‘The Office’: ‘Game of Thrones’ Inspired the Show’s Storytelling, Then Dwight Schrute Inspired ‘GoT’

Brian Baumgartner plays Kevin Malone in the NBC comedy series The Office. More recently, Baumgartner has become the host of two Office-themed podcasts. Throughout his interviews with The Office cast and crew, Baumgartner is learning what makes the show so unique. During one interview, the actor uncovered how the Game of Thrones series inspired The Office. 

Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute in a talking head from 'The Office'
Rainn Wilson | Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’ features different types of story arcs 

As Baumgartner explains on his two podcasts, An Oral History of The Office and The Office Deep Dive, the comedy series features different sized story arcs ranging from small to medium and large. These arcs are mini-stories folded into the larger story that is The Office

For example, when Michael Scott (Steve Carell) leaves Dunder Mifflin to start the Michael Scott Paper Company and Charles Miner (Idris Elba) makes a guest appearance, that is a story arc. The showrunners knew how long that “story” would last for Michael until he eventually returns to Dunder Mifflin. 

Other story arcs in The Office are more long-term. For instance, all of the relationships in the show are “large arcs” that play out over time and are an essential part of the show’s overall story. 

‘Game of Thrones’ story layout inspires the story arcs in ‘The Office’ 

During a chat with Baumgartner on The Office Deep Dive, writer, director, and producer Brent Forrester explains how Game of Thrones played a role in the story arcs The Office features. “I remember Greg [Daniels] figured out TV shows should have arcs before anybody did,” says Forrester. He explains how, historically, television shows would tell a singular story in an episode. You could tune in whenever a show came on, especially in syndication, and know what was happening. 

“Greg recognized that arcing out was the new way of doing things — he was reading Game of Thrones,” Forrester adds. When Daniels saw Game of Thrones on HBO and realized the production benefitted from know where the story would go long term, he started applying that methodology to The Office

‘The Office inspired ‘Game of Thrones’ too

In Game of Thrones, the Dothraki are a people with their own language, which was created by linguist David Peterson. When Peterson saw the deleted scene of Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) teaching Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) how to speak Dothraki in the episode “Andy’s Ancestry,” he knew he had to include the word in the HBO series. Peterson was drawn to Dwight’s use of the term for “throat rip,” so he worked it into the Dothraki people’s language. 

‘The Office’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ inspired a skit during the 63rd Primetime Emmys

During the 2011 Emmy Awards, the cast of The Office participated in a skit featuring characters from popular shows, including Breaking BadParks & Rec and Game of Thrones. In the bit, Jessie Pinkman (Aaron Paul) drops some crystal meth off to Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton). 

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A Dothraki complains about his co-workers not rinsing the horse heart bowl out after use. And Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) mocks her Dothraki colleague. Kim Kardashian West, among other stars, also makes an appearance in the hilarious sketch inspired by amazing television. 

Want more behind-the-scenes stories about The Office? Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for updates on Baumgartner’s podcast.