15 of the most unforgettable moments on 'Ellen'

MANDEL NGAN / Staff/GettyImagesFrom former president, Barack Obama, to Missy Elliott, Ellen has had plenty of memorable guests on her show.
  • Since 2003, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has been capturing the hearts of millions of viewers.
  • With guests like Barack Obama, Kristen Bell, and Missy Elliot, there have been many unforgettable moments.
  • Aside from having influential guests, Ellen DeGeneres created a memorable moment when she announced her engagement to Portia de Rossi on air.
  • “Ellen” has also featured stars of viral videos like the “apparently” kid and Mary Halsey, who famously did a rendition of Missy Elliott’s “Work It.”

Comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres is known for her humour and heartwarming moments, particularly in the form of pranks, hilarious bits, and generous donations. Over the course of nearly 16 years on the air (that’s over 2,700 episodes), the comedian has become a household name and is simply known as “Ellen,” and over that time she’s had some truly memorable moments on her show.

Keep reading to revisit some of Ellen’s most unforgettable moments on her talk show.


In the OG memorable moment, Ellen’s first-ever show monologue set the precedent for 16 seasons.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeThe entire set has changed since 2003.

Sixteen seasons is a long time to be on the air, and “Ellen” is basically an institution in television at this point, so we’d be remiss to exclude Ellen Degeneres’s very first opening monologue for her very first episode. Both the set and Ellen look completely different than they do now, so this could be considered the ultimate throwback as well as a sentimental moment for how far the series has come.


Jeff Corwin’s special guest appearance went awkwardly awry.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeFans were amused by the snake’s awkward placement.

Animal expert and adventurer Jeff Corwin made an appearance early in the series with a special guest: a massive python he brought on stage to join in on his “Ellen” interview. He invited Ellen to help handle the snake, but things went awkwardly awry when the python took it upon itself to wrap around Ellen’s body in a mildly inappropriate way. In lieu of painting a slightly inappropriate picture, see for yourself.


President Barack Obama won the collective heart of America on his pre-presidential “Ellen” appearance.

BarackObamadotcom/YoutubeObama came onto the show dancing.

Before he became the POTUS, Barack Obama was a senator in Illinois trying to win the 2008 presidential election. In one of the turning points of his campaign, he appeared on “Ellen” for the first time in one of his many press appearances. While the interview was pretty standard, it’s his entrance that got everyone talking. He elected (no pun intended) to join the talk show host in her signature on-air dancing, which won the hearts of audience members and viewers alike.


A spontaneous guest became a hilarious figure on the show.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeEllen talked on the phone to a woman named Gladys Hardy.

In the early seasons of the show, Ellen received a call from a regular viewer and Texan, Gladys Hardy, regarding the poor placement of a set plant, prompting Ellen to return the call and converse with Gladys on the air. In her first conversation with Ellen, Gladys infamously said the line, “I love Jesus, but I drink a little,” which in turn sent Ellen over the edge with laughter.

Hardy became a sporadic guest on the show in the following years and there has been some speculation about whether or not she’s a real person or a character by comedian Scott Hardy, but regardless, her first appearance was truly unforgettable.


She announced her engagement to Portia de Rossi in 2008.

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesEllen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of California overturned a ban on gay marriage, and Ellen took the opportunity to officially announce her engagement to girlfriend Portia de Rossi. The two connected in 2004 and were officially dating for three years before the engagement announcement. The couple married that same year.

Read more: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are one of Hollywood’s longest-lasting love stories – here’s a timeline of their romance


And followed up with a heartfelt speech about it after the ceremony.

The Ellen Show/youtubeEllen shared behind-the-scenes photos from the big day.

Ellen herself pegged this as a memorable moment on her YouTube channel, and we can’t say we disagree. After tying the knot with de Rossi, Ellen spoke about the emotional moment in a monologue during one of her episodes following the union, even sharing personal photos and memories from the private event with her audience members.


She helped orchestrate a surprise staff proposal in 2010.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeThe proposal came as a shock to both Jen, Ellen’s wardrobe assistant, and the viewers.

Not only does Ellen take care of her audience members, but she takes care of her staffers as well. One moment of goodwill came in the form of a perfectly orchestrated surprise proposal for Ellen’s wardrobe assistant, Jen. Between segments, while Jen was helping Ellen readjust her outfit, Jen’s boyfriend Aaron (who just also happens to be a field producers for the show) snuck out on stage to propose to her in front of everyone.


Ellen discovered two adorable future divas and made them show correspondents.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeSophia Grace and Rosie sang on ‘Ellen.’

Any regular “Ellen” fan would recognise the adorable dynamic duo of Sophia Grace and Rosie, two British cousins who went viral about eight years ago for their cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” Ellen was so enamoured with the 8- and 5-year-olds, respectively, that she brought them on the show to perform and made them occasional correspondents for a few episodes after. They were such a hit, Ellen even surprised them with the in-real-life Nicki Minaj to recreate their video.


Kristen Bell had a literal meltdown on the show about sloths.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeKristen Bell cried seeing the video of a sloth.

On a routine guest interview, actress Kristen Bell shared with the world her obsession and appreciation for sloths – and brought a video to prove it.Said video includes her now-husband, actor Dax Shepard, surprising Bell with an in-real-life sloth for her 31st birthday. Bell then proceeded to have as she references it, a “full-fledged panic attack.” The ensuing video is equal parts jarring and adorable, but Ellen added the cherry on top when she made Bell cry after pretending a sloth was about to appear from backstage.

Later, on a different episode, Ellen really brought a sloth for Kristen to meet.


She introduced the world to “Apparently Kid” in 2014.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeNoah Ritter is known for his excessive use of the word ‘apparently.’

In late 2014, 5-year-old Noah Ritter (AKA “Apparently Kid”) went viral after appearing on a local news program and repeating the word “apparently” over and over. Ellen quickly capitalised on Ritter’s fame and brought him on the show as one of her many (adorable) child guests. Ritter quickly captured the hearts of the audience members and appeared a few more times on Ellen’s show with his grandfather.


Ellen took former FLOTUS Michelle Obama to CVS.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeEllen and Michelle Obama took a trip to a local CVS to introduce the former first lady to civilian life.

Ellen boasts an impressive roster of guests on the show, but when former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama made an appearance in 2016 before leaving the White House, it was a momentous occasion. To take things up a notch, Ellen took it upon herself to help Obama transition back to civilian life by setting up a trip to the local CVS in what became one of Ellen’s most memorable and hilarious bits on the show.


Khloé Kardashian all but confirmed Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy on her high-profile appearance early last year.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeEllen said she could see in Khloé’s eyes that Kylie was pregnant.

Kylie Jenner’s surprise pregnancy was arguably the most talked about event of late 2017 and early 2018, and the beauty mogul’s older sister Khloé Kardashian almost let the cat out of the bag during her appearance on “Ellen” early last year. While Kardashian talks about her own pregnancy, it’s really what she isn’t saying that catches the attention of Ellen and the audience.


For Ellen’s birthday, her wife Portia de Rossi surprised her with an animal sanctuary.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeThere were plenty of tears that came with the announcement.

Ellen is known for her kindness and gifts to others, so when her wife Portia de Rossi surprised her on her 60th birthday last year, it was bound to be a special moment. To everyone’s shock (including Ellen’s), De Rossi surprised the host on air and gifted her an actual animal sanctuary in honour of Ellen’s personal hero Dian Fossey, aptly named The Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. To top it off, she also founded a charity to further Ellen’s humanitarian work, The Ellen Degeneres Wildlife Fund.


She continued the celebrations by paying it forward to her audience.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeLuckily, everyone’s reactions were all caught on the air in the surprise of a lifetime.

Charitable donations are the name of the game on “Ellen,” but arguably her biggest donation yet went to her audience on Ellen’s own 60th birthday. The host paired up with Cheerio’s the surprise the show’s audience members with a whopping one million dollars to split among them.


She gave one musical fan the surprise a lifetime with rap legend Missy Elliott.

The Ellen Show/YoutubeMissy Elliott and Mary Halsey performed a memorable duet.

Ellen often brings viral sensations onto her show, and one of her most recent features also included a sweet surprise. Missy Elliott superfan Mary Halsey performed her own rendition of the rapper’s song “Work It” on the show and Ellen took it upon herself to turn the solo into the duet by bringing out Missy Elliott herself.

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