David Letterman's Final Late Show: A Star-Studded Top 10, the Foo Fighters' Farewell and More Key Moments

David Letterman Last Show

After 33 years in the latenight game — which included more than 6,000 episodes and 20,000 guest interviews between his time on CBS and NBC — David Letterman bid his final farewell to the Late Show on Wednesday night. And he went out strong.

Rather than getting sappy with his opening monologue — we’ll leave that to Jimmy Kimmel — Letterman kept things light at the top of his final hour, offering up jokes like “It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get The Tonight Show,” then announcing his next venture as “the new face of Scientology.”

He also offered up a few brief thoughts on his successor, saying he’s “very excited” to see what Stephen Colbert does with the Late Show. “I think he’s going to do a wonderful job,” he said. “I wish Stephen and his entire crew nothing but the greatest success.”

Following a string of jabs from equally relevant cultural staples, from The Simpsons to Wheel of Fortune — all of which can be seen in our best moments gallery below — Letterman launched into his final, and irrefutably most star-studded, Top 10 list: “Things I’ve always wanted to say to Dave.” Here’s how it went down:

10. Alec Baldwin: “Of all the talk shows, yours is the most geographically convenient to my home.”
9. Barbara Walters: “Did you know you wear the same cologne as Muammar Gaddafi?”
8. Steve Martin: “Your extensive plastic surgery was necessary and a mistake.”
7. Jerry Seinfeld: “I have no idea what I’ll do when you go off the air. … You know, I just thought of something. I’ll be fine.”
6. Jim Carrey: “Honestly, Dave, I’ve always found you to be a bit of an over-actor.”
5. Chris Rock: “I’m just glad your show is being given to another white guy.”
4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus: “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”
3. Peyton Manning: “Dave, you are to comedy what I am to comedy.”
2. Tina Fey: “Thanks for finally proving men can be funny.”
1. Bill Murray: “Dave, I’ll never have the money I owe you.”

“We’ve done over 6,000 shows,” Letterman said in a subsequent speech to the audience, a statement met with well-deserved applause. “I was here for most of them, and I can tell you a pretty high percentage of those shows just absolutely sucked. Also, in light of all of this [recent] praise, merited or not, do me a favor: Save a little for my funeral. I’d appreciate it.”

The latenight legend wrapped things up with a long list of thank-you’s — including an admirable nod to his writers, as well as an emotional tribute to his entire band, led by the incomparable “musical genius” Paul Shaffer — before cuing up the Foo Fighters for a farewell performance of “Everlong” (which will forever be Chandler and Monica’s wedding song in my mind, but that’s neither here nor there).

Your thoughts on Letterman’s final Late Show? Grade it below, browse our gallery of the best moments and drop a comment with your full review.


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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36 Comments
  1. Outis says:

    Top ten was epic. Good mix of stuff considering there will never be another Dave. Truly was an unbelievable innovator.

  2. BarryFlash says:

    Didn’t care for it. I’m not a Letterman fan.

  3. robbiekad says:

    2 favorite moments-look on Jerry Seinfeld’s face after Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ comment(watched that like 10 times, and not just because she’s gorgeous), and when Dave pointed out his son’s buddy in the crowd.

    • Andy Swift says:

      haha YES! the shout-out to his son’s friend was amazing.

    • Angela says:

      I loved Jerry’s expression after Julia’s line, too :D. That was a good one. Tina and Chris’ lines in that top 10 were also particular favorites.
      And yeah, cool moment letting his son’s friend get a shoutout :). It was cute to see his son, too-man, he’s definitely got his dad’s looks.
      Very nice sendoff. And cool of the Foo Fighters to return, too. Thanks for 33 years of fun and laughter, Letterman.

      • Andrea says:

        I agree about Harry. He does look like his dad. I’ll miss Dave. I didn’t watch him all the time, but he’s who I chose to watch when I wanted to watch a light night show. I also agree that Dave seems like a good guy. Sure, there were the issues with Leno and NBC, but I think Dave’s health issues, marriage, and son gave him perspective on his life (as often happens.) I’ve heard many stories about Dave doing lovely things for people. He’s just very quiet about it. I’ll miss David Letterman on my TV, and I wish him well. I’m glad I watched last night’s show live.

  4. Jammy says:

    The great Steven Martin

  5. BrightLight says:

    Tonight proved to me that the Taco Bell Drive In segment is still as funny as it was to me almost 20 years ago. “She’s already gone, Chief.”
    The Top 10 was great. Dave was really excited about Peyton Manning being there. I’m going to assume he didn’t know about him being there until he read his name of the card.
    And I have to admit I was impressed that he showed not one but TWO photos of him with Leno during the ending montage.

    • Angela says:

      That Taco Bell segment was hilarious. Made me wish he could do something like that with the customers at where I work :p.

  6. N says:

    I’ll miss Dave so much!

  7. Sasha says:

    I will miss his show terribly. His finale was great!

  8. lkh says:

    What now at 11:35? sigh… Wished he’d thrown something off the roof! Really nicely done-all the snaps at the end, wow.

    • Elisabeth says:

      I think I’ll have to watch Jimmy Kimmel since he is the closest to Dave in terms of humor. AND he idolized Dave and insisted on a rerun tonight because he wanted it to be Dave’s night.

  9. big cheddar says:

    I wish the montage at the end wasn’t so fast, but they had so many great moments and guests they were trying to acknowledge, i understand why it seemed like a blur. Or maybe it was intentional representation of how fast 33 years has gone by. Everything else was perfect

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  11. AaX says:

    The Best Have Ended in the Best Possible Way !! Now then is the Time to Brace Ourselves. P E A C E

  12. GuessWhat says:

    I gave it an A.
    Cannot believe he wont be on my tv any longer.
    I cant remember what it was like before he was.
    =(

  13. c-mo says:

    Epic finale! Loved every minute of it. I feel really bad though for the people that recorded it and will miss the last 20ish minutes or so :(. Really enjoyed the “our long national nightmare is over” opening with all the living presidents and Ford, nobody but Dave could round up that crew for such an irreverent bit!

  14. Jen says:

    Loved every second of it…it was the most personal Dave has ever been. Class act. Thanks Dave.

  15. Susanah says:

    What made me love David Letterman was Stupid Pet Tricks. Every animal I’ve had over the years has had one special talent that I proudly wanted to display on that show. Those bits were the perfect for a comedian who clearly adored animals; I loved how he gave all the dogs hugs! I’m really going to miss Dave.
    No more Dave, Glee, Hart of Dixie, Mad Men, Revenge…it’s getting scary out there in TV land for me.

  16. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give David Letterman’s Late Show farewell an A+. The final Top 10 was the best and Foo Fighters gives Dave a emotional send-off. Most importantly, James Corden who’s the host of The Late Late Show wishes Dave nothing but the best for the 30-plus years of late night laughs as does Kimmel, Fallon, Seth Meyers and of course Conan O’Brien who took over the reins of Letterman hosting Late Night on NBC back in 1993. Going to miss him and a happy retirement and I can’t wait come September 8th when Stephen Colbert takes over Late Show. CBS is really shaking things up on late night TV this year (Colbert and Corden).

    • Mr. Tran K says:

      BTW, wonder if there’s going to be a extreme makeover on the set of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert inside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.

  17. Occasional Viewer says:

    I only watched him once in a while. Am glad he went out on top and wish him well. 33 years at one job is a long time and he deserves to enjoy his retirement.

  18. Diz says:

    I thought it was a perfect send off. My favorite thing I will miss is Dave guessing moms pies for Thanksgiving.

  19. Jeri says:

    Dave’s an original and I will really miss him. We will never hear late nite conversation like Dave’s again. Most are lists submitted by guests reps and obeyed to the letter. Dave didn’t worry about offending someone that deserved it and when he was tickled it was so original we couldn’t help but be tickled also. All his skits, all his everyman interviews & friends, we will never see this again. There are too many things to list, but Dave you’re loved and will be missed. The NY skyline will have a black spot where your light shone. Bye Dave.

  20. Mary N. Bucklew says:

    I loved the last 2-3 weeks (I always watch Dave, but the last several weeks were especially nice) but I thought the finale was underwhelming except for the last 10-15 minutes. I’ll miss him.

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