Jimmy Kimmel Admits He Was "Intent on Retiring" From Late Night Before Strikes

Jimmy Kimmel says he was serious about retiring from late-night before the Writers' and Actors' strikes convinced him to keep going.

The Writers' and Actors' Strike may have had one unintended side effect: inspiring Jimmy Kimmel to stay in the game. Kimmel was on the debut episode of Spotify's "Strike Force Five" and did a roundtable over Zoom with fellow show hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver. During that discussion, Jimmy Kimmel opened up about how he was feeling like his time was up as the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! - at least until the strikes began. 

"I was very intent on retiring right around the time where the strike started," Kimmel told the rest of the show hosts. "And now, I realize, Oh yeah, it's kind of nice to work."

When other hosts (Seth Meyers) tried to joke that Kimmel was simply teasing retirement (a la Tom Brady), Kimmel double-down on the statement, claiming he was very sincere about the sentiment:  "I was serious, I was very, very serious."

Before going on hiatus due to the strikes, Jimmy Kimmel Live! hit the milestone of its 20th year at the end of January this year, having started in 2003 as a replacement for Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, and ABC's first late-night show in years. Kimmel actually won the host job from Jon Stewart, whom ABC had hoped to build a late-night program around. After starting off in a midnight time slot and at the bottom of the ratings, Jimmy Kimmel Live! climbed the charts and took over Nightline's 11:35 p.m. time slot in 2013. Kimmel is now the longest-tenured host still working in late-night (since Conan O'Brien ended his show), and Live! is the longest-running late-night show in ABC's history.  

(Photo: ABC)

ABC struck a three-year renewal deal with Kimmel last fall, extending the run of Jimmy Kimmel Live! through Season 23. During that same report announcing Kimmel's three-year extension, it was also noted by Variety that Kimmel has been teetering on the edge of retirement for a few years now: 

The host had hinted in interviews in recent years that he may be looking at ending his show sometime in the near future. Kimmel most recently renewed his ABC contract in 2019 for three more years. At the time he told reporters that he had been "seriously considering" ending his ABC late-night show before then-ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke and Disney TV Studios bosses Dana Walden and Peter Rice convinced him to continue on with his show.

"I think I felt appreciated and that is important even if you have a job that people think of as a glamorous job," Kimmel said in 2019 at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "You still want to feel like your company is behind you and I do."

Jimmy Kimmel Live! is still on indefinite hiatus, as the WGA and SAG strikes continue.