The Office is a modern classic in the sitcom genre, with great rewatch value. While it was an acclaimed hit during its 2005-2013 run, it is now enjoying newfound popularity since moving to Netflix. As I was reading The Office: The Untold Story, which is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, I decided to make a list of my favorite episodes. It was a lot harder than it was while making the Friends list, since there are so many amazing episodes to choose from.
15. Goodbye Michael
The episode revolves around Michael’s secretly leaving a day earlier than planned and trying to have a little moment with each character that they don’t realize is his goodbye. There’s also genuine tension over Pam possibly missing out on a final moment with Michael. When she eventually makes it to the airport, her silent send-off is quite simply the perfect goodbye.
Jenna Fischer: I told him all the ways I was going to miss him when he left our show. Those were real tears and a real goodbye.
This was one of the better episodes in a pretty mediocre first season. More than the pilot episode, this serves as a great entry point for new viewers. I’ve lost count of the number of people with whom I’ve watched this episode to lull them into watching The Office. With Dwight stealing the ball from his own teammate to Michael getting annoyed at Dwight for not passing even though he ends up scoring, the actual basketball game is a laughter riot.
The Jim and Pam romance was the beating heart of the show’s first few seasons, and when they finally tie the knot in Season 6 at Niagara Falls, it makes for a truly special episode.
12. Business School
Ryan invites Michael to be a guest speaker at his business school, looking to get a few extra credits. But when the day finally arrives, it is with rising trepidation that he takes a visibly excited Michael to his class. Needless to say, he regrets his decision as Michael makes a fool of himself, tearing textbooks into many pieces and throwing candy at people’s faces. What makes the episode really special is the endearing moment at the end of the episode when Michael and Pam embrace at her art show, after Michael agrees to purchase her painting of the office.
11. Golden Ticket
This marks one of the first instances when Dwight stops siding with Michael blindly. When Michael’s Willy Wonka style golden ticket idea is initially perceived to be a disaster, he convinces Dwight to take the fall. But when the situation flips and the golden ticket idea is applauded by the CFO, Dwight steps from Michael’s shadow for the first time and decides to take credit for it, much to Michael’s chagrin. It all culminates in a hilariously messy conference room altercation, where poor Pam is forced to take notes.
When Michael Scott overhears gossip about two of the office’s summer interns, he immediately feels left out. When he inadvertently learns about Stanley having an affair, he reveals it to everyone, wanting a place in the office gossip chain. He then regrets his mistake and decides to rectify it by spreading a bunch of lies about everyone else in the Office to cover his tracks, including hilarious rumors like how Andy is gay and Toby is a virgin.
9. The Deposition
Michael gets caught in the middle of an ugly spat between Jan and Dunder Mifflin, when Jan sues her former company for a “pattern of disrespect and inappropriate behaviors”. Michael is deposed as a witness and with both sides going to extreme means to get his support, it makes for one of the most cringey laughter riots in the entire series.
8. The Surplus
I’m a big fan of Oscar and this is an episode he features heavily in, as he discovers a surplus in the Dunder Mifflin budget. He has to explain it to Michael several times before he finally understands that he needed to spend the surplus immediately. The office splits into warring factions over how best to spend the money, pitting Pam and Jim on opposite sides of the copier or new chairs debate.
7. Conflict Resolution
I also love the episodes when Michael rips something off the internet and decides to go with it. Just as he picks negotiation tactics from Wikipedia in the brilliant Negotiation episode, which unfortunately couldn’t make the cut, he uses Win-Win-Win to resolve the many conflicts in the office. It invariably leads to everyone hating everyone and makes for a super hilarious, frosty photoshoot at the end of the episode.
6. Branch Wars
When Michael learns that Stanley Hudson has a better job offer from another branch of the company headed by Karen, he hatches a plan with Dwight and an unwitting Jim, involving fake moustaches, stealing industrial copiers, and burning Utica to the ground, as a means of taking revenge.
5. The Injury
The premise of The Injury is basically Michael burning his foot one morning on a George Foreman grill and Dwight suffering a concussion when he races to his condo so quickly to help that he crashes his car into a pole. The rest of the episode is just everyone reacting to Michael’s absurd claims that he’s horribly injured and Dwight’s obliviousness to his actual severe injury. It also features one of the most underrated ROFL moments that is so quintessentially Michael Scott.
Michael Scott: What do I put for ‘Reason for visit’?
Jim Halpert: Concussion.
[Michael crosses something off]
Jim Halpert: What did you write?
Michael Scott: Nothing… I wrote, ‘Bringing someone to the hospital.’
Jim Halpert: So, you thought it meant your reason for visit.
Michael Scott: No, Jim- this isn’t about me anymore.
4. The Michael Scott Paper Company
This is technically cheating as I have considered an entire 6-episode mini-arc (New Boss, Two Weeks, Dream Team, Michael Scott Paper Company, Heavy Competition, Broke) as one entry. But it’s just that all six episodes are amazing, and you can easily make a case to include most of them in the list.
When Michael cannot come to terms with the new boss Charles, played by the brilliant Idris Elba, he decides to quit his job. He starts his own rival paper company, with Pam and Ryan joining him. As the Michael Scott Paper Company keeps undercutting prices to steal clients from Dunder Mifflin, many alliances and betrayals ensue.
3. Dinner Party
The Dinner Party is The Office at its most cringey and most hilarious. Michael finally gets Michael and Pam to come to his house party after concocting an elaborate ploy about Corporate asking them to work late on a Friday. They are joined by Andy, Angela, Dwight, and his date, who also happens to be his old babysitter. As the Michael and Jan relationship implodes in front of their coworkers, it leads to an amazing cringefest featuring Michael’s tiny flatscreen TV, potentially poisoned food, and Jan dancing to Hunter’s awkward song.
2. Stress Relief
Stress Relief begins with the greatest Office cold open of all time, when Dwight causes panic by starting a fire in the office. It leads to absolute mayhem, causing Stanley to have a heart attack, Oscar crawling through the ceiling, cats falling from the ceiling, Kevin breaking into the snack machine and stealing all the candy, Michael chucking equipment out of glass windows, and others using the photocopier as a battering ram.
1. Threat Level Midnight
Threat Level Midnight is one big laughter riot as Michael Scott’s ‘masterpiece’ of an action thriller is finally screened. The movie has been referenced quite a few times, with the Scranton branch notably doing a table read of the unfinished script back in an episode in Season 2. As a movie written and directed by Michael Scott, Threat Level Midnight has a terrible script and is as dumb as you would imagine it to be, but it’s also so brilliantly funny.