Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Toby From The Office Has Some Dangerous Traits Of This Type Of Person

In 2013, The Office wrapped up nine seasons of the Dunder Mifflin paper company's employees' antics, and many of those employees remain beloved by fans for their exaggerated portrayal of some real life archetypes. Anyone who's ever had long-term co-workers knows someone like cat-obsessed Angela (Angela Kinsey), or an arrogant intern like Ryan (BJ Novak). It seems like everyone's personality on the show is simultaneously too real and larger than life — and then there's Toby (Paul Lieberstein).

Undoubtedly, everyone in the corporate sphere has had to deal with Human Resources, represented at the fictional Scranton branch by Toby Flenderson. Toby is basically Dunder Mifflin Scranton's fun police. He is the bane of Michael Scott's (Steve Carell) existence. He's regularly the butt of his jokes, and target of the boss' bad moods. It's easy to feel bad for the quiet HR rep, but upon closer examination, it seems Michael may have some valid reasons for his discontent. 

Besides being a total bore, Toby has some other questionable traits. Looper talked to clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. John Paul Garrison, PsyD, about the dangerous traits Toby exhibits on The Office, and the diagnosis was revealing, to say the least.

Toby's personality isn't just boring, it's dangerous

For someone in Human Resources, Toby is remarkably disengaged from his fellow employees. His monotone voice antagonizes his coworkers, instead of comforting them. Speaking on Toby's affect, Dr. Garrison said, "Emotional flatness is tied to the lack of empathy development in serial killers." He also added, "That is not to say that all people with flat affects are psychopaths," but in Toby's case it should be viewed in "a broader context with other behaviors."

What Dr. Garrison called Toby's "intense and bizarre social skill deficits" are another box to tick on the psychopath checklist. He points to "Toby's bizarre behavior around Pam when wanting a picture with her." Fans will no doubt remember that — on the season 4 episode "Goodbye, Toby" — Toby screams for a camera, and then runs out to hastily purchase one to ensure he gets a photo with Pam (Jenna Fischer) before his impending departure. Dr. Garrison also cited "his strangeness when introducing a new girlfriend" as a prime example of a social defect. We'd like to add that time he awkwardly tried to kiss Nelly when she dressed as him for Halloween, and the time he told a total stranger to "smile if you love men's prostates" to the list.

Speaking to us about what it all means, Dr. Garrison said, "A significant percentage of mass murderers and serial killers have neurodevelopmental difficulties." While we have no idea what happened in Toby's childhood, Dr. Garrison pointed to a number of neurological problems that may be the root cause — including a dysfunctional amygdala, which contributes to a lack of remorse or emotion.

Toby's obsessions are a red flag

Toby has confessed that he doesn't have a particular passion for HR. To be frank: He doesn't show a whole lot of passion for much. When he does find an interest, though, Toby gets obsessed. 

The most concrete example of this is his obsession with Pam (Jenna Fischer). Throughout the years, Toby demonstrates an unhealthy infatuation with the receptionist. Remember when he put his uninvited hand on her thigh? There was also the time he refused to give Jim and Pam the proper disclosure paperwork, and the many times the camera caught him almost asking her out. By the end of the show, Toby's had a decade-long obsession with Pam. Within this context, Dr. Garrison noted that, "Serial killers are notorious for being obsessive."

He also pointed to Toby's fixation with the Scranton Strangler. Toby finds every opportunity to talk about the trial, and often proclaims that the accused is innocent. Dr. Garrison contended that whether Toby is the strangler is up in the air, but that "his obsessive interest in him is consistent with an individual obsessed with murder."

He may do more than just talk about murder

If it were just the court case alone it wouldn't be a problem – loving true crime isn't a crime. But Toby's murder obsession goes one step further. He's actually working on a murder mystery novel about "a man who hates people." Dr. Garrison warned, "While there are plenty of authors who write about all sorts of gruesome and awful situations, in combination with his other traits, this is a troubling aspect of Toby."

Toby never names the protagonist in his story. Could it be the quiet HR rep is writing a memoir of his own crimes? Dr. Garrison said that it is strongly implied Toby is writing about himself, and that "writing about murder, regardless of who is doing it, does suggest unresolved anger and hostility."

In all the times Michael has bullied Toby, including calling him an "evil snail" and throwing pens at him, Toby has never stood up for himself. Could it be that Toby lets his frustrations out in another way?

Or perhaps he doesn't feel anything at all.