The mass exodus from Dunder-Mifflin continues today, as series regular B.J. Novak won't be returning for the show's upcoming ninth season.
Novak (who played seemingly permanent "temp" Ryan Howard) has also served as both writer and producer on the series in the past, and it seems that he is leaving in those capacities as well. Novak's departure is the latest in a string of hits the show has taken in the last couple years, beginning of course with the departure of Steve Carell's much loved Michael Scott character. This season was already set to see the departures of both Mindy Kaling (to her own FOX sitcom), and Rainn Wilson (to a Dwight-centered spin-off series). James Spader's character of Robert California was initially brought on as a sort-of "replacement" when Carell left, but he didn't prove to be a huge hit with fans and Spader won't be returning either. Losing another regular isn't a great sign for the future prospects of the aging NBC comedy.
This leaves John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer to shoulder the majority of the load from here on out, and there's no telling how long they'll be willing to do that. Both have hinted that they would like to persue film careers sometime soon, but neither have given any impression they plan to leave the series either. Personally, I think this might be the last season of The Office, but that's obviously just speculation on my part. The show is starting to remind me of what happened in the ninth season of Scrubs, where the biggest stars left and a handful of regulars were left to carry the series. Thankfully, unlike Scrubs, most of the supporting cast is still in place.
Do you think season nine of The Office will be its last? Will all these cast departures hurt the show?