Jay Leno says goodbye to ‘The Tonight Show’: will you miss him?


Jay Leno’s long tenure at The Tonight Show is finally over. He said goodbye last night, signing off in an uncharacteristically emotional way, talking about how he lost his father, mother and brother in quick succession in the early years of The Tonight Show, and how The Tonight Show staffers became his family. At the end, he threw it to Garth Brooks to sing “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” and that was that. It was actually a pretty graceful exit:

Before that (or after, I’m not sure, whatever), Billy Crystal and a group of celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Oprah sang to Leno. This was a mess.

Are you still mad at him? Eh. I don’t know. I think Conan O’Brien got a raw deal, but I also think that Jimmy Fallon is more suited for The Tonight Show, for whatever reason. Conan often comes across as a bitter guy, where Fallon seems like pure, unmitigated joy, and that’s more suitable for The Tonight Show. I think everyone is where they should be right now.

But that didn’t stop Leno’s “long goodbye” from taking a few detours along the way – a few weeks ago, Leno appeared on 60 Minutes where he basically said he was being pushed out because he was too old to know what’s “hip” these days, and he came really close to saying that NBC was “screwing him over”. So… we know for sure Leno still had some bitterness at the end. Oh well. I hope Jimmy does well. Fallon’s first week of the Tonight Show will air after the Olympics (which start tonight)!


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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106 Responses to “Jay Leno says goodbye to ‘The Tonight Show’: will you miss him?”

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  1. Zadie says:

    He wasn’t all that bad.

    • Kiddo says:

      Never watched him.

      • FLORC says:

        I did. His schtick got old. Yes, it’s difficullt to have fresh material 5 days out of the week, every week, but when you’re own audience is ignoring the laugh prompt signs and you are continously saying “tough crowd” it’s time to go.

        He lost me with how he treated Conan and how he was laying the ground work to do the same to Fallon. Only Fallon has Michaels in his corner and NBC seemed tired of Leno’s pressure.

        Man is rich a thousand times over. He’ll be fine and can find work elsewhere.

      • starrywonder says:

        I did a few times and really wished NBC had stuck with Conan since Leno really was getting tired. Fallon at least always makes me laugh and interacts with his guests and doesn’t seem bored by him. I love Jimmy Kimmel’s show too.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        He sucks IMO. Unfunniest guy I’ve ever seen and he has a reputation among comedians and believe me-it’s NOT a good one.

      • karmasabiatch! says:

        Will never miss this a$$hole. Goodbye, already! Sneaky MF’er. #TeamConanO’Brien&Crew

  2. Simmie says:

    It’s less a matter of being angry at Leno, and more that he’s just unlikable. Bring on Jimmy!

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      I’ve never watched Leno, but I’ve seen Jimmy quite a lot. He’s so lovely, but dear God, he is sooo not funny.

      • Zadie says:

        Plus, Jimmy is way to ass-kissy with his guests.

      • Tazina says:

        Jay is leaving at just the right time and he’s going out on top. He’s number one, the best time to leave. Jay is not unlikeable. He has a huge fan base. I don’t know why people are saying he’s been whiny and ungrateful. He’s actually very grateful about the opportunities he’s had. He’s allowed to comment on shows like 60 Minutes, and that was only about the NBC suits, but in reality he has been nothing but kind and gracious to Fallon.

        Jimmy needs to hone his interview skills. The older viewers don’t like a steady diet of juvenile slapstick either. Just tone it down a bit.

      • Zimmer says:

        I also liked Leno and really missed him when I moved abroad. Can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t get tiring after such a long run and naturally he made mistakes, all in his place would. I wish him the best and thanks for many laughs!

    • Monkey Towz says:

      Never liked Leno but he was never “offensive” (except during the Conan debacle in which I also blame NBC) and seemed to appeal to a lot of people. I am a Conan fan but
      usually watch Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. The late night shows seem somewhat dated imo.

      • Algernon says:

        I agree. The late night shows are so dependent on the guest. The Daily Show and Colbert, on the other hand, put in 2/3s of the show before the guest ever comes out (half for the Daily Show if they have a really big guest, then John Stewart gives them more chat time). But with those shows, you know you’re going to get something good, regardless of who the guest is.

        I do watch Conan online, though. I like being able to pick and choose which segments I watch, that way I can skip the crappy/boring guests.

      • MrsBPitt says:

        Colbert is the best….just thinking of him, makes me laugh!! lol

  3. David99 says:

    Not for one second.

    • akivasha says:

      THANK YOU!!!!

    • Zigggy says:

      Yeah, I never found him funny. Super lame. Give me Letterman any day 🙂

      • QQ says:

        THIS!! Im so not into him at All, i too am a Letterman girl.

        Also he needs to quit being an ungrateful whinny dick about this, is so ridiculous he is basically kicking and screaming and throwing essentially a public tantrum;
        Sweetheart you are NOT the Queen or the Pope, No one owed you the Tonight Show for Life, He can hush and go swim in his Money Scrooge McDuck styles, Chin First

      • Paige says:

        So agree! I don’t think Leno was a funny comedian or good at interviewing people….letterman, on the other hand does a great interview and was Johnny Carson’s choice to replace him…always thought Leno sucked.

    • Rick says:

      same hear!

  4. eliza says:

    Personally, I have always liked Leno. I won’t be watching Jimmy Fallon. His brand of mushy, gushy celebrity ass kissing is frankly quite nauseating.

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      I wish more talk show hosts would grill their celebrity guests. Something like Jonathan Ross used to do.

      • Hannah says:

        Ross never grills his guests, though. He just honest. He’ll tell them when he isn’t “convinced” of their projects (like he did with Victoria Beckham back in her solo pop star days and Quentin Tarantino) in a polite way. Which, for my money, is to preferred over the gushy Fallon thing and the aggressive, obnoxious Chelsea Handler act.

      • Blankverse says:

        Your Brit reference could also include Graham Norton. He’s a great interviewer and very funny who finds a middle ground between the extremes of ass kissey and griller type interviewers.

      • Hannah says:

        @Blankverse: I really like Graham’s show but the DOES fawn over his guest’s projects. He doesn’t tell them over and over again about how great they are but he always praises their films, series, albums or whatever else they’re on to promote even when any reasonable viewer can make out that it probably isn’t that great. And he has admitted to lying about it. Which is fair enough, I guess. It’s his job to help them promote their stuff but it is a bit eye-rolly sometimes.

      • SonjaMarmeladova says:

        As much as I love Graham, I’ve never actually seen him grill anybody. He tends to “grill” celebrities who are not on his couch at the moment, and then be all lovey-dovey when they come on. But, he’s hilarious.
        My absolute favourite is Alan Carr, he’s so hilarious. I do think that the Brits have better hosts at the moment.

      • Zadie says:

        Someone mentioned Jeremy Clarkson on Hiddles’ post. Now, I like his interview style. HE tends to make fun of his guests, in a nice kind of way. And I think Celebs need that once in a while.

      • Grant says:

        I was going to say… Alan Carr is a great one to emulate too. He gets his guests drunk and then goes to town.

      • I think more late night hosts need to emulate Howard Stern’s ability to get people to open up…even if they wished they hadn’t.

      • Hannah says:

        Alan Carr’s interview (slaying of) with Lindsay Lohan is a classic! Everyone needs to watch it!

      • Jag says:

        My favorite is Craig Ferguson!

    • Skins says:

      Agreed. Always liked Jay, but Jimmy just has me changing the channel. Dude is just not that funny. Maybe Jay will go to another station

    • Tippy says:

      Fallon was unwatchable at 12:30 when hosts are typically afforded a wider latitude.

      I suspect that he’ll struggle badly in the earlier time slot if he continues to rely on his old routine.

      Hopefully Leno doesn’t disappear like Carson did.

    • TheOneandOnlyOnly says:

      Good point and I agree although Jimmy’s impersonation of musicians can be funny and spot on.

      • Hootysgram says:

        Give Jimmy a chance. He’s very talented…everyone seems to like him that appears on his show…and he’s very funny. He does great impressions. Some have accused him of being silly. Who was sillier than Johnny Carson? No one.
        I wish him the best of luck. It’s a big spot to fill…I hope he does well.

  5. Lauren says:

    Which staff became his family? The first or second time he hosted the tonight show? Sorry but I don’t buy it. I’m excited for Jimmy- first time I’ll have watched the Tonight Show since Conan hosted!

    • starrywonder says:

      LOL okay that made me laugh. And seriously I love that he is still kicking and screaming about being pushed out. Whatever man.

      • JudyK says:

        What in the heck are you talking about…when/where did he “still go out kicking and screaming”…????

      • Bridget says:

        @judyk – Leno didn’t want to go. Retirement isn’t his idea, but NBC saw the writing on the wall a while ago. Leno may have still had a lot of viewers, but they were all a lot older and Leno was absolutely off the map pop-culturally. Where Kimmel, Fallon, and even Dave all had big, buzzworthy stuff, Leno was being left in the dust. Leno knew it too, but unlile the last time, he didn’t have the same push from other networks offering his own show, and leveraging NBC.

  6. MonicaQ says:

    So you’re saying like last time he’ll be back in a couple of months? /cynic

    I was watching Tiny Toon Adventures and they had references to Leno in them (giant chin, cars). It was kind of hilarious seeing that some things possibly never change.

  7. Sullivan says:

    Years from now I may get nostalgic about his tenure on The Tonight Show.

  8. Hannah says:

    Since we always comment on this with women, I just wanted to say how surprised I am whenever I see Leno without make-up and tv lighting. He looks so different!

  9. blue marie says:

    Not really, after the whole Conan thing I quit watching but I’ve always watched Fallon so I’m happy to see him coming to the Tonight Show.

    Edit: But I will say if he brings a lot of JT on there, I will be forced to quit watching.

    • Rayche says:

      Conan O’Brien gave the network an option – I want Leno’s job or I’m leaving. The network asked Leno back. Conan made his own ‘raw deal’.

  10. GiGi says:

    He just never clicked for me. And I think his career has been built on shady sh!t (although… whose hasn’t?), so I’m ready for him to go.

  11. HappyMom says:

    Coming off of the rocking chair on my porch to say I remember how sad it was when Johnny Carson retired.

    • Other Renee says:

      Move over and make room for me, too!

    • Nicolette says:

      Yes it was. If I remember right Bette Midler sang to him and she just got so choked up she couldn’t finish. To me, Carson was and is the gold standard for late night television.

    • Blannie says:

      Me too! They don’t make them like that anymore. But I’ll take Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart over any of the other late night hosts. Where else can you see authors, obscure musicians, political dissidents, and scientists regularly interviewed?

    • bluhare says:

      Let’s have some Geritol shots! I cried right along with Bette on that last show.

      I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Looking forward to John Oliver on HBO too.

  12. jess says:

    I dont mind leno. Ill watch him over letterman any day. I thought the Billy crystal skit was cute. I know he got à lot of hate for what happened with conan but conan was losing viewers at that point. He should have never taken over. Jimmy is very likable so i think he will do just fine.

  13. Addison says:

    Love him! Will definitely miss him. Do not like Conan much.

    I loved the goodbye. The Song with Crystal and the rest was cute. I loved Burnett and Oprah. That was cool.

    I think Jimmy is a Great replacement.

    • Grant says:

      I don’t like Conan much either. I think his Woody Woodpecker act gets very, very, very old.

    • JudyK says:

      Could never stand Conan and never found him even remotely funny, only arrogant.

      Quit blaming Jay for Conan’s departure…that was all NBC. It was NBC who brought Jay back, having realized their mistake with replacing him with Conan who had dismal ratings; and it was NBC who, for the first time, “asked” Jay about being replaced with Fallon instead of just kicking Jay to the curb. Jay got his final dig in at NBC last night, while at the same time endorsing Jimmy Fallon. I’m amazed at the people commenting who never even watched the show.

      Loved Garth Brooks as the final guest last night.

  14. Anname says:

    I agree that Jimmy Fallon is joyful, he always seems happy to be there and genuinely interested in whoever he is interviewing – His “playfulness” tends to be infectious to me. He isn’t known for grilling celebrities, but that really hasn’t been what the Tonight Show is all about anyway.
    I won’t miss Leno, stopped watching him after the whole debacle with Conan.

  15. MrsBPitt says:

    NEVER LIKED LENO! I am so happy that Jimmy is taking over the show! He seems so funny, chariming and cool…I do feel bad for Conan, though…Every time I see a commercial for his show, I never recognize one guest he has on…

  16. Dibba says:


  17. smee says:

    Good riddance. I NEVER thought that guy was funny AND he screwed over my baby Conan.

    Letterman needs to hit the road as well – unless you’re a young hot actress he seems bored and rude during most interviews, he’s not funny any more. Jimmy Fallon doesn’t do it for me either – SO bland and ass-kissy.

    They need to give JOE McHALE a late night show and move Craig Ferguson to an earlier spot, IMO

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I use to like Dave…but he seems really bored these days….he needs to retire, too!

    • Zadie says:

      More Craig, please.
      My favourite talk show host is Alan Carr, I wish there was someone like him in the US.

    • Suze says:

      Dave is so obviously over it. I’ll always love him for what he brought to late night television but he should make a graceful exit.

  18. Maria says:

    Nope, Leno is overrated and after the Conan stunt, I stopped caring.

  19. Luca26 says:

    I won’t miss him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed he keeps it classy and let’s go this time (he did pretty much the same sort of goodbye then manipulated behind the scenes).

    I can’t wait to see Jimmy Fallons show he is much better suited than Leno (or sadly Conan).

  20. Sumodo1 says:

    I switch it up, depending on who has the best guests. (Grimacing through Leno’s monologue, if I have to watch it). I do watch one late night show automatically, though: at 11 o’clock, it’s “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen. Drink your h8erade, folks, and no, I am not paid by AC, it’s just a light way to end the day.

  21. JudyK says:

    I love Jay Leno. He’s a genuine person and a humble one, too. I will miss him greatly. Also like Jimmy Fallon and think he’s an excellent replacement.

  22. InVain says:

    I never liked Leno to begin with, barely watched him unless he had a guest that really interested me. Didn’t care much for Conan either, but after the stunt Jay pulled with him, I liked him even less. Love Jimmy – Late Night was great. Have any of you seen the “Best of Late Night” they’ve been airing throughout the week? I laughed so hard I cried from some of the highlights. I hope he’ll be able to bring some of that to the Tonight Show. Finally I like all the hosts from that time slot…Dave and two Jimmys.

  23. Linda says:

    NEVER found him funny. Letterman on the other hand……

  24. BendyWindy says:

    I think they were really crappy to Conan, so no, I won’t miss him. I won’t be surprised if he’s back in 6 months.

  25. Brown Eyed Girl says:

    my dad will even though he only watched those first 20 minutes of the show when he actually stayed up that late…i think he’s funnier than Conan. Jimmy Fallon is more appealing to the younger 25-40 age group at the end of the day

  26. Algernon says:

    Ugh, no. He’s an unfunny joke thief. Won’t be missed.

  27. Belle Epoch says:

    I saw Leno at a charity event (fundraiser for the blind) and he was incredible. He was funny, he worked hard, he stayed the whole night, and he was quick to rescue some situations that could have become awkward. He was impressive. I’m sure he was paid to be there, but he went above and beyond. He seemed like a really decent guy who was doing his best for a good cause. He could EASILY have said No.

  28. itstrue says:

    I hate him, his face, his humor, his cars, his denim shirts, his stupid hair. I hope he does become a recluse like Carson. But, alas, it’s never the ones you actually WANT to go away.

    • Mingy says:

      LOL! the only time i ever watched his show was when he had animal trainers / animals, i’m a sucker for those segments…so yep, everything u said.

    • lunchcoma says:

      He apparently has no interests besides comedy and cars, so I doubt he will.

  29. dizzylucy says:

    Won’t miss him. I’ve never cared for his particular brand of humor or delivery, but to each their own.
    I find it a little distasteful that he’s still whining about being pushed out. He’s had the same (highly lucrative) job for 20+ years, which is practically unheard of in showbiz, and the rest of the world. Be grateful and move on gracefully. The whining is only reminding everyone of what happened last time.

    Jimmy’s a bit earnest for me, I prefer Stewart/Colbert, and Craig Ferguson is great. Used to watch Conan but now just catch clips here and there, though I still think he’s very funny.

  30. Suze says:

    Leno and NBC made idiots of themselves over the Conan situation, but I will say that I think Jimmy Fallon is way more suited to this kind of gig than Conan is. Conan is probably too intelligent and impatient to run a late night talk desk. He did better in the late late night with fewer, younger viewers. Fallon should bring a new, younger energy to the show.

    That’s assuming that anyone cares about the Tonight Show at all anymore.
    I don’t even know – is the Tonight Show still based in California? Will they move it to New York to accommodate Fallon? I haven’t been paying attention.
    Leno’s era is over. It was probably over ten years ago, honestly. Longest goodbye ever.

  31. sarah345 says:

    I think it comes down to thinking if Jimmy’s “ass-kissing” is genuine or not, and I think it is. I think he is someone who can find anything to talk about with is guests and will find any way to have a good time! I don’t think this is bad nor “annoying”.
    Idk, I get kind of frustrated wheen people say they don’t like Jimmy because he “laughs at his own jokes” or “is too kind, happy”…what the heck? Do you want him to be mean and rude to his guests and make audiences feel awkward? I like that he laughs at his jokes, I feel like I (the audience/viewers) are in on the joke with him and that he trusts the audience and feels comfortable saying whatever even if it isn’t the “funniest thing”.

    Also, I like Jimmy when he was on SNL and that’s a big part of his shtick on Late Night, so If you didn’t like him on SNL (where he often laughed at his own lines or cast members during sketches) then i guess you wouldn’t like Late Night and won’t like him at an earlier time… that’s all i have to say.

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      I really like Jimmy, and I liked him on SNL, but I rarely find him funny.
      And because everybody is so ass-kissy with celebrities, it would be great if someone was a bit tougher on them. Not mean, but just not so adoring.

    • Mingy says:

      ITA with u both, I thought he was so adorable on snl. When he’d crack up, it would make me laugh too. I don’t see him as ass-kissing with his guests, I think he’s just a really a nice guy that’s easy to talk to..so I guess his schtick doesn’t stink for me. 😉

    • Maria says:

      Jimmy’s appeal is that he’s there to have fun and that doesn’t hurt, ya know?

  32. HoustonGrl says:

    Nope. In general, mainstream late night shows are too PC to be funny.

  33. Lori says:

    I watch the Daily show no matter who the guest is. I watch Colbert the same way. As for the late nite guys I watch Lettermen’s opening or Kimmel. And then I watch who ever has the best guests, or those that interest me. Celebrities seem to like Kimmel………so he gets really popular guests when they are on the West coast. I don’t really care for Conan’s sense of humour, or Jimmy Fallon’s but Fallon is the more palatable of the two for me.

  34. Feebee says:

    What annoys me about Leno is his inability to face and deal with reality. He’s had the show since 1992. Is it really unreasonable for a network to want to change things up? Hollow words about TTS not being his, but only being a caretaker or whatever the word was, yet his actions speak the opposite. He actively participated in screwing over a colleague in a horrible way and he acted like “tough break, kid”. Yeah well, tough break old man, go cry in your millions.

    All the forced happy handover stuff… why do they bother?

    Have fun Jimmy, but I’ll probably still watch the other Jimmy most nights.

  35. Dizzle says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that Seth Myers is completely random as Jimmy Fallon’s replacement?

  36. Just my opinion says:

    After the 2010 debacle, I don’t care much for Leno, but then again I never found Leno funny. At the same time, I find Fallon annoying and unfunny. Ugh, Fallon makes me cringe like when he laughs during his own skits or when he sucks up to his guests.

    I watch ‘Conan’ and the ‘Colbert Report’. I love that both shows always make me laugh. I also watch the ‘Daily Show’ at times. I find the show funnier when I don’t watch it regularly. IMO

  37. Angee says:

    No. Never found him or his show funny. I prefer Letterman.

  38. Mindy says:

    How can you fault poor Jimmy Fallon for being so happy and laughy and sweet?! I love Conan and both Jimmy’s. They are all endearing to me in one way or another.

  39. Maria says:

    I could never bring myself to watch Leno, except once in a very great while. I lost all liking for him when I heard about how he went about getting the Tonight Show gig in the first place. He’s kind of lame as a comedian too, so I won’t miss him. Craig Ferguson is way funnier, as is Letterman, and even Conan, so I’m looking forward to what Fallon and Meyers bring to Late night programming. Perhaps a little playful anarchy?

  40. Tippy says:

    For whatever reason Leno was a ratings dynamo and unfortunately for Fallon the network expectations bar is set too high.

    Jay Leno should feel slighted about being forced out and could easily get FOX to agree to an hour long 11pm broadcast , which would essentially torpedo the competition.

  41. lunchcoma says:

    No. Good riddance.

    Whiny, entitled, and unfunny are not among my favorite traits.

  42. jane16 says:

    I loved Letterman in the 80s when he had the spot after the tonite show. Thought he was really funny and original, but he seemed to get less funny after several years. So I watched Leno in the 90s and enjoyed his early years. Loved some of his silly skits, like Beyondo. I would still switch over to Letterman if he had a guest I wanted to see. I never got Conan, and I did watch him quite a bit, since he was right after tonite show & I am a night owl, and I was shocked when nbc forced Jay out and put Conan in, and not surprised when Conan’s ratings took a nose dive. Btw, I have no less than 4 relatives that are long time employees at nbc, one is a vp. I’ve never heard any of them say anything bad about leno, just the opposite, and they have all said that the tonite show crew was a tight knit family. We have met Jay and sat in the Tonite show audience many times over the years, usually taking out of state guests. Jay was always very nice, especially to our boys. Anyway, I wish him well and do think its a good time for him to retire as he was decidedly less funny over the past few years. I usually watch Stewart & Colbert and have for years, so don’t know much about Fallon. I wish him well, I really do, but like most people here in the Los Angeles area, I am pissed that they are taking the tonite away from burbank. It has been here most of my life and was an institution. People here are really freaked out by it. I can understand that it makes more sense to film it in NY rather than move Fallon & his crew out here, which proved disastrous for Conan & co. Still, its a bitter pill for us Angelenos.

    PS: Haaated seeing kim kartrashian on the farewell show. Wtf?!?!

  43. Janet says:

    Not even a little bit. Not funny, not interesting. I disliked the way he went about getting/keeping that job. Craig Ferguson is the best of all in my opinion, but any one of them is better than Jay.

  44. Mona says:

    NO. Whiny, spoiled, obnoxious jerk. Not ever funny.

  45. melain says:

    Finally. He’s gone. So uninteresting and wasn’t capable of drawing people out and into fun or entertaining conversation.

  46. rlh says:

    Nope. Won’t miss him. After the Conan business I was done. Petty, petty man. Letterman has all but said exactly that.

  47. mayamae says:

    I don’t really watch any of the late night shows, but of course I know of the Leno vs Conan debacle. I did watch Conan Thursday night because he had the cast of The Walking Dead. He did take a swap at Leno that even I picked up on. He said the Olympics will be starting tonight, showing that at least SOMEONE at NBC knows how to pass the torch.

  48. CeltLady says:

    Jimmy Fallon is a breath of fresh air. He is sweet, happy and endearing. Seems like some people feel that equates to ass kissing, but I’ll take that positive energy any day over a bitchy interviewer like Chelsea Handler, who is downright nasty to some of her guests. And her staff. And her sidekick.

    I would rather watch Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson than any of the others. Not sure about Seth Myers, I guess we will have to wait and see how that plays out.

  49. Lilacflowers says:

    He should have retired a long time ago. His act has been stale for over a decade. He should have left when the Clinton presidency ended because that’s the last time he had fresh material and even then, it wasn’t funny.

    • bally says:

      joyful??? all that phony laughter at his own jokes and juvenile skits?? And Conan, way too strange for prime time…better suited for PeeWee’s Playhouse…Fallons “sweetness” is too fake for me…and please…if you ask a goddam question allow the person to anwer it before jumping in with some stupid comment…smashing eggs on each others head?? oh yah..hahahahaha…funny stuff…

  50. Deedee says:

    My reaction to this news was, “He’s still on?” Haven’t watched in over a decade.