20 background details you definitely missed on ‘The Office’


Even the biggest superfans of The Office have yet to discover all the delightful Easter eggs hiding in plain sight in the workplace comedy. Trust me — I consider myself a foremost expert on all things The Office — but every week I’m still learning intricate new details about the show.

Since Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (BFFs and former Office co-stars) launched their Office Ladies podcast in October 2019, they’ve shared countless behind-the-scenes stories, filming memories, and revelations from the show.

If you’re an avid Office Ladies listener, you’re well aware that Fischer and Kinsey love spotting and unpacking background details. But if you’re not an avid listener of the podcast, don’t worry. I’m keeping track of all the best details and background observations that fans might have overlooked.

From unfamiliar background actors and complex props to hidden messages and more, here are 20 super interesting details on The Office that you probably missed while watching the show.

1. That isn’t Meredith in the pilot


Definitely not Meredith.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

On the first episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Fischer explained that “Meredith is not Meredith” in the pilot. If you look in the background of several Steve Carell scenes, you’ll notice that the woman sitting at the desk we know as Meredith’s is not Kate Flannery. It’s actor Henriette Mantel. Mantel filmed the pilot, but when the show got picked up six months later she was busy and they had to recast her. That’s when Flannery joined the team.

2. The pilot is full of random extras

Two actual accountants on

Two actual accountants on “The Office.”

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

Fischer also noted that the pilot’s conference room scene featured several extras “that are never to be seen again.” As it turns out, the two mysterious women in the scene were actually production company accountants for the show.

“Ken Kwapis, the director, walked into the production office and asked if anyone would like to be in the background of a scene,” Fischer recalled. “And those two women came and sat there for that couple of hours. They were so giddy.”

3. Personal desk trinkets

A look at Jenna's personal desk photos.

A look at Jenna’s personal desk photos.

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

If you ever stop to thoroughly examine the Dunder Mifflin desks, you’ll notice that some items are from the actors themselves rather than the props department.

“…Ken Kwapis [director] wanted us to personalize our desk for the pilot episode and moving forward. So we all brought something from home,” Kinsey explained on the podcast. “I had a photo of myself and my grandmother [in] a frame that said ‘I heart grandma.’ And my eyes are closed in the photo, but my grandmother framed it anyway.”

Fischer explained that Pam’s desk featured a photo of her with her real sister swimming in the lake at the Ozarks. And the two shared that Phyllis’ desk featured a stunning personal item as well.

“Phyllis had a picture of herself in her full burlesque outfit with a red feather boa draped over her shoulders,” Kinsey said.

4. I spy with my little eye, another FreeCell Solitaire game


“I like when the cards go fhhht-fhhht-fhhht”

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

Throughout the series, you’ll catch glimpses of characters browsing the internet or playing FreeCell Solitaire in the background of a scene. That wasn’t acting. The Office cast members became huge FreeCell fans over the years, and they even started holding competitions to entertain themselves between scenes. (Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, held the FreeCell Champion title for a long time.)

In Season 1, FreeCell was a huge time-killer for the cast because the set didn’t get Wi-Fi until July 2006. In the photo above you can see Pam playing in Season 1, Episode 2.

5. The many Post-it Notes

20 background details you definitely missed on 'The Office'

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

Background actors on set often had time to kill while in-office scenes or confessionals were being shot. To entertain themselves, they would sometimes pass notes and doodles around.

According to Kinsey, the accounting corner was famous for passing Post-it Notes, and if you look closely throughout the series you can even spot some on display. Kinsey spotted a yellow Post-it that was hanging in accounting during all nine seasons of the show in Season 1, Episode 2.

“…At six minutes, 40 seconds I can make out the yellow Post-it Note — [a] Sprinkles invite that I drew on the partition on Kevin’s desk,” she told Fischer. According to the actors, other Post-it Notes make appearances in later episodes.

6. Jim’s ET doll

Jim Halpert phone home.

Jim Halpert phone home.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

Speaking of desk items, did you ever notice the random ET doll on Jim’s desk in Season 1, Episode 3? At around 14 minutes Kinsey spotted an unexpected ET doll on Halpert’s desk. The ET figurine has a little blue robe on, and neither Kinsey or Fischer know what it’s doing there. A real mystery.

7. Who’s that voice?

Michael on the phone with CREED.

Michael on the phone with CREED.

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

The Office features several phone call scenes between main characters, but there are also a few mystery voices on the ends of receivers. 

Remember in the pilot when Michael talks to Todd Packer on the phone? Turns out that wasn’t the voice of David Koechner, the actor who plays Todd Packer later in the series. Packer’s voice in the pilot was actually the voice of Toby Huss, a famous voice actor (and friend of Office showrunner Greg Daniels) who worked on King of the Hill for years.

In Season 1, Episode 3, when Michael calls the Lackawanna Coal Mine to ask if the industrial elevator that goes 300-feet into the earth is a “ride,” he’s actually talking to Creed. And in Season 3, Episode 7, when Meredith tracks down the man she made her last day of work sex pact with, she’s actually on the phone with Office producer Kent Zbornak.

8. A special guest

Charlie Hartsock, Steve Carell's college pal.

Charlie Hartsock, Steve Carell’s college pal.

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

Speaking of Season 1, Episode 3, remember the scene when Michael goes to the travel agency to inquire about a trip to Atlantic City? The travel agent was played by Charlie Hartsock, Steve Carell’s friend from college.

If Hartsock looks familiar, you may know him from other Steve Carell projects including The 40-Year-Old Virgin; Evan Almighty; and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

9. Kicking Phyllis’ car

Careful, Rainn!

Careful, Rainn!

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

We’ve seen a lot of parking lot scenes over the course of The Office‘s nine seasons, but in the early days of the show, the lot featured the actors’ actual cars.

In Season 1, Episode 4, for instance, the red car that Dwight kicks while discussing alliances with Jim was Phyllis’.

“[Phyllis] was very nervous about it. And I guess at some point she went up to Rainn and said, ‘Listen, it’s totally fine if you kick my car, but don’t kick the car or the hubcap. Just the tire,'” Fischer said.

“…A lot of our real cars have appeared as cars in the show,” Kinsey added. “And then in later seasons, they had us move our cars. I think maybe they realized there’s like liability or something… But in those early days, those were our cars.”

10. Feeling hot, hot, hot

Michael and Dwight burning up.

Michael and Dwight burning up.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

Though the seasons visibly changed in The Office to properly reflect the setting of Scranton, Pennsylvania, filming in California meant that the outside weather didn’t always match character wardrobes.

For example, Season 2, Episode 3, titled “Office Olympics,” may have aired on Oct. 4, 2005, but it was filmed in the summer heat.

“At 16 minutes, 39 seconds there is proof of what the actual outside temperature was, because there is a full-on camera shot of the dashboard in the Sebring,” Kinsey said on the podcast. “It says that they are going East and that it is 91 degrees.”

Fischer said the episode was shot “in the middle of summer,” and Kinsey added that everyone had to have their coats on and pretend to be cold while it was actually sweltering.

11. Magic Mike

Trick thumb alert.

Trick thumb alert.

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

In Season 2, Episode 13, when Michael explains his corporate credit card was taken away because he spent $80.00 at a magic shop did you ever notice Steve Carell is wearing a fake magic thumb? What a perfect addition.

12. Dummies for Dwight

20 background details you definitely missed on 'The Office'

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

In Season 2, Episode 17 of The Office, Dwight delivers an impassioned acceptance speech after winning the award for Dunder Mifflin’s salesman of the year. (Dwight’s address may or may not have inspired Kimberly Guilfoyle’s 2020 RNC speech.)

On the Office Ladies podcast, Fischer and Kinsey explained that select cast and crew members spent a day filming scenes for the episode at the Universal Studios Sheraton Hotel. There, they hired 400 extras and used 100 dummies to fill the auditorium where Dwight spoke. They also had five “dummy wranglers” carry the fake torsos with arms and legs (that were dressed up in suits) around the room and place them accordingly. The dummies were primarily located on the sides and in the back of the room, but producer Kent Zbornak says if you pause on the audience shots you can pick them out of the crowd.

At one point the audience scenes are also flipped. You can tell because the name tags jump from left to right and the names look like they’re written backwards. What a scene.

13. Fake Oscar on ice

Fake Oscar.

Fake Oscar.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

In Season 2, Episode 19 of the show, the cast and crew filmed at an ice rink in honor of Michael’s birthday. Though some cast members like Steve Carell and Jenna Fischer (who had just filmed Blades of Glory) were pros on the ice, Oscar Nunez used a stunt skater for certain scenes. 

“You’ll see later in the episode that Oscar is like a very good ice skater,” Kinsey said. “He does kind of like a pirouette and spins around — well that’s because there was a stunt guy that looked like him that was a really great figure skater.”

The stunt skater’s name is , and Fischer explained he was “a famous pairs skater who won the silver medal in the 1982 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and then later placed sixth at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.”

14. Steve’s real injury

Steve's IRL injury.

Steve’s IRL injury.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

You know “The Injury” episode in Season 2 where Michael accidentally burns his foot on a George Foreman grill, but did you know that Steve Carell had a real injury later that season in the “Drug Testing” episode?

In a talking head from Season 2, Episode 20, you can briefly see that Carell’s left ring finger is wrapped in a bandage. The story behind the wound is that he jammed his finger playing pick-up hockey, and it swelled so much that he wasn’t able to get his wedding ring off for filming.

“…A lot of the time he keeps his left hand down,” Fischer noted after rewatching the episode. “Now that you know this fact, in rewatching this episode look at how often he’s hiding his left hand.”

15. Peep those wall plaques

One of many personalized plaques in the office.

One of many personalized plaques in the office.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

When discussing Season 2, Episode 21, titled “Conflict Resolution,” Fischer and Kinsey dished on some utterly delightful background details. The first is that the various plaques hanging around the office feature the names of real people from the crew.

The fun personal touches are courtesy of the art department, and you can see an example in “Conflict Resolution.”

“This moment happens at 4:32, and right next to Steve’s head on this pillar you can see this plaque. It is a certificate of participation for Marc Christie,” Fischer said. (Christie was the best boy grip and the key grip for seasons one through three of the show.)

Kinsey also said there were “Salesman of the Year” and “Humanitarian Award of the Year” plaques that featured names of crew members, and Fischer revealed her favorite plaque involves the show’s first Assistant Director, Kelly Cantley.

“I guess Kelly had gone around and looked at all the plaques and noticed that her name was not on any of them,” Fischer said. After Cantley joked about her lack of plaque recognition, a new one mysteriously appeared on the wall.

“It’s on the pole by Stanley’s desk, and here’s what it said: ‘Whereas it came to our attention that Kelly Cantley was whining that a lowly second assistant director had a plaque with her name on it, and whereas Kelly Cantley made a comment on the air regarding that fact, we have decided to give her that certificate because we love her,” Fischer said.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more wall Easter eggs on your next rewatch.

16. The talking head revelation

Jim always gets a window seat.

Jim always gets a window seat.

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

When talking about “Conflict Resolution,” Fischer and Kinsey also revealed that a lot of thought went into the location of each talking head.

After a fan asked why Jim was often the only character whose talking heads were filmed in front of the window, Fischer got the scoop from showrunner Greg Daniels.

“I asked him, was this deliberate? Was it an accident? And he said it was something that Randall Einhorn, our cinematographer, suggested to Greg starting with the pilot and Greg absolutely loved it,” Fischer explained. 

“He said Randall’s intention here was that it didn’t necessarily only have to be Jim, but the idea was that any character that had a future outside of Dunder Mifflin or held some sort of internal optimism would sit in front of a window leading out into the world, but characters who didn’t want to leave Dunder Mifflin — or who maybe were in more of a position of being trapped — would do their talking heads facing into the office,” she continued.

Though Michael sometimes filmed talking heads from his desk, which has a window behind it, the trend stayed fairly consistent throughout the series.

17. Can Jim play Call of Duty or not?

We see that Call of Duty game, bro.

We see that Call of Duty game, bro.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

Remember when the Stamford branch got super into Call of Duty? Jim was notoriously awful and i didn’t seem like he knew how to play, but in Jim throws a barbecue at his home and fans spotted a Call of Duty expansion pack on his desk! What the heck, dude? Are you a gamer or not? 

18. The Stamford Jim and Pam

Stamford Jim and Pam.

Stamford Jim and Pam.

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

When Jim transferred to Stamford you might have thought the writers and crew members had moved on from him and Pam, but a scene in the Season 3 “Initiation” episode proves that the couple was always on the brain.

In the scene where Jim wheels his chair over to the copier, there’s something special going on in the background. Look carefully and you’ll see an interaction between Stamford’s very own Jim and Pam. :’)

“I also talked to Randall about this, and he said this was totally on purpose,” Fischer said. “He planted a guy standing at reception in the same way that Jim would always stand at reception and talk to Pam. He even has his sleeves rolled up the way Jim used to roll up his sleeves… And Randall said that was on purpose, to keep that Pam/Jim thing sort of in our orbit.”

19. The Emmys call out

Steve was robbed!!!!

Steve was robbed!!!!

Image: mashable composite: the office / nbc / netflix

To this day, I firmly believe that Steve Carell not winning an Emmy for his role as Michael Scott is one of the biggest award snubs in history. The cast of The Office felt he should have won, too, and they made it very clear in the background of Season 3’s “Branch Closing” episode.

At around 6:21, if you freeze and zoom in on the white board that’s hanging by the accounting department, you’ll see that Tuesday the 5th reads: “CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL FOR OUR FIRST OF MANY EMMYS. STEVE WAS ROBBED!”

The episode was filmed two weeks after the 2006 Emmy awards, which makes the white board message especially iconic. You should keep an eye on the board in future episodes, too, because Fischer and Kinsey said the writing was changed frequently.

20. The reappearing shirt

The shirt in

The shirt in “Ben Franklin.”

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

In the “Ben Franklin” episode of Season 3, Elizabeth, the dancer hired for Bob Vance’s warehouse bachelor party (played by Jackie Debatin) rips off a shirt that might look a bit familiar. If you’re struggling to remember how you know this shirt, it’s because it’s the same shirt Pam wore in Season 2’s “The Dundies” and in Season 1’s “Basketball.”

On-screen wardrobe recycling isn’t uncommon, but Fischer still reached out to the show’s wardrobe supervisor, Carrie Bennett, to get the scoop.

“[Carrie] said that this was not in the script,” Fischer said. “She said that oftentimes when a guest actor is cast at the very last minute, she doesn’t have time to go shopping for them. So what wardrobe designers do is they go into their ‘retired wardrobe,’ and this is a stash of outfits that have been retired, but that used to belong to the main cast members.”

The shirt in

The shirt in “Basketball.”

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

The shirt in

The shirt in “The Dundies.” (First actual kiss shirt!!!!)

Image: the office / nbc / netflix

“So she had to find a shirt that fit Elizabeth and then it had to be converted into a rip away shirt,” Fischer continued. “And so they just didn’t have time to go shopping and convert a shirt into a ripped away shirt because the timing of when Jackie was cast, they had to just go into Pam’s old wardrobe and that’s what they did.”

If you’ve made it to the end of this article you’ve hopefully become an even bigger Office superfan than you were when you started reading. Stay tuned for more of Mashable’s weekly Office Ladies coverage, complete with more background details just like these.

You can stream episodes of and follow along with the podcast every week on , , or





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!