Steve Carell left “The Office” in 2011, seemingly to focus on film projects. After all, he’d basically become a mega-star due in large part to the show’s success, and had already proven he was more than capable of inhabiting characters other than Michael Scott, having fronted such hits as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Get Smart.” However, according to interviews with crew members in Andy Greene’s book “The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s,” there was a frankly unbelievable sequence of events whereby Carell was ready and willing to resign for at least a couple more years but was met with silence from NBC.
Whatever the reasons for his departure, Michael Scott leaving “The Office” was always going to be an emotional affair. The 22nd episode of the show’s seventh season, entitled “Goodbye, Michael,” saw the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton preparing for his relocation to Colorado with his fiancé, Amy Ryan’s Holly Flax. He ultimately sneaks out a day early, so as to not make a big deal out of the whole thing, but not before John Krasinski’s Jim Halpert figures out his plan and shares a heartfelt farewell with his boss. Then there’s the touching moment when Jenna Fischer’s Pam catches up with Michael at the airport, sharing an inaudible goodbye with him which Fischer later revealed was a genuine, tear-filled profession of how much she was going to miss Carell himself.
It’s unsurprising that after seven seasons together, shooting the episode was a genuinely emotional experience for everyone involved — not least Carell himself.