“No, don’t call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go into their normal jobs, and get a distress call from the Commissioner and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes.”
… spoilers ahead …
Any fan of The Office (NBC, 2005-2013) will recognize the quote above. It’s delivered by Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), the zealous paper salesman slash beets farmer always gunning to be regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Michael Scott may have been the lead, but Dwight is the real hero of the show.
Dwight has two main missions on The Office: to become manager and to start a family. When we first meet him, both seem to be quite out of the question. Assistant to a regional manager who isn’t going anywhere, the prospect of advancement is so slim that even a promotion to assistant regional manager looks good. And between his mercy murder of her cat and her engagement to another coworker, his secret relationship with Angela seems to offer little hope for the future.
On top of all that, Dwight has to overcome the social disadvantage that his personality brings down on him. Everyone in the office, including the socially inept Michael Scott, finds him weird. Jim and Pam are constantly pranking him. At best, he makes people uncomfortable. (“How many women have you killed? And please, sir, will you not kill me?) Throughout the show, Dwight is repeatedly slighted because of his weirdness. Although he has the best numbers, Wallace chooses to promote the charismatic and handsome Jim to co-manager. Even when Jo Bennett makes him interim manager, it is only after Jim turned down the position.
However, it is precisely the reason why he unnerves people that makes him the hero. In a landscape of indifference and mediocrity, Dwight shines with grit and passion. This is a man who has spent an exorbitant amount of time and money in order to become a black belt, who drove all the way to New York to cover for Angela, and who pretended to be a French burn victim in order to secure a job interview. When Dwight wants something, he goes for it– and uses all the ammunition he has, whether it be nunchucks hidden around the workplace or a fake fire drill that gave Stanley a heart attack, at his disposal.
Dwight is strong. Unlike Michael, he doesn’t want a family or the management position for the affirmation. He believes in himself, and it is this strength of character and will that carries him through. At the end of the show, Jim and Pam wait expectantly on some vague future greatness; Andy has retreated back to his Ivy League security blanket; executives like Robert California and Jo Bennett have sold out; and even Michael Scott is gone. But Dwight Schrute–manager of Dunder Mifflin, owner of a large beets farm, husband, and father–remains with all the spoils.
*featured photo not taken by me*