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Things You Never Noticed In The Pilot Episode Of The Office

The Office has captivated audiences for well over a decade now. It's hard to even believe at this point that the entire affair began way back in early 2005 with a copy-cat-of-an-episode featuring a bunch of largely unknown American actors mimicking one of the greatest British workplace sitcoms ever created.

Seriously, it's impossible to forget that first installment of what eventually became one of the greatest television shows of all time. Quirky, awkward, and hilariously offbeat, the pilot episode of the American version of The Office manages to land somewhere between incredible genius and "what the heck is going on here?" In some ways, it's hard to even imagine that the same group of fledgling misfits would eventually become the greatest office of paper salesmen to ever grace the silver screen.

We decided to amble down memory lane and give the pilot episode a good, old-fashioned once-over to see what gems lay hidden under its young facade. There are both interesting factoids that stand on their own and awesome plot lines that connect to events years later in the show, and all are perfect fodder for the countless legions of Office superfans to revel in.

Angela's favorite song cameos in the pilot of The Office

Angela and Dwight's relationship ends up being one of the longest-running storylines of the entire show. In fact, in season four, when Jim tells Pam that he saw the pair hook up six months ago, Pam informs him that their relationship has actually been going on for two years. But there's evidence that the Schrute/Martin relationship may even predate the entire show. Where is said evidence, you ask? Right in the pilot episode.

The first time that Dwight graces the Dunder Mifflin scene, he's shown singing to himself as he sets up his desk. The song he's singing? "The Little Drummer Boy" — the same ditty that will later be revealed to be Angela's favorite song of all time. The simple fact that the song is most definitely no one else's favorite song, not to mention that it isn't even Christmas time when Dwight is singing it, seems to hint at the fact that the pair were already hooking up before the PBS documentary crew ever stepped foot on the premises.

As a quick aside, it's also interesting to note that in that same scene, Dwight is also shown unlocking his desk drawer in order to take his phone out and connect it to the base unit. This immediately sets the tone for his paranoid nature, implying that it was already in full effect before the cameras ever started rolling.

The main office building is different

Pilot episodes are an interesting phenomenon. Most of the times, TV crews are forced to cut corners and cobble together something resembling a coherent start to a story in order to stay under budget, woo producers, satisfy studios, and still draw initial viewers in to stick around for the ride.

The Office is no exception to the rule, either. There are countless aspects of the first episode that scream "we don't really know if we're going to be here tomorrow, so let's just keep this simple." Case in point, the building itself. Roughly ten minutes into the first episode, the building is shown before it cuts inside to show Michael's pathetically overconfident Six Million Dollar Man routine.

It doesn't take more than a split second to realize that the building being shown isn't anything like the structure that's later immortalized in Pam's watercolor painting. Instead, what we see is a large, cube-shaped edifice that looks both larger and taller than the future building. Not only that, but it's shown directly on a street corner, with a traffic light in view and everything. Clearly, this isn't the quaint office park, tucked away behind a hedge, that we've all come to know and love.

Meredith isn't anywhere to be seen

Meredith Palmer is a mainstay of The Office. The only characters who show up in more episodes than her are Dwight, Pam, Jim, Stanley, Kevin, Angela, and Phyllis. The purchasing and supplier relations professional faithfully shows up to work for nearly every episode over the course of the show. She's literally in every single episode with one major exception — the pilot.

That's right. Meredith Palmer isn't in the pilot. You can see for yourself if you tune into the eight-minute mark of the episode as Michael does his seriously not cool Hitler impression. Sitting behind the way-out-of-line boss, back and a little to the right, is none other than actress Henriette Mantel. Who does she play? An individual called "Office Worker." That's right. The woman sitting at Meredith's future desk in the pilot is an extra whose IMDb credit doesn't even get a formal name.

By the second episode, Kate Flannery shows up in all of her uncomfortable Meredith glory, and the character is off to the races. Her hysterectomy draws way too much attention in the "Health Care" episode, and "The Alliance" literally centers on her month-early birthday celebration. In fact, it's the character's very integral presence on the show throughout it's nearly decade-long run that makes her absence from the pilot that much more glaring.

You can spot a reshot scene in the pilot

Dwight and Jim's back-and-forth exchanges are a cornerstone of the show. Collectively, they make up some of the best cold open footage ever made — and it's on full display in the pilot. Most famously, Jim uses the groundbreaking occasion to put Dwight's stapler in jello, followed by Michael's "World's Best Boss" mug.

Coming in just behind this iconic prank, though, is the pencil fence scene. After Dwight gets on Jim's nerves for overzealously clearing his desk, the latter decides to up the ante by building a fence of pencils ... with the points aimed directly at his coworker's space. Dwight cites the entire situation as a safety violation and begins adamantly removing pencils with the butt end of his phone.

It turns out, though, that the scene was originally supposed to be a bit simpler. Mirroring the British original, Jim was initially filmed stacking cardboard boxes in a Great-Wall-of-China-esque attempt to block his desk clump mate from sight. Don't believe us? Just rewatch the conference room scene that takes place a couple of minutes later. As Dwight joins Michael at the front of the room to "grant his permission" for Michael's forthcoming announcement, the boxes can be seen straddling the two desks in the background. On top of that, if you look closely during the pencil wall scene itself, Dwight's hair is slightly different, and Stanley is the only one actually in the office, because, well, it's a last-minute reshoot after all.

Greg Daniels is always watching

Michael Scott is well-known for his infamous, time-wasting meetings. They're bad enough that Jim spends a good portion of his time as co-manager in season six just trying to avoid them. Conducting unnecessarily, long meetings isn't a new habit for Mr. Scott, either. He casually puts one in motion right in the pilot episode.

During the meeting, Dwight Schrute creates a bit of a scene, insisting on being filled in beforehand due to his role as the "assistant to the regional manager," eventually giving his completely unsolicited blessing to Michael's presentation. After that, Michael begins to explain that corporate has forced an ultimatum upon him in the form of downsizing.

As the manager gratuitously fills his staff in on all of the nitty-gritty details, a shadow can be seen flitting across Jim's desk in the background. The thought of someone being outside of the conference room isn't odd — Ryan is even shown during the meeting talking on the phone at his desk in the bullpen. Nevertheless, this particular shadow is unique. According to the DVD commentary track, it belongs to none other than Greg Daniels, the show's creator and one of the writers of the pilot script. To the casual observer, this merely shows a slip-up in filming. To the respectful Dunder Mifflinite, though, it serves as a reminder that the almighty Greg Daniels is always watching.

Shut up, Jim!

Jim is well known for his barely-trying Halloween costumes. Over the years, the man shows up to work on October 31 with a name tag that simply reads "Dave," the word "book" written on his face, and even as a three-hole punch version of himself. His most subtle costume aberration, though, actually doesn't take place on Halloween at all. It occurs in the pilot episode.

To see it, you have to go back to that endlessly entertaining scene where Mr. Halpert constructs a wall of writing utensils in order to get under Dwight's skin. The entire scene is sparked when Dwight aggressively shoves Jim's admittedly messy desk overflow off of his own space. As the former begins spouting off about "two syllables" and "demarcation," Jim leans back in his chair in frustration. As he does so, a small clip (or something along those lines) can be seen pinned to his tie.

If you look really closely the words "SHUT UP" can be made out on the shiny trinket. While there are any number of reasons that Jim would wear such an odd tie clip to work, we like to think it ultimately boiled down to little more than yet another prank. Think about it. He knew Dwight would look up and see it dozens of times throughout the day. What more motivation does he need than that?

John Krasinski filmed part of The Office's intro

Ah, John Krasinki. The man, the myth, the legend. It's hard to believe that the fella was bussing tables before he landed the role of America's heartthrob salesman. Between producing and acting — along with sharing Some Good News on the side — Krasinski has remained one of the busiest guys on the planet. It turns out that the endlessly busy actor has always been the kind of guy who would burn the candle at both ends, too.

After landing the role for the show, Krasinski didn't wait for a call or settle in to start studying scripts. Nope, the budding actor decided to traipse off to Scranton, Pennsylvania, in order to do some preliminary scouting on the real-world premise for his new show. While there, Krasinski shot some footage of the local scenery. It wasn't much, but hey, it helped get a feel for the show's mundane setting. In fact, the footage was so spot-on that when he showed it to Greg Daniels, the creator liked it so much that he actually put it right into the intro. Yes, you read that correctly. Some of the footage that makes up the iconic intro to the show was filmed by none other than John Krasinski before any of the professional cameras had even started rolling.

Michael Scott apparently is in denial about Vance Refrigeration

It's already weird enough that the actual building being used in the show looks nothing like the iconic building used afterward. However, it turns out that during the pilot, the writers didn't even know what kind of anatomy the building was going to have, either.

Less then two minutes into the show, Michael is shown next to the Dunder Mifflin company sign outside of the office. As he speaks to the camera, he heads further into the office and begins giving details about the entire Scranton branch of the company. One of the first things he says is that, "We have the entire floor." The comment is fleeting, and it's easy to overlook. But it's likely not true.

As fans of the show are well aware, throughout the series, the floor is shared by the offices of Vance Refrigeration. It's true that Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration doesn't show up on the scene until the "Christmas Party" episode in the second season, but that episode aired in early December 2005, just half a year after the pilot aired. Unless Bob's operation moved in during the interim, it's pretty fair to assume that Michael is, at least, exaggerating for effect.

Stanley is seen ... standing?

After Michael calls everyone into the conference room and informs them that downsizing is likely on the menu, he finds himself on the defense. His anxious employees begin to pepper him with questions, quickly firing holes in his less-than-sound, uncomfortably vague reasoning that he "promises" they won't be affected by the looming changes.

One of the employees who audibly expresses his concern is the lovably intractable Stanley Hudson. Stanley quietly voices that the situation could be out of Michael's hands, to which Michael adamantly promises it won't be. As Stanley pushes back with the quip, "Oh, can you promise that?" the camera pans to the salesman who's seen standing against the back wall. If that seems odd, it's because it absolutely is. In fact, it's the last time you'll see Mr. Hudson willingly standing during a meeting when he doesn't have to. The best part? He randomly has a container of what appears to be Pedialyte in his hand because why wouldn't he bring Pedialyte into the meeting with him? He's Stanley the Manly, for goodness sake.

Michael's fake firing habits are on full display in the pilot of The Office

Michael Scott loves to fake fire people. In the season four episode "Did I Stutter," Michael very unwisely decides that fake firing Stanley in front of the entire office is the best way to put the recalcitrant salesman in his place. In the season five episode "Casual Friday," the heartless manager fake fires Pam before he gives her the sales position over Ryan. Riding on a sadistic high, he even tells her to send the gullible Erin in afterward so he can fake fire her as well.

None of these moments should've come as a surprise, though. Fake firing is a behavior that Michael has shown a proclivity for since the show's inception. Who could forget that uncomfortably long scene at the end of the pilot where he forces Ryan to watch him fake fire his innocent receptionist? Of course, as is so often the case, the event blows up in his face when the typically reserved Pam loudly calls him a jerk and storms out of the room. Needless to say, the event doesn't phase the indomitable leader, and he keeps on fake firing to his heart's content as the show progresses.

There's some prophesying in The Office's pilot episode

The pilot of the show has a lot of details that end up changing. Things like the look of the building and the behavior of the characters end up evolving dramatically over time. However, the pilot does hit several predictions square on the nose — whether the writers knew it at the time or not.

For instance, Michael's "misplaced" document — i.e. the one he throws away — is indicative of his future propensity to misplace and eschew the importance of essential business documentation. Todd Packer is also heard on the phone (although he's voiced by Toby Huss at that point), setting the stage for his occasional, wildly inappropriate visitations to the office.

The most mystically prophetic portion of the episode, though, takes place when Jan and Michael first discuss the possibility of downsizing. If you listen closely to the conversation, Josh Porter and the Stamford branch are brought up in the discussion. Jan even talks about the possibility of one branch incorporating the other, inadvertently referencing the famous merger that would take place two seasons later.

The same joke opens and closes the show

One of the first times we truly see the obnoxious Michael Scott on full display is a few minutes into the pilot when he sneaks up on Jim from behind and blares "wassuuuup" into his ear from point-blank range. Jim tries to shrug it off with a smile and a sarcastic comment that he still loves the joke "after seven years." Dwight then jumps in on the action before Michael shouts him down, leaving the trio standing awkwardly in silence.

After that, the wassuuuup joke lies dormant for 186 long episodes — comatose but not dead. In fact, it's none other than Oscar Martinez who trots the joke out one last time during the final episode of the show. The accountant turned politician decides to join Dwight's bachelor party rather than attending the bachelorette alternative. Trying to remember how he acted before he came out, Oscar is shown uber awkwardly shouting "wassuuuup" as the testosterone-filled group leaves in a limo. The line is so out of place by that point (nine years after it was already "seven years old") that Oscar already looks embarrassed before the camera cuts. Who knows how he would feel if he realized he was resurrecting an old Michael Scott line in his desperation to fit in.

Ken Kwapis directed the pilot and the finale of The Office

Director Ken Kwapis had a pivotal hand in setting and maintaining the tone of the show. He directed several hallmark episodes like "Company Picnic," "Gay Witch Hunt," "The Job," and "Casino Night," all of which rank among The Office's top-rated episodes. For all of the success that his directing has had with the fans, though, Kwapis didn't get into the director's chair all that often. Out of 200-plus total installments, the behind-the-scenes genius only directed a paltry 13 episodes. That's less than 7% of the total count. Regardless of the scarcity, everything the man touches clearly turns to gold.

There are two episodes, in particular, that set Kwapis into the Office fandom hall of fame. He directed both the pilot and the finale. In other words, it was Kwapis who helmed the first episode that made the show possible and then ushered it out with a tear-jerking finale. And for that, we say thank you, Mr. Kwapis. We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never truly be paid.