Steve Carell Leaves 'The Office': How Does It Compare to Past TV Goodbyes?

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A look at how other shows sent off their big stars, from Cheers to E.R. to Spin City

Goodbye Michael Scott_post.jpg

NBC


Steve Carell and his foolishly lovable character Michael Scott said goodbye to The Office last night, after six years on the sitcom. His final episode might not rank among the greatest the series has produced over the years, but it was certainly a respectful send-off.

After tricking his staff into thinking he would be moving to Colorado a day after he really left, he visited each employee one by one, gifting them with something to remember him by. After an emotional conversation with Jim, Michael leaves for the airport, stripping off his microphone in a rare Office moment that acknowledges this is all footage being shot for a documentary. Pam, who didn't get to say goodbye, rushes through security (did she buy a ticket?) and catches Michael just in time for a last hug.

Critics are giving the episode arguably staid praise as a suitable send-off for the character. "Though this episode lacked the usual absurdist momentum of a typical day at "The Office," it was quietly and almost perfectly sad," Hank Steuver at The Washington Post wrote. "Though tonight's episode was short on laughs and big on tears ... it seemed the only appropriate way to pay tribute to the self-proclaimed world's best boss," Speakeasy agreed.

But Carell isn't the first star to leave a hit show before its series finale—beloved programs from Cheers to E.R. said goodbye to characters in the middle of their runs. How did Carell's farwell compare to send-offs of other TV actors who departed their series at the height of their runs? And more, importantly, does the post-exit success of those actors and shows predict anything about the future of Carell and The Office?

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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