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12 best moments from American Idol‘s last episode ever

After 15 seasons, American Idol graced our television screens for one last time Thursday night. I was there in the audience to experience the show’s series finale in person. Check out 12 of the final show’s best moments

1. Simon Cowell made a surprise return

Simon Cowell made a surprise return
Image: Giphy

How could Cowell miss the Idol finale? He couldn’t! He surprised fellow original judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, plus Ryan Seacrest on stage, resulting in all sorts of Idol feels.

2. William Hung made an appearance

William Hung made an appearance
Image: Giphy

Before there were viral video stars like the “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife” guy, there was Hung on American Idol. Hung delivered the best Idol surprise of all time with an epic rendition of his audition song, “She Bangs.” The finale really wouldn’t have been complete without him.

More: 9 worst auditions in American Idol history

3. Season 1 host Brian Dunkleman returned

Season 1 host Brian Dunkleman returned
Image: Giphy

Remember when Ryan Seacrest co-hosted Season 1 of American Idol with Dunkleman? Dunkleman finally made his triumphant return to the Idol stage, and it was hilarious.

4. Carrie Underwood performed, and it was flawless

Underwood joined judge Keith Urban for a brief performance, but then returned to the stage at the end of the show to sing “Something in the Water,” and it was glorious.

5. Kelly Clarkson treated us to all of her hits

Clarkson performed a medley of her greatest hits. While the performance was pre-taped a few weeks ago, because Clarkson is about to give birth to her second child, it was still amazing.

6. Jennifer Lopez performed her new single

Lopez performed her new song “Ain’t Your Mama” and “Let’s Get Loud.” She slayed it, reminding us all that she’s a true queen.

7. The rockers brought the flames and seriously rocked out

The former Idol contestants in attendance were divided by genre for their performances, but the best group may have been the rockers. Chris Daughtry, Caleb Johnson, Bo Bice, Constantine Morales and James Durbin brought the house down, complete with pyrotechnics.

8. “Pants on the Ground” guy made a cameo

Larry Platt
Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The “Pants on the Ground” guy is no William Hung, but when it comes to viral Idol moments, he probably comes in second place for most memorable.

9. Jessica Sanchez shined

Jessica Sanchez shined
Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Sanchez sounded heavenly singing “The Prayer.” It was one of the best vocal performances of the night!

10. Jordin Sparks sang “No Air” with Justin Guarini

Jordin Sparks sang "No Air" with Justin Guarini
Image: FOX

Sparks was all over the Idol finale. She even sang her hit “No Air” with Guarini stepping in for Chris Brown.

More: My American Idol obsession has shaped my entire adult life

11. 5 former American Idol winners paid tribute to David Bowie

Phillip Phillips, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen, David Cook and Nick Fradiani performed a stellar tribute to Bowie.

12. Trent Harmon was crowned the final American Idol

La’Porsha Renae was the front-runner all season long, but on Wednesday night, Harmon’s performance of Sia’s “Chandelier” changed America’s minds. He came out fighting and won the title. Harmon dropped to his knees when Seacrest announced his name.

More: Jennifer Lopez gets choked up after moving American Idol performance

American Idol became an integral part of American culture and changed television, as well as the music industry, forever.

When you think of American Idol, what Idol moment sticks out in your minds? I’ll always remember Underwood singing “Alone” by Heart. After her performance, Cowell predicted she would win the show and go on to sell more albums than any other previous Idol winner. He called it!

American Idol told stories of everyday people achieving extraordinary things. It inspired people to believe in their own dreams. And the pursuit of dreams is arguably what being an American is all about.

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