Why The Office Cast and Crew Kept Michael Scott's Return in the Finale a Secret From NBC

Steve Carell makes his triumphant (and secretive) return to the final episode of The Office.
Steve Carell makes his triumphant (and secretive) return to the final episode of The Office. / NBC Universal

There are plenty of heartfelt moments throughout NBC's nine seasons of The Office, but some are much more emotional than others. If you don't at least tear up every time you watch Jim and Pam's wedding, why are you the way that you are? Another major moment that cued the waterworks occurred in the final season, when Steve Carell reprised his role as Michael Scott to attend Dwight and Angela's wedding. Though fans would probably all agree that they would have liked to have seen and heard more from him, Carell's key line—"That's what she said"— was really the perfect touch.

Carell's decision to leave The Office in season 7 is still a sore spot for many of the show's fans, but it definitely made his appearance two seasons later all the more surprising and sweet. Yet fans weren't the only ones who were shocked by his return. The show's creator Greg Daniels spoke to Entertainment Weekly all about the finale back in 2014, revealing that a few measures were taken to ensure the network was kept in the dark, too.

When asked about the writers' decision to bring back Michael, Daniels said it was a no-brainer, and that "It wouldn’t have been a big finale without him." But when it came to the network, apparently that one minor part of the finale wasn't disclosed. When asked if NBC had any input in the two-part episode, Daniels explained:

"[T]hey were super supportive. They wanted it to be done the way we wanted to do it and helped us strategize about how to pull it off. That’s all. Well actually ... you know, we didn’t tell them about Steve. They didn’t know about Steve and the line producer was a little nervous about it, I think he was afraid he was going to lose his job. But we shot the Steve stuff and we kept it out of the dailies and didn’t tell them about it. At the table reading, we gave the Steve Carell lines to Creed."

Oh, Creed, we knew we could always rely on you ... we guess?

Considering how well-received The Office finale was, we have to imagine that the network probably didn't mind too much about being kept in the dark. Though the ninth season is regularly cited as a fan favorite (despite its lack of Carell), the finale really pulled at their heartstrings and reminded fans why they fell in love with the Scranton squad in the first place.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]