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    Steve From "Blue's Clues" Explained How Hosting The Show Became "Impossible" And Why He's Enjoyed Returning To The Character

    Steve notably left Blue's Clues and "went to college" in a 2002 episode, and the decision behind the scenes to leave is something he hasn't opened up about much until now.

    If you grew up in the '90s, then chances are you remember Blue's Clues, the hit children's series that premiered in 1996 and followed Blue, an adorable dog who left clues for her friends to follow.

    Steve with Blue on his shoulders as he stands in his living room with the other adorable characters of the show

    When the show began, Blue's Clues was hosted by Steve Burns, who was 22 years old at the time, as he talked directly to the audience and followed Blue on numerous adventures.

    Steve holding his notebook and sitting on the couch while talking to the audience as Blue looks on

    The original series ran from 1996 to 2006 on Nickelodeon. However, one of the most notable moments in the show's history is when Steve left the series in 2002 "to go to college" and his brother Joe, who was played by Donovan Patton, replaced him as host for the rest of the show's original run.

    Steve thanking the audience for all their help before he left

    At the time, numerous "absurd" rumors surrounded Steve's departure from the series, namely countless stories about how Steve actually died in real life, from everything from a car crash to a heroin overdose to some online forums pointing to "murder by Blue's Clues producers or an unsuccessful attempt to fight the Taliban."

    Now, in 2022, Steve Burns sat down with Variety to discuss the real reason he left Blue's Clues at the height of its popularity 20 years ago and the fallout that came with it.

    Steve speaking at a podium

    "I didn’t know it yet, but I was the happiest depressed person in North America," Steve said during his interview with Variety. "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."

    Steve sitting on a plush couch

    "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."

    "My strategy had been: 'Hey, you got a great thing going, so just fight it!' Turns out, you don't fight depression; you collect it."

    Steve on the blue carpet for an event standing next to an oversized plush version of Blue

    Steve said another reason he decided to step away was he realized he "wasn't going to be boyish anymore" and when he began to lose his hair and would've needed to wear a wig on camera, he realized it was time to leave Blue's Clues.

    Steve holding his handy dandy notebook and crayon

    Making the choice to prioritize his mental health wasn't easy, and what made it harder were the death rumors that began circulating. They were so "persistent" and "indelible," Steve recalled thinking it was a "cultural preference," so he "eventually just took the hint" and left the public eye and acting.

    Since stepping away from Blue's Clues, Steve said he had a "long period of healing," but it took a lot of time. It wasn't until the death of his father in 2015 that he "really started to take things seriously" and he explained that his "life became so much more manageable."

    Then, something incredible happened. In 2021, Nick Jr. posted a video featuring Steve to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary. The video went viral, gaining millions of views in a matter of hours, as fans of the show were overjoyed to find out Steve was doing well after all these years.

    Steve spoke directly to the audience — of, let's be honest, grown adults — explaining how college and adult life is hard, and while he left very suddenly, he never forgot any of us.

    So about that time Steve went off to college… #BluesClues25

    Nick Jr. / Via Twitter: @nickjr

    Today, Steve has returned to the Blue's Clues universe in a few ways. He's appeared on episodes of Blue's Clues and You, the new revival series on Paramount+, and he'll appear in the upcoming film Blue's Big City Adventure.

    Steve and the other two hosts of Blue's Clues on the blue carpet of Blue's Big City Adventure premiere

    Looking back on his time on the original series and what he wished he knew then, Steve told Variety, "I would have been able to throw my arms around the role, and relax into it a little more. Because now, when I look back, all I see is what an impossible gift that was."

    He ended the interview with this simple message, which honestly made me tear up: "Steve became my role model. Because he was not afraid to ask for help."

    Steve sitting on the floor with Blue

    You can read Steve Burns' entire profile with Variety here.

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.