The Office Documentary Crew Was There Because of a Suicide


Did you ever wonder what was so fascinating about a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that would make it worthy of a documentary? Of course you did, even if you never watched the US version of The Office. As it turns out, according to the writers, the reason is at least partly a whole lot darker than you’d expect. That’s because they were there to document how a man’s co-workers would react after he committed suicide.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you read that right. In 2007, some of the show’s writers attended an Office convention and were posed with the question above. The reason they came up with, apparently, was that an office worker named Tom Peets had shot himself and the film crew found itself roaming the cubicles of Dunder-Mifflin in the aftermath. So who the heck is Tom Peets?

Performance Review

If you are an avid Office fan you’ll recall an episode in which Michael Scott reads from a suggestion box for the first time since, well, pretty much ever. One of the suggestions was that the office needed “better outreach for employees fighting depression.” Phyllis then reminds Michael that “Tom” shot himself the previous year. Thus, the documentary crew was there due to an unseen dead character, at least according to those writers. As it turns out, Ryan the temp was actually just filling in for Tom when he started with the company, explaining his presence as well.

The writers certainly could have been just spitballing and didn’t really have a good answer during that Q&A session, but honestly, isn’t that as good an explanation as any? It’s certainly better than “because it’s convenient to the format,” isn’t it?

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  1. Tom Peets

    Tom Peets was a former accountant at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. In the episode Performance Review, Michael reads some old suggestions from the suggestion box. One of them stated “We need better outreach for employees fighting depression” and it was signed by Tom. Michael thinks this is a fake suggestion considering there is nobody named Tom, but Phyllis reminds him that Tom had shot himself.

    During the Writer’s Block Q&A session at The Office Convention in 2007 (shown on the Season 4 DVD), the writers half-jokingly suggested that-

    Tom’s death created the void which temp Ryan was brought in to fill
    The original reason for filming their lives was to see how Dunder Mifflin-Scranton handled the suicide of a co-worker, but the crew changed course upon realizing that the day-to-day goings-on in this office would make a far more interesting documentary.
    In a press still from Did I Stutter?, Tom’s last name is revealed as Peets.

  2. Obviously the documentary wasn’t real. But I do love to have a good story line a reason why they came to a paper company. The suicide makes sense and also adding to that, this story also explains why Michael was so scared to fire someone. “ HALLOWEEN” season 2 episode 5.

  3. Sheogorath you do understand that TV is the land of pretend, eh?

    The Office in the UK or USA was fake.

    Just saying.


  4. And that story is completely untrue. The film crew were there to to create an American version of a TV programme conceived and popularised by Ricky Gervais. Google ‘The Office UK version’ if you don’t believe me.