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When The Office said goodbye to Michael Scott, fans were devastated by the loss of Steve Carell, but the show managed to continue in his absence for another couple of seasons. When Carell made an appearance in the series finale, it was a huge surprise — one that the show was able to pull off by lying to everyone.

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office'
Steve Carell as Michael Scott on ‘The Office’ | Chris Haston/NBC

Michael Scott returned for ‘The Office’ series finale, but it was a secret

The Office showrunner Greg Daniels pulled off the impossible when he managed to keep Carell’s return to the show in the series finale under wraps. That meant, however, that he had to be pretty sneaky about it — and lie to everyone, including the show’s cast and crew… and even the network.

During the Sept. 8 episode of An Oral History of The Office podcast, Daniels explained that very few people knew about Carell’s surprise appearance but he didn’t feel particularly great about lying.

Everyone found out the day Carell showed up on set.

Michael Scott came back to Scranton for the perfect reason

Carell’s appearance on The Office series finale really brought things full circle with the show and fans were overjoyed by the wonderful surprise.

Daniels shared how Carell was happy to return but really didn’t want it to be about him because the characters had continued two years after Michael Scott left. He wanted the ending to be about their stories.

Michael Scott returned for Dwight and Angela’s wedding, as Daniels explained that Jim Halpert, who served as Dwight’s best man, provided a series of Guten Pranken, which he explained were pranks that were “only good surprises.”

When Jim revealed Michael as Dwight’s “Bestish Mensch,” the opportunity for a final “That’s what she said” joke presented itself. “Best prank ever,” Jim said in the scene.

“Greg wanted the finale to be a giant family reunion and any Office reunion wouldn’t be complete without Steve Carell,” podcast host Brian Baumgartner explained.

Carell explained why he had some reservations but ultimately wanted to be a part of the finale. “Because I had told Greg I just don’t think it’s a good idea because I felt like Michael’s story had definitely ended,” he explained. “And I was reticent about coming back because you guys had two more really valuable seasons and that was everyone else’s ending. Michael had already had his so I just didn’t want to… but, at the same time, I felt like I should, out of respect for all of you guys and out of my love for everybody, to acknowledge the ending of this thing.”

“Dwight’s wedding was the perfect excuse to bring Steve back,” Baumgartner explained. “There was just one catch. They didn’t want anyone to know about it.”


‘The Office’ Fans’ Favorite ‘That’s What She Said’ Moment Is the Sweetest Jim and Michael Scene

Steve Carell’s appearance had to be kept quiet for one huge reason

Daniels knew that Carell’s return as Michael Scott had to be a surprise and that meant keeping everyone in the dark.

“We lied to everybody about Steve,” editor Dave Rogers explained.  

Baumgartner shared how Rogers “was one of the chosen few who knew,” adding, “They lied to everyone else, including most of the cast, crew, and most significantly, the network.”

“I remember Greg felt really bad about lying to people,” Rogers said. He told Daniels that “in today’s day and age, everything gets spoiled and it’s like a surprise party…”

That made the showrunner feel better, with Baumgartner noting that Daniels became “one of the most shameless liars of the bunch.”

“The reason they had to lie was because they didn’t trust the network to keep the secret,” Baumgartner explained.

Editor Claire Scanlon summed up the reason perfectly, saying, “We didn’t want them to promo it. And it would’ve… you know he would have been in the promo.”

The cast and crew discovered the surprise when Carell showed up for filming.