We’re not content with how Greg Daniels “unmasked” Scranton Strangler in the final season because it was long assumed to be someone at Dunder-Mifflin. Why did Daniels leave behind traces that speak to certain characters’ guilt and shame in the first place? I would like to further explore Scranton Strangler’s true identity by referring to past episodes and by claiming it to be Toby.
Scranton Strangler’s full name is reported to be George Howard Skub in the show. This differs from Toby’s full name, Toby Wyatt Flenderson, but it can be because Toby used an alias or because Toby framed or accused an innocent man to avoid arrest. Also, the fact that Scranton Strangler was better known as Scranton Strangler and that he was consistently called his nickname instead of his real name throughout the show suggests a weaker association with George Howard Skub and greater latitude in affiliating with or connecting to another individual. My hypothesis is: Toby Flenderson is the actual Scranton Strangler and he had deliberately framed another man to avoid arrest. Below are my analyses of evidences that support the hypothesis.
Season 7 Episode 3: "The List"
This is not damning evidence, although it does seem slightly suspicious. When Robert California makes his list of the winners and losers, he ends up taking all the winners to lunch. Only near the beginning of the lunch, Toby decides to leave, saying he doesn't belong there. Perhaps he recognized a police officer from the chase, or saw someone who may recognize him as the Strangler? He leaves quickly and without explanation, and trying not too draw attention.This only adds more to the case.
Dunder-Mifflin employees watch the pursuit of “Scranton Strangler” live on television. Interestingly, Toby is absent in this entire episode. He doesn’t even show up at the Glee viewing party at Gabe’s house later that day. According to my hypothesis, Toby missed both work and the party because he was engaged in the car chase himself, as Scranton Strangler.
Toby serves on a jury duty on Scranton Strangler’s case. Toby speaks about this to his co-workers at Dunder-Mifflin despite the fact that one cannot discuss the case even after trial. Toby explains in the interview he shared it with his co-workers because he “liked the attention.” However, Toby may have deliberately brought up the topic himself to reinforce the idea that Scranton Strangler is someone else and subsequently, invalidate any accusations toward himself. Also, Toby is the only one at Dunder-Mifflin who’s actually seen the suspect, so far. This can only work to Toby’s advantage, so I doubt it was a mere coincidence that he served on a jury duty on Strangler’s case and that he was enthusiastic about it. Furthermore, Toby wouldn’t have made a visit to the man, who had already been convicted, in a later season (season 9) had he not have a unique relationship with the man.
At the last Dundies, Toby announces that Scranton Strangler was finally found guilty and faces death penalty. However, Toby voices his doubts about the verdict as he is “not so sure [the suspect] is guilty anymore.” This may indicate that the alleged Scranton Strangler on trial, whom Toby witnessed in episode 11/12, is not the same man who was fleeing in the car chase. Toby may be publicly announcing this out of remorse, just to alleviate his anxiety. Regardless, this is evidence that speaks to the convict’s innocence and that reinforces Toby’s guilty conscience.
After Oscar confides in Toby about Kevin, Toby himself “confesses” to Oscar about how he has put an innocent man in jail. This clearly reflects Toby’s guilty conscience ad that he has been struggling with guilt for a considerable amount of time, as Scranton Strangler was tried two seasons ago. This would be unconventional if Toby was innocent and had no relation to the alleged serial killer. However, according to my hypothesis, Toby is in fact related to the convict, whom he wrongly and deliberately accused of. This explains the excessive amount of time Toby spends on contemplating about the convict and struggling with own guilty conscience.
Toby talks to Nellie about Scranton Strangler for several hours until she brushes him off. He’s not taken seriously and people seem to have no to very little interest in the topic, but he continues to bring up Scranton Strangler. His endless attempts contradict what he had said earlier in season 7, episode 11/12, that he shared about Scranton Strangler because he “liked the attention.” If Toby spoke about Strangler for the sole purpose of garnering attention, he wouldn’t have continued to occupy himself with Scranton Strangler when public interest has waned. His continued efforts signify his unique relationship with the convict and his actual role as Scranton Strangler.
He again speaks of the convict’s innocence and supports his claim with his research on finger printing. Even when assuming his research is valid, the process and rationale of his research remain questionable. How did he mine such data on fingerprints in the first place? What authority did he have to even request such information? Is it even common for a juror to conduct an extensive research on fingerprints of the prime suspect? What explains Toby’s motivation? The puzzle pieces are put back together only when Toby is found guilty of being the Strangler. Only then would he have the motivation to go out of his way to either prove or disprove someone else’s guilt and the information about Scranton Strangler.
After Nellie expresses her frustration with Toby’s “lack of action,” Toby visits the alleged Scranton Strangler in prison. In the show, Toby is illustrated to have made the visit to confront Strangler about the trial. When Toby does confront the man, he is violently strangled and injured. In the show, this was to confirm that the man was the Strangler, but I presume it was really because Toby had confessed to the man that he was the actual culprit and that he had framed the man to avoid arrest. Toby has long been struggling with guilt, so perhaps, this is what led to the confession and ultimately, the rage and violence of the innocent man. As a result, Toby wears a neck brace in this episode. This again reinforces the idea that Scranton Strangler is someone else and invalidates any accusations toward himself.
After a thorough examination of several episodes and Toby’s questionable behavior, I have come to prove my hypothesis as true. Toby Flenderson is the actual Scranton Strangler and has wrongly accused another man of the crime. He then struggles with his guilt throughout the show and finally confesses to the alleged Scranton Strangler, only to find himself badly injured at the rage of the innocent man.