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Ryan Seacrest makes first American Idol appearance since Live! departure

The era of Live! with Kelly and Ryan is now over

Ryan Seacrest hosts the Times Square New Years Eve Celebration in 2021
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
17 April 2023
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Ryan Seacrest made his return to ABC after his emotional departure from Live! with Kelly and Ryan (now Live! with Kelly and Mark) on Friday.

Check out the first glimpse of his on-air comeback courtesy of his leading role on American Idol in the video below, although it definitely won't be what you'd expect.

WATCH: Ryan Seacrest's return to ABC after Live! departure

The 48-year-old TV and entertainment mogul flew to Hawai'i along with judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan for the 21st season of the singing competition's Top 26 week.

It comes days after Ryan's emotional last episode alongside his co-host Kelly Ripa, who he sat beside for six years, her third co-host.

MORE: Ryan Seacrest's girlfriend makes rare comment following his final Live! show

MORE: American Idol's Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan make unprecedented move ahead of Top 24 – but fans are divided

Kelly first joined the show in 2001 when it was still hosted by one of Live!'s original faces, Regis Philbin, and then continued on after his departure in 2011.

Between the years 2012 and 2016, Michael Strahan took over the role of co-host with Kelly, but this partnership came to an end when he left the show to work at GMA.

View post on Instagram

Kelly will be joined by her real-life husband Mark Consuelos on Monday when he takes over from Ryan as the new host of the renamed Live! with Kelly and Mark.

From the very moment when the two hosts entered the studio arm in arm on their last episode together, it was clear Kelly was getting emotional thinking about their final show together.

MORE: Ryan Seacrest unrecognizable in 'radical' first-ever hosting role

MORE: Ryan Seacrest says he's 'happy' for the future after Live! with Kelly Ripa exit

"Look at this!" she said privately to her co-host as they waved to the audience and went to sit in their seats, clearly moved and excited about the standing ovation he was receiving.

"What a disaster," she then whispered over to Ryan as they sat down, clearly annoyed that she had not managed to stay as composed as she had hoped.

View post on Instagram

But it was Ryan who took the lead, welcoming everyone watching at home and in the studio by addressing the moment: "It is Friday, April 14th, and as Kelly turned the corner she said 'Oh my gosh, am I going to cry?' and I said 'Maybe? 'Cause I am!"

"I can't believe it's here," Ryan admitted, proceeding to lead an entire episode dedicated in his honor, concluding with a sardine-themed cake and a symbolic passing over of the hosts' mug to Mark.

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