One of the main reasons why the American version of Office continues to enjoy a large fan base nine years after its conclusion is that it has constantly reinvented itself throughout its 9-season run, regularly introducing new elements in a bid to avoid stagnation.
A notable benefit of this practice was the regular incorporation of new characters, many of them establishing themselves as major cast members despite their late debuts. The best Office characters to join the series after the pilot episode became sufficiently integrated into the series that some forget they were late additions.
Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson)
Darryl Philbin, who began his tenure on the show as Warehouse Manager and concluded it as Vice President of Athleap, was introduced as a recurring character midway through Season 1 and was established as one of the main cast members by the later seasons of the series.
While more reserved and serious in his previous appearances (during which Darryl arguably deserved more respect at Dunder Mifflin), he is later shown to be light-hearted and playful as he bonds with the employees at the floor. The writers’ collective decision to provide Craig Robinson with a greater share of each script proved beneficial for a show that would eventually achieve iconic status.
Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling)
Office Showrunner Greg Daniels hired several people to serve as both writers and performers in an effort to bond the cast with the writing team. Perhaps the most notable of these multi-hyphenates was Mindy Kaling, who portrayed Kelly Kapoor, in addition to being one of the series’ few female writers.
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Kelly was introduced in the show’s second episode (the controversial “Diversity Day”) and later took on a bigger role largely through her storylines with Ryan Howard. Kelly’s cheerful disposition – which the writers developed later in Kaling’s tenure as an actor – provided a levity to the show that was missing in the early episodes.
Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones)
While many Office fans resent Karen Filippeli for her threat to Jim and Pam’s potential relationship in Season 3, her intellect, maturity, and dry wit made her one of Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s most admirable employees. Karen was further described as an outstanding employee (as evidenced by her subsequent promotion to Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Utica), and her frustration at Jim’s reluctance to move in with her reflected poorly on her desperate boyfriend rather than on herself.
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If Karen had been added to the main cast of the fourth season, she would have provided a much-needed sober voice in the office.
Andy Bernard (Ed Helms)
The writers introduced Andy in season 3 with the intention of using him as a temporary source of comic relief, but Helms’ outstanding performance secured him a permanent spot in the main cast. While Andy’s squeaky personality and desperation for attention initially made him a near-clone of regional manager Michael Scott, writers went on to single out the salesman by describing his greater ability to befriend with his colleagues.
Andy’s romantic relationship with Erin and his platonic relationship with Darryl have been two of the most memorable highlights from recent seasons of Office.
Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper)
Erin Hannon joined the cast in Season 5 to replace Pam on reception when the latter left Dunder Mifflin to work for the hilariously ill-fated Michael Scott Paper Company (one of Michael Scott’s smartest plans). Erin’s boundless optimism was partly responsible for the show’s shift in tone in the second half of its run, as her positivity proved contagious in the workplace.
Her playful relationship with Michael, which resembled that between a father and daughter, was one of the most memorable elements of her tenure on Office.
Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein)
While Toby was almost universally hated by Dunder Mifflin Scranton employees and is one of the characters that Office fans feel bad, dozens of viewers love him for his sweet demeanor and ordinary personality. Unlike outgoing, rambunctious characters such as Michael and Dwight, Toby’s humor is dry and subtle, and his relatable disposition allows audiences to see workplace antics from his perspective.
From his introduction in Episode 2 to his final appearance in the series finale, Toby brings comic relief to the series that stands apart from that of the other main characters.
Holly LinAmy Ryan
After years of comedic and gruesome romantic entanglements (most notable being with Dunder Mifflin VP Jan Levinson), Michael finally finds a healthy relationship with Toby’s temporary replacement, Holly Flax (one of the best relationships of character in Office). Holly manages to share Michael’s quirky sense of humor while maintaining a groundedness that perfectly complements his over-the-top personality.
Her ability to communicate effectively with unusual and down-to-earth colleagues demonstrates the exceptional interpersonal qualities that have made her an exceptional human resources representative and a highly valued character. Holly’s move to Colorado with Michael was a heartwarming sendoff that only the show’s most notable characters received.
David WallaceAndy Buckley
Dunder Mifflin’s chief financial officer David Wallace (who concludes the series as the company’s CEO) is one of Michael’s most effective foils, watching the Scranton branch manager’s antics with a note of concern. which is sometimes even funnier than the behavior he reacts to. While David’s early appearances were relatively minor, Andy Buckley’s brilliant deadpan delivery secured him a semi-regular role that lasted until the series finale in 2013.
The few episodes that paint David in a different light than usual (like the one in which the employees of Dunder Mifflin Scranton visit him at his home and find unemployment has driven him to near-hysteria) are rare treats that delight many fans.
Robert California (James Spader)
When Steve Carell left the show in 2011, the writers tried to ease the transition by pairing new regional manager Andy Bernard with a serving superior. Robert California was one of the most interesting characters on the show, constantly offering bizarre observations and musings that led Jim to speculate he might be a genius.
Robert came into the Scranton branch eccentrically (after convincing Saber CEO Jo Bennett to give him his job) and maintained that degree of unconventionality for the rest of Season 8. The difficult dynamic of Robert and Andy created some of the show’s best gags and helped audiences adjust to a post-Michael Office.
Charles MinerIdris Elba
Thread Star Idris Elba had a brief but memorable run in the second half of Season 5 as Dunder Mifflin Vice President Charles Miner, who is the temporary manager of the Scranton branch while Michael commandeers the Michael Scott Paper Company.
Perhaps Charles’ most defining characteristic was his physical attractiveness (with employees such as Kelly doggedly pursuing him but to no avail), but his platonic chemistry with key cast members defined his standout moments. His distaste for Jim (who had long been the show’s most adored character) enabled a shift in the branch’s social ecosystem that interested long-term viewers of Office.
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