The first season of The Office helped set the tone for the series finding success. NBC only ordered six episodes for the short first season to test the waters for interest in the show. Executives were unsure if the American audience would want a version of the UK series that found success across the pond. The Office was hit-or-miss in the ratings, but the show was praised enough to get a second season where it started its run as a legendary series.
We will look at some of the more enjoyable under the radar jokes in the first season. These six episodes showcased the style of humor The Office and other NBC shows would aim to portray. The jokes are often missed due to not being as obvious as the bigger one-liners or bits in the show. Find out just what you need to look for in your next rewatch with ten jokes from the first season of The Office that you missed.
10 Dwight wearing "World Anime Expo" shirt during basketball game
The “Basketball” episode of The Office was among the first to really connect with the viewer. Jim’s battle with Roy, Michael’s horrible play and Dwight’s surprising skills all provide strong entertainment. One little joke that can be missed is Dwight wearing a “World Anime Expo” shirt to play hoops.
His casual shirt choice shows us that he is, or was, into anime enough to attend a convention solely about it. We rarely get any instances of Dwight’s anime fandom moving forward in the series. The Office wanted to establish Dwight’s unique interests in Season 1 and did so here.
9 Ryan is picky about his ice cream sandwiches
“Health Care” is the third episode of The Office and features some heavy awkward segments with Michael realizing the employees will be upset at their health care plan growing worse. Michael promises a big surprise that never comes, as he only brings ice cream sandwiches.
Ryan had a funny moment lost in the scene where he asks about the kind of ice cream sandwiches Michael buys. The preference for the one with the cookies sees him bold enough to ask about it this soon after joining Dunder Mifflin as an intern.
8 Oscar conned Michael into donating extra to charity
Michael donates more money than expected when Oscar gets Michael to sponsor his nephew's walk-a-thon. “The Alliance” is the fourth episode of the season where Michael tries to boost morale during the rumors of potential downsizing.
The donation sheet shows that most members of the office donated a few dollars, as they knew it was per mile. Michael calls them cheap before writing down $25 as Oscar doesn’t explain the situation and looks at the camera to unofficially show he knew what he was doing all along.
7 Michael referring to Jan as Hillary Clinton
The relationship between Michael and his boss Jan is showcased in the pilot episode. It was clear that the series wanted to set the tone of how cringeworthy things can get with Michael is interacting with others, especially a female character who was his boss.
Michael claims that he refers to Jan as Hillary Clinton as a joke. There is no real context for it other than Michael believing it was funny to use the name of one of the more powerful women in the world to nudge Jan, despite it making little sense.
6 Michael referring to Oscar as Oscar the Grouch
“Hot Girl” is the Season 1 finale for The Office with a new character Katy playing the role of a purse saleswoman trying to sell her merchandise to the employees at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Michael tries to get in her good graces by introducing her to everyone.
Upon introducing Oscar, Michael states that he refers to him as Oscar the Grouch like the Sesame Street character. Despite saying it’s a common nickname used, no one refers to him as such for the rest of the series. Michael made up a fake story about the nickname to try to get a laugh from Katy.
5 Dwight not knowing the difference between superheroes and heroes
Michael’s offensive comedic material is under fire in the second episode of The Office titled “Diversity Day.” The diversity training has an expert appear to ensure that everyone is on their best behavior to ensure a positive workplace environment.
Dwight has a unique answer when the group is asked what makes one a hero. The definition he gives is that of a superhero, as in the comic book kind. Dwight shows he doesn’t know the difference between a superhero and hero, and he might think superheroes are real.
4 Jim watches Trading Spouses during his free time
Jim is often portrayed as one of the cooler members of The Office in the first season. The motives and sense of humor of Jim often show he’s a fun person. When things get real, like his emotions for Pam, he can also become a deeper character as well.
“Health Care” gave a fun little insight into Jim's home life. He references that he watches the show Trading Spouses on off nights, which is the kind of show one watches when they have a lot of free time. Pam makes fun of him for the surprising television choice.
3 Michael still bringing everyone down with good news
“Basketball” featured the office and the warehouse having a basketball game, with the losers having to work on Saturday. Michael tries to end the game when ahead to steal the victory, but the warehouse guys intimidate him into making his employees work the weekend.
To his credit, Michael eventually gives them the day off by saying no one will have to work Saturday, so morale is finally lifted. Unfortunately, he follows it up by stating that an extra day of work won’t prevent downsizing. This was one of the first scenes to truly sum up the experience of working for Michael Scott.
2 Dwight places a water cooler by his desk to overhear others
“The Alliance” episode of The Office featured Dwight trying to form alliances or get any inside information via his peers. At one point, Dwight hopes to create conversation by literally placing the water cooler next to his desk.
The phrase of talking by the water cooler is quite literal for Dwight as he feels this expression is the way he’ll get his co-workers to confide in him. Dwight is comically shut down as everyone just wonders why the water cooler is in such a non-ideal location in the office.
1 Jim eating jello during the jello prank
The most memorable moment to start the series off right is Jim pranking Dwight. Jim decides to put Dwight’s stapler in jello as Dwight states that Jim has pulled this prank quite a few times.
The funniest little tidbit here is that Jim pulls out a small package of jello to eat while declaring he had nothing to do with the prank. It was the perfect Jim nod to just nudge Dwight. Everyone talks about the genius of the jello prank, but few fans discuss the genius of Jim eating jello while denying it.