It was hard to even contemplate the prospect of The Office going on without Michael Scott, the self-proclaimed "World's Best Boss" of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch. But fans of the NBC comedy had to face that reality at the end of Season 7, when the show lost its lead star. So why did Steve Carell leave The Office anyway?
The Golden Globe winner actually announced his plans nearly a year earlier. "I think [Season] 7 will be my last year," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2010. "I want to fulfill my contract. I think it's a good time to move on." He then revealed his reason for the exit after EW asked if there was anything that could change his mind. "No, he said. "I just want to spend more time with my family."
Steve gave his bosses the news well in advance, too. "We knew very early on that he was going to leave at the end of Season 7," executive producer Greg Daniels told TV Guide in 2013. "He was very upfront about it and he didn't play any games. Certainly, I was happy that he gave us seven years, considering that he became a huge movie star after Season 1 and he could have just made a ton more movies if he hadn't been doing the show."
Added exec producer Mike Schur, "Steve is a guy who has a tremendous amount of personal integrity. He just has gut feelings about things and he goes by his gut. So if he felt it was time to move on and that he had taken the character as far as it could go, nothing was ever going to change his mind."
The Office lasted two more seasons before finally concluding in May 2013, and Steve made a surprise cameo in the series finale. But the actor — now known for critically acclaimed performances in Foxcatcher and Battle of the Sexes — isn't interested in reviving the show or reprising his breakout role.
"I don't think it's a good idea," he told the Daily News in 2017. "Fans of any show think that they want to see more of that show but I don't really [believe] that's the case, because they want it to be exactly what it was, and there's no way it can be exactly what it was. Even in the best possible scenario, it's always a slight disappointment. I don't see any reason to slightly disappoint people who might have loved your show to begin with." And that's what he said.