It feels like The Office has simultaneously been off the air forever and that it was on only yesterday. The nine-season show was immensely popular, far surpassing the original BBC version created by Ricky Gervais (at least, in North America). The television landscape changed dramatically during its tenure on the air, but the show stayed strong until almost the very end. It gave actors like Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski their big break, and turned Steve Carrell into even more of a household name.
With so many years on the air, the show has had a long relationship with pop culture references. There are numerous times the show serves as a snapshot of what was happening in the world at that moment. But there are equally as many times the show created something that would come to be popularized in pop culture. Here are 10 times pop culture references were created in The Office.
In Season 5's "Frame Toby" episode, Michael discovers that Toby is returning to the office as the human resources representative. While looking for Holly (whom Michael is interested in and is dating), he instead finds Toby at her desk. The second Michael sees Toby, he immediately begins screaming "NO, GOD. NO GOD, PLEASE NO. NO! NOOOOOO!" at a mournful and resigned Toby who had barely gotten out a greeting.
The reaction has since become an internet meme to express a strong aversion towards something happening. The sudden intensity and reaction of seeing Toby coupled by the prolonged "NOOOOOO" has made this bit from The Office extremely quotable and relevant years after it aired.
9 Prison Mike
Many of Michael's plans to revitalize or encourage the office have... less than promising results. One such plan is to make newcomer Martin Nash not feel ostracized for his time spent in prison. He does so by adopting a "Prison Mike" persona and attempting to scare the office straight so they can understand what Martin went through. What proceeds is an almost fever-dream-esque fantasy depiction of what Michael thinks prison is like.
The scene quickly became a fan favorite of the show. Prison Mike, in particular, became infamous due to his comment of the worst part about prison being the Dementors. The persona has become a staple of the show's off-beat humor, and is synonymous with Michael's antics on the show. The Prison Mike character is often used to describe someone clearly pretending to be tough, when in reality they have no idea what they're talking about.
8 Why Are You The Way You Are?
Toby and Michael's relationship is often defined by hatred. More specifically, Michael's hatred for Toby, who merely sits there and takes the abuse. This comes to a head in season two's "Casino Night" when Michael wants to donate the proceeds of the company's casino night to the Boy Scouts. Toby informs him that this is not appropriate for a variety of reasons. Michael stops, pauses, and then calmly asks Toby "Why are you the way you are?", followed quickly by "I hate so much about the things that you choose to be."
These quotes have taken on a life of their own outside of the show. Whenever someone shoots down a fun idea due to practicality, it will almost be guaranteed to be by followed by "Why are you the way you are?" or "I hate so much about the things you choose to be". While Michael's relationship with Toby never evolved beyond that interaction, the quote will far outlive Michael's hatred for Toby.
7 I Feel God In This Chili's Tonight
There are very few moments we get to see Pam let loose in the show, and perhaps for good reason. In the season two opener "The Dundies", the office has their annual award ceremony hosted by Michael in a nearby Chili's restaurant. When Michael bombs and Pam's fiance and Darryl try to get her to leave, she instead stays and gets drunk. When she wins the "Whitest Sneakers" award, a drunken Pam goes off on a rambling tangent before ending her speech by thanking God, saying "I feel God in this Chili's tonight," before shouting in celebration.
Chili's isn't necessarily known for their amazing and high-quality food. The positive association from the episode gave Chili's a good HR bump and free publicity. It's also used as a quote to showcase a drunken, rambling speech, a la Pam's in the episode. Hopefully, Pam doesn't feel God anywhere else so she doesn't get banned from there, like she did from that Chili's.
6 You Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don't Take
Given Michael's propensity for thinking up insane plans and mismanaging situations, it's only natural that he gets things confused sometimes. Other times though, he seems to embrace the chaos and simply own it. One such time is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment from season five's "Michael Scott Paper Company". In the new office of the Michael Scott Paper Company, Michael has taken to writing inspirational quotes on the whiteboard. One such quote is a famous Wayne Gretzky quote that Michael has quoted as him saying with the proper attribution.
The quote was never said out loud in the show, but it quickly became a viral joke. The reattribution of the quote has become a quick way to reference when someone is stealing someone else's words or ideas. Leave it to Michael Scott to find a way to take an inspirational quote and put his own twist on it to make it just a little bit worse.
In the season 6 premiere "The Gossip", the episode opens with several of the employees attempting to engage in a "popular internet craze from 2004" known as parkour. Described as getting from point a to point b as creatively as possible, it's clear that Michael, Dwight, and Andy are terrible at it. This does not stop them from doing awkward spins and turns and disrupting the office by climbing on desks and shouting "Parkour!" as frequently as possible.
The "Parkour!" gag is now frequently used by both professional parkour athletes and amateur videographers. The concept of doing a high difficulty and strenuous activity lazily while shouting the activity's name is similar to shooting bits of paper into a trashcan while shouting "Kobe!". Given how unsuccessful the trio proved at parkour, it's probably for the best that this was the best thing to come from their attempts.
A huge aspect of the show's popularity was that of the "will they, won't they" romance of Jim and Pam. Despite Pam being engaged to someone else for multiple seasons of the show, this never stopped the two from making moves or wanting to be with the other person. To the show's credit, the two went an extremely long time before eventually finding themselves in a relationship. Despite their relationship hitting some rough patches here and there, their commitment towards one another proved to be a lasting highlight of the show.
The idea of a Jim and Pam romance has since carried over to multiple shows and to the real world as well. Due to the extended period of having their relationship play out slowly, audiences grew extremely invested in whether or not they would get together. Luckily their faith was rewarded, and it's now seen as an iconic TV relationship.
3 Mockumentary Style Show
It may seem now like mockumentary shows have been overdone and are on the way out. But when The Office debuted in 2004, they were one of the first shows in the United States to use that format. While shows like Trailer Park Boys and the Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO special predate the show, it was the first cable broadcast show in the US to bring the mockumentary format to audiences. The success of the format inspired a number of similar shows. Shows like Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, The Muppets (2016) have all used the format. While the format seems to have had its day in the sun, it will inevitably return, having had The Office help pave the way.
2 Bears Beets Battlestar Galactica
One of the long-running jokes on the show was Jim's constant prank war against coworker and desk-mate Dwight. Jim's nonchalant attitude and Dwight's eccentric and uptight nature created natural friction, especially when Dwight was pranked by Jim. One of the most iconic pranks was Jim coming to work dressed exactly as Dwight, down to his speech and mannerisms. In an attempt to confuse Dwight further, Jim goes on a tangent about bears eating beets, ending it with "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica" to a bewildered Dwight. The idea of throwing out nonsensical words in an attempt to sound intelligent has made the phrase instantly quotable. Just not to Dwight, because identity theft is NOT a joke.
1 That's What She Said
Given its very common usage, it may shock you to learn that the phrase "That's what she said," was made popular by The Office. SNL has been credited with creating the phrase in the U.S., but as with all things related to The Office, it took on a life of its own once the show aired. Michael's constant and consistent use of the phrase (mixed with the show's young demographic) made it a quote that is impossible to escape from today. Variations of the phrase have emerged on other shows, such as Jake Peralta's "Title of your sextape" joke on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. With any luck, if people want to come up with a similar joke, they'll have to think long and hard (that's what she said).