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The Office: The Real Reason Andy Was Promoted Over Dwight

When Michael Scott (Steve Carell) resigned from his job as Regional Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, both the in-series office and The Office itself were left wondering who could possibly take his place. The most obvious contender for the job seemed to be Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). The bear-loving, beet-growing, Battlestar Galactica-watching salesman had been ruthlessly plotting his way to office domination for the last seven seasons: surely this was his time to rise.

Not so fast. As the show's creators pitched together to come up with Michael Scott's (and Carell's) replacement, another character emerged as a candidate for the top-ish job: Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms.

Andy's candidacy for Regional Manager didn't come totally out of left field. He was constantly trying to impress his WASP-y father, and his bragging that he drank and sung his way through Cornell suggests a sense of entitlement to spots other people are prepared to fight for. Plus, he nailed his interview for the job, despite Gabe's (Zach Woods) best efforts.

Andy ultimately lands the gig — although not everything is smooth sailing (especially his boat trip to Bermuda and his assault on a wall). But if you were disappointed at missing out on two seasons of seeing Dwight in control of the Dunder Mifflin crew in Scranton, you weren't alone. Even the series' writers and network executives couldn't agree on who should take the reins — and it wasn't just about the show's best interests. Here's the real reason Andy was promoted over Dwight on The Office.

Some writers felt promoting Dwight was too predictable

In a book about The Office, Andy Greene's The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, some of the series' writers have revealed that there was division over which character would best serve the show as Regional Manager. According to Amelie Gillette, who wrote for The Office seasons 7 and 8, the staff was divided into two camps: Team Andy and Team Dwight.

Team Dwight felt that the audience would be expecting him to finally get the job he'd been working toward for years. And there's no denying that Dwight as a character presents infinite insane story line possibilities. Meanwhile, Team Andy felt that Dwight being the obvious choice was a good reason not to go for him. We already knew what a Dwight regime would look like: it involved painting his office black "to intimidate [his] subordinates," handing out Schrute Bucks, and carrying around an antique gun. (If you're thinking that a lot can happen at a fictional paper company, you're not the only who'd like the entire story of The Office finally explained.) It was less clear how Andy would approach being in charge, which made the prospect more exciting.

It wasn't just that putting Andy in charge could potentially pave the way for a more surprising show. Some writers felt that giving Dwight what he wanted would make him a less interesting character. Aaron Shure, a writer from seasons 5 to 8, said that Dwight lacked the compassion that had made the deeply flawed Michael Scott so compelling. (That balancing act is just part of how The Office changed TV.) He also felt that Dwight was funnier when his totalitarian tendencies were being thwarted. Ultimately, the scheming that had primed Dwight for the job worked against him.

Network executives wanted a bigger name to take the helm

The show's creators may also have been dealing with Office politics. There was a fear among executives that Carell's departure would kill the series' ratings. While the writers were figuring out which character would work best in the story, the higher-ups were thinking about how to keep audiences showing up to The Office every week. 

Some wanted to bring in a big name to take over the Regional Manager job, which may explain why the end of season 7 introduced cameos from several famous comedians. Will Arnett, Ray Romano, and Jim Carrey all appeared as interview candidates. Will Ferrell briefly jumped in to help make up for the Carell-sized hole, until his character had a run-in with a basketball hoop. Most memorable was charismatic conman Robert California, but actor James Spader didn't return for the final season of The Office. (He's not the exception: even Steve Carell almost didn't appear on The Office finale.)

There are also rumors that the decision to promote Andy instead of Dwight was related to a different actor's star power. Helms landed a recurring role on The Office in 2006 before being promoted to series regular, but it was a little film called The Hangover, released in 2009, that earned him worldwide recognition. And not just with moviegoers –a couple of writers suggested that executives took note of Helms' boost in popularity, and that this eventually won Andy the main job as Regional Manager. That bodes well for Andy's career, but Dwight fans could take some comfort in the fact that Scranton's most committed Assistant to the Regional Manager had the last (maniacal) laugh.