The Office: ‘Goodbye, Michael’ Review & Discussion – Steve Carell’s Last Episode

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 12:11 pm,

the office goodbye michael1 The Office: Goodbye, Michael Review & Discussion   Steve Carells Last Episode

Update: ‘The Office’: You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Michael Scott

Steve Carell’s final episode of The Office, titled “Goodbye, Michael,” proved to be a truly wonderful and extremely emotional farewell for one of television’s most beloved characters.

As the episode began, it was hard to see exactly how the departure of Michael Scott was going to be handled from a storytelling standpoint. With Michael and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) waxing poetic about possible ways to avoid being eaten by Colorado bears, the opening (with its abrupt ending) failed to lay the comedic and/or emotional groundwork for what was to come.

And that, for the most part, is how the first half of the special extended episode felt. While the audience knew that this was Steve Carell’s final episode, the actually implementation of that story felt, at times, lacking in both sincerity and hilarity. That is, of course, until Michael revealed what was actually happening.

Up until that point, Michael had been going around the office to talk to his long-time co-workers. Unbeknownst to them (and the viewers watching), today was actually Michael’s last day. While it’s almost certain that everyone watching felt their heart drop at this revelation, the explanation for Michael’s ruse was never full explained, so there were times when the subtle confusion of this plot aspect took away from the more emotional scenes – although, not by much.

In an attempt to break-up the hour-long farewell to Michael, an additional storyline with Andy and Deangelo Vickers was implemented. Given the need to make this extended episode feel evenly paced, and acknowledge to the audience that while Michael Scott’s story is coming to an end, The Office is not. So, one can understand the purpose of this episode’s sub-plot. Whether or not they could have chosen a better story for this purpose remains to be seen.

the office goodbye michael 2 The Office: Goodbye, Michael Review & Discussion   Steve Carells Last Episode

With the love-it or hate-it opinion in regards to Will Ferrell’s appearance on The Office as Deangelo Vickers, perhaps other characters should have been chosen – especially since Will Ferrell will only be around for a two more episodes. That being said, the need for removing Deangelo from the office while Michael was saying his goodbyes was integral, so perhaps it wasn’t all that bad. Plus, Andy’s (Ed Helms) pink pants were great.

Saying goodbye to a beloved character on a television series is always tough, and while the special extended episode of The Office served to acknowledge the importance of what was happening, perhaps Ray Romano was correct when he decided to make his last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond just like the previous – 30-minutes long.

Much of the hour-long episode of The Office was spent with the characters of Dunder Mifflin being unaware of Michael leaving ahead of schedule, so many of the sincere goodbyes that could have taken place were muddled with frivolous episodic filler. By the time Jim became aware of what was happening there were only 15-minutes left in the episode (including commercials).

While it should be stated that the scene between Jim (John Krasinski) and Michael was absolutely heartbreaking and extremely emotional to watch, I couldn’t help but wish that there would have been more of that type of sentiment through-out.

the office goodbye michael 3 The Office: Goodbye, Michael Review & Discussion   Steve Carells Last Episode

Even though Dwight did become choked up while reading Michael’s letter of recommendation, and Pam (Jenna Fischer) beautifully swept in towards the end with her emotional farewell, there was still an underlying feeling that the producers of The Office were trying to downplay Steve Carell’s departure, in hopes that it would prove to the viewers that the series can continue without him.

With a slew of familiar characters to choose from, “Goodbye, Michael” could have been a tear-jerker from the start. While that most certainly wouldn’t have made for an entertaining farewell, it would have tapped more into what the audience was actually feeling – and we didn’t even work with Michael for all of those years.

As Michael flew away to be with Holly in Boulder, Colorado, one couldn’t help but wonder what’s next for The Office. Even though the series has many guest stars slated in the coming weeks, it’s going to be hard to see that office without him in it.

Even with all of its faults, “Goodbye, Michael” was still a truly wonderful way to say goodbye to the world’s best boss.


The Office airs Thursdays @9pm on NBC

Follow me on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. Anyone else notice how after he threw away his “World’s Greatest Boss” mug and he set his Dundee award down, He adjusted it on his desk and the camera angle was from outside his window, exactly like we have been watching in the opening credits for 7 years now.

    Brilliantly done!

    • Yes, I did notice that movement with the Dundee award and chuckled. Even though there are a few episodes left, tonight felt like the finale. I have no desire whatsoever to watch this show without Michael. I think they could’ve done a better job seeing him off. It just wasn’t special enough.

  2. I felt that Michael hid the fact he was leaving because he didn’t want to cause any undue sadness in his coworkers. It’s all part of the “Evolution of Michael Scott”. He matured as a human being, as we saw at the beginning with his “vanilla, not mint chocolate chip” line, and he doesnt want others to suffer because of him.
    I thought the show struck the perfect balance between sentimentality and humor. The Office isn’t going to end with Steve Carell, but it is the dawn of a new era, and I think that this episode ended Michael Scott’s chapter of the office the best way possible.
    That said, I do agree that the Andy/Deangelo subplot was rather lackluster. Though the premise was touching (Michael giving Andy his top 10 clients), I really do feel that Will Ferrell ruined it. His comedic timing just clashes with the general feel of The Office.

    Overall, Goodbye, Michael was the best episode of Season 7, without a doubt, definitely in the top 10 of all Office episodes, and respectfully and appropriately ended the era of a man who devoted his life to the company.

    *PS: Although I feel that having a Season 8 episode of Michael’s wedding would be contrary to the clean ending given to Michael in this episode, I would put aside my skepticism to see one more solid appearance of Michael next season, though I know its not very likely.

    • I totally disagree. I thought this was the worst episode of the Office ever. I thought they sent Michael off in the worst possible way they could. I mean they couldn’t have just left Pam out of the airport scene and have her come back to the Office to find out from Jim that Michael was gone? And Michael couldn’t just tell everyone in the Office that he was leaving that day? I’m extremely disappointed in the writers of the Office. The Andy/Gabe and Andy/Deangelo subplots were by far the worst stories in the history of the Office. How anyone can find the good in this episode is beyond me. I thought this episode was brutal, mean, and very hard to watch. One last note, why in the world was this episode 52 minutes long? I would’ve been way more satisfied to have a full two part hour long episode than this garbage.

      • Jim texted Pam to tell her that Michael was leaving…So she did know that it was his last day.
        Listen, like I said before, Michael didn’t want to cause any undue grief in his coworkers. In Season 3, when Michael thought he was leaving, we saw that his main concern was getting his coworkers’ sympathy. Back then, he would have given ANYTHING to have his employees bawling their hearts out at his departure. Now that Michael has grown as a person, he realizes that he can’t be so selfish. He cares about his coworkers’ happiness, and knows that even if they dont cry their hearts out, they still truly care for him.
        As for the Andy/Gabe, Andy/Deangelo stories, I respect your opinion. I’m not saying that these were the BEST B-plots in the show’s history, but they were definitely solid. The writers didnt want to overshadow Michael’s departure with an amazing B-plot, so I think that these two plots tied in nicely with the A-plot, as well as provided some light-hearted humor to counter Michael’s tear-inducing departure.
        Finally, as hard as it is to believe, the end of Michael Scott does not mean the end of The Office. If they had made a 2 hour long episode, that would have a)been a giant sob-fest, with 20 minute long goodbyes for each character and b)caused all Office fans to lose hope in the post-Michael Scott era.

        Goodbye, Michael was, without a doubt, an amazing episode.

        • lolz eric got pwned.

          • I agree with Eric, this episode totally sucked.

      • how wass this ep brutal or mean?

  3. I personally found it a tad underwhelming, but oh well.

    I agree with iheartmichealscott on how he didn’t tell anyone because it showed his growth as a character. And raven I totally noticed that too!

    And I thought next week was Ferell’s final episode

    • Next week is his last episode.

      • No. It’s over.
        He flew on a plane and left, dude!
        He’s not gonna fly all the way back just to pick up his toy truck or something stupid like that!

        • he was saying next week is will ferell’s last episode not steve carell’s

  4. Seems so surreal. I am so sad.

  5. The scene with Michael giving that scarecrow to Oscar and then laughing and making the comment that “Oscar thinks I am an idiot” was priceless. I love watching Michael Scott laugh.

    • That was by far one of my favorite parts of this episode as well.

  6. Any of you seen the original BBC Office?

    Its actually better,,,,

    • Everyone says its better its actually not. Maybe better than the last couple seasons but the office seasons 1- 3 were better

    • It’s not better, it’s different. David Brent and Michael Scott are vastly different characters and the shows have very different tones. Has the US Office run its course, or rather, hit some rough patches along the way? Sure. But I’d argue that in the end, both versions of the show have the same amount of memorable moments and great episodes.

      I do find it funny when people say this though, considering Ricky Gervais essentially signs off on the US Office since he’s a producer.

      • I disagree I think its funny when people can’t compare something just because the tone is different. There not completely differrnt shows actually there insanely similar. The us office gervais had a chance to tweak to make it a better show. That’s why USA office was far more successful. I’m not saying success is an indication of quality.

    • Fully agreed. More concise, original (of course) subtle, and the characters are more real and less caricatures. It is specially noticed in how they managed the drama-comedy. I’ve had my fun with the US version but it was a long time ago.

  7. I for one think that they did an excellent job of sending Michael off. If you think about it, in the few preceding episodes concerning the boss’ departure, we’ve had quite a few of those sentimental/”aww”/fanfare moments already. Wasn’t the office’s rendition of “Seasons of Love” enough of a sappy goodbye? I like the way they handled Michael’s departure episode, since it took the show back to its roots: comedy. Recently I’ve been having a sinking feeling that the show was approaching dramatic material. I say enough with sentiment! They demonstrated in this episode that they returned to their comedic focus, occasionally interspersed with sensibility and seriousness. And the comedy was relatively well-done this episode! (in comparison to the rest of the season) It was refreshingly subtle and un-exaggerated, and they even indulged in self-parody with well-placed meta-jokes(ie. Michael telling Kevin not to be a caricature, and in a previous episode, Michael telling Erin she was getting really funny).

    As far as the emotional moments go, I felt that they were far more sincere than anything else that has been presented so far this season. Jim’s and Michael’s scene, and subsequently Pam’s and Michael’s scene, were elegant and deeply emotional in their simplicity (even down to the somewhat-cliche/corny silence of Pam’s goodbye). In other words, it didn’t feel like they were trying too hard. As such, they felt more sincere because they were more realistic goodbyes than, say, tearful, gut-wrenching, elaborate goodbyes from everyone in the entire cast. I think the downplaying of his departure was more a reflection of Michael’s inability to say goodbye and his reluctance to leave, rather than a strategic move by the producers. In the end, the fact that Michael didn’t make too big a deal of his departure demonstrated a maturity that his character gained throughout the show. The result was, I never came closer to crying this season.

  8. Initially after the show was over, I felt a little cheated and that Steve Carrell deserved a better way to go out, but after reflecting on the episode I thought it was pretty well done. With all the hype leading up to this being his last episode, it really felt it should’ve been grander, but I think it was a nice transition to show that the show would continue on, especially when he was standing at the door one last time watching everyone continue their work. I also thought it was a really nice touch that they put in him giving over his mic and asking him to let him know if it will ever air, a minor detail that could’ve easily been forgotten but was a nice touch to reinforce the documentary feel.

  9. DinomitRex and Chiguy bring up very valid points. I didn’t dislike the last show…I guess I dislike the thought of not seeing Michael on it anymore.

  10. I thought it was perfect. Perfect amount of humor and drama. Story worked perfect for me. I’m glad they didn’t make it some grand exit like some hoped. This way seemed realistic and it was very effective. It was perfect to me.

  11. Perfect!


    Pam LOVES Michael. She always had. She always covered for his ineptitudes. When he left to start his own company, she went with him.

    And also, Michael LOVES Pam. He was so anxious to see her before he left. And he always tried to get close to her, even after she was involved with Jim.

    That’s the big secret – that Michael and Pam had an unfulfilled relationship. It was Pam that Michael didn’t want to leave.

    • That is so dumb she has been in a relationship always and hated michael a lot. He had sex with Pam’s Mom. Stop smoking dude

    • Michael and Pam’s relationship is a combination of a brother/sister relationship and a father/daughter relationship. So unless you’re suggesting incest, there’s no way those two have a thing for each other.

  13. Anyone else curious as to why Pam went to go watch “the kings speech?” There was no mention of it throughout the episode, and the fact that it occurred immediately before a commercial break tells me that it wasn’t supposed to be seen as a joke or anything. Was it supposed to show that Pam was just wasting time because she didn’t feel like going back to work? Was it supposed to show that she was lying about pricing out new shredders and instead doing something else that will eventually form an underlying story in upcoming episodes? Or was it that she also knew that this was really Michael’s last day and she didn’t want to accept it? Maybe i’m overanalyzing, I just felt like it was sort of unnecessary and misleading

    • Wow – great point – The King’s Speech. I believe it had two meanings:
      1. Pam knows working at DM is a farce sometimes, so she just took two hours of company time for her own amusement.
      2. The choice of the movie could have been a subliminal allegory to working for Michael, who never delivered a prepared, organized, or meaningful speech.

    • I figured it was to show marriage problems between Jim/Pam. Too much time together. Plus… Pam not responding to Jim’s TEXT? (Just a text? Really?)… idk.

      • What’s wrong with u people. Didn’t mean anything she said she was getting a new shredder and watched a cool movie instead. Wth we’ve all done it

    • i think it was just suposed to be funny like how they all play solitare and minesweeper when they are suposed to be working

  14. While I think they could’ve made it much more dramatic and tear-jerking, I respect their decision to downplay it. It was far more realistic, and it reflects how Michael has grown. He knew he was loved by the other people (the dundie) and that was enough for him, he didn’t want the entire office crying for him.

    There were also many hilarious moments, I laughed myself to tears after he gave Oscar that scarecrow thingy. Great episode, great show. I think it will be weird to watch the coming episodes.

  15. Anyone else notice Michael’s last line? I cannot think of something more appropriate: “That’s what she said!”

  16. Well I disagree, Gervais is irritatingly funny to such selfcentered degree that Correl comes off as hollow. More about expressions and playing to the camera.

    I do find it funny that NBC has to rip off a show in such detail, and its reguarded as one of their best,,,

    Like Brent would say, “sad really” (like my grammar,,,,)
    and then he would run home and get his guitar. :)

    • I have to say that NBC tried to “rip-off” the UK version of The Office in the beginning, but quickly realized that it wouldn’t work. After season 1, NBC’s The Office took on an life of its own and, in some ways, is better than the UK version in terms of character development and storylines.

  17. Loved the episode, but made the decision to stop watching now. can’t stand Ferrol and honestly The Office with out Scott is pointless.

    As far as the Uk or US I prefer the US, but enjoy the UK. I’ve seen every episode of both, but IMO the US version overall is bett. Seasons 1-6 easily beat every season of the UK version but this season struggles a bit to keep up.

  18. I cried the whole time because i have seen every episode 5 times and everything made a lot more sense to me than a lot of other people. They are not going to cancel the show, it is the highest rated show on nbc. Thats all that matters. I thought this episode was the best episode since season 2 and most realistic

  19. I saw the Wizard of Oz element to this story. Did anyone else?

    The only real communication connections Michael made before he left for his big journey were to the kind-hearts in The Office. (It pained me to see how Kelly, Ryan and Stanley failed to connect with someone who had cared about them so. At least Meredith and Creed heard him out.) But back to the Oz connection. First it was with Phyllis, who was knitting ruby colored mittens, and who was sweetly praised in a way by Michael we never witnessed before. (She also warned him about washing those mittens, like the Good Witch warning a certain Kansas girl about a pair of shoes.) Michael then gave Andy his top ten clients and promised him his heart (like the tin man) would see him through (which it did.) Then on to Kevin, who was characterized in that animal drawing (was he a lion?) and whom Michael told to have courage that he’d surely find love and lose a little weight. Next was Michael’s little joke on office brain (scarecrow) Oscar, whom he gifted with a gag scarecrow so he could laugh at his ultra analytical seriousness.(The all knowing one exposed by missing the real meaning of Michael’s present, that as he said, could have been made by a two year old….monkey….?)

    When Michael had his tender heart to heart talk with Erin, I thought perhaps she was Dorothy. Maybe, maybe not. We also watched the perpetual kindness of Toby as he tried to put Michael in touch with his brother who lives in Colorado, and despite his own best attempt, Michael found himself still deeply unsettled by that final encounter. Of course Dwight finally won the paternal love and recognition he sought in Michael’s recommendation letter and triumphant paintball win over his soon to be former boss. And Jim, like the kindly medicine man of The Wizard of Oz reading the coming storm clouds, correctly interpreted the signs that Michael gave of his imminent departure. What a moment they shared together in Michael’s office. But where was Pam?

    She had gone to see The King’s Speech. Like Dorothy, perhaps, seeking to hear the words of the Wizard? It was her final scene at the airport with Michael that made me realize Pam had to be the Dorothy of this heartbreaking episode, and she was helping Michael fly away to his real home. Michael always wanted a good woman to help him on his journey, and Pam was the one who often pointed him what road to follow in their daily work-life, didn’t she?

    By the way, I predict the real new boss could very well be none other than the Nard Dog himself, Andrew Bernard. He’s like Michael in the touching way you can read his feelings in his eyes. Just a guess from my part, but if I were writing for the show, that would be my chess move here.

    By the way, if you can’t already tell, I really like The Office. Perhaps too much.

    • Yes, I agree! Michael was the Wizard – a bumbling fool of a Wizard that always had an answer for anything but was really worthless, just like in Oz. And like in Oz, he left without Dorothy. PS – Dwight would be the Tin Man – protector of all (remember he was a part-time sherriff) as well as a cry-baby. Jim was Toto, always loyal to Dorothy (Pam). The rest of the cast were Munchkins.

  20. why did they make kelly’s last words to him something mean, she just yelled at him to go away? Even though kelly and michael never really had moments together I still would have liked it to have been nicer, i was kind of upset with that. i was expecting a lot more character interaction in this episode and there really wasn’t any, I get that they wanted to make it a point that the office would go on without him but they still could have made it a bit more emotional. And the fact that they didn’t make it that emotional makes me wonder why they didnt add more humor into it, it just wasn’t a funny episode (although i did like the part at the end with deangelo eating the cake and them two saying “oh no” lol) the best part of this episode to me was when he took of the mic and then mouthed/said “that’s what she said” i thought that was clever and sweetly done but other than that i too felt really cheated by this episode, it was very off to me

    • the sadest part of the episode was when michael took off his microphone and said his last “thats what she said”

      • Yes. I cried when he walked away.

  21. Did anyone catch the underlying mystery developed in this episode? Everyone seemed so distracted by Michael’s departure, this seemed to have skimmed right over most viewers.

    Isn’t it peculiar that Phyllis admitted to giving away a child when Michael said he wished to reveal a secret about her? (he said she was cute in high school). A few scenes later, in Michael’s heart to heart conversation with Erin, she mentions that she wishes she knew her birth mother so she could know if Andy or Gabe was right for her.

    In the past, we’ve come to realize that the unseen cameraman documenting the series is, perhaps, the most intelligent “character” present. For example, he addressed Jim and Pam’s initial relationship in Season 4, as well as Dwight and Angela’s when Pam asked him to. Specifically, the cameraman came running to Pam when he had seen that Dwight was eating a candy bar that Angela had gotten. Clearly, this cameraman is very perceptive.

    And this is the most important part. The extremely short clip afterwards.

    Directly after Erin’s conversation, there is a very short clip showing Erin on the phone. The camera then zooms out to display Erin in the background and Phyllis in the foreground. Taking into consideration the cameraman’s past endeavors, he could easily be suspecting that Phyllis is, in fact, Erin’s birth mother. Now, whether Erin is actually Phyllis’ daughter or not may entirely be false.

    But, the mystery was revealed.

  22. The fact that Michael was unselfish and nice to everyone in the beginning because he was leaving just proves that he knew he was being an ass all of these years and didn’t care.

  23. Excellent review.

  24. I felt the exact same way. I love the character of Michael Scott and I love The Office. I was surprised at how unsatisfying this episode was. There were good moments, but there should have been more. I definitely agree that it felt like the writers/producers were trying to downplay the significance of Michael’s departure. I wanted the entire episode to be full of tearful goodbyes. I wanted it to be all about Michael. I wanted them to show just how much the people in The Office had come to respect and care about Michael. Having him leave a day early without anyone knowing about it was kind of weak, in my opinion. I felt like most of the people in The Office were robbed of their chance to have a proper goodbye. The DeAngelo Vickers subplot just wasn’t interesting at all. This episode should have put more focus and emphasis on the relationships that have been established between Michael and each one of the employees. I’m honestly shocked to see the amount of praise that critics are showing towards this episode. I believe The Office is the best show on TV, but I was very disappointed with this episode. It just didn’t live up to the hype. And I really wanted it to.

  25. i don’t agree with your review of the last episode…the way michael did his goodbye was poetic. for 7 seasons everything was all about michael. he needed the attention and the reassurance that he was loved. the last 2 or 3 episodes were building up to him “growing up” (letting go of todd packer, seeing the silliness in his movie, etc.). so the final michael episode was the last stage of his new found maturity. he didn’t make it about him, he made it about them. also the moving goodbyes being only in the last 15 minutes made it more emotional…the fact that you wanted more of them means they got it right! if they had all been as emotional as jim’s and pam’s you would have been less affected at the end.

    i say job well done writers and producers. i watched the episode 4 times in one day and cried each time. bravo.

  26. i cried like the whole episode..

  27. more than just t.v.

    • I cried too

  28. I’m crying right now honestly thinking of that episode… it made me so sad and still does to this day!