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How The Office Almost Kept Going After Season 9

The Office came very close to reinventing itself for a tenth season.

Everybody knows that in 2011, The Office closed out its legendary run on NBC after nine seasons, but according to a recent oral history, the showrunners (particularly co-creator Greg Daniels) had an idea on how they could potentially reinvent the series and keep it going for years and years.

Though some viewers think that the show actually overstayed its welcome after star Steve Carell left the series during its seventh season, it continued for two more years. Apparently, the creative team behind The Office had a plan for how it could have potentially kept going beyond that. According to Andy Greene's recent book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, Daniels had a grand idea, though clearly, it didn't pan out. Here's how The Office almost kept going after season 9.

Greg Daniels had a big idea about how to continue The Office

During the show's penultimate season, Jake Lacy and Clark Duke joined the show's cast as Pete Miller and Clark Green. Apparently, Daniels fully intended to continue the show with them as the new leads.

Duke certainly thought this was the case; as he recalled, "When Jake and I joined the show, the idea was that it was gonna be like ER. The three leads — Rainn [Wilson, who played Dwight Schrute], John [Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert], and Jenna [Fischer, who played Pam Beesly-Halpert] — were all going to leave after the season and they were going to reboot the show the following year with new cast members basically. That was my understanding of what was going to happen when I was hired."

However, writer Owen Ellickson wasn't so sure: "I heard that bandied about, but I never thought it was going to happen. There was the road where — which is the road that ended up being taken — where you start a show and you start with a bunch of actors and that's the life of the show. The other version is you could theoretically imagine a sort of perpetual-motion machine, like a Law & Order or something, where, like in an actual office, people leave and new people come in."

Jake Lacy and Clarke Duke almost continued The Office alone

Writer and producer Brent Forrester confirmed Daniels' grand plan, saying, "Greg was initially thinking about a reboot of the show at the start of season nine... That's where you see him casting Clark Duke and Jake Lacy. That was going to be the future of The Office. On screen they're quite deliberately referred to as, 'Hey, look at new Jim and Dwight.' Greg anticipated that if there had been a season ten that Krasinski and Jenna Fischer would move on, and then he would just replace them and build a new cast. There was an effective process of that from beginning to end. They had the core cast and then new characters added effectively from time to time, like Andy Bernard [played by Ed Helms] and Erin [Hannon, played by Ellie Kemper]. That would have just continued and old characters would have left and it would have just kept evolving."

As Daniels himself pointed out, this idea was entirely doable: "From the storytelling standpoint the theme of this year was set in the premiere and it was the kind of realization on the part of Dwight and Jim that they'd been there a long time. That's sort of a prod for them to get their lives on to the next stage. By having these guys who everybody was seeing as the new Jim and the new Dwight — the point of that was just to kind of get them to think about how long they've been in the same job."

The idea potentially could have worked; as Duke added, "I think it would have been a fun thing if they'd kept it going longer and figured out the nuances of the characters." Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards.

The Office ultimately ended with season 9

As it turns out, Daniels announced during filming — just four episodes into the ninth season — that The Office had already begun its final stretch and would end with season nine. According to Greene himself, the exact reason isn't known, but is likely due to the fact that the leads were planning to leave, creative wheel-spinning, and NBC executives wanting to work on big sitcoms in the vein of Friends rather than inventive shows like The Office.

Pretty much everybody involved noted that Daniels polled the cast and crew to see if anybody felt strongly about a tenth season, and the consensus was, overall, "No." As boom operator Brian Wittle confirmed, "I remember there being some discussion of a reboot with Jake and Clark, but the general consensus was that we should just end it, that it's been nine years and if we try to start up with new guys, or even these new guys, it's not gonna be the same if everybody leaves except them. They were funny, but I think we would have lost most of the audience."

Between the fact that Daniels and his writers found themselves accidentally repeating storyline ideas and the drive to write an incredible final ninth season, The Office eventually came to an end with its original characters still in the spotlight. As producer Steve Burgess put it, "It was Greg being Greg and Greg wanting to end things the right way and on our terms and not on the network's terms." Meanwhile, Duke had one final thing to say on the subject: "I thought NBC canceled it."

All nine seasons of The Office are available to stream on Netflix now.