Johnny Carson had retired from the Tonight Show on May 22, 1992, and while he left open the possibility of further ventures, he made only a small handful of public appearances following his retirement.
His final appearance was a silent one. The entire week of the appearance, the show had had the "Top Ten" list delivered by Calvert DeForest (In his role as Larry "Bud" Melman). Each DeForest would claim to be a different famous person. The last night that this gag was done, Letterman said that Carson was going to be delivering the Top Ten List, DeForest delivered the list in keeping with the running gag, but upon delivery, Letterman asserted that it was the wrong list, and asked that the "real" list be brought to him. It was then, that Johnny Carson emerged, with the band playing "Johnny's Theme" from the Tonight Show." Carson received a standing ovation from the audience, and asked David Letterman to sit behind Letterman's desk. After a few moments sitting behind the desk, Carson left the stage without having said a single word to the audience. Carson later indicated that he was suffering acute laryngitis.
Johnny Carson, made no further appearances on TV up to his death on January 23, 2005.