In the event that NBC orders a ninth season of The Office, actor James Spader has announced that he will not be reprising his role as Robert California, CEO of Dunder Mifflin/Sabre. Instead, Spader joins the growing list of actors and creatives opting out of the long-running sitcom to pursue other ventures.

Spader’s role originally consisted of two scenes meant for the end of season 7, in which a replacement for Michael Scott (Steve Carell) was to be named. However, according to The Office executive producer Paul Liberstein, the character of Robert California and Spader’s performance, caught on to the degree that the actor ended up sticking around for season 8. And as the decision to leave the program is entirely Spader’s, apparently, one season was all he had any interest in doing.

In response, Liberstein was quick to point out that the news didn’t come as a surprise to producers of The Office or NBC:

“James always wanted this to be a one-year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television. He’s been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I’m grateful for that.”

The transition to an Office without Carell has been a bumpy one, and even though Andy Bernard, (played by The Hangover’s Ed Helms) stepped in to take the place of Michael Scott, it hasn’t stopped two main cast members from preparing to move on.

First up was Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor) who, in late January, had a comedy pilot picked up by FOX. The sitcom, which Kaling will also write and produce, is described as being about a young, Bridgette Jones-esque OB/GYN, and will require that she leave The Office in the event that it gets picked up to series.

Secondly, and perhaps more damaging to the future of The Office, would be the potential Dwight Schrute spin-off starring Rainn Wilson, which would center on the oft-mentioned Schrute farm, and the various Schrutes that still live there. The proposed series, which was later confirmed by Wilson, would be a midseason premiere, requiring Wilson to leave the show part-way through season 9.

Finally, with head writer Daniel Chun recently signing a deal with ABC studios, and John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) expressing interest in moving on, this may just be the beginning of the end for The Office. 

While fans will surely be heartbroken at the possibility of the show coming to a close sooner rather than later, the departure would serve to open up NBC’s bloated comedy schedule – one that NBC entertainment president Robert Greenblatt bemoaned when announcing the return of Community to the same time slot it had been hastily pulled from just months prior.

Screen Rant will keep you up to date on all the news regarding The Office as it becomes available.

Source: Deadline