Carol Cerberus is the Pointy-Haired Boss's misanthropic and bitter secretary, who feels she is under-appreciated and demeaned by her job and therefore takes out her frustration on all employees, especially her boss. Occasionally, when other major characters are plotting against the boss, she will be privy to their schemes. She is drawn as having short light brown (or gray) hair in a triangular shape on her head, and usually wears a pair of pearl earrings.
Personality and development
Initially a minor character in the strip, her character grew enough in popularity over the years that Adams started creating complete storylines for her. Her character was based on all the bad experiences Scott Adams ever had with any secretary.
As early as 1991, the boss' secretary was referred to as "Miss Cerberus", who in later strips was revealed to have a first name of Carole, then Carol. Frustrated and resentful of her boss and co-workers for referring to her as a secretary instead of by the more politically-correct "Administrative Assistant" title, Carol has always been difficult to work with throughout the history of the strip. She orders office supplies nobody will use (such as green pens, which will never need to be re-stocked), makes scheduling meetings with the PHB impossible for his subordinates, and generally refuses to be productive out of spite. Although the PHB once allowed Carol to have her own personal secretary in order to help her be more productive, it had little effect, since the secretary learned Carol's bad work ethic and made things worse for the employees.
Carol received a promotion to "Director of First Impressions Pro Tem" for four days in early 2005, but she angrily discovered that it was merely a fake title for a receptionist position, and later resumed her normal duties as secretary.
Little is known about Carol's personal life, except that she is married (all references to "Miss Cerberus" have been eliminated) and she has several children who occasionally appear in the strip, which include son Smokey the Biter and daughter Tess the Yeller; a son and daughter, both named Traylor; a son named Timmy, who apparently likes to tie up the neighbors and set fires, and an unnamed son who was said to be flunking all of his classes.
Carol and the pointy-haired boss's relationship
Although Carol generally dislikes all of her co-workers, she has an extreme hatred toward the PHB, which has led to several different attempts by her to rid the workplace of him. She has sent him on trips to New York City with several stopovers in countries experiencing violent rebellions, has held a press conference to announce that the PHB was a serial killer, and has shot him multiple times with a crossbow and a harpoon.
Her most devious plot to rid the workplace of the pointy haired boss was by training him to be helpless. She would do every simple task she could for him (e.g., addressing envelopes and placing outside phone calls on his behalf) until he would forget how to do them himself. Once having succeeded in making him helpless, she then planned to send him on a one-way flight to South Korea, telling him before he left that speaking English was punishable with death. (Adams claims to have gotten hate mail due to this.)
After years of tolerating Carol's unprofessional and unproductive behavior in the workplace, the PHB finally told her in late 2005 that she was dismissed. However, she argued that he could not fire her without filling out the proper paperwork. Since he could not fill out the termination paperwork without her assistance, and since she obviously would not provide him with the paperwork, Carol was never dismissed and she still works for him to this day.
Her hatred of her superiors did not begin with the PHB: in one strip, when asked by him to locate the source of a strange smell, she states that it is the body of her previous boss.
- In the TV series, Carol's hair is brunette, and she wears an orange sweater and a brown skirt with brown heels. She also wears red lipstick.