Andy Greene's "The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s" reports the beloved actor wasn't planning on exiting the sitcom, but the heads at NBC didn't exactly want him to stay either, according to Collider.
"As I recall, he was going to do another season and then NBC, for whatever reason, wouldn't make a deal with him," casting director Allison Jones told Greene. "Somebody didn't pay him enough. It was absolutely asinine. I don't know what else to say about that. Just asinine."
Per sound mixer Brian Wittle and hairstylist Kim Ferry, the drama began when Carell "haphazardly" mentioned wanting to leave the show during a 2010 BBC interview, but Carell told them it was just him thinking out loud and he never made a definitive decision at that time.
But news of the interview spread and Carell said he never got a reaction from the network, and they ultimately didn't pick up his option.
"He didn't want to leave the show," Ferry said. "He had told the network that he was going to sign for another couple of years. He told his manager and his manager contacted them and said he's willing to sign another contract. And the deadline came for when [the network was] supposed to give him an offer and it passed and they didn't make him an offer."
The author noted that Carell's contract extension came when NBC was swapping out head honcho Jeff Zucker for Bob Greenblatt. "The Office" producer Randy Cordray noted that Greenblatt "was not as big a fan of The Office as we wished he would've been."
"If you're not respected and don't even get offered a contract or a discussion of a future contract, then you move on," Cordray told Greene for the book.
Ferry explained, "I feel bad because I think a lot of people think he did leave the show on his own merit and it's absolutely not true. I'm telling you. I was there. He really wanted to stay. And it devastated all of us because he was the heart of our show."
After Carell wasn't asked back, the show went on for another two seasons, never quite recovering from the loss of their lead star. Carell did, however, reprise his role as Michael Scott for the series finale.