Entertainment TV Ellen DeGeneres Says Goodbye to Her Talk Show After 19 Seasons: 'I Feel the Love, and I Send It Back to You' "If I've done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I've inspired you to be yourself — your true, authentic self," DeGeneres told viewers in a teary speech closing out her long-running show By Alexandra Schonfeld Alexandra Schonfeld Twitter Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines and Lanford Beard Lanford Beard Lanford Beard has been with PEOPLE since 2015. In addition to serving as the Senior Digital TV Editor, she has edited for Lifestyle and News verticals across the site. Lanford previously worked at Entertainment Weekly, NBC News and Ralph Lauren, to name a few. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Middlebury College and a Master's of Science degree from Columbia University's School of Journalism. People Editorial Guidelines Published on May 26, 2022 01:38PM EDT Share Tweet Pin Email It's the end of an era for Ellen DeGeneres — the talk show host, 64, bid her final farewell to The Ellen DeGeneres Show after 19 seasons. It was an emotional day for the comedian, who announced back in April that she'd be ending the long-running talk show, calling the gig "the greatest privilege of my life." DeGeneres welcomed back her first-ever guest Jennifer Aniston to close out the show on Thursday. "God!" Aniston, 53, said at the top of the chat. "It's like I'm squeezing everything to just keep it all in. ... Where does 19 years go? I don't understand." For more on the final episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day. The pair reminisced over their first conversation on the show (including which direction they prefer their toilet paper to face) and mused about DeGeneres's next step. "I love your standup, I'd love to see you act again," said Aniston, echoing the hopes of DeGeneres's wife, Portia de Rossi. Unfortunately, the acting part was met with an iffy face from DeGeneres. "Okay, I could give you a job — I mean I'm definitely looking for people," Aniston quipped. "My house needs a lot of odds and ends done." DeGeneres replied with a friendly but firm: "No." Aniston then gave DeGeneres a parting gift: a "Thanks for the Memories" welcome mat in a nod to the mat she gave host during their first on-air conversation all those years ago. Later, Aniston told DeGeneres, "I love you and I so appreciate you and what you have given to the world over the last 19 years — the contribution is, it's endless. And not only have you shaped my life and given me so much, you've been such a dear friend to me, you've changed so many people's lives who have been to this show, who have watched this show over the last 19 years." She then introduced a video her crew put together paying tribute to the show from day one, when DeGeneres dissolved into tears after her first filming. DeGeneres, who had suffered professionally and been personally attacked for years after coming out in 1997, told her first audience: "Thank you. I so appreciate the support, and it's been really hard to convince people that I can, you know, do a daytime show and be this person that I know that I am and that I've always tried to be. ... This is a huge thing for me, and I'm so happy doing it." Ellen DeGeneres Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Her Iconic Coming Out Episode: 'Look at Me Now' Later in the talk show's final episode, Pink — who wrote the show's Emmy Award-winning theme song "Today's the Day" — took the stage for one last time to perform "What About Us." Billie Eilish, who was only 1 year old when the show debuted, also stopped by and reminisced on making her TV debut with DeGeneres when she was 16 years old, admitting, "I was so scared!" DeGeneres closed out her run of nearly two decades with a poignant tribute to her crew, especially mentioning a few members of her team who were integral to the show's success. She told them, "You surrounded me with so much love and so much support. You nurtured me and you found a way to make me shine brighter than I could do it by myself. You helped me be my best. I love you more than I can possibly say." With tears in her eyes, she ended the show with a speech that felt like an extension of the one she gave at the end of her first episode. "To all of you who have watched me and supported me, thank you so much for this platform," she said. "And I hope that what I've been able to do in the last 19 years has made you happy, and that I was able to take a little bit of pain away from a bad day or anything you're going through." She continued, "And I hope I've been able to inspire you to make other people happy and to do good in the world, to feel like you have a purpose. And I've said it before, but I'll say it again: 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. They're showing you who they are, and that is the biggest gift anybody can ever give you. And 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" "Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love, and I send it back to you," she said, then whispered a nearly breathless, "Bye." Jennifer Lawrence Used to Pretend to Be Interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres While on the Toilet Over the past several weeks, friends of DeGeneres who've regularly stopped by the show over the years, have paid one last visit. On Tuesday, DeGeneres welcomed legendary talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who shared that she knows very well how it feels to end a successful, long-running show. Winfrey, 68, said she got emotional while getting ready backstage as she reflected on her own show that wrapped after a 25-year run in 2011. "Well, I guess I'm tearing up because seeing your staff actually triggered me for what it feels like when you have all of these people who have become your family. This has been your home," Winfrey said. Agreeing with Winfrey, DeGeneres said there is a "very small group of people who understand what this job is, and an even smaller group of women to go this long." She continued, "There's magic that happens when you have the right group of people around you." Winfrey affirmed, "It doesn't happen without a great team." Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. One of DeGeneres's long-time team members is her "sidekick" and series DJ, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, who she welcomed into the hot seat on Wednesday to pay tribute to their partnership. The two initially met back in 2011 after producers of So You Think You Can Dance arranged a meeting between the two so tWitch could teach her some moves. "tWitch came over to my house and he helped me try to copy it. It was like a crash course in getting to know each other. He was so patient with me. That was my initial love for him — we bonded over learning to dance together," she said. Through tears, tWitch shared what the show has meant to him, too. "Sorry, I was not prepared," he sniffled. "I love you and also, I love the family that we've gained here. Something that I'll always remember is that you gave me a place where I could just be myself." Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. On the May 20 episode of the show, Julia Louis-Dreyfus stopped by as the pair gushed about their two dogs who turned out to be "very good friends." During the interview, DeGeneres told the Seinfeld alum, 61, that she holds a special record in the history of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "You have the record for cursing most on the show out of anyone we've ever had," DeGeneres joked. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. During her tenure, DeGeneres also made a habit of welcoming back guests time and time again, including cousins Sophia Grace and Rosie, who first went viral at the ages of 9 and 5 for their rendition of "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj. Earlier this month, the duo, now 19 and 15, took the stage one last time — after appearing on the show more than 30 times in the last 10 years — to perform the song that made them famous. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. In terms of what's next for the comedian, her wife shared her two cents during her own appearance the May 3 episode on the show. "Well, honestly, I just want you to do something that makes you really happy," said de Rossi, 49, who has been married to DeGeneres since 2008. "But I want to make sure that you continue being a teacher because that's really what you've been for everybody."