Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
It’s official. Greg Daniels, executive producer and showrunner of The Office, said at today’s TCA that Steve Carell would not make a re-appearance in the last season or the final episode of the show’s nine-season run. Daniels said that Carell “was very much of the opinion that the ‘Goodbye Michael’ episode and story arc leading up to it was the goodbye to the fans and the show”. This final season, the producer said, “is the goodbye that the rest of the show gets to have.”
Daniels said viewers should not expect every detail of 9 seasons to be wrapped up in the final episode, which does not yet have a completed script and is still at the table-read stage. He said next week’s episode is “the beginning of the end” of the 24-episode season. Daniels would not reveal any plot spoilers but said that one character is fired in Episode 15.
He added that the finale will be one hour. Ken Kwapis, who directed the first episode of the show, will be back to direct the last one. Daniels said some series regulars and guest stars may return, including Mindy Kaling.
During the panel, cast member Rainn Wilson reminisced about the years of coming to work on the set where today’s session was held — located in a modest warehouse district in Panorama City. He said at the beginning of production the actors sat around at lunch wondering what it would be like if the show got picked up for even a second season. “It’s so weird, 9 years later, to have that lunch coming true,” Wilson said.
Wilson called the cast a family that had “grown up together” and even “fought a little bit, not like [the cast of] Grey’s Anatomy.” What the actor says he’ll miss most is the innocence of the “kids” who are now “giant megalomaniac TV stars”.
Daniels said the decision to end the show after 9 seasons “was made by pretty much everybody who is a producer now, which includes a lot of the main cast.” He said many contracts were up in Season 8 so there were discussions about going on for one more season. Daniels said the desire for all was to be able to tie up story lines for a satisfying Season 9 ending. “But we were still doing very well for NBC, I think they’d probably have us back for another year,” he said.
(After the panel, Daniels confirmed to Deadline that he had received no push of any kind from NBC to end the show. “I don’t understand the economics of TV at all”, he said, but added that the show’s position as a part of NBC’s Thursday night comedy block and its strong viewership on DVR leads him to predict NBC would have been happy to keep the show on the air).
Daniels said it’s nice to be able to plan the end of the show because it gives writers a chance to tie up loose ends on story lines that have been part of the show since the beginning. “You couldn’t do if you just kept on going and going until you got canceled,” he said.
Daniels said he chose to return to the show as showrunner because “I couldn’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t be directing what was happening at the end,” adding: “That happened to me on King Of The Hill.” He called his connection with The Office “more emotional than any other show I’ve ever had.”