There are some episodes of The Office which strike pretty close to the bone and leave you cringing behind your hands, no matter how many times you’ve binged the entire series.
For me, the excruciating Scott’s Tots comes to mind, an episode where the inept Michael Scott (Steve Carell) has to tell a group of underprivileged teenagers that he is unable fulfil his decade long promise to pay their college tuition.
However, although we see many, many instances of carelessness, foolishness and even cruelty from Michael, we never get the sense that he is an evil person.
Even at his pettiest, Michael is still ultimately a likeable character who you root for and sympathise with; holding out hope that he will indeed end up having 100 kids so he can have 100 friends.
It would undoubtedly be a shock to the system if we saw Michael murder a co-worker in cold blood, even if the victim turned out to be his long-suffering nemesis, Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein).
However, it would appear the show did nearly take a much darker turn, with a storyline that would have tipped Michael over the edge of offensiveness and into the realm of evil.
Speaking with the Huffington Post, showrunner Greg Daniels revealed the writing team had pitched the idea of Michael callously ending the life of deeply inappropriate supplier relations representative Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery).
Speaking about storylines which didn’t make the cut, Daniels revealed:
At one point, the writers pitch the story that Michael ran over Meredith in the parking lot and backed over her as to finish the job. Which is a horrible, horrible story. I had to put a stop to that. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Michael doing something that is truly evil is not something that we would see on the show. That probably goes for every show. You don’t ever want to take your comedy’s central character and make them a casual murderer.
True fans of The Office will recall that Michael did indeed accidentally run over Meredith in episode one of season four. However, she survived and was taken to hospital for treatment.
To his credit, Michael did also show some remorse for his actions, organising a fun run to raise awareness about rabies after discovering Meredith had been given a precautionary shot after suffering several wild animal bites.
Personally, I’m glad that Daniels shut this idea down. This storyline would have been way too grim for the ultimately rather comforting world of Dunder Mifflin.
Plus, had Meredith been bumped off this early in the game, we would have lost out on seeing some of her wilder moments, including when she sets her hair on fire at the office party and when she admits to having had sex with a terrorist. Good ol’ Meredith.
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