There’s compelling evidence suggesting Toby Flenderson was the real Scranton Strangler in The Office. Here’s a breakdown of the connections.
There was 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. Granted, the long-running gag centered on the notion of the Scranton Strangler connected to Toby, resulting in theories that claimed he was the figure behind the moniker.
Toby appeared 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 sat in the annex with Kelly and Ryan, but he was always involved in the office-wide meetings and gatherings. His downtrodden personal life had a habit of spilling over to work, resulting in his defeated personality. With this, Toby became an easy target for Michael’s verbal abuse. Though Lieberstein’s character embarked on a new life by relocating to Costa Rica on a whim, he eventually returned to work at the Scranton branch until Dwight fired him at the end of the series.
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Unlike the rest of the characters from The Office, Toby had a direct connection to the Scranton Strangler and a reason to be invested in the suspect. Even though the series proclaimed George Howard Skub as the Scranton Strangler’s identity, theories have pointed to certain characters like Creed, Gabe, and Mose. That said, a majority of the clues pointed to Toby as the real Scranton Strangler. Even NBC got in on the fun by creating a Making A Murderer spoof video (via YouTube) featuring archive footage, which incriminated Toby.
The Timing Of The Scranton Strangler’s Attacks
Though the Scranton Strangler wasn’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 didn’t do a very good job hiding the fact that he had a crush on Pam. His feelings caused him to be displeased with the romance between his coworkers while even rooting against the relationship at times. When Jim and Pam started a family with the birth of their first child, Cece, Andy gifted them a copy of the newspaper as a memento for the big day. The headline stated, “Scranton Strangler strikes again,” which suggested Toby’s anger at the notion of Jim and Pam’s happiness led him to commit another attack.
The Scranton Strangler’s Car
In The Office season 7 episode titled “Viewing Party,” the cold open centered on a car chase with the local police following a suspect believed to be the Scranton Strangler. Michael noticed the chase was heading down the street where they work, so he ran to the window to witness the event. The suspect’s car seen in the chase and on the TV coverage was 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 obtain a new one.
Toby’s Absence During The Car Chase
Throughout the “Viewing Party” sequence, the only major character missing from the workplace was Toby. Granted, the employees watched the car chase coverage from Toby’s desk with no explanation of his absence. His desk phone then rang, causing Kelly to pick it up and immediately hang up not to disturb their viewing excitement. Normal phone calls would have gone through reception, so whoever was calling knew Toby’s direct extension. This tidbit convinced viewers that Toby was on the line, calling his coworkers to confess to his crimes as the Scranton Strangler while being chased.
Toby’s Belief In George Howard Skub’s Innocence
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. 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 was 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 started questioning if the suspect was truly innocent. It was possible 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.
Toby Wouldn’t Enter A Church
Later in The Office season 7, during the Christening episode, Jim and Pam invited their coworkers for the celebration of their daughter. The event took place at a local church before the out-of-hand luncheon took place. When Toby arrived, he had a lot of trouble entering the religious establishment, stating that he had a history with the “Big Man.” Toby could have been talking about some of the pain and suffering he suffered in life, but it also could be something to do with the guilt stemming from his identity as the Scranton Strangler. With the “Big Man” serving as the only one to know of his secrets, Toby couldn’t face that spiritual scrutiny.
George Howard Skub’s Attack On Toby
The guilt that Toby carried continued 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 decided to visit the man he helped send away to seemingly confront his uncertainty in the verdict. When Toby returned, it was revealed George Howard Skub attempted to strangle him, leaving his visitor in a neck brace and damaged vocal cords. This was to insinuate Toby was wrong all this time regarding the man’s innocence. Granted, it could have also meant Toby confessed to being the real Scranton Strangler in an attempt to make amends with his guilt. George Howard Skub, being an innocent man who took the fall, may have attacked Toby due to the revelation.
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