Michael was born on March 15, 1964, in Scranton. He came from a relatively difficult childhood and mentioned abuse from his stepfather, Jeff, whom he despises.
In the 7th season episode "Nepotism", it is revealed that Michael had a stepsister, from whom he was estranged for 15 years. Because of their reunion, he hired her son Luke as an intern for a few days.
In the 2nd season episode "Take Your Daughter to Work Day", he is revealed to have been on a children's show called Fundle Bundle as one of many guest children, speaking touchingly about his desire for the future: get married, have "100 kids" so he could then have "100 friends" and none of them could say no to being his friend.
Michael did not attend college, having lost all his tuition money in a pyramid scheme.
Michael started at Dunder Mifflin in the early 1990s, working as a salesman. According to his coworker and best friend Dwight Schrute, he won consecutive awards for a best salesman. Although he has somewhat unorthodox methods of management, he believes that an office should be "a place where dreams come true" and tries to help his employees as much as he can, working in the greatest happiness.
He is loyal to the company and puts in an honest effort in getting to know his employees and what's best for them.
Michael has been at Dunder Mifflin (as of the seventh season) 9,986,000 minutes, which means that he has been working there since May 6, 1992.
Despite all of his positive traits, Michael's constant desire to be the center of attention often manifests itself in selfish behavior. For example, when he burns his foot in 2nd season episode "The Injury", he expects his coworkers Pam and Ryan to tend to his needs, despite Dwight's concussion being much more serious. When invited to Pam and Jim Halpert's wedding, he assumes his participation will be the high point of the ceremony. He pouts when he is upstaged by Jim's brothers and Pam's friends, eventually giving an insulting and overly familiar toast that gets him banned from the reception altogether.
His desire to be liked often leads him to make unwise decisions or unfeasible promises without considering the consequences, only to back out when they result in an undesirable comeuppance. Michael appears to emphasize moments of sympathy or civility directed at him by his coworkers (mostly Jim) and inflates their importance in order to compensate for his loneliness.
Michael is irresponsible with his finances, and at one point is so heavily in debt he has to take up a second job as a telemarketer. Eventually, Michael is forced during the 4th season episode "Money" to declare bankruptcy, which he thinks requires only standing up and shouting "I declare bankruptcy!")
Personality and management style
Apart from his masterful salesmanship and charisma, Michael is lacking in almost any other skills, the management or otherwise. Jim Halpert once made a color graph of how he believes Michael spends his time: 80% distracting others; 19% procrastination; and 1% critical thinking. Jim added that he inflated the "critical thinking" percentage so people could actually see it on the graph.
His laid-back approach to management more often results in lower than expected workplace productivity, particularly when Michael places personal interests as a priority over work (such as holidays, employee birthdays, or his various meetings). To avoid being disciplined for his foolish actions, Michael often resorts to scapegoating employees, mostly Dwight, to cover himself.
Although his position as Regional Manager gives him broad decision-making authority on branch operations, he often places those responsibilities secondary to his desire to be friends with his employees. On the other hand, he also oversteps his authority by hosting events that Corporate disapproves of, such as an award show known as The Dundies and a "booze cruise", each in their eponymous episodes.
Despite his overall ineptitude, Michael is prone to brief bouts of surprising insight and is shown to have a kind heart as he shows deep, family-like affection towards the people working in the Scranton branch. The staff initially finds Michael annoying but he grows on them and is given emotional goodbyes during his final days in Scranton. In the 5th season episode "Broke", Michael displays self-awareness of his inability to keep secrets when he, Pam, and Ryan all agree not to let Dunder Mifflin know his fake "rival company" is actually broke. Moments later he is seen bent over and in a panic when he admits that he's afraid he won't be able to keep himself from letting the truth slip. In the same episode, he displays a remarkable ability to negotiate with Dunder Mifflin and convince the company to hire himself as well as Pam and Ryan back with full benefits.
Michael's habits of joking around and treating professional colleagues as personal friends are often inappropriate for management, but remarkably effective because his employees see him as a genuine person rather than a controlling figure. Along with his encyclopedic knowledge of the paper industry, his habits are surprisingly effective when utilized to sign clients, as seen in the 2nd season episode "The Client" and 7th season episode "The Seminar". It is clear Michael loves Dunder Mifflin very much.
Due to his obsession with comedy, Michael tries to imitate famous comedians or comedy styles, creating characters in the process such as:
- Ping, a Chinese caricature
- Agent Michael Scarn, a parody of James Bond and the hero of his film Threat level Midnight.
- Prison Mike, an alleged "convict"
- Date Mike, a wannabe "ladies' man"
- Michael Scotch, a parody of Brian Mills from the Taken movies.
- Michael's catchphrase of "that's what she said" has become a popular joke in America as a result of the series' widespread popularity.
- Michael drives a Chrysler Sebring.
- His favorite ice cream flavor is mint.
- His phone password is 9-6-2-2, based on the Village People song "YMCA".
- He bought Blockbuster stock before its demise according to a deleted scene.
- He has the same birthday as actress Eva Longoria.
- His favorite movie is Back to the Future.
- He lost his virginity at 28.