Finale Reflections with Show Creator Greg Daniels

Last month, Greg Daniels sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss The Office (U.S.) Finale episode, Steve Carell's surprise return cameo, and the final season as a whole.

PAM: Everybody, let's take our picture in front of the mural!
...Oh, I kinda just meant everybody from The Office.

(That's Greg Daniels with his arms around Pam and Clark)
The executive producer, and writer of the final episode, said he was apprehensive about declaring Nine the last season and wanted to keep the show on the air longer.  Ratings weren't as high during Season Eight as they were in previous seasons, but it wasn't the network who pushed for ending the show, instead, it was the cast and crew.  Daniels came around to the idea and became excited about closing up all the characters' stories, something TV shows don't always get a chance to do before they're cancelled.

"John Krasinski[,] Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak were pretty confident that we should have a final season. And when they first suggested at the end of season 8, I thought, “Let’s keep trying to go as long as we can.” But as we got it underway, I actually thought it was a great move, and I got really on board because it opened up a lot of stories, and it felt very good to ultimately have an end."

When asked if they'd planned the ending all along, Daniels had this to say:

"It was always kind of a reunion show. The part about Dwight’s wedding came awhile later. I think it wouldn’t have been possible to have predicted exactly where we would be with all the characters early on because the show kept on getting picked up and different story lines were resolved and other ones were started."

One of the biggest show-related news stories surrounding the finale was whether or not Steve Carell might return as Michael Scott during the last show.  Steve, Daniels, the rest of the cast, the crew and even the network all vehemently denied that he would make any kind of appearance.  But about 2 weeks before it aired, TVLine broke the rumor that Michael Scott would return to the show, but only in the form of a cameo.

In retrospect, Daniels said:

"Well, there wasn’t any discussion about [whether he would return]. It was just like, obviously, it would be great to have him and not great to make a big deal out of it because it wasn’t going to be about his character because he hadn’t been there [since the seventh season].[But] it wouldn’t have been a big finale without him."

He also explained that the network was very hands off about the finale, and that the cast and crew kept the Carell cameo under wraps, even from the network, so it wouldn't leak.

"[NBC was] super supportive. They wanted it to be done the way we wanted to do it and helped us strategize about how to pull it off. That’s all. We didn’t tell them about Steve. They didn’t know about Steve and the line producer was a little nervous about it, I think he was afraid he was going to lose his job. But we shot the Steve stuff and we kept it out of the dailies and didn’t tell them about it. At the table reading, we gave the Steve Carell lines to Creed."

Daniels on his approach to writing the finale:

"I was aware that there were certain shows where the finale didn’t leave me feeling satisfied, and I thought [the writers' approach to those finales] didn’t really get what everybody loved about their show. I certainly was trying to avoid that. You put so much into a show and it’s been on for so many years, your main concern is to do the characters and the other people working on the show justice. I didn’t feel that nervous about it because I felt like, well, who’s gonna know how to end it better than the people who were there? And I felt like after thinking about the characters for so many years, I knew what was an appropriate ending."

Lastly, when asked if he tried to leave the story open for a spin-off or movie Daniels said this:

"In retrospect, the [finale] reunion would have been a good movie, but no. The feeling was to just to go out with the satisfying ending."