Steve Burns Addressed His 'Blue's Clues' Exit in a Viral Video — But Why Did He Really Leave the Show?

Shannon Raphael - Author

Sep. 9 2021, Published 11:24 a.m. ET

Steve Burns
Source: Instagram

Those who grew up in the late '90s and the early '00s likely learned about the importance of mail time and keeping a Handy Dandy Notebook from watching Blue's Clues.

The children's series follows an animated dog named Blue, who leaves paw-print shaped clues for the host and for the viewers about what she's doing for the day. Blue's Clues debuted on Nick Jr. in 1996 with host Steve Burns, who was the only human featured.

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During his tenure on the program, Steve became an icon for kids, and his hosting talents helped the show to become a breakout success. In 2002, the star shocked viewers by announcing that he was leaving the show to go to college. His "brother," Joe (Donovan Patton) then took over, but many felt like the series was never the same.

Why did Steve leave Blue's Clues? The actor addressed his seemingly sudden departure from the popular series in a video for Nick Jr., but he cited another reason for leaving in the past.

Steve Burns
Source: YouTube
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Why did Steve Burns leave 'Blue's Clues'?

After about six years and 100 episodes as the sole owner of the Handy Dandy Notebook, Steve left the preschool series. Though he was proud of the work he had done, he told MTV in 2002 that he was ready to move on. He did pursue music after his departure, but that wasn't the main reason why he left.

"I took this about as far as I could, I guess," Steve said about his iconic hosting gig. "It was a really difficult decision, too, because on one hand, if I wanted to, I could do this for a really long time. The show is extraordinarily popular in several countries. I could be like Fred Rogers (from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood), which I consider a very noble profession. But I thought, 'Well, is this really what I came to New York to do? Why not quit right when I'm at my peak.'"

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The TV personality may have hung up his signature striped green shirt early aughts, but he had only fond memories of his time on Blue's Clues.

"I just don't think it's true that people can't do something else after they've done something that seems so permanent. I hope I'll be remembered for that show for the rest of my life," he continued to MTV. "That will always be a part of my identity, and I'm totally cool with that."

Steve Burns
Source: Instagram
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Though the narrative for years was that Steve left the show to focus on a music career, he told HuffPost in 2016 that he just felt like it was "time to go."

"That’s actually not true," Steve said to the outlet about the music rumors. "No, no, no, no. People think I left the show to pursue a music career. That didn't happen at all."

"I left the show because it was just simply time to go. I was pretty much playing a boyish, older brother-ish kind of character on the show. I was getting older; I was losing my hair; a lot of the original gangsters on the show, like the people who created it, were all moving on to other careers. It just felt like time," he added. "I just had a gut feeling like it was time to go."

His interest in putting out music came after he made his decision.

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"I certainly wasn't leaving Blue's Clues to pursue a large music career because that never even happened," he said. "That was just a wonderful dream come true, [a] hobby thing that happened after Blue's Clues."

While the real Steve wanted to move on, his on-screen persona exited the show to attend college. Nearly 20 years after his departure, Steve addressed his time on the show in a now-viral video for Nick Jr.

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Steve commemorated the show's 25th anniversary by reprising his 'Blue's Clues' role.

Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the children's series in September of 2021, Steve finally put his green collared shirt back on to detail why his on-screen persona left back in 2002.

"You remember how, when we were younger, we used to run around and hang out with Blue, and find clues, and talk to Mr. Salt, and freak out about the mail and do all the fun stuff?" he began. "And then, one day, I was like, 'Oh, hey, guess what? Big news... I'm leaving."

The former host said that his decision to go to college did seem "abrupt" to viewers, but that he was happy he was challenged along the way.

"I wanted to tell you that I couldn't really have done all of that without your help. And, in fact, all the help that you helped me with when we were younger is still helping me today..." Steve said. "I guess I just wanted to say that, after all these years, I never forgot you. Ever. And I'm super glad we're still friends."

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Though he's been gone for the better part of two decades and his original viewers are now adults, Steve's video still struck a chord with those who grew up watching him on Blue's Clues.

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