There's another empty desk at The Office. After just one season with the long-running NBC sitcom, James Spader announced that he won't be returning next year. The Emmy-winning Boston Legal actor was meant to replace some of the star wattage lost when Steve Carell exited last year. Since Carell left and Spader joined the series, The Office has been on a ratings slide, posting its worst numbers ever. While critics were divided on how well Spader and his enigmatic character fit into the show, they agree that the series will struggle even more next season, its ninth, without a big name on board. Should The Office just give up?

It's time to end The Office: When Steve Carell left, says Kevin Yeoman at Screen Rant, so did the audience. And cast members seem to be fleeing, too. Scene-stealer Mindy Kaling will bail if her new Fox comedy pilot is picked up, and all signs point to Rainn Wilson leaving for a midseason spinoff centered around his character Dwight. Star John Krasinski has also expressed interest in moving on. "This may just be the beginning of the end for The Office." The good news? That would make room in "NBC's bloated comedy schedule," all but ensuring the return of Community next year.
"James Spader leaving The Office after one season"

The show's not going anywhere: There's no way The Office is ending, says James Poniewozik at TIME. Even with diminished ratings, it pulls better numbers than any other NBC comedy, making season nine "a foregone conclusion." Don't count the show out creatively, either. "The Office has a deep enough bench of characters to work as a true ensemble show." The most recent episode, which hilariously chronicled a quintet of the show's most eccentric characters on a business trip to Tallahassee, proved just that.
"Help wanted: Now James Spader leaving The Office"

Either way, good riddance to Spader: Thank goodness Spader is leaving, says Jennifer Graham Kizer at iVillage. Neither the actor nor his dark, enigmatic character Robert California ever gelled with the light and kooky show. The Office's best, most absurd characters — Andy, Angela, and Toby — are entertaining because "their idiosyncrasies resonate broadly." It was impossible to get a handle on Spader's character that way. "Even on TV, there is such a thing as too weird."
"Already? James Spader is leaving The Office"