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The Real Reason Jim And Pam Almost Broke Up On The Office

Jim and Pam almost didn't get their happy ending on The Office.

At the beginning of the series' fourth season, Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) finally get together after years of push and pull, securing their place as one of the most iconic couples in television history. However, according to a recent behind-the-scenes book — Andy Greene's The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History — showrunner Greg Daniels was hellbent on separating this incredibly dynamic and extraordinarily compatible couple.

Many fans may not be able to imagine a version of The Office that ends without Jim and Pam — who, throughout the course of the later seasons, get married and have two children — living happily ever after. Unthinkable as it may seem, Daniels apparently wanted to throw a wrench into the Beesly-Halpert family's happy domestic life. Towards the end of the series, Jim puts his relationship with Pam at risk by prioritizing his new Philadelphia-based company, Athlead, which creates some tension between the two, but they ultimately find a way to move past that difficult moment together. As it turns out, Daniels did his best to keep the two separated. Here's the real reason that Jim and Pam almost broke up for good on The Office.

Greg Daniels and his writers wanted to shake up The Office at the very end

Krasinski, for one, agreed with Daniels about changing things up in the final season. "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," the actor recalled. "And I said to Greg, 'It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Mostly, Daniels wanted to split Jim and Pam just to raise the stakes. As he put it, "I was just very attracted to the idea of doing something that would matter, and where people would feel very involved, and I think there were a number of moments [that] year where you become really involved in what's happening. And in order to get that feeling of involvement there, you need some ups and downs."

According to writer Brent Forrester, Daniels wanted to do something "risky and high stakes," which would have seen Jim and Pam split up by the time the documentary show-within-a-show aired in-universe: "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."

However, writer Warren Lieberstein remembers things differently. Though he conceded that "if Brent says it's true then I would believe it," he also reasoned that "there might have been a faction of people who liked the idea of splitting up Jim and Pam, but it wasn't universally loved and Greg had the final say."

Brian the boom mic operator got between Jim and Pam

Ultimately, Daniels figured out a way to drive a definitive wedge between the golden couple: another man. As one of the boom mic operators for the documentary, Brian Wittle — named for actual boom mic operator Brian Wittle, who auditioned but lost the role to Chris Diamantopoulos — gets close to Pam after she has a terrible fight over the phone with Jim, with the implication that Brian has been falling in love with Pam for years. This way, the show could introduce a potential rival for Jim without bringing in a complete stranger.

However, Brian's presence ultimately proved problematic; not only was he unpopular with audiences, but the crew wasn't a fan either. As writer Briton W. Erin said, "The whole Pam-and-the-sound-guy thing, that whole distraction... I don't think it was really necessary or helped the show."

Writer Claire Scanlon agreed, recalling, "Everything got better in season nine because Greg came back and James Spader wasn't there and they were really working towards an endgame [...] The only thing I think was off was the guy who was the sound guy. And that's such a bummer. I was so excited for the documentary crew to be incorporated into the storytelling and I just think that was bad casting. He was aggressive and mean and weird. I was like, 'Why is this guy here?' He just didn't fit in."

Others agreed, including fellow writer Owen Ellickson: "The fans just didn't like that Brian guy. I think it's just this creepy lecherous guy who's been staring at her for nine years and was making his move now that she was vulnerable." Ultimately, Brian disappeared, and Jim and Pam were back on track.

Pam and Jim remained The Office's endgame

When all was said and done, everyone from fans to cast and crew realized that the Brian subplot had hurt the show, and the decision was made to keep Jim and Pam together. Forrester recalled, "We had to pull the ripcord on it because it was so painful to the fans of the show. 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.' I was like, 'Wow, we can't allow this beautiful couple to be really like on the verge of divorce. It's too awful for them.' It was obviously the direction that the show was going. Then they're just like, 'No. Pull the plug on that. Nobody actually wants that.'"

Ellickson remembered that one particular episode was the death knell for the plotline. "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," Ellickson said. "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."

The entirety of The Office, including the brief appearance by Brian the boom guy, is currently streaming on Netflix.