The original title of the show was "These Friends of Mine".
Many episodes opened with Ellen DeGeneres introducing a performer who was playing the theme song that week while she held up a sign with the name of the show. Acts such as Sharleen Spiteri from the band Texas and ZZ Top played the theme song.
The show underwent major changes between the first and third seasons. Though it was always fairly highly rated, test audiences responded more strongly to supporting characters than they did to the main cast. Most of the main cast was dropped in the second season (except Arye Gross) and the character of Audrey, who had previously only been in one episode, became a regular, as did Joe.
The character of Audrey was dramatically re-written when she became a major cast member. In the first season she was in only one episode, as a character Ellen was long-time friends with but didn't like because she was always pessimistic and complaining. But by the end of the second season she was portrayed as increasingly chipper, upbeat and constantly optimistic
After the 2000 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "New Moon Rising," in which regular character Willow comes out as a lesbian and chooses to stay with her girlfriend Tara, aired, a group of internet board posters sent "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon an engraved toaster to thank him for the storyline. This was a reference to the "coming-out" episode of "Ellen" (1994), (a show on which longtime Buffy writer Jane Espenson had also worked) in which there had been a running joke about the GLBT movement awarding every newly out person a toaster for "joining."
While Portia de Rossi Degeneres was a guest on Oprah in 2010, Oprah told Portia that when Oprah played the therapist on the "coming out" episode of Ellen, Oprah got more hate mail about that minor appearance than she had ever gotten during her entire previous career as a talk-show host and actress.
This marks 'Ayre Gross'' final appearance in the series.
Although this episode first aired during Season 3, it (along with "The Mugging") was originally filmed during Season 1. These two episodes do not appear on the Season 3 DVD set, but both can be found as "bonus episodes" on the Season 1 DVD set.
Although this episode first aired during Season 3, it (along with "The Tape", #1.7) was originally filmed during Season 1, with the production code as #1.4. These two episodes do not appear on the Season 3 DVD set, but both can be found as "bonus episodes" on the Season 1 DVD set.
The character of Ed Billik's last name comes from the series' casting director Tammara Billik.
The show became famous because the lead character came out as a gay woman during the fourth season. The episode where she came out, called the "Puppy" episode (4.22) was the highest rated one the show ever aired and won an Emmy for writing. The episode had guest turns by Oprah Winfrey, 'k.d. Lang', Billy Bob Thornton, Demi Moore, Melissa Etheridge but no puppy.
"The Puppy Episode" (#4.22-23) was so called because, in the weeks before it aired, DeGeneres teased reporters looking for a scoop about the character's coming out by claiming that all that would happen in the episode would be Ellen getting a puppy. DeGeneres also said things like, "Yes, the rumors are true; we'll be revealing that my character is Llll...ebanese. No, we're adding a new character named Les Bian."