One of the most perplexing shake-ups in network TV happened back in 2011, when Michael Scott disappeared from Dunder Mifflin, and now fans are finally getting the full story behind that decision. At the end of The Office Season 7, fans were surprised when Scott said goodbye to his longtime coworkers and moved to Colorado with his new fiancée Holly. The show continued on for two more seasons without the series star, leaving everyone with questions about what happened. Well, a newly released book chronicling the behind-the-scenes secrets of the sitcom claims Steve Carell did not want to leave The Office, but he was apparently forced out by the network.
Up until now, every fan of The Office has had their own theory about why Carell left the show at the end of Season 7: Did he get sick of the show? Did he want to pivot to dramatic roles instead of comedic ones? Was there drama among the cast? Did producers want to court a bigger name? Well, all of those theories are wrong, at least according to Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s. Greene spoke with numerous The Office staffers about Carell's exit, and the crew members revealed their points of view about what went down.
According to the book, hairstylist Kim Ferry recalled that Carell had made ambiguous comments about maybe leaving The Office after Season 7 in a radio interview, and she said after that, NBC executives never contacted him with the opportunity to renew his contract — even though Carell was apparently on board to continue into Season 8.
"He was like, ‘Look, I told them I want to do it. I don’t want to leave. I don’t understand.’ It just is mind-boggling how that happened," Ferry said in the book. "And I feel bad because I think a lot of people think he did leave the show on his own merit and it’s absolutely not true. I’m telling you. I was there. He really wanted to stay. And it devastated all of us because he was the heart of our show."
Casting director Allison Jones echoed Ferry's take on how it all went down, saying Carell wanted to continue playing Michael Scott, but the studio did not extend his contract:
As I recall, he was going to do another season and then NBC, for whatever reason, wouldn’t make a deal with him. Somebody didn’t pay him enough. It was absolutely asinine. I don’t know what else to say about that. Just asinine.
After Carell's departure, a revolving door of new characters stepped in to replace Michael Scott's role, including Will Ferrell as Deangelo Vickers, James Spader as Robert California, and Catherine Tate as Nellie Bertram. In the end, Carell did get to reprise his role one last time in the series finale.
It's not entirely clear why the NBC execs were apparently so set on having Carell leave The Office, but superfans can dig up more juicy details about the beloved sitcom in Greene's newly released oral history, which is available now on Amazon.