After The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s “mockumentary” sitcom (it was a novel idea at the time!) from the UK, became a cult success on both sides of the Atlantic, many doubted that the American version could possibly live up to its predecessor. But beyond a similar set-up, and some overlap of storylines in the first few episodes, the new series diverged fairly dramatically from the dark humor of the original by bringing a sense of hope to the world of soul-sucking office-work. In this version, the hapless Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is the regional manager for the Scranton, Pennsylvania arm of Dunder Mifflin, a paper supply company that fosters a pretty wacky – though always relatable – working dynamic, all the while struggling to sell paper in an increasingly paperless world.
The episodes found on the list are not only funny, but well-rounded, complete, and feature some of the show’s most memorable moments. With a diverse cast and talented writers, it can be hard for audiences to keep up with the jokes being thrown around at lightning speed. Thankfully, through the power of technology, viewers can re-watch their favorite episodes again and again, picking up new laughs each time. We all have our favorites, but really, when it comes to The Office, it’s so easy to find a great episode that we can forgive the bad ones.
Here are Screen Rant’s 12 Best Episodes of The Office:
Diversity Day (Season 1 Episode 2)
After offending almost every member of the staff with his rendition of a Chris Rock routine, Michael and the rest are forced to sit through some corporate-mandated sensitivity training. Hijacking the meeting, Michael disagrees with the facilitator, and instead has the office play a game in which they are assigned a race and have to guess what it is based on stereotypes.
Pumping the office with tension, this is a classic example of Michael’s good intentions leading him down a path of embarrassment. Touted by fans and critics alike as one of the best episodes in the series, “Diversity Day” was an introduction to the misguided regional manager we would all come to know and love. Written by B.J. Novak (a.k.a Ryan) the episode earned him a nomination for Best Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.
The Dundies (Season 2 Episode 1)
Every year Michael likes to rally the gang for a glamorous night of awards called The Dundies. With categories like Hottest in the Office, this award show isn’t exactly HR friendly, or even HR approved. When Michael is told by Jan (Melora Hardin) that Dunder Mifflin isn’t paying for this years gala, he moves the location to his favorite place on earth, Chili’s Grill & Bar, and has the staff pay for their own food and drinks.
After being ditched by her fiancée (at the time), Pam (Jenna Fischer) knocks back a couple of wobbly pops and gets a little forward with Jim (John Krasinski). Drunk with happiness (and alcohol) after winning the Whitest Sneakers Award, Pam kisses Jim (on the mouth!), much to his surprise. “The Dundies” is full of hilarious moments, sure, but isn’t without some heartfelt ones too. After being booed by some bros at the bar, we see the other Mifflin-ites stand up for Michael and The Dundies, regardless of their indifference toward them both.
Booze Cruise (Season 2 Episode 11)
The cold open for “Booze Cruise” features a frustrated Dwight (Rainn Wilson) discovering that his belongings have been put in the vending machine by Jim, forcing him to buy them all back. Michael sends a mysterious memo to the office about a fun adventure, which turns out to be a booze cruise much to Meredith’s (Kate Flannery) delight. Michael and the ship’s captain, Captain Jack (Rob Riggle) engage in a power struggle over who is in charge, while the tension rises between Jim and Pam as they share a loaded moment on the deck.
Seemingly able to sense what Jim is about to say, Pam flees. With no one else to turn to, Jim confides in Michael about his feelings for Pam, and receives a profound pep-talk that rekindles his determination. Serious, genuine moments between Jim and Michael are few and far between, and this one is the most memorable.
Casino Night (Season 2 Episode 22)
Caught between two women, Michael accidentally invites them both to attend the Casino Night fundraiser being hosted in the warehouse. First Jan arrives, followed shortly by Michael’s realtor/love interest Carol (Nancy Walls). Tasked with keeping the women from knowing about each other, Dwight fails immediately, but looks dashing in his dead grandfathers burial tux. As Creed (Creed Bratton) slinks around the periphery stealing from everyone, Toby (Paul Lieberstein) cleans up at the poker table while, elsewhere, Jim finally tells the still-engaged Pam that he’s in love with her.
Clad in the finest prom dress from 1995, Pam flees yet again, and spills her guts in a phone call to her mom. After overhearing the conversation, Jim rounds the corner and plants a big smooch on her just before the credits roll. The juxtaposition of Michael’s petty love triangle beside Jim’s life-changing one adds an interesting dynamic to “Casino Night,” and left audiences with one heck of a season cliffhanger when it originally aired in 2006.
Safety Training (Season 3 Episode 19)
Directed by the late, great Harold Ramis, Michael teaches the office about the dangers of depression in “Safety Training.” After a disagreement about whether working in the office is dangerous compared to working in the warehouse, Michael responds to Darryl’s teasing with dramatic claims about jumping off the roof (on to a hidden bouncy castle) claiming symptoms of mental illness.
Always striving to deliver the most engaging presentation, Michael again proves himself a showman, sparking genuine concern in Jim and Pam, who notice the bouncy castle and rush to intervene. Worthy of a second (or third.. or twentieth) watch, this episode contains Michael’s most dramatic demonstration, and one of his best lines of dialogue in the series. If Andy’s triumphant return from anger management doesn’t put a smile on your face, perhaps Dwight’s incessant shunning of him will.
Product Recall (Season 3 Episode 20)
This episode belongs to Creed, the sole member of the quality assurance department for Dunder Mufflin, Scranton. When a shipment of paper printed with a sexy (cartoon) watermark makes its way to several high-profile clients, the office is flooded with calls from angry customers and, naturally, management looks to Creed for an explanation about why he didn’t inspect the batch before it was sent out. Of course, the audience knows Creed is… sketchy, and therefore isn’t surprised when he admits to the cameras that he hasn’t inspected a shipment in months.
What is surprising, however, is how quickly and efficiently he covers his tracks, blaming the whole thing on a floor manager from the distribution center. While Michael is busy throwing a press conference to address the snafu, Andy discovers his girlfriend is a high school student and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) trains the accountants how to answer the phones, culminating in a showdown with Angela. When filming the scene where Jim is dressed as Dwight, the cast were laughing so hard they had to shoot multiple takes to get it right, and the end result is epic.
The Deposition (Season 4 Episode 8)
When Jan files a four million-dollar wrongful termination lawsuit against Dunder Mifflin, Michael is caught in the middle of their legal battle. Testifying at Jan’s deposition, he forgets what Jan coached him to say, revealing too much and blowing Jan’s case. After she submits his personal diary into evidence, Michael is embarrassed to see the whole cafeteria reading it during lunch.
Feeling betrayed after hearing of his poor performance reviews, he answers the rest of the questions honestly and in favor of the company, while emotionally distancing himself from Jan. One of the funniest moments in “The Deposition” comes from hearing the court recorder repeat Michael’s “that’s what she said” joke back to him. Back at the office Kelly trash-talks Jim’s ping-pong skills, which sparks a rivalry between her and Pam.
Dinner Party (Season 4 Episode 9)
Anyone who has ever hosted a party knows how important it is to make sure your guests are entertained, but Michael and Jan finally take it too far in the series’ most cringe-worthy episode, “Dinner Party.” Jim, Pam, Andy (Ed Helms) and Angela (Angela Kinsey) reluctantly attend a soirée at Michael’s condo that quickly descends into madness as the nature of his dysfunctional relationship with Jan becomes apparent. Completely taking over Michael’s space, Jan also took his spot in bed, forcing him to sleep on a very small bench.
Incensed that he wasn’t invited, Dwight shows up anyway with his former babysitter. Nominated for an Outstanding Writing Emmy Award, this episode highlights just how abusive and terrible Jan is, and feels all the while like being forced to sit at the dinner table after your parents have just had a fight. As a viewer, it is profoundly sad to see what Michael’s life looks like outside of the office, but oddly satisfying to watch Jan smash his tiny plasma T.V. with a Dundie.
Baby Shower (Season 5 Episode 4)
In this episode, Michael is on high alert as he anticipates Jan’s labor, practicing birthing drills with Dwight and a buttered watermelon, while a power-drunk Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) plans the baby shower as newly appointed head of the Party Planning Committee. Dwight is full of helpful baby advice, like marking the baby with a sharpie as soon as it comes out so it can be positively identified later. Expecting Jan to be pregnant, Michael is shocked when both her and her newborn baby Astrid (from a sperm donor) arrive at the shower.
Dwight spends the episode testing the durability of her $1200 stroller while Michael struggles with his perception of Jan, realizing her manipulative nature and closing the door on their relationship for good (a huge milestone for him) and starting a new one with Holly (Amy Ryan).
Café Disco (Season 5 Episode 27)
Tired of the tense atmosphere of the office, Michael retreats to his old office from the Michael Scott Paper Company, and sets up a coffee bar/dance club that the episode is named after, Café Disco. He invites the rest of the office to come down and join him, and when Phyllis does, she dances so hard she throws her back out, and spends the rest of the episode being massaged by Dwight, before returning to Café Disco to dance with her husband. Jim and Pam entertain the idea of running away to get married but change their minds, opting instead for a more traditional ceremony.
Michael’s unbreakable spirit unites the office yet again, and everyone has a good time together, reminding viewers that, yes, a good old-fashioned dance-off is the cure for what ails you… unless you’re Angela.
Threat Level Midnight (Season 7 Episode 17)
Finally, after eleven years of work, Michael finishes his movie and holds a screening for the office, hoping to further impress his girlfriend Holly. The movie, Threat Level Midnight follows Agent Michael Scarn as he tracks a notorious criminal named Goldenface. Featuring a dance routine, an inspirational training montage, and a speed-skating race, Threat Level Midnight called back to seasons past, featuring shots of characters from earlier in the series like Jan and Karen (Rashida Jones).
Another gem written by B.J. Novak, it was at Carell’s request that he work on a story centered around Michael’s movie, which had been referenced offhandedly in previous episodes. This episode feels like a tribute to Michael from beginning to end, which is fitting given that it was one of his last episodes on the show.
Goodbye, Michael (Season 7 Episode 22)
Watch it once and it’s with you forever, “Goodbye, Michael” was a poignant entry in the series’ run. Steve Carell’s departure from the series was a monumental event for the show, and for television as a whole. Chronicling his last conversations with friends around the office, the episode is heavy, touching and funny in a way that only The Office can be. Carell and Jon Krasinski are both at the their best, delivering incredible, heartbreaking performances in an episode that truly deserves to be seen, not described.
After Steve Carell’s departure, many viewers stopped watching and the show’s ratings began to decline. Some fans say the show could not be the same without Michael Scott’s antics, despite their satisfaction with his sendoff or the plethora of guest stars that immediately followed. Lasting nine seasons in total, The Office is a series that cemented itself in our hearts and changed the way we look at working in an office.
So, what are your favorite episodes of The Office? Tell us about them in the comments below!
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