‘The Office’: Is Jim Halpert the Real Villain on the Show?

The Office has demonstrated itself to be a lasting pop culture phenomenon. With its seemingly endless wealth of memes and its immense popularity on streaming services, it’s clear that the NBC workplace comedy is going to continue to live on for longtime fans and new viewers alike.

As the opportunities to continue revisiting and analyzing the show present themselves, viewers have the chance to question some of their initial assumptions about the series. One of these has to do with how fans should feel about a typically beloved character.

Jim Halpert is often seen as an affable and charming character — a stand-in for the audience who is able to see through some of the ridiculousness of the situations around him. Upon closer inspection, however, some fans are crying foul. Perhaps Jim is really the biggest villain on the show.  

‘The Office’ makes the mundane hilarious

The original version of The Office premiered in the UK in 2001. That version ran on BBC and starred Ricky Gervais as a white-collar office manager. It ran for two six-episode seasons before getting canceled for low ratings.

The American version saw much greater success and quickly veered from its source material. The pilot for the American show used the same script — with some necessary alterations — as the original, but after that, the series took on a life of its own. 

John Krasinski as Jim Halpert on 'The Office
John Krasinski as Jim Halpert on ‘The Office’ | Mitchell Haaseth/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Premiering in 2005, NBC’s The Office was set in Scranton, PA and followed the day-to-day lives of employees working in a mediocre paper company. Shot with the increasingly popular “mockumentary” style, The Office managed to charm viewers with its ability to turn the mundane into the hilarious.

The show wasn’t driven by some over-the-top action or wild plot twists. Instead, it highlighted — often with biting satire — the every day relationships and inner motivations of typical middle-class life. 

‘The Office’ took time to explore drama as well as comedy

Part of what makes The Office so endearing, and thus so enduring, is that it manages to balance out the drama. Sure, casual fans may be most acquainted with one-liners from The Office like “That’s what she said,” but real fans know that there’s a human quality at the core of the show that helps add meaning. 

Central to the story was not just the day-to-day dramas of middle management but also Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his quest for love. Other relationships helped provide a more meaningful quality to the series as well, and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) was a key part of that work.

In many ways, Jim is the character the audience is supposed to relate to the most. He’s often caught up in the middle of what’s going on around him and exchanges knowing glances with the camera that make the audience feel like they’re in his shoes. Many people list Jim as their favorite character on the show, and his relationship with Pam (Jenna Fischer) helps solidify that spot in fans’ hearts. 

Is Jim Halpert really a good guy?


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With so many opportunities to watch the episodes again and again, some are pointing out that Jim may not be such a great guy after all. Ranker provides a list of all the reasons Jim is actually a “scumbag,” and some of them are pretty convincing. 

While fans may love that Jim ends up with Pam, he doesn’t have the greatest track record with the other women in his life. His treatment of Karen, in particular, doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny. He talks her into moving to be close to him but then keeps her at a distance and is dishonest with her. Worst of all, he doesn’t give her the benefit of an explanation. He just ignores her, leaving her with no clear sense of what happened in their relationship.

On top of that, some fans have pointed out he isn’t exactly great to Pam, either. He often berates her — such as when she couldn’t figure out how to film their daughter’s dance recital. Even their romantic relationship is tinged with creepiness when fans look closer and see that he continued to pursue her early in the series even though she had turned him down.

All in all, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Jim Halpert is not quite the nice everyman he appears to be, and may have suffered from “nice guy syndrome.”