‘The Office’: John Krasinski Is the Reason the Show Ended When It Did
The Office is a sitcom that ran for nine seasons on NBC. When Steve Carell left the role of Michael Scott in season 7, some fans didn’t see how the show could continue without him. Fortunately for many, The Office went on for two more seasons. The final episode aired in May 2013. Ironically, John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert on the series, is one of the main reasons that showrunners decided to wrap The Office up when they did.
The changing world of entertainment pushed Steve Carell out of ‘The Office’
When The Office was in its seventh season, the landscape of television was changing. Viewers were no longer tuning into a show when it aired — they were recording it to watch later or stream it on other platforms.
This change in viewership made network executives scared, mostly because they didn’t understand that viewers weren’t disinterested in The Office — they were just watching it in other ways.
As Ben Silverman detailed on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast, An Oral History of The Office, the press and television networks didn’t have the framework to support streaming services. What’s more, when Comcast purchased a controlling stake in NBC Universal in December 2009, no one could negotiate a contract to keep Carell around for the final two seasons of The Office.
“Once Michael Scott [left The Office], it [had] to become something different,” television critic Emily VanDerWerff said. “It never quite figured out how to become different in an interesting way. It’s a tricky thing to do when you have to replace the center of a show. I don’t think The Office managed it, but I don’t think any show ever has. You can’t do that.”
Much of The Office cast agreed.
The cast of ‘The Office’ didn’t like season 8
When Carell left the show, James Spader was replaced briefly by Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute. Later, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) became the regional manager for Dunder Mifflin Scranton in season 8.
“It [has] always disappointed me that we didn’t trust in our core office group enough to continue the show without bringing in what I think we thought we needed,” Jenna Fischer explained to Baumgartner.
She’s referring to the “big guest actors” showrunners brought in to fill Carell’s shoes. The likes of Will Ferrel, Will Arnett, Ray Romano, and even Spader, who were all contenders for the regional manager position. Fischer feels like “fear drove some [of those] decisions.”
John Krasinski is the reason ‘The Office’ ended after nine seasons
“Krasinski said, ‘Look, I think we need to do our last season,'” Greg Daniels recalled to Baumgartner. “He was the leader [in driving that decision].”
“I had a very honest conversation with Greg,” Krasinski explained. “He called me about season 9 and said, ‘What do you think?’ and I said, ‘You have to end the show.'”
For Krasinski, it wasn’t about negotiating contracts. It was about ending the show on the highest note possible before the network decided to end it for them.
“I remember that feeling of like, we don’t want to be taken out back…” Krasinski joked. “I don’t want to go behind the shed.”
Baumgartner agreed. “I remember being conflicted, but ultimately I felt like [ending the show] was the right decision.”
While the cast never wanted the show to end, they knew eventually they would start being offered different projects. Instead of having the cast leave one by one, they decided to end the show in the way that they did — thanks to Krasinski.