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The Reason Dwight Schrute's Office Spin-Off Got Cancelled

A series starring one of the strangest and most beloved characters on television — that spins off from a sitcom bound to go down in history as one of the very best? Sounds like a fool-proof plan for success, a one-way ticket to Money City, and the greatest thing that could ever happen to devotees of the original series. 

But that wasn't the case for the Office spin-off starring Rainn Wilson's Dwight Schrute. The beet-farming, Battlestar Galactica-loving, bed-and-breakfast-running Dunder Mifflin paper salesman was meant to get his very own spin-off show entitled The Farm — but, despite plans in place and many fingers crossed, it never came to fruition. Here's why Dwight Schrute's Office spin-off got cancelled. 

On March 14, 2013, The Office aired the 17th episode of its ninth season — "The Farm." Written and directed by Paul Lieberstein, who also starred on The Office as the near-universally hated human resources representative Toby Flenderson, "The Farm" centers around Dwight (of course) and Dunder Mifflin accountant Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez), following them as they head to Schrute Farms and attend the funeral of Dwight's Aunt Shirley. Dwight soon learns that his Aunt Shirley designated him as the inheritor of Schrute Farms, which he and his many oddball siblings decide to run. 

Back at the office, the brutish, brash, and always-vulgar Todd Packer (David Koechner), an Outside Sales Representative of Dunder Mifflin who was fired from the Scranton Branch a year earlier, returns to exact his revenge. Todd acts as though he's looking to make amends, but the reality of the situation is that he's still capital-T ticked off, spiked his "apology" cupcakes with drugs, and plans to make everyone's lives a living hell before he leaves Scranton. 

"The Farm" was originally intended to serve as a backdoor pilot — a piece of content that serves as proof of concept for a full series, in this case an episode that aims to introduce the plot and characters of a spin-off show — and keep some of The Office spirit alive after the show wrapped with its ninth season. Prior to "The Farm" airing on television, Wilson was slated to appear on at least 13 episodes of The Office season 9 before leaving for The Farm; Lieberstein stepped down as showrunner to devote more attention to the potential spin-off series; and The Farm was putting together a character roster that included Dwight's sister Fannie Schrute and her son Cameron Whitman, his brother Jeb Schrute, and the Schrutes' great uncle Heinrich Manheim.

Then, it all fell apart. 

In late October 2012, months before viewers ever saw "The Farm" with their own eyes, Wilson confirmed on Twitter that NBC had rejected the spin-off series

"Farm Update: NBC has passed on moving forward with The Farm TV show," the actor wrote. "Had a blast making the pilot – onwards & upwards!"

Wilson had previously teased that The Farm would be "even more far out and weirder than The Office," filled with a "crazy menagerie of characters." He was confident that fans would find the spin-off "really cool" and firmly stated that "it's a good idea." 

Obviously, NBC didn't agree. 

The pilot for The Farm was reworked into "The Farm" that aired as part of The Office season 9. The Office boss Greg Daniels told TVLine in December 2012 that the pilot was still "a very good episode," but in order to work for the flagship series, it needed retooling. Daniels explained, "We're not going to air exactly what it was, because it has certain aspects that were appropriate for a pilot of a new show. We're going to shoot a little additional material to make it fit into the season more."

Sadly, response to "The Farm" was lukewarm at best. (It wasn't the worst episode of The Office, but it certainly wasn't the best.) Some critics wrote that "the issues that can arise from Frankensteining an episode together in the 11th hour are obvious" in "The Farm," while others said that "The Farm" clarified whether "NBC was right to axe the idea" for the spin-off. 

Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx perhaps best summed up the general consensus on the episode and what the spin-off series might have been like: "As a surreal, occasional accent on the mundane world of The Office, Dwight's beet farm and the weird Schrute family traditions can be incredibly funny. As the center of a show, though, I reacted to it in much the way Oscar did when Dwight started pumping shotgun rounds into the coffin. Even the scene where Dwight teaches his nephew how to milk an animal, while humanizing, wasn't enough to compensate for the cartoonishness elsewhere."

Everything considered, it seems that the reason why Dwight Schrute's Office spin-off was cancelled is because it simply wouldn't have been as enjoyable as anyone hoped. Sure, Dwight always brought bizarre hilarity to The Office and remained one of the funniest characters throughout the series, but his antics may have been grating, unfunny, and even exhausting if fans were exposed to them on a weekly basis via a spin-off show. Additionally, The Farm was shaping up as The Office was winding down, and there existed a huge question of whether spinning off the much-adored original series immediately after it ended was the right call. There's a chance audiences wanted to remember Dwight exactly how he was on The Office, and may not have been as receptive to a spin-off as initially believed. It very well could have ended up a case of "be careful what you wish for."

In the end, not getting a spin-off show featuring Dwight Schrute is probably for the best. The legacy of The Office remains untouched — something extremely rare in our age of reboots, remakes, and reimaginings — and so does that of the Assistant (to the) Regional Manager.