Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel Announces Plans for Retirement

jimmy kimmel on jimmy kimmel live
Credit: Disney/ABC

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel announced his plans for retirement, but there’s one thing standing in his way.

On Wednesday evening, during the first episode of Spotify’s Strike Force Five podcastwhich was a roundtable-style discussion via Zoom among several late-night kings: Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver. During the show, Kimmel said he had made his plans and was ready to walk away from his late-night talk show gig earlier this year. But recent events have gotten in the way of those plans.

RELATED: ABC Fires Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel On-Air During “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Show

Two men sitting in chairs hold up drink glasses to toast with a man sitting behind desk

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” with guests Snoop Dogg and George Clooney/Credit: Disney/ABC

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!”: A Success Born From Failure

Jimmy Kimmel Live! made its debut on ABC in 2003, and his first show was a disaster–reminding some Disney fans of Disneyland’s opening day in 1955, dubbed “Black Sunday.”

Kimmel was chosen over other show hosts for the midnight spot at the Disney-owned ABC television network. But though Kimmel was ABC’s first choice, the first-ever Jimmy Kimmel Live! show recorded extremely low ratings, and Kimmel and his producers were challenged with the difficulties they encountered in attracting guests to appear on the late-night talk show. More than 20 years later, Jimmy Kimmel Live! is one of the most successful late-night talk shows on television, thanks in part to Kimmel’s ability to find his niche and eventually set himself apart from competitors like David Letterman and Jay Leno by delving into edgy content and topics.

Jimmy Kimmel Live' Summer 2022 Guest Hosts Announced (EXCLUSIVE) - Variety

Credit: Disney/ABC

But in spring 2023, despite the show’s success and continually growing popularity, the 55-year-old late-night king made the decision to hang up his microphone for good–and walk away from a $15 million-a-year gig, which comes out to more than $88,000 per episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show.

Kimmel Firmly Decided to Walk Away

Kimmel says his mind was made up–that it was time to step away–and he was certain of his decision. But in May, just before he had planned to make his final announcement regarding that decision, something happened that challenged him to take a second look.

“I was very intent on retiring right around the time where the strike started,” Kimmel said during the podcast, “and now, I realize–oh yeah, it’s kind of nice to work.”

Kimmel’s confession was met with disbelief from his competitors: “Kimmel, come on; you’re the Tom Brady of late night,” NBC’s Seth Meyers responded. “You have feigned retirement.”

But Kimmel stuck to his guns, insisting that this was no joke: “I was serious; I was very, very serious.”

Kimmel’s Retirement is Not Without Issue

Though Kimmel was intent on stepping away from his 20+ years as host and executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, his recently-renewed contract with the Disney-owned ABC television network could threaten his hopes for retiring before 2025. The three-year extension was signed in September 2022, meaning the late-night talk show guru might easily be met with more than just his new perspective if he follows through with his retirement plans.

Jimmy Kimmel says he was 'intent on retiring' prior to Hollywood strikes | CNN

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!”/Credit: Disney/ABC

During the exchange, Stephen Colbert said that fans who spot him out and about during the writers’ strike routinely ask him if he’s “enjoying his vacation,” to which Colbert replies, “I usually say, ‘This is like a vacation in the same way a colonoscopy is like a nap.'”

Spotify’s Strike Force Five began as a meeting of the minds between Kimmel and four of his usual late-night competitors, who began meeting via Zoom to discuss their situations without their respective shows.

Per Variety:

The unusual alliance brings together the five late-night hosts, who normally compete for ratings and awards recognition, as a way to pay it forward to their respective teams — who have been left without work because of the WGA strike, now in its 121st day. Proceeds from “Strike Force Five” will go to the out-of-work staffers on each of their shows (“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”).

Strike Force Five: what happens when late-night TV hosts make a podcast? | US television | The Guardian

The team behind “Strike Force Five”/Credit: The Guardian

Though Kimmel says he got a renewed perspective on his role as the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, it’s not clear whether Kimmel will continue to contemplate and ultimately pursue retirement before his three-year contract ends in September 2025 or keep on keeping on with his gig until the urge to call it quits entices him anew.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!