The Office Gag That Jenna Fischer Fought To Cut Would've Changed The Finale

For a show that's famous for inciting laughter, "The Office" sure knows how to make fans cry too. The season finale is a prime example of the hit series running the emotional gamut, as it puts a neat (but suitably chaotic) bow on the long-running office comedy. But a new revelation from former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Pam and Angela respectively) reveals that one particular tearjerking finale moment was almost ruined by a throwaway gag from season 6.

Pam Beesly (later Pam Halpert) is well known for being Dunder Mifflin's receptionist, saleswoman, and office administrator. However, another notable title she wears with pride is as the resident artist of "The Office." Her most memorable piece by far is a watercolor painting of the Scranton branch, which hung for years beside Michael's office. On the latest episode of the "Office Ladies" podcast (via Mashable), co-hosts Fischer and Kinsey revealed that the sentimental portrait was almost destroyed in the episode "Mafia." Fischer explained:

"Erin was supposed to be cleaning Pam's watercolor, her famous watercolor that Michael bought from her art show. She sprays the glass with this cleaner, and then Creed kind of distracts her by chatting her up, and the spray seeps under the glass and the watercolor is ruined. Erin destroys Pam's watercolor while she's on her honeymoon was the storyline."

Kinsey added:

"If you watch the deleted scenes, you watch it melt. Like all the colors slide down to the bottom of the frame. And I literally [gasped]. Like, I forgot it was in the story at one point."

The importance of Pam's painting

On the subject of tearjerking office moments, the scene guaranteed to bring on the sniffles is the introduction of Pam's portrait, back in "Business School" in the third season. After inviting her co-workers to see her art show, Pam only gets criticism from Oscar, hollow compliments from her boyfriend, Roy, and a long list of no-shows — until Michael shows up to turn the tide. Sincerely awed by her artwork, Michael is especially taken by her watercolor of the Dunder Mifflin office building, which gets him choked up and prompts him to say he's proud of her.

Don't grab the tissues quite yet, because the emotional moment doesn't end there. Pam hugs her boss and this touching moment comes back around in the series finale, a whopping six seasons later. (In a way, it never quite left our minds because Michael hangs the watercolor in the office and we catch a glimpse of it every so often.) But when the show finally comes to its bittersweet close, Pam makes sure to take the painting on her way out, a memento of the hope and goodness that came out of her time at Dunder Mifflin. The closing shots of "The Office" flashback to season three, when Michael first hung the painting beside his office.

In case it isn't obvious, that watercolor is of major emotional importance to the audience and the characters — which is what makes this story from Fischer so distressing. In an alternate universe, we don't get this callback because Erin destroys the painting in season 6, as a throwaway gag. The double whammy of the painting being wrecked and Pam's honeymoon being interrupted isn't even the end of this almost-tragedy. Fischer added:

"There's another deleted scene where [Erin] asks Kelly to help her fix it, and Kelly is like, 'Oh yeah, I can do watercolor.' But what Kelly does is she like adds a rainbow and a sunshine. But the painting is still totally melty. And then in the end, Erin calls Pam on her honeymoon and says she ruined it. And Pam has this line where she says, 'You know what? I will be mad at you about ruining my painting when I get back. Stop calling me. Tell people to stop calling us.'"

Jenna Fischer saves the day

So what saved us from this emotionally destructive fate? Jenna Fischer, of course, and some incredible perseverance. Fischer explained that during the table read for the episode, she spoke up about the watercolor scene:

"I was like, 'Listen, you cannot destroy Pam's painting. You can't do it. It's the heartbeat of the show. It's on the wall. It's her relationship with Michael. It's hope. It's so many things you don't understand. You can't make this a gag. And Paul Lieberstein was like, 'I think it's funny. What are you talking about?' And it was a battle.'"

After the writers, including Lieberstein (the writer and executive producer, also known as sad-faced HR guy Toby Flenderson), shot her down, Fischer went to the edit bay and appealed to editor Dave Rogers and writer/producer Brent Forrester to remove the scene. She continued:

"I would not shut up about it. Finally, in the end, they took it out. They took it out, and I was so relieved. But you'll see next week Pam's watercolor [isn't] on the wall because that was the week they were editing and still deciding. So if you look, Pam's watercolor is missing for a couple of episodes and we just sneakily put it back on the wall without saying anything."

What is it about "The Office" writers torturing Jim and Pam for sh**s and giggles? This isn't the first time one half of the couple swooped in to rescue us from a cringeworthy plotline. We also lived in an arguably even worse alternate reality where Jim cheats on his wife before John Krasinski got in the way. Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, everything worked out for the best.