‘The Office’ Writers Tried to Kill Off 1 of The Characters

When it comes to the hit NBC comedy, The Office, there’s no shortage of colorful characters to choose from. From the absurdity of Creed to the often holier-than-thou, Oscar, to everyone’s favorite lemon, Toby, there’s a character for everyone to enjoy. Because The Office utilized an ensemble cast, there was an opportunity for the writers to navigate various points of view with incredible success.

The Office Cast as their characters
The Office Cast Mitchell Haaseth/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

But just how were The Office writers able to come up with so many unique ideas for the various characters to embody? A lot of the ideas stemmed from working closely with the actors. By observing them and interacting with them in between takes, they were able to get ideas for things that their characters could do. Since many of the writers for the show also doubled as actors, it wasn’t hard at all for them to get close to the other actors.

‘The Office’ writers were often members of the cast as well

One person who was both a writer and a member of the main cast of The Office was none other than B.J Novak. Novak was actually the first person who was cast on the show and he played the role of Ryan Howard. Though Ryan started off as a sensible temp who was just trying to navigate the absurdity of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, his character eventually spiraled into something else completely. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Novak opened up about the joys of writing for a show with so many characters.

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“[It] was an absolute joy because they were so clearly drawn in the hands of these actors. We knew them so well that any idea in your writer-brain would naturally have a home in someone. Whether it’s a snarkily correct point that Oscar could make, something beyond human comprehension that Creed could say, something overly literal for Dwight or a voice or reason for Jim or Pam – there was always someone who could embody any idea,” Novak shared about his time writing for The Office.

Getting carried away with jokes

Another thing that the writers of The Office really appreciated was the creative freedom they were allowed. In the aforementioned interview, many writers gushed about the opportunities they were given to take their ideas and run with them. Of course, sometimes, they got carried away with an idea and Greg Daniels (who was the showrunner for The Office) had to stop things from going off the rails.

One of the best examples of Daniels having to stop the writers in their tracks was when they wanted to kill off one of the characters. In the first episode of the fourth season called “Fun Run”, Michael accidentally hits one of his employees, Meredith, with a car. While she suffers a fractured pelvis, she eventually makes a full recovery and returns to the office. But, originally, the writers had a more sinister ending in mind.

‘The Office’ writers tried to kill off Merideth Palmer

“There were times where [the writers] would become enamored with a joke, and I’d have to put my foot down. For instance, they really wanted Michael to kill Meredith with his car. That was an early pitch, where he runs her over in the parking lot and then comes back, gets a tire iron and finishes the job. I was like ‘You can’t do that, that’s crazy!” Daniels recounted. Clearly, the writers for The Office were unafraid to take risks. But, we’re glad that Daniels put his foot down to prevent Meredith from getting killed off.