The Office: All The Clues Toby Was The Scranton Strangler

There is ample evidence suggesting Toby Flenderson was the Scranton Strangler in The Office. The character, played by Paul Lieberstein, was often portrayed as one of the more harmless employees at Dunder Mifflin. In fact, he was a bit of a pushover, allowing manager Michael Scott to pick on him for the duration of his tenure. Despite this, The Office contains a long-running gag in which the Scranton Strangler's crimes connect to Toby, resulting in theories that claim he was the figure behind the moniker.

Toby appears in all nine seasons of The Office, serving as the branch's Human Resources Rep for most of the series. Because of his position, Toby sits in the annex with Kelly and Ryan, always becoming involved in office-wide meetings and gatherings. His downtrodden personal life has a hilarious habit of spilling over into his work life, resulting in his defeated personality. In this way, Toby becomes an easy target for Michael's verbal abuse. Though Lieberstein's character embarks on a new life by relocating to Costa Rica on a whim, he eventually returns to work at the Scranton branch until Dwight fires him at the end of the series.

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Unlike the rest of the characters from The Office, Toby has a direct connection to the Scranton Strangler and several reasons to be invested as the case's prime suspect. Even though the series proclaims George Howard Skub as the Scranton Strangler's identity, many theories also point to certain characters like Creed, Gabe, and Mose being involved in the crimes. That said, a majority of clues hidden within The Office pointed to Toby as the real Scranton Strangler. Even NBC got in on the fun during The Office's run by creating a Making A Murderer spoof video (via YouTube) featuring archive footage, which incriminates Toby.

Though the Scranton Strangler isn’t mentioned until The Office season 6, it was difficult not to notice how the strangulation events correlated with major moments in Jim and Pam’s lives. Toby never does do a very good job hiding the fact that he has a crush on Pam, with his feelings causing him to be displeased with the romance between his coworkers while even rooting against their relationship at times. When Jim and Pam start a family with the birth of their first child, Cece, Andy gifts them a copy of the newspaper as a memento for the big day. The headline states: “Scranton Strangler strikes again,” which suggests Toby’s anger at the notion of Jim and Pam’s happiness led him to commit another attack.

In The Office season 7 episode titled “Viewing Party,” the cold open centers on a car chase with the local police following a suspect believed to be the Scranton Strangler. Michael notices the chase is heading down the street where they work, so he runs to the window to witness the event. The suspect’s car seen in the chase and on the TV coverage is identical to the color and model of a car often seen in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot. This led to further compelling evidence that the car originally belonged to Toby before another man took the fall for his crimes. While this was intriguing, more than likely, the crew from the series used an on-set car rather than obtaining a new one at the time.

Throughout the “Viewing Party” sequence, the only character ominously missing from the workplace is Toby, as the employees watch the car chase from Toby’s desk with no explanation of his absence. His desk phone then rings, causing Kelly to pick it up and immediately hang up to not disturb their viewing of the chase. Normal phone calls in the office go through reception, so whoever was calling knew Toby’s direct extension. This tidbit convinced viewers at the time that Toby was on the line, calling his coworkers to confess to his crimes as the Scranton Strangler while being chased.

Related: The Office: Every Character Who Was Fired From Dunder Mifflin (& Why)

The outcome of The Office season 7 car chase was presumed to have ended with the real Scranton Strangler being caught, but this fact was never confirmed by the series. Not only could Toby have been involved in the chase and gotten free, but he could have also been on the brink of confession while watching an innocent man being caught. Ironically, Toby is subsequently chosen as a juror for the Scranton Strangler case later in season 7. George Howard Skub was found guilty for his killings and sentenced to death, but as time went on, Toby starts questioning if the suspect was truly innocent. It stands to reason that sending a man to prison with a death sentence for his own crimes took control of him mentally to the point of coming clean. His self-investigation even gave Toby the motivation to develop his own series of fictional crime novels centered on a man named Chad Flenderman.

Later in The Office season 7, during the Christening episode, Jim and Pam invite their coworkers to the christening of their daughter, Cece, with the event taking place at a local church before the out-of-hand luncheon. When Toby arrives, he had a lot of trouble entering the religious establishment, stating that he had a history with the “Big Man.” While Toby may have been talking about some of the pain and suffering he has endured in life, he could also be alluding to the guilt he feels which stems from his true identity as the Scranton Strangler. If the “Big Man” serves as the only one to know his secrets, it stands to reason that Toby feels he cannot face that spiritual scrutiny during Cece's christening.

The guilt that Toby carries seemingly continues to The Office season 9, leading him to do further investigations into George Howard Skub’s possible innocence. In the episode titled “Moving On,” Toby decides to visit the man he helped send away to confront his uncertainty surrounding Skub's guilty verdict. When Toby returns to the office, it is revealed George Howard Skub attempted to strangle him, leaving his visitor in a neck brace and with damaged vocal cords, insinuating Toby was wrong all this time regarding the man’s innocence. However, there is also the suggestion Toby confessed to being the real Scranton Strangler to goad George Howard Skub, who, being an innocent man, may have attacked Toby in The Office season 9 due to the revelation.

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