Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa trade tearful goodbyes on his final 'Live' show

Ryan Seacrest arrives at the Oscars
Ryan Seacrest arrives at the 2023 Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. (Ashley Landis / Invision/Associated Press)
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Ryan Seacrest gave an emotional farewell speech Friday on his final episode of ABC's "Live With Kelly and Ryan" — his morning-TV home since 2017.

Kelly Ripa and Seacrest, joining his co-host for the last time on the show's soundstage, said their tearful goodbyes and engaged in a complimentary love-fest.

"I'm a very lucky guy. I want you all to know it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am," Seacrest said. "Fortunate to have had this seat next to you, Kell, for six years. You're incomparable. There's no one like you."

"[I'm] fortunate to have this job where I get to talk and laugh and screw things up. Do all those things you just saw," he said, referring to an earlier video covering his tenure. "Fortunate to connect with viewers from across America, and Canada as well."

The longtime “American Idol” host and radio personality announced his departure from the Daytime Emmy Award-winning show in February. Seacrest said at the time that when he signed on to "Live," he was only meant to be there for three years but loved the job so much that he extended his contract. He plans to focus on his many other jobs, including hosting "American Idol" and "Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve," as well as his KIIS-FM radio show, "On Air With Ryan Seacrest," and opening three more of his charities, Ryan Seacrest Foundation Studios, in pediatric hospitals.

"I've spent my entire career talking. Talking on the radio, talking on television. Words are my bread and butter, my wheelhouse. But today it's hard to put into words how deeply I've appreciated being here and being with you," he told Ripa and the Friday audience. "Being invited into your homes every day to try and deliver a smile or a laugh or two. I’m honored to be part of this family. I’m blessed with so many memories. … I will cherish, I will relish those memories. I will relive those memories forever.”

Seacrest thanked Ripa for welcoming an "L.A. stranger" into the "well-oiled machine" that the show has become. He joined “Live” in 2017 after Ripa’s “Live With Kelly and Michael” co-host Michael Strahan departed in 2016. Before that, Ripa co-hosted “Live With Regis and Kelly” opposite Regis Philbin. Philbin was the original host of ABC's now-defunct "The Morning Show," which was rebranded as "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" in 1988. (Kathie Lee Gifford left the program amid personal scandal in 2000.)

"This is a special place. There’s no place like this on television. I got to learn that,” Seacrest told Ripa. "I so appreciate your leadership, your love, your wisdom, and I really do feel like a family member. And we'll have that forever and I will miss you the second we say goodbye today. ... I love you, thank you for having me here. Thank you for the greatest six years."

Seacrest will be replaced by Ripa’s husband, actor Mark Consuelos.

Ripa shared her own heartfelt tribute to her decades-long friend before he spoke. Ripa, 52, described their joint hosting gig as the "fastest six years" of her life and told Seacrest, 48, that she gained "a younger brother/oldest son" during their time working together.

"It's the weirdest feeling, it's very complicated," she said. “I’m so grateful that our success together on this show has led to us developing an even closer yet codependent relationship."

She also explained how Seacrest has long featured and showcased other people's talents throughout his career, but on "Live," he was enabled to show off his own "immeasurable talents."

"I always jokingly have referred to you as an onion with all these layers. But really what you are is a bloomin' onion because you are layers upon layers of goodness, of kind, of charm, of brilliance and authenticity and generosity," she told her co-host through tears.

Ripa described how she would miss her co-star — even his "odd vocal warm-ups" — and teased him for his upcoming ability to kick back and watch the show from "the comfort of his satin-sheeted sensory deprivation Aqua bed while you enjoy your hand-ground, micro-brewed farm-raised California coffee."

"We reserve the right as a company to troll you on all social media platforms and we will all keep our same mailing addresses in case there is ever a wedding invitation," she quipped, before getting a little more serious. (Seacrest's girlfriend, Aubrey Paige, made a rare appearance in the studio audience for his final farewell.)

"We just want to thank you for being wonderful, for being an original, authentic addition to this show," Ripa said. "You are forever our family. We will never say goodbye to you, we will only say, 'See you soon and I love you.'"

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.