‘The Office’: Jim and Pam Were Originally Supposed to Break Up in the Final Season
Fans of The Office followed the ups and downs of Jim and Pam’s relationship throughout the series, as their journey took them from friends to a married couple with kids. Interestingly, the two were originally supposed to break up in the final season, but the writers thankfully abandoned that idea because fans were not happy with the direction the characters’ story was taking.
The show’s final season could have been much different
In the new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, author Andy Greene sheds some light on how the show’s creator, Greg Daniels, originally considered a much different path for fan-favorite couple Jim and Pam, played by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer.
Daniels wanted them to break up in season 9 and, while things didn’t play out that way in the end, the couple did face their biggest relationship hurdle when Jim went to work in Philly. Pam supported him but felt the challenges of being a single parent while he was away. When she asked cameraman Brian for advice, things between Jim and Pam were very shaky — but they navigated the bumpy terrain and ended up on solid ground again.
It was the biggest curve the couple faced but it might have gone a bit differently, as Krasinki told Greene that he had an idea for the couple’s story. “My whole pitch to Greg [Daniels] 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,” Krasinki shared with Greene, Collider reports.
He added, “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 Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.’”
They were supposed to split but get back together
The original idea wouldn’t have seen the couple split for good, however, as writer Brent Forrester noted that Jim and Pam would split during the season but get back together in the final episode of the series.
“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,” Forrester shared. “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.”
Producer and writer Warren Lieberstein explained that the idea of a split “wasn’t universally loved” by the show’s writers but they did bring the Brian storyline in to create some “worry.”
Writer Owen Ellickson noted that they discussed Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit,” but Daniels didn’t want to introduce that extreme into Jim and Pam’s relationship.
“It was just to introduce worry in the audience, which I think happened,” Ellickson noted. “I mean there are people who in season eight were like, ‘They’re so boring. They just hang out together and there’s no angst. We used to love the angst with their relationship.'”
Fans weren’t on board with this plotline
Forrester further explained how the writers pivoted from that original plotline with Brian because fans didn’t love it, noting, “We had to pull the ripcord on it because it was so painful to the fans of the show.”
He added, “John Krasinski said to me, ‘Brent, this final season is for the ultra fans of the show. They’re the only ones really still left watching, right? This is for them. Jim and Pam splitting up is too painful for them to sustain all the way to the reunion. We have to get them back together immediately.’”
Ellickson further noted that they had to edit episodes based on the fan response. “The episode that really spun people on a dime is one that I wrote [“Vandalism”] where Brian the boom guy heroically saves Pam from an attack from a warehouse guy,” he explained.
He continued, “People just absolutely did not like that. 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. It involved decently sized edits to the next two episodes, if I recall.”