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Jon Stewart Leaving 'The Daily Show'

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UPDATED Wednesday, Feb. 11

It's the end of an era: Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.

Stewart told the audience at Tuesday's taping that he's stepping down from the Comedy Central news show he's hosted since 1999. He'll exit the show sometime later this year; no word yet on who might replace him.

The host explained his exit — which will happen later in 2015 — in an emotional announcement on Tuesday night's episode. “I’m not gonna try to sum up what this place has meant to me over the years… I’ve got plenty of time,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. But this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.” 

Related: Jon Stewart Talks to Katie Couric About the Future of 'The Daily Show'

Stewart, who made his feature film directorial debut with Rosewater in 2014, explained that "restless" feeling in the simplest and sweetest of terms: "I don't have any specific plans," he said. "I've got a lot of ideas, a lotta things in my head. I going to have dinner, on a school night, with my family, who I've heard — from multiple sources — are lovely people."

Comedy Central confirmed the news in a statement:

"For the better part of the last two decades, we have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family."

Since stepping in for Craig Kilborn a decade and a half ago, Stewart has made The Daily Show the home for TV's top political satire, cultivating an enviable roster of tongue-in-cheek correspondents that went on to shine in Hollywood (Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, John Oliver, Ed Helms) and racking up an astounding ten straight Emmy wins for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series from 2003 to 2012.

And though it aired on Comedy Central, The Daily Show earned respect as a serious source of news (albeit with a distinct liberal bent) for a young, media-savvy audience. Political heavy-hitters like President Obama, John McCain, and Bill Clinton have sat down with Stewart during the show's interview segment.

Related: How 'The Daily Show' Became Comedy's Best Incubator

So is Stewart really "retiring," like he told today's studio audience? He took a three-month leave of absence from The Daily Show in the summer of 2013 to make his directorial debut with the political drama Rosewater. (John Oliver ably stepped in for Stewart, and earned himself a HBO talk show in the process.) Will Stewart go on to direct more films?

And who will fill his seat at The Daily Show? A year ago, Stephen Colbert would've been the natural choice, but he's already slated to replace David Letterman as the host of CBS's Late Show later this year. Oliver is occupied with HBO's Last Week Tonight. Former correspondent Larry Wilmore hosts The Nightly Show, which currently airs after The Daily Show — but after only a few weeks on the air, is he ready to sit in the big chair?

The Daily Show airs weeknights at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central.