The basic success of a television comedy is almost always directly related to how funny audiences find the main characters. Viewers need a consistently good reason to tune into a show, and an overwhelming majority of the time, that reason comes from the lead actors. After a certain level of success is achieved, however, a funny thing starts to happen. The hardcore fans not only start to get really excited about the supporting staff and the recurring players, they start to cite them as the very reason for the comedy’s overall greatness. For example: if you ask a hardcore Seinfeld fan what’s great about the show, they’re just as likely to mention David Puddy and Frank Costanza as they are Jerry. If you ask a hardcore Arrested Development fan, they’ll point to Gene Parmesan and Carl Weathers. That’s the true hallmark of an all-time classic beloved comedy, which is why it should surprise no one that The Office, in the lead-up to its finale, has launched more than a few Cinema Blend debates among the writers about characters we wish we’d gotten a little bit more of.
Some characters are better in small doses. Like a great Jim Halpert prank, they swoop in unexpectedly, cause maximum havoc and disappear as soon as the gag begins to get old. Other characters, however, could have given us a little bit more if they’d been given the chance. We could all argue until Dwight’s roosters crow about which characters fall into which camp, but for the purposes of time, I’ve identified 5 characters from The Office’s run which I wish had gotten at least a few more storylines during the show’s run. You can take a look at my choices below...
1. Josh Porter
Josh is everything Michael Scott is not. He’s the type of guy you’d want to put in front of stockholders or introduce to your parents. He has social grace and sophistication, even if he also has a Call Of Duty addiction. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Jan and company initially choose him to oversee the merged offices back in Season 3. Of course, he winds up leveraging his position to go to Staples and in doing so, proves a valuable lesson to Jim. Michael might be a first class dumbass, but he’s basically a really good guy.
Josh’s basis purpose on The Office might be to facilitate the transfer, but he’s actually full of enough quirks that he should have had a longer arc. From biking a stupid amount of time everyday to engaging in a friendly rivalry with Michael, his presence was definitely a benefit to the larger show.
2. Todd Packer
PacMan is a typhoon of bad ideas and mean-spirited intentions. He brings out the worst in pretty much everyone, and over the course of the show, he commits numerous offenses including but not limited to drugging cupcakes. More than anything else, his dominant personality quirk is douchey, and he somehow makes Michael look sensible and even-spirited.
Now and again, The Office tries to use Packer’s dynamic with Michael to earn sympathy for the main character and make him seem more like a human being. It’s an effective plot device. Maybe they should have used it a little more. Maybe they picked up on it just the right number of times. Either way, I definitely could have gotten excited about Packer shitting on a few more carpets.
3. Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration
The best thing about Bob Vance is the power broker quality to his character. Yes, his relationship with Phyllis is often hysterical and sort of oddly touching, but it’s his ability to get shit done that rings the most honest and true. In medium-sized cities across the country, it’s men like Bob Vance that own successful businesses who wield power. They’re the ones who step in to buy warehouses to keep workers from getting fired. They’re the ones who donate door prizes for local casino nights, and they’re the ones who make sure people stop parking their cars in spots that don’t belong to them.
Over the course of the show, Bob appears more than a dozen times. He’s also referenced quite a bit by his doting wife, but to be perfectly honest, I could have gone for a dozen or so more episodes. He’s a great scene stealer, a perfect man to bring out of the bullpen when an episode is starting to get a bit boring, and considering he works in the same building, the reasons for him to be around were numerous.
4. Troy Undercook
Most of the characters on this list spend enough time on screen for fans to get a pretty good sense of them. Unfortunately for Troy Undercook, he’s only featured a handful of times. Luckily, every single one of them is golden. Because of his appearance, Dwight is irrationally convinced Troy is a hobbit. He asks him if he lives in a smaller house and is utterly fascinated by his behavior every other time he pops up.
During his first time on the show, Ryan refers to him as a “banking wizard”. Years later, however, he’s fallen to the point of being a junior salesman candidate who dries his pants in the bathroom. I really wish we would have gotten a story arc describing what happened in between, but I suppose we’ll have to forever be content with his appearance in Threat Level Midnight.
5. David Wallace
David Wallace has made a ton of appearances on The Office, and he’s played a far larger role than everyone else on this list. That being said, the one-time CFO, part-time inventor, current CEO is such a fascinating, multi-layered character that he easily could been a supporting character that appeared on damn near every episode. Apart from during his downfall, every character on The Office respects him and actively seeks out his approval. He’s sort of like the God of Paper, and when he’s not around (or doesn’t have his shit together), the show sometimes loses a sense of checks and balances.
Everything that’s great about Wallace is embodied in the episode where Jan sues the company. During the deposition, Michael finds out he was never seriously considered for the promotion, but he’s still so impressed with David’s professionalism that he tells the truth and sides with the company at the expense of his own relationship.
For more coverage of The Office's finale, check out some of our previous editorials here or here.
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Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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