Steve Carell - Michael Scott
It seems like Jim Carrey accidentally passed the torch to his Bruce Almighty costar. He not only took over as the eldest of the physical comedy actors, but he managed to do what Carrey only did briefly-and-with-little-success: crossover into dramatic acting. He's becoming the full package, pulling at your heartstrings with Dan in Real Life and Crazy. Stupid. Love., but still staying true to his oddball humor with Anchorman.
Future Prospects: We'll see him pull double duty once again this December in the Anchorman sequel and the sports drama Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Currently, he's working on the family film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Jennifer Garner.
John Krasinski - Jim Halpert
Many a lady has fallen for the sweet and mischievous Jim Halpert, and that's greatly due to both Krasinski's comedic and dramatic delivery. His performance was so believable, it was harder to believe it was his first big role. Saying goodbye to him was probably the hardest for most fans because of the relationship he developed with them over the years, chocked full of glances towards the camera, inside jokes, and private confessions. Because of his very large female fanbase, producers will try to typecast him as a romantic lead in a few B-grade rom-coms (i.e. Something Borrowed). And while I wouldn't mind watching him charm the pants off of a slew of leading ladies, I know he can do better. I just don't think film is where he can do that. I'd rather watch him develop a good character over time on a series than briefly on the big screen. Perhaps, something political and/or high-stakes to capture the dramatic acting I know he's capable of.
Future Prospects: He's currently recording the animated adaptation of The Prophet, alongside Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson. Not to mention, getting ready to be an awesome daddy.
The second half of one of the most famous couples in TV history represented every woman who not only settled in love, but in life. Falling for Jim was just the beginning of her rebirth. It reminded her of who she wanted to be and set no limitations on what she could do. Fischer did a great job of giving a potentially bland character depth, displaying her imperfections and relishing her victories. She's been hitting the indie circuit hard, playing broken women in dramatic indie roles, but I don't necessarily think that's her forte, because she doesn't look the part. She's better at tearjerker moments and goofball humor.
Future Prospects: She just wrapped two indies: the drama Kiss Me and the comedy You Are Here with Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis.
Rainn Wilson - Dwight Schrute
Dwight went from nuisance to brother to best friend in the course of this series—and at times in the course of one episode. Wilson was the conductor of that crazy train, and he steered it with precision, making the audience both cheer and jeer him in the span of 20 minutes. The 47-year-old actor became a household name fairly late in life, but he's a character actor—which is the nice way of saying, not super hot or leading-man material—so he has the potential to appear in many films, mostly indies, as the comedy relief, a quirky insert, or a wise guide. Of course, if he's looking to reach a higher echelon, he'll have to get in with one of the few comedy troupes currently collaborating in Hollywood. Age- and comedy-wise, he fits best with Will Ferrell's crew.
Future Prospects: He has a few indies in the works: the sci-fi thriller Uncanny, the family adventure comedy The Stream, and the horror comedy Cooties with Elijah Wood.
Angela Kinsey - Angela Martin
Forever to be known as the sourpuss cat lady with the kinky sex life, Angela grew on audiences like a fungus. Thankfully, Kinsey's penchant for playing crazy will come in handy when she goes out for more supporting comedy roles.
Future Prospects: She has a potential FOX family comedy pilot with Rob Riggle called "The Gabriels," and just finished shooting the comedy Hot Bot with Danny Masterson and Anthony Anderson. Currently, she's filming the comedy All Stars with John Goodman.
B.J. Novak - Ryan Howard
Ryan was fun to watch because he was very obviously always in over his head, whether it came to business or relationships. He was the manifestation of corporate ambition and a generation's increasing self-absorption. Although he was the opposite of Prince Charming, Novak somehow managed to make him likable. You couldn't help but pity Ryan for being stuck in such an unfulfilling situation, in spite of his delusional belief in his own skills. Luckily, in real life, Novak has actual talent and he spreads it around: acting, directing, writing, and producing. Unlike most actors who are busy building a brand, he seems more concerned with the creative side.
Future Prospects: This holiday season, you can see him in Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson's Walt Disney's biography Saving Mr. Banks, playing a famous Disney songwriter. IMDb also has him down for appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. On the other side of the camera, however, he occasionally writes for and directs "The Mindy Project."
Mindy Kaling - Kelly Kapoor
Never has an Indian woman been this annoying on television, let alone, this depraved, self-serving, and obnoxious. She was the embodiment of every entitled young woman who thought they not only deserved a fairytale, but had the right to lie and cheat to get it. Clinically, she would be characterized as a sociopath, but this is television, so she's just considered adorably obsessive and delusional. In bringing this lovable loon to life, Kaling broke some serious barriers in what roles people of her ethnicity are cast in. And she didn't just stop there. She went on to set the bar pretty high for future female comedic writers, succeeding in creating, writing, and starring in her own sitcom by the age of 33. To put that into context, Tina Fey branched out on her own at 36 and Amy Poehler at 38—and they had "SNL" cred to back them.
Future Prospects: She's busy with her series, "The Mindy Project," but soon she'll voice a character in the animated film Inside Out.
Ed Helms - Andy Bernard
This ass-kissing, socially awkward people-pleaser was at the core of many embarrassing situations throughout the series. High-strung and overly ambitious, he was like the second-coming of Ryan, except far less evil. Playing average Joes seems like Helms' niche, but the same could've been said of Carrell until he started booking challenging roles. Tack on his musical talent and he's at the very least a double-threat.
Future Prospects: He played a drug kinpin in this summer's We're the Millers. He just wrapped the comedy thriller Stretch with Chris Pine and Jessica Alba. Next year, he'll be in the comedy They Came Together with Paul Rudd. And currently, he's shooting Someone Marry Barry with Damon Wayans, Jr.
Craig Robinson - Darryl Philbin
As the voice of reason, and often sanity, in the office, Darryl was a necessary constant. While some could accuse him of suffering from a serious case of Angry Black Man syndrome, Robinson was actually a master of deadpan. However, off set, he's become the go-to black friend for frat-boy comedies (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine and This Is the End), and this year, he had his first lead roles in the comedies Peeples and Rapture-Palooza. He could keep this up for a while, but his own dude-centric series on FXX, the new comedy channel, would probably be better for job security.
Future Prospects: He's currently filming the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine, and a potential sitcom pilot for NBC, where he plays a reluctant music teacher at a middle school.
Ellie Kemper - Kelly Erin Hannon
Kemper was added to the series half-way through. She had the daunting task of cultivating her own fanbase, while playing a sweet, but dumb, young woman who would eventually recreate Pam+Jim+Roy's love triangle with Pete and Andy. Not sure if it was her Missouri accent or the oblivious look in her eyes whenever she didn't quite comprehend what was happening around her, but she nailed every scene and sometimes managed to make Michael, and even Kevin, seem smarter. Kemper's rather convincing. So convincing she could get pigeon-holed, if she's not careful, as the quirky BFF. I actually thought she was really funny in 21 Jump Street as the young teacher who had trouble controlling her attraction to the clearly adult undercover cop in her science class. Something about someone so sweet and conservative pining after a sexy meathead makes for a pretty amusing sight gag. I'd totally watch a series where she plays a community college professor to a mixed bag of uninterested students, in spite of her crippling stage fright. It's a setting she would thrive in.
Future Prospects: She's currently working on her own NBC comedy, "Brenda Forever," that's kind of like 13 Going on 30. It'll take place in both the past and present to tell the life story of an awkward-yet-confident woman.
Oscar Nuñez - Oscar Martinez
Representing for the Latinos and the gays, Oscar wasn't just a compilation of stereotypes. Nuñez never went over the top, but he was also always game to sacrifice his self-respect for a laugh. That fact was proven when he appeared in The Proposal, stripping for a bunch of old ladies. Scene-stealing roles like that could get him a supporting spot on a series eventually.
Future Prospects: He just wrapped a supporting role in the screwball comedy pilot "The Education of Eddie and Mortimer."
Brian Baumgartner - Kevin Malone
The human garbage disposal with an IQ that barely surpasses a special needs child always baffled audiences as to how he got a job as an accountant in the first place. In the real world, he's not even qualified to sort mail. Baumgartner never failed to properly deliver a dimwitted retort or a dunce-like expression. Bit roles will certainly be his bread and butter.
Future Prospects: He did a guest spot on "Hot in Cleveland," and he'll appear on "Mike and Molly" this season.
Phyllis Smith - Phyllis Vance
As the thorn in Angela's side and the office wife to Stanley, Phyllis always had a really funny way of sounding timidly panicked or concerned. It was subtle which was the polar opposite of the comedy styles of most of the other actors. So far Smith has landed supporting roles in comedies, like Bad Teacher and Butter. Her comedic rhythm is certainly an asset most comedies these days could use.
Future Prospects: She plays a teacher in the new ABC family comedy "Trophy Wife," and she'll voice a character in the animated film Inside Out.
Paul Lieberstein - Toby Flenderson
That unfortunate human punching bag with a habit of falling in love with redheaded women who lack interest in him was a lot of fun to pity. Lieberstein, like Novak and Kaling, was also a writer on the show. Acting doesn't really seem like his end game. He started his career off as a writer ("The Drew Carey Show" and "The Bernie Mack Show") and a producer ("King of the Hill"), but lately he's been directing more.
Future Prospects: He has nothing on the horizon as of yet, but he did direct an episode of "The Mindy Project," so maybe he'll do more of that.
Kate Flannery - Meredith Palmer
Probably accused often of perpetuating the Irish stereotype of being constantly drunk and belligerent, Flannery was most likely the only actress on TV in her late 40s shamelessly exposing herself and displaying a disturbing amount of poor parenting skills. But, look on the bright side: it was never not funny. She started off almost 15 years ago doing a bunch of guest spots. It would behoove her to get back at it. I see a foul-mouthed granny role in her far-off future.
Future Prospects: She has a few bit roles coming up: the horror flick Home starring Naya Rivera, the comedy Helicopter Mom starring Nia Vardalos, the tennis comedy Break Point starring Jeremy Sisto and David Walton, and the horror comedy Cooties starring Elijah Wood.
Leslie David Baker - Stanley Hudson
Stanley was basically the office grump. He wanted to get in and out, and enjoy every freebie and perk that appeared. He's what we all fear we'll turn into if we stay in our cubicle prisons for too long. Previous to landing this recurring role, Baker did a few guest spots. He should definitely branch out into other genres. He's got the mustache and the 'tude to blend in anywhere.
Future Prospects: He doesn't have anything booked yet.
Creed Bratton - Creed Bratton
There's no other way to describe him: He was a creepy motherf*cker. The fact that his character's name is his real name actually horrifies me. That aside, the 70-year-old actor has been in this business for almost 40 years, and this is his most memorable role. He's not done yet though. There are benefits to being super old. Just ask Morgan Freeman (76), Jon Voight (75), and Michael Caine (80). With age comes wisdom, or at least roles where you get to dole some out.
Future Prospects: Nothing as of yet.
As for guest stars and last-minute newbies...
Andy Buckley (David Wallace) might still have a spot on HBO's "Veep." Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson) will be on TBS's new pilot "Do It Yourself" and is currently shooting a female comedy about middle-aged, freelance phone sex operators called 33 Liberty Lane. Zach Woods (Gabe Lewis) might keep popping up as a bottom feeder on "Veep," but is currently filming Mike Judge's HBO comedy pilot "Silicon Valley" with Martin Star and T.J. Miller.
Amy Ryan (Holly Flax) just wrapped the Alejandro González Iñárritu comedy Birdman with Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone. Catherine Tate (Nellie Bertram) is playing a French teacher on the BBC comedy "Big School," and filming the British comedy SuperBob. Jake Lacy (Pete) just wrapped the abortion rom-com(!) Obvious Child with former "SNL" actress Jenny Slate and the sports comedy Intramural. He's also currently working on the CBS family comedy pilot "The McCarthys." Clark Duke (Clark) will reprise his role in Hot Tub Time Machine 2. And one cannot forget Michael Schur (Mose) who generally doesn't spend his free time mutely kidnapping small women. He actually writes for "Parks and Recreation" and he worked on the pilot for Andy Samberg's new FOX cop series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."