The Office premiered over 15 years ago, but the NBC sitcom about a paper company is more popular than ever. In a new oral history podcast, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) explores the show's history and why it remains relevant through interviews with the creators and cast, and in one of the final episodes, the podcast reveals an incredible sci-fi parody that almost made it into The Office's plus-sized series finale.
The episode, titled "Finale" takes us through a reunion of the main characters for the documentary they were part of followed by Dwight and Angela's wedding, but before the ceremony, Jim surprises Dwight with a few "good surprises" ("Guten Pranken") at his bachelor party. However, the final episode of The Office almost opened an actual prank referencing the 1999 movie The Matrix.
The episode's cold open would have shown Jim pranking Dwight into believing he was actually living in the Matrix (a computer program where robots enslave the remnants of humanity in the Wachowskis' sci-fi classic). The elaborate prank involved training cats to recreate the movie's famous "deja vu" moment and casting Hank the security guard as Morpheus's brother, Dorpheus.
"We had a whole thing," The Office editor Dave Rogers says in Episode 11 of An Oral History of the Office, "but we cut it for time."
Here's Rogers' full recap of The Office's canceled Matrix tribute:
"We can talk about the prank that hasn't made it to the big screen, that I think we're saving for the 10-year reunion, The Matrix. That's the finale script, they prank Dwight to make him think he's in the Matrix, and remember Hank is down as Dorpheus, he's Morpheus's brother. There's a cat that walks by and a cat walks by again in Michael's office, and Jenna [Fischer] goes, 'It took six months to train the cat.' And then we have the security guard walk by, it was the big guy, and he had a twin brother and we used him also, as a glitch. And then he's gonna take the red pill or the blue pill."
Then, the Office podcast offers fans a special treat, a few seconds of recorded dialogue from the unaired scene:
Dwight: "I'll take the blue pill."
Hank/Dorpheus: "But the blue is the one that keeps you in the program, the red's the cool one—"
Dwight: "No, I understand"
That's right. Not only did Dwight think he was in the Matrix, but he chose to remain oblivious rather than take the red pill and join the human resistance. It might seem like a strange choice, but considering how Dwight's favorite fictional characters always seem to be the villains, we can't say we're surprised he sided with the robots.
Back in 2017, Rogers confirmed that The Matrix prank was actually filmed for The Office finale before being cut for time. It's unclear why the footage has never been revealed, but hopefully, we'll see it one day. Maybe on the 10-year anniversary of the final in 2023.
Here's Rogers in 2017:
"The finale came in really, really long. There was a cold open that is the ultimate prank where, Jim pranks Dwight, and he does the ultimate prank: he makes Dwight think that he's in The Matrix. And people asked us, like, 'Oh, did you, you know, you ran out of, you know, it was just too long, you guys didn't shoot it, it, it's not in the episode, you didn't put it on the deleted scenes.' We shot it...I cut it."
"That's all up to Greg Daniels, but, uh, maybe the 10 year anniversary, the 20 year anniversary? We'll see."
Whether we ever get to see Jim's Matrix prank in action remains a mystery, but until then, you can get a preview in this recording of the table reading for The Office finale. The good part starts around seven minutes in.