Twenty-five years ago, a spotted dog named Blue and his young owner, in a stripy green shirt, took over preschool TV with the debut of Blue’s Clues on Nickelodeon. The long-running show was one of the most successful in Nick’s slate in the late ’90s and that was, in no small part, thanks to the man in that green-striped shirt, Mr. Steve Burns.
I was a little too old for the prime Blue’s Clues years, but my little sister was right in the window. We welcomed Steve and Blue into the house, on repeat, over many years. I can still sing the songs, forever seared into my temporal lobe. “We’ve gotta find another paw print, that’s the second clue! We put it in our notebook…”
But one day, in 2002, Steve announced he was leaving Blue’s Clues. It was a big deal for the preschool fans and the adults who had followed along. In his final episode, Steve introduced his brother Joe and then caught a bus out of town. And that was that.
The show carried on for another four years with Joe at the helm, and Steve wasn’t to be seen again.
It was a pretty abrupt end and, in the pre-internet era, there were rumors that Steve had later met a tragic end. He hadn’t — and he routinely took to social media to confirm he was still alive — but the rumors persisted. Today, in a video uploaded to Nick Jr.’s social media pages, Steve was back in a somewhat official capacity.
A little more bespectacled, with a bit less hair, but still in his stripy green shirt, Steve explains what happened after he got on that bus out of town.
“I realize that was kind of abrupt,” Steve starts. “I just kind of got up and went to college.”
It was abrupt, Steve. But I don’t hold any grudges and, I suspect, neither does my sister. He goes on to explain that lots of things have changed and that he’s doing many of the things he wanted to do with his life before pointing out to us, the audience, that we’ve also accomplished so much since Blue’s Clues aired. We’ve got student loans and jobs and families and sometimes… it’s been hard. Life has been hard. Steve doesn’t mention anything to do with the pandemic — that wouldn’t be his style — but, after so many months in lockdown, the heartwarming message will hit you right in the feels all the same.
“You look great, by the way,” he says as he departs.
Thanks, Steve. I needed that. We all needed that.