‘The Office’: Was Rashida Jones Supposed to Stay as Karen Filippelli After Season 3?

To many fans of The Office, Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones) will always be “the other woman” in the Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) love story. Of course, some viewers have since realized Karen wasn’t so bad. However, the fandom was relieved when she left the series so Jim and Pam could get together. But what would have happened if the character stayed? In a recent episode of Office Ladies podcast, Fischer revealed Jones could have remained on the show past season 3.

Rashida Jones played Karen Filippelli on ‘The Office’ and left after season 3

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Why Rashida Jones Was ‘Really Mad’ About the Show

Jones first appeared as Karen in The Office Season 3 premiere. The character was introduced as Jim’s co-worker at the Stamford branch of Dunder Mifflin. Then as the season went on, it became clear that Karen developed a crush on Jim. 

In the eighth episode of the third season, the Stamford and Scranton branches merged, which pushed the simmering love triangle into focus. Jim and Karen started dating. But even so, everyone knew Jim and Pam had lingering feelings. Karen was also unaware of the past relationship between the receptionist and the salesman.

After Pam admitted she called off her wedding for her best friend, Jim and Karen both interviewed for a job in New York. But in a turn of events, Jim broke up with Karen offscreen. He also asked Pam out on a date. Meanwhile, Jones left The Office, and Karen became the Utica Regional Manager.

Jenna Fischer says ‘The Office’ almost kept Rashida Jones as Karen Filippelli after season 3

Rashida Jones as Karen Filippelli on 'The Office' 2007
Rashida Jones as Karen Filippelli on ‘The Office’ | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: Why Rashida Jones Really Left ‘Parks and Recreation’

On the Office Ladies podcast published on Aug. 25, Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin, recapped “The Return.” The hosts were also joined by Ed Helms, who played Andy Bernard. 

Like Karen, Andy was from the Stamford branch. But unlike Jones, Helms eventually returned as a series regular. Then on the podcast, Fischer revealed The Office team actually wanted to extend Jones’ time on the show as well. 

“I remember that they were also wanting to keep Rashida around a little bit longer,” Fischer said. “But she ends up getting a job on Parks and Rec.”

Kinsey and Fischer also added that Jones stayed within The Office family, as Parks and Recreation was also created by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur. 

How Rashida Jones felt about leaving ‘The Office’

RELATED: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Fans Have a Wild ‘The Office’ Theory That Rashida Jones’ Ann Perkins Is Karen Filippelli

While it would’ve been interesting to see Karen on The Office beyond season 3, Jones revealed she wasn’t surprised by her ending.

“Everybody was so nice to me. But I always felt like a guest star. I never felt comfortable,” the actor said on The Off Camera Show. “I knew, because I was the small point of a love triangle, that I would eventually have to be sacrificed.

Jones also noted Karen’s story was done and there’s wasn’t much left to be explored. “There was emotionally nowhere else to go with my character,” she said. 

Nevertheless, Jones admitted she was “crushed” when Helms received the recurring role. But even so, it’s clear Karen and The Office made a lasting impact on Jones.

“It changed my whole career,” Jones said on the Office Ladies podcast published on Aug. 5. “I was about to quit acting before I got this show. So it was a big deal for me.”

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