Why The Office Promoted Ed Helms’ Andy Over Dwight

The Office Dwight Schrute Rainn Wilson NBC
(Image credit: The Office Screenshot / NBC)

Behind-the-scenes of The Office, a lot happened at...the office. As with any story set in the dizzying world of a workspace, the NBC comedy dealt with trying to figure out where to go with specific plots. But, it was not always as smooth of a decision as you might have thought. For instance, why did Ed Helms’ Andy get promoted over Dwight?

While fans wait for a reunion, a reboot, or something that allows them to revisit The Office, there is something to tide you over. Aside from what the cast has been generous enough to share over the years, a new book pulls back the curtain on some big story choices. Andy Greene’s The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s gets right to the heart of it.

When it came time to decide if Dwight Schrute or Andy Bernard would get the promotion, there was a lot to sift through. Writer Brent Forrester, who worked on The Office from Seasons 3 through 9, gave an inside peek. In The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Forrester said (via Rolling Stone):

The writers and the cast, generally speaking, were really excited about Dwight becoming the boss. It just felt correct, and that was our creative thrust. Mostly it was pushback from the network saying, ‘Well. Is there someone more famous that we can put in here?’ Of course, the creators always bristle at that and just want to do the right thing creatively. That was a big thing. But Ed Helms had this giant advantage because of course he was in The Hangover. Not to completely read the minds of the network, but that was my understanding of how that decision got made.

What happened off-screen definitely impacted what happened on-screen, and not solely in the sense of the writers debating plot decisions. It would seem that The Office was affected by how the actors’ careers were going outside of the show. While John Krasinski has no problem being known as Jim forever, he and his co-stars were building complementary careers outside of the show.

In the case of Andy Bernard’s promotion, since there could only be one Michael Scott, The Hangover helped out a lot. While the cast and crew of The Office were “really excited” for Dwight to get promoted, the network was swayed by Ed Helms’ box office smash, a factor that made him very recognizable to fans.

The Hangover was a massive hit when it came out in 2009. Perhaps NBC thought that people would be willing to check out The Office if Andy were in the promoted position. Rainn Wilson had starred in some quality movies at that point, and while I enjoyed 2008’s The Rocker, even I can admit that he didn't have any big screen hits like The Hangover under his belt.

Unfortunately, the box office tends to be king in these scenarios, and NBC brass were leaning more towards Ed Helms and, thus, Andy, for the promotion. Not that the Andy storyline was not fun on The Office, I just always found the Dwight character so amusing. And, after Michael, he was another cornerstone of the show.

It is another intriguing behind-the-scenes tidbit about what went on off-screen at The Office. Jenna Fischer recently shared that John Krasinski had written her an emotional farewell letter ahead of the series finale. This info about the Andy/Dwight promotion is, arguably, less of a tearjerker. However, losing out at Dwight being the boss at that point is personally tearful to think about it.

You can currently still stream The Office on Netflix, which is also home to lots of new 2020 content. If you want some other television options, check out this winter and spring’s premieres.

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.