#TBT: Is Michael Scott A Secret Genius on ‘The Office’?


Under that bumbling exterior, could Michael Scott have been brilliant the whole time on ‘The Office’?

Michael Scott was the undisputed centerpiece of NBC mega-hit The Office. Played by Steve Carell, Michael was the bumbling manager of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton location. With a penchant for inappropriate jokes and office hijinx that occasionally bordered on dangerous, Michael somehow managed to embody the worst and best boss all wrapped up into a single package.

However, what if there was a method to Michael’s madness? What if he was actually a genius? Nah, right? But… maybe?

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Over the past few years, Reddit users have theorized that all of Michael’s shenanigans were actually in service of a larger goal, and instead of fooling around in the office, he was actually setting the stage for one of the most productive workplaces in the history of television.

The most compelling argument for Michael’s possible brilliance was laid out in 2013 when an unidentified Reddit user wrote a post about the connection between Michael’s management style and his uncanny ability to ultimately get people to do what he wants them to do.

Check out an excerpt of the theory below.

"Ultimately, I think he does everything he [Michael Scott] does, from the antics to the offensive and aggravating behavior, to unite his workers in opposition to him. He actively makes himself a fool to cause business partners to underestimate him, then he strikes. There was an episode where Scranton faced closure (along with several other branches), and in response Michael has them play a role playing game all day long. He does his usual routine, offending people and making himself look silly. Toward the end of the episode Jim, completely irate, scolds him and insists they all get back to work to save the branch. All at once, the act ends. Michael pulls him off to the side, with an austere look on his face never before seen, and essentially tells him “I’m in control, I know what I’m doing, do not disturb this.” Jim, taken aback, seems to come to a realization."

Think about it, Office fans. The Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin is the one that does the most revenue, is able to convince retailers to buy MORE paper in an increasingly paperless world, and it’s arguably the most fun. A good boss motivates his workers to strive for excellence, but Michael tweaks the script by promoting procrastination all while landing giant sales of his own to show his team how it can be done.

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Of course, a popular rebuttal on the Reddit thread indicates that maybe Michael wasn’t a business genius. Perhaps he was just a fantastic salesman with poor managerial skills. In all honestly, it’s far more likely that this genius theory overestimates Michael’s abilities, and he was really just an average joe with a serious attention disorder.

Genius or not, all we know is that Michael Scott will always be the #1 TV boss in our hearts.


‘The Office’ Seasons 1 – 9 are currently available for streaming on Netflix.