The #CancelColbert movement finally achieved victory last night, as Stephen Colbert said farewell to both The Colbert Report and to conservative blowhard “Stephen Colbert” with a final number that was wastefully liberal with its celebrity cameos (and the sentimental tears that were shed). After cheating death and achieving immortality—and before he shuffled off to the skies, to take his place alongside the Holy Trinity of Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek—Colbert welcomed one of the most random assortments of stars and political figures ever assembled outside of The Apprentice or your nightmares to join him in a rendition of “We’ll Meet Again.” And then, presumably, they all went over to a nearby Denny’s, really screwing up the hostess’ night. (Patrick Stewart was supposed to call ahead!)
You can watch that closing number below and see which celebrities you can spot, and argue about which ones have the worst singing voices. (Kissinger, obviously.) Here’s the list we’ve compiled from various sources and from watching it ourselves; let us know who we missed and we’ll update:
Jon Stewart, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Francis Collins, Tom Brokaw, Mandy Patinkin, Yo-Yo Ma, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sam Waterston, Big Bird, Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Daniels, Keith Olbermann, Trevor Potter, Andrew Sullivan, David Hallberg, Katie Couric, Ric Ocasek, Ken Burns, Charlie Rose, Samantha Power, Michael Stipe, James Franco, Cookie Monster, Toby Keith, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Barry Manilow, Ray Odierno, Mayor Bill de Blasio, George Saunders, David Gregory, Jeff Tweedy, Christiane Amanpour, Patrick Stewart, Andy Cohen, Stone Phillips, Peter Frampton, Ariana Huffington, Alan Alda, Cory Booker, George Lucas, Alexi Lalas, Jon Batiste, Elijah Wood, Henry Kissinger, Bob Costas, Mike Huckabee, Tim Meadows, Jake Tapper, Lesley Stahl, Senator Claire McCaskill, Terry Gross, Jeffrey Toobin, Norman Ornstein, Emily Bazelon, David Leonhardt, Matt Taibbi, Eliot Spitzer, Nate Silver, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Thomas Friedman, David Remnick, Paul Krugman, Grover Norquist, Mark Cuban, Gloria Steinem, Bradley Whitford, John Ratzenberger, Pussy Riot, Bo Dietl, Debra Wilson, Chuck Schumer, Leon Wieseltier, Dean Kamen, Jon Alter, Richard Clarke, Bill Clinton (tweeting), Vince Gilligan (from the studio basement), J.J. Abrams (in front of a Star Wars crawl), Smaug (from Lonely Mountain), Garrett Reisman (from the space station), Tek Jansen and Esteban Colberto, The Colbert Report staff, uniformed servicemen and women from Afghanistan, and from their homes, the entire Colbert Nation.
UPDATED: From the official Comedy Central list, the ones not already mentioned: Lil Buck, Naquasia LeGrand, Shepard Fairey, Dan Savage, Steven Pinker, Paul Rieckhoff, Ed Viesturs, Brian Greene, Father Jim Martin, Paulina Porizkova, Maureen Dowd, Jimmy Wales, Joe Quesada, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ann Patchett, Cass Sunstein, Cliff Sloan, Bing West, and Colbert’s wife Evie and children Madeleine, Peter, and John.
And with that, Colbert ascended into the heavens on Santa’s sleigh before throwing it all back to Jon Stewart, who thanked him for his report—suggesting the entire run of The Colbert Report was just one long special assignment. Stewart then tossed to a moment of zen: an outtake from 2010 that saw Colbert breaking from (and breaking down) his character one last time.
Then the show went out on a song that’s long been a favorite of his to play during commercial breaks, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945,” which has a sad association with the loss of his father and brothers in a plane crash that no one needs to dwell on right now, because losing The Colbert Report is heartbreaking enough.