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Michael Scott
"Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."
Played by: Steve Carell
Seasons: 1-7, 9note 

Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton.

UK counterpart: David Brent.

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  • 419 Scam: Michael has a habit of falling for these, to the point where Pam jokes he is "sponsoring twenty Nigerian princesses."
    Michael:" ... when the son of the deposed king of Nigeria emails you directly, asking for help, you help! His father ran the freaking country!"
  • Aesop Amnesia: Has a mind-boggling ability to completely forget practically every lesson he ever learns almost immediately. This finally starts to turn around when Steve Carell made his decision to leave The Office.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Given his personality, mannerisms and propensity to bumble into impossibly awkward situations, it's been theorized that he has anything from being on the Autism Spectrum to Histrionic Personality Disorder.
  • Attention Whore: Michael will even try to make someone else's wedding about him.
  • Babies Ever After: Has four unnamed kids with Holly by the series finale. When he shows up in the finale, it's mentioned that he has two cell phones because he takes so many pictures of his kids. He really just wanted to do the family plan, as before he didn't have five friends for a prior plan.
  • Back for the Finale: To be the best man (or: "bestest mensch") at Dwight's wedding.
  • Benevolent Boss: He likes to think of himself as one of these (and, in all fairness, he does genuinely try), but he's so bad at it that he ends up being a Stupid Boss instead. Though he comes close occasionally, even having moments where he actually is helpful. (Supporting Pam after her failed art gallery show, for instance.) Also, almost every boss that replaces him when he leaves prove themselves to be incompetent, stupid, Ax-Crazy or downright evil, so at the very least he is the nicest by comparison if nothing else.
  • Big "NO!": When Toby returns, Michael loses his shit.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Holly. Both are dorky individuals who love making jokes and doing impressions. They also can be Innocently Insensitive.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • He's the single most successful salesman in Dunder-Mifflin history, and every time we see him make a sale, he is incredibly good at pitching and selling the company's service and has a great rapport with almost all of his clients. This is why corporate had him promoted to Regional Manager, a position which he seemed to have been a perfect fit on paper, but is largely incapable of doing properly.
    • Due to (or despite) his strange and distracting managerial style, the Scranton branch goes from being the worst performing branch in the company at the beginning of the series, to the most successful branch by season 5.
    • He is genuinely able to act as a man in his position should (as Roy's attempted attack on Jim and the watermark incident prove), it's just a matter of untangling him from his skewed beliefs enough to get him to do so.
  • But Now I Must Go: He gets engaged with Holly and he moves to Boulder, Colorado to live with her.
  • Buxom Is Better: Michael rarely misses a chance to remind people he likes big boobs, and one of his "cons" about Jan was that her chest was "nothing to write home about".
  • Camp Straight: He's slim and almost always wears suits, which an old video shows to have been true since he was a child. In high school, the majority of his peers assumed that he was gay due to his mannerisms and unusual interest in his appearance.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Whether it's Jim's crush on Pam, Oscar being gay, or news that the branch is closing, Michael is incapable of keeping a secret for more than ten minutes, often by dropping incredibly obvious hints within earshot of others. On the other hand, will never mention some things that he really should earlier because he sees them as unimportant or is trying to keep people from worrying (when regardless they should know what's going on).
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Well, he can tell them reasonably well in the right conditions (as seen in "The Client"), he just can't come up with good ones himself or reliably tell one when put on the spot. Even when he can tell it right, he immediately goes overboard and will try the same joke again and again long after if it was funny.
  • Catchphrase: "That's What She Said!"
  • Chandler's Law: He repeatedly misuses this at improv classes, on the grounds that you can't top pulling out a gun for drama.
  • Character Development:
    • The later seasons have steered him back in the right direction, especially season 7, it being his last season and everything.
    • He is a very calm and collected person at Dwight's wedding, showing how much his kids have matured him.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He completely lives in his own world, where things work a bit differently than they do in real life. It's what makes his attempts at being a Benevolent Boss backfire most of the time.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Often, for example when Oscar is outed as gay and Michael wonders if Gil, Oscar's "roommate" knew.
  • The Con: He mentions not being able to attend college because he lost his savings in a pyramid scheme.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Prone to this, especially in talking head segments at the end of episodes.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Experience in sales done with a few repeat clients in a highly personal manner doesn't translate into telemarketing very well since telemarketing involves rapid fire calling rather than building a personal rapport, as Michael finds out in "Money". Also a key part of his character, considering he was promoted to Regional Manager because of his sales skills, which didn't exactly convert to managerial skill in his new position.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: There are a couple of times when he is genuinely angry, and dear Lord, he can be terrifying when that happens. The shift is big enough to get a just as angry Stanley to back down. He also shows an outright awesome level of negotiating skills when his fledgling paper company comes at odds with the new Dunder Mifflin management. Up until this point, he'd bumbled his way through every negotiation attempt, but then he suddenly demonstrates enough business acumen to completely rock David Wallace's resolve. To achieve this, he often needs to be backed into a corner before it comes out. When he and Pam quit, he was mess throughout the day while Pam had to get him to even get dressed. It wasn't until near the end, after he'd hired Ryan despite her protests, they failed to get financial backing, and finally Pam was near tears realizing what'd she'd given up to follow him, that Michael finally calmly and collectedly told Pam they'd be okay and that he would take care of it and her.
    David: Here's the situation. Your company is four weeks old. I know this business. I know what suppliers are charging. I know you can't be making very much money. I don't know how your prices are so low, but I know it can't keep up that way. I'm sure you're scared. Probably in debt. This is the best offer you're gonna get.
    Michael: I'll see your situation and I'll raise you a situation. Your company is losing clients left and right. You have a stockholder meeting coming up and you're going to have to explain to them why your most profitable branch is bleeding. So they may be looking for a little change in the CFO. So I don't think I need to wait out Dunder Mifflin, I think I just need to wait out you.
    • When Sabre's "sales is king" policy makes the sales staff act like a bunch of cocky jerks only concerned with money (Phyllis even called Michael "numb-nuts"), he decided to not reward them, and instead gave the leads to the other employees, who proceeded to hide them around the office.
  • Depending on the Writer: How much he is sympathetic or an unlikable jerk. The episodes "Dinner Party" and "Chair Model" are great examples: in the first, he is portrayed as a sympathetic man suffering from a Bastard Girlfriend, while in the latter, which is the next episode, he completely ignores his employees problems, demands that they find a date for him and then insults said dates when they do not live up to his high standards.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: This is what drives Michael to his antics in the office and why he simply can't be a boss.
  • Dirty Coward: Whenever there's a fire in the office, Michael is always the first to run out, not caring how his employees are doing.
    • When his "Golden Ticket" idea looked like it was going to cost the company, he let David Wallace think it was Dwight and then tried to convince Dwight that it would be in his (Dwight's) best interest to take the fall.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Falls into this when he suffers from a very mild burn on his foot and ends up using a wheelchair. Throughout the episode, he acts as if it was ten times worse than Dwight getting a concussion from a car accident earlier.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: He loves to subvert this trope.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Some of his more lucid moments have Michael realizing that he doesn't receive the respect that is due to him by merit of his position if nothing else. Such moments are typically staggering enough to his normal behavior that he tends to act like a man with his job would normally, and as such, have a few moments of awesome.
    • Often claims this in moments when he doesn't deserve it. After the "Golden Ticket" is shown to have actually gained the company exclusive rights of a huge client - and after he had basically forced Dwight to take the fall when it was considered a terrible idea, and who was now hailed for "his" idea - he literally demanded this trope.
      David Wallace: What is it you want?
      Michael: I'll be honest, I would like all the credit... with none of the blame.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Noted by Jim in reaction to Josh Porter leveraging his position at the Stamford branch to get a better job at Staples, thus putting his employees (who'd thought that their jobs had been saved from the cuts) unexpectedly out work: Michael Scott, for all his faults, would never do that to his people.
  • Everything Is Racist: Especially when trying to approach Stanley, Darryl, or Oscar.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: He's a major believer in "love at first sight" and tries to rush many of his relationships. He proposes to Carol on only their ninth date, and is soundly rejected. He eventually averts this by taking Jim's advice to slowly court Holly, whom he does have an instant connection with, and allows their friendship to slowly turn into a relationship.
  • Freudian Excuse: He never experienced love or friendship growing up and attempts to have the office act as a surrogate family to compensate.
    Young Michael: When I grow up, I want to have 100 kids, so I can have 100 friends and nobody can say no to being my friend.
  • Friend to All Children: He is very fond of children and wants to have his own kids.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Not as much as Dwight or Andy but he does fit the criteria for Proximity, Pity, Supervision, and the rare Caring. The other workers hold an immense dislike for his antics and somewhat dread any social involvement with him. This does diminish throughout the series, partly because they become aware of why he is like this and his Hidden Depths, and partly because other managers tend to show them Michael is certainly not the worst person they could work for. Early in the show, of the whole office he was the only one not invited to Jim's party (even Dwight was invited).
  • Friendless Background: Much to his chagrin. He even states the lunch lady was his only friend in the fourth grade at school.

  • Genius Ditz: For all of his incompetence, when Michael is good at something, he's really good at it. Particularly sales, ice skating, and being great with kids.
  • The Gloves Come Off: When he isn't trying to impress everyone, he's a good worker and boss. This confused Jim as he made a pie chart analysing his work schedule and shows that Michael spends more time avoiding work than actually doing it. When he does work, it's enough to keep his job. In "Did I Stutter" he lays down the law on Stanley by telling him that he finally accepts Stanley's hatred of him but regardless of the animosity, Stanley cannot speak to him in such an aggressive manner under any circumstances.
  • Has a Type: All his most important love interests (Jan, Carol, Holly) are blondes. He also briefly dated Pam's mom who was blonde as well.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • "Moroccan Christmas" shows he's great at making drinks.
    • For all his faults as a boss, he's a fantastic salesman.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: One example is Kevin, who originally applied for warehouse worker. Michael hired him as an accountant because he saw something in him. He saw wrong. Another example is Todd Packer, who Michael was the only one who saw him as a friend. Subverted in the episode of the same name, where Michael decides that Todd has gone far enough.
  • Idiot Ball: Even for Michael, driving his car straight into a lake in Dunder Mifflin Infinity just to prove a point about technology (specifically, that the GPS that led him into the lake was unreliable) was unbelievably stupid.
  • Idiot Houdini: If it was real life, he would be fired within the year, at most. Or better, not be promoted at all. In The Office, he manages to stay regional manager at least seven years.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: With Ryan.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Is fond of doing this when it's grossly inappropriate. He finally gets it right when he delivers it to Gabe in regards to Erin in "Viewing Party".
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: His stated reason for becoming a salesman, and the reason why he acts the way he does.
  • The Illegible: Michael has terrible handwriting. In "Company Picnic," he reads his love note to Holly and refers to them as "soup snakes."
    That can't be right. We're soul mates.
  • Important Haircut: In the series finale, Michael's hair is very visibly graying. A minor running gag in the show that was mostly left relegated to deleted scenes was that Michael dyed his hair to appear younger. Now that he's settled down and happy, Michael doesn't need to do this anymore.
  • Innocent Bigot: He says the most insulting things to minorities such as Stanley and Oscar (the only black and Hispanic/gay persons in the office, respectively) but he constantly gets away with it because he really does mean well.
  • Innocently Insensitive: A large component of his sense of humor. Made worse by the fact that his underlings (constantly) point how much his jokes offend them, he refuses to change his choices of joke-worthy material.
  • It's All About Me: Early on, Michael is actually unsure of what "open-mindedness" means.
  • Jerkass: He's always cruel to Toby for no reason and, in general, he's selfish, shallow, and obnoxious whether he realizes it or not. However, he unquestionably is a.......
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He might be selfish, but his employees all consider him a genuinely nice guy at heart and will rally around him when he needs it. Take his guilt over the Prince Family Paper Company, for a start. In turn, if the wellbeing of his employees is on the line, Michael will always step up to do the right thing. Lampshaded by Jim when a rival branch manager sells out his employees for a promotion:
    Jim: Say what you will about Michael Scott, but he would never do that.
  • Karma Houdini: Also depends on the story. Really only in the legal sense is he a Houdini, as the show makes it rather clear that most of the people he knows try to avoid being around him if they have a choice in the matter, so he suffers in that regard.
  • Kick the Dog: Whenever Toby is around, mostly in regard to his divorce.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Michael invading Stanley's privacy and telling the office that he cheated on his wife. Despite the fact that Michael is portrayed as being in the wrong for invading his privacy, it's hard to feel too bad for Stanley when Michael tells everyone that he cheated on his wife. Because, after all, he's the one who cheated on his wife to begin with.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: This might be one of his defining character traits: he's remarkably ignorant of most things to the point of delusion (one shining example shows him claiming to be a regular in all of New York's fineries, and then promptly listing all of the tourist trap restaurants in Times Square as his favourite locales), but it doesn't stop him feigning brilliance on whatever subject he's talking about.
  • Like Brother and Sister: His relationship with Pam is sort of like a crazy big brother. Protective and loving, but she has most of the responsibility. Best seen when he shows up at her art show when no one else does, and tells her how proud he is of her.

  • Malaproper: Occasionally he uses the wrong word - for example in one episode he opens a casino for charity in the Warehouse; stating that he considers himself "a great philanderer". note 
  • Manchild: He often comes across as a clueless teenager in an adult's body. Lampshaded by Pam, who notes that Jan basically has to treat him like a 10 year old.
  • The Match Maker:
    • Subverted in that Michael believes he's the one who first put Jim and Pam together. After they have their first child and attempts to do the same to the rest of the office.
    • He tried to be this for Erin and Kevin in one episode, even after Erin tells him that she likes Andy. As usual he was completely wrong.
  • Mean Boss: An interesting example where he tries to be a Benevolent Boss (and at times is), but his giant ego and immaturity make him greatly disliked by his workers.
  • Metaphorgotten: When he tries to describe Dwight's betrayal in "The Coup":
    Michael: Business is like a jungle, I am like a tiger, and Dwight is like the monkey that stabs the tiger in the back with a stick. Does the tiger fire the monkey? Does he transfer the monkey to a different branch? (eyes light up) Pun! There is no way of knowing what is going on inside the tiger's head. We don't have that kind of technology.
  • Mistaken for Gay: According to Phyllis: She and Michael's classmates in high school thought he was gay due to the outfits he wore.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: The former Trope Namer; he picks "Little Kid Lover" as his dating username to show that he's good with children, and the poor guy doesn't realize what it really implies until it's too late.
  • Never My Fault: When someone (usually Pam) explain that a problem happened because of him, he'll quickly deny it and/or turn the blame on the person in question.
  • No Social Skills: He does not think before he speaks. When in a counseling session with Toby, he even claimed to have been raised by wolves at one point. It would have certainly explained a lot.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Michael manages to pull this trope off despite the show taking place at his job. He seemingly has no administrative duties and has all the time he wants to spend on his frivolous hobbies, activities and meetings. "The Fight" explains that his main responsibility is to simply sign a few papers at the end of every week, which he always childishly puts off to the last minute.
  • Parental Substitute: To Erin, who doesn't have parents.
  • The Peter Principle: A textbook example. He was and still is a great salesman, which is how he got promoted to management, a job for which he has absolutely no aptitude.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: A perfect example of The Peter Principle in action. He was a very good salesman who got promoted to regional manager, a job in which he is completely in over his head. He does have his moments of clarity, in which he's actually the Benevolent Boss he so desperately wants to be, but those moments are few and far in between.
  • Put on a Bus: Towards the end of season 7. But he returns Back for the Finale to be Dwight's best man at his wedding.
  • Shipper on Deck: He has been a huge Jim and Pam fanboy since the day Jim told him about his feelings for Pam.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: His rather rocky extended relationship with his boss Jan.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He vastly overestimates the amount of impact he has on his employees.
  • Stepford Smiler: He likes to act as the funny guy who's always joking around but he's actually a deeply lonely man who Desperately Craves Affection.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In Season 2 he starts doing things for his office like taking them out to Chilli's for the Dundies, and hosting a casino night. Michael also shows his sensitive side around kids in this season. By the end of the series, he is a very different character.
  • Two First Names: His first and last name can both be used as a given name for a male.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Played with constantly. Many of his antics are seen as counter-productive and a drain on the company's resources and it's noted on several occasions that his job consists mainly of a few minor administrative tasks (which he still manages to struggle with). His job is under threat on more than one occasion during series and several of his bosses at corporate admonish him over his lack of responsibility. However it's shown on several occasions (notably in "The Client", "Initiation" and "Golden Ticket") that Michael is responsible for singlehandedly pulling in some of the company's biggest clients and his office is probably the most unified of all the branches making him far too valuable to the company to let go. Significantly, Michael only ever leaves the company of his own volition.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-universe. He does not stop and think that some of the well-intentioned things he's saying could be potentially offensive. Like choosing "Little Kid Lover" as a username.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: On various occasions. Even when his workers go along with his crazy ideas, he'll often wind up complaining, yelling, and acting like a Spoiled Brat.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Varies throughout episodes.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • "That's what she said" veers into this on occasion, especially in "The Deposition", where he does it in response to something he said himself and doesn't even seem to realize he's doing it.
    • When he's lying or being forced to agree to something, he tends to mutter "yesh," and for the most part, this fools nobody.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Generally, what is Genre Savvy in Michael's head is actually Wrong Genre Savvy in the real world, and vice versa.

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