Blue’s Clues’ Steve Reveals The Harsh Truth About His Departure

Steve Burns of Blue's Clues fame says he left the show as the host because of severe depression.

By Chad Langen | Published

When Blue’s Clues premiered on Nickelodeon on September 8, 1996, it became the network’s highest-rated premiere, pulling in nearly 14 million viewers every week. Each episode saw the show’s silly yet determined host Steve Burns team up with an animated puppy to solve mysteries while simultaneously teaching its young audience things like colors, shapes, and how to use their critical thinking skills. Steve’s unexpected departure from the popular series in 2002 left fans speculating about what caused him to leave, and in a recent interview with Variety, the 49-year-old finally revealed the truth surrounding his exit.

Over the years, Burns has participated in various interviews where he’s explained his reasons for leaving Blue’s Clues at the height of the show’s success. Initially, the actor indicated that he didn’t want to do children’s television all his life and he wanted to attend college. In his recent interview with Variety, however, Burns opened up about some of the personal struggles he faced while starring on the series, which are details he hadn’t previously shared.

Blue's Clues steve

“I didn’t know it yet, but I was the happiest depressed person in North America,” he said in regard to his hosting duties on Blue’s Clues. “I was struggling with severe clinical depression the whole time I was on that show. It was my job to be utterly and completely full of joy and wonder at all times, and that became impossible. I was always able to dig and find something that felt authentic to me that was good enough to be on the show, but after years and years of going to the well without replenishing it, there was a cost.”

Burns was just 22 when Blue’s Clues debuted, and he told Variety that it wasn’t the type of role he’d imagined for himself when he moved to New York to pursue an acting career. Nevertheless, his being able to speak to the camera and interact with audiences is something he grew to love. Since he was unable to actually see anybody most of the time because the environment he filmed in was a blue screen, he said shooting the series “felt like a gentle, small, personal experience.”

Steve Burns landed the gig as the host of Blue’s Clues host after beating out over 1,000 other actors in a grueling audition process. Needless to say, the groundbreaking series catapulted him to stardom, and he appeared in over 100 episodes when his final episodes aired in April 2002. His exit from the series was unanticipated, and it even led to rumors that the beloved host had died.

Fortunately, Burns is alive and well, and although he’s doing better now, it took him a while to recover. “After I left Blue’s Clues, there was a long period of healing,” he said. “It wasn’t until the death of my father that I really started to take things seriously, and my life became so much more manageable.”

Although he regrets not seeking help while he was still starring on Blue’s Clues, Burns doesn’t believe it would have prevented his departure. He did suggest that treatment would have allowed him to be more comfortable in his role on the show. Reflecting on his time on the series, he said, “Because now, when I look back, all I see is what an impossible gift that was.”

These days, when Burns isn’t directing, producing, writing, and occasionally guest starring on the revival series Blue’s Clues & You!, he travels to colleges to talk with students about mental health. Although his character on the Nickelodeon series isn’t someone most people would turn to for support, Burns said that the character became his role model because he wasn’t scared to ask for assistance.

Steve Burns returns as his iconic Blue’s Clues character in Blue’s Big City Adventure, which is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+. The film follows Blue’s Clues & You! star Josh Dela Cruz, who travels to New York with his animated puppy pal to audition for a big Broadway musical. BD Wong, Steven Pasquale, Alex Winter, Ali Stroker, Donovan Patton, and Amanda Del Cruz also star in the movie, which was helmed by Matt Stawski from a screenplay by Angela Santomero.