The Most Messed Up Things That Happened On The Office

Joni Mitchell was right about two things: She really didn't know clouds at all, and you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Focusing on the second part, let's consider The Office. For all the intense whining during its last few seasons that the show was past its prime, the calls for a reboot or reunion are growing louder all the time. Maybe we're the show's jilted ex-lovers, lonely and desperate to get back with what makes us feel comfortable. Or maybe we're wearing rose-colored glasses and have forgotten that The Office takes place in a Sartrean hellscape.

Part of what made the show so compelling was its roots in its source material, The (British) Office, a Ricky Gervais limited series with all the earmarks of anything touched by Ricky Gervais, i.e., an undercurrent of hopelessness punctuated by moments of things not being the worst. The American Office made a more sitcom-friendly decision to keep the show thematically lighter, funneling its darker elements into the plot instead.

And stuff got weird. For every Jim-and-Pam-kissing-in-the-rain moment, there was an equally horrifying Creed aside. Here are a few of the most altogether ooky examples.

Deangelo's blunt force lobotomy

Some things just can't be replaced, like family heirlooms, beloved pets, and the main characters from a sitcom. It didn't work when Scrubs replaced all of the scrubs with new scrubs. It didn't work when That '70s Show replaced Topher Grace with ... does anybody remember who That '70s Show replaced Topher Grace with? No? Maybe a vaguely likable peach-colored blob?

When Michael left the show, viewers were primed and ready to hate whoever the network brought in to replace him. What they weren't ready for was Will Ferrell. It was 2011, and Ferrell was still a relatively bankable movie star, with Step Brothers and Megamind not far behind him and Holmes & Watson just a distant nightmare of Hollywood soothsayers.

Ferrell's character, Deangelo Vickers, was no Michael Scott. While Michael was childish and narcissistic, there was always a sense of hope that he might get better. Deangelo, on the other hand, was unrepentantly sexist and self-aggrandizing. No matter how gross he got, though, he probably didn't deserve his ultimate fate: getting his skull crushed between a basketball hoop and the warehouse floor. If anyone was worried, a few episodes later we're told that he didn't die, he's just in a coma. And that's the last we heard from him.

Toby kills an innocent man

The Scranton Strangler subplot was bleak enough on its own: For the show's last four seasons, viewers were given slivers of information about an ambitious local serial killer and how his handiwork mortified the residents of the Pennsylvania town. But then, when a culprit was caught after a heart-pounding car chase, Toby finally got a little bit of that sweet spotlight. He was assigned to the jury on the Scranton Strangler's trial, a jury that eventually put the alleged killer, George Howard Skub, to death.

And there's just no way they got the right guy.

Think about it this way: Either Toby assisted in putting the wrong man on death row, or Toby was right about something. Either way, not a universe we'd want to live in. (Of course, if you want to go way down the rabbit hole, there's always a chance that Toby was the Strangler all along.)

And yes, there's the scene in Season 9 when Toby goes to visit Skub in prison and Skub strangles Toby so hard he has to wear a neck brace. But that doesn't make Skub the strangler. Frankly, it's a wonder more people who got stuck in a room with Toby didn't throttle him.

Nellie straight up kidnaps a baby

A satisfying series finale is a difficult thing to come by, but The Office did a pretty fantastic job overall. It tied up loose plot threads, resolved emotional cliffhangers, and most importantly, cemented Nellie's place as an international criminal.

Look, Nellie never had an easy go of it. As a late-season addition to the cast without the benefit of having James Spader's dulcet tones, she was seen by lots of fans as the personification of everything that went wonky with the series past about Season 5: She was a little loud, a little unreal, a little not Michael Scott (the true unforgivable sin).

And it's a shame she got short shrift, since a few moments' consideration would've made it clear to the audience that she was an entirely relatable character. The kind that steals babies.

Nellie struggles with wanting a child through her entire tenure on the show, so it's a beautiful moment when, during the finale, she finds a child whose mother isn't paying attention and declares her intent to transport it across international borders. Yeah, she said it straight into the camera. Enjoy 20 years in prison, you Doctor Who-abandoning bandwagon hopper.

Creed. Just Creed.

There's odd. There's unsettling. And then there is Creed.

Yes, Creed. What creepy debauchery is there to bring up about Creed Bratton that hasn't already been brought up by Creed Bratton, or by the man who played him, Creed Bratton? Creed, while present from day one, started conning his way into our hearts during the first Halloween episode when he convinced Michael to fire another employee instead of him. And that was the least horrifying thing Creed did for the next eight years.

Career highlights: walking into work covered in blood and being pleasantly surprised to learn it was Halloween, faking his own death, subtly stealing Dwight's revolver after it was fired in the office and never being seen returning it, and low-key admitting to having stolen the identity of a man named Creed Bratton. And what's worse? At the end of the series, he's arrested without ever getting to scuba. If he can't scuba, what's this all been about?

Michael hunts the most dangerous game

We love Michael Scott. You love Michael Scott. Frankly, it's downright un-American to not love Michael Scott. But then, we have the benefit of observing him from the safety of our homes. Actually meeting the guy would put a hell of a damper on his charm.

As fun as the quirky cringiness of Dunder Mifflin's regional manager could be, he also steered resolutely into unsettling territory at times. We know it's borderline heresy to speak ill of the man, but the thing is, remember the chair model?

Attentive members of the audience will no doubt recall that one time, Michael, amorous and ready to mingle, abruptly decided he was in love with a woman he saw in an office supply catalogue. The next step was simple: using company time and resources, track her down like human game. There's a happy ending, though: It turned out the model was dead and therefore unable to slap Michael with a restraining order.

Meredith the supportive mother

You've got to admit, the writers really left all their ominous weirdness out on the field for The Office's last couple episodes. Ryan and Kelly continued down their spiraling mobius strip of self-destruction. Somebody handed an elated Dwight a bazooka, making one wonder what the next accidental workplace firearm discharge was going to look like.

Also Meredith finally secured her place as the best worst mom on the planet.

Way, way back in the second season, Meredith brings her son Jake to Bring Your Daughter To Work Day. Forward thinking on the subject of gender conformity aside, it turns out he's really only there because he's been suspended from school for being, in simple terms, the worst. We don't hear much about the troubled youth again until Angela's bachelorette party seven years later. Guidance counselors who've worked with problem children can probably see where this is going.

Yes, Jake is stripping now. Meredith, attending the party, is every bit as surprised as the rest of the guests. The only difference is, she's also overwhelmingly supportive. It's some Game of Thrones-level weirdness.

That time they roofied Stanley

Recovering from a heart attack is tricky. It can be anywhere from a couple weeks to several months before you're ready to take on your daily routine again, and once you're back on your feet, there's the life-long process of monitoring your diet, exercise, and blood pressure, and trying not to get shot with bull tranquilizers. You wouldn't think we'd have to bring that last one up, but like every wood chipper with a sign that says "Don't Insert Live Poultry," there's a story behind this rule.

The episode: "Stairmageddon." The building's elevator is having maintenance performed, so Stanley, an obese heart attack victim on the verge of retirement, is forced to take the stairs. Reasonably cross, he refuses to make the same trip twice when he's asked to go on a sales call. Dwight's solution: shoot him with a tranquilizer gun lots of times and drop him down the stairs.

All's well that ends well, though. The episode ends with Stanley jabbing himself with more of the darts because you're not really alive until you're closest to death.

A cold day in hell

The three darkest moments in contemporary fictional history are as follows and cannot be contested: when Lily Potter died to save Harry, the entirety of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and the snowball episode of The Office.

For seven years, Dwight, a lonely and peculiar hill goblin, had experienced the blood pressure-heightening social torture that is being a weirdo with a cool, funny, slightly sadistic deskmate who's trying to impress a girl all the time. Dwight was teased, prodded, bullied, and manipulated for the better part of a decade. It's worth mentioning that he and Jim worked together for a few years before the cameras started rolling, so there's a good chance that Halpert pulled some even more severe hijinks back before there was a camera crew making sure he stuck to the Geneva convention. The point is, Dwight was primed to lose it.

And like a true Schrute, he took his pain and used it to become a supervillain. During "Classy Christmas," he turned that Scranton office park into Jim's personal frozen hell. He turns the tables and draws literal blood, and that's still not the worst thing he does.

Some of us are still waking up with nightmares about that parking lot.

The entire Dinner Party episode

War. Disease. Suffering. Some things, once you've seen them, just can't be unseen. And that is about as apt an introduction to the "Dinner Party" episode as you're going to get.

There were signs pretty much from the start that Michael's relationship with Jan Levinson-Gould was headed in an unhealthy direction, but if most viewers had to place bets in the early days, they probably would've laid the blame on Michael. Jan seemed strict, but reasonably so: She was dealing with Michael. Society dictates that somebody has to be the grown-up. When they got together, it could've been sort of an Odd Couple classic TV perfect mismatch.

It wasn't though. It was an inferno.

Michael and Jan invite Jim, Pam, Andy, and Angela over for a dinner party. Jan is ... struggling. No longer a part of the Dunder Mifflin fold, she now makes candles and gyrates semi-publicly to her old assistant's acoustic album. Michael, somewhat browbeaten, is strong-armed into asking his employees to invest in her new candle empire. From there, the night devolves into screaming, broken flat screens, and the most malicious "that's what she said" in the entire series.

Gabe Lewis and everything he touched

The audience thought "There's no way there will ever be a character as pants-wettingly terrifying as Creed." And then Gabe was all "Hold my powdered seahorse aphrodisiac."

Gabe Lewis, played by improviser Zach Woods, showed up in Season 6 and almost instantly got to making people uncomfortable. His earnest nature only served to accentuate his David Lynchian weirdness. The times when Jo Bennett showed up and treated him like a monster movie Igor were some of the only moments of respite from his hall monitor-esque self-serious expressions of what little authority he had.

Gabe's time on The Office was perhaps best summarized by his contribution to Erin's Halloween party in the eighth season: an exploration of deep, nauseating discomfort. He was an unstable personification of the word "moist." He somehow managed to make Erin, the world's most bubbly human puppy, curl up into an emotional ball and plug her ears when he tried to say he loved her. He was a humid Slenderman. Also, his Lady Gaga costume is still haunting some of us to this day.

All hail God Emperor Dwight

Guys, we need to talk about Dwight.

Dwight underwent a lot of changes over the course of the series, going from "largely relatable, slightly exaggerated version of people you probably know in real life" to "Santa Monica Pier caricature of a person driven unstoppably by the impulses of a secondary Animaniac." It's a character progression that a lot of writers refer to as "being a regular on The Office."

At the end of the series, Dwight, now a little bit calmer for having been spiritually broken so many times, is given the reigns to the office. He's made the new manager of the Scranton branch.

It's genuinely heart warming, and do you want to know why? Because nobody loves Dunder Mifflin more than Dwight. And it's like they always say, when you love something, shoot bullets through it and set it on fire.

Yeah, take a minute to think back on everything Dwight is capable of when he's given a modicum of power. The last time he was in charge, he kept a cocked revolver in a holster and shot a hole through the floor. When he doesn't feel like people are paying enough attention to his fire safety lectures, he seals the exits and sets a trash can on fire, giving Stanley a heart attack. How long is that office park going to be left standing after he takes over as manager, especially without Pam there to adult things back where they belong?

Nothing but death

People die. You can pretty much count on it. And while there are plenty of theories on the best way to go, the worst is undoubtedly "being even tangentially connected with the offices of Dunder Mifflin."

There are a substantial number of deaths on The Office, and every single one of them is the stuff bad dreams are made of. There are the suicides, which include company co-founder Robert Mifflin, who apparently couldn't stand a life amounting to nothing but paper, and Tom Peets, mentioned when Michael pulls his card from the suggestion box, reading "We need better outreach for employees fighting depression." Phyllis helpfully pantomimes a gunshot to the head when Michael can't remember him, prompting Michael to recall "that guy was weird."

Then there are car accidents, which take the lives of ex-boss Ed Truck in "Grief Counseling" and, tragically, Michael's one true love, the chair model. But the worst of the worst? That's a two-way tie.

On the one hand, you have Angela's cat Sprinkles, euthanized by Dwight via mercy freezing. On the other, there's Dwight's Aunt Shirley. The details of her passing are left obscure, but it's the way she's put to rest that cements her place at the top of the list: After being placed in her coffin, Shirley has a shotgun emptied into her corpse to make sure she's really dead.