"What am I gonna do with this award? Nothing. I don't know I'm gonna do. That's the least of my concerns"
- Ryan, after Michael gives him the "Hottest in the Office" award during The DundiesRyan Bailey Howard (born May 5, 1979) is a character in the NBC sitcom The Office. He is played by B. J. Novak, who is also a writer, director and executive producer for the show. Ryan is based on the character of Ricky Howard from the original UK series, but his role is expanded to that of a main character. During the fourth season, his character is similar to that of Neil Godwin from series two of the UK Office.
Seasons 1 - 2
Little is known about Ryan Howard's early life, but it is revealed in a deleted scene from "Diversity Day" that he grew up in Scranton. In the webisode "The Story of Subtle Sexuality", Ryan mentions that his parents live in separate houses, which implies that they are separated. At the beginning of the series, Ryan Howard is a temporary employee at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. He joined the staff in the first episode, earning him the nickname "The Temp".
In early episodes, he is shown to be uncomfortable with his professional relationship with his boss, Michael Scott. Michael often forces Ryan to carry out menial tasks for him while at the same time, becoming obsessed with Ryan's personal life as well as gaining Ryan's friendship, to the point of buying him an iPod for Christmas.
Over the first two seasons, Ryan's character is a secondary one and he is primarily defined by his dissatisfaction with his job, and his relationships with Michael and Kelly. His dissatisfaction manifests itself in his use of sarcasm and general disinterest towards his co-workers. Ryan does not wish to stay at Dunder Mifflin long or even be remembered when he leaves, citing that his ultimate fear is that he will gain a nickname around the office (being "the something guy"). During Ryan's term as a temporary employee (and even for a few months after his promotion to full-time status), various characters (mainly Dwight) frequently addresses him as "Temp" instead of by his real name. In later seasons, several characters sarcastically use this term long after Ryan has risen to a more prominent position in the company.
Ryan is often the victim of Michael's antics and bizarre man-crush on him, usually resigning to requests without complaint. Also, by the end of Season 2, Jim facilitates a relationship between Kelly Kapoor and Ryan, which is very rocky from the start.
By the third season opener "Gay Witch Hunt", Ryan becomes a full-time employee and inherits the job (and desk) vacated by Jim Halpert. Despite the promotion, Michael still treats Ryan as his personal assistant. Upon Jim's return to Scranton after the branch merger, there is a moment of awkwardness when Jim casually sets up at his former desk, only to learn that it now belongs to Ryan—who refuses to give the desk back to Jim, the first hint at a rivalry between the two.
Ryan goes to his first sales call in "Initiation", where he is subjected to a series of tests by Dwight. Despite his superior education, Ryan is not a good salesman—his first client tells him flat out that he does not like him.
In the last scene of "The Job", Ryan receives a call from the New York headquarters, offering him the job previously held by Jan Levenson and making him Michael's immediate superior. After he hangs up, he immediately dumps Kelly.
Ryan returns in season four as the main antagonist. He has become increasingly arrogant, condescending and ambitious, speaking almost exclusively in business buzzwords. In "Dunder Mifflin Infinity", Ryan presents his concept of Dunder Mifflin Infinity (a new website) to the Scranton branch, and gives a BlackBerry to all of the main employees. He is eager to show off his newfound wealth. His occasional brushes with Kelly remain tense. It is also apparent that his new corporate peers also don't care for him; one employee yells at Ryan to get out of his office, and another tells Michael and Dwight, "it was funny to see Ryan all embarrassed". When Ryan is arrested and fired, his peers record all of it on their phones and post it as a hilarious video on YouTube.
Later in the season, Ryan's new website is plagued by problems, including child predators and slow sales. The salesmen resist the new site as well. The later episodes show him becoming more excited and on edge, clearly under the influence of cocaine. Feeling threatened by Jim Halpert's good relationship with David Wallace, Ryan sets out to get Jim fired. Ryan also begins dressing more and more unkempt. For example, in the episode "Dunder Mifflin Infinity", he has slick, combed hair, and is very nicely presentable. In later episodes like "Night Out" and "Did I Stutter?", his hair is bedhead, he doesn't wear ties, his face is half shaven, and his shirt is only half buttoned
In "Goodbye, Toby" Ryan is – now typically – curt with Jim. However, it is discovered later that Ryan was misleading the company's shareholders. In a YouTube video entitled "Whoaa! Check it out!", the Scranton branch watches as Ryan is seen being arrested and escorted out of Dunder Mifflin's New York office by police, much to Michael's dismay and Jim and Kelly's pleasure.
In the first episode of Season 5, it is revealed that Ryan has been released with a sentence of community service, and has gotten sober. Michael hires Ryan through the temp agency as the fill-in receptionist. In a deleted scene, he receives a call from David Wallace for Michael. Infuriated that Ryan is back at Dunder Mifflin, Wallace abuses Ryan by telephone in front of the staff. This prompts Michael to defend Ryan and save his job. However, Ryan still exhibits the ego issues he developed in the fourth season.
Ryan moves back to the annex with Kelly soon before Pam is scheduled to return. He starts showing off in front of Kelly and the two start kissing passionately. Ryan tells Kelly to break up with Darryl via text message. Darryl responds quickly saying "it's cool", with Kelly overjoyed and Ryan shocked, suggesting he realized he made a mistake. In "Frame Toby", Ryan breaks up with Kelly again, saying he is going with friends to Thailand, but convinces her to have sex with him one last time and give him some traveling money first.
Ryan is not seen again until the episode "Dream Team" in which he was seen working at a bowling alley until being hired by Michael Scott to work at the Michael Scott Paper Company. His appearance has changed drastically with having a tan from his trip to Thailand (later revealed to be Ft. Lauderdale) and his hair is dyed blonde. Apparently, he has moved back in with, or at least in proximity to, his parents.
Initially, Ryan acted with disinterest and irresponsibility with the new company, choosing rather to spend his time talking on his telephone and surfing the web, which, along with lack of space, caused tension with Pam. However, as time passed, relations between the employees of The Michael Scott Paper Company became more amicable as Ryan's behavior matured. Bonding with Pam and Michael over the company's relative success and through the close quarters, Ryan became more active and involved. Additionally, his sobriety became apparent.
After the buyout of The Michael Scott Paper Company from Dunder-Mifflin, much to David Wallace's vocal opposition, Ryan is initially rehired as a salesperson, though, as a result of budget problems, is reduced back into the position of a temporary employee. In an interview, he says now that he is a temp again the only thing he can control is his food, eating five small meals a day.
Ryan's appearance dramatically changes in every episode in Season 6. In the sixth season premiere, "Gossip", Ryan's appearance has changed back to his more traditional look – black hair and no longer with a noticeable tan. In "The Promotion", Ryan scams Pam out of a wedding gift. However, he seems to have picked up some persuasion skills from the sales team, as he manages to wheedle $50 out of Pam. As of the beginning of season 6, he is dating Kelly again. The two dance down the aisle together at Jim and Pam's wedding.
In "Double Date", Ryan is shown to have begun photography as a hobby, and gets Kelly to pose topless. He tries, but fails, to get Erin to do the same. (See Ryan's photography blog, "Thousand and One Words").
In "Shareholder Meeting", he deflects Jim's instructions and refuses to do any work. He also spreads the rumor that Jim is not as powerful as Michael. Jim then makes an example of him by putting him in the closet behind the kitchen with no windows or internet access. As a result, in "Scott's Tots", he tells Dwight he will help him get Jim fired. At the end of "Manager and Salesman" he and Dwight go out and celebrate Jim's demotion to salesman. In The Chump, he approaches Erin's desk and bluntly tells her that he'd like to sleep with her. She asks if he's joking to which he backs down, claiming that he is. In "Whistleblower" Ryan announces a social networking website he's launching called "WUPHF.com".
In "Nepotism", Ryan advertises his website WUPHF.com in the Lip Dub the Scranton Branch was making. In "The Sting", he helps Jim and Dwight spy on Danny. When they try to hatch a plan, Jim tells Ryan he is a "hot new executive" and Ryan tells them he wants to work at Google.
In "Costume Contest", he dresses as Justin Bieber in hopes to win the Scranton book of savings worth $15,000 in savings. In "Christening", he makes fun of the Youth Group pastor.
In "WUPHF.com", he tries to get people to invest in his company. When he reveals he will be broke in 9 days, Kelly comes in and tries to invest. Then Ryan tells them that he has an offer from the Washington University Public Health Fund, only for Darryl to realize that they are only interested because of the domain name. Ryan tries to weasel more money from Michael, but is caught by surprise when Michael tells all the other investors that while he won't agree to divest their WUPHF holdings (they need Michael's assent because he holds more than 50% of the shares) he does think Ryan is shallow and a bad friend, and Ryan looks horrified when Michael says he has those 9 days and no more time to make things right. At the end of the episode, Ryan tells everybody he has sold WUPHF.com.
Ryan shows more immoral traits in "Garage Sale", when he sells jars of his mother's homemade Pesto sauce, which she intended to just be for family, for his own profits. Ryan is also in the group that helps Michael think of a good way to propose to Holly. When Michael does propose to Holly, he has some employees jokingly ask Holly to marry them. He states that Ryan was the only one he was concerned about.
In "Michael's Last Dundies", he is shown to be hurt that Danny Cordray broke his streak of winning the "Hottest in the Office" award, although he tries to hide it. Ryan's contribution to the office workers' version of Seasons of Love is that Michael helped him get off drugs. In "Goodbye, Michael", Michael gives Ryan his St. Pauli Girl beer sign, but only after making sure he isn't prone to seizures. Ryan seems to genuinely appreciate the gift.
In "The Inner Circle", Ryan lies to Deangelo about his job at the Scranton Branch. While Kelly is angry, she goes along with it in exchange for Ryan being a dutiful boyfriend. However, Kelly soon exposes Ryan as a fraud after reprimanding her severely about her paycheck in front of Deangelo. However, because Deangelo prefers Ryan over Kelly, he appoints him as her official supervisor (until his accident hours later).
In "Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager", after Dwight accidentally misfires a gun in the office and Toby is filling out the gun violence accident form, the HR rep asks the staff if they felt like this was a terrorist incident. Ryan, who is clearly enjoying Dwight's situation, openly says that he felt terrorized.
In "Search Committee", Ryan reveals to the camera that he believes Angela's boyfriend Robert (the State Senator) is gay, because he "liked" Ryan's Facebook photos at 3:00 AM. During a staff debate over who should be hired for the manager position, Ryan states he wants an outsider. While Jim thinks he is referring to the applicants outside of the office, Ryan says he meant an "outsider" as someone who is on the margins of society, and suggests a homeless person. Ryan laments that he got away with everything while Michael was his boss and it was not good for him. He says he wants guidance and leadership, but does not want the new manager to boss him around.
In "The List", Ryan is on the "Losers" side of new CEO Robert California's list. He tries to convince the other members of the staff, that are also on the "Losers" side, that the list is in fact flawed, as he is on it.
In "Spooked", he dresses up as Jesse Pinkman, a character from Breaking Bad.
In "Pam's Replacement", he asks Jim if Pam's replacement, Kathy, is single. However, he does not approach her.
In "Gettysburg", he decides to stay at the office while Andy and some of the other employees are at Gettysburg. He tries to impress Robert California with some ideas for the company, but is temporarily outshined by Kevin.
In "Mrs. California", Ryan tells Susan California and his co-workers his "Dream for a Wish" idea. Susan refers to him as Bryan, and while he corrects her mistake and she apologizes, he later calls her a "bitch", in a talking-head interview.
In "Christmas Wishes", Ryan and Kelly give a pregnant Angela a shirt that reads 'Ask, then touch.' He is also seen dancing with Kelly a number of times during this episode. In a deleted scene, Andy tells Ryan that he will have health insurance for the new year, but Ryan is upset because he had wanted 10 extra sick days, and looks uncomfortable when Andy says he expects Ryan to be a better worker going forward.
Ryan joins Jim, Stanley, Erin, and Kathy Simms in traveling to Tallahassee and working on the Sabre Store project under Dwight's leadership. He briefly flirts with Erin when he learns she is planning to remain in Florida, but after she says he could join her as roommates and possibly begin dating in six months, he coldly states he's in love with Kelly. When Dwight and Nellie Bertram open a test store to see how the project could really work, Ryan is tasked to create and deliver a presentation about the Sabre Pyramid. However, he badly panics because his mother and Kelly are not there to keep him on an even keel, and Jim and Dwight's efforts to calm him down fail and leave Ryan to run out on the team and get on a bus.
Beginning with "New Guys" when Kelly Kapoor moves with Ravi, her Indian-American pediatrician fiancee to Miami, Ohio although Kelly is mistaken to think of it as being Miami, Florida. Ryan follows her but claims it's for "unrelated reasons".
Ryan is absent for all of season 9, save for returning in "Finale" when Ryan attends Dwight and Angela's wedding. Sitting next to Kelly and her fiancee, it's revealed that Ryan had an infant son named Drake with a former girlfriend who abandoned them both. Kelly and Ryan are seen making flirtatious glances before Ryan gives a strawberry to his son, who has an allergic reaction. Thus prompting Ravi to tend to Drake, and Ryan makes his move to steal Kelly, who is turned on by Ryan's gesture. The two are last seen running away together from the wedding. Having tended to Drake, Ravi sees that the pair are gone and Kevin informs him as to what happened. Ravi tells Kevin to call social services, insisting that social services will find a much more suitable father than Ryan. Nellie, wanting a child herself, adopts Drake on the spot.
Ryan has an on-again, off-again relationship with office chatterbox Kelly Kapoor. The relationship has been troubled from the outset, for Ryan desires a very casual relationship, whereas the overbearing Kelly wants to get married and have children as soon as possible. The two "hooked up" on the eve of Valentine's Day, although Ryan was brusque with her the following day. Things seemed to be starting up between the two again during the office "Casino Night". Ryan and Kelly are later seen dating in "The Convention". Ryan met Kelly's parents during Diwali, but they were not impressed by his low income, desire to travel and saving up money to buy an Xbox, rather than start a family. Ryan has more than once tried unsuccessfully to break up with Kelly, with one of the more notable occurrences after "The Merger" episode.
Even though Ryan and Kelly continue to bicker, he is sweet to her in the episode "Safety Training". B.J. Novak has stated that Ryan and Kelly are going strong, well into the third season: "I think Ryan and Kelly is a relationship that everyone has been in. It's a puzzle as to why they're still together, but I think Ryan loves being loved-- even though he won't admit it. He lost Michael's love so he has to take in more love from Kelly." After accepting a promotion to Corporate by telephone in "The Job", an elated Ryan immediately breaks up with Kelly, telling her "You and I are done," with a smile. In "Dunder Mifflin Infinity", Kelly tries to rekindle their relationship by feigning pregnancy, a lie which she later reveals. This only upsets Ryan more and leads to him attempting to have her job outsourced to India. Ryan is visibly upset in later episodes when Kelly later flirts with and kisses Darryl in front of him. When Ryan is arrested in the Season 4 finale, Kelly says she looks forward to rubbing in his downfall by visiting him in prison.
Ryan and Kelly make amends in "Weight Loss", and Ryan indicates a renewed interest in her. He witnesses Kelly and Darryl kiss, as Kelly looks up to make sure Ryan sees it. In "Business Trip", Ryan and Kelly get back together when he moves back to the annex, though Ryan is uncomfortable again as he only made her breakup with Darryl with the expectation he would react violently, which he did not. In "Frame Toby", Ryan breaks up with her again and leaves the office altogether. Upon his return, the two do not rekindle their relationship, however, they constantly flirt and bicker with each other on Twitter.
In the season seven episode "The Search" during the cold open Ryan and Kelly announced to the office that they were getting a divorce, apparently having married over a week earlier on the spur of the moment neglecting to tell anyone. Originally, they asked for no one to take sides, claiming it was an amicable break up. Upon realizing that no one cared and that they were getting little reaction to their news, Ryan declared that the split was not amicable and demanded that people take sides and also raise their hands to show whose side they were on; no one in the office raised a hand to support either one of them.
In the episode "Spooked", Ryan and Kelly are seen standing next to each other and talking. At the end of the episode, he kisses her on the forehead. While they took a backseat for most of Season 8, in "Angry Andy" Pam and Jim set up Kelly with their handsome, likable, kind and Indian-American pediatrician Ravi, with Pam explaining that the Ryan-Kelly romance has become impossibly disruptive to the rest of the office. Pam also tells Ryan she doesn't think he's a good person and actively cheerleads against Ryan's efforts to win back Kelly (though Ryan admits he doesn't want to be with Kelly for the long run, or even a specific length of time beyond the present). In the end, Kelly tells Ryan she's decided to be with Dr. Ravi, but to Pam's horror immediately begins making out with Ryan again. When Kelly has a romantic portrait taken with Ravi in the Season 8 finale, Ryan looks on sadly, and later holds up a sign begging Kelly to take him back. However, he also holds up a sign for his picture making a romantic overture to a random blonde woman he'd met in Scranton. In the Season 9 premiere, Toby Flenderson says that after Kelly got engaged to Dr. Ravi and moved to Miami (Ohio), Ryan suddenly resigned and decided to pursue IT prospects in the "Silicon Prairie" of southwestern Ohio. During Dwight and Angela's wedding in the series finale, Ryan shows up with a baby son named Drake, stunning Kelly. Ryan later induces a mild strawberry allergy in Drake so that Kelly's husband Dr. Ravi will examine him, in order to get some time alone with Kelly. The two former lovers make out and leave the wedding, and baby Drake, behind on their final flight of romantic insanity. Nellie Bertram announces her intention to adopt Drake.
Michael has a one-sided mancrush on Ryan, which frightens him at times. Ryan was also inconveniently stuck in the position of being personal assistant to Michael. He has on several occasions summoned him to inappropriate tasks. In "The Dundies", Michael gives Ryan the "Hottest in the Office" award. After congratulating Ryan for his award, he slaps Ryan's buttocks. Also, in "The Fire" episode, when the office is playing the game "Who would you do" Michael chooses Ryan.
In the third season, Ryan begins correcting Michael for embarrassing him as evident by "The Convict". In a deleted scene from "Diwali", it is suggested that Michael has begun stalking Ryan. In "The Job", Michael comes back from his interview in New York and asks Ryan to get him a cup of coffee, but Ryan firmly says "I don't do that stuff anymore." Michael says it's not for Ryan and later says he's still waiting for his coffee, unaware that Ryan has just become his direct supervisor. In retaliation, Ryan pointedly makes Michael get bottled water for him when Ryan returns to Scranton during "Dunder Mifflin Infinity".
Michael finally realizes that Ryan dislikes him in the episode Launch Party when, instead of inviting Michael to be at the Dunder Mifflin Infinity launch party in person, Ryan merely invites him to the party's chatroom where, when introduced to represent the Scranton branch via video chat, Michael calls Ryan an "asshole" on the website with the entire company watching, some of whom later compliment him for doing so. In Night Out, Ryan tries to indirectly confide to Michael that he has a drug problem (using his friend's name as the individual in question), but Michael ends up giving Ryan useless advice he learned from watching The Wire. Michael later is devastated when he learns of Ryan's arrest.
Michael arranges for Ryan's return to the Scranton branch, and temporarily grows a goatee because Ryan was wearing one after he got dismissed and moved into a new place. Disturbed by Michael's mimicry, Ryan shaves it off. When Michael starts his own company in "Dream Team", he convinces him to leave his job at the bowling alley and join his newly formed paper company. When working together, Ryan comes to respect Michael's skills as a salesman. After the buyout of the Michael Scott Paper Co. by Dunder Mifflin, Michael rehires Ryan as a salesman before demoting him back to a temp.
Initially, Ryan and Jim got along well in the first three seasons and both seemed to respect each other. However, hints of a future rivalry were shown in "The Merger", where it is revealed to Jim that Ryan took his old job after he transferred to Stamford. Despite this, the two still got along fairly well with little to no annoyance from each other. However, after Ryan was promoted to his Corporate post as a Vice President of Sales for the company, he began behaving in a self-absorbed and egotistical manner, causing Jim to lose much respect for him.
Their relationship soon turns into one of bitter rivalry once Ryan learns that Jim has been discussing with the CFO, David Wallace, the downsides of Ryan's company website. Once Ryan begins feeling overly stressed with the failure of the website, he turns to drugs and drinking and decides to find a way to fire Jim, fearing that Jim is undermining his authority and making him look bad to his superiors. He first puts a shocked Jim on "warning" for all of his pranks on Dwight, flirting with Pam, and inadequate sales figures, then pressures Jim to record a huge in-person sale as one made through Dunder Mifflin Infinity. As Ryan tries to fire Jim under false pretenses, Jim begins to develop raw hatred for him. Jim is also shown to be delighted when Ryan was arrested for sales fraud and is relieved that his job is finally safe from Ryan's paranoid business practices. After Ryan was released from prison, he returns as a fill in for Pam after she goes to design school and immediately apologizes to Jim, albeit in a very cynical and egotistical fashion, but Jim accepts his apology regardless, though not before making a few sarcastic remarks towards him, showing that the two still held each other in relative contempt.
Once Ryan is rehired as a salesmen before being demoted back to a temp at the company, he forms a bond with Pam, slightly softening his bitter relationship with Jim. Things finally improve a little between the two for most of season five, but they deteriorate anew in season six when Ryan does not take Jim's new position as co-manager seriously. Ryan then teams up with Dwight to get rid of Jim and the pair celebrate after Jim's demotion back to sales representative. Since then, Ryan and Jim seem to have resumed their former business relationship with the two no longer butting heads and even associating with each other in a friendly manner on a regular basis.
Much like Jim, Ryan saw Dwight as an extremely odd and annoying person, stating in "The Return" that he will not miss Dwight after Dwight quit temporarily. During "The Initiation", Dwight takes Ryan on a series of bizarre tests to prove himself a worthy salesmen. This does nothing except infuriate Ryan, who cannot believe that the best salesman within the company can act in such a ridiculous fashion. Regardless, Dwight tells Ryan he only wants to get along with him, unlike the way he and Jim worked together, and the two bond by throwing eggs at the potential buyer's company building when they refused their offer because they did not like Ryan.
From there, the two would get into arguments. In season four, Dwight seems to respect Ryan much more after he was promoted to vice president of Northeast sales, with Ryan also seeming to tolerate Dwight much more than previous seasons. The two were rarely seen talking to each other in season five, but decide to team up in season six to get Jim fired from his newly appointed co-manager position. They often argued with each other, but celebrated after Jim got demoted. The two were last seen agreeing to go out for drinks to celebrate, but then end up arguing over where to go for drinks.