Instead of Stephen Colbert killing off his ultra-conservative pundit alter-ego on the final episode of “The Colbert Report” (as many assumed), he went with something different: Immortality.
It’s true: In the end, Colbert’s famous character, champion of America and truthiness, will live forever. Although at first, it didn’t seem like we would get such a definitive ending to the long-running Comedy Central show. “I am an emotionless, igneous news rock,” Stephen Colbert informed the audience at the beginning. Technically, he said it at the very end of “The Daily Show,” when Jon Stewart briefly cut to Colbert’s set to see how his real-life pal was holding up on his last night on Comedy Central.
Colbert stayed in character and acted entirely nonplussed as Stewart’s show led into his for the final time, and the crowd chanted its typical “Steph-en! Steph-en!” chant. Colbert stood up and soaked in the applause, but then sat down at his desk for business as usual. He got in some jokes and reflected on all of the things that he had given to the nation over nine years (truthiness, mostly). He reflected on his more famous moments, such as running for president; starting a Super PAC; and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
Colbert also looked back at when his show started (2005) and how many things were still the same in 2014. And that was okay by him. “If all we achieved over the last nine years was to come into your home each night and help you make a difficult day a little better — man, what a waste,” Colbert said, but offered this: “Nation I want you to know, if i had to do it all again, if I could do it with you, I would do it the same.”
And then things got weird.
During what seemed be a routine intro to his famous “Cheating Death With Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A.” bit, Colbert faced off with his usual friend, the Grim Reaper (“Grimmy”). Would Grimmy finally off Colbert’s character, putting an end to it all before real-life Colbert takes over “The Late Show” next year? Nope — Colbert accidentally shot and killed Grimmy.
“I just killed death, I am immortal!” Colbert roared. Yep, Colbert is going to live forever; and he used the opportunity to break out into song. Suddenly, Stewart burst through the door and the pair started singing “We’ll Meet Again.” They were joined by celebrities — many, many celebrities, news anchors, even former presidents. As the shot grew wider, more celebrities were revealed to join them in song.
It was nearly impossible to get all of them, but here are some of the famous faces we spotted: Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, Cory Booker, Bryan Cranston, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charlie Rose, Tim Meadows, the Cookie Monster, James Franco, Toby Keith, Big Bird, Andy Cohen, Christiane Amanpour, David Gregory, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mandy Patinkin, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Cyndi Lauper, Andrew Sullivan, Ric Ocasek, Michael Stipe, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Barry Manilow, Bill DeBlasio, Jeff Tweedy, Patrick Stewart, Stone Phillips, Arianna Huffington, Alan Alda, George Lucas, Alexai Lalas, Henry Kissinger, Elijah Wood, Mike Huckabee, Bob Costas, Nate Silver, Dan Savage, Thomas Friedman, Matt Taibbi, Mark Cuban and Paul Krugman.
There were many more, plus those not in studio: members of Pussy Riot; Vince Gilligan; and then Bill Clinton wishing Colbert well.
The whole thing was was followed by a final, pre-taped segment: Colbert on a roof, pondering what he would do now that he would live forever. All of a sudden, Santa appeared on his sleigh. With Abraham Lincoln.
Colbert wondered why Santa was here and if he could help him figure out what to do with his life. Santa and Lincoln pointed him toward the man with all the answers …”Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, sitting in the back seat. Delighted, Colbert hopped in Santa’s sleigh with Trebek, who assured him: “We’ll always be there for the American people whenever they need us the most.”
“Yeah,” Colbert responded. “But aren’t you Canadian?”
“I’ve had dual citizenship since 1998,” Trebek replied.
“Yeah,” Colbert said kindly. “That’s not the same.”
Cut to: Alex Trebek shaking Colbert awake, still on Santa’s sleigh. Time was running out so Colbert finally got serious, thanking everyone for nine great years. He gave a shout out to Colbert Nation. “We couldn’t have done it without you,” he said. He added: “That was fun!”
“Okay, that’s the show,” he concluded. “From eternity, I’m Stephen Colbert.” Then he threw it back to his best friend: Jon Stewart.
“Thanks for that report Stephen,” Stewart beamed, shown back at his desk at “The Daily Show” — after all, that’s where Stephen Colbert really began.