The Office isn’t just one of the best sitcoms of the last 20 years; it also remains arguably Netflix’s most bingeable show.
The corporate plotlines were ever-evolving, but the real strength of the show was the odd cast of characters who worked together in a nondescript office in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Though they are all memorable, some have aged better than others.
Here’s our ranking of the best characters on the show.
Creed doesn’t get many lines, but a very strong case can be made that his character gets more laughs on a per-line basis than anyone on the show. With his mysterious past and his completely amoral view on the world, it’s like a character from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia somehow ended up in Scranton, where he spends his days stealing, slacking off and getting other people fired.
He also really loves soup.
It takes a really good actor to make a character who does so many cringe-inducing things so lovable. Michael was the heart of the show, and it never recovered after he left.
The cold-hearted geek and (mostly) loyal follower to Michael had no sense of political correctness, social norms or fashion—and never needed them. He’s the office weirdo who steals almost every scene that he’s in.
Ellie Kemper’s naive, unshakably optimistic ball of energy and joy was so funny that even after the show ended, the “character” stayed alive, basically morphing into Netflix’s delightful Kimmy Schmidt.
The pop culture obsessed, drama-loving fashionista helped make Mindy Kaling a star and remains one of the highlights of the show.
It took a while for Darryl to really become one of the show’s fixtures, but after the series found its rhythm, it was Darryl who often served as a sort of surrogate for the viewer: a sane, wise-cracking everyman dropped into an office of madness.
Kevin ranks so high solely on the merits of this scene in which he drops a giant container of his prized homemade chili:
Toby is the series’ Eeyore. Sure, he’s kind of a bummer, but Michael’s unexplained and unrelenting hatred of the sad HR rep is one of the shows’ best running jokes.
Similarly to Creed, Meredith’s depravity knew no limits, and she wasn’t afraid to ram her minivan into another car while trying to park it in a tight spot. There are few scenes she’s prominently featured in that aren’t laugh-out-loud funny.
Like Darryl, Oscar offers a voice of reason in situations that have gone off the rails. He’s funny, because he’s not trying to steal scenes or ham it up. He’s dry, biting and always sincere.
Pam’s subtle digs and constant camera glances are works of comic genius.
12. Todd Packer
Michael’s dirtbag BFF doesn’t get much screen-time, but when he does, it’s obnoxious hilarity—every time.
Arguably the series’ weirdest character, Mose is somehow funnier when his bizarre backstory is being casually talked about by Dwight (what exactly happened during “the storm”?) than his fleeting moments onscreen.
The grumpy crossword addict is a little one-dimensional, but his commitment to slacking off is so deep that the schtick pays off.
At first, Phyllis primarily appeared as one of the shows background role players, but as her character—and her deep-seated rivalry with Angela—developed, so did the laughs.
“Dinner Party” is among the series’ funniest episodes, and it’s largely due to Jan. The episode prominently featured everything that made her character so darkly funny: her insecurity about dating Michael, her overbearing personality and, yes, her odd relationship with her former assistant Hunter.
The problem with Andy didn’t have anything to do with Ed Helms (who is a pretty great comic actor). It had to do with the wildly inconsistent writing and character development. Is he the rage-a-holic salesman from Stanford? The scorned lover in Scranton? The unstable manager prone to long sailing trips in later seasons? The privileged Ivy League grad with daddy issues?
The show never really knew what to do with him.
Gabe had his scene-stealing moments, but in an office already occupied by the likes of Dwight, Ryan, Kevin and Creed, another odd-ball (with some really creepy underpinnings) wasn’t all that needed.
Ryan’s character fell into a similar trap as Andy; he was just too inconsistent. He went from the slacker temp, to the New York City bigwig, to a burned-out bowling alley employee to a scheming office dweller. It’s not that any of the interactions weren’t good; they were just all over the map.
The issue with Jo wasn’t Kathy Bates; it’s that Kathy Bates was totally under-used as the fast-talking business mogul. If you’re going to the trouble to cast an icon (She’s won an Oscar!), at least use her in more than just a handful of scenes.
Unfortunately for Rashida Jones, Karen’s character basically became the “other woman” in one of TV’s great sit-com romances. The character and the actress deserved better than that.
Idris Elba is awesome. He should be our next James Bond. He should not be an executive for a failing paper company that is bested by Michael Scott. This is a complete miscasting and totally disrespectful to Idris Elba.
Angela’s high-strung demeanor, moralistic worldview and overbearing cat obsession were funny at first, but grew old when the jokes were retread over and over again.
24. Robert California
Not only was he completely unbelievable (once he entered the scene, the show no longer even seemed grounded in any sort of real-world reality), but Robert California was just plain unfunny. Everyone knew people who acted like Michael Scott from time to time. No one has ever met a Robert California.
At this point, Jim’s terribleness is well-documented. His pranks on Dwight were funny, but frequently mean. He was a jerk to Karen. After they were married, he could be sort of a jerk to Pam too. And let’s be real, he kind of thought he was better than all of these other characters for the entire run of the show.
Seriously, rewatch a couple of episodes, and tell us he wasn’t.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.