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The Office Character Who Worked At Dunder Mifflin The Longest Isn't Who You Think

If you're like us and have watched every episode of "The Office" a few times, you may be wondering who has worked there the longest. A few people come to mind for fans, including Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton), Phyllis Vance (Phyllis Smith), and Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker). Those from this group are likely frontrunners due to their age. Granted, Pam (Jenna Fischer), Jim (John Krasinski), Dwight (Rainn Wilson), and others have all been on the series since day one, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have the same amount of work experience as the others.

To get to the bottom of this, we've gone through the show's history and taken stock of as many details as we can. Something as little as a comment from Michael could lead to insight into who had been at Dunder Mifflin the longest. Could it be Creed, for instance, considering he worked with Michael's former boss, Ed Truck (Ken Howard)? There are many possibilities, but one technicality at the end of the series shows that one person has this distinction. 

Who was in the first group of employees?

The first thing to consider when determining who has been at Dunder Mifflin the longest is which group was hired first. Before Michael Scott took on the role as regional manager, he was a paper salesman, also hired by Ed Truck. The people whom Ed had also hired during his time as regional manager are mentioned various times throughout the series — these include Todd Packer (David Koechner), Stanley, and Phyllis. Although there is no official hire date for the latter two, it is known that Michael started working at Dunder Mifflin in 1992.

We can pull a few more clues from the series to get more information based on what we already have. In Season 3, Episode 12, "Traveling Salesmen," Michael calls Phyllis the "resident senior," suggesting that she has either worked there longer than anyone else — or that she is simply the oldest of the group. Some superfans may remember that right after that comment, Phyllis told Michael they are the same age. This alone proves that Phyllis has been working at Dunder Mifflin longer than Michael, who was also held back in first grade. Michael didn't start working at Dunder Mifflin until he was about 27, compared to Phyllis, who started much earlier. This idea is further proven in the instances when Michael claims Phyllis has more experience than him.

Creed Bratton might have a claim to this

Unfortunately, the riddle doesn't end there. There are some discrepancies as to who within that first-generation group technically started first. It's already been disproven that Michael isn't it, mainly because of his late start. As such, it comes down to Phyllis and Stanley, who have been working across from each other for decades. In Season 9, Episode 19, "Stairmageddon," Stanley tells Michael he has put in 17 years in the company. This alone would move Stanley to the top of the list, but it's untrue. "The Office" revealed at one point that Stanley was hired a day before Phyllis, making him the longest-employed person at that time.

Then, in Season 7, Episode 24, "Search Committee," Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates) says the person who has been there the longest should become the new regional manager. Despite not knowing exactly when he first started, Creed gets the job through this process, but it turns out to be a disaster. So does that mean Creed had worked at Dunder Mifflin the longest?

It's not about who started first

The answer to this question might be a lot simpler than we think. The longest-running employee of Dunder Mifflin doesn't necessarily have to be the one who was hired first. Instead, it may be the one who was able to stick it out longer. Michael Scott left Dunder Mifflin in Season 7, allowing his former subordinates to take the lead. The following employee to leave happened to be Packer, who was fired in Season 8 after Jim protected Dwight following the failure of Dunder Mifflin Sabre. Next, Creed Bratton faked his death to avoid being arrested, which he eventually does in the series finale. Stanley Hudson also left around the same time, retiring to a water-side bungalow in Florida. With those two leaving Dunder Mifflin, whether by choice or not, it leaves Phyllis as the only one left at the show's conclusion.

Although she and Michael were the same age and Stanley was hired only a day before her, she was able to stay in there the longest. This might be due in part to her desire to fatten up "new Stanley" so she can have another lifelong office friend. Although the show has come to an end, it's safe to say this crown would have been stolen from Phyllis at some point had the show continued with Dwight as the regional manager.