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

The Office Theory That Explains The Demise Of Dunder Mifflin

For most of his tenure as Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch, Michael Scott (Steve Carell) views his colleagues as family, with him as their patriarch. In Season 3, Michael is personally insulted when his team jokes that prison was a better alternative to Dunder Mifflin. In that same season, Michael says that his "World's Greatest Boss" mug should read "World's Greatest Dad." 

Given his typically undying devotion to his employer, it's ironic that Michael may just be the cause of Dunder Mifflin's demise — at least, according to a fan theory on Reddit.

As fans of the show know, Michael Scott is an expensive employee. In the first season, the corporate office is forced to hire a diversity trainer due to one of Michael's many off-color jokes. In Season 3, Michael kisses an unwilling Oscar, resulting in the latter receiving several months paid vacation and a company car. Other seasons see Michael refuse to accept an employee's resignation by firing him instead, which leaves Dunder Mifflin on the hook for a sizable severance package. Then there is that time he broke Utica's copier ... and let's not forget the endless parties, "fun"-raisers, and various other distractions that took away from billable hours. 

But none of that compares to Michael's actions in Season 5. Here's how the theory goes.

Michael Scott destroys Dunder Mifflin

In Season 5, Michael — upset by the new Vice President of Northeast Sales Charles Miner — quits Dunder Mifflin to start the aptly named Michael Scott Paper Company, taking receptionist Pam with him on this ill-conceived venture. Struggling to sign clients, Michael begins poaching some of Dunder Mifflin's biggest clients. Eventually, David Wallace, Dunder Mifflin's CFO, has to step in to stop the hemorrhaging. Wallace offers to buy out the Michael Scott Paper Company, which unbeknownst to him is nearing bankruptcy. The two parties negotiate, with Wallace initially offering $12,000 before upping the number to $60,000. 

Michael, however, rejects both offers and demands that Dunder Mifflin rehire him, add Pam to the sales team, and rehire disgraced former Dunder Mifflin employee Ryan Howard. At first Wallace balks at the counteroffer, pointing out that Michael's proposal is essentially a "multi-million dollar buyout," given the three salaries, healthcare, and social security involved. But Michael does not budge, and Wallace eventually accepts. All seems well in the land of Dunder Mifflin now that our favorite oddballs are all back together. However, fast forward to Season 6, and we see the repercussions of Wallace's decision.

In the episode, "Shareholder Meeting," we learn that Dunder Mifflin is close to bankruptcy, and there is no real plan to turn the tide in the company's favor. Now, from the outset of the series, Dunder Mifflin — a paper company operating in the digital age — always has teetered on the edge of collapse, with downsizing an ever-present threat. But could Michael have hastened the company's failure? 

We hate to say it, but based on the numbers, Michael's expensive tenure and buyout demands were likely a major factor contributing to Dunder Mifflin's financial woes. So much for World's Greatest Boss.