Steve Carell is back! Former 'The Office' star coming to 'The Simpsons' in November

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Fans of "The Office" have found their Thursday nights to be a little colder and darker since Steve Carell left the NBC sitcom near the end of Season 7. Even before Michael Scott went west with his bride-to-be, the impending departure of the show's undisputed star cast a pall over the weekly proceedings at Dunder Mifflin.

Even though Carell has treated his loyal fans to an occasional big-screen appearance, movies generally lack the expediency of a regular series, and "The Office" has certainly been the worse for his absence. Now, after more than a season away from the small screen, Carell will give a cameo performance. He won't be coming anywhere near Scranton, though, and you just might miss him if you don't listen carefully. Yes, in November, Carell is taking on the world of animation and making a guest "appearance" on Fox's "The Simpsons." For a man known for the cartoonish overreactions of Michael on "The Office," the new role seems like a natural fit.

According to, Carell will play Dan Gillick, Homer Simpson's bowling teammate in an episode titled "Penny-Wiseguys" set to air for the first time on Nov.18. The bowling is apparently just a subplot, though, as "Dan" turns out to be a little bit more complicated than his accountant outer shell would suggest. Dan actually does his bookkeeping (or is that bookmaking?) for Fat Tony, a local mob boss, and finds himself in the driver's seat when Fat Tony is called in for jury duty.

This plot definitely evokes shades of "The Office," where viewers can never really be sure how much of their favorite characters they're seeing on a weekly basis. Just what is it that Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) does at night, anyway, and why did Michael hate him so much? We may never know, but the speculation is delicious, and Dan Gillick promises to whet the appetite for such guess work.

While fans of Michael Scott will undoubtedly be disappointed by not actually catching a glimpse of Steve Carell on screen when he takes on animated form this month, it's still a step in the right direction. Carell has been famously resistant to suggestions that he might make a return to "The Office," however limited and fleeting, and his television appearances over the last year-and-a-half have been limited to the occasional talk-show tour to promote a movie. Now that he's back on the small screen, if just his voice, could it be possible that he will eventually find his way back to Scranton before the NBC staple finally runs its course?

Who knows, but if you close your eyes tight and listen really hard, you might just catch a tinge of Michael, "Simpsons" style.

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