Played by Rainn Wilson, Dwight was slightly sociopathic, sometimes violent, and yet strangely likable. For most fans, it’s incredible to think a spinoff series with Dwight at the helm didn’t work. But fans might be the reason the spinoff show seems a little far-fetched.
‘The Office’ spinoff ‘The Farm’ would have followed Dwight, Mose, and the rest of the Schrutes
Office fans know Schrute Farm well. So what better backdrop for a spinoff series than the land Dwight is so proud of owning? Paul Lieberstein, whom many know as Toby Flenderson, and Wilson worked on the spinoff, which was to premiere in 2013.
The Farm followed Dwight, Mose (Mike Schur), and the rest of the Schrutes as they ran their bed and breakfast on the historic plot of land. But when NBC passed on the pilot, showrunners had to think fast. Instead of tossing the footage they shot, they worked it into an episode of The Office.
‘The Farm’ is an episode of ‘The Office’ Season 9
Fortunately for Lieberstein, The Farm wasn’t a total loss. The footage was worked into the final season of The Office.
In the episode, titled “The Farm,” Dwight returns home for his Aunt Shirley’s funeral. There, he reunites with his pot-farming brother Jeb (Thomas Middleditch) and estranged sister Fannie (Majandra Delfino).
After discovering he will inherit his aunt’s farm, Dwight tries to convince his siblings to come back to their roots and help run it. In a subplot relevant to The Office, Dwight begins courting Esther (Nora Kirkpatrick) by throwing crow beaks at her feet at the end of the episode.
As he mentioned on Brian Baumgartner’s podcast The Office Deep Dive, Lieberstein wanted to see The Farm come to fruition. “Everyone was a character and pretty equal [on The Office],” Lieberstein said.
Seeing Dwight in his own show made sense to the writer and director. But Dwight’s literal change of heart might have been too much for some fans to believe.
An ‘Office’ spinoff about Dwight Schrute as the hero wouldn’t have worked
Fans of The Office know Dwight to be one of the most entertaining characters. But at his core, Dwight is an antagonist.
In “The Farm” episode, Lieberstein had Dwight play up his more redeeming qualities — something many fans and critics didn’t expect. While seeing another side of Dwight was appealing to audiences and even believable in the context of a single episode, the idea that Dwight would completely abandon his passion for Dunder Mifflin to run a farm wasn’t.
For years, Office fans watched Dwight devote his life to a paper company he hoped to manage one day. Having Dwight consider a life on the farm instead of achieving his ultimate goal is where The Farm risked losing fans.
To this day, it’s unclear why NBC didn’t give The Office spinoff series a shot. Ironically, Wilson was kind of glad the show didn’t get picked up.
“I thought it was a really fun idea to be out on Dwight’s crazy beet farm, but I’m also equally happy to be hanging up my terrible haircut and my terrible glasses in mid-March and be done with Dwight and put him to bed,” the actor told Larry King in 2013. “It’s been a great run.”