30 most shocking late night scandals

Credit: CBS
Credit: CBS /
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2. Jay Leno leaves The Tonight Show only to come right back to it

If NBC thought replacing Johnny Carson with Jay Leno was controversial, they had no idea what they were in store for come 2009. Jay Leno was all set to retire from The Tonight Show and switch to his own The Jay Leno Show. His successor would be Conan O’Brien, who, like Letterman, had been dreaming of taking on the spot of the host of the program.

Conan made it farther than Letterman, in that he actually was brought on as the new host. But his duties on the series were short lived. When ratings began to falter, NBC panicked and wanted to switch things back to how they were. They said Conan could keep The Tonight Show, but they wanted to bump him back into his old late night TV slot. Leno’s show, meanwhile, would be moved to when The Tonight Show airs.

Let’s just say Conan didn’t like this idea. If they were going to boot him from the timeslot, he’d rather just leave the network altogether. Conan would walk away from the series amid high controversy, with Leno coming back on as the host. Jimmy Fallon would replace Leno a few years later. Leno had long been lambasted by both viewers and other late night personalities for years for his part in this fiasco.