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The Toby Theory That Changes Everything On The Office

While the last few seasons of "The Office" following the departure of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) saw a revolving door of managers come and go, for the most part, key cast members stayed for the entirety of the series. Office members like Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) stuck around, even if their roles with the company changed. However, of all the long-time cast members on "The Office," none were quite as mistreated as poor Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein). The longtime HR administrator was a frequent object of direct abuse from Michael and generally ignored or pitied by his fellow officemates. No matter what Toby tried, he couldn't seem to dig himself out of the hole of depression and sadness that he found himself in throughout the show's nine seasons.

Toby's consistent status as the least-liked member of the Dunder Mifflin staff at least earned him some sympathy from fans on Reddit. That said, not everyone thinks that Toby is as innocent as he appears, and there is one long-shot possibility that casts Toby as a far more sinister character than he seemed. Here is the Toby theory that changes everything on "The Office."

Toby has always had significant connections to the Scranton Strangler on The Office

"The Office" generally kept things light, depicting a grounded and relatable workplace in which the biggest day-to-day problems were an overbearing boss and obnoxious coworkers. However, as the series progressed, it began to delve deeper into its characters, exploring adult life's complex realities. The toxic turn that Michael and Jan's (Melora Hardin) relationship takes in the fourth season is an excellent example of this, as is Ryan's (BJ Novak) developing substance abuse issue in the same season. One of the darker storylines the show explored was the saga of the Scranton Strangler, in which Toby became deeply involved. The Scranton Strangler story began in the Season 6 episode "The Delivery" when Andy (Ed Helms) gifted a framed newspaper to Jim and Pam from the day their daughter, Cece, was born. Unfortunately, Andy's thoughtful gift becomes a little less adorable when he reveals the newspaper headline – "The Scranton Strangler Strikes Again."

What could have been a one-off gag becomes an increasingly present part of the show, as the media storm surrounding the case heats up. The Scranton Strangler is mentioned in passing a few times more times in Season 6 but really becomes a part of the show in Season 7. At one point, the police pursuit of the Scranton Strangler passes Dunder Mifflin, and later Toby becomes a member of the jury that votes to sentence the defendant, George Howard Skub, to death. Toby's involvement in the case proceeds to haunt him into Season 9, as he is convinced that he helped convict an innocent man. He is so wracked by guilt that he even visits the George Howard Skub in prison, an encounter that he walks away from with severe neck injuries.

Some fans of The Office are convinced that Toby is the actual Scranton Strangler

Fans of "The Office" became intrigued in seeing if the killer was someone they could identify. For many viewers, Toby quickly became a prime suspect. Shortly after the show ended its ninth season in 2013, a Reddit user posted an elaborate explanation that brought together various fan theories that tied Toby to the Scranton Strangler. The overall arc is that Toby, the long-suffering object of Michael's bullying and his coworkers' indifference, was finally pushed over the edge by the birth of Jim and Pam's daughter, Cece. After all, in the early seasons of "The Office," it was often hinted that Toby had feelings for Pam and left for Costa Rica after an awkward advance in the Season 3 episode "Night Out" falls flat.

This is why, the theory explains, there is a Scranton Strangler attack the same day Pam and Jim's child was due. Adding to the idea, as compiled in images by Twitter user Spencer McClure, is Toby's absence during the police pursuit of the Scranton Strangler during "Viewing Party." While his presence on the Scranton Strangler's jury and later attempts to reconcile with him in prison seem to point to Toby's innocence, his overwhelming guilt and insistence that George Howard Skub is not the murderer seem to imply something else.

The theory also points to miscellaneous facts about Toby that could support his involvement, such as his tendency to make death threats under his breath when insulted and his overall physical fitness. However, other fans have taken to defending Toby, such as Twitter user Pierce Moreland, who offered a point-by-point rebuttal of the accusations against Toby. "The Office" has been off the air for close to a decade, so fans may never know if Toby is the true Scranton Strangler – although the "Making a Strangler" video from 2018 cast new suspicions.