Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

    The Office
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in Scranton, Pa., where he grew up. There are perks to living in the same town as your parents. It’s perfect for someone like Ryan, who has yet to really cut the cord. He can stop by to borrow some cash any time he needs, and he still gets to drive his mom’s car.

Profession… member of the sales department at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Ryan started as a temp but was eagerly promoted by Michael Scott, who loves having him around the office. Ryan has no particular passion for his job and is mostly contemptuous of his co-workers, and at times he can be ruthlessly competitive. Michael excuses his lackluster sales figures because of his good looks.

Interests… partying. Ryan is especially vulnerable to vices, harkening back to his fraternity days. For him, every weekend is a lost weekend. He squanders his money on expensive haircuts and, sometimes, cocaine. To him, it’s a simple philosophy of “work hard, play hard.”

Relationship Status… taken. Ryan finally reciprocated his co-worker Kelly’s crush on him, but at times it seems like their relationship is just something for him to do until he finds something better. He bets his co-workers on quirks in her personality, such as how long it’ll take her to explain the concept of Netflix. He knows there’s no way her Indian family will ever accept him for a long-term commitment, so he might as well ride it out until one of them gets bored with it.

Challenge… getting it together. Ryan is at turns a man-child saving up for an Xbox and a cutthroat MBA student with wild ambitions. On either side of the spectrum is his struggle with drug abuse. Success leads him to wild binges, failure to depressing ones. His main office rival, Jim, is much more level-headed, but level-headedness won’t lead him to corporate. Ryan looks forward to leaving Jim in the dust.

Personality… mysterious and erratic. Ryan has a worrisome inner life, but gives away little of himself. “Two-faced” is an understatement with him. He’s not afraid to use any excuse available, or even make some up without shame. He once apologized to Kelly thusly: “I wanted to say I'm sorry... for treating you bad the past couple years. I was in my mid 20s and I was going through a lot of stuff. I think I never fully processed 9/11.”


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