The series finale of The Office premiered Thursday, May 16, ending the nine season long show that spanned seven years. In order to properly close the many stories left open in the show, NBC allotted 75 minutes to cleanly wrap up the characters’ tales. The Office was a mockumentary style show that followed the lives of the employees at Dunder Mifflin, a paper company in Pennsylvania. This style allowed for the creation of multiple central characters and storyline possibilities.
However, these many possibilities seemed to run out in 2011, Season 7, when the show’s main comedic source, Steve Carell, left the show for greener pastures. With his exit, 2012 ratings dropped 50%, indicating that the show could not go on without Carell, thus leading to the long and generally painful winding down of The Office. The series finale marked the highest viewership in 16 months, with 5.7 million viewers.
With this spike in viewership also came the unexpected cameo of Carell, reprising his role for a few short scenes. This appearance was especially surprising, as show creator and writer Greg Daniels and NBC chairman Robert Breenblatt repeatedly told the press in January that an appearance from Carell was highly doubtful. Since then, the idea of his appearance had fizzled out in lost hope. Season 9 of The Office came with many more surprises, such as the first introduction of the in-series documentary filming crew as characters, and the near ruin of The Office’s main romance between Jim and Pam. However, the season as a whole was mostly pointed toward cleanly closing the show.
The final episode itself ended the series by giving each character a generally happy ending: Andy got his dream job at Cornell, Ryan and Kelly ran off into the sunset, and Jim and Pam followed more promising job prospects to Austin, Texas. Dwight’s inevitable marriage to Angela allowed for Steve Carell to make an appearance and clean up their messy relationship as well. The episode also consisted of a Survivor-esque reunion of the office employees six months after the airing of the fake documentary. This segment of the episode was short and generally uneventful, serving almost solely as a device to reunite the entire office after they had separated, and then allow for a proper and nostalgic goodbye that took place at the office in Pennsylvania.
Evidenced by the 5.7 million viewers, many found a resolution to The Office necessary, whether it was to end their seven year relationship, or just out of curiosity. The sentimental tone of the show returned and drew an emotional curtain over the lives of the employees.