In 1997, Winfrey said she was planning to retire, but then renewed her contract through 2002. In 2002, she said she would depart in 2006—the show's 20th anniversary year—but in 2004 she extended through 2011 after riding a wave of high ratings and a revamped program in 2003. In an appearance on Good Morning America on September 10, 2009, Winfrey told Diane Sawyer that she would make the decision of retiring or renewing her contract before the end of the year.
Discovery Communications chief executive David Zaslav said in early November 2009 that The Oprah Winfrey Show would depart broadcast syndication in fall 2011. Zaslav told analysts, "The current expectation is that after autumn 2011 her show will go off of …syndication, and she will come to OWN", the cable network that Winfrey's production company is creating in conjunction with Discovery. Harpo Productions denied that Winfrey had made a final decision at that point. However, on November 19, 2009, Harpo announced the show would indeed end in 2011, as noted on-air by Winfrey the following day.
Monday, September 13, 2010 was the season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show's final season. Oprah opened the show with guest John Travolta. Oprah announced that the 300 guests in the audience were her most loyal fans of the show and showed that on the website and through emails. Those 300 people were invited there specifically for the premiere show. She said that Travolta was voted the most favorite guest.
The 25th season premiere included flashbacks from the last 25 years, and included various audience members and their experiences watching Oprah. There was also a segment on how they chose some of the 300 people who were in the audience. Don Johnson and Paul Simon also made special guest appearances on the premiere show.
At the end of the show Oprah announced that she was flying all 300 audience members with her to Australia and that John Travolta would be the pilot. On 11 December 2010 Winfrey arrived in Sydney, Australia to record shows at the Sydney Opera House. Winfrey and her 300 American audience members were officially welcomed at a cocktail party in Sydney's Botanical Gardens overlooking Sydney Harbour. The beach-themed party, hosted by New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, featured live music from top recording artist Guy Sebastian and a fireworks display over the water which culminated in the lighting of a red 'O' on the Harbour Bridge.
Yay, it's ending! Now I won't have to listen to Oprah go on and on about herself as she always seems to do. Must be such a hard life making millions of dollars every year on a show that simply exploits issues in the world without ever actually making a difference. Yes, we'll cry for the children with cancer, the starving people in the third world countries, the women who have been victimized, and the homeless in the inner cities. And then we'll forget all about it so that we can watch Miley Cyrus … more
I'm bittersweet about this. It feels like an old and dear friend is moving far away. Of course, I'll still be able to keep in touch with her but, she won't be in my living room every day sharing her inspiration and laughs. Oprah has taught me a lot about life, love and she even taught me what sex was...I was watching her show with my mom as we often did when I was younger and the topic was sex. I'm sure my mother was really excited about that one but, it forced her to answer … more
25 years is not a short period of anyone's life and to be as successful as Oprah has demonstrated, it takes a person courage to take a different course in life. I didn't watch the Final Season of the Oprah Show except for some of the goodbye speeches which can be found on her site. Nonetheless, I do believe Oprah speaks to more women than to men. Hence, as a woman, I can associate and I do listen to whatever she has to say. I do think she said it exceptionally well. … more