Blake Shelton leaving ‘The Voice’ means the show is now doomed

Blake Shelton — the resident cowboy on “The Voice” since the first notes were sung in 2011 — is about to have his last rodeo.

That’s right: The country superstar — who has presided in one of those ridiculous red chairs for every season of NBC’s singing-competition juggernaut — said he will be leaving the show after next spring’s season.

“I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step away from ‘The Voice’ after Season 23,” Shelton, 46, said in a statement posted on Instagram last night.

To say that it is the end of an era is putting it mildly. Shelton has been the honky-tonk heart of “The Voice” since it began. And it’s hard not to see his departure as the beginning of the end for the show.

Blake Shelton on the set of "The Voice."Blake Shelton is the only judge to appear in all 22 seasons of “The Voice,” but the 23rd will be his last.Tyler Golden/NBC via Getty Image

Shelton’s consistent presence throughout the years provided a comforting stability as “The Voice” has had a revolving door of other judges — from Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus to Usher and Alicia Keys to Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande — sitting in the three chairs to his right.

No doubt, he was The Voice you could depend on.

Shelton’s folksy charm — well-oiled with many an adult beverage on the set — carried the show even more after his fellow O.G. judge Adam Levine left in 2019. The long-running bromance that Shelton had with the Maroon 5 frontman was what kept fans coming back to “The Voice” more than any of the singers whose names viewers don’t remember.

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton on the set of "The Voice."The bromance between Adam Levine and Shelton was a highlight of “The Voice” for 16 seasons.NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

Indeed, “The Voice” — which has failed to produce one big star in 11 years — was always more about the judges than the contestants. And none more so than Shelton, whose team has brought home the trophy more than any other, winning six times.

And by all accounts, Shelton has been more involved than any other judge in actually continuing to mentor and support both his winning singers and other team members after their time on “The Voice” was over. He wasn’t just faking the feelings for the cameras — he was putting the real in this reality show.

Of course, Shelton also gave “The Voice” its own real-life love story when he fell in love with his fellow judge — and future wife — Gwen Stefani on the set of the show while the two were both nursing wounded hearts from their respective divorces (his from country singer Miranda Lambert, hers from Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale).

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton on the set of "The Voice."Shelton fell in love with Gwen Stefani on the set of “The Voice.”NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Shelton and Stefani are getting one final season together on “The Voice,” along with John Legend and Camila Cabello. Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and One Direction’s Niall Horan will join Shelton for his last hurrah next spring.

“This show has changed my life in every way for the better and it will always feel like home to me,” Shelton said.

But it’s hard to imagine “The Voice” feeling like home without him.

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