The most feels-inducing moments on Jon Stewart’s last ‘Daily Show’

Last night marked the end of an era. It was Jon Stewart’s very last night on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show after an almost-17-year run. And as you’d likely expect, his grand finale was grand indeed.

“Guess what?” Jon started the show. “I’ve got big news. . . this is it.”

SAY IT AIN’T SO, JON. Though we’re heartbroken to bid America’s beloved late-night talk show host adieu, Jon certainly went out with a bang. Just like the rest of his episodes, his last ep was chock-full of hilarious bits, but there were also tears.

First, Jon made it sound as though he was going to be devoting the show to a report on the first Republican debate, which aired right before the episode. Obviously, that would be hilarious, because the episode had been taped several hours prior, meaning no one had any idea what they were talking about (“It was. . . incredible. So. . . articulate?” “I think Jeb did WELL.”), but the show quickly transformed into a beautiful, wonderful reunion of so many correspondents who have appeared on the show over Jon’s long career.

Seriously. The ENTIRE EPISODE was star-studded. We’re talkin’ Aasif Mandvi, Ed Helms, Kristin Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Steve Carell, Olivia Munn, Lewis Black, and John Oliver, just to name a few, who showed up on the show in hilarious ways to wish Jon goodbye in their own special way (watch it here). Even Trevor Noah came a li’l bit early to, um, wish Jon goodbye (see also: measure his future desk).

But it wasn’t only comedians and celebs who showed up. Major political figures, the ones who Jon (hysterically) skewered time and time again on his show, made video cameo appearances, mostly to pretty much tell Jon off one last time. (“Have fun feeding your rabbits, quitter,” said Bill O’Reilly. “And just when I’m running for president,” Hillary Clinton said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “What a bummer.”)

But by far, one of the most feels-inducing bits of the show was when Stephen Colbert showed up (because of course he did) to give a truly heartfelt “thank you” to his former boss on behalf of all his employees. “You said to me and to many other people here years ago never to thank you because we owe you nothing,” Stephen told Jon. “It is one of the few times I’ve known you to be dead wrong. We owe you, and not just for what you did for our careers. . . we owe you because we learned from you.” Wow. Yep, crying.

“You were infuriatingly good at your job, OK?” Stephen continued. “. . . All of us who were lucky enough to work with you for 16 years are better at our jobs because we got to watch you do yours — and we are better people for having known you.” Then, as Jon dissolved into tears, the show broke into a commercial as the entire staff enveloped Jon in a group hug. Just watch.

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Jon also showed us a behind-the-scenes tour of all the people he works with. “The thing I’m gonna miss most about this place is the people I work with. . . the people here never fail to have my back. . . it’s not the show, it’s the process of the show,” he explained. “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.”

As the clocked ticked down to his very final moments as host, he told the audience that he considered his almost-17 years as a long conversation with the audience. “This is just, it’s a conversation,” he said, our hearts bursting. “This show isn’t ending, we’re merely taking a small pause in the conversation — a conversation which, by the way, I have hogged, and I apologize for that.”

“Rather than saying goodbye, or goodnight, I’m just going to say: I’m gonna go get a drink. And I’m sure I’ll see you guys before I leave.”

Through tears, Jon thanked his family. “I want to thank my wife Tracey and my kids Nate and Maggie — I’m not going to look over there — for teaching me what joy looks like,” he said, before giving the stage to Bruce Springsteen, who performed “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Born To Run.”

Thank you, Jon, for everything. What a beautiful conversation it has been. We’ll miss you.

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