NBC's beloved workplace sitcom The Office seemed like a straightforward affair. The boss was an idiot, the coworkers were nuts, and Jim and Pam were obviously meant to be together.
For most, the biggest mysteries surrounding the show were likely, "Will they/Won't they" and "Why does Jim's hair do that?" Diehard fans may think they know every last bit of The Office trivia by heart, but there are still plenty of unsolved mysteries rattling around in Dunder Mifflin's dusty supply closets... and more than a few of them have huge implications.
Viewers never did learn what Michael Scott had to say in his touching, last-minute goodbye with his favorite receptionist, Pam Beasley. Nor did we ever truly learn the identity of the infamous Scranton Strangler, despite many promising suspects. Thanks to plot holes, mistakes, and unresolved storylines, The Office was just as much a mystery as it was a comedy series.
Whether its the unknown reason for Michael's inextricably overwhelming hatred of Toby Flenderson to the film crew's purpose for the fictional, office-based documentary, here are the 15 Unresolved Mysteries And Plot Holes From The Office.
15 What Did The Note Say?
It’s billed as one of the most romantic moments in the entire series. Jim fills Pam’s Christmas teapot with inside jokes and a note revealing his feelings for her. After some Secret Santa mishaps with Dwight, Pam opens her gift, only for Jim to get cold feet and slip the note into his back pocket.
Jim held onto the note for years and finally reveals it to Pam during a particularly emotionally insecure time for her. Pam starts to worry that Jim will become restless and bitter after giving up his fancy sports' job to stay in Scranton with her and the kids.
So, Jim puts together a little video showing their time together at which point the note is given to Pam. He allows her to finally read it, but the details are never revealed to the audience. Fans have been dying to know what it said ever since.
14 What Did Michael Say To Pam?
Michael Scott loved Jim Halpert, but he may have loved Pam Beasley just a little bit more. So, obviously, Michael was super disappointed when he traded in office parties and memos for wedded bliss with Holly Flax without the opportunity to say goodbye to his favorite receptionist.
Pam had "gone out to price" office equipment, which was a lie. She was really watching The King's Speech while on the clock.
Pam realized Michael had left and rushed through airport security to say goodbye to her boss and maybe mentor. Neither have their microphones on, they just went through airport security, after all, but the cameras pick up their tender farewell.
Michael says a clearly emotional goodbye to Pam, but with no sound, we have no idea what was said between the two.
13 Why Does Michael Hate Toby So Much?
Sure, Toby is kind of a wet blanket, with a droopy face and a total killjoy attitude. However, is that enough to make the regional manager decide he’d shoot the HR guy over Hitler and Bin Laden? Twice?
Michael Scott's every interaction with Human Resources representative Toby Flenderson was brutally negative. Michael never missed an opportunity to tell Toby how much he hated him or to ban him from the office beach party.
Yet, it's never really explained why Dunder Mifflin's Regional Manager hated the HR guy so much. Did he report Michael's bad behavior one too many times? Was Michael upset that Toby had an obvious crush on Pam?
Michael was Jam's number one shipper, after all. There are simply too many possibilities and not enough answers.
12 Who Does Dwight Hate?
He says he likes all but four of his coworkers, but he certainly acts like he can’t stand any of them. One day, Jim is his arch nemesis, the next they’re best friends. It would be easier to count who he does like-- Michael and Pam. However, that's only two, who rounds out the top four?
Even when he's dating Angela, he treats his future wife like a total enemy. The two were constantly at odds and well, there was that whole cat incident. Dwight definitely didn't treat Angela with as much gentleness and care as he did Cousin Mose.
Kevin, Kelly, and Ryan seem to be totally out. Who could possibly left? It's definitely difficult to find four coworkers that he actually likes, let alone just four that he doesn’t.
11 Who Is Andy Named After?
Andy Bernard reveals that his original name was Walter Jr. after his father. Then his brother was born, his parents thought he was more worthy of carrying on the name, and they gave his brother the name of Walter Jr. instead.
It's at this point that Andy was renamed Andrew. That's all silly enough, but it doesn't quite gel with what we know about Andy's father.
A couple of times in the series Andy’s dad is introduced as Walter, that lines up. HOwever, his father was also introduced as Andrew when Andy proposes to Angela in season 4's "Goodbye, Toby".
Is one of those a middle name? Did his dad change his own name, too? Is Andy lying about everything? Is Andy's dad the one who knocks? What is going on here?
10 Who Started Working At Dunder Mifflin First?
After Michael embarrassingly spills the beans about Jim's crush in season 2's episode 13, Jim does damage control, telling Pam that he used to have a crush on her when she first started working at the office. This seems to clearly indicate that Jim was already a fixture at Dunder Mifflin before Pam became the receptionist there.
When a happily dating Jim and Pam sneak off to the roof for their own private pizza party in season 4, Pam tells Jim she knew she liked him on his first day when she introduced him to the rest of his life with his new deskmate, Dwight.
This directly contrasts with Jim's earlier statement and it’s never actually clear who really started working at the paper company first.
9 Who Exactly Is Luanne?
You know everything about all of your favorite characters from The Office, right? You probably even know everything about the characters you don't like. The employees of Dunder Mifflin are some of the most iconic and instantly recognizable people on television. So, who, exactly, is Luanne?
There’s a woman who appears in the background of several shots throughout several seasons of the long-running series. She's named Luanne… and that’s it.
She’s never given any lines, and her coworkers never acknowledge her. We don't know her job or when or why she quit working for the paper company. It's not even really clear whether or not she is a part of the documentary.
Did she refuse to sign a contract for the documentary? Is she incredibly camera shy? Did the producers just cut all of her scenes out? This woman is a living mystery.
8 What Happened To The Senator’s Son?
No, not the son he had with Angela that was ultimately turned out to have been fathered by Dwight-- that one's not a mystery. Though some fans were confused by that paternity reveal, given that Dwight's secret test that proved he couldn't have been the father, it was later explained that Dwight had accidentally tested the diaper of Jim and Pam's baby. In this case, Angela's claims check out.
Instead, we're talking about the cute, apple loving little boy who attended the harvest festival with The Senator when he and Angela first met. The boy is literally never seen or heard from again.
Was this a hired actor to cover The Senator's identity? Was Angela so controlling that she would send the boy to live with his mother as soon as she became involved with The Senator? None of this seems good.
7 Who Was The Scranton Strangler?
Sleepy Scranton, Pennsylvania was a relatively quiet town, despite all of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company's wacky office hijinks. However, lurking in the shadows was a mysterious menace who may have gotten away with all of his dastardly deeds: The Scranton Strangler.
The Strangler earned his name by his method of murder, strangling his victims... and he may still be out there.
At times, Dwight, Toby, and especially Creed were considered to be good candidates for the secret identity of the silent serial killer. Toby sat on the jury for the official sentencing of the Scranton Strangler, but he later expressed regret over whether or not the jury had sentenced the wrong guy.
Showrunners indicated that the Strangler would be identified or further explored before the series finale, but his true identity was never confirmed.
6 Did Jim Cheat On Pam?
Jim makes a big deal about kicking out Cathy Simms from his hotel room in Florida. He recruits Dwight to help him scare Cathy away and ends up spending the night with Dwight eating ice cream. Everything seemed very straightforward, Jim was obviously faithful to Pam... or was he?
The next day, Jim opts to stand next to Cathy during the mini-staff meeting. You'd expect him to want to stay far away, but they're literally shoulder to shoulder. He very unsubtly stares at her and when she catches him she smiles, not the behavior of a jilted woman.
Before the trip, Cathy casually tells a friend that she and Jim will sleep together because there will be nothing else to do and Jim's marriage is a wreck. This takes place a full season before Jim and Pam were revealed to be in couple's therapy. Perhaps Cathy knew something we didn't.
5 How Was The Scranton Branch So Successful?
It’s never fully explained how Michael Scott continually led his ragtag team of paper salesmen to victory in spite of all the many distractions cutting into the office workday every week.
The Dunder Mifflin company went bankrupt, branches were closed and merged, the paper industry was dying as a whole. Yet, somehow, the Scranton branch was the most successful branch and actually increased sales over time. How?
Their employees were screw-ups who played around all day. Jim and Dwight were praised as natural, talented salesmen, but that doesn't quite seem enough to keep an entire branch afloat.
A fan theory suggests the camera crew was secretly buying loads of paper to keep the office open so that they could continue making their documentary. Isn't that interesting.
4 Was The Office Poisoned By Radon?
Poor Toby tried so hard to warn Michael Scott about the dangerous air quality of the Dunder Mifflin office. Toby pleaded with the Regional Manager to test the air for Radon, but because this desperate warning was coming from his hated nemesis, Michael completely refused.
Fans believe that there really was radon poisoning in the office and that this is the reason why the characters became wackier and wackier as the seasons progressed. Over the years the characters' quirks and antics became much more exaggerated.
Some thought they were simply playing for the cameras. But anytime a character spent a long amount of time outside the office they become much more normal, so there’s definitely evidence to support this theory. How different would these characters have been had Michael taken Toby's advice?
3 How Did The Two Offices Exist In The Same Universe?
Michael Scott, the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company's Scranton, Pennsylvania branch in the United States, runs into David Brent, his UK counterpart, and the two have a quick conversation. That’s fine, but the first episode of both series contain the same events and the same dialogue in basically the same order... now it's getting weird.
Is this some kind of mirror reality? Is this proof the documentaries were scripted by the producers? We can only imagine the office employees' shocked reactions should they ever watch the overseas version of their documentary and see the exact same events happening to total strangers.
That's a lot to fathom and would likely throw their entire sense of reality into question. Their lives would never be the same again.
2 How Much Is The Camera Crew Liable For?
It's probably a given that the camera crew had their documentary subjects sign some sort of waiver removing them from responsibility for injuries or other such personal catastrophes.
However, there's always a limit, right? It appears that the limit before The Offices's fictional camera crew gets involved is really, really high.
Did they not feel the need to stop Michael from jumping off the office roof? They didn't call the police when an entire office held a pizza delivery boy hostage. Did that not also make them accessories to a crime?
They didn't reveal to the office that Dwight had faked the fire that sent everyone into a violent panic and nearly resulted in Stanley dying of a heart attack. These guys could have gotten the Scranton Strangler on film and probably wouldn't have said a word.
1 Why Was The Camera Crew There In The First Place?
The writers have previously stated that the employee who ended their own life was the reason for the documentary. The crew was trying to capture how his coworkers were dealing with his death. Which is a reasonable enough explanation, but that doesn't make sense in the context of the show.
We know there are cameras in the other branch offices, like Utica, who had nothing to do with the employee who ended their own life. On top of that, Pam asks the crew directly why they chose her office, which makes no sense if it’s really all about the death attempt.
At one point, the cameraman tells Pam they’re following her office mates to see how they turn out. The answers just keep changing. If we factor in the connection with the UK office any connection to the employee who ended their own life seems completely invalid.
Can you think of any other mysteries and plot holes from The Office? Let us know in the comments!