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|The Office character|
|First appearance||"Gay Witch Hunt"|
|Last appearance||"Threat Level Midnight"|
|Portrayed by||Rashida Jones|
• Sales Representative, Dunder Mifflin, Stamford • Sales Representative, Dunder Mifflin, Scranton• Regional Manager, Dunder Mifflin, Utica
|Significant other(s)||Jim Halpert (ex-boyfriend)|
Karen Filippelli is a fictional character from the U.S. television series The Office. She is played by Rashida Jones. She is loosely based on the character of Rachel (surname not given) from the original UK version of the show, in that she transferred during the merger of the two branches, and became romantically involved with Jim Halpert, as Rachel did with Jim's counterpart, Tim Canterbury. Karen plays a much greater role in the US series than Rachel did in the British one, while she regularly appears in the third season of the show. When Karen takes over as Regional Manager of the Utica branch, Karen becomes an enemy to Michael and Dwight as she wants to out-do them.
Creation and development
Actress Rashida Jones was cast as Karen Filippelli in 2006. She believed that she was very similar to the character, "because I truly believe that you are the captain of your own ship and you take risks. To the outside viewer it may be obvious because they want Pam and Jim together, but when you're in it, it doesn't play that way." Jones once dated actor John Krasinski, but has stated that this was a "pure coincidence" in terms of being cast as his character's romantic interest.
The third season ended with a lack of clarity surrounding Filippelli's return – Jones was beginning the next network season with a starring role in a new Fox comedy series. She stated at the time that it was "very nebulous. We've talked about some things, and other things may happen.... You see so many actors doing double duty on shows, so it's totally possible. But I have to say, it will be hard for me [to leave The Office] because I really love this show and I love this part."
Karen was a sales representative at the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin paper and office-supply company. She originally worked at the company's branch in Stamford, Connecticut, but transferred to the Scranton branch after her boss, Josh Porter, left in order to take an upper-management job at Staples. She is now the Regional Manager of the Utica branch of Dunder Mifflin.
Karen's ethnicity is deliberately made ambiguous and turned into a sort of running joke. The Italian ancestry implied by her last name is confirmed in "The Merger." But prior to that in the same episode, Dwight suggests that she may be Filipino. Michael then states that she's very exotic looking and asks if her father was a GI. In addition, she has spoken a little French ("Grief Counseling") and Chinese (deleted scene from "Gay Witch Hunt"). Rashida Jones's real ethnicity is mixed as well: her father, Quincy Jones, is black, and her mother, Peggy Lipton, is Ashkenazi Jewish.
In her free time, Karen enjoys playing first person shooter PC games. Her Call of Duty screen name is "KarenTheJimSlayer". She prefers wearing pantsuits at the office rather than skirts. Like Jan Levinson, Karen is portrayed as an ambitious career woman — having gunned for a corporate vice president position and now serving as the regional manager of the Utica branch — though considerably more personable than Jan. Along with Pam Beesly, Karen is often objectified by several men in the Scranton Branch.
Karen first appears in the Season 3 premiere, "Gay Witch Hunt". It is implied in a deleted scene that she was a likely candidate for Assistant Regional Manager before Jim arrived and got the job, causing her to feel somewhat threatened by him; she refers to him as a "major kiss-ass." She is initially annoyed by Jim's trademark mugging at the camera but later develops a crush on him.
The two share some flirtatious moments. Jim also helps her find some Herr's Salt and Vinegar potato chips, which she mentions are her favorite. In "Diwali", she gives Jim a much-needed ride home when Jim gets drunk at work with Andy and is unable to ride his bike. It is also shown she drives a Honda Passport.
In "Branch Closing", Karen is saddened when it seems that Jim is pushing her to move to New York City instead of Scranton—much like Jim's reaction to Pam in the episode "Halloween"—indicating he does not really care where she ends up. At the end of "Branch Closing", she admits to the documentary crew that she likes Jim, although at the time she does not think he likes her.
Karen manages to immediately hit it off with Pam. Later in the same episode, Jim tells Pam he was "seeing someone" (implying Karen). It was later confirmed in "The Convict" that Jim and Karen are dating. Phyllis commented to Karen in the episode "Traveling Salesmen" that she thinks Karen is good for Jim. Dwight remarked during a sales call to Jim that he finds Karen to be "pretty" and that she "appears intelligent".
In "A Benihana Christmas", after Pam admits she has been "cold" to Karen, the two leave the party planning committee to form their own party, becoming friends in the process. In "Back from Vacation", Karen thinks of getting an apartment two blocks away from Jim's. They get into a slight argument over this. Pam helps to mend their fight by advising Jim to "go easy" on Karen.
In "Traveling Salesman", Karen learns of Jim's feelings for Pam. When Jim initially denies Karen's accusation, she mentions that she moved from Connecticut (presumably for Jim), which prompts him to confess the old "crush" he once had for Pam. He admits that he told Pam before he transferred to Stamford and that she did not reciprocate. Karen seems relieved when Jim adds that he is glad she took the Scranton position.
In "The Return", Karen declines to play a prank on Andy with Jim. Jim ends up conducting the prank with Pam, which irritates Karen. She eventually confronts Jim about it, and asks him if he still has feelings for Pam, which he quietly affirms. This revelation seems to be taking a drastic toll on the two, as it is revealed in "Ben Franklin" that Karen is doing everything she can to keep the relationship afloat, while Jim is becoming increasingly uninterested. Karen did gain a small victory in the episode when Pam claimed that her feelings for Jim are non-existent. In "Phyllis's Wedding", Jim implies that he hypothetically would go out with Pam if she appeared to be interested. But after witnessing Pam leaving the party with Roy, he states a non hypothetical: That he's glad he's with Karen.
When Jim is invited as an assistant manager to a cocktail party at the house of David Wallace, Dunder Mifflin's CFO, in Mount Vernon, New York, Karen accompanies him and uses the occasion to prank her boyfriend. Throughout the evening, she frequently mentions to Jim that she had previously dated some of the male guests at the party. She later reveals that he was "kinda her first." When Jim shows surprise by this admission, Karen mentions, once again, how easy it is to fool him.
In "The Negotiation", Karen tries to convince Jim to go out on a date with her instead of staying home to watch a Phillies game. Karen remarks that when she learned about Pam and Jim's kiss, her response was to talk with him about their feelings while Roy's response was much more violent. Karen confesses that she does not know which reaction Jim "hated more". In "Women's Appreciation", Jim reveals that he is taking Karen out for their six-month celebration; Karen is seen buying sexy underwear from Victoria's Secret and Phyllis comments that Jim will love it, as Pam looks on sadly. It is revealed by Jim that Ryan asked Karen on a date a few months earlier, and Karen tactfully turned him down.
In "Beach Games", Jim chooses Karen for his team, which he names "Voldemort", to anger Dwight. During a lull in the games, Jim and Karen set up interviews for a position at corporate. Karen has an upset and almost disbelieving look on her face when Pam addresses the entire office to talk about herself and Jim.
In "The Job", Karen becomes increasingly adversarial towards Pam. Karen and Jim go to New York City a day ahead of their interview to enjoy the city. Karen makes it clear that if Jim gets the job, she would move to New York City to be with him, and that she expects the same from Jim should she get the job.
According to a preview clip on NBC's The Office website, Jim had dumped Karen and left her "crying by a fountain in New York City" following the events of Season 3. After being dumped by Jim, Karen explains to Jim that they will still have to learn to cooperate as co-workers. However, the next morning, Jim discovers that Karen's desk is empty, and that she has left Scranton for good.
Ryan mentions in "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" that Karen sent an e-mail months earlier asking him to go out with her, but that he turned her down because of his commitment to his relationship with Kelly Kapoor. (This was in fact a lie, as it was previously established in Season 3's "Women's Appreciation" that it was Ryan who had asked Karen out in an e-mail, only to be rejected, as she was dating Jim).
In "Branch Wars," it is revealed that Karen has become the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin's Utica branch. She offers Stanley Hudson a pay raise if he transfers to her branch and he accepts. Michael believes that Karen is doing this to get back at Jim for dumping her. Karen is not impressed with Michael's idiotic offer for her to take Toby instead of Stanley and scoffs at his plan to poach Utica's top salesperson in retaliation. In an attempt to get back at her, Michael, Dwight and a reluctant Jim (Michael and Dwight got Jim to accompany them by telling him that they were going on a sales call) travel to the Utica branch to steal a copier. Michael tries to persuade Jim to have sex with Karen in order to distract her while they escape, but Jim is left to be discovered by an irritated but highly amused Karen. The three are discovered, and Karen chastises them and later scolds Jim privately. She tells him that he should have called her before coming to Utica, to which Jim responds by telling her that it wasn't his intention to see her, since he is now happy with Pam. Karen responds with withering sarcasm. Jim meekly says he thinks he should leave Utica to beat the traffic rush back to Scranton, and Karen snaps that he should do just that.
Karen returns in the Season 5 episode "Lecture Circuit". When Michael arrives in Utica to give a lecture on how/why Scranton is doing better than the other branches, it is revealed that Karen is eight months pregnant and has married a dermatologist named Dan. Karen explains how she and Dan met at a bar. Karen also shows Pam and Michael a picture of her and Dan, which Pam feels has brought her closure. She also ends Michael's inappropriate meeting, telling him she'll just distill his "thoughts" into an e-mail and send it to her team. Karen is much warmer towards Pam than expected and even gives her a congratulatory hug upon hearing she is engaged to Jim. In the aftermath of Dunder Mifflin's bankruptcy and collapse, it has not been made clear what Karen's status is, nor the fate of the Utica branch.
Karen (along with Roy, Jan, Todd Packer, Helene, and David) appears in the episode "Threat Level Midnight", and is seen as an actor in Michael's film of the same name. She also appears very briefly in an interview sequence, where she complains about being 'singled out' by the documentary crew to comment on her one-line bit part from a film shot several years ago.
In 2006, the Chicago Tribune opined that the decision to move Karen to Scranton was a "wise" decision, believing her to be a likable and credible potential love interest for Jim. The Boston Herald wrote in February 2007, "The best TV love triangles are when viewers actually like the third wheel, and we like Karen (Rashida Jones), we really like her."
- Webb Mitovich, Matt (April 5, 2007). "Rashida Jones, The Office: Is Karen Fated to Lose Jim?". TV Guide. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- Miller, Gerri (January 1, 2007). "The daughter of Q: you may recognize Rashida Jones from her starring turn in NBC's The Office or her half a dozen other acting gigs in TV and movies, but it's the role she was born into- the biracial Jewish daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones- that made her famous". American Jewish Life Magazine. Retrieved May 16, 2013. (subscription required)
- Goldstein, Meredith (May 22, 2007). "Players for peace". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 16, 2013. (subscription required)
- Ken Whittingham (director), Brent Forrester (writer) (November 16, 2006). "The Merger". The Office. Season 3. Episode 8. NBC.
- Roger Nygard (director), Jennifer Celotta (writer) (2006-10-12). "Grief Counseling". The Office. Season 3. Episode 4. NBC.
- Ken Kwapis (director), Greg Daniels (writer) (September 21, 2006). "Gay Witch Hunt". The Office. Season 3. Episode 1. NBC.
- Miguel Arteta (director), Mindy Kaling (writer) (November 2, 2006). "Diwali". The Office. Season 3. Episode 6. NBC.
- Tucker Gates (director), Michael Schur (writer) (November 9, 2006). "Branch Closing". The Office. Season 3. Episode 7. NBC.
- Jeffrey Blitz (director), Ricky Gervais (writer), Stephen Merchant (writer) (November 30, 2006). "The Convict". The Office. Season 3. Episode 9. NBC.
- Greg Daniels (director), Michael Schur (writer), Lee Eisenberg (writer), Gene Stupnitsky (writer) (January 11, 2007). "Traveling Salesmen". The Office. Season 3. Episode 13. NBC.
- Episode "A Benihana Christmas"
- Julian Farino (director), Justin Spitzer (writer) (January 4, 2007). "Back from Vacation". The Office. Season 3. Episode 12. NBC.
- Joss Whedon (director), Brent Forrester (writer) (February 15, 2007). "Business School". The Office. Season 3. Episode 17. NBC.
- Ken Whittingham (director), Caroline Williams (writer) (February 8, 2007). "Phyllis's Wedding". The Office. Season 3. Episode 16. NBC.
- J.J. Abrams (director), Paul Lieberstein (writer) (February 22, 2007). "Cocktails". The Office. Season 3. Episode 18. NBC.
- Jeffrey Blitz (director), Michael Schur (writer) (April 5, 2007). "The Negotiation". The Office. Season 3. Episode 19. NBC.
- Harold Ramis (director), Jennifer Celotta (writer), Greg Daniels (writer) (May 10, 2007). "Beach Games". The Office. Season 3. Episode 23. NBC.
- Ken Kwapis (director), Paul Lieberstein (writer), Michael Schur (writer) (May 17, 2007). "The Job". The Office. Season 3. Episode 24/25. NBC.
- Episode "Branch Wars"
- Episode "Lecture Circuit"
- Episode "Threat Level Midnight"
- Ryan, Maureen (November 15, 2006). "NBC's `supersizing' doesn't quite fit all". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 16, 2013. (subscription required)
- Amatangelo, Amy (February 14, 2007). "Heart to heart; Checking in with prime-time's top valentines". The Boston Herald. Retrieved May 16, 2013. (subscription required)