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Why Pam’s Mom Changed in The Office

Michael and Helene in the office
Credit: NBC

It’s something that has bugged office fans for years. It can be pretty annoying when you are watching a series, when suddenly, the actor changes, meaning a character is played by more than one person. It happens a lot in the entertainment industry for a number of reasons. Shows such as Pretty Little Liars and Game of Thrones have been extremely guilty for recasting characters in the show, leading fans to be a little confused. Hugely popular sitcom The Office is one comedy that took pride in keeping the majority of it’s chracters the same throughout all nine seasons. But one change has always left fans with a number of questions…

In the season 2 episode Sexual Harassment, we see Pam’s mom come into the office for the first time. Helene, played by Shannon Cochran, asks about Jim, a pivotal moment in the show. After this scene, we don’t see her again until later seasons. It’s not until Jim and Pam’s wedding that Helene returns. In the Niagara episodes, Helene is played by Linda Purl, another important moment in the series as this is the beginning of Michael and Helene’s relationship. But this leads us to ask – why the change in actor?

Both Helenes in The Office
Credit: NBC

Fischer addressed the change on The Office Ladies podcast:

We wanted Shannon Cochran to come back. We cast her as Pam’s mom, we had intended for her to always play Pam’s mom. But then we didn’t need Pam’s mom for a really long time. Shannon got a theatre contract. It was a really weird thing because the integrity of our show was so important to us. There was this rule for a very long time that we couldn’t do any stunt casting. Once somebody was established to play a character they were that person or they didn’t come back. The reason we broke the rule with Pam’s mom and recasting is because the writers came up with a storyline that Michael would date Pam’s mom”.

So there you have it. Pam’s Mom wouldn’t have been recast if it wasn’t for scheduling issues. Does anyone think Linda Purl had great chemistry with Michael Scott? It had us believing they were having a naughty affair anyway!