After hosting The Daily Show (1996) for eight weeks, John Oliver's reviews were so overwhelmingly positive that he was offered a job from HBO to do a weekly talk show, which they were not planning to do until they saw Oliver host.
Oliver insisted on 100% creative and editorial control before agreeing to do the program, which HBO granted.
HBO initially planned on the program being on five nights a week. However, Oliver thought the pace of a daily program was taxing and thought one night a week would give them a better shot at a higher quality show.
Periodically (usually during weeks without a new HBO episode), the show's official YouTube channel adds a web exclusive clip similar to the two to five minute pieces that open each full episode.
Oliver insisted on no correspondents or co hosts, as he did not want the show to be a clone of The Daily Show
Each episode's title screens includes a faux Latin motto referencing a recent event. (Further details about each reference/event can be found in the trivia section for that episode.)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014) won the 2018 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category.
When covering the topic of robocalls in March 2019, especially the ridiculous lengths people had to go through to avoid them or stop receiving them, Oliver used the very FCC regulations which allowed them to mushroom into the massive problem they had become in the United States, to begin robocalling all of the FCC chairs personal phone numbers with a ridiculously scripted robocall, followed by bagpipe music. Per the very FCC regulations the chairs had approved, in order for the calls to stop, each individual FCC chair would separately have to send an official letter to Oliver's office address, which he hid within quickly scrolling small text on the screen during a random part of the segment, requesting these calls stop immediately. He stated that the setup for the robocalls was shockingly easy, taking just one of his IT technicians on staff less than 15 minutes to set everything up with current telecommunications technology, and on a minimal budget. He also mentioned during the segment that while tens of millions of dollars in fines have been levied against companies violating robocalling regulations, only a minute fraction has ever been collected by the FCC in recent years, effectively giving companies free reign to continue unabated.