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Why The Office Reboot Will Never Happen

Rebooting a classic television series is usually a mutually agreeable proposition. The TV networks don't have to put a ton of effort or money into marketing something that's already well-known and widely-liked, while viewers get more episodes of a long-dead, beloved show that they thought was gone forever. So why hasn't The Office been rebooted?

Well, on the heels of a successful reboot of sitcom Will & Grace, reports surfaced in late 2017 that NBC was hard at work trying to get The Office, one of its most popular and successful sitcoms, back onto the airwaves in time for the 2018-2019 season. The workplace mockumentary's extensive fan base (which only grew with the series' availability on Netflix) was surely elated. But sadly, the revival never came to pass. On top of that, there's been little to no progress on getting new episodes about the Scranton gang back on television, and that's probably not a good sign. For a variety of reasons, a reboot of The Office seems unlikely, if not impossible.

The Office cast is too busy for a reboot

Thanks in large part to the exposure and experience gained from working on a successful, long-running network sitcom, the cast of The Office now ranks among the most ubiquitous stars of movies and television. For example, not counting that cameo in the final episode, Steve Carell left the series in 2011 to hang out full-time on the Hollywood A-list. Since then, he's starred in comedies (Anchorman 2 and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone), animated smashes (the Despicable Me series), and even Oscar-nominated fare (Vice, The Big Short, and Foxcatcher, for which he received a Best Actor nomination). 

As for the man who played Jim Halpert, John Krasinski directed, co-wrote, and starred in the innovative 2018 horror movie, A Quiet Place. Plus, he headlines Amazon's Jack Ryan series. Then there's Mindy Kaling, who created her own long-running sitcom, The Mindy Project, before going on to conceive Champions, a TV remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the movie Late Night. With so many vital Office people tied up with other projects, it would be nearly impossible to assemble them all for another stint at Dunder Mifflin.

The corporate structure at NBC has changed

Ultimately, TV shows get produced when a high-ranking executive at a network or streaming service officially asks a show creator to make one. The whole reason behind talks of an Office reboot wasn't fan interest or cast members publicly discussing how much fun it would be to do one, but rather, it was all due to NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt (pictured above). In April 2018, he spoke at The Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers event and discussed the reboot trend. "We can't just reboot everything," Greenblatt said, citing Friends and Seinfeld as impossibilities. But he did think another run of The Office could happen, although without every member of the original cast. 

Why not everyone? Well, the answer is pretty simple: cash. "The actors want a lot more money than we're willing to pay them," Greenblatt explained. Be that as it may, if Greenblatt had really wanted The Office to come back, he could've made it happen. However, he left NBC in September 2018. With its chief advocate no longer at the network, a revival of The Office at NBC isn't likely.

The Office had a definitive ending

Even if producers, a network, and the huge ensemble cast of The Office could all find the time and money to make a reboot work, the show's writers would have to find a way to undo the show's monumental ending that scattered most of the characters. According to the 2013 series finale, Michael Scott moved to Colorado with Holly Flax and had a couple of kids. Jim and Pam Halpert left Scranton for Austin, Texas, where Jim could run his sports management company. Andy Bernard got a job at Cornell University, his alma mater that he never stopped mentioning. Kevin bought a bar, Stanley retired, Toby moved to New York to be a writer, Nellie returned to Europe, and Kelly and Ryan ran off together. So many of our beloved characters no longer work at Dunder Mifflin or even live in Scranton. In other words, it would be extremely hard for Office writers to devise a compelling, not-contrived reason to get them all under one roof again.

The Office already ran out of steam

While many critics found the finale of The Office to be lovely and satisfying, the last several seasons of the show were not among its best. The Rotten Tomatoes scores for the first five seasons are all at 100 percent. However, the Rotten Tomatoes score for season eight is a shocking 55 percent. After Steve Carell left The Office in 2011, the show struggled to move on, as writers tried out a number of odd premises and introduced new characters, making for a flaky, inconsistent series. For example, most of the staff moved to Florida for a stretch when a printer company purchased Dunder Mifflin. Then, rock-solid couple Jim and Pam experienced marital strife out of nowhere, while Will Ferrell and James Spader briefly joined the cast, playing unlikeable managers. Either The Office strayed from its core premise, or the show was just plain out of ideas. And if that creative well has dried up, then the show probably doesn't need to get rebooted.

Steve Carell wants to let it be

Most fans would agree that The Office without Steve Carell was not as good as The Office with Steve Carell. However, any new version of the series likely wouldn't include the actor (who also wrote and directed Office episodes on occasion), not only because he's slammed with other projects, but because he's philosophically opposed to it. His experiences making the show are just too precious to him. Speaking with Time in 2018, Carell said, "I remember it was the first week we were shooting the pilot, and Jenna [Fischer] and John [Krasinski] and Rainn [Wilson] and I went out to lunch. And I remember saying, 'Guys, if this works, this could be the most special thing any of us are ever involved with.'" That relates to how he doesn't want to force that magic again with a revival. "I never thought of [a revival] as a good idea," he went on to say. "I think it existed in that time and with those people, and it felt right." Basically, Carell just loves the series "too much to ever want to do it again," and honestly, we kind of get it.

The Office is no longer relevant

Steve Carell has a more practical and sobering reasons to avoid a reboot of The Office beyond his own emotional and sentimental concerns. Notably, the world has changed a lot since The Office debuted way back in 2005. As it existed in its original run, The Office was an extremely realistic take on the American workplace at that time. "It might be impossible to do that show today and have people accept it the way it was accepted ten years ago," Carell told Esquire in 2018. "I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. I mean, he's certainly not a model boss." Carell just isn't sure that Michael's behavior would be accepted on TV these days. In other words, The Office wouldn't feel realistic — or even all that funny — if a guy who behaved as boorishly as Michael Scott managed to keep his job.

The age of TV reboots might be dying

Back around 2017 and 2018, a revival of The Office seemed like a real possibility because the world of television was in the grips of reboot fever. Shows with name recognition and a lot of goodwill naturally generate buzz, and new versions of The X-Files, Roseanne, Twin Peaks, Will & Grace, Full House, Gilmore Girls, and more rode that wave to success. It seemed like anything that was once even mildly popular could feasibly return with new episodes, and The Office was certainly a big enough show for revival consideration.

But as fads do, this particular TV craze has died down. In its second season of its second life, Will & Grace's ratings in the 18-49 demographic plunged by 46 percent. CBS's new Murphy Brown didn't get enough viewers to last more than its initial 13 episodes. The CW's Charmed, Roswell, and Dynasty remakes were among the least-watched shows on network TV during the 2018-2019 season. Clearly, the era of the reboot maybe coming a close, and there's likely no time for The Office to take part before the revival craze finally ends.

The message behind those cast mini-reunions

When Steve Carell hosted Saturday Night Live in November 2018, he brought some very special guests up onto the stage during his monologue: Office costars Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, and Jenna Fischer. They did a little routine about all the revival talk, which culminated in a bit from Carell that likely left millions breathless: "I am proud to announce officially ... that we have a great show tonight!" Talk about cruel.

A few weeks later, nearly the whole core cast of The Office — ten performers in all — met up at the home of Office creator Greg Daniels. Over on her Twitter page, Angela Kinsey tweeted a photo of the group, which included Rainn Wilson, Brian Baumgartner, Phyllis Smith, Paul Lieberstein, and Oscar Nuñez. And since Kinsey is way friendlier than her on-screen character, the actress wrote, "Some of the old gang got together today ... it was so great to see everyone!"

These cast reunions on sketch comedy shows and at each other's homes are likely the closest fans will get to a reunion or revival series of The Office. The unspoken message from these unofficial reunions is bittersweet: Everyone involved knows a reboot isn't happening. They might wish they could do it, but they know it won't happen, so they're just having a little fun teasing the fans.

The Office … in space?

Greg Daniels, who created the American version of The Office (basing it on Ricky Gervais' British original) is hard at work on his next project, which sounds a bit familiar. In June 2018, President Donald Trump asked the Department of Defense to create a new military branch to thwart extra-planetary threats. He called it the Space Command, although a lot of people use the nickname of "space force." That also happens to be the name of a show heading to Netflix in the near future. In January 2019, the streaming service ordered Space Force, a workplace comedy about the people charged with forming a Space Command-like organization. Co-creating with Daniels and set to star is his his old Office co-worker, Steve Carell. So the bad news is that Daniels is too occupied with this new series to get to work on an Office revival. The good news is that a new workplace comedy involving the creative force and star of The Office might be just as awesome as a reboot.