It is not rare to see a successful television show get a spinoff of some sort at the tail end of its run or right after the series concludes, which is what makes the fact that The Office never received a spinoff of its own such a strange phenomenon. Everything from Breaking Bad to Big Bang Theory have all received new shows based on popular characters over the years, so why didn’t anyone from Dunder Mifflin Scranton get more time in the spotlight? Well, there was an attempt to continue the story of Rainn Wilson’s signature character Dwight Schrute with a series that would have been called The Farm, but things simply didn’t pan out.
But why didn’t things work out and what happened to what those involved with both The Office and The Farm thought would be NBC’s next hit? Below we will break down what Dwight Schrute's spinoff was about, how the show’s producers salvaged the material, and even what Rainn Wilson, who would have headlined a cast of comedy up-and-comers had to say about the backdoor pilot to bring the assistant to the assistant to the regional manager from the office to the farm.
Some Basic Things To Know About The Farm
More than a year before The Office was brought to a close with its ninth and final season, talk began to circulate that Dwight Schrute would be getting a series of his own with Deadline reporting that the show, which would later become known as The Farm, was reportedly going to have a midseason premiere in Spring 2013. At the time of the January 2012 announcement, it was revealed that The Office executive producer (who also played Toby) Paul Lieberstein and Rainn Wilson were the ones spearheading the project that would revolve around Dwight and his family beet farm. Lieberstein would later take time off from the hit NBC comedy to prepare for what would become The Farm’s pilot.
The backdoor pilot, which later became an episode of The Office Season 9, centered on Dwight Schrute as his siblings returned to the family farm for a very “Scrute funeral.” Introducing characters like Majandra Delfino’s Fannie, Thomas Middleditch’s Jeb, Matt Jones’ Zeke, and several others, the pilot aimed to expand the Schrute family and take Rainn Wilson’s most famous character into the post-Office world.
But NBC Didn’t Order The Series
By late 2012, however, the idea of The Farm being more than a pilot and becoming its own show was dead in the water after potential star Rainn Wilson sent out a tweet confirming that NBC would not be picking it up to succeed The Office.
The reason as to why NBC failed to pick up The Farm for a full series largely remains a mystery all these years later, but some of the footage from the pilot ended up being incorporated into an episode of The Office near the end of its run in 2013.
The Farm Ended Up Airing In The Office’s Final Season
The Farm was originally produced to be a backdoor pilot for the potential series, but the episode that made it into the ninth season of The Office was altered, with additional footage shot to tie it in with the rest of the characters back at Dunder Mifflin. Greg Daniels, executive producer of The Office, told TVLine in December 2012 that “The Farm” would be a “very good episode” that just needed to be tweaked a bit, stating:
We’re not going to air exactly what it was, because it has certain aspects that were appropriate for a pilot of a new show. We’re going to shoot a little additional material to make it fit into the season more.
The critical response to the episode, however, was mostly negative with outlets like IGN and HitFix pointing out issues like the "Frankensteining" of footage from the pilot with scenes with the rest of the cast and how what was left of the original ideas and characters from The Farm were "barely sketches" in the finished product.
The Farm Was Going To Be More Far Out And Weirder Than The Office
But what would have The Farm looked like if NBC decided to pick it up instead of halting the project and what kind of show would have it been? Going back to January 2012 when the backdoor pilot was first announced, star Rainn Wilson told E! at the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards (via THR) that the spinoff would have been much different compared to The Office, stating:
It could be really cool because it would be on [Dwight’s] farm, which would be a bed & breakfast, and it would have a crazy menagerie of characters. It would be even more far out and weirder than The Office… it’s a good idea.
It remains a mystery if we’ll ever get to see what Rainn Wilson and Paul Lieberrstein had in store for Dwight Schrute and the rest of his insane family (at least the footage not seen on The Office), but it isn’t all bad news for the TV star.
Rainn Wilson Wanted The Farm To Go To Series But Was Ready To Hang Up His Hat
With NBC failing to pick up The Farm and continue on with the life of Dwight Schrute, it meant that Rainn Wilson’s time playing the annoyingly absurd character would come to an end along with the rest of the cast of The Office in May 2013. A few months before the Season 9 finale, Wilson appeared on Larry King Now where the legendary interviewer asked the actor if wanted The Farm to blossom into something more, with Wilson responding:
I wanted it to be a series, but I was in this great situation because I wanted it to be a series — I thought it was a really fun idea to be out on Dwight’s crazy beet farm, but I’m also equally happy to be hanging up my terrible haircut and my terrible glasses in mid-March and be done with Dwight and put him to bed. It’s been a great run.
And it was a great run. Over the course of The Office’s nine seasons, Rainn Wilson was part of a cast that received two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (plus five additional nominations) and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy nominations for best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in as many years between 2007 and 2009.
Who knows, maybe we’ll finally get to see more of The Farm when The Office begins streaming on Peacock in January 2021, especially considering all of the bonus materials the streamer will be hosting related to the hit comedy series in the months to come.