Conan O’Brien to Guest on ‘The Tonight Show’ in First Return to NBC Late Night Since Exiting the Network

Conan O’Brien has set a return to “The Tonight Show,” slotting a guest appearance for next week’s April 9 broadcast. The occasion will mark the comedian and former late night host’s first time back on the program since his acrimonious exit from NBC in 2010, in which he was replaced by Jay Leno as the show’s host following a seven-month tenure.

O’Brien is on the publicity circuit to promote his coming travelogue series, “Conan O’Brien Must Go.” The show marks O’Brien’s first television project since his TBS late night show “Conan” ended in 2021 after 11 seasons on the air. “Conan O’Brien Must Go” debuts on Max on April 18.

More from Variety

Under the tenure of Jimmy Fallon, who has been helming “The Tonight Show” for more than 10 years, the program has established a pattern of welcoming back previous NBC deserters. In 2014, Fallon welcomed Joan Rivers as a guest, who had been banned from the series for decades after exiting duties as Johnny Carson’s back-up host and launching her own rival late night program on Fox.

The occasion will mark O’Brien’s first in-person return to the network’s late night programming, though he previously appeared in a pre-recorded sketch on “The Tonight Show” in 2018 alongside Stephen Colbert.

O’Brien’s 2010 exit from “The Tonight Show” remains one of the most dramatic swerves in late night history. The host left after NBC began to make plans to launch a new show in his time slot with Jay Leno, who wanted to return to network after already passing the “Tonight” torch to O’Brien. O’Brien’s tenure on the program only spanned seven months, though he made his exit count with a rousing performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” on his last episode. He quickly found a new home at TBS with “Conan.”

Other guests for next Tuesday’s episode include Nicole Richie and musical guest Benson Boone.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.