On Wednesday night, Conan O'Brien returned to NBC for the first time since he abruptly left the network in January 2010. Fittingly, O'Brien dropped into 30 Rock to visit "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," the franchise he vacated in order to host "The Tonight Show" for seven months, and picked up something he "left in the couch" -- a puppet of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
Although O'Brien's production company sold a short-lived drama to NBC and he appeared briefly on a "Saturday Night Live" retrospective, this marks the first time he has made a live appearance, and certainly the first time he referenced his departure from the network.
On his new show "Conan," O'Brien is forbidden from mentioning Triumph, along with other intellectual property from "Late Night" and "The Tonight Show," as part of the terms of his separation from NBC.
O'Brien, who is currently in New York City to prepare for a week of shows taping at The Beacon Theater at the end of the month, follows the lead of his own "Late Night" predecesor David Letterman, who was a guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" to support the new show after his own bitter falling out with NBC.
In this clip, O'Brien unexpectedly drops into the show, much to the delight of the studio audience. He says he just wanted to check out his "old studio" (although Conan actually shot his show down the hall). He gives a shout-out to Questlove (who he called "Max," after his old drummer Max Weinberg) before collecting Triumph and leaving.
This clip joins only four other mentions of O'Brien on NBC's website, which scrubbed nearly all mentions of the 16-year "Late Night" host after the network reinstalled Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show."