Portrayed by: John Krasinski
Show: NBC’s The Office
A prankster with an absolute heart of gold and wisdom that’s incredibly realistic? Where can you go wrong? Perhaps in certain places, but certainly not with The Office’s Jim Halpert—especially with his ridiculously relatable form of humor.
Jim Halpert played a crucial role in making The Office extraordinary, and it’s essentially due to the significant growth his character experiences in his time working at Dunder Mifflin. In a number of ways, we saw a lot of greatness through his eyes, it was through his perspective where we were able to understand characters a little bit more because his means of description weren’t always (if ever) sugar-coated—they were incredibly honest. And honesty, plus a knack for laugher is easily a great combination for a man.
Jim Halpert is a character you don’t expect to love as much, that’s why when it happens and you’re able to find a sense of comfort through his sincerity, it’s simple to understand how easily he cares for those around him, and how ardently he values love above all things.
Jim Halpert: The Flawed Human
There are quite a few personality traits that make Jim incredibly admirable, but his attention to detail is at the top of the list. This isn’t something that’s instantly noticeable, but from the moment it is, you realize that it’s not a characteristic many possess.
And while Jim may brush it off with sarcasm, things like knowing Dwight’s middle name says a lot about him. In season two when his gift to Pam is something that he knows she needs along with a few fun elements that serve a sentimental purpose? Perfect. It’s knowing and understanding little things about his coworkers that allowed him to be the most unexpected team player.
Sure, Jim was always done with the stupidity present within the office, but beyond that, he’s aware of the fact that these people were special. He was aware that Michael is much more than the unusual, often problematic boss, for Jim was able to see his heart more often than not.
Jim Halpert knew enough about each Dunder Mifflin employee to see that in their own unique way, they were each special—special and worthy of something more in the world.
Now, while I absolutely adore Jim, it’s fair to admit that he, much like every character on The Office is incredibly flawed. (Could the show still hold up in 2021? Probably, but I’ll be rolling my eyes a lot more now.) However, that’s what makes him an incredible character. The perfectly written character isn’t purely good, they’re complex. And while I’m a fan of a fun-loving, hilarious pranks, there’s a limit and to say that Jim never challenged that limit would be blind worship of a character. But the darkness made him more human.
Jim Halpert in season nine isn’t the Jim Halpert we meet in season one. Jim didn’t exactly love everyone at Dunder Mifflin, but at the end of the day, he cared for them as much as any human being is capable of.
People working in Dunder Mifflin mocked one another a bit too much for my liking, but when worse came to worst, they still cared. And this is clear during moments such as Michael’s goodbye—he wasn’t the perfect boss, but he was the best one they had, and the inability to say goodbye in spite of the fact that they’ve often clashed showcases the very depth of the admiration within Jim’s heart. As frustrated as he got, we were always shown how much he cared.
It’s also present most evidently in season nine when Jim makes it his mission to make sure that Dwight understands that he will not be happy in life until he admits to himself that he’s in love with Angela. The bottom line is, the pranks have crossed lines, they’ve caused problems, they’ve been inappropriate, badly timed, but Jim Halpert knows his coworkers enough to be there for them when they’re at their lowest. While he’s often annoyed by a lot of them, when they aren’t around, he misses them, and that alone is a reflection of adoration.
Where there have been harmful pranks, there have also been extraordinary ones. It may not have always been rainbows and butterflies, but it’s been good enough. He’s good enough.
The Romance Hero
Jim Halpert is the kind of man anyone would love to have as a husband—someone who’ll do anything and everything in his power to ensure that those he cares for never go unappreciated. Prioritizing family should essentially be any great father’s main goal in life, and it’s always been Jim Halpert’s without a doubt, allowing viewers to understand that while life can get ugly at times, when selfless objectives in life are set, there’s nothing that won’t be achieved.
And for Jim especially, his heart is reflected through his actions—he’s not just the man who verbally promises to do the best he can, but he’s the man who shows up to prove that he is honoring his word. While he’s most certainly not perfect, as no one in the world is, he is as close as it gets for a husband and father. And to a degree, that’s enough—at the end of the day, family should always be first on our list. In this case, they were, they always were. Pam Beesly was his entire world and their children were the reason for everything he did; what else is necessary?
The Voice of Reason
While Jim frequently messed around to compensate for his boredom, he also served as the voice of reason when it came down to Michael or Dwight’s mishaps. He served as the voice of reason in light of every office party or outing, and he took it upon himself to be there to help his coworkers when he realized they weren’t doing okay. And essentially, this takes us back to his attentiveness, showcasing that though he’s flawed, his self-awareness strengthens his interactions with others by allowing him to understand when he needs to stand back or step forwards.
Jim Halpert starts off hating his ordinary, lackluster job while fearful of the fact that if he doesn’t work hard enough, it may become a career. But the growth that takes place within the nine years we know him allows him to understand that the simple, ordinary things in life can bring out the best in a person.
They can heal a person. They can force a person to look deep within themselves in order to find their mistakes and learn from them. They force a person to look within themselves in order to find the thing they’re most afraid of and conquer it. They force a person to take risks. They force a person to live, and at the end of the day, realizing just how important it is to live fully is every show’s desired message is it not?
We live our lives by finding moments to laugh at and people to laugh with. And Jim Halpert lived his best life by understanding that the greatest gifts in life are found in the most unlikely places.
No character is ever extraordinary without the actor who brings him to life, and John Krasinski’s portrayal of the character is as close to perfection as it gets. Krasinski took the character and gave him the kind of humor and resilience that only a few people could do. He’s layered Jim Halpert in ways that are so distinct, you can never come close to describing how phenomenal the performances had been. John Krasinski grew remarkably as an actor during The Office’s nine season run by rising to every challenge with a full range of emotions and making meticulous choices to exhibit nuances within Jim that we may not have otherwise seen.