After 16 years of leading and introducing thousands of memorable segments on "The Daily Show," host Jon Stewart will bid viewers adieu on Thursday night's broadcast.
On Wednesday, the New Jersey native opened the show — featuring guest Louis C.K. — by reminding viewers, "This is the penultimate episode! This is the one that everyone will probably forget."
When Stewart took over hosting duties in January 1999, the stand-up comedian told viewers his predecessor, Craig Kilborn was "on assignment in Kuala Lumpur."
The Stewart era of "The Daily Show" began to take off with a more political tone in 2000, during the chaotic aftermath of that presidential election, later mocking President George W. Bush's administration for the Iraq war and subsequent issues. President Barack Obama hasn't been immune to "Daily Show" criticism, either, but he has appeared on the show to talk things out with Stewart on more than one occasion.
Stewart's irreverence and gravitas made the supposed "fake news" show a primary source of information for viewers — especially from younger demographics — who felt a disconnect to mainstream news outlets, which have been another frequent "Daily Show" target. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll showed that 12 percent of adults tuned into to "The Daily Show" for their news, just 1 percent behind The New York Times.
The show's impact, as well as Stewart's self-effacing charms, allowed the host to interview almost as many news-makers as the show skewered. Over the years, his conversations with presidents, Nobel Prize winners, actors, musicians and authors became not only frequently shared Facebook posts and conversation topics at office water-coolers, but also — ironically enough — the news, itself.
He also won over awards-show voters. Winning 10 consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series from 2003 to 2012, the Stewart-helmed version of the Comedy Central show has been heralded for bringing the laughs through biting satire; raising awareness for issues seldom covered by traditional news outlets; dropping the jokes altogether when current events called for a change in tone; and fostering the talent of rising stars (including Academy Award nominee Steve Carell, "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver, and new "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert).
Stewart, who went on a 12-week "Daily Show" hiatus in 2013 to direct the movie "Rosewater," announcedFeb. 10 that he would be leaving the show, later selecting Aug. 6 as the date of his final broadcast.
Through the years, Stewart and the show have been responsible for countless segments that have resonated with viewers long after they first aired. Before another stand-up comic, Trevor Noah, succeeds him as "Daily Show" host, let's take a look back at nine of the most memorable moments from Stewart's run, in chronological order.
Jan. 11, 1999: Stewart's first show airs
After the joke about Kilborn's "assignment," Stewart opens the show by teasing segments by Colbert and fellow correspondent Beth Littleford, as well as his first "Daily Show" guest, Michael J. Fox.
Dec. 13, 2000: Indecision 2000 update chronicles George W. Bush's election victory
The show breaks down a pivotal moment in American history with an irreverent tone that becomes the show's standard setting for the bulk of Stewart's run.
March 27, 2001: Colbert and Carell steal show with "Drink Responsibly"
OK, this Even Stevphen [sic] segment features other two stars on the rise. But it's representative of how engaging and hilarious the show's correspondent work has been in the Stewart era.
Sept. 20, 2001: First "Daily Show" broadcast after the terrorist attacks of 9/11
"The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center, and now it's gone," Stewart told viewers while choking up. "And they attacked this symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."
June 22, 2009: Jason Jones' "Persians of Interest" segment inspires "Rosewater"
Jones' interview with Maziar Bahari in Iraq led to a series of events that not only inspired Bahari's book, "Then They Came for Me," but also the 2014 movie "Rosewater," which Stewart wrote and directed.
Dec. 16. 2010: Stewart interviews 9/11 first-responders to protest senate filibuster
When politicians were slow to approve The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, Stewart not only railed against the filibuster, but also invited four 9/11 first responders to talk about their experiences in the aftermath of the tragedy. The tactic worked, and lawmakers eventually approved the bill that provides 9/11 first-responders with medical monitoring and treatment services.
June 1, 2011: Donald Trump's pizza-eating habits lead to epic rant
Years before Trump announced his presidential run, "The Daily Show" had a field day with the way he introduced Sarah Palin to New York pizza. (Two years later, Stewart would go off on another phenomenal, pizza-infused rant when he took on Chicago-style pies.)
June 18, 2015: Stewart gets serious after Charleston shootings
"I honestly have nothing other than just sadness," Stewart told viewers, and expressed concern that nothing significant would be done to prevent future gun violence. He also spoke about the issue at length in a two-part conversation with Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
July 21, 2015: Stewart interviews President Obama for final time
"I can't believe that you're leaving before me," the president told Stewart in an interview that lasted the entire episode. "In fact, I'm issuing a new executive order: that Jon Stewart cannot leave the show. It's being challenged in the courts."
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