The Most Uplifting Moments On The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Ellen's generosity is boundless. Whether she's giving awe-inspiring gifts to impoverished families or teaming up with Lowes to rebuild a high school gym destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, Ellen DeGeneres always eschews hip cynicism in favor of highlighting humanity's finest impulses (even though she might — might — pooh-pooh the notion that she's the Mother Teresa of talk shows). "I just think that kindness is something that we should all have," DeGeneres said while receiving The People's Choice Awards Favorite Humanitarian honor in January 2016. "That's an innate quality that we have and we need more of that out there."

For well over a decade, DeGeneres has used her morning talk show as a platform for positivity, making her cozy Warner Bros. soundstage a place to share stories that inspire, encourage, and motivate. "We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter," DeGeneres told Good Housekeeping in 2011. "I definitely want to contribute to that. I really want my time here to be positive and productive."

If there's any challenge in rounding up the most inspiring moments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, it's that there are just so damn many of them. From the time she danced to Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" with then-Senator Barack Obama, to Portia de Rossi's unveiling of Ellen's remarkable 60th birthday present, let's take a look at some of the show's most tear-jerking, life-affirming clips. 

Here are several inspiring moments from The Ellen DeGeneres Show that gave generosity a good name.

​Her speech following the Las Vegas shooting

On Sunday, October 1, 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock perpetrated one of the deadliest mass shootings in America, killing 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas. After firing into the crowd from two windows in his hotel suite on the 32nd floor of The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, he committed suicide.

The following day, DeGeneres shared her thoughts on the tragedy. During an episode that aired Tuesday, October 3, DeGeneres asked everyone to do their best to "fill this room with love and prayers and hope. This is what I want right now." She also urged her audience to remain strong in the face of darkness and remember that "there's a lot more good in the world than there is bad."

Elsewhere in the speech, DeGeneres revealed why she loves her job: It's an opportunity to highlight humanity at its best. To brighten the mood, she treated the audience to a compilation of clips featuring guests demonstrating extreme generosity (including a homecoming king who handed off his crown to a classmate with cerebral palsy). "The world is full of amazing people," Ellen said. "Good will always win. Love will always win." DeGeneres also promised to donate money to any victims in need of medical supplies or hospital expenses.

"What we want to do is give you an escape from whatever is going on in your life," she said. "And that is what we're going to do today. Today is going to be a fun day."

​She helped raise more than $500,000 for a Detroit school in need

The dangerous conditions of Spain Elementary-Middle School got national attention in February 2016. The Detroit school's technology was in severe disrepair, the roof was falling to pieces, and, as M Live reported, a city inspection found "evidence of vermin infestation" and mold growing beneath the gym floors "with possible diffusion of mold spores throughout the building." 

After learning of the dire situation, DeGeneres teamed up with Lowes' "Toolbox for Education" program to offer $50,000 in new technology and $200,000 in materials and labor. "I wanted to surprise you," DeGeneres told the squealing kids and staffers, who appeared on the show from the school cafeteria via live video-feed. "I love your school. I love what you stand for," she gushed.

Recognizing the many sacrifices these elementary school teachers made every day — including volunteering their free time to provide arts education — DeGeneres gave away $100 Visa gift cards to "every single teacher and every staff member". And just in case students and faculty weren't excited enough, DeGeneres had one more surprise up her sleeve: Justin Bieber came bursting out of the coffee table next to Ellen (yes), because that's what should always happen. "We're actually gonna give a dollar for every ticket to your school," Bieber revealed, referring to an upcoming concert. "That's a lot of tickets!" DeGeneres exclaimed.

And then Ellen announced that Lowes was donating another $250,000 to the school, for a grand total of half a million dollars.

​Striking back at notorious hate group One Million Moms

In 2012, loathsome anti-gay crusaders One Million Moms (i.e, one disgruntled jerk firing out press releases in his mom's basement) came for Ellen DeGeneres. The hate group did its best to make a huge stink over JCPenney naming DeGeneres their spokesperson. As Time reported, DeGeneres touched upon the unpleasant situation in her inimitable style. "Normally, I try not to pay attention to my haters," she said, "but this time, I'd like to talk about it because my haters are my motivators." Cheeringly, she announced JCPenney had ultimately decided to keep their partnership intact, despite pressure from One Million Moms, who wanted the company to find a spokesperson that promoted "traditional values."

"For those of you just tuning in for the first time, it's true, I'm gay," DeGeneres quipped, proceeding to eke out some great comedic material from the less-than-ideal predicament: "I mean, if they have a problem with spokespeople, what about the Pillsbury Dough Boy? He runs around without any pants on. ... What kind of message is that?" DeGeneres switched gears later in her speech to express gratitude for her many supporters, reminding everybody that what she stands for is "honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, [and] treating people the way you want to be treated." As the crowd cheered, she threw in one more nugget: "To me, those are traditional values. That's what I stand for." 

​Dancing with Barack Obama to Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love"

In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama made an unforgettable appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, wowing the crowd with his supremely kicky dance moves while Beyoncé's ubiquitous "Crazy In Love" blared in the background. As CBS News reports, Obama's footloose and fancy-free derring-do prompted DeGeneres to deadpan, "You're the best dancer so far of the presidential candidates." To which Obama retorted, "It's a low mark. But I'm pretty sure I've got better moves than Giuliani." True that.

To further enamor the masses, Obama treated viewers to the rare sight of a presidential candidate pummeling a speed bag, but this was far from a random act of machismo. Obama's freewheeling fisticuffs raised $800 for breast cancer through the Susan G. Komen Foundation For The Cure.

When DeGeneres asked Obama about his stance on gay marriage, Obama claimed that, as President, he would "immediately set up a civil union" for gay couples that was "equal in federal rights." Of course, he ultimately did a lot more than that once in office. By 2012, Obama announced he supported gay marriage. After the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in 2015, he called the move "a victory for America."

In a January 2017 Ellen episode that aired on Obama's last day in office, Degeneres said, "I want to personally thank him for changing my life. I am a legally married woman because of him, and so is my wife."

​Some seriously dedicated Ellen fans have a surprise

April 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of "The Puppy Episode", a two-part installment of DeGeneres' sitcom Ellen that featured the main character, Ellen Morgan, coming out as a lesbian. The groundbreaking hour of television paved the way for dozens of well-rounded gay, lesbian, and transgender characters to make their way onto small screens in the years that followed. It also inspired plenty of viewers to come to terms with their own sexuality.

This became abundantly clear on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show celebrating the landmark television event. Several hardcore DeGeneres fans waxed poetic in a video that examined the influence "The Puppy Episode" had on their lives. Ellen is thanked for making people laugh, for being brave and bold, for saving lives, and for potentially destroying her own career in order to "not open doors, but to kick down doors and swing them flying open."

"It was a triumphant moment," said one fan. Another claimed he knew he was "watching history" but "didn't know how much that was going to impact my own life." Rather pithily, another superfan claimed watching "The Puppy Episode" was "like watching the Super Bowl. This was our Hail Mary as a gay community."

At the end of the video, a visibly moved DeGeneres, flanked by former "Puppy Episode" co-stars Oprah Winfrey and actress Laura Dern, managed to say, "Thank you all so much."

​An audience member opened up about her daughter's death

In 2011, a woman named Tara Storch appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss the untimely death of her daughter, Taylor. While vacationing with her family on Spring Break in 2010, the thirteen-year-old girl died following a terrible skiing accident. To pay homage to her "giving spirit," the Storch family donated her organs. "We have met three out of the five recipients," Tara revealed, including a "sweet man" who, after suffering diabetes and being on dialysis for forty years, was now in the clear. "She saved lives," Tara said matter-of-factly.

To champion organ donation and spread awareness for how the seemingly simple gesture can "regift life, renew health, and restore family," the family spearheaded an organization called Taylor's Gift. "To hear her heart beat again, there's no words at all," Tara told Ellen. The day the segment was filmed also marked the one-year anniversary of Taylor's death, so Tara shared a poem written by her late daughter one week before her tragic accident: "I'm outgoing and friendly / I wonder how long is forever ... I want to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show ... I touch people's lives, and I worry about failing ...  "

DeGeneres had a tough time keeping it together, and you will, too.

​Portia's remarkable gift for Ellen's 60th

Ready to see Ellen DeGeneres cry? In February 2018, her wife Portia de Rossi made a surprise appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and presented the host with a remarkably thoughtful gift for her 60th birthday. As de Rossi explained, the present "had to be really special, and it had to represent who you are, and what you really care about."

As a little girl, DeGeneres was obsessed with primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey and inspired by her "dedication to animals, her mind, and her bravery." She would obsessively read an issue of National Geographic that profiled Fossey and her Karisoke camp in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, where Dian happily observed several dozen gorillas. Though Fossey was tragically murdered in 1985, her work lives on through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which aims to ensure the survival of wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda (of which there are only 880 alive on Earth as of this writing.)

De Rossi revealed that, for Ellen's birthday gift, she had created The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. As DeGeneres' eyes welled with tears, de Rossi told her wife: "You will carry on Dian's legacy by giving [mountain gorillas] a permanent home in Rwanda. ... Now you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals." Overwhelmed, DeGeneres said it was "the best gift that anybody could have given me."

Ellen perfectly demonstrates her mantra "Be Kind"

DeGeneres really has that whole "random acts of kindness" thing down pat.

In April 2018, she invited audience member Diana Aquino to the stage so she could share her remarkable story. The college student, math tutor, and retail clerk moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic in May 2011, and didn't know a single word of English beyond "hello" and "goodbye" when she first arrived. Slowly but surely, Aquino began learning the language almost entirely by watching Ellen's talk show. "At the end of the show, there were just two words, 'Be Kind'," she recalled. Wanting to know what those words meant, Aquino recalled taking out her dictionary and learning that "kindness" means to "be good to other people." The word stuck with her.

Later on in the segment, DeGeneres presented Aquino with a seemingly modest gift: A hefty tome she called The Ellen DeGeneres Show Dictionary. DeGeneres read aloud from a few entries ("Bachelor: A television show Ellen tries not to watch, but inevitably gets sucked back into every season") and eventually landed at the definition for the word "Shutterfly," described as "an incredible company that loves sharing life's joy and wants to help you with your education by giving you a check for $10,000." 

As if that wasn't enough, DeGeneres had Aquino return the next month for another surprise: a brand new car. Suddenly, we aren't cynical anymore.

Ellen shares a message of hope after Trump's election

On November 10th, 2016, Ellen DeGeneres opened up about her feelings on Donald Trump, who had won the election two days prior. She expertly snuck a few much-needed jokes into her extremely wistful pep talk for the emotionally exhausted audience: "You may have heard that there was a presidential election on Tuesday," she joked. "The big winner was alcohol. A lot of alcohol." 

Reiterating her commitment to making people feel happier in their lives, DeGeneres assured the crowd she'll "keep doing [this] for as long as I can." As per The Hollywood Reporter, she offered up two essential quotes that should be cherished whenever life proves frustrating, disappointing, or tragic. The first quote was by Eleanor Roosevelt: "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." The second was by Kanye West: "Blocka, blocka, blocka, blocka, pour a little champagne, cherry vodka." 

DeGeneres closed out the speech with a viral video clip from Planet Earth II that had been making the rounds at the time. The footage featured a baby iguana narrowing escaping a beach festooned with ravenous snakes. "I'm here to tell you that things can still turn out okay," DeGeneres said, adding that "if you feel like there's snakes coming at you from every direction... no matter what your snake is, there is hope for your little iguana."

There's probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

A cancer survivor sings "Fight Song" with a very special guest

In 2015, a viral video made the rounds featuring a 16-year-old cancer survivor named Calysta "Caly" Bevier, who sang a gutsy cover of "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. The footage eventually landed on Ellen's desk. DeGeneres was so taken by the performance, she invited Bevier onto the show

Bevier revealed she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in the summer of 2014. Her mother noticed a lump in her stomach while the family was vacationing in Florida. Bevier underwent surgery on June 16th of that year, and doctors removed a five-pound cancerous tumor. Fortunately, the teenager responded well to chemotherapy: the cancer went into remission. 

Bevier told DeGeneres she was on her way to chemo one day, listening to music on shuffle, when "Fight Song" came on. "I had heard it before," Bevier said, "and I liked the song obviously," but given the circumstances, it "really correlated with my situation," Bevier said. "It can be a song for anyone that's going through any struggle." 

DeGeneres invited Bevier to serenade the live audience — "but we thought it'd be fun for you to sing it with somebody, she said." To Bevier's shock, Rachel Platten took the stage, much to the crowd's delight. The two women sat behind a piano and promptly belted out "Fight Song", reducing anyone within earshot into quivering, weepy jelly. In 2017, Bevier melted yet more hearts as a competitor on America's Got Talent.