Steve Burns Returns to BLUE’S CLUES After Battle with Depression

Photo from Steve Burns’ Instagram

Steve Burns Returns to BLUE’S CLUES After Battle with Depression

By Movieguide® Staff

Steve Burns, the iconic host of 90s children’s show BLUE’S CLUES recently opened up about his battle with depression, which he discovered after he left the show to go to college.

Currently, Steve lives in a cabin in the Catskill Mountains, but said that he has never felt more connected.

“I’m most often alone up here, but I’m very rarely lonely,” Steve, 49, told Variety. “There’s much more of me to share here than there was in New York City. I was deflecting all of the stimulus at all times.”

“I grew up in the Pennsylvania version of this,” he added of his childhood. “My mother always said that as soon as she turned on a vacuum cleaner, I would be like, ‘Nope, I’m out,’ and go into the woods and build a fort.”

Steve, who drew inspiration from Fred Rogers, provided entertainment for children across the U.S. from 1996 to 2006 and taught them simple lessons about life and education.

“With me and you and my dog, Blue, we can do anything that we wanna do,” he would say on the Nickelodeon Jr. show.

Until one day, Steve made his exit from the show and Donovan Patton took over.

Despite rumors about Steve’s disappearance, the host said that the reason for his exit was simply because it was time to move on.

However, the legendary TV personality recently announced his return to the franchise in the upcoming movie, BLUE’S BIG CITY ADVENTURE premiered on Paramount+ on Nov. 18.

“I’ve never enjoyed being Steve more than I do now,” Steve said. “I get to wear a trenchcoat. It’s like Grover-meets-Columbo — a clown character. That’s really freeing somehow.”

However, leaving the show and moving to the mountains happened on different terms. In 2015, Steve’s father died and the actor pulled away from the public scene to mourn his loss.

“I cared for him while he was dying of cancer, and it changed me,” Steve said. “It made me think about things I hadn’t thought about, like legacy and the value of the things we’ve left behind. It forced me to reevaluate and take much more seriously my mental health. And New York City never was much good for my mental health.”

Steve lived in Brooklyn for most of his career. While mainstream media said that Steve had left the show out of anger in 2001, the actor revealed that he enjoyed every second of his time with the BLUE’S CLUES team, but was fighting a deperession he did not know about at the time.

“‘Blue’s Clues,’ ostensibly, is a one-on-one situation where I’m talking to you. And it felt real to me,” he said.

Steve learned, soon after his father’s death, that behind his happy, self-deprecating humor was depression.

“I didn’t know it yet, but I was the happiest depressed person in North America,” he explained. “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. 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. After I left ‘Blue’s Clues,’ there was a long period of healing,” he added. “It wasn’t until the death of my father that I really started a period of healing. It wasn’t until the death of my father that I really started to take things seriously, and my life became so much more manageable.”

Despite his depression, Steve said he still sees his time on the show as a gift.

“When I look back, all I see is what an impossible gift that was,” he said.

Although Steve came into the public eye now and again to address rumors about his death, they continued to spread.

“I was under the working assumption that most of y’all thought I was dead,” he said. “That rumor was so persistent and so indelible that I assumed it was a cultural preference. I eventually just took the hint. I kept my head down and left public life.”

But in 2021, Steve said that he could not help but notice that millions of people were asking his whereabouts.

So, he returned, in a touching tribute to BLUE’S CLUES 25th anniversary.

“You remember how when we were younger, we used to run around and hang out with Blue … and then I left and we didn’t see each other for a really long time? Can we just talk about that? Because I realize that was kind of abrupt… I just wanted to say, I never forgot you. Ever.”

“Everyone wants to feel seen and heard,” Steve said of the video. “I think it punched through because it was about respectful, active listening — a more direct conversation than you’re used to seeing on your screen.”

Ahead of his new movie, Steve now travels to schools to discuss mental health.

“It’s very on brand for me to not have the answers. Steve was the guy who needed you. He doesn’t appear like a role model. He had difficulty differentiating between shapes and colors,” Steve joked, adding. “But Steve became my role model. Because he was not afraid to ask for help.”

Movieguide® has yet to review BLUE’S BIG CITY ADVENTURE and cannot advise on its content.