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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 06/29/2010

Can 'The Office' go on without Steve Carell?

By Jen Chaney

Steve Carell has previously implied that he plans to depart "The Office" at the end of next season. Now the man who plays America's most lovable donkey of a boss has confirmed that he will indeed leave Michael Scott behind in 2011.

And that means no more of this:

Or this:

Or this:

Can "The Office" continue without the nimrod who stands at its dysfunctional paper company center? According to The Wrap, NBC has a plan in place in the event of Carell's departure, a plan that, of course, they have not shared. (Sounds a little Michael Scott-esque, doesn't it?) Reps also note that "The Office" is an ensemble show so the loss of a single character, albeit a significant one, isn't necessarily a death knell.

Ensemble though it may be, one assumes that with no Michael, another character might step up and play a more central role. Who might that be?

Pam and Jim The Pam/Jim unit has always been one of the most central "Office" storylines. And with the two married and with child, there's plenty of work/life balance issues that could provide fodder for comedy. Plus, having served as co-manager, I can see Jim taking over fully as the head of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch, a move that would send Dwight Schrute into seizures.

Dwight Schrute: Speaking of that freaky beet farmer, could he be the next Michael? As funny as he often is, I'm going to say no. Dwight is crucial to "The Office," but he's too oddball to be the leading man. He needs someone to suck up to, which is why I think option No. 3 might be more on-target.

Gabe Lewis: The lackey to Sabre CEO Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates), he and Michael both reek of desperation and a need to be beloved by their colleagues. Zach Woods, the very funny actor who plays Gabe, also recently signed on to "The Office" as a series regular, which suggests that maybe he's a crucial part of that vague NBC plan.

Which "Office" character would you like to see gain some more screen time as a result of Carell's departure? And do you think the show, which admittedly wasn't consistently hilarious during season six, can move on successfully without a weekly dose of "That's what she said"?

Update: Vote in our "Office" poll:

By Jen Chaney  | June 29, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture, TV  
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Comments

RICKY GERVAIS!

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | June 29, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

That show is absolutely hilarious. I really don't see it going on without Steve Carrell's character. I think the show will die after 1 season without him.

Posted by: forgetthis | June 29, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

NBC show that's been on too long with a lead star talking about leaving. That sounds familiar...

At this point they need to have Steve Carell announce that he's leaving, resulting in NBC canceling it, just to re-emerge on ABC with Carell back for just one more season to aide a transition, after which it's completely reformulated with any cast member willing to stick around teaching a group of kids at business school just to finally be canceled for good. And serving as a dismal lead-in to a brilliant show that will get dragged into cancellation as well.

Posted by: thurdl01 | June 29, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Alec Baldwin's character from Glengarry Glen Ross. But, since he's busy doing some other show, get one of the other Baldwins to play him. Daniel probably fits the part the best. As an added bonus, the horrible wooden acting is perfect for a mockumentary.

Posted by: MStreet1 | June 29, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Steve would be a BIG LOSS, but the show must go on!

They have a GREAT ensemble to continue with!

Posted by: theaz | June 29, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The ENTIRE run of the original, British Office is 13 episodes; the American one has run it's course, let it die.

Thanks to Ricky and Steve, the shows are hilarious!!

Posted by: vigor | June 29, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant, TheBoreaucrat!

However, should Gervais be unavailable, it seems like the days of "How I Met Your Mother" are growing numbered (the one-note underlying joke is long-since stale), so perhaps Neil Patrick Harris will become available for "The Office," should he so wish.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 29, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

No offense to TheBoreaucrat but "that's what she said" in the comments to the Morning Mix:

_____________________________________________

They should get Ricky Gervais to replace Steve Carrell!! A TRUE crossover!!

Posted by: wadejg | June 29, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: wadejg | June 29, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Steve Carrell is The Office. It cannot, and should not, go on without him

Posted by: j762 | June 29, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

What vigor said. This season has been the worst ever for the Office.

Posted by: steveh46 | June 29, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Three magic words. Sacha Baron Cohen.

Posted by: baldinho | June 29, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"The Office" crossed the line to being "over" after the wedding. This is exactly what happens every time the tension between the two romantic leads gets "resolved" with a wedding (or even worse, children). Remember how blindingly quickly "Get Smart" went downhill when Max & 99 got married??????

So, yes, this show was on it's way out even before Steve Carell decided to leave....

Posted by: DROSE1 | June 29, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Bring back Stringer Bell!

Posted by: macedaj | June 29, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I may actually start watching once Steve Carell leaves. He and his character made the show unwatchable, IMO.

Posted by: Arlington5 | June 29, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Stick a fork in it. This past season was A-W-F-U-L!

Posted by: yeswecan3 | June 29, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I've been a real fan but the show seems to be losing steam. Maybe it's time to say good-bye and thanks.

I hope they don't pump up Dwight's role any more in the next season; he is prone to be way over the top. They need to put a cap on Pam and Jim also, although I like them both. A little of Angela goes a long way also.

I would like to see more use of the outstanding other characters like Phyllis, Creed, and Stanley.

Posted by: swissmiss150 | June 29, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

DROSE1 - Exactly! Although I have always refered to it as the Scarecrow and Mrs. King Syndrome.

Posted by: JLRGG | June 29, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I think the frying bacon in bed/foot burning/Dwight with head injury and personality change episode was the best one ever...it has slowed down this season but I can understand why he might want to do other things. I am ambivalent about it continuing - I agree the limited-run British version was a jewel and we often make these things go on too long.

Posted by: KKreutzer | June 29, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

This season was NOT bad. The episode when Stanley had an affair had my stomach in pain. That was this season, right? And the episode when Pam delivered the baby- too funny!

Posted by: forgetthis | June 29, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

They need to end it. MASH was an ensemble show, too. They replaced some great characters over the years but it would have been useless without Alan Alda. Nearly every ensemble show I can think of had someone who really was the lead. Without that person (whether it's the actor or the character), the show doesn't work.

Posted by: dcartwright6 | June 29, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely not. I don't see how any fan of this show could seriously believe it would be able to continue without Michael Scott.

The only other glue holding the show together was the Jim/Pam storyline, which is now dead. Their relationship now has nowhere to go but down, and I don't think fans would tolerate a shakeup of their marriage after having invested so much in the two of them getting together.

Posted by: ComfortablyDumb | June 29, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Aww, that sucks! This is one of my favorite shows and I am really sad to hear that Steve is moving on. I don't doubt that it will continue for another season, but I don't expect it will last. Other great shows have tried to carry on without their central characters like Scrubs and the X-Files and they couldn't make it 2 seasons afterwards...

Posted by: ozpunk | June 29, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's still very good, but has started its decline. I hope they pull a "Seinfeld" and let it go before it falls too far. (But please come up with a better finale than "Seinfeld" did.)

Posted by: Janine1 | June 29, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's still very good, but has started its decline. I hope they pull a "Seinfeld" and let it go before it falls too far. (But please come up with a better finale than "Seinfeld" did.)

Posted by: Janine1 | June 29, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

You can't take a character that important out and try to continue with fewer people. Especially seeing as how the show has basically run its course. They'd have to bring in a new character. Key being new character, not a different actor playing a character who is basically Michael Scott with a new name.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | June 29, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Eric Idle would be the perfect replacement. His off the wall humor would be perfect. Bosses leave in life, why not at "the Office"?

Posted by: mty917 | June 29, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Steve Carell is just 'working it' for more money just like Charlie Sheen did, did, did.

So get over his contrived drama of moving on.

Posted by: MissClarty | June 29, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The original BBC series basically ended with Gervais' character having left the paper company, and they came back for one reunion special after that. The US show has already waned, and should go out on a strong note with Carrell's departure. It would take the combination of an amazingly strong actor and some amazingly fresh writing to revitalize the show after the central character leaves.

And, yes, Michael Scott is the central character to The Office. The show would not work without him. Jim or Dwight would be like Hawkeye or Frank in charge in M.A.S.H. For one or two episodes, it works, but as a sustained story line, the characters simply don't generate good chemistry in those roles. The Office would need a new Michael Scott who is decidedly not Michael Scott, but who manages to bring out the best of others in their roles. M.A.S.H. did it after the second season when Henry left to be replaced by Potter, and again when Frank left and Winchester stepped in, but it's a rare show that manages these transitions to survive for more than another disappointing year or two.

Posted by: blert | June 29, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Steve Carell is just 'working it' for more money just like Charlie Sheen did, did, did.

So get over his contrived drama of moving on.

Posted by: MissClarty | June 29, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Why bother keeping it on if Michael Scott is no longer the boss?

You should have included clips where Michael calls in after he burned his foot on his George Forman grill cooking bacon in bed.

Posted by: menopausequeen | June 29, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Also the episode when Stanley has the heart attack and the poor lady from the Red Cross comes to teach CPR.
Dwight pronounces the guy dead and cuts open the chest of the dummy to harvest the organs.

Posted by: menopausequeen | June 29, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The perfect replacement for Steve Carell would be President Obama, in an ongoing "cameo", maybe? President Obama is already in character. He doesn't even have to act. He IS Michael Scott.

Posted by: TreeHugger31 | June 29, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Ricky Gervais, or the original British version of the show are funny at all (credit the idea, however). Ricky is just an annoying Brit twit. I liked the characters of David Wallace and Charles Minor, but they were not meant to be funny and couldn't replace Michael in that role. Jan won't be coming back, either. Kathy Bates and her minion, Gabe, have done a good job so far, and Gabe could be a fine bumbler of a boss. But the show needs a big name star for better ratings. Alec Baldwin did wonders for "30 Rock." Ray Romano and Brad Garrett are doing other things. Kelsey Grammar is probably available, but would he do it? He's a little old for the part, but not too much.

Posted by: pookey12 | June 29, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Michael will marry Holly and retire to New Hampshire

Posted by: HardyW | June 29, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

It jumped the shark two years ago.

Posted by: whocares666 | June 29, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes it's just time for a show to end. That time has come for "The Office". With Carell's departure, there is simply no reason for The Office to continue.

The show has been getting weaker and weaker the last few seasons, and the time has come to pack it in before you totally jump the shark. Nothing to be ashamed of, just everybody take the high road and move on. Job well done, now get on with life.

Posted by: markiejoe | June 29, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

What a crushing bit of news. But as long as the same writers are kept on staff, I think they can pull it off without Steve Carell. However, you probably wouldn't want a straight-man taking over for Michael Scott, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: HilaryLo | June 29, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

CREED!!!

Posted by: Pupster | June 29, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

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