‘The Office’: Why Steve Carell’s Role in the Series Finale Was so Small

The Office is easily one of the best comedies in TV history. A large part of what made the show so incredible was the talented cast. The colorful, ensemble, cast (some of which doubled as writers) helped to build the world of Dunder Mifflin. Leading the pack for the first seven seasons was Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott. Michael was the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton and was equal parts endearing and bumbling idiot.

Steve Carell cast member of The Office
Steve Carell | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Steve Carell was responsible for one of the best characters in ‘The Office’

Fans of The Office were devastated by Carell’s departure at the end of the seventh season. Most people assumed that he left because his contract was up and he wanted to pursue the various other opportunities that were coming his way. Of course, we now know that Carell never wanted to leave the show. In fact, it was the NBC executives that dropped the ball on renewing his contract. Still, no one can fault Carell for his decision to leave. Ultimately, his departure gave way for new storylines for other members of the cast.

‘The Office’ cast denied claims that Carell would return

Though Carell left two seasons prior to The Office finale, fans were hopeful that he would join his former cast members for the series finale. But, things weren’t looking good. Carell as well as other cast members, and the show’s executive producer, Greg Daniels, all denied that he would be returning for the show’s final farewell. TV Line reported that during a press conference, Carell didn’t want to return for fear of overshadowing the narrative.

“I think Steve felt, and I agree, that the ‘Goodbye, Michael’ episode was his goodbye and he didn’t want to overshadow the ending that all the other characters deserved,” Daniels said at the time. Of course, we now know that this was all a ruse that Carell, Daniels, and the rest of The Office cast was in on. In fact, having Carell return for the series finale was always part of the plan. However, everyone involved agreed that surprising viewers with Carell, would be the best way to handle it.

Fans wanted to see more of Michael Scott in the series finale

“I lied. I lied for months to the press, to almost everyone, really. And I felt terribly for the cast and for Greg Daniels, because they all lied, too,” Carell recalled about denying claims that he would return for The Office series finale. Of course, Carell did return, instantly delivering the pitch-perfect joke that fans were longing for. But, despite his wonderful performance, many fans were upset that his role in The Office series finale was far too small. They wanted to see more of Michael and hear what he’d been up to in the last few years.

Why Carell’s role in the finale was so small

Fans may have been disappointed, but a small role was exactly what Carell wanted. Out of respect for the cast members, he didn’t want to overshadow what the other actors had built in his absence. “I didn’t want it to be a big thing. I did it out of respect for the show and for the actors. My only hope with it was I didn’t want it to be about Michael coming back. I didn’t want the story to be about him in any way. I wanted it to be more of a tip of the hat to the show,” Carell recalled. Carell certainly achieved his goal here and we’re so happy that he chose to return. The Office series finale certainly wouldn’t have been the same without him.

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