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The Office's Mike Schur debunks three top Dunder Mifflin conspiracy theories

Was Kevin secretly embezzling money? Was the documentary crew buying paper to keep the company afloat?

Was Kevin secretly embezzling money? Was the documentary crew buying paper to keep the company afloat?

The Office was one of the biggest TV comedies of all kind — and it spawned several show-related conspiracy theories. (NBC)

The Office was one of the biggest TV comedies of all time — a program that originated in the U.K., migrated to North America, and had millions of office workers in stitches over the all-too-familiar, cringe-worthy scenes.

The show also spawned legions of near-religious fans who tracked every character and tiny reference online. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that a host of show-related conspiracy theories emerged.

Mike Schur is a TV producer, writer and actor who wrote for, and acted in, the U.S. edition of The Office; he also co-created other hit shows including Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and created The Good Place. (In this video he plays Dwight's cousin who runs out of the job interview.)

Schur is a guest on q this week, so Tom Power asked him to put some of those conspiracy theories to rest once and for all. They came courtesy of Reddit's Fan Theories group.


Conspiracy Theory #1: Kevin can afford to buy the bar at the end of the series because he's been insider trading or embezzling money on Dunder Mifflin stock for years.

Mike Schur: I cannot comment on that because I was not around in the final seasons but I can tell you we did a casino night episode early on where we very casually mentioned that Kevin has a World Series of Poker bracelet because he won a World Series of Poker Tournament, and that did start a number of inside jokes.

I don't think that most of them ever made it into the show, but just that Kevin had this kind of weird other career/life as a high stakes poker player and was constantly sort of disappearing. And then that led to a couple jokes about how he was embezzling money to gamble and to cover his gambling losses.

So I wasn't around for Seasons 6, 7, 8, 9, but I can tell you that the idea of Kevin being a poker player/slightly loose with the numbers in order to cover his poker losses, that was discussed in the room.


Conspiracy Theory #2: The company that is working on this documentary is buying paper to keep the Scranton branch alive.

Mike Schur: [Laughs] I don't know if anyone discussed that after I left, but I never heard that one. I love it though. I wish it were true. I wish we had had that idea. That sounds really funny, that their livelihood is now tied to the livelihood of the company. Here's what it would really be: there's a phenomenon these days where billionaires don't know what to do with their money from Silicon Valley or from overseas and they're like, 'We want to produce movies.'

And so the theory I think would be that the documentary is being run by the child of some oil baron and the documentary was in year seven or something, and the billionaire parent of this kid was like, 'What the hell have you been doing with my money?' And then that kid was like, "Don't worry, it's going to come out. But you need to start purchasing paper to keep the company afloat, just so I can finish my documentary." That's the one I'll counteroffer for that conspiracy theory.


Conspiracy Theory #3Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration understands free advertising. When he says "Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration" every time he introduces himself, he is marketing to the cameras and getting free television advertisement. 

Mike Schur: I think that's absolutely true. But I would also say two things. Number one, Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration, I believe we had talked about him, but I think he first appeared in an episode that I wrote that was a Christmas episode in the second season. Our idea of him was always that that's how he introduced himself to everyone, that if he met you at a cocktail party and there were no cameras rolling, or if he met you on the street, no matter where, that's what he said.

That was based on a friend of mine named Hayes MacArthur who is an actor, and when Hayes MacArthur met you, no matter who you were or where you were, he would introduce himself as Hayes MacArthur, Chicago Illinois, because he was from Chicago. And it always made me laugh. I would say, "Do you know my friend Hayes?" and he would go, "Hayes MacArthur, Chicago Illinois." And so Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration came from Hayes. But in my head he was saying it to everyone all the time no matter what.

But in terms of that theory, I would say that he was extra excited when the camera crews were around because he was like, "This is good for me." He's always advertising himself is the idea, and now he gets to do it on TV, so I think he was probably extra happy.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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