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The Oprah Winfrey Show was one of the most (if not the most) popular and influential daytime talk shows in the history of television, to the point where most people probably think about Oprah when they think of a daytime talk show. It's also the longest-running and highest-rated show in that genre. Basically, just about everybody in the United States and no small number of people elsewhere know who Oprah is.
This show turned Oprah into a merchandising juggernaut. Whenever she sticks her Book Club sticker on a piece of literature, rest assured that the book in question will shoot to the top of the bestseller list (though this has caused her some controversy before). She's turned Doctor Phil, Doctor Oz, Rachael Ray, and Nate Berkus into successful talk show hosts in their own right. Finally, she's had some notable episodes over the years, including Tom Cruise's couch-leaping, the "Weight Wagon" show (where she wheeled out a wagon of fat to demonstrate the weight she had lost), and the infamous episode where everybody in the audience received a new car.
However, there's been some controversy where Oprah is concerned. When Mad Cow Disease fears were at their peak in the '90s, she said that the fears stopped her from eating meat, which caused the beef industry to sue her for defamation. As a result, her show moved to Texas for a month so she could continue filming during the trial. Another such incident was the Book Club endorsement of James Frey's supposedly-autobiographical A Million Little Pieces. When it turned out that Frey had made it all up, she had him on and tore him to pieces.
It may be Snark Bait, it may be a Guilty Pleasures, it may be So Bad It's Good, but Oprah is not going anywhere. Though she ended her talk show on May 25, 2011 she has launched the Oprah Winfrey Network. The takeover has only just begun.
Tropes featured include:
- Call Back: Oprah once surprised an American Idol finalist with Stevie Wonder appearing behind him, so naturally at her farewell concert Jamie Foxx surprised Oprah with Stevie Wonder appearing behind her.
- Colbert Bump: Arguably the Trope Codifier.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Subjective, but what happened to James Frey.
- The Eponymous Show
- Grand Finale: The final three episodes. The first two were surprises for her held in the United Center in Chicago, filled with an All-Star Cast of guests bidding her farwell. The final episode was simply Oprah on stage, thanking her fans and her staff.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Oprah's boyfriend Steadman, who never ever gives interviews (not even on her own show), surprised Oprah by speaking on camera several times, including the farewell concert.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: "Besties" Oprah and Gayle. Also Fat and Skinny (Oprah's shorter and chubbier while Gayle is taller and slimmer) with a bit Red Oni, Blue Oni as Oprah is an adventerous person born into poverty and is/was constantly dieting while Gayle is a Big Eater who had a very comfy childhood and has a phobia of heights and an intense dislike of camping.
- Hide Your Gays: Averted when she had an entire audience of gay people.
- Long-Lost Relative: Oprah's mother had had a child out of wedlock and gave the child to foster care. Years later, she realized that Oprah's mom was her mom, but didn't want to contact Oprah because she was afraid no one would believe her. Turns out she looks like and has the same name as Oprah's other sister Patricia, who died about 10 years ago.
- Long Runner: 25 years or so (1986-2011). The last season is one big Milestone Celebration.
- Product Placement: The reason for guests and the "Favorite Things" episodes
- Reunion Show: The Farewell Season has a lot of these, including a reunion with all of her former competitors (Ricki Lake, Donahue, etc.)
- Sdrawkcab Name: Oprah's production company is called Harpo, Inc.
- Harpo is also the name of a character in The Color Purple, which was Oprah's film debut.
- She Cleans Up Nicely/Unlimited Wardrobe: Oprah's brave enough to appear without makeup and shows just how amazing her makeup artist is, not to mention the makeover specials. As for her wardrobe, the room-sized closet in her office is filled with dresses and cashmere sweaters arranged in chromatic order and shelves of Louboutin heels.
There've been times when I've told my makeup people "my face is still in Cleveland, can you get it to Chicago by 9?"
- Spin-Off: Dr. Phil (advice), Dr. Oz (health), Nate Barkus (interior design), Rachel Ray (cooking)...
- Talk Show
- Ten-Minute Retirement: Oprah has another show premiering on January 1, 2012 called Oprah's Next Chapter, which is essentially the same as her show but she goes to the people rather than them coming to her studio.
- Throw It In: allegedly, her mother named her "Orpah" but it was written down incorrectly on her birth certificate. Your Mileage May Vary on whether she got the best of that bargain.
- For the record, Orpah is a name from the book of Ruth; Orpah and the eponymous Ruth were native Moabite women who married the sons of Naomi.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Oprah's favorite young poet/prophet/inspirational figure Mattie Stepanek, who died at the age of 13 from muscular dystrophy and was the only one of his equally-afflicted siblings to survive past the age of four, is on the path to sainthood.
- Trademark Favorite Plant: Oprah loves oak trees, so the signature shoes she got from Nike have oak trees on them, and 25 libraries are getting oak trees in addition to new books and furniture.
- Troll: Anonymous posted a joke on the site's message board saying he was part of a pedophile ring with over nine thousand penises all raping children, and she fell for it. Witness the lulz.
- You Keep Using That Word: The website. "Stem cell research" in the media usually refers to research involving any kind of stem cell when talking about advancements, but is typically short for embryonic stem cell research when talking about controversies (since it is the controversial kind). Unfortunately, in the description for one episode, the website uses it both ways in the same article. In the episode, Michael J. Fox and Oprah spoke in favor of embryonic stem cell research into Parkinson's disease, then Dr. Oz completely disagreed, calling the stem cell debate "dead" in favor of (a description of what is clearly, though he doesn't call it by name,) induced pluripotent stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells, while showing the general process on a brain. Oprah's website summarized this as "Using a brain, Dr. Oz illustrates how stem cells may help cure chronic illnesses", but in the more thorough description said, "Thanks to recent scientific discoveries, Dr. Oz says stem cells aren't the only solution." Apparently the alternative solution to "stem cells" is induced pluripotent stem cells.