An Analysis of the Dialogue from The Office

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While we may not work out of a physical office at SimpleTexting, there is one ‘office’ that we do frequent – the offices of Dunder Mifflin. After hearing the news about The Office leaving Netflix, the show has been on an endless loop in our homes in an effort to squeeze in as many episodes as possible before the dreaded departure date (in case you’re curious, you can binge-watch The Office 133 more times before it leaves if you start now). 

In homage to the greatest show that has ever aired, we decided to step away from our day to day work for a moment and dedicate some time to analyzing one of the best aspects of the show in our opinion – the dialogue. Though not on a TV screen, we deal with words on a daily basis. When you think about, marketing is similar to writing a TV script in that it’s all about crafting a message that will resonate with your audience. The Office really hits the nail on the head there, so as marketers the show is an inspiration for us. 

For our study, we pulled together the complete dialogue of all 9 seasons and did an in-depth analysis of each character’s dialogue. As part of our analysis, we calculated metrics like the sentiment score and reading level of each character’s dialogue. Additionally, we pulled out trends that the biggest fans of The Office have probably wondered about. Read on to learn more about what we found! 

Comparing the Amount of Dialogue per Character 

Table showing the amount of dialogue for each character in The Office

We started simple, looking at the total number of words each character speaks during the course of the show. You’re not wrong if you’ve ever found yourself thinking that Michael dominates every conversation on The Office. Although only a series regular in 7 of the 9 seasons, Michael has nearly twice the number of words of dialogue as the next character on the list, Dwight. Rounding out the top 5 are the other 3 characters that most people would consider to be the main characters of the show – Jim, Pam, and Andy. 

We’d be eager to watch a version of the show where Creed, Meredith, and Stanley appeared closer to the top of the total word count list. We can’t say we’re displeased that Todd Packer’s dialogue was kept to a minimum compared to other more likable characters. 

The Most Positive and Negative Characters on The Office

Line chart showing the most positive and negative characters on The Office

The Office isn’t widely regarded as a ‘positive’ show. What can you expect from a series that chronicles the everyday lives of regular employees working at a mid-range paper supply company in Scranton, PA? As a result, much of the dialogue has a negative sentiment. 

In order to explore which characters are the most and least negative, we calculated the sentiment score of each of their dialogues both overall and by season. The sentiment score is a compound score that falls on a scale of -1 and +1, with -1 being the most extreme negative and +1 being the most extreme positive. 

Table showing the most positive characters on The Office

We’ll start with the positive. David Wallace earns the title of the most positive character on the show, followed by Clark and Karen rounding out the top 3. Michael has a tendency towards uncomfortable and even offensive interactions with other characters on the show, but deep down we all know he means well. This is supported by the fact that he ends up in the fourth position on the most positive list. 

Table showing the most negative characters on The Office

On the other end of the spectrum, we found that Stanley is the most negative character on The Office. We’re not sure who we thought would top this list, but after seeing the results we’re not that surprised. We’re struggling to think of more than a few positive interactions he has on the show as most of his time is spent either complaining or doing crossword puzzles. 

Joining him on the most negative list are Meredith and the entire accounting department, among others. The surprises on the list for us? Kelly and Holly both have sunnier demeanors than many of the characters on the show, but their dialogue is apparently some of the more negative. 

Table showing each characters most positive and negative season on The Office

To round out our sentiment analysis we determined each character’s most positive and most negative season according to the sentiment score of their dialogue. If you’ve ever felt like the first season of the show is particularly melancholy, you’re right. 6 of the characters’ most negative season was the first. 3 of those characters are main characters – Michael, Dwight, and Jim – with more dialogue they set the overall tone of the show.  

The Smartest Characters on The Office

Table showing the smartest characters on The Office

Next, we calculated the reading level of each character’s dialogue to gauge which characters are the smartest using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula. The reading level score corresponds to a U.S. grade level. While spoken word always has a tendency to score lower than the written word, this still provides an interesting look into how the characters compare to one another. 

We’re guessing Oscar would be surprised to see where he lands on the list since he actually considers himself to be one of the smartest people in the office. 3 of the 5 smartest characters served as executives for either Dunder Mifflin or Sabre, showing the hiring department really knew what they were doing after all. Poor Carol is at the bottom of the list, though she was smart enough to part ways with Michael after he photoshopped himself into a skiing photo for his holiday card (but not smart enough to not show up to the Diwali party in a cheerleading uniform). 

The Fun Stuff 

Lastly, we enter into what we consider the most fun part of our analysis – looking at the frequency at which certain characters make various references. Note: you must be a true fan of The Office to really appreciate some of these. 

Table showing the number of times characters say certain dialogue on The Office

You weren’t imagining it – Kevin really did make a lot of food references and Meredith did talk about drinking a lot, clocking in at a total of 75 and 25 respectively over the course of the show. And did you know Andy went to Cornell? If you didn’t, you probably haven’t seen the show because Andy mentions Cornell 27 times. 

And how can you do an analysis of The Office without mentioning, “That’s what she said”? You’re right, it’s too hard. (That’s what she said…) 

Table showing how many “That’s what she said” jokes are in The Office

We first looked at the number of “that’s what she said” jokes made in each season. There were the most in season 4 with a total of 10, followed by 7 in season 2. The cast sadly doesn’t carry on the joke well after Michael makes his exit as there’s only 1 “that’s what she said” joke after he leaves at the end of season 7. 

Table showing number of times each character says “That’s what she said” on The Office

Next, we looked at the number of “that’s what she said” jokes made by each character. No surprise here as Michael tops the list with 22 over the course of the show. 

That sadly brings us to the end of our analysis, Thanks for sticking with us for the entirety and allowing us to take a brief break from text marketing. We’re confident the popularity of The Office will live on whether it’s on Netflix or another streaming service because what’s life without it? 

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