Some TV characters are tough to figure out, and then there's Mad Men 's enigmatic Bob Benson, played by James Wolk, who puzzled fans of the show during its sixth and seventh seasons. Viewers wondered who Bob really was as he entangled himself in everyone's lives and even received a catchphrase thanks to Pete Campbell's unforgettable line, "Not great, Bob!" Although Mad Men ended in May 2015, I still wonder what happened to Bob Benson, so when I was able to speak with Wolk, I just had to find out what may have happened to his iconic character.
"I think Bob would've been living it up in the '80s, but I think he moved to Detroit," says Wolk, who now stars on the CBS drama Zoo. "I think that probably in those times, he unfortunately continued to live a life that wasn't exactly what he truly wanted to live, but found success working for Chevy. I think he stopped trying to pull those shenanigans when he first started at [Sterling Cooper Draper Price], though."
The eager-to-please Bob always seemed to be ready with a cheery smile, a shoulder to cry on, or a well-timed platter of deli meat. But his habit of always being in the right place in the right time frustrated Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and had fans coming up with many theories about who Bob actually was. Later on, Mad Men revealed that Bob was basically living a lie, just like master ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
Although Wolk has moved on and now plays zoologist Jackson Oz on Zoo, which returned for its second season on June 28, he says he is still recognized by Mad Men fans who ask him about the character. Pete's exasperated, "Not great, Bob!" from the Season 6 episode "In Care Of" has also managed to take on a life of its own on the internet. "That line became such a phenomenon, even that it's not Bob who said it, it's Vince," Wolk says. "But people love that line." Watch the moment in the video below.
Among those who still use "Not great, Bob!" are Wolk's own friends. "A lot of my friends watch that show — people that I grew up with who were completely separate from the business," he says. "So even my friends, I'll be like, 'How's it going? What's going on?' and they'll be like 'Not great, Bob!' They love that and they go crazy for it."
It's good to know that the mysterious Bob Benson has lived on well past the end of Mad Men.
Images: Jaimie Trueblood, Michael Yarish/AMC