‘The Office’: Steve Carell Called Michael Scott’s Final Episode ‘Emotional Torture’

Goodbyes are never easy. Steve Carell said he experienced “emotional torture” during his final episode of The Office because it was such a roller coaster. Michael Scott’s journey at Dunder Mifflin finally ended after seven seasons and the most fitting way to see him off was with a very touching episode titled “Goodbye, Michael.”

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office'
Steve Carell as Michael Scott on ‘The Office’ | Byron Cohen/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Michael Scott leaves Dunder Mifflin

Season 7 episode 22, titled “Goodbye, Michael,” was a perfect last episode for the character who, despite a cringe-factor that was sometimes through the roof, was loved by The Office fans. Michael finally got the family he so desperately wanted when he fell in love with Holly Flax and they got engaged. The couple planned to move to Colorado together and that meant Michael had to close the chapter with his Dunder Mifflin family.

Carell played a big role in the way things played out in “Goodbye, Michael,” as he explained during the August 25 episode of An Oral History of The Office podcast how he pitched the idea to writer Greg Daniels.

“Steve knew exactly how he wanted his story to go,” host Brian Baumgartner explained. “And for his final episode, ‘Goodbye, Michael,’ he had a plan.”

“Six months before, I talked to Greg about how I wanted Michael to go out, like what I thought sort of a final arc would be,” Carell explained. “And the idea that I pitched was — you know, obviously he and Holly would be together — 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.”

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The episode was ’emotional torture’ for Steve Carell

Carell’s episode idea allowed them to show Michael’s growth, as he’d pass up having a big party in his honor to instead have some personal moments with each of his co-workers.

“I just thought that would be the most elegant representation of his growth as a human being,” Carell explained. “That he… because Michael lives to be celebrated, you think that’s all he wants, he wants to be the center of attention. 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 idea was brilliant, but the execution was painful for Carell.

“It was almost more than I bargained for because that’s what happened. I had scenes with everyone in the cast and it was emotional torture because imagine saying goodbye for a week,” the actor explained.

“It was just fraught with emotion and joy and sadness and nostalgia. But it was also really beautiful. I treasure it. I treasure just doing that episode because it did allow me to kind of have a finality with everybody,” he added.

Steve Carell and John Krasinski could barely get through their scene

One of those emotional moments was the final goodbye between Carell and John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert.

Krasinski recalled how difficult it was to get through the scene because they were both sobbing. “The energy in that room was so thick and palpable,” he recalled, and when they said “go ahead” with the scene, he explained, “Steve teared up right away and that was so unlike him.”

Krasinski continued, “Not that he was emotionless, but it was so unlike him to let real life bleed into the moment, right?”

“I think I actually remember the actual number was 17 takes of not even speaking, just dribbling crying,” the actor added.