I discovered a while ago that Steve Carell is likely to leave The Office when his contract is up at the end of the 2010-11 season. I think it’s clear that the show itself would have to end at this point. Michael Scott is the show’s central protagonist and the point around which all the major action of the show revolves.
The Office is past its prime, generally speaking, but is still one of the most entertaining and well-characterized shows on American television. Seven years is a terrific run for any show, and all the actors can look back on it as a point of high quality in their careers. This would be true for the successful post-Office careers of people like Carell, Craig Robinson, Ed Helms, and Ellie Kemper. It would also be true for the people who will be utterly forgotten or typecast beyond all hope of return like John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, and Rainn Wilson. I’m not sure what will happen to B. J. Novak. Perhaps he’ll become a time traveller.
The most interesting part of an Office finale for me is how it’s going to end. Taking a cue from the original British version would be no help. Having run for just two years before Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant began their other projects, Extras and the Ricky Gervais Podcast, the UK Office ended with Tim (US=Jim) and Dawn (US=Pam) getting together, an event the US version long moved past.
I had a wonderful idea how the show should end, but I think you’ll agree when you read it that it would horrify almost all the fans of the show. Then again, it could also be executed very happily and optimistically, though not without a good chunk of unhappiness. And combining laughs with gnawing depression is what The Office is best at.
I took my jumping off point to be the current plotline involving Sabre printers being defective and catching fire when carrying out large jobs. It’s plausible that, with the story of Michael’s illicit relationship now having been wrapped up, the last episode of the season would concentrate on the rest of the staff discovering the Sabre hardware scandal. The next, and presumably last, season would then see the fallout of the scandal on the Sabre corporation. This could set off a chain of corporate blunders and coverups that would eventually lead to the collapse of Sabre, the parent company of Dunder-Mifflin. The seventh season would end as Dunder-Mifflin goes down with the corporate ship and everyone loses their jobs.
An extended epilogue of the last episode would show what happened to the different characters. Jim and Pam move to Philadelphia, where Jim gets a sales job with some other office supply or furniture sales company and Pam stays at home with the kids for a while. I also see Pam getting pregnant again. Dwight would retire to his beet farm, Angela following doggedly with Dwight’s child, not named Morpheus. Darryl would get a job in another warehouse, bitter after his brief brush with the corporate lifestyle. Andy would find himself rewarded for his initial activism on the printer scandal with a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, an office which would prove to be even more insane than Dunder-Mifflin. Kelly would callously manipulate her way into a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission during the investigation of Sabre. Ryan would mopishly become her househusband.
Oscar and Stanley would find other, equally mundane, jobs in the Scranton area, and Stanley and his former mistress Cynthia would get married. Kevin, Phyllis, and Meredith would remain unemployed for the foreseeable future, although Kevin and Phyllis may begin a relationship. Creed would disappear into the Canadian wilderness. Toby would commit suicide.
For some reason, I’m imagining that after initial awkwardness is overcome in social situations, Michael and Erin getting together. They had a very nice moment after her breakup with Andy, and I want to see how that develops. And they would try to get the Michael Scott Paper Company off the ground again, perhaps diversifying into office supplies of all kinds.