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

The Office's Paul Lieberstein Finally Addresses That Scranton Strangler Theory

For a show that was about the mundane everyday lives of the worker drones at a struggling paper company, the American version of "The Office" has a surprisingly deep and rich lore, fueled by fan theories that approach a Marvel-like level of complexity. 

Take the story of the Scranton Strangler, the serial criminal who terrorized the city of Scranton but was never seen on camera. The character started as a throwaway joke in Season 6. In the episode where Pam (Jenna Fischer) gives birth to Cecilia, Andy (Ed Helms) commemorated the occasion by purchasing a copy of that day's newspaper. Unfortunately, the headline read, "Scranton Strangler Strikes Again." Since that ill-fated moment, the Scranton Strangler became a bigger and bigger part of the show. The following season, the Scranton PD captured the man believed to be the Strangler in a car chase that culminated in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot. Then, the office's mild-mannered HR manager, Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) was put on the jury for the trial. Toby believed the suspect, George Howard Skub, was innocent, but Skub was convicted anyway. In Season 9, Toby visited Skub in prison only to be strangled himself. 

That's already a lot of screen time devoted to an unseen strangler, but some fans have been convinced that there's even more to the story: namely, that it was none other than Toby himself who was the real Scranton Strangler. Fans have reinterpreted practically every mention of the Strangler to fit their theory. Toby struck on the day of Celia's birth because he was jealous of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam. Toby actually visited Skub in prison to taunt him, and Skub strangled him in anger. You get the idea. 

Paul Lieberstein is well aware of these fan theories, and he finally shared his thoughts.

Paul Lieberstein hears your Scranton Strangler theories, and he's onboard

In an interview with PopCulture.com, while Lieberstein stopped short of admitting that Toby was really the Scranton Strangler, he did confirm that Toby was capable of being the guy. "Oh yeah," Lieberstein said. "There's a lot we didn't get to do with this Scranton Strangler. We had a lot of designs."

Lieberstein went on to clarify a detail about the Strangler that might have been lost on some fans. "It was never quite mentioned that [the Scranton Strangler] wasn't a murderer," Lieberstein said. "He would strangle you until he passed out." 

Lieberstein also told PopCulture.com that it "could be really fun" if he got the opportunity to do a spinoff series, either about the Scranton Strangler or just about Toby's post-Dunder Mifflin life. Lieberstein has an idea of what that might look like: "[Toby] found himself another little HR gig where probably nothing that lasted quite as long, maybe bouncing from job to job." 

Until we get a Toby spinoff or possibly an "Office" revival, those fan theories will have to remain just that: theories.