The Office Season 3 Almost Had A Completely Different Ending For Jim, Pam, And Karen

Television history is full of iconic couples. Luke and Lorelai, Cory and Topanga, Kurt and Blaine, Seth and Summer, David and Patrick, Pacey and Joey. People have a habit of tuning in each week eager to see if their favorite dynamic duo will finally get together. It's part of what makes watching TV so much fun. One of the most beloved television couples, made their debut on NBC's remake of Britain's "The Office." This mockumentary about a rag-tag group of paper salesmen under the watch of their foolish but lovable boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) become a cultural phenomenon and went on to make 9 seasons, many of which revolved around the romance of Jim and Pam.

When the show first aired, Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) were immediately on everyone's will-they-won't-they radar. Known for their infectious chemistry and mutual love of a good practical joke, we all painstakingly watched and waited for them to get it together and finally get together. Season two's Dundie episode had us all feeling God and a little bit of hope for Jim and Pam in that Chili's, for sure. But PB&J fans would have to wait all the way until season three's finale to finally, finally see the duo go from friends to lovers. It's a memorable moment that every "The Office" fan knows intimately, but did you know it almost didn't happen that way?

It's a date

On Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey's (who plays Angela on the show) remarkable podcast "Office Ladies" in which they rewatch every episode of "The Office" and provide their own commentary, Fischer and Kinsey look back on this much-loved end-to-season three.

Let's set the scene. Jim is interviewing for a corporate job that will relocate him to New York City. He is currently dating Karen (Rashida Jones) but still secretly not over his feelings for Pam. It's pretty much guaranteed that Jim will be given the job in New York, but during his interview, he comes across a note Pam slipped into his reports wishing him luck. Realizing that he can't leave Scranton without at least trying a relationship with Pam, Jim returns to the Pennsylvania office where he interrupts an interview with Pam to ask her if she is free for dinner later that night. She says yes (obvi). Jim says, "It's a date," and leaves. Pam looks at the camera with visible tears of happiness in her eyes and asks the cameraman to repeat the question. End scene.

"There were actually two versions in the script for the ending of this episode," Fischer tells Kinsey. "There was this version with Jim interrupting my talking head, and then there was a second version which we shot." Kinsey is just as curious as us about what this alternate ending may have looked like, and thankfully, Fischer is ready to explain. 

An inferior ending

In the alternate end to season 3, Pam and Jim still get together (thank GOD), but the way they get together is nowhere near as adorable. "In the second version, you hear voiceover of Jim throwing his interview with David" explains Fischer on the podcast. She explains that Jim jokes through his interview so much that David Wallace (Andy Buckley) wonders aloud if Jim even wants the job in the first place. Fischer continues,

"Meanwhile, while all that's happening, you see Pam leaving for the day. She doesn't do a talking head. She's just leaving for the day. She gets in the elevator, she goes down the elevator, and then when the elevator doors open, Jim is standing there and she says, "You're back". And he says, "Yeah, do you want to go to dinner"? And Pam says, "Yeah, I do". And she walks out of the elevator and Jim pushes the camera back into the elevator. And as the doors are closing, they walk off together and he puts his arm around her and they smile at each other. "

This second ending, while endearing, is far less memorable than the actual one that aired. It's almost too on the nose, whereas the actual ending still leaves us with those Jim and Pam butterflies. Jim's line of "It's a date" is delivered so cooly and Jim-like that it makes you swoon just thinking about it. Plus, we get to see Pam get sweetly flustered by this surprise turn of events. 

The footage of the alternate scene does exist — one of the show's editors, David Rogers, has the scene locked away somewhere — but Fischer explains that this alternate ending "was never, ever part of the cut of the show." The original cut was too beloved. But Jim and Pam's happy ending is not the only thing with an alternate version.

The boss that could have been

Fans will remember that it is temp-turned-full-time salesman Ryan (B.J. Novak) who eventually gets the job at corporate. The episode ends with him simultaneously getting the news of his new job and breaking up with Kelly (Mindy Kaling). But Ryan's rise up the corporate ladder wasn't always the plan. 

On her podcast with Kinsey, Fischer explains that "they did shoot an alternate scene where Karen gets the job." In this scene, Karen is still in New York upset over her breakup with Jim (because apparently he just flat out dumped her and left her alone in the Big Apple all so he could run back into Pam's arms, which is honestly kind of harsh, dude) when she gets a call from David informing her of their decision. Fischer postulates that the writers may have been wanting to keep their options open for who would eventually land the fancy corporate position, but Kinsey makes a good observation. Rashida Jones who plays Karen had recently been cast on the upcoming show "Parks and Recreation."

Because of her new role on a different show, it would make it difficult for her to also be "Michael's boss at corporate," as Fischer says. Therefore, we ended up with Ryan taking over the role, which ... we all know how that ends. Karen would have killed it as Michael's boss. Alas, it was never meant to be.