These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Pam tends to be viewed in two ways: either as a nice, sympathetic, rather shy character who then unfortunately takes a level in Jerkass and stops being nearly as sympathetic, or else as a depressed, shy doormat cursed with a Bastard Boyfriend who learns to trust her own judgment, speak her mind and actually go after what she wants.
Is Jim an affable prankster making the best of a job he doesn't enjoy by playing practical jokes as a way to cope with crushing boredom, or a smug, callow bully who picks on people who are disadvantaged compared to him just for his own amusement?
Award Snub: 7 seasons as Michael Scott, 6 nominations for Steve Carell, and NO wins. Not one. Considered one of the biggest Emmy blunders ever. In fact, no actor ever won for the show, and John Krasinski notably never got a nomination as Jim (though he was later nominated for his work making a Special Class program for the show's final season).
Creator's Pet: Nellie in season 8. While she had definite signs of The Scrappy initially (hated by fans), the writers have been publicly praising Catherine Tate (adored by creators), brought back and put in as the boss and attempted to be given a sympathetic backstory (put into large scenes), and finally talked up by other characters (with Jim and Pam taking to defend her at one point). It's gotten worse in Season 9, considering they're giving us a few new Character Shilling moments for Nellie in seemingly every other episode.
Designated Villain: In later seasons, anyone who opposes Michael in any way, even if it's for the better.
This goes especially for Toby, who Michael always sees as the bad guy, even when Toby is agreeing with Michael.
Exceptions: Jim and Pam, and sometimes Darryl, who are understood to be the only reasonable ones in the office. Exception to the exception: Michael is generally better at managing than Jim during their season six stint as co-managers.
Dude, Not Funny!: Michael reacts angrily to an office prank, until he realizes it was done by Packer. Then he loves it.
When Daryl was working on a ladder, Michael pulled it out from underneath him and asked "How's it hangin?" Daryl could've died, but only ended up breaking his leg. Recounting the story to the camera, Michael still thinks it's hilarious.
Dwight's knock-knock joke to Michael, the punchline of which is slapping Michael in the face, gets Michael very angry, who "officially" bans knock-knock jokes. Jim does the exact same joke to Dwight a mere seconds later, and Michael is laughing his ass off.
In "Koi Pond", the entire office has a field day with the fact that Michael fell into a Koi Pond, until they find out that Jim pulled away instead of trying to help. This made it look like Jim let Michael fall into the pond because he didn't reach out a hand to help him, so they start giving him a hard time instead.
Also the cold opening with Michael pretending to committ suicide was this for many people, the American Suicide Prevention Center especially, they found the scene incredibly tasteless so NBC had the scene removed from all repeats of the episode and it was also removed from the DVD releases(though the missing scene can still be viewed on NBC's website)
Michael taking insulting Toby just a little too far in "The Chump". A shame really, as he was actually getting some laughs before he hit that point.
Michael: If I had a gun with two bullets, and I was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden and Toby, I would shoot Toby twice.
In the cold open to "Cafe Disco," Dwight pulls a prank on Pam. Since the prank deals with Pam giving up on her artistic dreams, both Jim and Pam are peeved. Apparently they can dish it out to Dwight repeatedly for years on end, but can't take it even once.
Jim and Pam's pranks, while numerous and often elaborate, tend to be little more than petty annoyances; they never took it to a personal level by dragging Moze, Dwight's failed hotel business, or his break-up with Angela into them(and in fact tried to cheer him up at his lowest points regarding the latter two). Dwight trotted out Pam's biggest personal failure and shoved it in her face for a laugh.
Michael physically dragging Meredith to rehab. Regardless of his intentions, a person dragging another person anywhere, with her screaming "NO, let me go!" the whole time, is assault.
It is a blink and miss but Dwight claims to have "4 and 3/4" horses. He then explains that he designed a machine that allows to take meat for hamburgers out of live horses without having to kill them.
Worse still? Of all the companies he contacted to market it, only one declined outright..
Jim's taunting of Andy in his return episode, testing the new limits of his anger management therapy is supposed to show Jim's brilliant snark and brass balls of prakitude. In reality, and especially after what Andy is going through in that episode, it makes him come off as a mean-spirited jerk who is prepared to re-wreck a man's life for his own transient amusement. Worse, his needling is so bad that Andy at one point draws breath to yell at him...then very slowly lets it out. Jim does, however, redeem himself from this out-of-character behaviour by singing "Wimoweh" with Andy at the end of the episode in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
In the healthcare episode, Dwight is already making things horrible for everyone by picking out the worst (in terms of benefits) healthcare plan that he can find that will still cover their pre-existing conditions, then Jim and Pam fill out fake conditions resulting in Dwight violating the employees' medical privacy as well, embarrassing some of the employees in front of their coworkers.
Ear Worm: Karen tries to annoy Jim with the squeaking of the chair that he swapped with hers. Jim responds by repeatedly singing the chorus from "Lovefool" by The Cardigans. Karen is begging him to stop in seconds.
The theme song itself is one of these.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Erin was initially meant to be a temporary character, but she was made into a regular as a result of both the producers loving the actress and the positive fan response to the character.
Creed is very popular, despite being a minor character.
Dwight's cousin Moze is also very popular, thanks to many funny moments. He even has his own Facebook fan page
In a later Halloween episode, Ryan is dressed as Gordon Gekko, referencing his rise and fall in the corporate world.
Foe Yay: Dwight and Jim. In the episode where Dwight is fired (he was re-hired in the next episode) he doesn't say goodbye to anyone, but does stop to give Jim a big hug. Also, in the episode where Jim (with Karen and Pam's help) tricks Dwight into thinking that he's turning into a vampire, Dwight has tears in his eyes when he "realizes" that he must be the one to put Jim out of his "suffering".
Dwight and Andy occasionally. In "Michael Scott Paper Company," they are competing to impress Erin as they play a song together. However, they eventually forget about her as they are singing and she leaves the room while they continue their duet.
Fridge Horror: In-universe: After Michael hits Meredith with his car, Jim starts to wonder about the time Michael came into work complaining about hitting a "speed bump" on the freeway.
Growing the Beard: After an extremely shaky, low-rated first season, the show really comes into its own in the second, after the show started gaining its audience through iTunes. In fact, many people would even say season two was the show's peak.
Ham and Cheese: Jim as Goldenface in Threat Level: Midnight. He only did it to impress Pam, but he sure looked like he had fun with it (although he admits he wasn't "in love" with the character).
Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Stairmaggedon", just a few episodes from the end, Stanley tells Dwight "You are not my boss, and never will be". In the second-last episode, Dwight becomes manager. Though the finale shows Stanley retired very shortly thereafter.
Similarly, back in "Beach Games", there is one scene where Andy and Dwight are competing against each other after Michael revealed that he's using the events as the basis for who gets his job. Cue a talking head with Oscar where he says that he'll quit if either of them are made manager. Both Andy and Dwight have held the Regional Manger position since then(Granted, Andy gets significant Character Development first), and Oscar's still around at the end of the series.
In season's 4 "Chair Model", Jim jokes about setting up Michael with Pam's mom. The two ended up dating for real in season 6, much to Pam's dismay.
Hollywood Homely: Generally averted, as most of the cast are average-looking or are dressed sufficiently dumpy to pass. Played for laughs with Karen (Rashida Jones), who is stunningly gorgeous but is backhandedly insulted by Michael.
Played straight in an episode where Pam was out of contact solution, and wore her glasses to work. Michael told her to her face at every opportunity how "hideous" she looked.
And nobody else except Phyllis does. Michael and Phyllis sniping at Pam is supposed to show how rude and shallow they are.
Also, as noted in fetish fuel, Kevin goes as far as Michael in the opposite direction to the point that she takes them off for the rest of the episode.
Michael has a way of getting into these situations. Also, Kevin and Oscar in "Niagara." Yes, we know that Oscar is actually gay.
Also interesting is the Dwight-Ryan conspiracy in "Manager and Salesman."
Michael has been enamored of Ryan for a long time.
Ryan: Jim has been looking at me, kind of, a lot, all week...I would be creeped out by it, but, it's nothing compared to the way Michael looks at me.
Michael repeatedly writes about Ryan in his diary; when read at Jan's deposition, anyone who didn't know Ryan believed he was a woman Michael was in love with, based on some entries (he describes Ryan as being "just as hot as Jan, but in a different way").
There's also the Dundies, the annual office awards assigned by Michael. Michael repeatedly awards Ryan "Hottest in the Office", a title previously held by Pam. When someone else wins "Hottest in the Office" in the 7th season, Ryan is shown to be pretty upset by this.
Dwight towards Michael, arguably. Dwight is always trying to please Michael, takes care of him when he's hurt, and in the episode "Koi Pond" calls him handsome when trying to cheer him up.
Jerkass Woobie: Michael Scott. He may be a Jerkass, but when you consider his horrid relationship with the bitchy Jan and his depression after his roast over how much fun he'd have instead of what really happens at a roast and his short lived romance with Holly and he stil holds a torch for her. Also in general his lack of social skills can be a downer sometimes.
Even further than that, throughout the show, it's clear that most of Michael's decisions (becoming a salesman being a big one) are made with the intent of either making friends or finding romance. Unfortunately, failure seems to be the only option for him, as bad luck tends to break up any chance at either that Michael's own thoughtlessness, childishness, oblivity, or generally self-centered nature doesn't drive away first. It gets really woobieish at the brief points where Michael actually realizes this, such as in "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day" and "Koi Pond".
The "Fundle Bundle" tape with young Michael qualifies as Mood Whiplash.
Dwight can be this in some episodes.
Pam's this way now. Interesting in that she started off as the Woobie, and developed Jerkass tendencies. Examples include: Mocking how the senator proposed to Angela; Manipulating Dwight, claiming they've been great friends when she knows that's not true, so that he can take care of her daughter for a night, so she (Pam) could sleep; Lying and manipulating her way into a nonexistent job where she created her own higher salary because she couldn't cut it as a salesman.
Nellie is a bitch who stole Andy's job and not only got away with it but basically kicked off a downward spiral that got him fired. On the other hand, we learn that she does have feelings that can be hurt and that her life is crappier than Michael Scott's was: Due to her shopping addiction shes maxed out all of her credit cards and is in serious debt, shes been rejected for adoption because shes unmarried, she doesn't have any friends or a social life and her family lives in the UK. At the top of the ninth season Andy becomes blatantly abusive towards her and announces his intention to fabricate a reason to fire her, again making her more sympathetic by comparison.
Of course, considering the only reason Nellie has a job there in the first place is because she stole Andy's job in an absurdly implausible manner, there is plenty of justification for getting rid of her.
And many of these revelations about her make her come across more Unintentionally Unsympathetic than anything else, since they in no way excuse the things she's done, and are mostly self-inflicted.
Or any of the bad things she's done could possibly all be intentional as she later says:
"My first week here I sneezed directly into the candy jar. I thought I’d get more screen time as a villain."
Andy in Season 9. Any sympathy for Andy over what Nellie did went out the window when his family loses their fortune and he abandons the job he just got back from Nellie to sail his family's yacht down to the Bahamas with his brother to sell it. He leaves his manager post vacant, expecting everyone to cover his ass to the main office, doesn't ask his girlfriend Erin to go with him and barely calls, writes or texts her the four months he's gone. When he returns he expects a big welcome back even though everyone's pissed at him and he accidentally blows Dwight's big sale to Jan Levinson's telephone book company. When Erin tells him she doesn't love him anymore after being neglected for so long Andy tells her they can pretend to still love each other. This causes Erin to finally dump him. Andy's boss David Wallace finds out about him being AWOL and yells at him but since Andy is the one who got him to buy Dunder Mifflin in the first place he can't fire him. Erin starts seeing Pete, the new guy in the office she developed feelings for while Andy was away. When Andy finds out about it he doesn't take it well and tries to fire Pete but Toby tells him it would be illegal. Andy gets back at them by inviting Erin's ex Gabe and Pete's ex-girlfriend over for supposedly a work related matter but actually just to make them uncomfortable. Pete and Erin end up fighting with their exes much to Andy's delight.
And "Classy Christmas." He had Jim reduced to a horribly paranoid mess by the end of the episode.
The cold open to Pool Party has Dwight and Stanley collaborate to manipulate Jim into pranking Dwight with various meatball-related stunts, giving them bags of free food daily.
Jim himself, when he plays an antagonistic role. Especially in the episode when Kelly sabotaged his and Dwight's customer reviews. Dwight had a borderline psychotic Villainous Breakdown, whilst Jim coolly manipulated both Ryan and Kelly into revealing what had happened. Once he knew what was going on, it seemingly took him minutes to reign in Dwight and blow Kelly's revenge plan wide open.
Moral Event Horizon: Dwight crosses one in "The Coup," when he tries to back stab Michael and take his job. Notable in that Dwight recognizes this and Lampshades it as he does so. This also triggered some character development for him, as earlier in the series he seemed to be genuinely in awe of Michael. Afterward, his character maintains the facade but reveals various times that he no longer respects him.
Michael trying to make every aspect of Phyllis's wedding all about him. He actually implied that the bride was dishonorable in front of her husband at the wedding. In time gone by that would have ensured a Duel to the Death.
Dwight making an extremely serious attempt to get Jim fired in "Scott's Tots." This was actually so effective on the audience that the writers aborted the related arc.
David Wallace sends Michael and Dwight to infiltrate a smaller paper company (that was posing no real threat to Dunder Mifflin) so that they could steal their clients and run them out of business.
Dwight (is that even possible??) murders Angela's cat because it was "weak."
Angela while rude and insensitive, is usually ok with people, if tightly wound, except when she thinks they deserve it, or is vying for power (especially in regard to party planning). But in the dinner party episode, for no apparent reason, she lies about Pam's alleged romantic intentions with Michael to make Jan hate her.
Dwight again in "Doomsday" when he installs a device to send an email to Robert California to get every one fired if they make 5 mistakes in a day. He then refuses to give up the password to them and says he'll write negative refrences to them if they get fired. If there ever was a time to give someone a kick to the testicles, this would be it.
Nightmare Fuel: Deangelo wandering back in to the office after having been hospitalized with a head injury, attempting to give out orders despite aphasia making him into a disturbing version of The Unintelligible.
Dwight's "fire drill," while hilarious, is also horrifying. The panic of all the office workers goes on for a four minute long cold open, with things like Michael smashing open a window and screaming pretty un-hammily for help, Jim yelling, "I am not dying here!" Dwight's Dissonant Serenity, oh, and Stanley having a heart attack. It's pretty unnerving.
Roy going berserk (in a not even remotely comedic way) in "Cocktails" and "The Negotiation".
Or they wouldn't, if it weren't for Ricky Gervais complaining every time he gets a microphone about how "everyone" thinks Steve Carell is the creator of The Office.
Also, the character Michael Scott, who bears an intriguing resemblance to Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman.
Willy Loman strives for success but his main goal in life is to be loved, the same as Michael Scott. Both are convinced that's how you succeed. Both were very successful salesmen before the start of the narrative, and neither has realized how far downhill they've gone. Both are at a dead end in their careers, and neither realizes that their true talents lie elsewhere (Michael as a salesman, Willy as a carpenter). Both are desperate for normal human connections, and are incapable of keeping them. Willy Loman is really just Michael Scott in fifteen years, played for tragic anti-hero rather than for laughs.
The use of "That's What She Said" as a joke response to anything that could be interpreted as even vaguely sexual is definitely Older Than They Think. Though popularized by The Office, that phrase had been used in that exact same way for at least a decade before the show existed, if not longer.
One-Scene Wonder: Creed is one of the few characters out there that is particularly meant to be underused. His charms are his mysterious past, and the suddenness of his Cloud Cuckoolander-ness.
Paranoia Fuel: What if your coworkers really do have you under electronic surveillance, looking for something they can use to ruin you for their own benefit.
Romantic Plot Tumor: The Dwight/Angela/Andy love triangle in season 5. Just sort of drug on and made Dwight and Angela into bastards.
So Bad, It's Good: What the members of the office see Michael's movie Threat Level: Midnight as, though Michael wants it to be taken seriously. He eventually accepts the fact that he doesn't need to make a great movie so he lets them enjoy it as they want to.
Seasonal Rot: There were complaints about a fall in quality starting around the fourth season (when the primary ongoing plot was resolved at last). It picked up even more during the sixth and seventh seasons and after Michael Scott left those complaints increased tenfold.
Tear Jerker: In "Boys and Girls," Jan discusses ambitions with all the office women; Pam wants a house with a terrace to plant flowers, and a job where she can use her art skills. Jan offers to put in a good word for her on a graphic design internship in New York, but when Pam tells Roy about it, he tells her to forget about it. Pam explains all this to the camera along with the terrace (it's from a children's story she read, and something about it stuck with her). But what are dreams worth? "It's impractical. I'm not gonna try to get a house like that. Um, they don't even make houses like that in Scranton...so, I'm never gonna..." Pam has to stop herself from crying.
Then Pam goes to art school (hooray!), fails once, and gives up (boo!). Roy turns out to be right in hindsight. A jerk, sure, but right.
When Michael leaves the office for the last time. In fact, the entire episode, though hilarious, was one big tear jerker.
Jim: You know what I think we should do? I think we should just save the goodbyes for tomorrow. At lunch.
At the end of "Customer Loyalty" Jim and Pam have a serious fight over the phone over his being away working in Philadelphia. After Pam breaks down and cries she looks into camera and asks "What am I doing wrong Brian?" and after nine years we finally see the documentary crew filming their lives. Brian the boom operator puts down the mike and goes over to comfort Pam telling her "Nothing. It's a tough situation." and asks his colleagues to turn off the cameras.
Pam's speech in the series finale, explaining what she hopes people will gain from watching her story.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Nellie. Attempts to give her a sympathetic backstory rang a bit flat since they didn't excuse her behavior and detractors were quick to point out that many of her sympathetic points and problems were of her own doing.
The Woobie: Pam before she gets married; Erin more than anyone else.
Phyllis and Toby get picked on by Michael a lot. Especially Toby.
While he is normally a creepy sexist, one Cold Opening has Kevin going out of his way make chili for everyone in The Office, proudly declaring that it's his greatest skill. As soon as he walks in the door (after carrying it up the stairs due to a broken elevator) he trips and spills it all over the carpet. Seeing the big guy trying in vain to scoop it all back into the pot just makes you want to give him a hug.
Kevin also seemed pretty Woobie-ish in the episode where he and Andy protested to get their parking spots back, while at the same time Kevin deals with his fiancee breaking up with him. After they win the parking situation at the end, Kevin says with a warm smile, "It's just nice to win one."
Andy: "What we have here is the ultimate smackdown between the Nard Dog and crippling despair, loneliness and depression. I intendto win."
Erin is an orphaned Pollyanna who just wants everyone to like her, but she seems to have been fleshed out into a full fledged woobie as of Secretary's Day. She had a cringe worthyHeroic BSOD when she found out that Andy and Angela used to be engaged: her breathing pattern became irregular, she pulled her hair to her face, and started yelling.
Erin: In the foster home my hair was my room.
Turned up to eleven when Michael lands a devastating blow during an argument in "Viewing Party"(Though in fairness, he picks up on the mistake uncharacteristically fast and immediately moves to fix it).
Jim and Dwight had their moments. Jim during the lowest points of his pining for Pam; Dwight after Angela dumped him (especially when, after he defeated the computer in a sales competition and Angela didn't care, Pam, who had been impersonating the Dunder-Mifflin computer network as part of a prank, sent him an instant message admitting its defeat. Dwight cries).
Young Michael on the videotape in "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" (which goes a long way towards explaining parts of his adult personality): "I want to get married and have a hundred kids, so I can have a hundred friends, and no one can say no to being my friend."
Even Angela gets in on it at one point, when Dwight gives her the news of her cat Sprinkles having died. Pet owners can relate.
Jordan, every time she interacts with Dwight.
Toby in the series finale. Almost everyone else has some kind of a happy ending except for him. Dwight fired him a year earlier and he tries to make it as a novelist in New York. He tries to re-connect with Nellie she rebuffs him. At the forum for the documentary an audience member asks them if they find their life feels pointless now that they're no longer being filmed and he automatically says yes. When dancing with Pam and Dwight's wedding she asks is it her, Nellie, and Toby cries "It's everything."