Jon Stewart signs off with epic, emotional final 'Daily Show'

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Jon Stewart's Emotional 'Daily Show' Sign-Off

The day we've been dreading has finally arrived -- Jon Stewart took his place behind The Daily Show desk for the final time, heralding the conclusion to a influential chapter in both late-night television and political commentary.

As expected, Stewart went out with a star-studded and self-deprecating walk down memory lane. Almost everyone whose ever worked as a correspondent or contributor for the show came back to wish the celebrated newsman goodbye, a reminder of just how many successful comedians and movie stars were once part of the iconic comedy news program over the last 16 years.

Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, John Oliver, Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle, Mo Rocca, Wyatt Cenac, Larry Wilmore, and even previous Daily Show host Craig Kilborn were among the dozens of former and current cast members who turned out for the big night.

See photos from Jon's last Daily Show:

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Jon Stewart's last Daily Show
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Jon Stewart signs off with epic, emotional final 'Daily Show'
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jon Stewart hosts 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jordan Klepper, Aasif Mandvi, Jessica Williams, Lewis Black, John Hodgman, Hasan Minhaj and Al Madrigal visit 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: John Oliver and host Jon Stewart appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: John Hodgman, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi, Jordan Klepper, Samantha Bee, Jessica Williams, Kristen Schaal, Hasan Minhaj and Al Madrigal appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: John Hodgman, Matt Walsh, Nancy Walls, Dan Bakkedahl, Rob Riggle, Samantha Bee, Aasif Mandvi, Hasan Minhaj, Stephen Colbert, Steven Carell, Jon Stewart, Jordan Klepper, John Oliver, Ed Helms, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, Olivia Munn, and Kristen Schaal appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Nate Corddry (C) Rob Corddry (R) and host Jon Stewart (L) appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jon Stewart hosts 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Dan Bakkedahl and Matt Walsh appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Host Jon Stewart, Rob Riggle and Olivia Munn appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Host Jon Stewart and Olivia Munn appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Wyatt Cenac appears on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jon Stewart hosts 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jessica Williams, Hasan Minhaj, Aasif Mandvi, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Steve Carell, Jordan Klepper, John Oliver and Wyatt Cenac appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Larry Wilmore (R) and host Jon Stewart (L) appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jon Stewart hosts 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: John Hodgman, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi, Jordan Klepper, Steve Carell, Jessica Williams, Samantha Bee, Hasan Minhaj, Kristen Schaal and Al Madrigal appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jessica Williams appears on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: John Oliver and host Jon Stewart appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Jon Stewart exits the studio following the final taping of 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
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Even some of Stewart's most common and popular targets of ridicule made sure to celebrate Stewart's departure -- albeit in a slightly different way.

The entire first half-hour of Stewart's final episode felt like the funniest episode of This Is Your Life, until things got really emotional when Stewart's long-time friend and fellow late night comedy newsman Stephen Colbert took the stage.

The pals joked around for a few moments until Stewart tried to throw to a commercial, but was surprised when the cameras kept rolling. Unbeknownst to him, Colbert arranged for a surprise, off-prompter moment to truly thank Stewart for everything he had done for the people that worked for him and for the country.

The heartfelt moment brought Stewart to tears, and any fans watching who weren't already choked up suddenly felt their own eyes getting a bit watery. Even more so when the show finally went to commercial Stewart was swarmed by all the night's special guests for a giant group hug.

After the break, Stewart made sure that it wouldn't just be his on-camera cast that got special recognition, but his crew as well.

In a brilliant parody of the classic tracking shot from Goodfellas, Stewart took the viewers behind the scenes of The Daily Show and introduced every single member of the team.

WATCH: Even President Obama Doesn't Want Jon Stewart to Retire: 'I Can't Believe That You're Leaving Before Me'

But the episode wouldn't have been complete without some sort of profound and provocative moment of honest commentary, which Stewart delivered in a powerful message for his long-time fans.

"Bulls**t is everywhere. There is very little that you will encounter in life that isn't infused with bulls**t," Stewart said in his last politically-charged Daily Show monologue.

After breaking down the different kinds of "bulls**t" he's encountered over the years, he concluded with a point Americans might want to take to heart. "The best defense against bulls**t, is vigilance. So, if you smell something, say something."

In this moment, Stewart felt like an Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite for the jaded, cynical, but secretly hopeful 21st century.

Finally, for Stewart's last "Moment of Zen," the long-time host welcomed Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a live performance that was the perfect ending to over 16 years of fighting in the media trenches.

SEE ALSO: Jon Stewart through the years:

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Jon Stewart Through the Years
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Jon Stewart signs off with epic, emotional final 'Daily Show'

Long before he became a household name, Jon Stewart broke onto the scene as an MTV host with his own show. In 1993, the funny guy cut his teeth on "The John Stewart Show," a late-night show with a variety of celebrity guests and a fun opening monologue.  His style was very 90s and a little couture immature. In his early days, Stewart regularly hit the town in hoodies and T-shirts and sported dark, curly locks. 
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

In the 90s, Stewart was also very fond of the leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans look. The dark-haired comedian had a sit down with fellow late-night host Conan O'Brien in 1993 and sans a few gray hairs, the pair look strikingly similar to how they look now.  Photo by: Lesly Weiner/NBCU Photo Bank

Rumors swirled that the young comedian was romancing supermodel Cindy Crawford in the 90s. The pair were spotted all gussied up in 1994 at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

In 1995, Stewart met up with singer Jon Bon Jovi. At the time, the New York City native was still sticking to fashion basics like T-shirts. Are you sensing a trend here? (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

It's love! Stewart, who wrapped "The Jon Stewart Show" on MTV in 1995, snuggled up to girlfriend Tracy McShane in 1996 at an HBO party. The pair were reportedly set up by a production assistant and clearly couldn't keep their hands off each other during their young romance -- which definitely had staying power. They wed four years after this photo was taken. Perhaps she liked his favorite blue T-shirt as much as  he did. (Photo by Manny Hernandez/Liaison)

Stewart was a rising star in the late 90s -- and as his fame continued to grow, so did his fashion choices. Enter the era of Jon Stewart in more formal attire. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

In 1999, Stewart attended the  GQ Magazine Of The Year Awards on October 21, 1999, and posed alongside actor Michael J. Fox. During this year, Stewart co-produced several movies like "The Daily View" and "The Daily Show Summer Spectacular." 

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Look who is getting gussied up now! Stewart looked dapper in a tux at the 1999 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, despite the fact that it seemed to be a bit big for him. His famous locks were just showing the first signs of a little salt and pepper. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

By 1999, Stewart and his now peppered locks, were center stage on Comedy Central's, "The Daily Show." The TV regular replaced Craig Kilborn when he left the show. Naturally, he brought his comedic edge and political prowess to the host seat and a hit was literally born overnight. For his big show, Stewart also stepped up his fashion game and fully traded in his T-shirts for slim-fit suits and well-selected ties.   (Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Although, he wasn't always suited up. In 2002, the funny guy ditched his clothes in order to host the 44th Annual Grammy Awards.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Recognize these two funny faces? Stewart stopped by "Saturday Night Live" in 2002 for a memorable skit with Amy Poehler, where the pair spoofed Mel Gibson. There's no real "fashion moment" here unless you count army greens. 

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Pretty much everyone fell victim to the political pundit's funny antics -- including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was all smiles during her 2003 appearance on "The Daily Show." More importantly, Stewart's attire -- dark suit, red tie, crisp white shirt, peppery locks -- became his go-to look for basically the next 10 years. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images for The Daily Show)

All smiles at the Emmys! In 2005, Stewart snagged the Emmy for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program for his work on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." His hair continued to gray, but his boyish smile and love for dark suits don't seem to change. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Dark suit, check! Graying locks, check. Another Emmy Award, check. Stewart snagged yet another award for outstanding variety or music series for the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at the 2007 Emmys. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Back to basics! In 2008, a low-key Stewart was spotted goofing around with his son Nathan at a New York Knicks game. Stewart channeled his younger self in a classic T-shirt. His son, also seems to be inheriting his style. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

He's back at it! Stewart grabbed yet another Emmy for his work on "The Daily Show" in 2009. While his looks don't seem to have changed much, one thing is for sure -- he's hired a better tailor at this point in his career. Check out how nicely that penguin suit fits. (AP Photos/Mark J. Terrill)

Recognize this look? Stewart basically added a blazer to his outfit from the Knicks game in order to take the stage next to his pal Stephen Colbert at their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The pair's big rally drew thousands, who were treated to a bevy of laughs with Stewart and Colbert casting themselves as the unlikely pillars of moderation and civility in rough times.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Stewart perfectly complemented President Barack Obama in one of their first interviews. Stewart rocked a red tie while the President wore blue. Talk about a patriotic pairing. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Hey there, silver fox!  By 2012, Stewart had given up on his dark locks in favor of his gray tresses, which he began wearing a little longer. The look was mature and sexy all at the same time. Almost as sexy as his Emmy Award for his work on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" in 2012.  (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Stewart clearly understands the power of a red tie during a political interview. For his final sit down with President Barack Obama, Stewart rocked his signature look -- dark suit and a red tie. Some fashion habits really do die hard -- but we aren't complaining. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

You gotta love that goofy grin. Thanks for all the years, great interviews and for the "Daily Show," Jon. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
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"An artist I really admire once said that he thinks of his career as a long conversation with the audience, a dialogue. And I really like that metaphor for many different reasons, but the main one is it takes away the idea of finality," Stewart said toward the end of his last episode. "It's a conversation. The show isn't ending, we're merely taking a small pause in the conversation."

"So rather than saying goodbye, or goodnight, I'm just going to say, 'I'm gonna go get a drink. And I'm sure I'll see you guys before I leave,'" Stewart concluded (raising our hopes dramatically that this won't be the last time we see him on TV).

Stewart's final time behind the anchor desk was exactly what the show has been since he took over: Hilarious, poignant, intelligent, goofy and important all at the same time. It's going to be a long time before we get a newsman of any variety as genuine as Jon Stewart.

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