Why The Office Ended After Season 9 (Was It Cancelled?)

Despite being a long-running highlight of NBC's programming slate, The Office ended in 2013 with the conclusion of season 9, and here's why.

The Office came to an end with season 9 in 2013, but NBC wasn’t fully to blame for the sitcom calling it quits. Developed by Greg Daniels, the workplace comedy was based on Ricky Gervais’ UK series of the same name. Though the American version debuted with a lukewarm reception in 2005, the series hit its stride in season 2. With the help of Steve Carell in the lead role of Michael Scott and the stellar supporting cast, The Office was moved to NBC’s famous Thursday night comedy block. It remained a highlight of the network’s programming slate, but the show couldn’t last forever.

Presented in a mockumentary format, The Office followed the lives of employees working at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company’s Scranton branch. Michael served as the Regional Manager for much of the character’s arc in the sitcom, with the rest of the figures filling out the other departments within the office. By season 9, Michael had moved away, and the manager position went through a few changes. Meanwhile, much of the final season centered on the tension between Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) after the latter took on a second job in Philadelphia. To fully conclude the series, The Office brought the documentary crew into the spotlight as a meta way to explain why the Dunder Mifflin employees were being filmed.

It was no secret that The Office was experiencing declining viewership following its fifth season. Though critical reception was steady, there was a downward trend. Granted, The Office was still a top program for NBC, so it wasn’t an issue that required immediate attention. However, when Carell’s contract wasn’t renewed, the actor left the series in the midst of season 7. Losing the central figure of The Office was a major blow. NBC attempted to fill the void left by Carell with an array of special guest stars but didn’t help much. Many critics labeled season 8 as the weakest installment due to the obvious decline in quality with Carell’s absence. While the viewership and reception were factors in The Office‘s season 9 ending, technically, the series wasn’t cancelled. Instead, it concluded because of a creative decision stemming from Daniels and his cast.

The Office Cast & Crew Knew It Was Time To End The Sitcom With Season 9

When Daniels confirmed The Office season 9 would be the show’s last ahead of its release (via EW), the series creator called the decision “very freeing, creatively.” Daniels also mentioned the timing was right, explaining his worry that if the show continued, he might have never had the chance to tie up all of the storylines. With certain cast members acquiring other gigs, there was a risk of not having everyone back for a potential tenth season. When cast members like John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Rainn Wilson spoke with Daniels, the group mutually agreed to end The Office on a high note.

Though the cast members weren’t happy to say goodbye to The Office, they knew it was time. Scheduling commitments with the large ensemble cast was becoming more difficult. Rather than see cast members continue exiting one-by-one, the collective group knew what had to be done. By having a clear end date, Daniels was able to end the series in the way he always wanted, instead of being forced to conclude the story due to network decisions. Declining ratings certainly made that decision a little easier, and Daniels knew it was important for the series not to overstay its welcome. Less than a decade after The Office ended in 2013, TV revival rumors continue to make the rounds. Though fans said goodbye to the faces of Dunder Mifflin, the characters they grew to love could very well return in the near future.

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