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Every main character in the office was a deeply flawed person who is arguably unlikeable

Let's start with what is probably the second "hero" after Michael... Jim.

Seemingly harmless... just goofy and unmotivated except by his pursuit of Pam... his infatuation with an engaged friend and flippant treatment of other women as a result may seem like his primary flaw... but his hypocrisy is in fact worse.

He makes no effort, doesn't pursue new clients and coasts by on the fact that people find him charming and handsome. He perpetually distracts coworkers... not only Dwight but for instance Karen, when he was charged with assisting her, he instead encouraged her to spend the entire day on a wild goose chase for a bag of chips... despite all this he perpetually failed upwards... which reveals his true hypocrisy... whereas a few years before he gleefully took several hours lunch with Phyllis and Bob, now he lectures her for doing it... while he spent six years boasting about how little work he did... within MINUTES of swapping roles with Michael; he calls his desk to demand he get to work (which results in Michael getting a new client almost immediately; showing how much more capable he is than Jim.) Earlier... after years of making zero effort and having Michael take the flack for lack of sales (it's established that Stanley and Dwight are top scoring salesmen... so Scranton being 4 of 5 among the branches can clearly be blamed on Jim (and maybe Phyllis) ... despite his being given the entire companies biggest customer in blue cross which makes up such a large percentage of his annual sales he calls losing 50% of their sales to a 50% off coupon "losing 50% of 'my' sales" and presumably he was also given another massive customer who represents 25% of his commission... so presumably these two customers who require no effort are effectively his entire job; as soon as he hears about Michael interviewing for a promotion (but a short time after telling Michael that he's a great boss and reflecting on Michael's strength of character and devotion to Dunder Mifflin) he tries to steal it from him rather than demean himself by seeking Michael's recommendation for Branch Manager... then a bit later he cries to Michael about how unfair Michael has been for not recommending him for a branch Manager position.

More to come the next time I get bored and binge the office.
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Loved the show. Loved the characters. Got my kid watching it a few years ago and I know he's already watched all seasons twice since then.


Head Cheese Head Chef
I take it we're discussing the version that aired here in the U.S.? I can see your point where Jim is concerned. But I think that may have been a easy case. Perhaps diving into Oscar would prove more compelling for me.

Also, aren't we all flawed and unlikable to a certain degree? Take your pick...


I could keep going but likely it would just make a stronger case for me being flawed and unlikable.

Still a fun read @SliceOfLife and I appreciate the thread.
I find Ricky Gervais unlikeable. 🤣
Yeah the British version was much more unwavering in making the boss terrible...

Us version tried to make Michael likeable.

Oscar is an interesting one too... but honestly most of them are...

I'd argue that Kelly, Creed and Kevin can be a little simplistic/cartoonish to be super interesting... but the rest of the main cast are all pretty interesting to delve into their characters.

So Stanley is probably the closest to a Villain of the main characters (Creed aside) of the office (and apparently the actor has some detractors/people claiming he was unliked)... so lets look at both his good and bad.

First the superficial: Aside from Dwight, he's the best salesman in the office who is also a serial philanderer.

He takes full advantage of Michaels leniency/Ineptitude, even saying it is why he prefers him as a boss to Jim despite Jim being competent when the two are comanagers... yet he uses these characteristics as an excuse for him to disrespect Michael and behave in a way that fully deserves termination; then threatens Michael with retaliation when he is "fake fired". He's the classic case of "I'm too good at my job to be have to try or be fired." He's Jim in the future if Jim stayed in sales/in that role for 25 years as Stanley had... and expresses all the negatives that can be expected of that.

He of course cheats on his wife and shows that he considers her beneath him and not important in a few ways "My wife... my first wife... and my next wife too."

Now how is he "good" (sort of).

He's a bro, although you could argue he simply wants someone like him to allay any guilt he feels... when he thinks he caught Jim cheating, he keeps it secret and even casually warns him not to make a habit of it. Is that a positive trait? Some people would say so... and it certainly works out better than the alternative (telling Pam, despite his assumption being wrong and throwing more gas on her self-doubt fire)... so you could argue he is practical and often makes the right decision in either case.

He takes things in stride (where Michael isn't concerned) Everyone getting fired? He's retiring early. Branch gets saved and he can't retire, little more than a sigh. Dwight gives him a heart attack? (A case where he had a very legitimate lawsuit against Dunder Mifflin) Whatever, sign his apology and move on. On the flipside... Michael accidentally calls his wife by his mistress's name (which as Michael points out wouldn't set off any alarms except for the fact that she already knew about the affair) and he takes a crowbar to Michael's car.

Like Jim he puts in minimal effort... but not so minimal that they make a whole episode about it when he actually does his job (and even then "Doing his job" is playing a round of golf). He's taking it easy because he's counting the days to retirement and he already put in the work getting his clients and just has to keep them happy till he's gone. Jim got gifted the best clients at the branch and he coasts on them "liking (him) for some reason" and flirts with his coworker and distracts others all day. So he's a cautionary tale to Jim in many ways; but even he is less egregious than Jim when it comes to his work ethic.

Despite his gruff, snide jabs to Phyllis on occasion "We sit close", in the last episode it's revealed he actually cared about her (Phyllis bird).

He is a genuinely loving, protective father. "I Don't wanna see you sniffing around my CHILD!"
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Stumpy in cold weather
Staff member
Yeah the British version was much more unwavering in making the boss terrible...

Us version tried to make Michael likeable.

Original UK version had David Brent toast by the end of two short seasons and one Xmas special.

US version had Michael keep his job seemingly forever despite the obvious need for him to be fired. His continued existence in that position beggars credulity.

Having just binge watched the third season, again, I have some thoughts on whether every character in the office is deeply flawed and arguably unlikeable. I suppose think every Office character is flawed, I do not think I am willing to go to "deeply." Unlikeable, even arguably unlikeable? I think not. I think they each come across as human and we are all flawed. Some of those flaws are endearing. Others not so much.

I think Pam and Jim are rather obviously very likeable. Michael, too, really. I think each is really trying their best and cares about others.

I like Ricky Gervais in many things, but I did not like the Brit version of the Office much at all. My two cents.


Abandoned By Gypsies.
You got me thinking @SliceOfLife… and I’ll take the opposite position… that each character of The Office (US) is so extreme in one attribute that they reached the point of perfection.

Michael Scott: The man has no filter. He’s completely and perfectly transparent. To a fault? Absolutely. But you know where you stand with Michael. Just ask Toby.
Dwight Schrute: The perfect logic-ition... albeit often flawed logic. He prepares his argument, then this assistant to the general manager defends that flawed logic to the bitter end.
Pam Beasley: Played by Jenna Fischer who grew up in St. Louis. Which makes her perfect.

Just sayin… or as Michael would transparently say, “that’s what she said.”

I'll play.

Michael is not intentionally transparent. He is just terrible at disguising his feelings/motives, etc. He is not above attempting to maneuver in deceptive ways. I would say in particular toward Jan and Holly, and for that matter with David Wallace. and, I would say, Toby. He is not above manipulating Dwight. And he is rather vain. I am not at all sure that involuntarily being so transparent/guileless isn't something of a character flaw. Certainly he could serve his branch of Dunder Mifflin better if he were less transparent. Still, I think it is hard to say that Michael is unlikeable, unless you are Jan, Holly, or Toby. I suspect that David Wallace basically likes Michael, although he finds him frustrating from time to time.

So, that said, what are Toby and Pam's flaws? One could say that Toby is too straight and too nice, but he does stand up to Michael. He is not too nice in terms of being a push over. One could dis Pam for being naive, I suppose.


Stumpy in cold weather
Staff member
I suspect that David Wallace basically likes Michael, although he finds him frustrating from time to time

Interesting to note that "likeable" is not the same as "admirable".

We are all flawed and have our faults ... but usually also some endearing qualities that sway the balance.
No doubt, D4. Likeable is not the same admirable. Personable is not the same as able.

The worst scoundrels can be compelling. Psychopaths are good at being likeable!
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