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The Toby Continuity Mistake You Likely Missed On The Office

It's difficult to create a show with a story as massive and complex as "The Office" and not suffer from some continuity challenges over time. Michael Scott makes multiple references to college, leaving it unclear if he attended or not. Meredith is creeped out by Jim ... but asks him to sign her pelvic cast. No one knows if you're allowed to have booze at office parties because the rules seem to always be changing. Should we go on?

While the continuity errors are there, though, there are remarkably few clear-cut mistakes that make it into the show — which speaks volumes regarding how impressive the writing room was over the nine years that they pumped out nearly two hundred different scripts weaving together the storylines of dozens of different characters. Even when it comes to the little errors that did slip through, these minor inconsistencies have ended up providing fodder for the legions of "Office" superfans who can't stop watching the show on repeat.

This brings us to one continuity error in particular that involves the Office Sad Sack, Toby Flenderson, his potentially dark past ... and a box of cookies.

Toby's Girl Scout cookies

Toby Flenderson is an enigma. He quietly sits in the Annex in lonely isolation, waffling between erratic behavior and spurts of oddly strange leadership. There's one point in the show, though, where Toby's strange ways get either himself or the writing team in trouble.

We're talking about a point in the Season 5 episode "Stress Relief." The fan favorite installment includes a running gag where Dwight is trying to get his coworkers to sign an apology letter for his over-the-top behavior. This leads to a  moment where the beet farmer visits poor old Toby to sweet-talk him into signing his letter. The HR rep sees right through the ploy, but rather than calling Dwight out, he offers to give his signature if Dwight will purchase some Girl Scout cookies from his daughter.

The scene is funny, and the story quickly moves on. The end, right? Wrong. Fast forward to the Season 8 episode "Last Day in Florida." In this story, Darryl and Toby end up sparring over who will land Kevin's office-size order of Girl Scout cookies. Okay, again, this seems to add up. After all, Toby's been doing this for years by now, right?

It turns out, though,  it's actually Darryl who's been selling the cookies for years. But when Mr. Flenderson walks into Andy's office, he informs his coworkers that he's selling Girl Scout cookies for his daughter ... because it's her first year in the troop. Say what? The error isn't easy to catch at first glance, due to the dozens of episodes that lie between the two pieces of information. However, sharp-eyed fans quickly picked up on the inconsistency and have continued to point it out. In fact, many have gone much, much further than saying it's simply a continuity error...

Toby's potentially very dark "other side"

On the surface, Toby's timeline-insensitive Girl Scout cookie-selling antics are just a silly mistake from the writer's room. No one picked up on the inconsistency, and it eventually made the final cut. But there are many fans who actually think the error doesn't belong to the writers. Some think it's a faux pas or even a straight-up lie on the part of the fictional character himself, something that hints at a much darker truth.

Over the years, many "Office" fans have come to adamantly believe that Toby Flenderson is none other than the infamous Scranton Strangler. The off-screen villain indirectly haunts the office for several seasons before he's caught and imprisoned. Toby's involvement is memorable. He ends up on the trial of the Strangler, feels guilty about the event, and even visits the man in jail and is nearly choked out by him.

Well, the whole Girl Scout cookies inconsistency could be another facet in the "Toby is the Scranton Strangler" accusation. Perhaps he's only using the Girl Scout angle as part of a money-laundering scheme. Maybe he's liquidating the cookie-based inventory of one of his victims.

It's worth pointing out that the first time we hear about his baked goods salesmanship, he asks Dwight, "Want to order some Girl Scout cookies from, uh, my daughter?" The hesitation could point to him quickly finding a reason for the cookie form, even though it actually has nothing to do with his offspring. He also quickly accuses Darryl when the latter says he's been selling cookies for five years, telling him that "You can't claim territories." Sounds like something a geographically-named villain would say.

Chances are we'll never really know if the theory is true, though, even though Paul Lieberstein himself indirectly endorses it.