It’s not every day that something going viral makes us tear up. At least not for the right reasons. (We’ve all brimmed with rage-tears pretty much every time we foolhardily opened Twitter over the past five years or so.) But that pesky internet really got us good a few days ago when original host of the venerable kids’ show Blue’s Clues, Steve, popped back up to apologize for leaving us back in 2002.
In true Steve fashion, a now middle-aged Steve from Blue’s Clues (okay, his real name is Steve Burns) hit TV-raised people of a certain age right in the feels, calmly explaining that leaving the show to live his best life was as hard for him as it no doubt was for the many, many Nick Jr.-babysat viewers who simply couldn’t understand why things ever, ever had to change. Of course, 57-year-old Late Show host Stephen Colbert was safely outside the show’s viewership window, and thus could never be affected by such a bittersweetly nostalgic reappearance.
Noting that, as a grownup in Blue’s Clues’ late-90s heyday, he was only tangentially aware of this silly little children’s show thanks to his growing children at the time, Colbert gently mocked the “soft sound” of “the internet weeping” of late. Going to the tape of Steve’s patiently contrite explanation of his departure, Colbert may have softened just a little at the outset, sure, popping back in to shrug, “I remember that,” to Steve’s gentle introduction of the long-ago topic of his abrupt exit. Steeled as he was to deal with the former host’s tale of often painful but necessary growth and change, however, Colbert is only human, and was pretty much a soppy mess by the end, when Steve told his now-grown former pals that he’s proud of all they, like him, have accomplished, simply by becoming the people they are now. “I have grown a lot,” Colbert bashfully conceded to the pre-recorded Steve, “I’m on network now.” You sure are, buddy.
Still, though, as Colbert reminded viewers while pulling himself together, he’s a man now, and “by definition, I feel nothing,” and—oh, holy crap, Steve was there. Burns, emerging to the rapturous applause reserved for those parts of our childhood we thought we’d lost forever, was apparently on a goodwill tour comforting all those left a blubbering wreck by his video, and asked Colbert if he needed a hug. “I mean, if you need one, or whatever,” Colbert said, with insufficiently concealed emotion, before accepting the undoubtedly soul-restoring embrace. Colbert, producing a suspiciously familiar Blue’s Clues clue card that he in no way clutched like a rediscovered piece of his youthful hopes and dreams, then joined Steve to rush off in search of their cartoon dog pal, who was doubtless waiting just off camera, since nothing ever changes and nobody ever really leaves. Excuse us, just for a minute...