The upcoming ninth season of The Office will be the show's last, creator Greg Daniels announced Tuesday.
Daniels, who ran the show for its first five seasons and has returned in a day-to-day capacity for what will be the final season, said it was "a difficult decision" to end the show after nine years, but emphasized that his main objective is to provide longtime fans with satisfying conclusions for the main characters.
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"At some point you have a choice, and the choice is to always tell the beginnings of stories and the middles, or to allow a story to end," Daniels said on a conference call. "I think endings can be very powerful and very meaningful pieces of the story. And if we didn't let it end this year, I don't know if we would have been able to tell the ending stories for so many characters that I really want to know what the ending's going to be for them."
Daniels said NBC was supportive of his decision to wrap up the show.
"This is a very arc-heavy year," he added. "It's all going to be set up in the premiere. There's just so much to pay off from nine seasons of so many great characters that my biggest concern is just packing in these great ideas that the writing staff has ... and making sure that we hit all of them, or at least squeeze as many as we can into the ending."
Added NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt: "The Office is a classic, award-winning television comedy and all of us at NBC couldn't be prouder to have produced and telecast the series as it heads into its ninth season. Greg Daniels, the cast, and crew have some terrific storylines planned for the final season. Fans are in for a treat. It's always difficult to see these kinds of shows come to an end, but we are honoring the cast's and producers' desire to make this the final season."
Though the show is introducing two new characters this year (played by Clark Duke and Jake Lacy), the focus will be on fan favorites like Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), who will see "a lot of drama" this year, according to Daniels. "I've always thought that they're kind of the heart and soul of the show," he added. "Back in the early days, I had an inkling of what to do to end that storyline."
But episodic comedy will still come into play — Daniels teased one story line in which new boss Nellie (Catherine Tate) tries to hold a charity drive at the office, encouraging each employee to pick a charity to donate to. Dwight (Rainn Wilson), in protest, says he'll be raising money for the Taliban.
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Daniels also said the audience will learn more about the fictional documentary crew that has formed the structural backbone of the show since its debut, but has gone largely unaddressed as a plot point.
"We find out about the documentary more and start to break the fourth wall a little bit," Daniels promised. "We're going to kind of use the fact that for nine years there's been a documentary crew filming this office. People always say, 'Why are they still filming? What are they after?' I think we're going to explore that for comedy and for story effect."
And the question on everyone's mind: Will Michael Scott be coming back?
"We would certainly wish for it," Daniels said. "It would be fantastic if [Steve Carell] would return. ... But we'll see."
Daniels, who calls running the show "the best professional experience of my life," said he'll miss his characters as much as the fans will.
"It's just a very supportive and fun and loving environment to come to work, and I will miss it terribly when I can't come to work here anymore," he said. "We have some ideas to make this season special and exciting and memorable. ... As we head into the home stretch, we have a lot of exciting things that I've personally been wanting to do since Season 2, and the ending should be pretty cool."
The Office premieres Sept. 20 at 9/8c on NBC.
Are you said The Office is ending? Or is it time for it to go?