15 years ago today, The Office premiered on NBC. In the show’s nine-season run, fans were introduced to a menagerie of comedic icons. Actors like John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, and Steve Carrell cut their teeth playing characters who began as Americanized counterparts to well-known British personalities but quickly evolved to chart their own course in the popular workplace comedy scene. When we look back on the NBC mockumentary we think of them: the love affair between Jim Halpert and Pam Beesley, the eccentricities of Dwight Schrute, the cringe-worthy antics of Michael Scott. These were the show’s leads, characters who ate up the screen and earned a place in our shared pop-culture pantheon.
But the most impressive feat of The Office was its ability to elevate its supporting cast to equal stardom. The show put in the work to make each Dunder Mifflin employee distinct, memorable, and in some cases, incredibly f*cking weird. So weird, that even 15 years after its premiere, we’re still asking, “Who the hell is this guy?”
That might end up being Creed Bratton’s legacy, a knee-jerk moment of confusion followed by a listing of the character’s strangest one-offs. Creed (played by the actor, Creed Bratton) was a sitcom enigma. Was he a fictional character? A composite of the real Creed Bratton and the strange boomer co-worker who exists in most real-word office settings? Was he a felon? A murderer? A con-man scrambling to avoid homelessness (again)?
Honestly, we still don’t know, but to celebrate the mysterious aura of the show’s most oddball character, we’re going to attempt to dig into his colorful past with the full knowledge that, because this all came from Creed himself, it could all be total bullsh*t.
The ’60s, Man
Like the real Creed Bratton, The Office character was a member of a rock band in the late ’60s. He references this time often, implying the heavy drug use is why he can’t seem to remember any of his coworker’s names. Angela is often misnamed Andrea, Jim is simply “Tall Guy.” During the show’s “Gay Witch Hunt,” Creed seems to hint that he experimented with bisexuality during those days, claiming there would be no way of knowing if a man had “slipped in” during one of his many outdoor romps in the mud and the rain.
His Shady Past
Perhaps the most shocking slip Creed made during his confessional time on the show was the reveal that he might not be the real Creed Bratton. During the fifth season’s “Crime Aid” episode, as the rest of the office employees panic over their stolen items, Creed calmly assures the camera crew that no one steals from him. The last person to do so was named Creed Bratton, and he disappeared. This gels with another tidbit relating to Creed’s true identity that the character reveals earlier in the season when he admits that he transfers all of his debt to a man named William Charles Schneider — Creed Bratton, the actor’s, full name.
By the end of the series, Creed had faked his own death to avoid the police, who caught his trail thanks to the documentary airing on PBS. Apparently, Creed had sold drugs while touring with his band decades earlier. He’d also illegally transported endangered animal meat and stolen weapons-grade LSD from the military. There were plenty of things the feds could’ve been looking at Creed for though: he probably did heroin with members of the Taliban, he may have murdered a man on Halloween, and he ran a fake ID business out of the trunk of his car using a laminator he stole from the sheriff’s department.
It’s implied that Ed Truck was the man to hire Creed before Michael became a branch manager, but his actual job title is still a mystery. At one point during the show’s run, we discover he’s responsible for quality assurance. This was news to fans and to Creed, who admits to shirking his duties when an obscene watermark costs the company business. Creed spends most of his time playing solitaire and munching on bean sprouts but he’s quick to frame a factory worker for the screw-up because, as he says, he’ll do whatever it takes to avoid becoming homeless again.
Creed has, naturally, been both a member and a follower of many different cults. (See his life in the ’60s for reference.) He admits to having more fun as a follower, but leading nets you bigger profits.
During the show’s “Gossip” episode, Michael begins a rumor about Creed telling his co-workers the elderly man has asthma which puts his plans to scuba dive in jeopardy. If he can’t scuba, what’s all of this been for?