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The Truth About The Pam And Michael Airport Scene From The Office

There's a bigger story behind one of The Office's most emotional moments of all time.

When star Steve Carell, who created the leading role of bumbling Dunder Mifflin branch manager Michael Scott and helped make the series into a phenomenon, left during the show's seventh season, it was obvious he would get an emotional goodbye. However, true to form, The Office managed to top expectations with a quiet, simple moment that blew fans away.

On his last day at the office, Michael lies to his friends and employees, telling them that "tomorrow" is his last day when he's actually leaving that evening to catch a flight to Colorado to see his fiancée, Holly Flax (Amy Ryan). Throughout the day, Michael says quiet goodbyes to everybody — including Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), the only one who figures out Michael is leaving earlier than expected — but he misses the chance to say goodbye to Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), who is out running errands all day.

However, at the last minute, as Michael finally removes his microphone and returns it to the documentary crew, Pam appears at the airport, and the two share a silent, emotionally charged moment and embrace before Michael heads off to start his new life. If you're wondering how The Office came up with this idea — or what Fischer really said to Carell — here's the whole story about the Pam and Michael airport scene from The Office.

How the airport scene came together for Michael's big goodbye

According to Andy Greene's all-encompassing oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, it was creator Greg Daniels' order that Pam be the last person to see Michael off, simply because the two shared a connection unlike anybody else on the show. As director Paul Feig, who returned to the series to helm Michael's final episode, recalled, "Greg was always really hung up on wanting his last scene to be that Michael takes off his microphone and we don't get to hear the final thing with Pam. Just talking about that now, I get really emotional."

The scene itself is also a small callback to the British Office, as TV critic Rob Sheffield notes: "It was also a very beautiful callback to the last episode of the UK Office where Tim [the British version of Jim, played by Martin Freeman] takes off his mic before confessing his feelings to Dawn [the British version of Pam, played by Lucy Davis]. It was a moment that we weren't eavesdropping on and that there was nothing shticky about it or jokey about it, or even comic about it. It was very, very moving."

Why Pam needed to be the final person to say goodbye to Michael

So why was Pam the best choice to say goodbye to Michael after everybody else? Apparently, Daniels felt that the two were the "core familial dynamic" of the show, according to writer Danny Chun.

Writer Warren Lieberstein agreed with Chun, saying, "Greg wanted his final scene to be with Pam because Greg always said they had this strange emotional connection between them. It was a loving connection. I think of all the people that Michael Scott counted on, she was maybe the most important."

Writer Peter Ocko clearly felt the same way as Daniels, recalling, "I think it made sense to have Pam say goodbye to him last because she was capable of getting to Michael in a way that certainly Dwight or Jim weren't. He was able to connect with her on a level that we weren't even privy to, but we imagine potentially that it was more genuine than we'd ever seen previously. I think that's what made it believable, is that she had the capacity to cut through the bulls**t with him and let him grow in a way that the other characters couldn't."

As for what Fischer said to Carell? The specifics are still a secret, but Fischer did say that she simply told Carell "all the ways I was going to miss him when he left our show. Those were real tears and a real goodbye."

If you want to relive Michael's big goodbye, The Office is streaming on Netflix now.