American Idol: Paula Abdul fights back tears seeing past contestants return during The Great Idol Reunion... and Laine Hardy makes an appearance in clip taped before his arrest

Paula Abdul fought back tears when she was reunited with former American Idol contestants on Monday during The Great Idol Reunion special on ABC.

The 59-year-old singer and dancer was part of the original American Idol lineup on Fox that also included Randy Jackson, 65, and Simon Cowell, 62, as judges and Ryan Seacrest, 47, as host.

Ryan after returning from a commercial break was approached by current judges Lionel Richie, 72, and Luke Bryan, 45, who informed him that people were sitting in their seats.

Reunion special: Paula Abdul fought back tears when she was reunited with former American Idol contestants on Monday during The Great Idol Reunion special on ABC

Reunion special: Paula Abdul fought back tears when she was reunited with former American Idol contestants on Monday during The Great Idol Reunion special on ABC

‘The lady said she was here first and the guy said something about a dog,’ Luke said.

‘Hold on for a second,’ Ryan said. ‘It’s Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. It all makes sense now.’

They were joined by current judge Katy Perry, 37, as the old guard embraced the new faces of the franchise.

‘One big happy Idol family,’ said Ryan who pointed out there was an extra seat ‘in case anybody else shows up’.

Recent arrest: Laine Hardy, 21, was recently arrested and appeared on the show that was previously recorded

Recent arrest: Laine Hardy, 21, was recently arrested and appeared on the show that was previously recorded

Original crew: The 59-year-old singer and dancer was part of the original American Idol lineup on Fox that also included Randy Jackson, 65, and Simon Cowell, 62, as judges and Ryan Seacrest, 47, as host

Original crew: The 59-year-old singer and dancer was part of the original American Idol lineup on Fox that also included Randy Jackson, 65, and Simon Cowell, 62, as judges and Ryan Seacrest, 47, as host

He was subtly referencing Simon who did not make an appearance on the reunion show.

Ryan asked Paula what it was like to look back on the legacy of the show.

‘Well, I’m most proud, most humbled by having an experience of a lifetime and being able to see it continue to grow and do well and to see …like, I’m crying seeing all the contestants, who are like my babies. Babies! Babies! It’s beautiful,’ Paula said.

Milestone season: Paula and Randy Jackson sat with Katy Perry during the celebration of 20 seasons of American Idol

Milestone season: Paula and Randy Jackson sat with Katy Perry during the celebration of 20 seasons of American Idol

Paula and Randy then introduced 2007 winner Jordin Sparks and 2003 champion Ruben Studdard who performed a duet of I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by George Michael and Aretha Franklin.

Jordin and Ruben delivered a stellar performance that earned a standing ovation from judges past and present.

‘This is wild,’ Katy said after Jordin and Ruben said hello to all of them.

Past champions: Paula and Randy then introduced 2007 winner Jordin Sparks and 2003 champion Ruben Studdard who performed a duet of I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by George Michael and Aretha Franklin

Past champions: Paula and Randy then introduced 2007 winner Jordin Sparks and 2003 champion Ruben Studdard who performed a duet of I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by George Michael and Aretha Franklin

Standing ovation: Jordin and Ruben delivered a stellar performance that earned a standing ovation from judges past and present

Standing ovation: Jordin and Ruben delivered a stellar performance that earned a standing ovation from judges past and present

‘Know what’s crazy?,’ Paula said as her voice cracked with emotion. ‘Is I remember like it was yesterday, you walking into the room to audition. Oh, my God. This is like …,’ Paula said as she pressed her fingers to her temples.

‘Are you crying, Paula?,’ Katy asked.

‘I’m trying not to,’ Paula admitted.

Like yesterday: 'Know what's crazy?,' Paula said as her voice cracked with emotion. 'Is I remember like it was yesterday, you walking into the room to audition. Oh, my God. This is like ...,' Paula said as she pressed her fingers to her temples

Like yesterday: ‘Know what’s crazy?,’ Paula said as her voice cracked with emotion. ‘Is I remember like it was yesterday, you walking into the room to audition. Oh, my God. This is like …,’ Paula said as she pressed her fingers to her temples

‘I want to hug you so bad,’ Jordin told her.

Randy said that he also remembered Jordin’s audition and Lionel noted that he was on the show as a guest when Ruben was competing.

The one-hour special opened with season 17 winner Laine Hardy, 21, performing a duet with fifth-place finisher Laci Kaye Booth.

Fond memory: Randy said that he also remembered Jordin's audition and Lionel noted that he was on the show as a guest when Ruben was competing

Fond memory: Randy said that he also remembered Jordin’s audition and Lionel noted that he was on the show as a guest when Ruben was competing

TV history: Ryan, Lionel, Paula, Katy, Randy and Luke got together at the judges' table

TV history: Ryan, Lionel, Paula, Katy, Randy and Luke got together at the judges’ table

Their performance of Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was filmed in April before Laine’s recent arrest by the Louisiana State University Police Department.

Laine was shown with a ‘Previously Recorded’ message to viewers before their performance.

The special also featured duet by season seven and season eight winners David Cook and Kris Allen, season 10 winner and runner-up Scotty McReery and Lauren Alaina and season 19 runner-up Willie Spence and third-place finisher Grace Kinstler.

Previously recorded: The one-hour special opened with season 17 winner Laine Hardy, 21, performing a duet with fifth place finisher Laci Kaye Booth that was filmed before his recent arrest

Previously recorded: The one-hour special opened with season 17 winner Laine Hardy, 21, performing a duet with fifth place finisher Laci Kaye Booth that was filmed before his recent arrest

Duet performance: Their performance of Stop Draggin' My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was filmed in April before Laine's recent arrest by the Louisiana State University Police Department.

Duet performance: Their performance of Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was filmed in April before Laine’s recent arrest by the Louisiana State University Police Department.

Teaming up: The special also featured duet by season seven and season eight winners David Cook and Kris Allen

Teaming up: The special also featured duet by season seven and season eight winners David Cook and Kris Allen

Dynamic duo: Season 19 runner-up Willie Spence and third-place finisher Grace Kinstler sang together

Dynamic duo: Season 19 runner-up Willie Spence and third-place finisher Grace Kinstler sang together

Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson also sang together.

They emerged as a couple from the competition and delivered a smooth rendition of the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song Islands In The Stream that showed their chemistry.

David Archuleta from season seven also returned to surprise four of his fans who cried over his loss.

Nice hair: Ryan styled his hair like he did 20 years ago while talking to Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina after their duet

Nice hair: Ryan styled his hair like he did 20 years ago while talking to Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina after their duet

Cute couple: Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson also sang together

Cute couple: Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson also sang together

He was unable to sing due to recent vocal surgery and spoke using a voice app.

Ryan spoke about a person whose name is ‘synonymous with American Idol’ in another apparent reference to Simon, but instead introduced William Hung who reprised his popular performance of the Ricky Martin song She Bangs.

American Idol will return on Sunday on ABC with the final seven contestants performing.

Still banging: Ryan spoke about a person whose name is 'synonymous with American Idol' in another apparent reference to Simon, but instead introduced William Hung who reprised his popular performance of the Ricky Martin song She Bangs

Still banging: Ryan spoke about a person whose name is ‘synonymous with American Idol’ in another apparent reference to Simon, but instead introduced William Hung who reprised his popular performance of the Ricky Martin song She Bangs

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