The Office Fan Theory Explains Michael's Drastic Change After S1

The Office Fan Theory Explains Michael's Drastic Change After S1
Image credit: NBC

Who is Tom?


  • Rewatching The Office, you notice how drastically Michael Scott changes between Seasons 1 and 2, from total jerk to harmless, even likable goofball.
  • Could there be an in-universe explanation for this change?
  • One fan on Reddit thinks so, and his theory delves deep into why the documentary crew came to Dunder Mifflin Scranton in the first place.

How many times did you want to punch Michael Scott in the face while watching The Office? The itch was especially strong during the show's first season, when Michael's misogynistic, bigoted, and obnoxious jokes were unbearable at times.

But somewhere between Season 1 and Season 2, Michael changed, going from jerk to goofus and becoming a much more likable and acceptable character. Eventually, it got to the point where we were really rooting for him and Holly and were devastated to see him leave the show.

Recently, a fan on Reddit theorized that this drastic change may have had an in-universe explanation. And it sounds pretty believable.

Employee suicide

To dive into the theory, we first need to understand why the documentary crew decided to make a movie about Dunder Mifflin Scranton in the first place. After all, it's just another paper company. What's so special about it?

It's long been speculated by fans, and half-jokingly confirmed by writers, that the reason was the suicide of the Scranton branch's accountant, which happened just days before the crew arrived.

S2E8 Performance Review shows Michael reading old notes from the suggestion box. One of them says, ‘We need better outreach for employees fighting depression’ and is signed by the name Tom, which Michael doesn't recognize.

Phyllis reminds him that Tom was a former employee who worked at the store about a year ago, and puts a finger gun to her forehead to point out that it's the guy who shot himself in the head.

Later, Tom's last name was revealed to be Peets. And it has become something of a canon that Tom Peets' tragic death was the starting point for the documentary. But it doesn't look like the crew came to Scranton to see how Tom's colleagues dealt with his suicide.

It's all about the angle

The Redditor linked Tom's death and Michael's change and came up with a very believable theory.

According to the fan, the documentary was not supposed to be about an office life, but was originally a piece exposing and criticizing the 9-to-5 grind in corporate America that causes an office worker (in this case Tom) to become depressed and commit suicide.

Michael was chosen as the villain of the story, the one who drove Tom to despair. That's why he's so easy to hate in the beginning. In editing, the crew cherry-picked the worst of his actions and made him look evil.

But after a year in the office, the crew came to the conclusion that it was not Dunder Mifflin's corporate culture that triggered Tom, and decided to refocus their documentary, making it more about the day-to-day lives of the employees and how they cope with the slowly dying industry.

That changed the editing and the shots the crew chose to show viewers. And that's how Michael became the main character and went from an office douchebag to a likable and harmless goofball that people don't take too seriously.

Source: Reddit, The Office Convention 2007.

Do you find the Redditor's theory credible?