While cute anecdotes about The Office’s writers room often emerge from the wild every year or so, its 15th anniversary has resulted in an extensive new book about the sitcom by Andy Greene. It’ll take you hours to go through all of the gossip and oral histories, but we’d like to direct you to one particularly interesting tidbit that involves the second greatest couple in TV history: It was originally planned for Jim and Pam to split up in the final season, only to reconcile in the series finale. Per Greene’s book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, John Krasinski (who portrayed Jim) was an early advocate of the marriage’s demise, arguing that it was a realistic, albeit sad, evolution for the couple.
“My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do,” Krasinski explained. “For me it was, ‘Can you have this perfect relationship go through a split and keep it the same?’ which of course you can’t. And I said to [showrunner and creator] Greg Daniels, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.’” Writer Brent Forrester corroborated Krasinski’s account, saying that the split would’ve occurred midway through season nine. “Greg really wanted to do something extremely risky and high-stakes, which was the documentary airs and we see what effect it has had on these characters,” he said. “And there was going to be a reunion episode where you see that Jim and Pam have split up by this time, and they will have their reunion in the reunion episode.”
Interestingly, Greene’s book says that Mindy Kaling was an enthusiast of Jim and Pam splitting as early as season five, although the idea “wasn’t universally loved” in the writers room. The introduction of a documentary crew member named Brian (played by Chris Diamantopoulos) was meant to provoke viewers into thinking Pam would consider an affair. Writer Owen Ellickson, however, says the idea spectacularly backfired thanks to negative viewer response to the episode where Brian saves Pam from an assault.
“People just absolutely did not like that,” Ellickson said. “They were bothered that there might be some triangle that Pam and Jim would be involved in and even more insulted that we thought they might believe that. That’s how it felt to me. Greg absolutely turned on a dime after that and we pivoted away, I think pretty skillfully given how quickly we had to do that.” As a result, the subsequent two Office episodes had to go through “decently sized edits” to remove any suggestion of cheating. In fact, Krasinski grew to dislike the idea he originally campaigned for, as he realized it would be “too painful” for “the ultra fans of the show” who were still watching. That is, and that will always continue to be, what he said.