Host Jon Stewart announced at Tuesday's "The Daily Show" taping that he is leaving the show.
Comedy Central confirmed the news in a statement, saying that Stewart will be leaving later this year:
"For the better part of the last two decades, we have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, ‘The Daily Show’ has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of ‘The Daily Show’ until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family."
The news comes less than two months after Stephen Colbert brought "The Colbert Report" to an end in order to prepare for hosting CBS's "Late Show," replacing David Letterman after he leaves later this year.
"The Daily Show" existed before Jon Stewart, hosted from 1996 until 1998 by Craig Kilborn, but Stewart took the show into a bolder political direction and made it a cultural landmark, becoming the go-to news source for numerous young people. Polls started to show Jon Stewart as being one of the most trusted newsmen in America.
It's just over three weeks after Comedy Central launched "The Nightly Show" with Larry Wilmore and details have yet to be announced about the future of Comedy Central's late night lineup.
The show has created hosts for other networks, with Colbert leaving for CBS after getting his start as a "Daily Show" correspondent and John Oliver, who served as a fill-in host while Stewart shot the film "Rosewater," left for his own weekly rundown of the news "Last Week Tonight" at HBO. The show's starmaking power also includes actors such as Steve Carell, Ed Helms and more, and new "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update anchor Michael Che.
Stewart didn't announce his plans for what comes next. He directed the 2014 film "Rosewater," based on journalist Maziar Bahari's memoir detailing his imprisonment in Iran following an interview with "The Daily Show's" Jason Jones.
"As sad as it sounds, people might say, 'Man, working at 'The Daily Show,' that's gotta be a blast. You just sit around and laugh all day,'" Stewart said. "And you're like, 'No, we have a meeting at 9, and the 9 meeting has to be over by 9:30, and the scripts have to be in by 11, because if they're not, then we miss this deadline.'"
He also told the Hollywood Reporter last summer that he didn't know how much longer he would stay with the show.
"I mean, like anything else, you do it long enough, you will take it for granted, or there will be aspects of it that are grinding. I can't say that following the news cycle as closely as we do and trying to convert that into something either joyful or important to us doesn't have its fraught moments," Stewart said.
The show, one of Comedy Central's top franchises, will likely continue. John Oliver and Stephen Colbert would have seemed like the heirs apparent before they left; of the current staff, Samantha Bee, Jason Jones and Aaasif Mandvi are the longest-running correspondents, with Bee starting all the way back in 2003. Jones filled in for Stewart as anchor last fall, assisted by his wife Samantha Bee, when Stewart was out sick.
The show has also pushed for expanded diversity in its own cast, along with launching "The Nightly Show" with a black host and a minority panel, so that could point to a more diverse host in the future. The show has also recently expanded its international perspective, with Trevor Noah covering international news, Hasan Minhaj as the new Indian correspondent and Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef joining as a Middle East correspondent.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to "Rosewater" as a documentary; it is a drama, based on Maziar Bahari's memoir. KPCC regrets the error.
This story has been updated.