So that big end of season finale of NBC's The Office we expected to be building towards this spring that would mark the farewell of Steve Carell as bumbling paper merchant manager Michael Scott - well it's happening, but maybe sooner thank you think. Show-runner and sometimes Office actor Paul Lieberstein (he plays Toby) has told Vulture that Michael Scott will be leaving Scranton's Dunder Mifflin about a month before the current 7th season ends and that there'll be four episodes or so in the spring centered around the hunt for his replacement.
"Steve will have a number of episodes that dramatize and lead up to Steve leaving... Then we'll continue on for about four more episodes, and the spring will prove to be not about an actor leaving, but what happens in an office when a manager leaves and the chaos ensues and people vie for the job and are uncertain about their future."
The decision to end Michael's time on The Office before the final episode was so the season wouldn't end on a downer and would instead celebrate the characters he is leaving behind and the future growth of the show. Internal (Kelly, Daryl, Dwight and Andy have been mentioned this week by the writers) and external candidates will be vying for the job, including potentially 'guest stars'. That sounds intriguing. How about an episode centered around this guy interviewing for the job; How cool would that be for a one off episode? So no end of season farewell to it's lead character - is that a sign of NBC moving forward in a healthy state, or a sign of desperation and a vow to fight on despite the tough season that they face next year without their main man? Kathy Bates is expected to return for a few episodes as Sabre CEO Jo Bennett, and is likely to announce the new Scranton Dunder-Mifflin branch manager in the season's last episode.