Depending on how old you were when Blue's Clues was on Nickelodeon, the abrupt departure of Steve Burns, the show's human host, may have traumatized you. Then again, maybe the change barely registered, because you were really into Pokémon by that point.
Either way, the viral video of Burns explaining his out-of-nowhere exit from Blue's Clues almost 20 years later is undeniably charming. To celebrate the kids' series' 25th anniversary, he donned his signature green striped polo shirt and checked in with fans, explaining that his character decided to go to college.
"You remember how when we were younger, we used to run around and hang out with Blue and find clues and talk to Mr. Salt and freak out about the mail and do all the fun stuff?" Burns said. "And then one day, I was like, 'Oh hey, guess what? Big news, I’m leaving. Here’s my brother Joe, he’s your new best friend,' and then I got on a bus and I left and we didn’t see each other for like a really long time? Can we just talk about that? Because I realize that was kind of abrupt."
Burns continued: "I just kinda got up and went to college. And that was really challenging by the way, but great because I got to use my mind and take a step at a time and now I literally am doing many of the things that I wanted to do."
Just as he always did on Blue's Clues, Burns broke the fourth wall and spoke directly to fans. "And then look at you, and look at all you have done, and all you have accomplished in all that time," he said. "And it’s just, it’s just so amazing, right? I mean, we started out with clues, and now, it’s what? Student loans, and jobs and families? And some of it has been kind of hard, you know? I know you know." It made for a surprisingly intimate moment of closure and validation for a lot of people.
One of the folks moved by Burns' message was Stephen Colbert, who got a hug from the Blue's Clues host on The Late Show. "Folks, that soft sound you've been hearing everywhere this week is the internet weeping because Steve, the original host of the children's show 'Blue's Clues,' dropped a video message to millennials," Colbert noted. "Now, I was a grown up in the late '90s. Although I was aware of the show because of my kids, those kids are all grown up and moved away now. So obviously I have no emotional investment in Steve," he added.
But Colbert got a little choked up watching the viral video, and Burns strode onstage to surprise the late-night host in person. "Steve from Blue's Clues who I'm not emotionally invested in? What are you doing here?" Colbert asked. "You seemed kind of upset, and I just wanted to know if maybe you wanted a hug? I mean that's what friends do, right?" Burns replied.
When Burns departed Blue's Clues in 2002, there were rumors he'd died in a car accident or from a drug overdose. He actually appeared on daytime television like Today and The Rosie O'Donnell Show to prove he was still alive. In 2016, he told The Huffington Post that he'd wanted to pursue other opportunities, explaining it was "just simply time to go." He's had some minor acting roles and released an album since hosting Blue's Clues.
Still, Burns is best known for being on the children's show, solving mysteries with his adorable 2D dogs and a gang of household objects come to life. His return emphasized just how impactful the show was for a generation of viewers. Scroll on for some of the best reactions to Steve's video message.