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Conan O’Brien returns to The Tonight Show for the first time since 2010



Conan O'Brien returns to The Tonight Show for the first time since 2010

Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon during ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ on April 9, 2024. Todd Owyoung/NBC

Conan O’Brien made its triumphant return to NBC late that evening.

The comedian, 60, appeared on the Tuesday, April 9, episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallonmore than a decade after his stint as the show’s host.

“It’s weird coming back,” O’Brien told Fallon, 49. “I haven’t been in this building in so long, and I haven’t been on this floor in forever.”

He added: “I was here for 16 years doing the Late at night show before we went to LA and across the hall – all these memories came flooding back to me.

O’Brien took over The tonight show for seven months from 2009 to 2010 before that Jay Leno, the show’s original host, returned to his post. Leno, 73, served until 2014, when he was succeeded by Fallon. O’Brien hosted TBS’ Conan from 2010 to 2021.

Over the years, there has been some speculation about whether Leno was unfairly reclaimed the role from his predecessor, something the comedian denies.

Conan O'Brien returns to 'The Tonight Show' for the first time since hosting the Late Night Series

Conan O’Brien appears on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ on September 5, 2003 in Burbank, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“It doesn’t work that way. You try to do your best, but it didn’t work,” Leno said during a 2022 appearance on Bill Maher‘Club Random’ podcast. He told the 66-year-old Maher that he had never done anything to “deliberately sabotage” his successor.

O’Brien, meanwhile, has often taken the high road when it comes to the Leno drama. During a May 2017 episode of Watch what happens live with Andy Cohenthe Harvard alum was asked what he would do if he met Leno on a plane.

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“I’m watching a movie and my headphones are on and I don’t think we ever really talk,” he replied. “I’m so glad I don’t see who’s next to me, and I’m missing a great opportunity to talk to that great guy.”

Yet the Conan has to go host has admitted it was tough losing his job, telling 60 minutes in a 2010 post-show interview that he “has been through some things” as a result of the NBC switch-up.

“I got very depressed at times,” he explains. “It was like a marriage suddenly, violently and quickly disintegrated. And I was just trying to figure out what happened.”

O’Brien received roughly one $32 million settlement from NBC and began planning a nationwide comedy tour after leaving the show.

“When we started putting this tour together, I started feeling better almost immediately,” he said. “And then there’s almost no better antidote to what I just experienced than to do this every night.”