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Why Blake Shelton Left The Voice After Season 23

The cowboy explained why May 2023 marked his last appearance on the show. 

By Jessica White & McKenzie Jean-Philippe

The self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. of The Voice has retired his red chair. Yes, that's right: Blake Shelton chose to step away from his duties as a Coach after 23 seasons. 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of The Voice on Monday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

Shelton had been on the show from its debut in 2011, as a part of the original panel of Coaches with Adam LevineChristina Aguilera, and CeeLo Green. As Shelton made a home on the show, he proceeded to offer his musical expertise to dozens of talented Artists.

The country star proudly holds the honor of claiming the most victories in the show's history, with nine wins for Team Blake: Season 2 (Jermaine Paul); Season 3 (Cassadee Pope); Season 4 (Danielle Bradbery); Season 7 (Craig Wayne Boyd; Season 11 (Sundance Head); Season 13 (Chloe Kohanski); Season 18 (Todd Tilghman); Season 20 (Cam Anthony); and Season 22 (Bryce Leatherwood). 

Shelton also met his wife, Gwen Stefani, while working on the show in Season 7, which aired in 2014. The couple began dating in 2016, got engaged in 2020, and tied the knot in July 2021.

Shelton and Stefani have since been thriving as a sweet family of five, which played a role in his decision to take a step away from The Voice after 12 years. 

Why did Blake Shelton leave The Voice?

Shelton left The Voice in May 2023 to make more time for family — specifically in his role as a stepfather to Stefani's children

“I think being a stepdad has changed my perspective in that I’m not the first person that I think about anymore," he told Access Hollywood in January 2023. "Even to the small little things when you go, ‘I think I’ll do this,’ the very next thought is always, ‘Well, wait a minute. How’s that going work?' Or, 'What will they think?' Or, 'How will that affect a schedule?'"  

“I think the only way for me to really do that right is to step away from being committed to something like The Voice that demands a lot of your time," he continued. "There’s no way around it. If you’re going to do it and do it right, you have to be 150 percent in. And I just feel like those days are behind me for now. I got a more important job."  

RELATED: See Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani's Epic Love Story in 11 Gorgeous Pics 

His wife echoed a similar sentiment in an interview with Extra.

“I think that Blake — I don’t know, I think he just wants more time, you know what I mean? I don’t know that people realize, if he’s doing two seasons a year, right? In between that, he’s touring," she said. "So he actually has two teams at the same time; at a certain point, they overlap. So it’s a lot of brain power, it’s a lot of time away from the family, those kinds of things. I think he just got to a point where he just wants time in his ranch, like time to just do the other things that he loves to do."  

“I’m excited for him because we have lives outside of work, and it’s a really good life, it's really fun, and we have so much fun!" Stefani continued. "We have Oklahoma, which is something I never knew I needed and wanted, you know? We planted a garden, we do all kinds of fun stuff. So we’re looking forward to doing some of that family stuff together. It's gonna be great." 

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton together.

When did Blake Shelton leave The Voice?

Shelton exited the show following Season 23 of The Voice. In his final season, Shelton duked it out against fellow Coaches Niall HoranChance the Rapper, and Kelly Clarkson.  

Shelton used Season 23 as an opportunity to reflect on his Voice tenure, and was particularly emotional after hitting his last button for Grace West during the Blind Auditions.

RELATED: Everything to Know About The Voice Season 23 

"I gotta tell you, I'm sitting here talking about Grace right now. My heart swells to think about my journey on this show, 23 seasons, and for the last Artist for me to hit this button for," he said at the time. "I didn't let it take over. I can't show any emotion, but I did get a little bit shook up." 

"I don't normally get wrapped up in these moments, but when I hit my button for Grace, who ended up being the last person that I'll ever do that for, I was like, 'Oh!'" Shelton told Host Carson Daly during an episode of the show. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I just said that.' I kind of got emotional, you know? And I knew coming into this I was trying to take all the moments in, and it's going by so fast. So when I said that out loud, it was, like, it became real." 

In May, he shared a video from his last-ever rehearsal on the set of The Voice. The crew members in the room were all smiles and waves, their love for Shelton quite palpable. 

"Just wrapped up 23 seasons of filming rehearsals with all these dipsticks!" he playfully captioned an Instagram Story. "What a ride."

Blake Shelton in the judges chair on The Voice.

How long was Blake Shelton a Coach on The Voice

Shelton was on the first panel of Coaches in 2011, when the show premiered, and left The Voice after 23 seasons. That's 12 years of his life — a fact he highlighted in his departure announcement.  

“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 said in a statement. “This show has changed my life in every way for the better, and it will always feel like home to me. It’s been a hell of a ride over these 12 years of chair turns, and I want to thank everyone at The Voice from NBC, every producer, the writers, musicians, crew and catering people; you are the best." 

He continued, "It takes a lot of work, passion, and adult beverages (Ha!) to pull off a live show twice a week. I’ve made lifelong bonds with Carson and every single one my fellow Coaches over the years, including my wife Gwen Stefani! I have to give a huge shoutout to the singers — the ‘Voices,’ who come on this stage season after season and amaze us with their talent, and a special thanks to those who chose me to be their Coach. Lastly, it’s about y’all, the fans, who watch and support these Artists, us Coaches, and everyone at The Voice who are chasing their dreams. It would not happen without you!" 

Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire from Season 1 of The Voice.

Is Blake Shelton retiring? 

Shelton may have walked away from his role as a Coach, but The Voice alum is not headed out to pasture. Shelton has been delivering hits since his rise to fame in 2001.

Shelton explored the next chapter of his career in a December 2022 interview with People, revealing his time in the music industry is far from over. 

"Walking away from music, you might as well just poison me or something," Shelton teased. "That's not something I can go without. I can't help it." 

RELATED: Songs Blake Shelton Has Wrote: Songwriting Career Recap 

"I'm really at a crossroads right now," Shelton said. "The country music lane is changing so rapidly, and there's some really good stuff out there. These young kids coming up, it's amazing to see the music that they're making and how creative they are." 

Shelton continued, "I'm enjoying watching what's happening and putting a song out once in a while. That's another reason that I'm excited to get some time back away from The Voice and concentrate more on, 'What kind of record do I want to make? Is it going to fit in? Do I care? Do I not care?' I got a lot to figure out." 

Blake Shelton singing on stage.

Originally published Sep 22, 2023.