The Colbert Report's 15 Greatest Moments

Photo: Courtesy of Comedy Central.
This story was originally published December 17, 2014.
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It’s the end of an era, nation. On Thursday, Stephen Colbert will host the final episode of The Colbert Report. Since the show’s premiere on October 17, 2005, the fictional right-wing conservative persona of Stephen Colbert has become a permanent fixture in pop culture. Who could have predicted that a character originally intended to lampoon "Papa Bear" Bill O'Reilly would go on to introduce words into our vernacular, sing with Willie Nelson (the “Little Dealer Boy”), and even have fans turn on him for jokes tweeted out of context? He's published books, won Grammys, and ended The Daily Show's decade-long streak of winning the Outstanding Variety Series Emmy.
It was all done out of love for his country, Colbert would insist. The fictional Stephen Colbert existed in a land of hyperbolic patriotism where George W. Bush was either great or the greatest President (those were the only two options). Everything was black or white...err, red, white, and/or blue.
This was the true brilliance of The Colbert Report, though. Viewing current events through the host’s cartoonishly conservative lens reflected the satire back upon us. His folly was actually ours. Mostly, though, his shtick was just plain entertaining. Colbert’s commitment to his character never faltered, and it only grew stronger with each episode.
Here are 15 great moments from Stephen Colbert's amazing run — or should we say, the 15 greatest moments?
StePhest Colbchella '013: The Song of the Summer of the Century
When Daft Punk didn't materialize for an interview on The Colbert Report, the show aired an even better back-up plan it had been preparing for weeks. Who doesn't dream of roller-dancing with Bryan Cranston and high-kicking with the Rockettes?
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Grim Colberty Tales With Maurice Sendak
Colbert saw the success of children's books authored by famous people, and he wanted in. He turned to the best of the best for advice about children's literature, Maurice Sendak, even though Colbert worried that authoring books for kids would just encourage them to read. Stephen also pitched a sequel to Sendak's most famous book called Where the Wild Things Are 2: Still Wildin'!, Featuring Vin Diesel, which the author confirmed would make boatloads of money.
The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
This massive gathering, which took place on October 30, 2010, was a direct response to Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally that the Fox News pundit held on August 28, 2010. Colbert's "March to Keep Fear Alive" joined forces with Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity," and thousands of people gathered on the Washington Mall to watch Colbert and Stewart debate as well as musical guests such as Cat Stevens, Tony Bennett, and John Legend. R2-D2 made an appearance as well.
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Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando
In 2009, Colbert took his show on the road...to Baghdad. He taped four episodes of the Report overseas for members of the armed forces and donated proceeds from iTunes downloads to the U.S.O. In one unforgettable moment, General Ray Odierno, who commanded American troops in Baghdad at the time, shaved Colbert's head at President Obama's orders.
"The Word" Debuts With "Truthiness"
Colbert came out of the gate swinging when he made "truthiness" the subject of "The Word" on the show's very first episode. It would later be voted 2005's Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society, and Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year in 2006.
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!
Colbert's 2008 Christmas special saw the host team up for duets with Elvis Costello, John Legend, Feist, Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart and more. The album recorded from the special went on to win the Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 2010.
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#CancelColbert
In March 2014, The Colbert Report's official Twitter account tweeted a joke from an episode that within the context of the bit, satirized Daniel Snyder's Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Out of context, however, the tweet was insensitive to the Asian community. It soon led to #CancelColbert, a hashtag that trended across the nation. Never one to back down from a challenge, Colbert addressed the uproar head-on, first with a dream montage of the show being canceled, then by enlisting Twitter founder Biz Stone to permanently delete the @ColbertReport account.
President Obama Delivers "The Decree"
The President doesn't usually step in to do self-deprecating segments on late-night shows, but during Stephen Colbert's last few weeks on the job, he made an exception. He's the President, though, so just calling it "The Word" wasn't powerful enough. Enter "The Decree."
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Remembering Lorna Colbert
Colbert's beloved mother passed away at the age of 92 in June 2013, and in a rare moment, he almost broke character to deliver this beautiful tribute.
Indecision 2008: Don't Fuck This Up, America
He primed the pump during appearances on Larry King Live and The Daily Show, then came the big announcement. Stephen Colbert officially declared he was running for President in his home state of South Carolina "after nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching" in October 2007.
The WristStrong Saga
When Colbert was felled by a non-threatening broken wrist acquired during his pre-show ritual, he used the opportunity to create WristStrong, a red bracelet that would raise awareness of wrist injuries. He was able to get increasingly big names to don the bracelet, and it even went to space. It was all for a good cause, though. Colbert auctioned off his cast for over $17,000, and proceeds from WristStrong bracelet sales continue to be donated to the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
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Stephen & Bears Bury the Hatchet
For years, bears straight-up posted at the number-one spot on Colbert's ThreatDown. A few weeks ago, however, Stephen woke up and realized that maybe bears aren't a problem at all.
Colbert vs. Rain
Colbert was pissed when Korean pop star Rain beat him to the top of TIME's reader-selected Most Influential List multiple years in a row. Their rivalry for the ages produced several hilarious Report segments, including "He's Singing in Korean" and the epic dance battle you can watch below.
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Better Know a District: Barney Frank
Massachusetts' 4th was the subject of the second of Colbert's 435- (later 434-) part series, "Better Know a District." As just the second congressman to be profiled in the series, Barney Frank had no idea that Colbert was playing a character, and that the series was a spoof. He made Colbert end the interview and went on to lambast the host.
Grouse Hunting in Shropshire
Even before Colbert struck out on his own, he was cultivating quite the persona for himself as a Daily Show correspondent. This oft-shared segment, in which Colbert cannot keep his shit together while eating a banana and discussing a gay scandal involving Prince Charles, is pure gold.
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