Nearly a decade and a half after an acrimonious departure, Conan O’Brien is set to return to “The Tonight Show,” this time as a guest of Jimmy Fallon, who assumed hosting duties in 2014. O’Brien’s appearance, scheduled for April 9, is primarily to promote his new travel series “Conan O’Brien Must Go” on Max, marking a significant moment in late-night television history.

A Look Back at the 2009 Transition

The backdrop to this reunion is O’Brien’s brief tenure as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2009, succeeding Jay Leno. His run was cut short after seven months due to a controversial shuffle by NBC, which aimed to reinstate Leno in a prime-time slot, leading to a highly publicized fallout. O’Brien’s refusal to push “The Tonight Show” to a later slot resulted in his departure from NBC, despite the network’s multimillion-dollar settlement.

O’Brien’s Journey Since NBC

Following his exit from NBC, O’Brien quickly found a new home on TBS with his show “Conan,” which aired for nearly 11 years. Despite the initial bitterness, O’Brien has since reflected on his experiences and the complex emotions surrounding his time at NBC. His career continued to evolve, with ventures into podcasting through “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and now, a return to hosting with his travel series.

Jimmy Fallon’s tenure on “The Tonight Show” has been marked by gestures of reconciliation and camaraderie, setting the stage for O’Brien’s return. Fallon’s own first night featured an appearance by Joan Rivers, ending her long-standing ban from the show, a move symbolic of the changing dynamics in late-night television. The landscape has shifted from one of competition to one of mutual support, highlighted by collective efforts like the “Strike Force Five” podcast during the writers’ strike.