go back into our funny characters ... Stephen, what are you doing?" To which Colbert mockingly replies, "Hi Jon, I'm getting angry at liberals". The show's closing credits were played out with the song "Holland 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel instead of the usual theme. He picked the song in honor of his father and two brothers who died in a plane crash.
In 2012 Comedy Central renewed Jon Stewart's contract to host The Daily Show through the end of 2015 and Stephen Colbert's contract to host The Colbert Report through the end of 2014. Colbert intentionally had his contract synced up with David Letterman's contract to host Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, so they would both expire at the same time; so that in the event Letterman chose to retire Colbert would be available to take over the show. On April 3, 2014, Letterman announced on his show that he would retire in 2015.
One week later on April 10, 2014 it was announced that Colbert was chosen to replace Letterman as the host of Late Show on CBS beginning in 2015. It was also announced that The Colbert Report would conclude at the end of 2014, and that Colbert will not be using his conservative character on Late Show. Comedy Central soon released a statement saying "Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best".
Following the announcement, Colbert made a special surprise appearance in character on the April 23, 2014 episode of The Daily Show to announce that it has become clear to him that he has "won television" and changed the world, the goal he originally set out to do, and thus no longer feels the need to continue. He expressed interest in taking over Late Show after Letterman retires but couldn't because "they already gave it to some fat guy". In subsequent episodes following the announcement Colbert never directly mentioned moving to CBS (with the exception of a few subtle jokes alluding to it), differentiating the real world Colbert from the character. On the July 30, 2014 episode actor James Franco tried unsuccessfully to get Colbert to break character by mentioning the upcoming show.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered on September 8, 2015. The Colbert Report was replaced on Comedy Central by The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore hosted by Larry Wilmore, a contributor for The Daily Show. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore premiered on January 19, 2015.
Production and broadcast
When commenting on the final week of The Colbert Report Colbert stated "Our last week of shows are going to be really special, just like every other week".
The closing credits offer an apology to Doris Kearns Goodwin (as part of a running gag on the series), and feature the song "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel, as a tribute to Colbert's father and two of his older brothers, Peter and Paul, who were killed in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 when he was 10 years old.
The final episode originally aired in the United States on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 11:30 (EST), where the show has aired throughout the entire run. Earlier that same day Comedy Central aired an all day marathon featuring several archived episodes from the various years throughout the show's run leading up to the final episode, with a break in the marathon for that night's episode of The Daily Show.
During the episode Colbert sings the 1939 song "We'll Meet Again" in its entirety alongside a large group a recognizable figures, most of which had previously made guest appearances on the show. The group featured celebrities, musicians, political figures, television personalities, film directors, news anchors, journalists, people involved in the military, writers, activists, and other prominent people not in the aforementioned categories. The crowd also featured the staff of the show, members of Colbert's family, and fictional characters. The majority of the crowd assembled inside the studio, while others were pre-taped in advance.
The episode was watched by 2.481 million viewers, making it the most watched episode ever in the show's history. The finale was the most watched cable program of the night in its time slot, beating The Daily Show which was seen by 2.032 million viewers.
Chris Hardwick paid tribute to Colbert in that night's episode of @midnight, which aired immediately after this final episode on the same network. Hardwick opened the show by showing a clip from the November 6, 2014 episode of @midnight in which Colbert had made a special appearance. In Colbert's honor Hardwick asked his guests to name the "three most American words they can think of" as the first game.