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Every Manager of The Office, From Michael Scott to Dwight Schrute
Sometimes you don't know the manager you have until they're gone.
Steve Carell played the lovable and often cringeworthy Michael Scott for seven seasons on NBC’s The Office (streaming now on Peacock). During that time, Carell went from being a supporting correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to the world’s favorite funny man. Scott was a character who appeared, at first blush, to have almost no redeeming qualities. However, as the series progressed (and as it left the territory defined by the BBC series of the same name), Michael became an unconventional model for how to be a good boss and a good friend.
He didn’t always say or do the right things, but there was never any question that Michael’s heart was in the right place. He had integrity, even if he couldn’t precisely tell you what that is. He just wanted to love and be loved and it’s that quality that made him a good salesperson and a good boss. Carell left the show, taking the character of Michael Scott with him, in The Office’s seventh season, leaving an empty manager’s chair behind. It was a big butt imprint to fill (no offense) and no one ever quite pulled it off. These are the managers who tried and (mostly) failed to replace the irreplaceable Michael Scott.
The Long List of Manager's Who Tried to Replace Michael Scott on The Office
Charles Miner (Idris Elba) Was a Boss from Hell
Charles Miner previously worked for Saticoy Steel (a decidedly non-paper company) before arriving at Dunder Mifflin in the Season 5 episode, “New Boss.” He’s introduced as the new Vice President of Northeast Sales but quickly becomes a babysitter for Michael, whom he sees as an ineffective manager.
Frustrated, Michael goes to New York to meet with Dunder Mifflin’s CFO David Wallace, and ultimately quits to create the competing Michael Scott Paper Company. This leaves only Charles Miner to fill the role of manager. Pam and Ryan leave to start the new company with Michael and they succeed at stealing some of Dunder Mifflin’s biggest clients by severely undercutting them. Meanwhile, Miner’s control of the branch is in quick decline as he battles rapidly fleeing customers and a workforce who doesn’t respond to his managerial style.
There’s no way that the Michael Scott Paper Company can survive but Dunder Mifflin doesn’t need to know that, at least not until Michael forces a buyout and reinstates himself, Pam, and Ryan. Miner returns to corporate but is fired along with the rest of the brass when the company is bought out by Sabre (pronounced “say-burr” not “saw-bray”) in the Season 6 episode, “Secret Santa.”
Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) Was a Reluctant Office Manager
When Jim first started at Dunder Mifflin, it was just a paycheck, not something he was all that invested in. His major motivation for showing up to work was flirting with the receptionist, Pam (Jenna Fischer), something which paid dividends in his life more than hard work ever did.
Over the course of the series, however, Jim’s ambition rises to the surface, fueled by a romantic relationship with Pam and their growing family. But to tell the complete story of Jim’s managerial experience, we have to go back to before they finally got together. Incapable of dealing with being so close to Pam, Jim transferred to Dunder Mifflin’s Stamford branch, but the universe insists on their being together. The two branches are merged and Jim returns to Scranton as assistant regional manager. Later, he and Michael become co-managers, under the hope that their combined talents might be equal to one competent leader.
Jim only held the chair by himself for four-and-a-half hours in the Season 6 episode, “Manager and Salesman.” Under Sabre’s new commission plan, there’s more money in being a salesperson, leading Jim and Michael to compete for demotion. Michael wins out and Jim becomes manager, but only until Michael realizes he’s not really cut out for the sales floor and takes the managerial spot back.
Deangelo Vickers (Will Ferrell) Made Michael Look Like the World’s Best Boss
As the seventh season of The Office was coming to a close, Michael readied for what was supposed to be his second-to-last day in the episode, “Goodbye, Michael.” In reality, it is his last day and he’s secretly trying to say his goodbyes.
His replacement, Deangelo Vickers, is a short-lived but memorable member of the staff. He first appears in the episode, “Training Day,” and right away it’s clear that he has all of Michael’s worst qualities and none of his good ones. In Deangelo’s fourth and final episode, “The Inner Circle,” he sets up a small clique of trusted employees including Darryl (Craig Robinson), Jim, Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), and Gabe (Zach Woods). Things continue to spiral out of control until a basketball breaks out at a tiny hoop in Deangelo’s office.
During a challenge to do a real dunk at the hoop in the warehouse, Deangelo suffers a severe head injury which sends him to the hospital and ends his managerial term. And not a moment too soon.
Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) was… Honestly, What Were They Thinking?
With no manager to captain the ship, head of Sabre – Dunder Mifflin’s parent company – Jo Bennet (Kathy Bates) pulls together a search committee (also the name of the episode) to find a replacement. In the meantime, Jo installs an acting manager by pulling the employee with the most tenure: Creed Bratton.
He’s about as good a boss as you might expect, which is to say not very, and he’s quickly removed before too much damage is done.
Robert California (James Spader) Was Just Plain Weird
James Spader’s indefinable Robert California first appeared in the Season 7 episode, “Search Committee,” when he, along with the other candidates for the manager position, arrived for their interviews. Other candidates include a cheeky throwback to the BBC’s The Office with David Brent (Ricky Gervais), as well as Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) — more on her in a minute.
Spader brought his particular brand of unhinged to the role, which was perhaps best crystallized in the episode, “Turf War,” when he tells Andy, “You want to start a street fight with me, bring it on. You’re going to be surprised by how ugly it gets. You don’t even know my real name. I’m the f—ing lizard king!”
His first day as branch manager occurs in the Season 8 premiere, “The List,” but in an impressive feat of corporate ladder climbing, California drives directly to Florida and talks Jo out of her own job as CEO of Sabre. His first day as manager is also his last, leading us to…
Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) Was Better Fit for Another Role
Robert California’s first act as Sabre’s new CEO is to appoint Andy as the new branch manager. He turns out to be surprisingly effective, rallying the office behind him and pitting himself against the always bizarre and often caustic Rober California.
Against all odds, everyone in the office actually likes Andy as manager and his biggest obstacle to success is himself. Isn’t that always the way? But Andy was always more heart than head and in a grand romantic gesture to win the affections of receptionist Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper), Andy leaves the office and goes to Florida, which is when the managerial throne is usurped by Nellie Bertram (even more on her in a minute).
He eventually gets his job back when David Wallace, former Dunder Mifflin CEO, buys the company back from Sabre after selling a toy patent to the military. Andy remains the manager of the Scranton branch until he leaves to pursue his true dream of being a performer.
Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) Was a Unique Office Companion
In Nellie’s first appearance, “Search Committee,” it’s quickly apparent that she’s woefully unqualified for the job. Some of her initial suggestions are to remove all job titles (but also to create more job titles) and to replace all of the desks and chairs with a “Zen” aesthetic. That said, she is good friends with Jo Bennett, so she’s probably got a half-decent shot.
She doesn’t get the job (it goes to Robert California, you recall) but it doesn’t stop her from sticking around. Jo appoints her the President of Special Projects and tasks Nellie with opening a chain of brick and mortar stores. After the first and only store fails, Nellie returns to Scranton, finds Andy missing on his trip to Florida, and slides right into the manager’s chair.
Her position as manager was always tenuous at best, and when Andy is reinstated, she takes up a new job as special projects manager and Andy’s personal nemesis.
Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) Was Manager for an Hour
The Season 9 episode “Roy’s Wedding” begins with a cold open highlighting the trash problem mounting in the office. The custodial staff is out and there’s a thin layer of garbage strewn all over the building. In an attempt to resolve the problem, Pam creates a chore wheel, but everyone hates it.
So, Pam gives it another crack, adding more fun things and fewer chores. A lot fewer. By the end, there are no chores left (except on the tiny wheel) but there are penalties and prizes. Penalties include getting punched in the gut or giving your lunch to Stanley. Prizes include money, candy, and being manager for an hour, among other things.
In a quick cutaway scene, we see Kevin spinning in the manager’s chair while Andy stands angrily outside the office door. Kevin was manager for an hour and he spent that hour exactly right.
Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), Manager at Last
Viewers were introduced to Dwight as assistant regional manager (or was it assistant TO the regional manager?), but he always wanted the top spot. Throughout the series, he got a taste of management a few times, but could never quite seem to hold onto it.
Dwight’s first at-bat as manager happened in the Season 3 episode, “The Coup,” after Michael gets in trouble for hosting Movie Mondays in the office. Encouraged by Angela, Dwight meets with Jan and attempts to push Michael out, installing himself as the new manager. Jan, however, calls Michael and reveals the whole thing. Back at the office, Michael pretends to go along, saying that he has been demoted and Dwight has been named acting manager. But it’s all a ruse to get Dwight to come clean.
After Deangelo is injured, Jo initially names Dwight acting manager, but it goes to his head and he starts wearing a loaded gun as an accessory. When it accidentally goes off, giving Andy temporary hearing loss, Jo demotes him back to his previous sales position.
Dwight’s dreams of being the manager appear to be dashed until David Wallace shows up to fire Andy in the Season 9 episode, “Livin’ the Dream.” Andy quits and David leaves without having fired anyone, but not before he sees Dwight receiving his black belt in karate, in an awkward in-office ceremony. Enamored by the hard work and dedication it must have taken, David promotes him. It is a good day, indeed, to be Dwight Schrute.