The Office changed forever when Steve Carell left the show.
After playing Michael Scott for seven glorious seasons, Carell bid farewell to his Dunder Mifflin family in the emotional 22nd episode of Season 7, titled “Goodbye, Michael.”
For years, fans were largely left to wonder about the circumstances surrounding Carell’s departure. But thanks to Andy Greene’s The Office (The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History) we recently learned that Carell didn’t really want to leave the show. Michael’s goodbye was the unfortunate result of poor communication on the network’s end.
On the latest episode of Spotify’s An Oral History of The Office podcast, host Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) chatted with the show’s writers and cast members about Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, and the company’s failure to renew Carell’s contract. And Carell opened up about what it was like to leave the show and say goodbye to the cast, crew, and beloved character of Michael Scott.
“It was almost more than I bargained for…I had [goodbye] scenes with everyone in the cast and it was emotional torture… it was like just fraught with emotion and, and joy and sadness and nostalgia,” Carell said, reminiscing about his final Season 7 episode. “But it was also really beautiful. I’d like treasure just doing that episode because it did allow me to kind of have a finality with everybody.”
How Steve Carell wanted to send off Michael Scott
Though Carell might not have been ready to put away his World’s Best Boss mug just yet, he did offer a lot of input when it came time to wrap up Michael’s storyline.
“Six months before I talked to Greg about how I wanted Michael to go out, like what I thought sort of final arc would be. And the idea that I pitched was, you know, obviously he and Holly would be together,” Carell explained. “But I said specifically on his last day, I thought that there should be a party being planned, but that he should basically trick people into thinking he was leaving the next day… Because I just thought that that would be the most, um, elegant representation of his growth as a human being that he, because Michael lives to be celebrated.”
“You think that’s all he wants. He wants to be the center of attention… And he, he wants pats on the back. He wants people to think he’s funny and charming and all of those things,” Carell continued. “But the fact that he’d walk away from his big tribute, his big sendoff, and be able to in a very personal way, say goodbye to each character. That to me, felt like it would resonate.”
The cast on Steve’s departure
Though losing the character of Michael Scott was a huge blow to the show, the cast and crew feel that having to say goodbye to Steve was a much bigger loss.
“He was the leader for so long and he kept our egos in check. He made sure that the show was the star, even though clearly he was the star,” Kate Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, said.
“It felt like the end of an era,” John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert, echoed. “It felt like the, the end of something more than even losing Steve or losing Michael, it felt like the end of our show in a way, or that evolution of our show. It’s like when you graduate college, your life isn’t over. But that version of your life will never come back.”
Krasinski went on to share that he cried “so hard” when filming his final scene with Carell. “I also remember him crying, and I was not expecting that…the energy in that room was so thick and palpable that when they called action or go ahead, I remember Steve teared up right away,” Krasinski said. “And that was so unlike him, not that he was emotionless, but it was like, it was so unlike him to let real life bleed into the moment… I think I actually remember the actual number was 17 takes of not even speaking, just, just dribbling crying.”
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode to hear more about Carell’s departure and what it was like filming “Goodbye, Michael.”
You can stream episodes of and follow along with the podcast on Spotify.