Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Office (US)

Go To

  • Adaptation Displacement: To The Office (UK) for American viewers.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Pam: a nice, sympathetic Shrinking Violet who then unfortunately takes a level in Jerkass and stops being nearly as sympathetic, or 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?
    • 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?
    • Advertisement:
    • Gabe in "Secretary's Day": the characters all seemed to think he was being a fun-killing jackass with no sense of humor. Except that right up until the end of the episode, when he turned on Kevin in an effort to make the entire office stop bullying himself, instead, Gabe—until ratted out by Toby—looks to have actually done an effective job of stopping an office-wide bullying incident. (Sure, it wasn't entirely legal, but he may not have known that.)
    • Andy: an egotistical and self-centered Jerkass Manchild or a Jerk with a Heart of Gold whose insecurities and self-destructive tendencies cause him to lash out at times? The answer is yes.
    • Stanley in the Cold Open of "Costume Contest". Was he truly oblivious to everything his coworkers were doing, or did he notice but simply didn't care?
    • Ryan: was he always a Jerkass and just hid it well? Or was his attitude after being promoted due to him being out of his element among the corporate higher-ups (and the drugs he indulged in)?
    • Advertisement:
    • Kevin: Dumb as rocks, or Brilliant, but Lazy and just masking his actual competence with Obfuscating Stupidity? He may be bad at his accounting job, but he is not so bad that he has ever been fired from it, and the fact that he is- or at least claims to be- a former world champion poker player suggests that he is actually fantastic at numbers and almost has to be faking.
      • Given how stupid he is, and how poker has actual little to do with numbers and more to do with odds, Kevin's poker ability it more likely due to his being able to bluff astoundingly with probably horrible cards, as he won't realize he has a terrible hand and can keep a straight face no matter what.
  • Ass Pull: In the final season, the camera crew continues to film the Scranton office even though the documentary had already been finished, edited and was preparing to air.
  • Award Snub: Steve Carell had been nominated six times for his performance and never won a single Emmy. 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).
    • Oddly enough, the Summer 2006 web series, The Accountants, aired only at NBC.comnote  won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Broadband Program - Comedy, and the web series's principal performers - Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, and Oscar Nunez - all shared the award, despite neither of the three ever getting a single Primetime Emmy nomination for the main series.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Really, every other character in the show is either this or a straight up Scrappy, with very few that can count as being universally loved (or at least tolerated) by the whole fandom. The standout examples include:
    • Michael Scott. Simply put, the fanbase is divided as to whether his Cringe Comedy moments and generally boneheaded antics are utterly hilarious or just plain annoying and downright uncomfortable to watch.
    • Robert California. Some fans found him a funny and interesting character in his own right, mainly due to the strength of James Spader's performance. Other fans simply found him a cheap Replacement Scrappy for Michael and an irritating Smug Snake. Not helping was the ridiculous way he was inserted as the new CEO and characterization that fell into a bad case of Depending on the Writer.
    • Jim is either the sweetest and funniest guy ever, or a smug jerk that gets away with being a bully because the narrative will bend over backwards for him.
    • There is no question that Dwight is massively egotistical. Whether that's hilarious or annoying is up for debate.
    • Erin is this with some circles. Her fans adore her bubbly personality and enjoy her increased role in the later seasons while her detractors find her naivete annoying to the point of Tastes Like Diabetes and believe she's undeserving of the attention she gets. And then there's a much smaller third faction that generally likes her but felt she was better as a background character who was used in small doses. A particular sore spot for many in the second camp and some in the third camp is her treatment of Andy during certain arcs.
    • As shown above with her entry under Alternative Character Interpretation, Pam became increasingly divisive with the fanbase as the series went on, with her popularity drop-off starting in Seasons 4 and 5. It's telling that many of her detractors generally held the latter view at first but then shifted to the former over time. Her actions in Season 9 are another point of contention.
  • Broken Base:
    • There is no denying that the show underwent some measures of Seasonal Rot at some points, but exactly when it started happening tends to be a point of intense debate among fans.
    • Many of the arcs in Season 9 have split the fanbase into very heated factions.
      • The Athlead arc and the problems it brings to Jim and Pam's marriage. Leaving aside the fact that Jim did deposit a large amount of money behind Pam's back to invest in the business, fans are split as to whether Jim was right to try broadening his horizons (as he'd made it clear before that he didn't want to stay at Dunder-Mifflin selling paper until he was 50) and Pam was being unreasonable, or if Pam had every right to be paranoid that the idea could fail and hurt them badly (as starting a new business is a risky venture, no matter how you spin it).
      • The Brian story arc in the season and his whole character in general. Some were ecstatic to see someone from the documentary crew and a new shake-up in the character dynamics. However, the fact that his character also had a major part in the already contentious "Jim vs Pam over Athlead" arc to provide possible Your Cheating Heart temptation to Pam led to a major fracture in the fanbase. One half sees Brian as a minor Ensemble Dark Horse for what little screentime he had and the arc as a realistic story that proves the ultimate strength of Jim and Pam's marriage; the other half saw Brian as The Scrappy and felt his inclusion was a forced and pointless addition only meant to stir up more drama for an arc that wasn't going to go anywhere.
      • The Pete/Erin relationship. While it's widely criticized for being a blatant copy of the Jim/Pam ship and for its Derailing Love Interests treatment of Andy, the ship does have a small contingent of loyal fans that appreciate it for being a relatively more stable relationship for Erin. Ship-to-Ship Combat is the main cause of this fracture in the fanbase, but even non-shippers get in on it on both sides.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Jim's pranks are so elaborate that his status as the Only Sane Man is highly debatable.
    (Seeing Dwight climb a pylon) "He'll be fine. I made it up there."
    • Creed. His Mysterious Past, badass skills (catching a fish bare-handed, for starters), and the tidbits of info he gives in his interview segments add to this.
  • 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. They even attempted to retcon her Jerkass behavior in the previous season by having her offhandedly mention that it was her merely playing the part of a "villain" as a ploy for more screentime.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Anything relating to the office weirdos Dwight and Creed.
  • Designated Monkey:
    • Toby's treatment can sometimes feel excessively mean-spirited and thus hard for some fans to stomach. It doesn't help that unlike his Parks and Recreation expy successor Jerry, he doesn't have any bright spots in his life.
    • Andy being turned into the Designated Villain in Season 9 and subsequent "punishments" (including Erin cheating on him and being humiliated on Youtube for his failed talent show audition) was a major sore spot for his fans, many of whom admitted they have a hard time rewatching the series knowing what happens later.
  • Designated Villain: Andy Bernard often ends up as this, especially in his relationship with Erin Hannon. While their first breakup could be seen as Grey and Gray Morality as Andy should have told Erin about his relationship with Angela, though given the circumstances, it's perfectly understandable why he wouldn't want to talk about it. However, after that Andy was always presented as in the wrong. Repeatedly he would be forced to move on, only for Erin to realize she liked him again, making Erin come across as flighty and cruel. They finally got back together after Andy risked his job to go and get her back from Florida. However, in order to make Nellie (a Creator's Pet if there ever was one) more sympathetic and introduce a new love interest for Erin, they had Andy suddenly take a level in Jerkass and the audience is expected to forget any character development up to that point.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Pete gets this from a large number of Andy/Erin shippers. It really didn't help that the Pete/Erin pairing was set up in a way that was an obvious attempt by the writers to recreate the Jim/Pam romance, nor that it essentially required putting Andy through the Derailing Love Interests treatment after a long arc of Will They or Won't They?, Relationship Revolving Door, and Unrequited Love Switcheroo that the Pete/Erin pair-off rendered into a "Shaggy Dog" Story at the end. Now it's possible that some of Andy's derailment was a result of the writers attempting to make Nellie appear more sympathetic, and it was just a coincidence that they tried to hook up Pete and Erin at the same time, but that only makes the backlash and anger even more intense.
    • Karen was this in the eyes of many Jim/Pam shippers simply for existing.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • 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 Mose is also very popular, thanks to many Funny Moments. He even has his own Facebook fan page.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Andy and Kelly, especially according to this character analysis video, as they both are rather immature and enjoy pop culture, even playfully interacting with one another.
    • And speaking of Andy, Andy/Erin were also generally far preferred over Erin/Pete. Apart from Michael's absence, this was one of the main criticisms many had for the final season, as many critics and viewers hated how Pete's inclusion ruined three seasons' worth of relationship building between Andy and Erin (on top of putting Andy through an especially blatant Derailing Love Interests treatment in order to facilitate Erin getting together with Pete).
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • The series has one with its original UK source show. While they are ostensibly similar in their basic premises and themes, they have radically different approaches to humor and characterizations, so a great deal of the rivalry comes down to which style the individual viewer prefers (which isn't to say they can't enjoy both).
    • Some Office fans are known to get in angry and heated debates online with fans of Parks and Recreation over which series was better in the long run. Granted, it's an extremely small Vocal Minority that engages in this and they're mostly Friendly Fandoms (as detailed below).
  • Foe Yay:
    • Dwight and Jim. In "Traveling Salesmen" Dwight quits (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".
    • To a lesser extent, Michael and Toby.
      • To no extent; Michael has never shown Toby any amount of respect or hidden appreciation, and the few times he has been nice it was by being tricked into it or not directly for Toby (ei, being nice to his daughter).
    • 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.
  • Fountain of Memes: Creed is arguably the most quotable.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Parks and Recreation and Modern Family, due to their shared traits of being mockumentaries and heartwarming, relatable sitcoms. The former shares writers and an actress (Rashida Jones) with Office.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Many of Michael's attempts at being a cool and friendly boss were played for Cringe Comedy, but can be especially uncomfortable after the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have shined a light and a harsher eye upon such behavior. His comedy alter-ego Blind Guy McSqueezy being the most glaring example, as he hints at deliberately using the character to sexually harass the women at his improv class.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • When Jan announces that she's pregnant, Michael immediately asks her in a concerned tone, "Have you touched any of my Propecia?" Hair growth drugs like Propecia and Rogaine can cause birth defects if handled by pregnant women.
    • Kevin mocks Angela when she brags about attending the city comptroller's party, saying, "Who even knows what a comptroller is?" A comptroller is basically an accountant, so Kevin, being an accountant, is showing himself to be very dim by not knowing.
  • Growing the Beard: After a rather shaky start, the show really comes into its own in the second season, after the show started finding its own distinct identity and humor style away from its British parent (as well as Steve Carell getting a star boost from The 40-Year-Old Virgin that summer). 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 didn't love the character or dialogue).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the episode "The Merger", Michael stabs the tires of the other employees to get them to unite against Vance Refrigeration. When they get annoyed and leave, he says:
    Michael: This is egregious! This is egregious!
    • In the episode "Gossip," Michael spreads a bunch of false rumors in an effort to destroy the credibility of the one he knew was true at the time (that Stanley was having an affair). When the staff gets together to try to trace some of the rumors, Kevin says that the rumor about him was that there was a little person inside of him working him with controls. This would later become the premise of the Pixar film Inside Out, whose stars included Phyllis Smith and Mindy Kaling.
    • 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 Manager 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.
    • In a Season 9 episode, Clark shows his disdain for the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Deleted scenes in the finale show him flirting with a new co-worker played by the film's leading lady, Dakota Johnson.
    • David Denman, Roy's actor, played another role just like Roy: a Bastard Boyfriend engaged to a girl who was the apple of a much nicer man's eye and eventually lost to him.
    • In "The Chump"note , there was a joke about a Billy Joel Rock Band game - something which, at the time, couldn't happen, because Billy Joel didn't allow his music to be used in either Rock Band or Guitar Hero at the time. Not only did Billy Joel's musicnote  appear as Downloadable Content over 3 months later in Rock Band 3, but according to Billy Joel himself, he did so because of the joke; he read a review of the episode where the reviewer said "God forbid that should ever happen"note , and Billy Joel got on the phone and told his people to get him in the latest Rock Band gamenote . However, a Billy Joel Rock Band in the same vein as The Beatles: Rock Band or Green Day: Rock Band, which is more likely what the critic was actually referring to, still has not happened (or, for that matter, a Guitar Hero game in the same vein).
    • When the "Niagara" episode aired in 2009, Meemaw showed disdain for watching Charlie Rose on TV. It's likely he was a mere random target. But in 2017, Rose, who worked for PBS and additionally CBS, made some sexually inappropriate behavior, and both networks canned him. Again, it's coincidental... unless Meemaw was on to something.
    • The pre-credits gag from "Trivia"note  unintentionally foreshadowed John Krasinski's A Quiet Place.
    • The Sabre company debuts a triangle shaped tablet called the Pyramid, and Ryan's presentation (given by Jim) at the opening of Sabre's first retail store puts a lot of emphasis on real-life pyramids built throughout history. In Horizon Zero Dawn, electronics/robotics manufacturer Faro Automated Solutions has a pyramid logo and its CEO holed himself up in a pyramid-shaped bunker to ride out a Robot War apocalypse that he himself was indirectly responsible for.
    • This quote from Dwight, now that Rainn Wilson has voiced Lex Luthor in the DC Animated Movie Universe.
      Dwight: And in conclusion, I think that Lex Luthor said it best when he said "Dad, you have no idea what I'm capable of".
    • John Krasinski played Jim, who's pretty hopeless even with his beloved sniper rifle in Call of Duty. Now that Krasinski's done 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (alongside Roy's actor David Denman no less) and Jack Ryan, he's clearly doing a lot better with a gun.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Kevin and Oscar in "Niagara". Helps 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. He repeatedly writes about Ryan in his diary; when reading it 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.
    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.
    • Dwight towards Michael. 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. There's also him getting jealous of Michael giving Ryan attention and favoring him in "The Fire."
    • Played for Laughs by Jim, who in one episode claims that Dwight tried to kiss him and that he's not sure how he feels about it. (Even more hilariously, Dwight doesn't actually truly deny this.)
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The first season comes across like an inferior carbon copy of the original British series, making it rather pointless and not very funny. Once the show developed its own style and characters, it Grew The Beard.
  • Idiot Plot: Occurs many times.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Michael Scott. He may be a Too Dumb to Live Jerkass, but then you consider his horrible relationship with the bitchy Jan and his depression after his roast and his short-lived romance with Holly, whom he still holds a torch for. 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.
      • Also, some episodes point out that he really wants children. The "Fundle Bundle" above is an example (though he wants them for selfish means, as he says he wants friends who won't have a choice in the matter), as is "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day". One of the arguments he has with Jan is that he wants children (he bought a whole condo for them!) but she doesn't. Even in "Chair Model", when he tells everyone to find a girl to set him up with, he flat-out states that he wants to play with his children before he gets too old. Even Creed tears up.
    • Dwight can be this in some episodes.
    • Pam's become one in later seasons. 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 she's maxed out all of her credit cards and is in serious debt, she's been rejected for adoption because she's 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 hiring Erin's ex Gabe and Pete's ex-girlfriend just to make them uncomfortable. Pete and Erin end up fighting with their exes much to Andy's delight.
    • Angela is rarely sympathetic, but it's hard not to feel bad for her when she's inconsolable after her cat Sprinkles died. She's very attached to her cats, and anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows how upsetting it can be.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Andy has been shipped with several characters, including Erin, Oscar, Karen, Jim, Kelly, Ryan, Robert, Gabe, and original characters.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Boom! Roasted.
    • That's what she said!
    • NO, GOD. NO, God, please, no, NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOO
    • False.
    • Fact: Bears eat beets.
    • Schrute Bucks.
    • (looks into the camera like [they're] on The Office)
    • Seems like the kinda thing white people with dreadlocks do.
    • (softly) Don't.
    • How the turntables...
    • For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mashing up Robert California's dialogue with clips of Ultronnote .
    • (quietly) I'll kill you.
  • Moe: Erin - we even see her in her "jammy jams".
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Quick viewers may figure out a few moments early why, in the series finale, a woman played by Joan Cusack would be asking Erin about her birth mother.
  • Never Live It Down: "Fire Guy!"
    • "Big Tuna", too.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • A great many fans of the American version are not aware of the English one.
    • 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: Bob Odenkirk in the episode 16 of season 9, as an office manager very similar to Michael Scott. Odenkirk nearly got cast in the role of Michael.
    • All of the managerial candidates that were interviewed after Deangelo was dismissed, save for David Brent and Nellie.
  • 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?
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Andy is introduced as a thoroughly unlikable sycophant with rage issues. While he's continued to be portrayed as a comically awkward character, his portrayal became more sympathetic during his engagement to Angela (who cheated on him and was otherwise emotionally abusive) and by the time he ended up a main character, he was one of the most likable characters on the show, to the point that the fans were absolutely outraged by the treatment he received in the series' final season that had him as the Designated Villain.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A deleted scene from "" had a lady named Sheri approach Dwight about the Hay Festival and being picked as "Mother Harvest". She was played by Selah Victor - Chloe Bourgeois.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The Dwight/Angela/Andy love triangle in Season 5 just sort of dragged on and made Dwight and Angela into bastards.
  • The Scrappy: Overlaps a lot with Hate Sink, since many characters are supposed to be obnoxious.
    • Angela, who's often a self-absorbed, uptight, and manipulative jerk and hypocrite.
    • Ryan, following Season 3. As he rises in the company ranks, it becomes increasingly obvious that he has little to none of the skills or expertise he believes himself to have, and even after tanking the company, he still believes he's better than everyone else. Moreover, the show's increasingly convoluted attempts to keep him around despite serving little purpose to the office and not even having a real job in general became more grating as time went on. It even gets lampshaded in universe at one point.
      Jim: I liked you better when you were just the temp.
      Ryan: Yeah, so did I.
    • Nellie was already disliked ever since she appeared in "Search Committee", but the hatred of her began to really pick up after she stole Andy's job. Main criticisms include her being such a Karma Houdini it shreds any Willing Suspension of Disbelief to pieces, and the strong suspicion of her being a Creator's Pet (the praise given to Catherine Tate by Paul Lieberstein in his interviews did not help matters).
    • Pete became this for many Andy/Erin fans. Even non-shippers disliked him due to finding him bland and boring and a badly done rehash of Jim with no character of his own outside of being Erin's new love interest.
  • 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.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: The Andy/Erin vs. Pete/Erin debates still inflame parts of the fanbase.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Jim considers Josh Porter leveraging his position at the Stamford branch to get a better job at Staples and jeopardizing the Stamford workers' livelihoods reprehensible. However, given that Dunder-Mifflin is a textbook Incompetence, Inc. that makes cuts and loses money every year and whose upper management shows no signs of turning the company around, can you really blame him for deciding to take a job at a company that has a more stable future?
  • Super Couple: Jim and Pam, especially in seasons 2-6. One of the great examples of a Happily Married couple on TV this side of Friday Night Lights.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Danny Cordray, played by Timothy Olyphant, is treated as a really important character for the 2 episodes he's in, but he disappears. Too bad he's only in 2 out of 201 episodes.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • The office staff constantly berate Michael for his incompetent management of the branch when it's clear that many of them are incredibly dysfunctional themselves. In fact, it's more than likely that Michael's mismanagement is the only reason half the office remains employed, especially some of the supposed Only Sane Men like the prank-happy Jim or the openly disrespectful Stanley.
    • Nellie starts off as a Hate Sink, but attempts to make her more sympathetic further down the road were unsuccessful for many viewers because she could Never Live It Down.
    • Phyllis in the party-planning subplot between her and Angela. To show how she is being mistreated by Angela, any episode that involves a party tends to include multiple scenes of Angela berating Phyllis for a mistake she made in the preparations. However, this happens so often that it quickly comes across as though Phyllis spectacularly fails at every single task she's given, making it hard not to see where Angela's frustration is coming from. It doesn't help that, when she starts blackmailing Angela in order to take over the party-planning committee, she proceeds to really Kick the Dog with how far she takes it, never mind that she spent months knowing one of her coworkers was being cheated on but decided to keep that information private for her own benefit.
    • Erin in Season 9. In the show's frequent attempts to recreate the Jim/Pam romance, they attempt to portray her as neglected and mistreated so she could be pushed toward the supposedly nicer and more understanding Pete instead. However, the handwave they used to explain why Andy would inexplicably start treating her that way so soon after risking his job to win her back involved him going through exceptionally difficult circumstances that made his behavior actually somewhat understandable, and made Erin come off as heartless for abandoning him during such a rough period in his life, and over a temporary bout of Jerkass behavior that obviously wasn't entirely his fault. Ellie Kemper herself said that Erin's choice to be with Pete was supposed to show her growing up by choosing a more stable guy, but that argument can feel flat by how it feels less like Erin's matured inasmuch as her immaturity was just dumped on Andy, and it collapses on itself in the scene where, in the midst of their breakup, Erin bursts into Andy's office and demands that he "just get over it" like a spoiled teenager, after she had already proven in the previous season that she was completely incapable of doing that herself with the situations reversed. Then we see Erin throw a tantrum over losing a paper airplane contest and storm off when Jim and Pam refused to double-date with her and Pete, making the aforementioned maturity arc fall flat on its face.
    • Toby's crush on Pam and subsequent resentment of her relationship with Jim in season 4 would be a lot easier to sympathize with if he'd ever said anything to her about it, ever.
    • While Jim's pranks are meant to be amusing to the audience, some of them instead come across as downright mean-spirited, over the top and uncalled for, making him seem like a bully to Dwight instead of a lovable prankster. Even moreso when he tries agitating Andy after the guy had just come out of anger management.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Dwight. Hardly anyone in the office likes him and the few that can tolerate him are a little odd themselves. Despite this he's probably the most memorable part of the series, with his popularity rivaling David Brent's.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • All of Michael's wanting the office to be a "non-traditional" and fun workplace took on a darker edge when the crackdown on workplace sexual harassment starting in 2017 revealed that a ton of businesses used this as an excuse for the bosses to harass their employees. Meanwhile, our hero Jim comes off as the guy who sees all this and knows it's wrong but still won't open his mouth about any of it.
    • The show's ongoing theme of inter-office romances often involves a manager and a subordinate. The problems with Michael and Jan's relationship do get addressed on the show. However, Andy's would-be romance with his secretary Erin, and Darryl's attempts to woo a subordinate in the warehouse, are both played sympathetically. Even Hate Sink boss Nellie's interest in Darryl is played as a humanizing moment for her. While it was still fairly common knowledge beforehand, the "Me Too" movement really highlighted how inappropriate it is for people to hit on those they hold power over.
    • In "Product Recall", Michael's anxiety over the obscene watermark is treated like him overreacting to minor thing almost no one cares about. In the modern world of social media, a major paper company distributing a product that was lewdly vandalized by a disgruntled employee would likely make minor headlines, as would Michael's "response" video.
    • In "Boys and Girls", the warehouse workers talk of forming a union, something Jan nips in the bud by threatening to fire them all. In countries with stronger labor rights, not only would this be blatantly illegal, viewers are more likely to be surprised by the fact that the employees weren't unionized already.
  • Values Resonance: With workplace relations and sensitivity training being taken more seriously since the series concluded, it's even easier to sympathize with the people who are put off by Michael's tone-deaf sense of humor.
  • The Woobie:
    • Pam before she gets married.
    • Phyllis can be one whenever she's picked on by Michael.
    • While he is normally a creepy idiotic pervert, 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.
    • Andy has some Woobie elements too.
    Andy: What we have here is the ultimate smackdown between the Nard Dog and crippling despair, loneliness and depression. I intend to 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 worthy Heroic 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).
      Michael: I'm not your dad!
      Erin: (cue massive teary doe eyes)
    • 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."
      • When then turns into a painfully hilarious moment when the kids and crew are struck silent by this, complete with the Muppet Expy doing a subtle Jaw Drop.
      • Michael is especially woobie-ish in "Stress Relief: Part 2", as the only Jerkass thing he does is giving everyone a well-deserved comeback speech. He finds out that he causes stress for everyone in the office, and, because he genuinely wants them to be at peace, hosts his own event for them to speak their mind. Instead of giving him opinions, however, they flat-out insult and mock him, and he ends up leaving in tears.
    • 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.
    • Brian the sound guy has to simultaneously endure losing his job and getting divorced. Adding to that is the fact that he's fully aware his crush on Pam is one-sided and you really have to feel for him.
    • Toby throughout the series whenever he's picked on by Michael and especially 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 but 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 crying while dancing with Pam at Dwight's wedding she asks is it her or Nellie, and Toby cries "It's everything." However, the series finale does end with a Hope Spot for him, as he seems to have a more positive outlook by the end of the wedding and accepts his former coworkers' invitation to go out drinking.
    • Holly. Being a Distaff Counterpart to Michael who's notably not a Jerkass, when first introduced, it's immediately clear she's this. There's many points where she's humiliated or mistreated in front of others, either because of her poor mannerisms, a misguided prank, or being victim of someone else's Jerkassery. She says early on that she was bullied in middle school and implied that it continued after that, and her reaction to things, quietly standing still taking whatever embarrassment or mistreatment she's suffering, really do a good job conveying such.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: