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How Nellie Bertram Almost Ruined The Office

Even when a show is pretty much perfect, like The Office, one misguided character choice can wreck the entire gambit. On The Office, the character that very nearly ruined the entire series was Nellie Bertram. 

Played by British comedian Catherine Tate (known internationally for her turn as Donna, one of David Tennant's companions, on Doctor Who), Nellie was one of Michael Scott's (Steve Carell) many replacements. Tate started her run as a series regular on The Office during its eighth season — which was, incidentally, one of its least-loved seasons. Originally, Tate was supposed to replace Carell after his departure during season 7, but scheduling concerns prevented her from fully stepping into Michael's shoes. Despite that, Nellie ends up running Dunder Mifflin.

During her season and a half on The Office, Nellie proved to be one of the show's more unpleasant characters — displaying a penchant for narcissism, bad ideas, and poor judgment, as well as nursing a pretty awful shopping addiction. (Remember the time she inexplicably purchased 13 pianos pianos after initially being rejected for the Regional Manager job?) She also flat-out didn't deserve the Regional Manager gig once she got it, admitting as much in a talking head where she says she has no real skills, and frequently showed up to work late with basically no excuse (unless you count insulting Scranton and the Irish as an "excuse"). Ultimately, Nellie only earns the job of Regional Manager thanks to her friendship with Jo, and, much like all of Michael's replacements, is predictably terrible in the position.

Nellie would be bad enough as a side character, but as The Office floundered in the wake of Carell's absence, perhaps the worst part about her is how prominently and frequently she was featured on the show. All of a sudden, Nellie became one of the show's biggest characters — spending a seemingly enormous amount of time on screen to the point where fans were begging to have her written out of the series entirely.

It's not Tate's fault that her character was so deeply underwritten, but it seems that showrunner Greg Daniels and his team were somewhat oblivious to how much everybody hated Nellie. Even though Michael certainly could be unpleasant throughout his tenure as Regional Manager, he had some redeeming qualities. Nellie, on the other hand, had basically none — making it almost impossible for viewers to root for her in any real way.

Luckily, after the disastrous eighth season, The Office began to pick up again as it forged ahead into its ninth and final season. When Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) returned to the titular office on season 9 following Helms' brief absence to film the third Hangover film, Nellie's role became slightly more diminished... though she was still pretty unbearable to watch. By the time the finale hit, audiences were more than mollified by the upturn in quality and the happy endings provided for each character. But, true to form, Nellie ends the series by stealing someone's baby and absconding to Poland. To be fair, though, she did steal the baby from Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), probably the worst parent in the world.

The Office was strong enough to withstand plenty of misses thanks to his constant hits, but Nellie was a pretty big blip in its record. Thankfully, fans only had to put up with Nellie for a season and a half, but even that felt like way too long of a run for such an unlikeable character.