An obsession is a funny thing. It happens while you aren’t looking. 

For me, I realized The Office bordered on obsession when it began creeping into my daily existence. It went from being a show I enjoyed to being every other reference in my conversations.

I’d be out for drinks with a buddy, talking about their major career decision. I’d try to be thoughtful, but the only wisdom I could muster was Jim picking up the phone and telling Athlead he was in. Or it’d be a rainy day and suddenly I was recounting Phyllis’ 12 cliches. Or someone would mention an injury and, presto, I’d be quoting Creed: “You ever notice you can only ooze two things? Sexuality and pus.”

Everything became The Office to me. My obsession was not only consuming, it was public, and perhaps my most normie behavior.  

Several years back a friend suggested that I “rank some episodes” of The Office. You know, since I write for a living. So I decided on a whim, fuck it, let’s go for the whole damn series. 185 episodes, which aired from 2005 through 2013. I re-watched Every. Single. Episode. Some I re-watched twice. (I’d already, of course, watched the series in its entirety at least four times before this.) 

I took copious notes, scorched my retinas with endless screentime, and scored the episodes on four categories:

  1. Laughs

  2. Importance to The Office Universe

  3. Memorability/Quotability

  4. Emotional Weight

Each category is worth a possible ten points and my scoring goes out two decimal places because it’s ridiculous. A (theoretically) perfect episode would get a 40, although none did. Yes, 40 points is an arbitrary measure, but I thought it was important to show what an episode did well, or not so well, in comparison with others. Also: I’ll admit, my rankings skewed toward rewarding episodes that had big, emotional moments because I LIKE THOSE and why do you not like to feel? 

Some housekeeping: There is some disagreement about how episodes in some seasons are numbered. I pushed double-episodes into one item and followed Netflix’s numbering because that’s how I rewatched it (well before the great Peacock purge). 

While writing this — which ended up being a yearslong process — I tried to nail down why love The Office so deeply, and I realized that a lot of it comes from the feeling that I’m dropping in on my old friends. That’s the highest honor for a show, in my opinion. What separates The Office from the many other TV shows that have come and gone? It manages to transport you into its own little world. It makes you want to spend time with these people in their crappy little office. The Office also gave space for it’s characters to change, and we grew along with them — Michael from a total ass to a lovable ass; Jim from a directionless office drone to an ambitious dad; Pam from someone totally stuck to someone with purpose; Dwight from authoritarian weirdo to…friendly, slightly less authoritarian weirdo. 

Anyway. Here it is, every episode of The Office, ranked in descending order. (Warning: There’s a lot. If you’re gonna do it, why go half-ass?)  

 185. Season 8, Episode 8 – “Gettysburg”

  • Laughs: 5.99 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.67

TOTAL SCORE: 23.55

Best Quote: “Robert you got your sheep, and you got your black sheep, and I’m not even a sheep. I’m on the freakin’ moon.” -Ryan Howard

In my ideal world there is no worst episode of The Office because each time its little jingle fires up and the credits roll, the show brings me joy. But, something has to be last and, well, “Gettysburg” is a rather forgettable episode.

Ever lacking for confidence, Regional Manager Andy is trying to rally the Scranton troops by…literally rallying the troops with a trip to Gettysburg. It’s the same general beats as the episode where Andy gets a tattoo but just not as good. Meanwhile, rag-tag stragglers in Scranton work with Robert California to try to innovate a Big Idea. The best part of the episode is Zach Woods as Gabe getting a few minutes to do a dark Lincoln impression—”I need her like I need a hole in the head,” Gabe-as-Abe says, in a sweet, weird little nod to Michael claiming Lincoln’s death was finally funny in “Casino Night.”


184. Season 9, Episode 19 – “Stairmageddon” 

  • Laughs: 6.03  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.84  

  • Emotional Weight: 5.88

TOTAL SCORE: 23.76

Best Quote: “Don’t worry, it’s just a bull tranquilizer. Nothing to be alarmed about. It’s just a man pointing a bull tranquilizer at a coworker.” -Dwight Schrute

The elevator is down. All hell breaks loose. Stairs are used. 

This is a Dwight-led episode, but if you’re going to have a Schrute-focused plot then it has to be damn good — because Rainn Wilson delivered many fantastic episodes. And while this episode has its moments such as Stanley stabbing himself with a dart to avoid walking up stairs, it’s relatively meh. The laughs come from unsurprising avenues, chiefly Dwight being ridiculous. Meanwhile, Jim and Pam are trudging through couples therapy and we’re supposed to feel, I suppose, worried for them? We’re a few episodes from the finale and, come on, we’re all smart enough to know Jim and Pam are going to work out. But it’s a slow build to flesh them out as a fully formed couple — as people with problems and as humans in the real world — folks who have to sacrifice for the things they want.

When the show is over and our time with Jim and Pam ends, it’s nice to see them out of their little world within Scranton. But the fighting and the tension the show uses to build to it in Season 9 is a bit tiresome and weighs down a few episodes. There’s emotion, but the weight never feels all that real.  

183. Season 8, Episode 10 – “Christmas Wishes” 

  • Laughs: 6.07

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.99

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.03  

  • Emotional Weight: 6.05

TOTAL SCORE: 24.14

Best Quote: “My ex is meeting my sex. Which is always scary, you know? And not just because you think they might talk about your penis. That’s just part of it.” -Andy Bernard

The Office knocked Christmas episodes out of the park, but this is the first Xmas episode since Michael left. It shows. The entire plot revolves around boss Andy trying to please everyone, which, sure, is his defining trait as a person, but it also feels like the show is trying to please the audience: Here, we can still do Christmas! Something about Michael’s flaws — he, too, has an intense desire to be loved, but its paired with precious few social skills and the nuance of a Super Soaker — are perfect for blowing up Christmas celebrations. Andy’s Xmas doesn’t land the same way. 

Meanwhile, Erin is drunk and jealous and loves Andy, and Andy is dating Jessica but, naturally, loves Erin. It’s a forgettable Christmas episode with some good, awkward beats but still, ultimately, forgettable. 

182. Season 7, Episode 3 – “Andy’s Play”

  • Laughs: 5.98 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.55

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.33

TOTAL SCORE: 24.19

Best Quote: “My parents used to scramble to find babysitters, so they could take my little brother to do stuff.” -Andy 

Andy gets a taste of fame in the local Sweeney Todd production, which, hilariously, Michael had auditioned for by re-enacting an entire episode of Law & Order. What pulls this episode up from the very bottom is a few tender moments with Dwight and Angela. She successfully gets his attention, then amid their…erm…copulation arrangement, she punches his legally mandated card despite not doing the deed. Still dating Gabe, Erin is clearly pining for Andy. Their falling apart runs parallel to Dwight and Angela but never feels so tender. (Sometimes you’re just waiting for the right Plop to come along.)

Final side note: While there are some memorable bits to this episode, it is perhaps the series’ worst-ever episode for quotes. Total stinker.  

181. Season 6, Episode 6 – “Mafia”

  • Laughs: 6.31

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01  

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.67

TOTAL SCORE: 24.2

Best Quote: I will have the spaghetti. With a side salad…If the salad is on top, I send it back.” -Michael

The Coalition for Reason is undermanned, Toby is asleep at the wheel, and the trio of Michael, Andy, and Dwight convince themselves a guy selling insurance is mobbed up. It’s a fine episode but it holds no real weight. It’s mostly filler. 

The cold open is fantastic, however. Toby shows Michael a flaw in his conference room presentation. And before Michael can even finish saying the words “get out,” Toby is already at the the door. It’s great to watch Toby manage to get a win and know exactly how Michael is going to react.

180. Season 7, Episode 7 – “Christening” 

  • Laughs: 6.21  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.13 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.14 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.88

TOTAL SCORE: 24.36

Best Quote: “Why you always gotta be so mean to me?” -Toby Flenderson, talking to God in church

It’s Cece’s christening, and — try as they might — Jim and Pam cannot escape their office family and, try as he might, Michael cannot make his little office family love him.  

179. Season 5, Episode 18 – “Blood Drive” 

  • Laughs: 5.77  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.73 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.99  

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 24.48

Best Quote: “They have new phone systems now that can ring directly to a salesman, or someone presses star and they go to accounting. Basically 95 percent of my job. But I’d like to see a machine that puts out candy for everyone. … Vending machine.” – Pam Halpert

Michael has a mostly forgotten flirtation with a mystery woman during a Valentine’s Day blood drive, but the real meat of this episode revolves around Jim and Pam joining Phyllis and Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) for lunch. Bobby and Phyllis get nasty in the bathroom as the food goes cold and it’s proof that Phyllis is the baddest motherfucker in the Scranton Business Park.  

178. Season 4, Episode 13 – “Job Fair” 

  • Laughs: 7.14 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.13

TOTAL SCORE: 24.5 

Best Quote: Michael, talking about Pam: “I would never say this to her face but she’s a wonderful person and a gifted artist.” 

Oscar: “Why wouldn’t you say that to her?!”

Put Michael Scott in a room full of high schoolers and Michael Scott is, without a doubt, going to relitigate his youth, which — one can imagine — was probably pretty damn rough. At a job fair, Michael is trying to sell high schoolers on his vision of Dunder Mifflin and, as in the real word, explaining the vagaries and selling points of a workplace outsiders (let alone to high school kids) is a tall task.   

177. Season 8, Episode 9 – “Mrs. California” 

  • Laughs: 6.44  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.03 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.13

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 24.61

Best Quote: “We have a gym at home… It’s called the bedroom.” -Phyllis Vance

In general, I think James Spader as Robert California is underrated. Armed now with distance from the show’s finale, the character’s blend of equal parts strangeness, competency, and pure idiocy is strangely funny. I think we were all blinded by Steve Carell’s absence at the time. 

But this episode is just a weird one. Robert pins down Andy, swapping between privately urging him to keep his wife out of the office and publicly berating him for not treating Mrs. California with respect. Andy squirms. Robert slithers. It’s all rather predictable but at least we get Phyllis serving up one of her piping hot tidbits about Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration). 

176. Season 5, Episode 13 – “Prince Family Paper” 

  • Laughs: 7.17 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 24.63

Best Quote: “I am trying to be more optimistic in life. I’ve got what, 20, 30 more years left? And my family history says I have less. Now, the old Stanley Hudson would have found something to complain about with this actress [Hilary Swank]. But that’s no way to live life. Look at this healthy, sexy, pretty, strong, young woman. Come on people! She. Is. Hot.” -Stanley Hudson 

Michael and Dwight destroy a rival paper company (and family) for Dunder Mifflin while the gang back at the office debate the merits of whether Hilary Swank is actually hot. The payoff — where Michael unknowingly ends a dumbass day of debate by offhandly calling her hot — is a nice little bow on an otherwise pedestrian episode. 

175. Season 6, Episode 7 – “The Lover” 

  • Laughs: 6.99 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.53

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.12

  • Emotional Weight: 5.05

TOTAL SCORE: 24.69

Best Quote: Michael, after telling Pam he’s sleeping with her mom: “That could have gone one of two ways…but I never expected her to get upset.”

Michael meets his match with a pissed-off Pam. In many instances Pam is prone to delaying her happiness for others, but Michael sleeping with her mother is simply a bridge too far. (By the way, this is the Helene Beesley played by Linda Purl and not Shannon Cochran, who was the OG Helene before being replaced.)

Watching this episode years after it aired, you really get the feeling that the whole Michael-dates-Pam’s-mom plot is just a silly excursion that’ll soon be tidied up. It lessens the stakes. 

174. Season 5, Episode 7 – “Customer Survey” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.66 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.03 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 24.71

Best Quote: “I have an enormous amount of trouble trying to get people to come to my place. And I hate it. I can’t tell you how much leftover guacamole I have ended up eating over the years. I don’t even know why I make it in such great quantities.” -Michael Scott

Pam is in art school in New York. Jim is in Scranton. Kelly spitefully tanks Dwight and Jim’s customer surveys because they skipped her America’s Got Talent party months prior. Perhaps the most underrated character in the show, Kelly, bonds with Michael — who cannot get anyone to come to his parties — as he pretends to discipline her for a pretty big indiscretion. It’s a sweet moment, something small. But these are the moments that transform Michael into a likable character. 

Meanwhile, Pam and Jim talk all day via tiny headset — Bluetooth Pam nails a killer “That’s what she said” when Dwight says “Jim, get out of my nook” — and this is the beginning of Pam eventually walking away from her art life. She struggles in New York and Jim never forces it but — like Jim must temporarily do with Athlead down the line — she chooses him and Scranton over making it work in NYC. The Office frequently nails home that love can mean sacrifice.   

173. Season 8, Episode 22 – “Fundraiser” 

  • Laughs: 6.02 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.98 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.98

TOTAL SCORE: 24.86

Best Quote: “Oh, this guy is having a breakdown.” -Ryan, after Andy hopelessly claims he is OK

Andy’s lost his job and he’s losing it. After getting fired, he (briefly) adopts every dog at The (state) Senator’s fundraiser. Oscar gets The (state) Senator’s number, setting up that whole affair with Angela’s eventual husband. It’s a mediocre episode with a few laughs that effectively sets up Andy eventually wresting control of Dunder Mifflin via David Wallace ex machina.  

172. Season 9, Episode 14 – “Vandalism” 

  • Laughs: 5.99  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.65 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.13 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.12

TOTAL SCORE: 24.89

Best Quote: “Thank you for the food. Oh, and also, you suck. You are like a terrible person. These guys care about you. And you’re just using them. … Again, the food was very good.” -Kevin Malone to The (state) Senator

Warehouse guy Frank draws butts on Pam’s mural — because “Butts are funny,” which, granted, but it’s a dick move — and documentary crew member Brian (a snake) steps in and clobbers Frank with a boom mic when he goes after Pam for her exacting revenge. This episode isn’t all that funny, but I think there is some novelty to Brian (who is a snake in man form) harboring secret love for Pam off-screen, likely for years. It never feels like a threat to Pam and Jim — Pam being out of step with a largely absent Jim is more compelling and authentic — but it hints at the larger world just out of frame, which hardly ever appears in The Office

171. Season 5, Episode 8 – “Business Trip”

  • Laughs: 6.89  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.1 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.55

TOTAL SCORE: 24.98 

Best Quote: “Mademoiselle. Beer me dos Long Island iced teas s’il vous plaît. Bad decision in a glass.” -Andy 

Michael is wide-eyed in Winnipeg on a business trip nobody else in Dunder Mifflin is naive enough to consider a perk. The hijinx are mild — Andy downs Long Island iced teas and drunk dials Angela, complaining about their lack of sex. But it’s a surprisingly moving episode, despite being placed in the middle of a season with relatively low stakes. Pam comes home from New York. Andy finally admits there’s tension in his life. And Michael dresses down David Wallace and it’s kind of about Winnipeg but it’s really about Holly, who was taken away, and in the process you see Michael realize his heart is fucked. 

As , “I. Hate. Winnipeg.”  

170. Season 6, Episode 9 – “Double Date” 

  • Laughs: 6.98 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.12

TOTAL SCORE: 24.99

Best Quote: “Do not test my politeness.” -Andy 

Michael breaks up with Pam’s mom after suddenly realizing that…she’s old? In the end, (kind of) with Michael’s permission, Pam slaps the shit out of Michael and nothing good comes of it except the realization that Pam, in truth, is not to be messed with. She might be quiet but she’s tough. 

169. Season 5, Episode 3 – “Business Ethics” 

  • Laughs: 7.03 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.31

TOTAL SCORE: 25

Best Quote: Ryan Howard on defrauding Dunder Mifflin: “OK. Elephant in the room. Let’s talk about it. Do I regret what I did? Of course I do. Even though it was an amazing ride and I’ll give you an example. Anyone see Survivor, Season 6? Anyone know Joanna on that show? In New York City, I hooked up with a girl that looked exactly like that. Indistinguishable. So…”

Dunder Mifflin Scranton is going over ethics because, well, Ryan Howard is an all-time skeeze who defrauded the company for millions and is somehow back in the fold. But really it’s all foreplay for the reveal that Meredith has been — how do I put this — boning a client for a special discount and Outback Steakhouse coupons. Holly is understandably alarmed while corporate just wants the discount. And tasting the Outbackian splendor, Stanley proffers, “Just keep the ribs coming.” 

168. Season 8, Episode 11 – “Trivia”

  • Laughs: 7.1 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.03 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.88

TOTAL SCORE: 25.02

Best Quote: “Listen, you’re a perfectly fine toilet. I’m just an extraordinary piece of crap.” – Dwight 

Leaning into his tryhard spirit, Andy — in a sitcommy as hell plot line — convinces the branch to crash Oscar’s trivia night at a Philly gay bar. Why? Because the grand prize would conveniently deliver just enough cash to hit Robert California’s quarterly growth goal. Dwight, Sisyphean as ever, flies down to Florida to try to land a promotion, which leads Gabe — so proud of his status as the company’s toilet — to try to flush him away. It’s a fine episode but overly silly and The Office is at its best when it’s silly alongside a dose of reality’s monotony.  

167. Season 7, Episode 5 – “The Sting” 

  • Laughs: 6.25 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.13  

  • Emotional Weight: 6.32

TOTAL SCORE: 25.03

Best Quote: “A horse is a bike that pedals itself.” -Dwight 

Timothy Olyphant makes his brief, somewhat puzzling debut as Danny Cordray, a handsome, stunningly competent salesman for a rival company. He strikes fear into Dwight and Jim’s hearts. Nothing is particularly great in this episode; nothing is particularly bad. Michael ends up poaching Cordray, who ends up mostly being a throwaway character. Life just goes on in Scranton in this episode.  

166. Season 6, Episode 8 – “Koi Pond” 

  • Laughs: 7.14

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.89 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.05

TOTAL SCORE: 25.09

Best Quote: “Jim is my enemy. But it turns out that Jim is also his own worst enemy. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So Jim is actually my friend. But, because he is his own worst enemy, the enemy of my friend is my enemy, so actually Jim is my enemy. But…” -Dwight 

I mean, Michael falls in a koi pond. Not bad. 

165. Season 6, Episode 14 – “The Banker”

  • Laughs: 8

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.11 

  • Emotional Weight: 7

TOTAL SCORE: 25.12

Best Quote: “You know, what does it mean to be happy? [shakes head] Keep philosophers busy for a while.” -Michael

It’s effectively a clips episode but the laughs are good and, as far as emotional weight goes, nostalgia can be a hell of a drug.  

164. Season 8, Episode 7 – “Pam’s Replacement” 

  • Laughs: 6.13 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.11 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 25.37

Best Quote: “I’m gonna write something mean on his wall,” -Kelly, about Jim’s random bald friend on Facebook, who she does not know

There are really only two moments that matter in this middling episode. 

  1. The epic jam band Kevin and the Zits overtaken by Robert California, Andy slaps the shit out of his body, in theory adding to the rhythm section but really just pathetically smacking his belly. Ed Helms makes it hilarious. His grinning non-confidence soars. 

  2. After a mad-hat scheme in which Dwight and Pam team up to get Jim to say the new girl is hot, Dwight reminds his erstwhile-foes that they forgot a toothbrush for their daughter at the pharmacy. It’s so damn sweet. 

163. Season 9, Episode 13 – “Junior Salesman”

  • Laughs: 6.36 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.55 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.15

TOTAL SCORE: 25.39

Best Quote: “Trevor’s next and he’s a real professional. You say, ‘Jump,’ and he says, ‘On who?’ … He loves to jump on people, that Trevor.” -Dwight

I’m biased — I love Chris Gethard. And if you’re an oddball you must watch the backlogs of The Chris Gethard Show, which was the weirdest, most-DIY, honest show on TV before its demise. But Gethard’s brief appearances as Dwight’s friend/terrible private investigator Trevor are always spectacular, rife with a weird machismo that’s backboned by a self-assured defeatism that Gethard was born to play. When Dwight asks him in a job interview to be a paper salesman how he’d fare at selling paper, Trevor counters “Didn’t see that one coming.”  I just love it.  It’s just perfect: perfectly timed, perfectly delivered.  It’s a bright moment in an average episode.  

162. Season 4, Episode 6 – “Branch Wars” 

  • Laughs: 6.65 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 25.4

Best Quote: “The eyes are the groin of the head.” -Dwight

Jim joins in on a scheme to get back at Karen Fillipelli (Rashida Jones), his ex who is now leading the Utica branch. It’s actually kind of nice to see Jim get his comeuppance from Karen after he flushed a decent relationship in the crapper. The memorability of this episode is inflated because we get the Jim-reclines-fast-in-his-seat meme.  

161. Season 3, Episode 21 – “Women’s  Appreciation” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.79 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.52 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.11

TOTAL SCORE: 25.43

Best Quote: “I wish I could menstruate. If I could menstruate, I wouldn’t have to deal with idiotic calendars anymore. I’d just be able to count down from my previous cycle. Plus, I’d be more in tune with the moon and the tides.” -Dwight

A flasher strikes the Scranton Business Park and Michael, predictably, screws up his response. Misogyny ensues, as does a mall trip. In the end, Michael breaks up with Jan (with the assistance of the women of the office) because she’s basically a nightmare whose worst impulses have been amplified by dating Michael. He actually learns nothing, though, and soon enough, Jan is back. 

The episode is funny enough, pretty memorable and sets up an even more messed-up version of Michael and Jan. It’s the version of the couple that gives us “Dinner Party” — and for that we should be eternally grateful.   

160. Season 4, Episode 5 – “Local Ad” 

  • Laughs: 6.51 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.5 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.6 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.91

TOTAL SCORE: 25.52

Best Quote: “Dunder Mifflin: Limitless paper, in a paperless world.” -Michael, in a voiceover

There are two moments that make this episode. 

First, the jingle of, “Dun-der Miff-lin, the people person’s paper people.” And, two, Andy confidently remembering the KitKat jingles being about “cat food…nailed it.” Otherwise, it’s not as great as you might remember.  

159. Season 9, Episode 3 – “Andy’s Ancestry” 

  • Laughs: 6.33  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.04

TOTAL SCORE: 25.71

Best Quote: “I was intimidated by Andy’s family before. And now I have to see the First Lady at holidays? She’s gonna be like, ‘What’s your stance on politics?’ Or, ‘What is the best war to do?’ And, I will just be like, ‘Duh!'” – Erin 

There isn’t really a great quote from this episode but it’s memorable for perhaps one of the greatest cold opens in show history: Asian Jim. There’s always something so good about the pranks that make Dwight question his reality — dark, sure, but it’s fun to see Rainn Wilson squirm inside a character so rigid. 

Nellie and Pam, meanwhile, head off on a little excursion (where Nellie effectively pranks Andy into thinking he’s related to Michelle Obama) but the real point is the show reveals the first sign of tension between Jim and Pam. It’s when he finally reveals he’s unilaterally decided Athlead is their future.  

158. Season 4, Episode 11 – “Night Out” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.45

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.21

TOTAL SCORE: 25.88

Best Quote: “Yeah, I have a lot of questions. Number one: How dare you?” -Kelly, to Ryan in a meeting he’s leading 

Michael and Dwight take an excursion out of Scranton, chasing after a coked-up Ryan for a night out in New York City.  It’s perhaps one of my favorite episodes that takes place outside the friendly confines of Scranton Business Park. Michael is so goddamn earnest and Dwight is so singularly focused, but never on the right thing. In the end, they see a glimpse of a world they cannot fathom and it’s almost touching to see Ryan naked of ambition, drugged up, sweating out the night on his bed. It’s funny but if you really watch it, it’s more sad. His story was always a sad one. A high-level grifter full of ambition, lacking any talent, and stubbornly committed to never self-assessing. He could’ve been president.  

157. Season 5, Episode 5 – “Crime Aid”

  • Laughs: 7.67 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.1 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.13

TOTAL SCORE: 25.91

Best Quote: “Nobody steals from Creed Bratton and gets away with it. The last person to do this disappeared. His name: Creed Bratton.” – Creed Bratton

Michael and Holly bump uglies in the stairwell after work, thieves get in, and Michael concocts a plan (via non-existent Bruce Springsteen tickets) to raise money. In the end, it doesn’t work, but David Wallace spots the new couple kissing — and it’s the spark of the storyline that sends Holly away and that is very important.  

156. Season 2, Episode 18 – “Take You Daughter to Work Day” 

  • Laughs: 7.2 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.49 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.34 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.89

TOTAL SCORE: 25.92

Best Quote: Stanley Hudson, scaring the ever-loving shit out of Ryan Howard: “That little girl is a child. I don’t want to see you sniffing around her anymore this afternoon, do you understand? BOY, have you lost your mind, cuz I’ll help you find it! Whatcha looking for? Ain’t nobody help you out there. Jesus could come through that door and he’s not going to help you if you don’t stop sniffing after my child.” 

Michael slowly grows to think kids are cool, ironically enough, through Toby’s child. It’s something that will become a defining characteristic for him and a part of the reason he is so willing to leave the place and people he loves. 

Also, an odd line I love: Watching Michael’s brief, sad brush with fame on a children’s show, Dwight asks only if the set’s windmill was functional. Perfect.

155. Season 6, Episode 22 – “Secretary’s Day” 

  • Laughs: 7.78 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.13

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.03

Best Quote: “My last job was at a Taco Bell Express. But then it became a full-time Taco Bell and I don’t know…I couldn’t keep up.” -Erin

Erin admires Michael. Michael realizes Erin is weird as all hell. Kevin is the butt of Cookie Monster jokes before straight-up nailing a Gabe impression. It’s an episode that lets the relative newcomers cook for a minute.  

154. Season 8, Episode 14 – “Special Project”

  • Laughs: 6.75 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.08 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.98 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.24

TOTAL SCORE: 26.05

Best Quote: “The Schrutes have a word for when everything comes together in a man’s life perfectly: Perfectenschlag. Right now, I am in it. I finally get a chance to prove myself to corporate. I am assembling a competent team. I am likely a father. I am so deep inside of perfectenschlag right now. And just to be clear, there is a second definition, ‘perfect pork anus,’ which I don’t mean.” – Dwight

Dwight gets a little power and goes nuts. We meet Florida Stanley. Jim is dragged along and quickly realizes he is in way over his head hanging out with Florida Stanley. 

153. Season 2, Episode 17 – “Dwight’s Speech”

  • Laughs: 7.4 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.5 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.97

  • Emotional Weight: 6.34

TOTAL SCORE: 26.21

Best Quote: “This is karma for what he did to Jennifer Aniston,” -Kelly, after a panicked Dwight lies that Brad Pitt was horribly injured in a car crash

Pam is planning a wedding with Roy, and Jim is planning on getting the hell out of dodge. The secret affection — Pam knowing she can’t talk about the wedding in front of him — it’s so touching and if you go back to these moments, there’s no sense that things will definitely work out. At every turn Pam is choosing Roy and it had to be that way for the pay off to ever actually, you know, pay off. 

152. Season 6, Episode 2 – “The Meeting” 

  • Laughs: 6.88 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.03 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.33

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.25

Best Quote: “You know when they say it’s so crazy it just might work? Well, I don’t believe that. I say go for the air-tight plan and that is why I am having Andy wheel me into the conference room inside a makeshift cheese cart. It is just…elegant. ” -Michael

Leave Michael alone with his thoughts and out comes dysfunction. In this case, Jim tries to land both he and Michael promotions and instead we get a co-manager nightmare. 

151. Season 6, Episode 11 – “Shareholder Meeting” 

  • Laughs: 7.97 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.31 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.67

  • Emotional Weight: 5.34

TOTAL SCORE: 26.29

Best Quote: “Recyclops will drown you in your over-watered lawns!” -Dwight, as Recyclops

One of my many pet theories about The Office is that Michael is secretly competent. Almost by accident, his managerial style allows people to work decently and be themselves — and he always cared too much about making Dunder Mifflin successful. 

In this episode, he’s invited to a New York shareholder meeting as the top regional manager in the company. Michael sees the fat cats tossing back booze and cashing out, rearranging deck chairs on a half-sunken ship. Say what you will, but Michael Scott always cares. Seeing people who didn’t give a shit, he goes off. Sure he gives a tremendously stupid speech to shareholders about a plan that doesn’t exist (and if it’s the real world this is likely misleading investors) but at least he gives a shit. Half the battle in the world is giving a shit. Plus, he totally nailed the spin into finger guns move. 

150. Season 8, Episode 2 – “The Incentive” 

  • Laughs: 7.03 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.14 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.3

Best Quote: 

Robert: “If the office superstore was supposed to put us little suppliers out of business, why are we still here?” 

[Kevin raises hand] 

Kevin: “This is where we go.”

I love the “This is where we go” moment from Kevin. Robert dismisses him, but that’s the way of work for most people. It becomes the thing you do, the people you see, the reality you make worth living. Where you go, in many ways, is who you are. 

Also, Andy gets an ass tattoo to get the team to make sales.  

149. Season 9, Episode 6 – “The Boat” 

  • Laughs: 6.22 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.99 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.88

TOTAL SCORE: 26.3

Best Quote: “Overall, I’d say my first radio interview went pretty much the way I expected.” -Dwight, after a call in which he was left naked and negotiating a fake hostage crisis

Andy traipses off on the family boat and his split with Erin begins, which is an important storyline. Meanwhile, Kevin accidentally catches Oscar and The (state) Senator in their affair and all Oscar can muster is, a beleaguered “Why” — the word carries so much heft, it’s a “why” heavy with the weight of the universe’s inherent lack of fairness. Oscar found something like love in the desert of Scranton and it’s immediately uncovered by Kevin, a kind-hearted man who cannot keep a secret. 

148. Season 5, Episode 19 – “Golden Ticket”

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.89

TOTAL SCORE: 26.33

Best Quote: “It’s true.” -Dwight, creating a GIF you’ve seen countless times while admitting “Ze KGB waits for no one.” 

This episode displays Michael at his most abusive toward Dwight. He makes him take a fall for the Golden Ticket scheme, before it’s revealed the awful mistake miraculously pays off. It’s sharp-edged, Gervais-adjacent Michael, rather than Steve Carell’s more common approach of blunt-force cluelessness that wins you over.  

147. Season 6 – Episode 16 – “Manager and the Salesman”

  • Laughs: 8.13 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.12

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 26.36

Best Quote: “Because, well, Jim. Where I’m from, there’s two types of folk: those who ain’t, and those who are knee-high on a grasshopper. Which type ain’t you ain’t? … Y’all come back now.” -Michael, kind of copying Jo Bennett

Jo is introduced as Michael and Jim briefly fight not to be manager because under Sabre’s new ownership the sales staff can pull in massive commissions. It’s a funny episode full of great, one-off lines that are not necessarily “quotable” but remain damn funny. (“Yours in professionalism, Nard Dog,” comes to mind.) 

In the end, Michael confirms money has never meant a thing to him. Any dollar he brings in will immediately be wasted on something dumb — the pomp and circumstance he imbues onto the regional manager position, however, is everything to him. It’s seemingly the one part of his life where he has a sense of agency. And, in the end, he’s pictured in the office — manager again — dancing a little jig to his keyboard’s stock music. In that small office, and the office writ large, he’s someone. 

146. Season 6, Episode 1 – “Gossip”

  • Laughs: 7.13 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.35 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.54

TOTAL SCORE: 26.46

Best Quote: “If I can’t scuba, then what’s this all been about? What have I been working toward?” -Creed

Pam’s pregnant. Michael accidentally reveals it while also revealing Stanley’s affair. Double yikes. But the real legacy of this episode is the “Parkour!” cold open that has inspired roughly one million drunk dudes named like Trevor or Kyle to get injured. 

145. Season 8, Episode 6 – “Doomsday” 

  • Laughs: 7.07 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.44 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.98

TOTAL SCORE: 26.5

Best Quote: “I know how to save the company, everyone. Just write a petition, get everyone’s signature — including our clients — march down to Florida…And shove it up your butt!” -Stanley, landing a perfect joke

Dwight threatens to sink the company with a Doomsday Device that he insists is not a Doomsday Device, even though it would torpedo all their careers by forwarding their sensitive, personal emails to corporate. But he cannot do it. He loves them. He is them. And dammit, by this point we love Dwight too. 

144. Season 4, Episode 10 – “The Chair Model” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.43 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.54

Best Quote: “When Pam gets Michael’s old chair, I get Pam’s old chair. Then I’ll have two chairs… Only one to go.” -Creed

Kevin getting a win in this episode — basically crying to get the office’s parking spots back — is low-key the best moment. It’s sweet and an instance of humanity for Kev, who is often a caricature. 

143. Season 6, Episode 24 – “The Cover Up” 

  • Laughs: 7.55 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.14

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.44

  • Emotional Weight: 6.44

TOTAL SCORE: 26.57

Best Quote:So there I am, minding my own business and Darnell offers me three bucks. All I gotta do is walk by Andy and go like this. [Runs finger across his neck.] Darnell’s a chump. I would have done it for anything. I’ve done a lot more for a lot less.” -Creed, talking about Darryl 

Michael finds out he’s the mistress with restaurant manager Donna, and Andy and Darryl stumble into a Sabre faulty printer conspiracy. Fine enough episode.  

142. Season 6, Episode 26 – “Whistle Blower” 

  • Laughs: 7.11

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.05 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.11

TOTAL SCORE: 26.6

Best Quote:  

Michael: “My new favorite restaurant sucks… I bought a video camera last year, and I was looking at the tapes, and there were only like twelve minutes that I felt was worth taping the whole year. Most of that was just birds in my condo complex.  What is that?…I miss Holly.”

Jo Bennettt: “Who’s Holly?”

Michael: “Holly Flax from the Nashua branch. Best HR rep that Dunder Mifflin has ever seen. It’s not been a blockbuster year for me financially. My Blockbuster stock is down.”

Beyond getting introduced to Ryan’s WUPHF, all that matters in this episode is that last interaction with Sabre CEO Jo on her private jet. Michael — in a hilariously depressing monologue — admits that Holly’s absence is eating at him. The seed for her to return — and the mechanism with which we lose Michael — is planted. 

141. Season 7, Episode 8 – “Viewing Party” 

  • Laughs: 7.17 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.44

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.63

Best Quote: “Of all feelings to base a show around, glee? Thirst — now that’s a show I’d watch.” -Dwight

Most of the plot is centered around Gabe being a fucking weirdo. Andy eats too much of his Chinese boner herb, Michael hates Andy being in charge, Erin is repulsed by the very thought of sleeping with Gabe, and damn, actor Zach Woods delivers as Gabe. He makes Gabe suck so hard, but, also, Gabe rules as a character. He perfectly embodies a particular type of Reddit Guy and I can’t explain further but if you know, you know.

140. Season 6, Episode 23 – “Body Language”

  • Laughs: 7.22 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.31 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.81 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.33

TOTAL SCORE: 26.67

Best Quote: “You ever notice you can only ooze two things? Sexuality and pus. Man, I tell ya.” – Creed

Michael — ever-so-lonely and, well, ever-lonely — really, really, really goes after bar manager Donna and, lo-and-behold he lands a kiss. It’s a pretty humorous episode, even if it doesn’t push important plot.  

139. Season 7, Episode 6 – “Costume Contest” 

  • Laughs: 7.04 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.11

TOTAL SCORE: 26.69

Best Quote: “Could you for once just let us enjoy a party instead of making it about all your issues?” -Kelly Kapoor, to Michael

Salesman Danny Cordray reveals he thought Pam was kinda “dorky” and excuse me How Dare He? Her dorkiness is charming as hell. 

Stanley Hudson does NOT stutter.

Image: Mashable composite; Getty images/NBCUniversal

138. Season 4, Episode 12 – “Did I Stutter?”

  • Laughs: 7.21 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.41 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.88

TOTAL SCORE: 26.71

Best Quote: “Did I stutter?” -Stanley 

DID I STUTTER? 

137. Season 5, Episode 26 – “Casual Friday”

  • Laughs: 7.01

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.99 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.77 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 26.76

Best Quote: “Close your mouth, sweetie. You look like a trout.” Phyllis Vance, to Pam

It’s the episode where Michael smooths everything over after the Michael Scott Paper Company debacle. But this episode is particularly memorable to me for two reasons: that quote that once again proves Phyllis is the biggest badass in The Office, and the cold open of Kevin carefully making his chili then repeatedly falling with it. The choice to have Kevin narrate the painstaking cooking process as his life’s work is smooshed around the carpet is just brilliant. Plus, come on, Kevin’s Famous Chili is classic.  

136. Season 9, Episode 17 – “The Farm” 

  • Laughs: 6.34 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.22 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.79

Best Quote: “Nostalgia is truly one of the great human weaknesses. Second only to the neck.”- Dwight

I could catch flak for putting this episode ahead of some others. It’s widely known as a bad episode. But I find it to be a touching episode composed of scenes from the failed, never-aired Dwight spin-off series “The Farm.” Nothing really comes of Dwight’s ultimate commitment to take over Aunt Shirley’s property — just as nothing came of the show that likely would have meant Dwight never got the full-time regional manager gig. Probably for the best all the way around. 

It’s an episode relying heavily on nostalgia — as Dwight’s winking quote admits — but try not to get a little choked up watching him say that line, his entire family strumming The Decembrists’ “Sons & Daughters.” It’s all kind of a red herring, but it’s a pleasant one. Plus, I’ll readily admit: .  

135. Season 8, Episode 24 – “Free Family Portrait Studio” 

  • Laughs: 6.34 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.37 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.67

TOTAL SCORE: 26.82

Best Quote: “I’m Bob. Bob Kazamakis.” -Robert California, introducing himself to David Wallace

To end Season 8, The Office effectively resets itself. Out goes Sabre and Robert California, in comes our old friend David Wallace. Dwight and Angela have a shot at getting back together that largely rests on a paternity test. Even the old warehouse guys return, their investment in an energy drink for gone belly-up. It’s clearing the decks for the final season.

134. Season 9, Episode 5 – “Here Comes Treble”

  • Laughs: 7.07 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.99 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.44 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.33

TOTAL SCORE: 26.83

Best Quote: Andy, explaining his college a cappella nickname “Boner Champ”: “Spring sing ‘95. Got completely ripped on Bud Dries. I had sex with a snowman. I just went at that thing. Cold would have stopped most people but I stayed locked in, you know? Took the face off. It just seemed easier that way.”

Andy’s parents are broke and he’s taking Erin for granted. Oscar is fully cheating with The (state) Senator and Dwight, inspired by finding Nellie’s antidepressant, is moving toward some sort of self-care. 

Side note: It’s nice to see a mainstream show from quite some time ago doing a small bit of work to help normalize mental health medication.  

133. Season 7 – Episode 1 – “Nepotism” 

  • Laughs: 7.16 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.68 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.69

TOTAL SCORE: 26.86

Best Quote: “This summer I did the minority executive training program at Yale. You guys, I’m like really smart now. You don’t even know. You could ask me, ‘Kelly what’s the biggest company in the world?’ And I’d be like, ‘blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah.’ Giving you the exact right answer.” -Kelly

To open the seventh season we learn Michael hired his dumbass nephew. It’s an ultimately wrongheaded attempt to get his family back (who we never really hear from in the show). We also learn Gabe is dating Erin for reasons that are never really explained. Michael’s punishment for eventually spanking the hell out of his nephew is counseling with Toby, a fate worse than death. When Michael spanks his adult nephew he earns the office’s affection for a moment, and it’s a good laugh.  

132. Season 6, Episode 19 – “St. Patrick’s Day” 

  • Laughs: 7.19 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.59 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.11  

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 26.9

Best Quote: “You don’t become the most powerful woman in Tallahassee by slacking off. You do it by working hard. Or marrying rich. And I did both.” -Jo Bennett 

Michael tries desperately to win Jo’s approval, keeping the gang late when they could be out getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. And you know the gang likes getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. Eventually, Michael blinks and says they’ve done more than enough, in the process seemingly winning Jo’s respect. But that’s not what matters. Michael is invited to the bar and the office buys him a drink. He might as well die right then — it’s all he’s ever wanted, to be welcomed to the fun. That sweetness bumps this episode up the ranking. 

131. Season 3, Episode 14 – “Ben Franklin”

  • Laughs: 7.12 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.78 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 27.01

Best Quote: “So you know who turned out to be kind of a creep? Ben Franklin. And Elizabeth the stripper gave me great advice. Which rhymed. Really makes you wonder how Ben Franklin can become president, but someone like Elizabeth can’t.” -Michael

Andy Daly has a great little cameo as Ben Franklin and Pam almost, kinda, sorta admits she likes Jim just as he and Karen struggle with a romance that should work, but never quite does.  

130. Season 4, Episode 8 – “The Deposition” 

  • Laughs: 7.21

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.89 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.99

TOTAL SCORE: 27.08

Best Quote: “You expect to get screwed by your company, but you never expect to get screwed by your girlfriend.” -Michael

Jan is trying to win money from Dunder Mifflin via a lawsuit and without hesitation threw Michael under the bus. In fact, she brought materials and planned for it. She premeditated screwing over someone she claimed to love.  

When the roles were reversed, Michael left Dunder Mifflin without a moment’s notice for Holly. And that tells you pretty much exactly what you need to know about the two relationships. The duality The Office uses here is lovely, once you notice it. 

129. Season 9, Episode 2 – “Roy’s Wedding”

  • Laughs: 6.99 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.43 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.22

TOTAL SCORE: 27.19

Best Quote: “The wheel wants to spin, Pam,” – Creed

Things we learn this episode: Pam and Jim know everything about each other; Roy actually changed — he was previously complacent, with the wrong person, and clearly angry; Erin is growing close to Plop and fading away from Andy.

And, in reality, what was Erin ever doing with Andy, for that matter? The best thing about their relationship was that Andy was not Gabe and well, that’s a fucking low bar. 

It’s a workmanlike episode, funny enough, and setting up storylines to come — Jim and Pam tension, Erin finding independence, Dwight accepting he may never be manager — which drives up the importance score.  

128. Season 8, Episode 5 – “Spooked” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.65 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.34

TOTAL SCORE: 27.22

Best Quote: Erin, making small talk: “November sure creepin’ up ain’t it?? Can’t stop that month.”

Erin throws the Halloween party and, after Robert California comments about wanting a scarier shindig, she employs Gabe’s “theatre of the unsettling” film — it’s disturbingly weird but so funny. Gabe remains underrated as a character because he’s this vanilla exterior with a deeply disturbing interior. It’s like finding out Steve From HR in your office travels to Norway each year for a death metal convention. At first it’s shocking, then it’s like, yeah, you know what, I could see some rage in there.  

127. Season 8, Episode 19 – “Get the Girl” 

  • Laughs: 7.03 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.23 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 27.28

Best Quote: “I grew up poor. I had little formal education. No real skills. I don’t work especially hard, and most of my ideas are either unoriginal or total crap. And yet: I walked right into a job for which I was ill-prepared, ill-suited, and somebody else already had. And I got it. If you ask me, that’s the American dream right there. Anything can happen to anyone… It’s just random.” -Nellie

Here we are at the 127th ranked episode of The Office, about one-third of the way down. These are the sort of forgotten episodes. Not great. Not awful. There’s lots of Season 8 here because it’s before the final season but decidedly post-Michael. Nellie carries this episode (she’s usurping the regional manager throne from Andy) and she’s at her moral worst — cloying and domineering before her reinvention as a powerless oddball wildcard. But, upon revisiting the episode, it’s solidly funny and damn if that ending quote from Nellie isn’t fantastic. It slyly undercuts an American dream that — come to think of it — is undercut by The Office in total. Work as identity has long been an American pillar, but The Office shows work kind can well and truly suck. Friends, love, family, and getting to 5 p.m. with minimal emotional damage are what matter most. 

126. Season 5, Episode 22 – “Dream Team” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.11  

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.86 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.31

TOTAL SCORE: 27.29

Best Quote: “Pam, I do my best work when people don’t believe in me. I remember in high school, my math teacher told me I was gonna flunk out. And you know what I did? The very next day I went out and I scored more goals than anyone else in the history of the hockey team. See what I mean? I thrive on this. I thrive on it.” -Michael 

The Michael Scott Paper Company is trying to get its sea legs. Pam and Michael take turns freaking out about their potentially ruined lives and, in short order, Vikram — the best goddamn cold-caller east of the Mississippi — jumps off a seemingly sinking ship. 

Michael Scott always appreciated Dunder Mifflin and it hardly returned the favor — which is a neat and true observation of corporate life from The Office‘s writing staff. True to form, Michael did nothing at all until he did something rash: Starting his own company out of spite. Putting Michael on an island, making him scramble, it always results in great episodes. A panicked Michael Scott is a funny Michael Scott.  

125. Season 1 – Episode 6 – “Hot Girl” 

  • Laughs: 7.89 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.55 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.96 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.9

TOTAL SCORE: 27.3

Best Quote: 

Ryan: [cleaning wrappers from Michael’s car] “Wow…how many Filet-O-Fishes did you eat?”

Michael: “That’s over several months, Ryan.”

Ryan: “Still a lot.”

In the Season 1 finale, Michael is at his chauvinistic worst, ogling and drooling over Amy Adams’ purse-selling character Katy. The first season obviously leaned heavily on the British version of the show. Carell could carry a Gervasian character — but the show found itself when it made Michael less biting and more pathetic.

There is, however, an amazing little moment in this episode. The “hot girl” and Jim are getting along famously and, against all her protestations and willingness to ignore feelings, Pam puts on a little lip gloss. The feelings were always there, whether she could admit it or not. 

124. Season 1, Episode 4 – “The Alliance” 

  • Laughs: 7.95 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.97 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.4

TOTAL SCORE: 27.33

Best Quote: “Money isn’t everything Jim, not the key to happiness. You know what is? Joy. You should remember that.” – Michael

Amid rumors of downsizing, it’s the first reluctant alliance of Jim and Dwight — something that would, of course, happen again and again until an accidental friendship bloomed. This episode is funny. The first season is funnier than you might remember, considering the usual narrative is that the first season of The Office wasn’t great. It was pretty damn good in Season 1, but, with just six episodes, it took a bit longer to find its rhythm. But rewatch these episodes and you’ll laugh.  

123. Season 9, Episode 11 – “Suit Warehouse” 

  • Laughs: 6.94 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.23 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.15 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 27.33

Best Quote: Clark, pretending to be Dwight’s son: “My dad is the best hunter there is. I mean, he’s like a serial killer of animals.”

Jim and Pam are moving toward real tension over Athlead, while Darryl has perhaps the most cringey interview ever with the very same company. He shoots a basketball and breaks a fish tank. It sounds so dumb, and sure, it is, but try not to laugh. Seriously, watch it and try. There are also some solid laughs as Dwight tries to bring Clark into a sales scheme, but otherwise this episode is midseason fodder that keeps things moving.

122. Season 8, Episode 15 – “Tallahassee” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.11 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.11

TOTAL SCORE: 27.34

Best Quote: Stanley, getting day drunk at a meeting in Florida: “It’s just rum. I’m not bored. I’m a pirate.”

Half the gang is opening the Sabre store in Florida and, honestly, this episode just lets Dwight and Stanley go bonkers. Dwight is fully Dwight. And Stanley is Florida Stanley, embracing his penchant for overindulgence — more booze, more food, (maybe?) even more affairs.  

121. Season 9 , Episode 10 – “Lice” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.29 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.32 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.88

TOTAL SCORE: 27.5

Best Quote: “Who’s the one who didn’t bring lice into the office? Meredith! Sure, I gave everybody pink eye once. And my ex keyed a few of their cars. And yeah I BM’d in the shredder on New Year’s. But I didn’t bring the lice in! That was all Pam.” -Meredith

Little moments. The Office is wonderful for many reasons, but among them are the resplendent little moments we get to see the characters enjoy. They mirror life — how monumental memories fade into fond little blips. How a huge day can become just one thing that stands out.

Anyway, after an episode of an overworked Pam letting Meredith take the lice-related fall, they make amends and get plastered, joyously singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” at a karaoke bar. It’s beautiful.  

120. Season 6, Episode 25 – “The Chump” 

  • Laughs: 6.89 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.77 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 6

TOTAL SCORE: 27.54

Best Quote: “I am Beyoncé always,” -Michael 

Michael is indulging in his worst impulses because he learned he is the mistress for his lover Donna. He feels so freaking cool after a lifetime of faking it. And, sure, “I am Beyoncé always” has lived on because, well, Beyoncé is Beyoncé. But the low-key best moment of the episode involves Michael eating Meredith’s birthday cake by the fistful. Ryan watches in awe and says, “Good for you man” and, inspired by someone being a bigger asshole than he is, he tries to convince Erin to sleep with him. He gives up, though and, riding a sugar high, Michael confidently goes, “You’ll learn, baby. You’ll learn.” Carell especially thrives playing Michael riding high before the inevitable fall back to Earth. 

119. Season 7, Episode 18 – “Todd Packer” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.99 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.45 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.13

TOTAL SCORE: 27.68

Best Quote: “Kevin, in sumo culture, you’d be a promising up-and-comer,” -Dwight, trying to make Kevin feel better

A low-key reason The Office worked for nine seasons and 185 episodes was that the characters grew. Nine seasons of characters staying the same just doesn’t fly. If you simply have the same people in new situations, eventually it feels quite stale. 

Michael, most notably, shifts from being self-centered and kind of a jerk to a well-meaning person. To wit: Todd Packer is an ass and it’s incredibly fitting that Michael was only able to realize that through Holly. Through her, Michael realizes in this episode that Packer, a former hero, is awful. .  

118. Season 6, Episode 3 – “The Promotion” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.77 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.96

TOTAL SCORE: 27.72

Best Quote: “Alright. Jim, to be fair, the conversation wasn’t about planets. At first we were talking about introducing a line of toilet paper. And what part of the human body does one use toilet paper upon? …So you draw a line from there to the other planets…and I think by the end we learned a little bit about how small we are.” -Michael 

Jim is co-manager and is, actually trying at his job. And he’s learning that giving a shit can truly suck. 

117. Season 5, Episode 23 – “Michael Scott Paper Company” 

  • Laughs: 7.14 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.66 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01

  • Emotional Weight: 5.98

TOTAL SCORE: 27.79

Best Quote: [written on the whiteboard] “‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ -Wayne Gretzky -Michael Scott”

Fun fact: Erin’s real name is Kelly but in this episode, her debut, she decides to go by her middle name — Erin — amid Kelly Kapoor using the dual-Kelly situation to get closer to Idris Elba’s handsome-as-hell Charles Miner. 

Otherwise, Michael’s blind optimism is pushing the MSPC “Dream Team” (Pam and Ryan) to near madness in their tiny office in the bowels of the Scranton Business Park. Michael leading a team without corporate buffering his instincts is wildly funny to watch. He’s flying blind and it rules.  

We also get an iconic start to the episode: 

116. Season 3, Episode 18 – “The Negotiation”

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.74

TOTAL SCORE: 27.87

Best Quote: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” – Michael

Dwight saves Jim from an attempted attack by Roy — who found out Jim and Pam kissed — and, if you rewatch this, when they cut to Dwight showing off his small arsenal of secretly stashed medieval weapons it’s great. I kind of forgot how Rainn Wilson’s knowing smirk sells the scene. 

In the end, a calmed Roy says he doesn’t understand Pam — she called off the wedding for Jim and, yet, she’s happily watching him date Karen — and Roy is not wrong. It takes quite some time for Pam to go for the things she wants in life. That’s partially a device employed by the show’s writers — the longer they tease out Jim and Pam’s relationship, the longer they can keep the show’s engine churning off that tension — but it’s also a keen observation about life. Sometimes you’ve got to be willing to say, “Fuck it,” and speak the things you mean, or you risk missing out. Sometimes you’ve got to make your own fate. At this point, Pam is willing to believe that maybe things work out on their own. That’s just not how it works. And, as Pam says herself way down the line in the finale, she wishes she knew that earlier.  

115. Season 6, Episode 20 – “New Leads”

  • Laughs: 8.31  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 5.98 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.12

TOTAL SCORE: 27.96

Best Quote: “You couldn’t handle my undivided attention.” -Dwight

The sales staff are king under Sabre and they’ve become monsters. Fine enough episode, but the joke that stands out is Dwight, surveying the town’s dump, mumbling to himself, “This place has gone to hell.” He is exactly the type of person to have thoughts on the quality of a dump. 

114. Season 5, Episodes 15 & 16 – “Lecture Circuit, Parts 1 & 2”

  • Laughs: 6.75

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.88

TOTAL SCORE: 27.97

Best Quote: “I am single now. What we have here is the ultimate smackdown between the Nard-Dog and crippling despair, loneliness and depression… I intend to win.” -Andy

Bit of housecleaning: Any clearly labeled Part 1 & Part 2 episodes in Netflix (when The Office was on Netflix) are being treated as one episode because it’s easier that way, this thing is long enough already and they typically function as one episode anyway. 

Michael tours Dunder Mifflin branches with Pam to teach his “successful” ways, which is a perfect vessel for Michael to peacock around and tie himself in increasingly dumb knots while public speaking. But really this whole thing just serves to open the door for Michael and Holly — to put that back on the table with a stolen, never-sent goodbye letter penned by Holly. Pam reads it — Michael keeps his hands half-clean — and he learns that it’s not over. It’s the beginning of the plan to get Michael out of Scranton (and give Carell his exit from the show). 

113. Season 4, Episode 3 – “Launch Party” 

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.11

TOTAL SCORE: 28.01

Best Quote: “They say you should never mix business with pleasure. Really? Well then, explain to me how a putt-putt golf company operates.” -Andy

The cold open is the DVD logo TV bouncy thing and that might be the most memorable bit of this episode. It has lived on in memes and video clips but it’s indicative of the way workers make dumb games to pass the time. And “dude, you gotta believe,” from Kevin as they watch the cube bounce is oddly beautiful. 

Beyond that, I love the office’s near revolt after Michael orders Pizza By Alfredo’s instead of Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe, the far superior pizza purveyor in Scranton. I feel like everyone has seen an office get upset about bad free food. Ryan’s just ascending in his, erm, meteoric rise that ends in fraud and Andy is winning over Angela. Michael, ever overcompensating, is overcompensating for not being invited to the real website launch party in NYC planned by Ryan. 

112. Season 9, Episode 18 – “Promos”

  • Laughs: 6.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.34

TOTAL SCORE: 28.01

Best Quote: “Go to the bathroom for 45 minutes and everything changes,” -Kevin after seeing the promo for the documentary. 

The trailers for the documentary finally drop and everyone summarily freaks out, especially Oscar and Angela because the show-within-a-show is set to seemingly reveal that The (state) Senator is gay and that Angela cheated. The episode sets up their dual split from The (state) Senator, which matters for the importance rating, considering The Office in its entirety kinda-sorta traces the path of Dwight and Angela as much as anything else.

Meanwhile, Pam is asking Boom Guy Brian if Jim has changed and it feels forced, but I suppose the tension of the show has to come from somewhere.  

111. Season 2, Episode 13 – “The Secret” 

  • Laughs: 7.46  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.97 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.63

TOTAL SCORE: 28.05

Best Quote: Michael, buying Stanley a drink out of spite: “Peach iced tea…you’re gonna hate it.”

Michael knows Jim loves Pam and he cannot contain himself. Giving Michael Scott a secret is inflating a balloon with a wind tunnel: That sonuvabitch is gonna pop. It’s awful for Jim, but, in the end, it puts him at least halfway out in the open for once. The writers of The Office make clear that a huge part of him wanted that secret to escape since he boozily admitted it to Michael. 

It’s smart storytelling. Jim himself is about to burst if he doesn’t tell something. As a wise song once noted, “When you love somebody and bite your tongue, all you get is a mouth full of blood.”  

110. Season 2, Episode 12 – “The Injury” 

  • Laughs: 8.49  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.4 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.1

TOTAL SCORE: 28.11

Best Quote: “I enjoy having breakfast in bed. I like waking up to the smell of bacon. Sue me. And since I don’t have a butler, I have to do it myself. So, most nights before I go to bed, I will lay six strips of bacon out on my George Foreman grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I plug in the grill. I go back to sleep again. Then I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It is delicious. It’s good for me. It’s a perfect way to start the day. Today I got up, I stepped onto the grill, it clamped down on my foot. That’s it. I don’t see what’s so hard to believe about that.” -Michael

Michael George Foreman-grilling his foot gets all the attention in this episode. Sure. It’s hilarious. 

But there’s a stunningly perfect moment hidden in this episode that foreshadows Ryan’s character arc, and kind of explains everything you need to know about him. I’m telling you, I think about this moment like once a week. It’s amazing and telling and OK here it is.

Ryan rips open a cheese stick and, instead of peeling it back string-by-string, he chomps a big bite. “Wow, you just dive right into it,” Toby notices. “You know, around age 12 I just started going for it,” Ryan replies. And that right there is Ryan Howard — no patience, get the reward now, no apologies, and fully misguided. All that from a cheese stick.  

109. Season 8, Episode 16 – “After Hours” 

  • Laughs: 7.09 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.03 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.67 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.33

TOTAL SCORE: 28.12

Best Quote: “Sometimes I get so bored I just want to scream. And then sometimes I actually do scream. …I just sort of feel out what the situation calls for.” – Kelly Kapoor

Cathy — a snake, a Snake, a SNAKE, A SNAKE — is trying to seduce Jim and we get a cute little rom-com with Dwight and Jim since Cathy gets banished from Jim’s room because she, again, is a snake. Jim walking “all smug” like a bed bug — in an effort to get Dwight to unknowingly intervene with the snake — is straight up hilarious. Season 8 isn’t as bad as people want it to be. In fact, it’s good. Fight me.  

108. Season 8, Episode 17 – “Test the Store” 

  • Laughs: 7.22 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.77 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.33

TOTAL SCORE: 28.2

Best Quote: “Will someone please explain what’s going on here? Since the interesting thing happened ‘til now, so much time has passed. It’s like my life is buffering.” -Kelly 

Andy got socked in the face by a little girl in the parking lot. Dwight, in Florida, is trying his best to make Sabre’s ill-fated store a success. He’ll do anything to drum up excitement — he, for instance, gets fake-trampled by a non-stampede of customers checking out the dumbass Pyramid Tablet. The weird presentation for the tablet, the truly dumb product, it’s a pretty good send-up of tech culture before it was cool to do that.

107. Season 9, Episode 15 – “Couples Discount”

  • Laughs: 7.01

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.21

TOTAL SCORE: 28.24

Best Quote: “Meredith Palmer ain’t never been called no narc. Floozy? Yes. Alchy? Check. Einstein sarcastically? You bet. But never. No. Narc. Vomit mop? Sure. Floor meat? That’s me. Flesh hoover? … ” -Meredith

Andy returns from his boat trip and, being Andy, he gives everyone shit for little things even though he didn’t tell corporate that he was gone for weeks on end. Erin finally dumps him after planting a kiss on Plop in the parking lot. Andy is underrated as a character but, lord, before he finds some measure of perspective at his Cornell gig, he’d be a fucking nightmare to date. 

106. Season 9, Episode 20 – “Paper Plane” 

  • Laughs: 6.04 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.12

TOTAL SCORE: 28.26

Best Quote: “We are now down to an Elite 8. Well, seven…and Toby,” -Nellie

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Some people won’t be pleased that anything from Season 8 or 9 is ahead of relative classics like “Launch Party.” But you’ve got to consider that these episodes are so, so key in, first, sticking the landing on the end of the show and, second, driving home that these characters are ones that last in our memories. 

To wit: In this episode, there’s a quick scene where Jim leaves and there’s a mistimed goodbye with Pam and it kills you and it’s so sad. Pam runs him down and they hug and a clip from their wedding plays, and fuck, you just wanna die — that payoff moment matters. It matters that the show built a shared history among these characters and, hell, with us. 

Oh, and also, Creed throws a cantaloupe in the paper airplane competition, which is pretty funny.  

105. Season 3, Episode 19 – “Safety Training” 

  • Laughs: 8.01  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.45 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 28.46

Best Quote: Darryl, trying to talk Michael out of jumping off the roof: “Mike, you’re a very brave man. I mean it takes courage just to be you. To get out of bed every single day, knowing full well you got to be you.”

The whole thrust of this episode is talking about getting depression from working a typical office life — and they make it funny as hell — but it’s so natural for The Office to Trojan horse in some reality about how god-awful cubicle life can be.

Fun fact: In this episode, Michael famously parrots Dan Aykroyd’s SNL line with “Dwight, you ignorant slut.” The director of “Safety Training” was none other than comedy legend Harold Ramis, a longtime collaborator with Aykroyd — together they co-wrote Ghostbusters

“The stress of my modern office has caused me to go into a depression!”

Image: Mashable composite; Getty images/NBCUniversal

104. Season 9, Episode 7 – “The Whale”

  • Laughs: 7.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.22 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.33

TOTAL SCORE: 28.57

Best Quote

Meredith: “Hey, remember that week in the ’90s when we got bagels?” 

Creed: “I miss Clinton.” 

Using Clark as bait, Dwight lures Jan’s White Pages business (the Whale) to Dunder Mifflin. Jan is fully, fully bonkers by now. Like existing beyond the norms of reality. It’s almost a secret callback to her prediction that dating Michael could bring out her worst impulses and that she would “collapse in on [herself] like a dying star.” 

103. Season 8, Episode 4 – “Garden Party” 

  • Laughs: 8.13  

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.34 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.14 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 28.62

Best Quote: “I’d like to make a toast: To the troops…All the troops…both sides.” -Ryan

Andy’s vanity is on full display: He throws an elaborate party planned in a misguided effort to impress both his biological father and his new father stand-in, Robert California. It goes awfully and his dad dresses him down in earshot of his office pals. Afterward, his coworkers toss him a beer at their makeshift afterparty. He’s found kinship through a mix of annoying persistence and being pitiable. As Andy himself once said, “Every success I’ve ever had at my job or with the lady-folk has come from my ability to slowly and painfully wear someone down.” There’s something to be said for that. 

102. Season 1, Episode 2 – “Diversity Day” 

  • Laughs: 8.53 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.95 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.17

TOTAL SCORE: 28.66

Best Quote: “This is an environment of welcoming. And you should just get the hell out of here.” -Michael to Toby

All you need to know about Michael Scott is that, after launching into an ill-advised Chris Rock bit — the very thing that made “Diversity Day” necessary — he cannot help but finish the bit (again!) with “Whatchu want a cookie?” despite being begged to stop. He is so delusional it morphs into persistence. 

Oh, and Pam falls asleep on Jim. And he couldn’t be happier.  

Michael's activities for "Diversity Day" were incredibly ill-advised.

Michael’s activities for “Diversity Day” were incredibly ill-advised.

Image: Mashable composite; NBCUniversal

101. Season 3, Episode 20 – “Product Recall” 

  • Laughs: 8.12 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.77 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.82

TOTAL SCORE: 28.72

Best Quote: “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!”  -Dwight

It’s the doppelgänger Dwight prank cold-open. That alone ramps up the laughs and memorability. Also Creed fucks up — he’s apparently in charge of quality assurance and a crass watermark ends up on paper. Creed is such a survivor that he gets someone else fired and comes out of the whole thing with some extra petty cash to boot. 

100. Season 9, Episode 12 – “Customer Loyalty” 

  • Laughs: 6.33 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.01

TOTAL SCORE: 28.79

Best Quote:  Plop: [about people saying he’s flirting with Erin] “Come on, guys, where is this even coming from?” 

Kevin: “Your feelings for Erin? Probably your heart…and a little bit your penis.”

Jim and Pam are long-distance and are feeling off-balance. The timing is wrong. It’s a good representation of a long distance relationship if you’ve ever had one. I wish the show would have explored that idea more — how distance creates this weird Sea of Unknowns, little things you missed that build into something bigger — rather than half-toying with the idea of Jim and Pam fighting themselves into a breakup.  

99. Season 8, Episode 1 – “The List”  

  • Laughs: 8.34 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.23 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.11 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.12

TOTAL SCORE: 28.8

Best Quote: “It might be easier if you take a deep breath, lift from the knees…and shove it up your butt.” -Stanley

Robert California talked himself into the Sabre CEO gig and Andy is the regional manager. There’s lots to say about those two but there are plenty of other episodes to talk about them. What you really need to know is that the Season 8 opener debuts Stanley’s G.O.A.T. bit — shove it up your butt! — and It. Is. Good.   

98. Season 2, Episode 15 – “Boys and Girls”

  • Laughs: 8.6

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.1

  • Emotional Weight: 6.12

TOTAL SCORE: 28.83

Best Quote: “Now you may look around and see two groups here: white collar and blue collar. But I don’t see it that way, and you know why not? … Because I am collar-blind.” -Michael 

Upset that corporate is having a meeting just for women, Michael insists on a separate event just for the men. It’s just an all-time episode for laughs. I know that feels weird to say, what with it ranked 98th, but this where you need to take the entirety of the ranking system into play. It is a funny as hell episode but it doesn’t particularly matter on the larger arc of the show. This is Michael going bonkers but nothing of import. 

But the best moment comes from Kelly. The women of the office are grilling Jan on her dalliance with Michael, and Kelly strikes with surgical precision. They’re talking about men using sports terms in the office. “What about second base, like if Michael said he got to second base with you?” Kelly says to Jan, knowingly. “Does that mean he like closed a deal? That’s a baseball term, right?” Then she WINKS at the camera. She fucking winks. Kelly doesn’t get enough credit. Her character is more self-aware than she lets on, and when you view her through that calculating lens, she’s kind of scarily cunning. Why do you think every character in The Office is afraid to cross her?  

97. Season 5, Episode 4 – “Baby Shower” 

  • Laughs: 7.31 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01

  • Memorability, Quotability: 5.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.66

TOTAL SCORE: 28.86

Best Quote: “I do not like pregnant women in my workspace. They always complain. I have varicose veins, too. I have swollen ankles. I’m constantly hungry. Do you think my nipples don’t get sore, too? Do you think I don’t need to know the fastest way to the hospital?” -Stanley

Jan is an absolute nightmare. A blazing comet of instability. Without telling Michael, she’s had her baby — in case you forgot, the baby that has no real connection to Michael beyond that he used to date Jan — and just…shows up to a baby shower with the infant already in tow. 

Meanwhile, Dwight cannot believe Jan’s luxe stroller costs as much as his bomb shelter ($1,200) and decides to run it through a gamut of durability tests, which is a funny bit. (Fun fact: With modern TVs you can definitely spot a wheel breaking when he slams into it with his car.) Meanwhile, Jan won’t even let Michael hold Astrid without the car seat. Where there should be unimaginable joy, there’s emptiness. As she leaves the office this episode, Jan bans Michael from dating Holly. Michael immediately asks Holly out. Good on him. It was a well-executed way of banishing the Michael-Jan relationship. Good riddance for all involved.  

96. Season 2, Episode 8 – “Performance Review” 

  • Laughs: 7.78

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.2

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.87 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.1

TOTAL SCORE: 28.95

Best Quote: “Please don’t smell me, Michael.” -Jan 

Everyone in the office bends over backwards to convince Michael he still has a shot with Jan because he’s handing out performance reviews and taking out his frustrations on his workers. Jan breaks it off. Jim pranks Dwight by convincing him it’s the wrong day. All in all, good episode.  

95. Season 7, Episode 9 – “WUPHF.com” 

  • Laughs: 7.43 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.22

TOTAL SCORE: 28.97

Best Quote: “The world sends people your way… Ryan came to me through a temp agency. Andy was transferred here. No idea where Creed came from. The point is you just have to play with the cards that you’re dealt. Jim, that guy is an ace. Dwight is my king up my sleeve. Phyllis is my old maid. Oscar is my queen. That’s easy. Gimme a hard one. That’s what Oscar said. Toby is the instruction card you throw away. Pam’s a solid seven. And yeah, you know what? Ryan is probably, like, a two. But sometimes twos can be wild. So watch out. And I am obviously the joker. So…” -Michael

Solid, funny episode. Dwight voids the sex contract with Angela, who meets The (state) Senator, which is an important development for the plot of the final three seasons. This needed excursion is what helps Angela and Dwight finally find each other in a real way. 

Also, this was too long to really be considered a “quote” but God, it’s funny and a wonderful scene of Michael’s often Quixotic existence. 

Pam: “Hi, Michael.”

Michael: [digging through trash] “Can’t talk, saving the planet.”

Pam: “Oh, we don’t recycle.”

Michael: “We don’t? Well, why have I been separating the trash into whites and colors?”

Pam: “I’m sure no one asked you to do that.”

Michael: [throws trash] “Eight years.”

94. Season 2, Episode 14 – “The Carpet” 

  • Laughs: 8.1

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.02 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.85 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.03

TOTAL SCORE: 29

Best Quote: “Hey guys. Somebody making soup?” – Creed, as the office reeks of literal poop. 

Todd Packer took an actual shit in Michael’s office, which unleashes a hellish smell and, perhaps worse, the plague that is Michael roaming free from his confines. 

Displaced by Hurricane Michael, at the end of the episode Jim listens to seven voicemails at his desk. They’re all from Pam. And the little look of satisfaction he gets hearing her voice, it’s those moments that made The Office so smart. They didn’t lean on the Jim-Pam will-they-won’t-they all the time, but when they did, they made sure it hit like a sledgehammer.  

93. Season 2, Episode 2 – “Sexual Harassment”

  • Laughs: 8.4 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.2 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.4

TOTAL SCORE: 29.01

Best Quote: Jim, testing Michael’s willingness to give up “That’s what she said jokes”: “Wow, that is really hard. You really think you can go all day long? You always left me satisfied and smiling.”

Michael can’t resist Jim’s set-up and he blows kisses to the crowd as he’s literally dragged into his office by corporate. Just spectacular. Only in screwing himself is Michael the showman he believes himself to be. Also, this 2002 episode predates the debate over if “political correctness” is killing comedy — it makes clear it was a dumb debate then and it’s still dumb now. A truly funny joke never violates so-called PC culture.

Additionally, Phyllis mentions having a “one-night stand” with someone in the office in this episode — this is a breadcrumb for my theory that she and Stanley…you know…but that’s a story for another day. 

92. Season 2, Episode 16 – “Valentine’s Day”

  • Laughs: 7.8 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.1 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.45 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.68

TOTAL SCORE: 29.03

Best Quote: Michael, about seeing Jan on Valentine’s Day: “This is a business trip. I would have to be a raving lunatic to try to talk about what happened between us…Her words, not mine. She sent me an email this morning. But it is Valentine’s Day. New York. City of love.” 

Michael mouth-diarrheas that he and Jan hooked up in front of the other branch managers. It was from a place of good intentions, kind of, since he was defending her. Then the ill-fated couple end up kissing when Michael covers for her with David Wallace. So many important rom-commy moments to track here: 

  • Michael and Jan kiss

  • Angela gifts Dwight the bobblehead; he gives her a key to his house

  • “My animal deserves a lot of loving,” Dwight’s incredibly chauvinistic way of saying Angela matters to him

  • Jim wishes Pam a happy Valentine’s Day with a practiced casualness. John Krasinski delivers the line perfectly, in a way that you know Jim spent all day thinking of how to say it just right. How to seem like a friend while half-hiding what he truly wants. 

91. Season 8, Episode 23 – “Turf War” 

  • Laughs: 7.15 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.44 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.44

TOTAL SCORE: 29.04

Best Quote: “I will not be blackmailed by some ineffectual, privileged, effete, soft-penised debutante. You wanna start a street fight with me, bring it on. You’re gonna be surprised by how ugly it gets. You don’t even know my real name. I’m the [bleeping] lizard king.” – Robert California to Andy 

Dwight and Jim ponder a life without Dunder Mifflin as the company seems especially unstable. Andy finally does something professionally productive during his tenure on the show, setting up David Wallace’s purchase of the company. Meanwhile, everyone fights over big clients without reps since Robert California drunkenly closed the Binghamton branch.

A note: Robert California is fucking hilarious and the only reason that’s not a commonly held belief is because his character was the effective stand-in for Michael Scott, an all-timer. 

90. Season 8, Episode 18 – “Last Day in Florida” 

  • Laughs: 7.33

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.2 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.51 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 29.05

Best Quote: Kevin, singing: “Oh, the springtime thinks that it’s the best. And fall time thinks that it’s the best. Cold time has, kind of a strut. And Valentine’s thinks that it’s the best. But gather round, peeps, I’ll tell you the truth. Nothing beats the cookie season, that’s the truth.”

Andy goes for Erin, and Jim — who is fully Dwight’s friend at this point, if he wants to admit it or not — physically tackles Dwight from taking the VP role with Sabre’s storefronts, which was a position doomed to be cut. Nothing is all that exceptional but it’s pretty good all around.  

89. Season 8, Episode 20 – “Welcome Party” 

  • Laughs: 7.02

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.03

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.99

  • Emotional Weight: 7.11

TOTAL SCORE: 29.15

Best Quote: “I see you’ve discovered Benjamin…That’s what I call my box full of photos of Henry.” -Nellie

A rock-solid episode. As Jim and Dwight help Nellie move boxes they start yelling that they’re “Haulin’ cube,” something you should absolutely scream the next time you need to ease the torture of moving. 

Meanwhile, Andy breaks it off with his girlfriend Jess for Erin.  

88. Season 3, Episode 13 – “The Return” 

  • Laughs: 7.27 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.16  

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.76 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 29.2

Best Quote: Andy, to Michael: “Hey, just listen. I forgot to tell you the plan for this Saturday. You, me, bar, beers, buzzed. Wings, shots, drunk. Waitresses: hot. Football. Cornell-Hofstra. Slaughter. Then quick nap at my place and then we hit the tizzown.”

Andy is especially insufferable and we get the “sorry I annoyed you with my friendship” meme from the episode, which has had an admirable reach outside the show. The Office frequently used double-meaning episode titles and, in “Return,” Oscar comes back from his paid leave — you know, the whole being outed thing — and Dwight returns from Staples after losing his job covering for Angela. 

87. Season 3, Episode 6 – “Diwali” 

  • Laughs: 8.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.67 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.54 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.99

TOTAL SCORE: 29.21

Best Quote: “I love the people here. And if there was one thing I don’t really care for is that they can be terribly, terribly ignorant about other cultures. And I don’t want them embarrassing me in front of my girlfriend, Carol.” -Michael

This is an episode about people who are wrong for each other thinking it’s right. Michael proposes to Carol and it’s spectacularly cringey. One of the cringiest moments in a show built, in part, on cringe. Just the look of sheer panic in Carol’s eyes as she realizes what’s happening. 

Pam tries just a tiny bit with Jim, calling him while he’s drunk in the Stamford branch with Andy (and Karen, who is fake drinking). Soon enough Pam is back with Roy — who shows up at the Diwali celebration — and Jim is with Karen. Dwight and Angela, and Kelly and Ryan, are feeling kind of off, and yet…they’re meant for each other. If nothing else, The Office wants us to know that love isn’t an accident. It just takes time.  

86. Season 6 , Episode 13 – “Secret Santa” 

  • Laughs: 8.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.02 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.11

TOTAL SCORE: 29.24

Best Quote: “My diabolical plan has been put on hold for Christmas. My heart just melts when I hear the sound of children singing. …Hah…not really. I’m just tired. Days are short. …I don’t know. Maybe I’m depressed.” -Dwight

It is, obviously, a Christmas episode. In my mind, it’s the second-worst of a genre that The Office typically crushed. Andy gifts Erin like 30 birds for the 12 Days of Christmas. Dunder Mifflin has a buyer. Dwight kicks the tree. Michael rings up David Wallace’s office, pretending to be his daughter, to get more info about the buyer. All the while, Michael is a mean shithead to everyone, especially Phyllis, who just wants to be Santa.  

85. Season 7, Episode 24 – “Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager”  

  • Laughs: 7.56 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.67 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.91

TOTAL SCORE: 29.26

Best Quote: “I’m taking a break from dating. Gabe was a great guy with so many wonderful qualities, but it was a challenge being touched by him.” -Erin

Dwight, naturally, blows his shot at manager by firing off an antique gun he twirled out of his holster gifted to him by his Great Uncle Honk. (Take a moment here to appreciate the phrase Great Uncle Honk.) A hilarious moment to watch for: After the gun goes off, Dwight passes it to Creed, who bolts with the pistol — as if nothing could be more natural. It’s something Creed is clearly practiced in.  

84. Season 7, Episode 4 – “Sex Ed” 

  • Laughs: 6.88

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.78 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.17 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.44

TOTAL SCORE: 29.27

Best Quote: “Hi Holly, it’s Michael. I just wanted to call and let you know that I was thinking about what you said. It’s just. You know? It’s weird. Today I ended up seeing a lot of the women that I used to date, and in my mind they were all great. And then when I actually saw them, it was mostly a freak show. And you and me, that must have been a real train wreck. You know what? Holly, you’re wrong. You are wrong. I remember every second of us. And talking to you today, I don’t feel for them anything like what I feel for you. I didn’t joke with any of them. I joked with you. You were the only one who was actually happy to hear from me. And I don’t know why you downgraded what we had, but I did not make us up. OK. Oh, and you might — you should talk to a doctor because you might have herpes. Bye.” -Michael

That quote. That’s it right there. The greatest magic trick The Office pulled was to have its characters grow up. It happens so slowly that you hardly notice. Michael gets softer around the edges, less mean, more human, but he’ll still screw up and be a dick — growth, in the show, as in life, doesn’t progress steadily. It waxes and wanes. Such is being human. And finally, in this episode, Michael has kinda, actually grown up. In one moment, he finds a morsel of clarity. After a day of revisiting his past, he’s able to spot the love that was real in his life.  

83. Season 8, Episode 3 – “Lotto” 

  • Laughs: 8.12 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.88

TOTAL SCORE: 29.32

Best Quote: “I decided to stay home, eat a bunch of tacos in my basement. Now my basement smells like tacos. You can’t air out a basement. And taco air is heavy. It settles at the lowest point.” -Darryl 

The entire warehouse crew, sans Darryl, hits the lotto, netting about $100,000 apiece. Everyone quits. Whatever was getting Darryl through the day before is no longer doing it as his pals lavish in their payday. The overwhelming drudgery takes over, but eventually, like everyone must, you’ve got to find a new way to power through. For a depressed Darryl, he decides he has to make his own luck.  

82. Season 5, Episode 27 – “Cafe Disco” 

  • Laughs: 7.78 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.44 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.07

TOTAL SCORE: 29.4

Best Quote: “Look, I hate to be that person, but I just don’t like the general spirit of music.” -Angela

This episode gives us the “Everybody Dance Now” Michael GIF that has appeared in a trillion GIF searches. Meanwhile, Dwight sweetly bonds with Phyllis by tending to her back injury. Calling off their plan to elope, Jim and Pam hit the dance floor at Cafe Disco, the former home of The Michael Scott Paper Company. Jim does a little straight-arm jump-dance that is the definition of Bro Culture. Every former D3 lax player has done that move. It’s just a joyous episode and an entirely fun rewatch, if you’re ever in the need.  

81. Season 2, Episode 4 – “The Fire” 

  • Laughs: 8.53 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.3 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.4

TOTAL SCORE: 29.44

Best Quote: “I did not go to business school. You know who else didn’t go to business school? LeBron James. Tracy McGrady. Kobe Bryant. They went right from high school to the NBA. So…it’s not the same thing at all.” -Michael

Somehow, this episode has only the second-best fire scene in the show’s history.  (The best is the Dwight-lights-a-fire cold open.) 

Jim and Pam are being kind of cruel to Dwight in this episode as he’s reeling from all the attention Michael’s showering on then-temp Ryan. In the parking lot, they play Desert Island games — movies, books, etc. you’d save — and it feels completely dickish when Pam looks down on Katy’s choices (who is dating Jim at the time). Of course, Jim originally half-judged Pam. Everyone feels so young in this episode. Because they were. I mean who leaves their cheese pita in the toaster like that? Grow up, Ryan. 

80. Season 2, Episode 5 – “Halloween”

  • Laughs: 7.8 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.41 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.14 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.1

TOTAL SCORE: 29.45

Best Quote: “Yeah, I went hunting once. Shot the deer in the leg. Had to kill it with a shovel. Took about an hour. Why do you ask?” -Michael, as he labors over firing someone

Did you know that Devon made it all the way to Season 2? I could have sworn this episode was in Season 1. Regardless, we learn how awful Michael is at doing anything that might be unpopular. He even tries to gaslight Creed into quitting. Meanwhile, Jim admits his job would mean nothing if it weren’t for Pam. Like, if this were the real world, dude should quit this job and move to Philly already. If your job gets meaning only from your crush on the engaged receptionist, you don’t need that job. But alas, it’s a TV show. 

79. Season 6, Episodes 17 & 18 – “Delivery Part 1 & 2”

  • Laughs: 7.15 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.41 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.71

TOTAL SCORE: 29.49

Best Quote: “I need a baby…I’ll never outsell Jim and Pam without one. Also I’ve been noticing a gaping hole in my life. Sometimes I wake up cradling a gourd.” -Dwight

It’s not a great double episode but it’s pretty funny and relatively important. Jim and Pam become parents; Dwight and Angela sign a document stating their intention to do the same; Michael, of course, makes it all about himself, even as someone else’s kid is born.  

78. Season 5, Episode 6 – “Employee Transfer” 

  • Laughs: 6.55 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.78 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.16

TOTAL SCORE: 29.5

Best Quote: “Holly thinks that this relationship is over. I am not going to give up that easy. I am going to make this way harder than it needs to be.” -Michael

In my notes for this episode, I wrote, in real time: “It doesn’t make sense. Why would David Wallace force Holly to leave? Plenty of Dunder Mifflin employees date? I mean, sure, the last time Michael dated someone and hid it, that person was Jan and together they nearly ruined the company but…OK, yes, it makes sense.” 

It makes sense but that doesn’t make it any less sad. As Michael and Holly ride along in Darryl’s truck, there’s the tension of the inevitable break-up. When a relationship comes to that point — where all your best plans and intentions are useless compared to what the world’s throwing at you — you tiptoe on eggshells, trying not to finally crack it all wide open. But eventually, time runs out, as it does for Michael and Holly. 

Deeply sad, Michael rides back with Darryl, who tries to comfort Mike with some blues riffing. Michael takes it too literally and just sings “Duh Nah Nuh Nuh” over and over. It’s beautifully funny.  

77. Season 8, Episode 13 – “Jury Duty”

  • Laughs: 7.12 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.02 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.04

TOTAL SCORE: 29.51

Best Quote:  Andy: “We’re going to have ourselves a good old-fashioned cover-up. Have you ever heard of a Connecticut cover-up?” 

Jim: “No.” 

Andy: “Do you know why you never heard of it?” 

Jim: “No.” 

Andy: “Covered it up.”

Dwight is trying to chase down Jim’s lie about having a very long jury duty — which Jim lied about to help out with the kids. Along the way Dwight learns Angela also lied about the date of conception for her child with The (state) Senator and determines it’s probable the kid is his. There’s a nice little bow tied at the end, where Dwight accepts Jim not getting any punishment for his lie because he, too, is a father. It’s not the best episode of The Office, but it’s a smart piece of television. 

76. Season 6, Episode 15 – “Sabre” 

  • Laughs: 8.41 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.98

TOTAL SCORE: 29.52

Best Quote: “There are very few things that would make me not want to team up with David Wallace. And ‘Suck It’ is one of them.” -Michael, on his old bosses new endeavor, which — not for nothing — turns out to be a massive success

Dunder Mifflin is officially part of Sabre. 

A few great moments: 

  • Michael screaming “SCISSOR ME” to Erin as she chucks scissors across the office

  • Sabre’s Christian Slater intro video making clear it’s a scam from the outset

  • David Wallace rocking out the “SUCK IT” theme song with his son on the drums  

75. Season 1, Episode 5 – “Basketball” 

  • Laughs: 7.95 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.55 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.83 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.21

TOTAL SCORE: 29.54

Best Quote: “You know what, let me take Roy.” -Jim, preparing to straight-up embarrass the man dating the love of his life.

I love basketball. So instead of a blurb, let’s revisit my notes for this episode: STANLEY’S OUTFIT. THE WINDBREAKER GLORY. MAJESTIC. JIM EMBARRASSES THE FUCK OUT OF ROY. DWIGHT IN THE FUCKING . THE LOOK FROM PAM WHEN JIM STEALS THE BALL FROM ROY. THIRST, BABY.

[Side note: If you haven’t purchased Shea Serrano’s Conference Room, Five Minutes go do that now and read the basketball chapter. It’s incredible.]  

74. Season 3, Episode 11 – “Back From Vacation”

  • Laughs: 7.51 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.14 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.8

TOTAL SCORE: 29.57

Best Quote: “Michael, nine different people emailed me that photo, including my ex-wife — and we don’t talk.” -Toby

This is a sneaky important episode. Michael and Jan move toward a public romance after he accidentally mass emails a photo of her sunbathing in Jamaica. Michael comes home from that dalliance and insists on a luau party. Jan (somehow?) doesn’t learn of the photo mishap and tells Michael she wants to see where this goes. “My psychiatrist thinks that I have some self-destructive tendencies and that for once, I should indulge them,” she says, aptly. 

Meanwhile, Pam talks Jim through an issue with Karen. Her feelings for Jim bubbling up, Pam breaks down crying and, in his own way, Dwight — for perhaps the first time in the series — tries to act like a real friend to her. “Who did this to you?? Where is he?” he yells, understanding nothing but at least caring.  

73. Season 3, Episode 16 – “Business School” 

  • Laughs: 7.07 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.17 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.12

  • Emotional Weight: 8.21

TOTAL SCORE: 29.57

Best Quote: “I don’t have a lot of experience with vampires, but I have hunted werewolves. I shot one once, but by the time I got to it, it had turned back into my neighbor’s dog.” -Dwight

Pam’s back with Roy. Jim’s with Karen. Michael is invited to speak at Ryan’s business school, where he, well, he does what you’d expect. He pontificates only to be shut down by Ryan’s own analysis of Dunder Mifflin’s business. 

Pam has an art show and invites everyone. Roy awkwardly tells Pam she “has the best art.” He’s trying. But it sucks he has to try so hard to be decent. Oscar shows up with Gil, who shits all over Pam’s work and she overhears. Only Michael really shows up. Worn down by Ryan’s B-school claims, he sees Pam. He really sees her. Only he is able to appreciate what she’s done — that even putting herself out there with this work is beautiful, in and of itself. He buys her painting of the Scranton Business Park, she cries as Michael says something that’s simple and kind: “That is our building…and we sell paper. I am really proud of you.” 

“This is our building…and we sell paper.”

Image: Mashable composite; NBCUniversal

72. Season 5, Episode 20 – “New Boss” 

  • Laughs: 7.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.54 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01

  • Emotional Weight: 7.03

TOTAL SCORE: 29.69

Best Quote: “Truth be told, I think I thrive under a lack of accountability.” -Michael

Michael quits in this episode and that’s really what matters. In a moment of clarity he realizes Charles Miner is elbowing him out — and, more importantly, David Wallace is humoring him as if he doesn’t matter. There’s this thing the writers of The Office did with ever-clueless Michael: Every once in a while he’d see through the bullshit (and it happened more as it went on. Growth!) and he’d act on it right away. Like Jan fucking him over to his company. Or his company doing the same in this episode.  

71. Season 4 – Episode 2 – “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” 

  • Laughs: 7.77 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.03

TOTAL SCORE: 29.69

Best Quote: “Yeah, Ryan snapped at me, but there was this twinkle in his eye that I picked up on, which said, ‘Dude, we’re friends. I’m doing this for appearances. I am the big boss now. And I have to seem like an ogre. But you know me and you trust me. And we like each other. And we’ll always be friends. And I would never take you for granted in a million years. And I miss you, man. And I love you.’…His words.” -Michael

This episode is exceptionally memorable and quotable — Michael drives into a goddamn lake and the Pam-Jim relationship is revealed as a thing to the office. But you probably remember this episode as better than it actually was, within the ecosystem of the whole show. We (the audience) already know about Jim and Pam, so it’s not a reveal to us and it’s a very funny episode but not one of The Office‘s holy-shit-I-can’t-come-up-for-air episodes (like, say, “Dinner Party”). It’s tough to please everyone (hello r/DunderMifflin, I love you, don’t hurt me) and it’s tough to rank the episodes of a show you love deeply. But some episodes just have to be lower than you want on the ranking. And the lake drive episode is one for me. 

Oh, and once again I must note the Phyllis is a killer for telling Pam she can’t just direct calls to “who you’re sleeping with that week.” It was a really close call in the Best Quote category. 

70. Season 9, Episode 1 – “New Guys” 

  • Laughs: 7.03 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.22 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.23

TOTAL SCORE: 29.69

Best Quote: “If you pray enough, you can change yourself into a cat person.” -Angela, to Oscar

My notes on this episode conclude, “SO FULFILLING.” And that’s really it. This episode is way better than many might think. As the title indicates, we meet new guys Plop and Clark, but really the episode is about setting up a really good final season. YES, I SAID IT. Season 9 is good. Jim finally takes a fucking chance — outside of the life-affirming chance he took on Pam — on Athlead, even if he does it all wrong. It’s important he does that. It means that we’ll see Jim and Pam off, eventually, with some kind of real growth outside of Scranton. As a necessity, The Office had to keep them in that little town for it to last so long. But it also needed to get them out for the ending to feel right. And from Episode 1 of Season 9 they begin that process. Thank God.  

69. Season 1, Episode 3 – “Health Care” 

  • Laughs: 8.88 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.99 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.53 

  • Emotional Weight: 5.3

TOTAL SCORE: 29.7

Best Quote: 

Dwight: “Through concentration I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.”

Pam: “Why would you want to raise your cholesterol?”

Dwight: “So I can lower it.”

Three episodes in, The Office introduces hints of everything that would make Dwight Schrute an iconic character: the oddities, the unearned confidence, the underlying insecurity, and the reluctant tenderness. Those attributes would shift in prominence over time, but it’s all there.

Meanwhile, we get Michael doing Michael things. He’s promised a big surprise and, well, he delivers nothing beyond a rant about how he’s a great improviser…as he stumbles to invent a surprise. 

Finally, a quick list of diseases invented by Jim and Pam: spontaneous dentohydroplosion, hot dog fingers, government-created killer nanorobot infection, Count Choculitis, inverted penis (which is not the same as a vagina, Meredith). 

68. Season 6, Episode 10 – “Murder” 

  • Laughs: 8.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.55

TOTAL SCORE: 29.77

Best Quote: “Just poopin’, you know how I be.” -Michael

This is perhaps the closest Dunder Mifflin comes to truly shutting down. As a person in media well versed with layoffs and cataclysms, there’s something truly sweet in Michael’s instinct to distract the office from the looming end (that, of course, never comes). He sparks up a murder mystery game of Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets, which seems like a mashup of Clue and Dungeons & Dragons. Meanwhile Oscar steadily reports bad news for the company. Jim tries to stop the shenanigans but Michael rightly yells, “They need this game.” 

The Office was always careful to make use of Jim and Pam (or other members of, as Oscar once put it, the Coalition of Reason) to ground the show in some semblance of reality. But in the end, the whole group moves as this weird pack. It’s darkly sweet — with Dunder Mifflin on the brink — to see Pam in a finger gun standoff with Michael, Dwight, and Andy. Sometimes you just have to give in and let go. Also, it’s a great GIF. 

67. Season 2, Episode 20 – “Drug Testing” 

  • Laughs: 8.19 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.71

TOTAL SCORE: 29.79

Best Quote: “I like the people I work with, generally, with four exceptions. But someone committed a crime, and I did not become a Lackawanna County volunteer sheriff’s deputy to make friends… And by the way, I haven’t.” -Dwight

Four standout moments from this episode:

  • Creed’s massive weed knowledge.

  • Ryan forcing Dwight to search his car “the hard way,” involving search warrants, favors from cops, and judges

  • A forcibly silent Jim — after an unprecedented game of owe-me-a-coke with Pam — staring meaningfully into her eyes when she jokes, “You can tell me anything.” They are not together. And he cannot

  • After a day in which Dwight delivered his hot pee for Michael in a coffee cup, Jim — stunningly un-self-aware regarding all he does for Pam  — says of Dwight: “I don’t get it…What is he getting out of that relationship?” 

66. Season 4, Episode 7 – “Survivor Man”

  • Laughs: 8.2

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.3 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.22

TOTAL SCORE: 29.84

Best Quote: “Man became civilized for a reason. He decided that he liked to have warmth, and clothing, and television, and hamburgers, and to walk upright, and to have a soft futon at the end of the day. He didn’t want to have to struggle to survive. I don’t need the woods. I have a nice wood desk. I don’t need fresh air, because I have the freshest air around: A.C. And I don’t need wide-open spaces. Check it out. [Shows nature screensaver] I can also make it the sky.” -Michael

It’s a Michael heat-check episode. It’s a very good piece of television and memorable simply for Michael being alone in the woods, but it carries no real weight. The stakes for the episode are simple: How much can we make you laugh? That’s fine but not the stuff that builds an all-time sitcom. When Michael returns, he learns of Jim’s failed Birthday Month idea and it is touching to see Michael bond with a beleaguered Halpert. 

65. Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26 – “Search Committee Part 1 & 2” 

  • Laughs: 8.44

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.89 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.48

  • Emotional Weight: 6.03

TOTAL SCORE: 29.84

Best Quote: “Angela’s engaged to a gay man. As a gay man, I’m horrified. As a friend of Angela’s: horrified. As a lover of elegant weddings, I’m a little excited.” -Oscar

Will Ferrell’s DeAngelo Vickers remains in a coma and Dunder Mifflin is looking for its next boss. The show trotted out a parade of celebrities including Ray Romano, Jim Carrey, Warren Buffet, Ricky Gervais as David Brent and, of course, James Spader as Robert California. At the time it aired (2011), the buzz was all about who would be the next boss. The big celebrities were mostly obvious fakeouts and Catherine Tate’s Nellie was the rumored frontrunner. Of course, we ended up getting some mix of Spader, Tate, and Ed Helms. 

In the interim, Creed is running the show and it’s pure, unadulterated nonsense. His presentation frantically pointing to the acronym B.O.B.O.D.D.Y is a personal favorite. 

Still, this episode is probably higher in the rankings than it should be, almost on a technicality. It’s memorable because of all the celeb cameos and for being the first post-Michael experience. It’s important because it’s doing the leg-work of setting up next season. It’s also pretty damn funny but in a lot of ways it’s empty calories.  

64. Season 2, Episode 9 – “Email Surveillance” 

  • Laughs: 8.2 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.5 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.85 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.3

TOTAL SCORE: 29.85

Best Quote: “I’ve gotta erase a lot of stuff. A. Lot. Of. Stuff.” -Kevin, when he learns his emails are being surveilled

There’s some tenderness to this episode: Dwight and Angela covering the emails that document their love; Pam sitting in Jim’s home at a party, getting a wider lens on who he is. These are the stolen moments that allow for the massive episodes to work.

But holy hell, Michael Scott does improv in this episode and it makes the episode. The bit where he pulls a gun in every scene is wonderful, especially with the deferred gratification of Michael (his improv guns confiscated) whispering a threat to Ken Jeong’s character. Later, he’ll force his way into Jim’s party and the improv-guns, the lack of social graces, it’s all classic early-seasons Michael Scott — just desperately insecure. 

Finally, there’s a bit of Jim slander on the internet these days, saying he’s ultimately a bad guy. Yes, he can be dickish, but I think he’s redeemable. Take this episode: He saunters up to Michael’s awkward solo karaoke duet and saves him yet another embarrassment in a night full of humiliations. 

63. Season 3, Episode 17 – “Cocktails”

  • Laughs: 7.41 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.3 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.12

  • Emotional Weight: 7.03

TOTAL SCORE: 29.86

Best Quote:I am taking a calculated risk. What’s the upside? I overcome my nausea, fall deeply in love, babies, normalcy, no more self-loathing. Downside: I date Michael Scott publicly and collapse in on myself like a dying star.” -Jan 

I think about the above quote so often. I came back to it time and again while rewatching The Office for this project. The writers must’ve had it planned. Because before Michael, Jan was somewhat normal. Intense, sure. Anxiety-ridden, yes. But dating Michael Scott opened Door No. 2 for Jan, rather than the normalcy option. And boy, did she ever collapse in on herself. After Michael she is all of her worst impulses folded on top of one another — harebrained business schemes, swings from cruelty to adoration, dalliances with barely legal young men. It was all foretold with one little quote.  

62. Season 1, Episode 1 – “Pilot” 

  • Laughs: 8.19 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.65 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.02

  • Emotional Weight: 6.12

TOTAL SCORE: 29.98

Best Quote: “I’m boring myself just talking about this.” -Jim, about selling quantities and types of copier paper

The beats aren’t exactly the same as the rest of the show. It’s a near carbon copy of the English version. The cast isn’t as familiar with their characters. Michael is written much too Gervais-ish. 

But it’s still pretty damn funny. And we get to meet the gang, we’ll soon know and love. So it’s important. 

A stray thought while watching this: It’s funny how, even from the start, Dunder Mifflin Scranton is just failing. Pretty much the entire series, the place is on the brink of collapse, which feels just about right if you’re trying to capture working life in America.  

61. Season 3, Episode 12 – “Traveling Salesman”

  • Laughs: 7.31 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.56 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.12

TOTAL SCORE: 30

Best Quote: “Dwight will be missed. Not by me, so much. But he will be missed.” -Ryan

At this point Andy, as a character, is nothing but an injection of tension. A less likable Dwight. Pure dickheadishness. Through one of Andy’s schemes, Dwight takes a fall for a mistake made by Angela and, in turn, loses his job. 

If the arc of The Office tracks Dwight and Angela’s love over nine seasons, this is a benchmark along the way. It’s proof that nothing — not even Dunder Mifflin, which is saying a lot — matters more to Dwight than Angela.  

60. Season 5, Episode 21 – “Two Weeks”

  • Laughs: 7.88 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.79 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 30.01

Best Quote: “I love a good quitting story. It makes me feel like I have control over my own life. Gives me hope. Maybe I will have one of my own someday…[laughs to himself]…But I dream.” -Oscar

Michael quit, has just two weeks left, and is chuckin’ back scotch and Splendas in the office. Realizing he has no plan, Michael births the idea for the Michael Scott Paper Company. Nobody follows at first. But then a broken Pam, who masters the complex controls of the new copier, realizes how empty it was to master the controls of the new copier. 

As a little nod to Michael being secretly competent — at least compared to corporate — the end of the episode features Charles Miner naming Kevin the new receptionist and Stanley the (lol) productivity czar.  

59. Season 2, Episode 6 – “The Fight” 

  • Laughs: 8.21 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.3 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.49

TOTAL SCORE: 30.01

Best Quote: “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” -Michael 

Just a wonderful little episode. You can watch it every day and enjoy it. Feuding over who’s tougher, Dwight and Michael basically slapbox at Dwight’s dojo and Michael — winning insomuch as either person really won — swaggers out, strutted perfectly by Carell. His Big-Man-On-Campus routine is perfect because he has no idea that nobody else was gunning for the prize.

This Season 2 episode leans on a theme that would define much of the series: Michael will do anything to procrastinate and the rest of the office will do anything to make 5 p.m. come quicker. Season 2 is really where the show found its groove and it shows. 

58. Season 2, Episode 19 – “Michael’s Birthday”

  • Laughs: 8.21 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.02 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.69

TOTAL SCORE: 30.03

Best Quote: “I never really thought about death until Princess Diana died. That was the saddest funeral ever…that and my sister’s.” -Kelly

Michael gets all worked up that Kevin’s skin cancer scare is, gasp, more important to the office than a 40-something-year-old man’s birthday. My notes just say “extremely Michael episode” and honestly that’s why it’s good.  

57. Season 6, Episode 21 – “Happy Hour” 

  • Laughs: 8.61 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 6.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.7 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.44

TOTAL SCORE: 30.19

Best Quote: 

Bartender: “What’s your drink?”

Michael: “Grenadine.”

“Happy Hour” is a frantic episode. There’s just a lot happening. The gang goes out to happy hour, the whole thing a ploy from Oscar to hit on warehouse worker Matt. We’re introduced to Date Mike (nice to meet me). Andy and Erin are becoming a thing (and fighting). Pam’s on maternity leave but desperate to see the outside world (thus roping in Jim). Kevin is wailing cries at Pam in the hopes that her boobs will leak milk.

There’s all that. But it’s the small moments that make the episode safely a top one-third offering. It’s Michael being so thrilled to be invited that he tries to start happy hour at midday. Phyllis talks about going to bars with Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) just to pick fights. 

And Pam, fully affected by Michael-Stockholm-Syndrome, tries to set him up with a friend. It’s these small choices that help the show build its world over time. Only when things go fully off the rails with Date Mike, and her friend asks what Michael is normally like, does Pam realize that — oh no — Michael is always kind of grating, she just finds it a bit more charming than she used to. Just like the audience.  

56. Season 3, Episode 8 – “The Merger”

  • Laughs: 8.55 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.58 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.16 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.02

TOTAL SCORE: 30.31

Best Quote: 

Phyllis: “Bob Vance bought this perfume for me in Metropolitan Orlando. It’s made from real pine.”

Karen: “Who’s Bob Vance?”

Phyllis: “You have a lot to learn about this town, sweetie.”

The importance of this episode is ramped up because it brings Jim back into the orbit from Stamford, while slingshotting the Pam/Karen storyline into existence. And honestly it’s hilarious because it’s like seeing a fully fleshed-out Michael in a pilot for a new show. The added cast are new people to shock. Plunging Carell’s Michael into a delicate situation is an easy recipe for success. 

Not for nothing, Phyllis and Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) are 100 percent a Scranton power couple who have their designated booth at the Chili’s, Poor Richard’s, and wherever else they want to go. Phyllis and Bob Vance are to Scranton as J-Lo and P Diddy were to the late ’90s.  

55. Season 8, Episode 12 – “Pool Party”

  • Laughs: 8.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.1 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.03

TOTAL SCORE: 30.35

Best Quote: Robert California: “This is no get together, this is a party [takes off pants].”

Just an exceptionally weird, interesting episode that likely gets a bit lost for some fans because it comes amidst the dredges of Season 8. Erin’s sweetness — she’s trying to win over Andy — and Robert California’s bizarreness carry the day. Mostly Robert. He’s depressed, divorced, and having one last blowout at his McMansion to end all McMansions. And like some fallen, drunken emperor he parades and swaggers about, taking off his pants, chugging wine by the bottle, a lifeguard over the underlings getting a taste of wealth. A perfect Robert California episode. 

54. Season 4, Episode 4 – “Money”

  • Laughs: 7.1 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.38 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.77

TOTAL SCORE: 30.46

Best Quote: “Yeah, she was with Roy, and I just couldn’t take it. I mean, I lost it, Dwight. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Even weird stuff, like food had no taste. So my solution was to move away. It was awful. It was something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and that includes you.” -Jim

The slow forging of a lasting Jim-Dwight Alliance takes a massive step forward here as Jim opens himself to Dwight and helps him suffer through Angela moving on. 

Unbeknownst to the show at the time, this episode — which centers around Michael’s debt — would basically become a meme factory. Michael screams “I. DECLARE. BANKRUPTCY!” and also jumps on a railcar to escape his responsibilities — both of which now haunt the hallways of the internet.  

53. Season 9, Episode 8 – “The Target” 

  • Laughs: 7.44 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.12

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.13 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.77

TOTAL SCORE: 30.46

Best Quote: “I started following people around to get exercise. Turns out, I’m damn good at it.” – Trevor

This episode really matters because it sets Angela on the path of singledom when she loses her damn mind after she finds out Oscar has been…filibustering…The (state) Senator.  

52. Season 3, Episode 4 – “Grief Counseling” 

  • Laughs: 8.71 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.57 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.31

TOTAL SCORE: 30.71

Best Quote: “When I die, I wanna be frozen. And if they have to freeze me in pieces, so be it. I will wake up stronger than ever because I will have used that time to figure out exactly why I died and what moves I could have used to defend myself better now that I know what hold he had me in.” -Dwight

Ed Truck gets his cappa detated and Michael — in his own Michael way — must come to grips with his own mortality as he learns Dunder Mifflin regional managers do not, in fact, live forever. In Stamford, Jim bends over backwards to get Karen some Herr’s chips — which, as someone from the Philly area, is just a *chef’s kiss* perfect snack choice. Boy, he’s a try-hard but honestly their romance is mostly sweet, if kinda the store-brand Jim-and-Pam.  

51. Season 8, Episode 21 – “Angry Andy” 

  • Laughs: 8.44

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.02 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.5 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.77

TOTAL SCORE: 30.73

Best Quote: “I’m in love with Kelly Kapoor. And I don’t know how I’m gonna feel tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, but I do know that right here, right now, all I can think about is spending the rest of my life with her…Again, that could change.” -Ryan

When a show ages into itself, when you know the characters and the beats, sometimes it can come with a surprise fastball of an episode. Something totally out of nowhere. “Angry Andy” is that. There’s a great Ryan-Kelly storyline, removed from their typical place on the margins. Ryan, possessed with jealousy over Kelly’s new boyfriend Ravi, goes about trying to win her back with backhanded statements of love.

Meanwhile, Andy is back with Erin and Nellie has overtaken the Nard Dog’s office. It’s a bit silly, but we’re on Season 8 and I’m inclined to let it slide, knowing that eventually Nellie will pivot into a weirdo character — sort of Creed with a foothold in reality. 

But it’s the Ryan-Kelly story that drives this episode. And it ends with a pitch-perfect moment. Ryan, being a jackass, shows up on a horse trying to win Kelly back. Pam boos. Kelly says nope. Then she makes out with Ryan. Then she recommits to the nope! 

Mindy Kaling is a force. In less deft hands, Kelly might be cloying. But Kaling makes her hilarious and sharp — while, of course, being a bit ridiculous since the show is a sitcom. But Kelly’s ability to always spot the sucker in the room allows for a moment like her walking away from Ryan. For once, she’s able to see she’s the sucker and has been for years. 

50. Season 7, Episode 2 – “Counseling” 

  • Laughs: 8.13 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.55 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.65 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.59

TOTAL SCORE: 30.92

Best Quote: “I’m glad Michael’s getting help. He has a lot of issues, and he’s stupid.” -Phyllis

Michael and Toby are locked in a cage match of emotions as Michael completes his corporate-mandated counseling. For a moment there they both seem human. Or they both hate skeleton-ass Gabe. Either way.  

“The Dementors!”

Image: Mashable composite; NBCUniversal

49. Season 3, Episode 9 – “The Convict” 

  • Laughs: 8.97

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.01

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.01

TOTAL SCORE: 30.98

Best Quote: Michael as Prison Mike: “The worst thing about prison was the…was the Dementors. They were flying all over the place and they were scary and then they’d come down and they’d suck the soul out of your body and it hurt!”

Work sucks. The gang toys with Michael, bitching that Martin Nash’s prison experience was far better than your average day at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. 

And we get Prison Mike. Carell is on fire. He takes relatively meh jokes — the Dementors, for instance — and injects performance-enhancing drugs into the punchlines through physicality. The weird, all-elbows machismo, the scrunched face and, my god, the fucking Prison Mike voice. When he tells Ryan he’d be “da belle ah da bawl” — it’s so incredibly dumb and wonderful.

It’s an episode with no real deeper meaning. And it doesn’t need to have any! It’s just great.

48. Season 3, Episode 7 – “Branch Closing” 

  • Laughs: 8.54

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.56 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.79 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.15

TOTAL SCORE: 31.04

Best Quote: “If I get to stay and Ryan is laid off, I will kill myself. Like Romeo and Juliet…the Claire Danes one.” -Kelly 

We get the “put on a brave face” meme from Michael, who believes the branch is closed — saying as much to the entire office — before Josh walks away from Stamford, necessitating a new plan and the return of Jim to Scranton.

But what matters in the episode is the dumbass heart Michael displays. He fucks up so often. He is a walking lawsuit. But the heart has to be there or it just does not matter. Or, at least, the show couldn’t last nine seasons. Stamford Josh sells the team down the river for a middling job at Staples. Michael would sooner run the whole damn thing aground before doing that — for better or worse. Does that make any sense? Of course not. But The Office’s writers seem to believe there is value in nearly delusional love. I tend to agree with them.  

47. Season 3, Episode 10 – “Benihana Christmas”  

  • Laughs: 8.66 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.04 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.55

TOTAL SCORE: 31.26

Best Quote: “It’s a bold move to Photoshop yourself into a picture with your girlfriend and her kids on a ski trip with their real father. But then again, Michael’s a bold guy. Is bold the right word?” -Jim

A really, really great Christmas episode. Michael is reeling after Carol dumps him for well, being a total creep and weirdo. It’s an episode chock full of good moments. Dwight, exiled from the group in Benihana, walks through the steps of killing a deer. Creed Bratton sings the real-world Creed Bratton song “Spinnin’ ‘N Reelin.'” Angela sings “Little Drummer Boy,” which Dwight sang in Episode 1. The Office did everything with a purpose. 

But most importantly, it’s so telling that everything falls apart when Michael brings the Benihana waitresses back to the office party. The office has their own small world and it’s just so tough for anyone else to fit in. I love episodes that throw outside characters into the office. 

Also, Michael is drunk off Nog-o-Sakes (three parts sake, one part egg nog) and rebounding. It’s one of the best Office episodes to revisit. Fun, festive, and just a tinge of everyday sadness.  

46. Season 2, Episode 11 – “Booze Cruise” 

  • Laughs: 8.4 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.69 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 6.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.04

TOTAL SCORE: 31.34

Best Quote: 

Michael to Jim, about Pam: “If you like her so much, don’t give up.” 

Jim: “She’s engaged.”

Michael: “BFD. Engaged ain’t married.”

Jim breaks up with Amy Adams’ character. Michael dances on the Rob Riggle-captained boat, trying to convey something akin to Business Lessons. Holy shit, Carell does that slap-dance thing and it’s elemental how funny it is. The laughs are pure, snorted comedy. 

But, in the bigger picture — in the picture that makes this show matter in your heart— this episode brings Michael into the Jim-Pam fray. For some reason — bursting loneliness, probably a tinge of self sabotage — Jim tells Michael how he feels about Pam. And it’s just hopeless. Why would he tell Michael? It’s kind of sad. Part of what made The Office great was its willingness to linger in that hopelessness, dragging it out as long as they could. Because isn’t that how life can go?  

45. Season 5, Episode 10 – “The Surplus” 

  • Laughs: 8.33 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.78 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.68 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.55

TOTAL SCORE: 31.34

Best Quote: “I hate disappointing just one person. And I really hate disappointing everyone. But I love Burlington Coat Factory. You go in there with 645 dollars, you are literally a king.” -Michael

It’s an episode of delusions. The A plot is Michael getting wined and dined over the office’s surplus funds — copier vs. new chairs. The B plot is Andy and Angela making wedding plans — Dwight, of course, in pursuit of his Monkey — and that story has too many delusions to count. 

This whole episode just hits. It’s a mix of lunacy and sweetness, which feels like The Office at it’s finest. Michael funnels sugar into a diet coke. Dwight never gives up on Angela. Michael can’t stop choking on tiramisu (that he rescued from the trash) while talking to David Wallace. Dwight tricks Angela into (not really but kind of really) marrying him. 

And, at every turn, Michael underestimates the people in the office. They get chairs.

44. Season 7, Episode 20 – “Training Day” 

  • Laughs: 8.22 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.11

TOTAL SCORE: 31.55

Best Quote: “Best whale watching: easily the West Coast. If you’re going whale watching on the East Coast, you might wanna bring a magazine called ‘West Coast Whales.’ Because you’re not gonna see any.” -DeAngelo

Michael is on his way out and the brief, resplendent DeAngelo Vickers era is on its way in. You see the beginnings of Will Ferrell’s overconfident oddball character. The introductory monologue alone is wonderful, strange character building: “Little bit about myself, I love the American Southwest, for starters. You may call them Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, I call them heaven. I have a peanut allergy, something I live with, it’s a part of me. I’ve learned to cope with it. What else…I’m just as comfortable at the ball game as I am at the opera…”

And it’s only natural that Michael grows jealous when he realizes Dunder Mifflin Scranton will not remain a perfect time capsule — how dare DeAngelo change the way Erin answers the phone! The places we love, the ones we think belong to us, will go on without us and, of course, that is a natural fact that Michael cannot stand. 

43. Season 7, Episode 23 – “The Inner Circle”  

  • Laughs: 8.67

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.67 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.11

TOTAL SCORE: 31.57

Best Quote: “No matter how many times I reach out to Dwight, he doesn’t seem to want anything to do with me. It reminds me of my relationship with my son. Except there, I’m the Dwight.” -DeAngelo

Michael is gone. DeAngelo is a sexist. Will Ferrell is a wildcard that helps lessen the blow of Carell’s exit.

Meanwhile, Jim kind of kills DeAngelo by challenging him to dunk in this episode? We never really learned what exactly happened to DeAngelo after falling from the hoop — but it sure as shit wasn’t good. The Office does a nice little sitcom trick by never fully addressing DeAngelo’s disappearance — the rules of reality in a sitcom are just a bit more fungible.  

42. Season 7, Episode 16 – “PDA” 

  • Laughs: 7.69 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.11 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.45 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.33

TOTAL SCORE: 31.58

Best Quote: “Blue Wasabi is so good, but get the cheeseburger. They say they won’t do it, but they will if you make a scene.” -Phyllis 

This is the first episode Michael and Holly are fully back together and it’s very nice and the beginning of the slow goodbye to Michael.  

41. Season 3, Episode 3 – “The Coup” 

  • Laughs: 8.53 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.12 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.55 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.54

TOTAL SCORE: 31.74

Best Quote: “Business is like a jungle. And I…am like a tiger. And Dwight is like a monkey that stabs the tiger in the back with a stick. Does the tiger fire the monkey? Does the tiger transfer the monkey to another branch?…Pun. There is no way of knowing what goes on inside the tiger’s head. We don’t have the technology.” -Michael

Dwight tries to take Michael’s job at the behest of Angela. It’s a great episode, funny and jam-packed for 21 minutes of television.

There’s an exchange where Dwight tells Jan to shop at a Liz Claiborne outlet while she awaits his arrival. Wondering how he knew she likes that brand, Dwight says it’s all part of the job. The way Melora Hardin delivers the response “no it’s not — it’s officially not” will stick in my brain forever. 

Dwight goes against his hero — shoveling waffles into his face as he pitches Jan on the ill-fated idea — and the place he loves for Angela and, dammit, I’m glad they ended up together.  

40. Season 5, Episode 24 – “Heavy Competition” 

  • Laughs: 8.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.77 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.01

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 31.8 

Best Quote: “I color code all my info. I wrote ‘gay son’ in green. Green means go, so I know to go ahead and shut up about it. Orange means, ‘Orange you glad you didn’t bring it up?’ Most colors mean ‘Don’t say it.'” -Michael

It’s Dunder Mifflin vs. The Michael Scott Paper Company. Dwight vs. Michael. Master vs. Apprentice. Pitted against one another for the fate of the greater Scranton area paper market. So it’s not exactly like Highlander. But still. 

39. Season 7, Episode 10 – “China”

  • Laughs: 7.42 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.57 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.15 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.66

TOTAL SCORE: 31.8 

Best Quote: “I am talking about freedom, about choice. America, I don’t think you need to worry. Because if you want to beat China you will. If you don’t, that’s fine. That my friend, is your victory. You know, a lot of people say if you dig long enough and hard enough you will get to China, and that may be true, but what they don’t tell you is that if you dig long enough and hard enough in a conversation, you get to a friend. So, here is to conversation.” -Michael

Michael debating Oscar on China and then winning with centrist Americana platitudes is just beautiful. It’s also a commentary on politics that feels hilariously pre-Trump.  

38. Season 5, Episode 9 – “Frame Toby” 

  • Laughs: 8.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.77 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.89

  • Emotional Weight: 7.16

TOTAL SCORE: 31.93

Best Quote: “What is my perfect crime? I break into Tiffany’s at midnight. Do I go for the vault? No, I go for the chandelier. It’s priceless. As I’m taking it down, a woman catches me. She tells me to stop. It’s her father’s business. She’s Tiffany. I say no. We make love all night. In the morning, the cops come and I escape in one of their uniforms. I tell her to meet me in Mexico, but I go to Canada. I don’t trust her. Besides, I like the cold. Thirty years later, I get a postcard. I have a son and he’s the chief of police. This is where the story gets interesting. I tell Tiffany to meet me in Paris by the Trocadero. She’s been waiting for me all these years. She’s never taken another lover. I don’t care. I don’t show up. I go to Berlin. That’s where I stashed the chandelier.” -Dwight

Toby is back and Michael is ON one. Jim buys Pam the house and she’s just…OK…with it. This has been discussed ad nauseam in the pockets of the internet that want to decide that either Jim or Pam is actually bad, but it is a, um, big decision to buy a damn house without your partner’s input. In the end, it’s a sitcom (and kind of a rom-com) and you’ve just got to take a leap of faith. 

Also, this is the “NOOO, GOD! NO, GOD, PLEASE, NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!” episode, which will live on forever in meme format. 

37. Season 5, Episode 25 – “Broke”   

  • Laughs: 8.15 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.15 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.77

TOTAL SCORE: 31.95

Best Quote: “You know, David, I don’t care if Ryan murdered his entire family, he is like a son to me.” -Michael

Because Ryan slept through pricing models in B-school, and because Michael is Michael, the fledgling Michael Scott Paper Company is broke. Just flat broke. Michael, however, somehow goes toe-to-toe with Dunder Mifflin and gets the gang their jobs back. Again, somehow, corporate always seems to prove dumber than Michael.

Michael spots that while he might be desperate, he’s willing to struggle in perpetuity. David Wallace and Dunder Mifflin blink because they’re in the paper game for entirely different (and far more sane) reasons than love. 

36. Season 3, Episode 22 – “Beach Games” 

  • Laughs: 7.89 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.54 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.55

TOTAL SCORE: 31.99

Best Quote: “I just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.” -Kevin

Pam finally gives her big speech to Jim. She finally puts her needs in the driver’s seat after a lifetime of caring for others. Hallelujah! Throughout the course of the show Pam finds out how brave she is. She’s brave enough to go for Jim. Brave enough to go to art school mid-career and brave enough to walk away when she didn’t want it any longer. And she’s brave enough to throw a Grand Jim Gesture back at Jim when she decides they should go to Austin.

A big part of that starts here. I love how the writers resisted the urge to make Pam’s speech perfect, like in an overly saccharine rom-com. It’s gut-punching because it’s free-verse, staccato honesty. She says to Jim, in part:  

“And things are just weird between us, and that sucks. And I miss you. You were my best friend before you went to Stamford. And I really miss you. I shouldn’t have been with Roy. And there were a lot of reasons to call off my wedding. But the truth is, I didn’t care about any of those reasons until I met you. And now you’re with someone else. And that’s fine. It’s…whatever. That’s not what…I’m not…OK, my feet really hurt. The thing that I’m just trying to say to you, Jim…and to everyone else in this circle I guess, is that I miss having fun with you. Just you, not everyone in the circle. OK, I am going to go walk in the water now. Yeah. It’s a good day.” 

The camera cuts to Jim, who looks ready to burst — a guy seemingly looking back on his past and toward his future but, more immediately, at his girlfriend (Karen) who is not going to be happy.  

Phyllis' big day? Nope. It's Michael's big day.

Phyllis’ big day? Nope. It’s Michael’s big day.

Image: Mashable composite; Getty images/NBCUniversal

35. Season 3, Episode 15 – “Phyllis’ Wedding” 

  • Laughs: 8.81 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.23

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.13

TOTAL SCORE: 32.05

Best Quote: 

Meredith: “Thought you’re not supposed to wear white to a wedding?” 

Kelly, wearing white: “I know but there was an emergency.” 

[camera cuts to interview with Kelly] “I look really good in white.” 

A lot of characters are really leaning in on their funniest tendencies in this episode. Michael makes the wedding about himself; Phyllis is a savage by stealing the details of Pam’s wedding that wasn’t; Dwight prowls for wedding crashers and kicks a guy with dementia out; Jim (kind of) pranks Dwight into doing that; Kelly wears white; Creed steals someone’s present; Kevin is in his own little world behind the drum set for Scrantonicity. It’s a really good episode that might not immediately come to mind when you make your internal list of great episodes.  

34. Season 6, Episode 12 – “Scott’s Tots” 

  • Laughs: 8.88

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.88 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.33

TOTAL SCORE: 32.08

Best Quote: “I just — I fell in love with these kids. And I didn’t want to see them fall victim to the system. So I made them a promise. I told them if they graduated from high school, I would pay for their college education. I have made some empty promises in my life but hands down, that was the most generous.” -Michael

Simply the cringiest episode of a show built, in part, on making you cringe. As bad as you remember the reveal moment being, it is far, far worse.

Still — and this is necessary — Michael’s heart is good. He is an idiot but a well-meaning one, for the most part. Again, that is the magic trick that made the show last. Erin’s heart, meanwhile, is raw cane sugar. And it’s nice to see them bond here. 

33. Season 7, Episode 13  – “Ultimatum” 

  • Laughs: 8.55 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.22 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.14 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.33

TOTAL SCORE: 32.24

Best Quote: “I want to do a cartwheel. But real casual-like. Not make a big deal about it. But I know everybody saw it. Just one stunning, gorgeous cartwheel.” -Creed

Holly said she would break up with her boyfriend AJ if he hadn’t proposed by the new year. He didn’t! But she couldn’t pull the trigger. So, a heartbroken Michael decides he’s going to put everyone through hell via Pam’s New Year’s resolution project in a stupid attempt to break up Holly and AJ. Jim is hardly in this episode but it’s funny as hell, with an A plot of Michael chasing down Holly and a B plot of Darryl, Andy, and Dwight going to the bookstore and skating rink.

Confronted by the office, Michael kind of lets go of trying to control Holly’s love. That might be reading a bit too much into it — alas, what is this entire project but reading too much into everything in The Office — but it’s real. “You loom so large in my heart that I crossed the line,” he says to Kev and Creed (but really Holly) and seven damn seasons of growth later, Michael is finally able to let go of something. Down the line, of course, because The Office is the world’s best serialized rom-com, he finally gets his partner.  

32. Season 9, Episode 4 – “Work Bus” 

  • Laughs: 7.22 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.33 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.77

TOTAL SCORE: 32.33

Best Quote: “You have one minute and your minute has begun and no time will be added at the end, even to accommodate this sentence with all of its…baroque dependent clauses…and cascading turns of phrase.” -Andy

Dwight is childless and stuck and sad. He’s actually on the precipice of getting everything he ever wanted, but he can’t see it yet. Isn’t that how it always goes? 

Treats from LaVerne’s Pies (Tires Fixed Also) on the line, Jim has to remind Dwight of his love for the place and for living his oddball beet-farming life. That the fight isn’t over. Just like Jim remembered the fight wasn’t over with Pam. The fight for drawing some kind of meaning out of a mundane office life — to that matter, any life, really — has to keep going. A real bestest-mensch move from Jimbo. 

The storylines for Season 9 — which I unapologetically love — really start to come together here: Jim and Dwight love each other, Jim and Pam will always love each other, Andy shouldn’t be with Erin (you can see her chatting up Plop at the pie stand), and that this little band of weirdos kind of hate each other but don’t really have anyone else. Family!  

31. Season 7, Episode 15 – “The Search” 

  • Laughs: 7.77

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.88

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.01

  • Emotional Weight: 8.88

TOTAL SCORE: 32.54

Best Quote: “Holly is ruining Michael’s life. He thinks she is so special and she’s so not. Her personality is like a three. Her sense of humor is a two. Her ears are like a seven and a four. Add it all up and what do you get? 16. And he treats her like she’s a perfect 40. It’s nuts.” -Erin

I just realized that quote from Erin arbitrarily grades something on a 40-point scale. I…I wish that I did this on purpose. I wish I made this whole system an obscure reference. Alas, I did not and it was a stupid coincidence. But here we are.

Michael goes on the lam and only Holly can find him. It’s a decently funny episode, but it’s obviously boosted via the importance and emotional weight. We see Michael find love. 

30. Season 3, Episode 5 – “Initiation” 

  • Laughs: 8.71 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.55

  • Emotional Weight: 7.07

TOTAL SCORE: 32.54

Best Quote: “I wake up every morning in a bed that’s too small, drive my daughter to a school that’s too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little. But on Pretzel Day? Well, I like Pretzel Day.” -Stanley

Mother fuckin’ Pretzel Day, baby. Anything can happen. And that includes Stanley somehow teaming up with Michael — a man he respects less than the gum on his shoe — to send Phyllis to the back of the line when she tries to jump ahead. 

Meanwhile, Dwight takes Ryan to the beet farm to teach him lessons about making sales. The lessons include getting ditched in the mud and wrestling Mose dressed up as “fear.” Later, on the sale, we see inklings of Ryan’s propensity for being a dickhead when he eggs the client who denied them a purchase.

There are lots of laughs to go around. It’s Michael being a toddler and Dwight being a weirdo. 

There’s also a super sweet scene right at the end of the episode. Jim and Pam — he in Stamford, she in Scranton — reconnect over the phone by accident. Jim thought he was going to get the Scranton branch’s voicemail, but instead Pam answers and for a few minutes things almost feel normal between them. And there’s this subtle inkling of hope right until the call has to end. 

29. Season 5, Episode 1 & 2 – “Weight Loss” 

  • Laughs: 7.56 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.88

TOTAL SCORE: 32.76 

Best Quote: “Andy Bernard does not lose contests. He wins them. Or he quits them because they are unfair.” -Andy 

Jim asks Pam to marry him. He couldn’t wait. Jesus, man, it had been four seasons. About time. Rewatch it and try to let it not get to you. Soaked in the rain, kneeling at a rest stop, somehow it’s perfect. 

Meanwhile, Michael is going after Holly and dressing up as Michael Klump and, whooo boy, it is worse than you might remember. And Dwight is just straight-up cruel in these episodes. But that meanness honestly helps fuel the episode’s humor.  

28. Season 3, Episode 2 – “The Convention” 

  • Laughs: 8.56

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.66 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.58 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.01

TOTAL SCORE: 32.81

Best Quote: “Poor little guy has been stuck working under Josh, the poor man’s Michael Scott, as he is known around my condo.” -Michael

This might be the episode I return to the most. I love Michael — in his room close to the elevator to garner more foot traffic to his party — sipping a cosmo alone, strobe light full-blast, stereo pumping a techo monstrosity with the refrain “girls gone wild.” In his glorious, Microsoft Office-branded Hawaiian shirt (), Michael begins the legwork of bringing Jim back into the fold while, again, proving to be secretly competent at his job by landing a deal with Hammermill paper.

Jim, meanwhile, admits to Michael he left because of Pam’s rejections. In Scranton, Pam is on a weird double date with a jackass cartoonist via Kelly’s suggestion. On the awkward date, Kelly feeds Ryan fries and just says “he loves ketchup” in such a perfect way and I love it. She just wants to know him with the thrust of a jet plane so any small fact — loving ketchup — is huge.  

27. Season 2, Episode 21 – “Conflict Resolution” 

  • Laughs: 8.89 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.44 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.5 

  • Emotional Weight: 6.99

TOTAL SCORE: 32.82

Best Quote: “Security in this office park is a joke. Last year I came to work with my spud gun in a duffle bag. I sat at my desk all day with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?” -Dwight

Just a hilarious, memorable episode. Michael tries to put all the interoffice conflicts out in the open and, well, that doesn’t work for shit. The writers were cheating with the scene where Michael, Jim, and Dwight revisit all the best, offscreen pranks we never got to see. Just a brilliant idea. 

Jim takes the meeting that ultimately ends with him leaving for Stamford. And the final shot of the episode is just so good — Toby deposits the box of unsolved HR complaints into the warehouse a la Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

26. Season 5, Episode 11 – “Moroccan Christmas”

  • Laughs: 8.61

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.52

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.79 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.02

TOTAL SCORE: 32.94

Best Quote: “When I was in college I used to get wicked hammered. My nickname was Puke. I would chug a fifth of SoCo, sneak into a frat party, polish off a few people’s empties, some brewskies, some Jell-O shots, do some body shots off myself, pass out, wake up the next morning, boot, rally, more SoCo, head to class. Probably would have gotten expelled if I had let it affect my grades, but I aced all my courses. They called me Ace. It was totally awesome. Got straight Bs. They called me Buzz.” -Andy

The office is bursting with interpersonal bullshit and Michael, in his infinite wisdom, decides they need to stage an intervention for a drunken Meredith. It’s a damn funny episode and it ends with Phyllis setting up the Dwight vs. Andy showdown over Angela’s love.

But my favorite part of this episode is Michael, after a failed intervention, saying he’s got to push Meredith to her rock bottom just like he did with Jan. Every once in a while, the guy is wise. 

Scratch that: Not wise, self aware. Once in a while, he’s got just the right amount of self awareness.  

25. Season 5, Episode 12 – “The Duel” 

  • Laughs: 8.59

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.52 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.18

  • Emotional Weight: 7.77

TOTAL SCORE: 33.06

Best Quote: “David, here it is. My philosophy is basically this. And this is something that I live by. And I always have. And I always will. Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what. No matter…where. Or who, or who you are with, or, or where you are going, or…or where you’ve been…ever. For any reason, whatsoever.” -Michael

The cold open is the sprinting-through-a-speed-trap bit and, listen, I tried it in Sea Isle City, New Jersey on summer— entirely alone, out on a jog — and it didn’t work and I was bitter as hell. I registered a big fat zero miles-per-hour and it was utterly disappointing.

This is the episode where Dwight and Andy face off for Angela and it’s supremely memorable if only for the dumbassery. Andy trying to run over Dwight with a silent Prius. Dwight whipping off his belt to smash the hood of said Prius. 

You’d be tempted to think Dwight and Angela were played for weird laughs. And, I guess, in some way that was true. But the little breadcrumbs I’ve talked about way too much in this thing hint at the fact that it was never that they were a joke, it was that they couldn’t admit the joke was on them — that the person you love is rarely, if ever, convenient.  

24. Season 7, Episode 14 – “The Seminar” 

  • Laughs: 8.97 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.19 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.11

  • Emotional Weight: 7.88

TOTAL SCORE: 33.15

Best Quote: “Two eyes, two ears. A chin, a mouth, ten fingers, two nipples. A butt, two kneecaps, a penis. I have just described to you the Loch Ness Monster. And the reward for its capture? All the riches in Scotland. So I have one question: Why are you here? ” -Creed

Andy is trying to lure new sales with a timeshare-like seminar and, in my notes, I wrote that it’s an episode that produces pure guffaws. Really, really funny. Soon, Carell will leave the show. But, for now, he does a great job as the plant in Andy’s seminar, inexplicably deciding he must be Greek and he must be named Mykonos. 

Kevin attempts to fill in as the big shot presenter and it is, at first, hilarious — sweaty, out of breath and off-script — but then it’s sad (doesn’t Kev deserve better than being a punchline?) and then, ultimately, it works and he’s redeemed. Kelly’s pitch, meanwhile, as the Business Bitch will never get old. 

The important bit of this episode is the Michael-Holly budding love. But it’s the weird laughs that bring it home.  

23. Season 7, Episodes 11 & 12 – “Classy Christmas”

  • Laughs: 8.77 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.21 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.2 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.08

TOTAL SCORE: 33.26

Best Quote: “I’m the office administrator now, which means I’m basically being paid to be head of the Party Planning Committee. The first thing I did as head, I shut it down. At its worst it was a toxic political club used to make others feel miserable and left out… At its best, it planned parties.” -Pam 

Dwight tortures Jim by acting like a straight-up killer in a snowball fight. Holly returns to Scranton from Nashua and Michael is, as ever, smitten and nervous. He’s still a child about her, unable to get over the clear obstacles in their way, but he’s working toward it. A great episode. 

22. Season 4, Episode 14 – “Goodbye Toby” 

  • Laughs: 8.71 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 7.86 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.54

TOTAL SCORE: 33.32

Best Quote: “My whole life, I have known two things: I love sex, and I want to have kids. And I always thought that those two things would go hand in hand, but now I think it might be one or the other.” -Michael

An incredible Season 4 finale. Michael is going all out because he’s about to lose Toby forever (or so he thinks). Michael also meets Holly and, immediately, you kind of know this is the thing? Is it rather convenient some weirdo drops in from Nashua? Sure. But the writers do the work of making Holly her own person — one who ditches Michael when it makes sense and, slowly, makes her way back when it is time. 

Meanwhile, well, there’s a shit ton going on in this double episode. Jan is pregnant with a sperm donor baby. Jim is going to ask Pam to marry him at the party. Benefiting from Jim’s romantic planning (fireworks and the like), Andy spontaneously proposes to Angela. Phyllis catches Angela getting busy with Dwight. It’s a beautiful episode to end the season but also expands the possibilities of what’s to come. This episode helps create the big arcs of the final four seasons.

And let’s not forget Michael flat-face grilling Toby in his exit interview, ad-libbing off his planned insults (adjusting for Holly), and handing him a literal rock that says “suck on this.” Later, the manic joy of Michael singing “Goodbye, Toby” in the parking lot is like watching a middle-schooler head off into summer break. Carell forever.  

21. Season 2, Episode 10 – “Christmas Party” 

  • Laughs: 8.6 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.99

  • Memorability, Quotability: 7.76 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.01

TOTAL SCORE: 33.36 

Best Quote: “Angela drafted me into the party planning committee. Her memo said that we needed to prepare for every possible disaster, which to me seems…excessive.” -Ryan 

There is far more in this episode than you might remember. The Office never missed a chance at making working life dark, and Michael is flush with cash because corporate threw him some extra money when he fired Devon. He soon ruins Secret Santa because he’s pissed Phyllis gave him a knitted present (a type of gift, by the way, he’s dying to have when he leaves in Season 7…growth!). Michael wants the attention of spending money on the iPod he got for Ryan, and flips the whole thing into a White Elephant nightmare in which Dwight ends up with Jim’s sweet present (and love letter) intended for Pam. We never get to read that letter but it’s the everything Pam will need to know when the marriage hits a rough patch seven seasons later. It’s the goddamn symbol that becomes everything down the line and the little bit of love we, the audience, never get to see. It’s so stupidly sweet it makes me happy writing about it. 

That’s all great. But The Office has plenty of moments like that. But this episode also has so many great scenes that propel it up the list for me. Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) does his “Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration” bit. Meredith shoots her (bare-chested) shot at Michael. Michael gets the office shit-blasted with vodka and everyone gets weird. It’s a theme I’ve returned to a lot in this never-ending list, but the beauty of The Office is that Michael made his workplace the home he always wanted via sheer force of will — the show’s creators were so smart in building that slowly. The people around him slowly lose the urge to resist him. For instance: Michael expresses early in this episode that he wants the party to get wild, with “lampshades on heads” and then, because he is insatiable, he just gets drunk and puts a lampshade on his head because it had to happen in his mind (he literally yells, “It’s happening!”).

But you know what? The guy did it. Michael willed that place into being a family. In a small way, Michael even sees that victory play out in this episode. He gets invited out to Poor Richard’s with the gang after the office Christmas party. All the dude ever wanted was to be included like that. 

20. Season 9, Episode 16 – “Moving On” 

  • Laughs: 8.01 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.76 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.33 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.55

TOTAL SCORE: 33.65 

Best Quote: “I still wear Erin’s button-downs around the condo sometimes. So it feels to me like we’re still in a relationship.” -Gabe

I’ll admit that I’m a sap and this is probably too high on the list. But hear me out — I put a lot of effort into this list that is basically the length of a book. I think Jim and Pam slash Dwight and Angela do a lot of the heavy lifting to give this episode some actual meaning, in regards to the greater Office Universe. Pam is trying. She’s really, really trying to embrace the Philadelphia thing by going and interviewing for a job (the Michael-Scott-esque boss is played by Bob Odenkirk, who years before auditioned to be Michael). Angela, meanwhile, goes to help Dwight with his ailing Aunt Shirley and gets a brief glimpse into the life that could’ve been — a weird and scary life, yes, but also a world meant to be tamed by a “little kitchen witch,” as Shirley deems Angela. 

In Scranton, Andy is making everyone miserable because he is miserable after finding out Plop and Erin are a thing. He brings in Plop’s ex as well as Gabe just to get everyone upset. The show does a nice sleight of hand, though. Obviously, Andy is acting like a jerk and he wasn’t a good boyfriend to Erin. But, he’s hurting — and he has to have that hurt amplified every day at work — it makes sense he’d act out. And damn, Zach Woods is great in his return as Gabe, just tossing grenades of lanky weirdness. When he says to Erin: “I got a tattoo for you” and she goes “I didn’t ask you to get that Nike Swoosh. Nobody did! You did that for you!” and then he fires back “Just do it. You were the it that I was just doing”— that shit cracked me up and sometimes that’s enough to catapult an episode up the ranking list.  

19. Season 7, Episode 17 – “Threat Level Midnight” 

  • Laughs: 8.79 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.89 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.99

TOTAL SCORE: 33.68

Best Quote: “I am a huge Woody Allen fan. Although I’ve only seen “Antz.” But I’ll tell you something, what I respect about that man is that when he was going through all of that stuff that came out in the press…about how “Antz” was just a ripoff of “A Bug’s Life,” he stayed true to his films. Or at least the film that I saw, which, again, was “Antz”. Thing is…I thought “A Bug’s Life” was better, much better than “Antz.” Point is, don’t listen to your critics. Listen to your fans.” -Michael 

Sometimes you’ve gotta give the people what they want. And what the people wanted was to see Threat Level Midnight.

My three favorite moments from the Great Scott film company classic, in no particular order: 

  • The dark turn where Michael Scarn chokes out Oscar’s speedskating character with the American flag 

  • The Scarn dance. It’s beautiful and I do it every night before I go to bed

  • Andy’s overwrought bartender voice that feels like a cousin of the Prison Mike voice 

It’s a fun episode and, in the end, via Holly, Michael even gains a bit of self awareness. He’s able to laugh at how bad, but funny, the movie is with the office. 

Sure, this episode served, at the time, to bring a lot of the old cast back in Carell’s final season. Yes, you have to suspend some disbelief to think Michael Scott could put together something even half-resembling a coherent short film. But sometimes it’s OK and fun to do fan service and, listen, we all remember this episode.  

18. Season 5, Episode 28 – “Company Picnic” 

  • Laughs: 8.18 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.21 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.74

TOTAL SCORE: 34.14

Best Quote: “Holly and I can never be just friends. I wrote down a list of bullet points why Holly and I should be together, and I’m going to find the perfect moment today and I’m going to tell her. Number one, ‘Holly, you and I are soup snakes.’ And the reason is because in terms of the soup, we like to…that doesn’t make any sense…We’re soul mates. Holly and I are soul mates.” -Michael

It’s a good episode and I always appreciate episodes where, against their better judgment, folks in the office get caught up in caring about something silly — as they do here with the volleyball tournament. But the real point of this episode is that is it sets up the things to come — Pam is pregnant and Michael is playing the long game with Holly. 

17. Season 5, Episodes 14 & 15 – “Stress Relief, Part 1 & 2”

  • Laughs: 9.67

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.12

TOTAL SCORE: 34.68

Best Quote: “And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.” -Michael

If you haven’t watched the cold-open to this episode in a while, please stop what you’re doing and watch it. 

Well….that was hilarious, right? If you didn’t follow directions, first, how dare you? Second, it’s the one where Dwight starts a literal fire to test the office’s fire preparedness and everyone loses their shit. Kevin loots; Oscar climbs into the ducts; Angela tosses a cat; Jim rams a door with a copier;  Michael breaks a window with an overhead projector. It’s shot so well, building up into all-out mayhem and culminating in Stanley having a heart attack. 

As if that weren’t enough, the show flexes on its audience by also making this the CPR episode, which is another masterfully shot, truly hilarious sequence. Also, the Dwight-as-Hannibal meme has lived on for years. 

But the best moment of this episode comes just after the cold open. Michael is in a meeting with corporate and Dwight after he almost killed Stanley while also nearly burning down the Scranton branch. Michael, trying to project authority, wants to make this all go away. He wanders up to the window in the conference room, looks at the New York skyline, takes a deep breath, lifts his leg and then sighs out, “Ahh, the city.” It’s so dumb and perfect and I wish I could live in that moment forever.  

16. Season 3, Episode 1 – “Gay Witch Hunt”

  • Laughs: 8.7 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.9 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.5 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.8

TOTAL SCORE: 34.9

Best Quote: “Big Tuna is a super ambitious guy, you know? Cut your throat to get ahead type of guy. But I mean I’m not threatened by him. I went to Cornell, you ever heard of it? I graduated in four years. I never studied once. I was drunk the whole time, and I sang in the acappella group, Here Comes Treble.” -Andy, making his phenomenal intro to the show

Michael’s early seasons stupidity morphs itself into outright homophobia in this episode. It’s just soooooo bad and awkward and, my God, the kiss with Oscar. It gets no easier to watch the more times you rewatch the episode. But the cringey nature of the show in some spots gives the episode that old-school, we’re gonna make you squirm while laughing feeling that The Office perfected. But it also wasn’t afraid of making Michael go too far, to be offensive in a way that wasn’t funny. Like when he asks Oscar to grab a beer so they can talk about how he’s able to “do that to another dude.” The writers build in a moment of catharsis to counteract Michael being a total dick. “No!” Oscar screams at Michael. “I don’t want to touch you, ever consider that? You’re ignorant, and insulting, and small!” He’s right and we see it. It’s kind of brave of The Office to make the main character such an ass. 

But, importantly, this is the episode where we learned what the hell happened after Season 2, left hanging on a daring kiss from Jim. And, well, Jim is gone and Ryan is at his desk. We flash back to the moment when Pam pulls back from Jim and he sadly asks, “Are you really gonna marry him?” and just punch me in the face so I’m not sad, OK? 

We eventually learn Pam is not marrying Roy but she’s also not with Jim. We meet the Stamford gang, most importantly Andy and Karen. Rewatching the show, there’s genuine sadness seeing Jim and Pam apart. But it was necessary. The show had to drag it out and the relationship always felt its most real when it wasn’t simple. 

Lastly, there’s an important moment you might’ve missed. Right after we learn Jim is in Stamford, he’s shown at his desk, looking off at a body of water. “You can’t beat that view,” he says. And yet, that view isn’t looking at Pam. Anything that isn’t Pam can’t be that great and we know it. It’s clear he’s lying just to get by. That tiny moment does so much work.  

15. Season 9, Episode 21 – “Livin’ The Dream” 

  • Laughs: 8.26 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.09 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.01 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.71

TOTAL SCORE: 35.07

Best Quote: “Andy’s from the generation that thinks they should all be famous. What happened to the generation that knew you shut up, did your work, and died quietly from a heart attack?” – Stanley

Andy burns all his bridges to try to become a star. Dwight gets his black belt. Jim is all-in on Scranton for Pam. David Wallace comes to town. 

And…oh yeah…”DWIGHT. SCHRUTE. IS. MANAGER!” 

He did it. He freaking did it.  

14. Season 9, Episode 9 – “Dwight Christmas” 

  • Laughs: 8.66 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.78 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.19 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.53

TOTAL SCORE: 35.16

Best Quote: “I love Philly…[smiles]…dirty town.” -Stanley

Yes, this Christmas episode is without Michael. It’s also really good. The different plots all work: Dwight is getting weird as Belsnickel; Darryl is getting drunk and angry at Jim about not giving him a job in Philly; Plop is getting close with Erin via re-enacting the entirety of Die Hard off memory. 

Dwight gets everything he ever wanted on Christmas: weird foods, authority, the ability to slap his coworkers with a stick, attention. But then Jim has to go to Philly and both Dwight and Pam get sad. Because the family isn’t all there. It’s so sweet. Then Jim comes back.  

13. Season 7, Episode 21 – “Michael’s Last Dundies” 

  • Laughs: 8.33 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.01 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.11

  • Emotional Weight: 8.89

TOTAL SCORE: 35.34

Best Quote: “Yeah, OK…Well this is gonna hurt like a mother fucker.” -Michael, after the surprise song from his soon-to-be-former coworkers

Reviews of this episode from when it debuted (2011) are mixed and I suppose it can be a bit uneven. But I think the big laughs are there. We get Ferrell as Vickers just utterly flopping at improv — “Where were you on September 11?” Michael sweatily tries to power through his final Dundies, including a very funny bit where he does dumb impressions of the office. On rewatch, you’ll laugh far more than you think you will. 

But where this episode really hits is with the emotional weight of Michael’s coming goodbye. It’s this slow goodbye and it mirrors real life — Michael’s grasping at every moment because every moment carries extra importance now. You start looking for neat ends to decades of time. And if you don’t feel something when everyone sings him a remixed version of Rent‘s “Seasons of Love,” then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s the exact kind of gesture that would matter to Michael. They nailed it. 

12. Season 6 – Episodes 4 & 5- “Niagara Parts 1 & 2” 

  • Laughs: 8.19

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.99

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.98

  • Emotional Weight: 9.33

TOTAL SCORE: 35.49

Best Quote: “I am actually great with old women. In fact, for the longest time, my best friend was my grandma…and then she met Harriet and now she thinks she’s better than everybody.” – Michael 

It’s the Jim and Pam wedding double episode. As I mentioned in the introduction, a great sitcom makes you tune in because you want to hang around your friends. This episode is the culmination of the show’s most important storyline.

I love that nothing is perfect at the wedding. Things rarely, if ever, go to plan at a wedding. Jim accidentally reveals Pam is pregnant to her conservative grandmother. Pam freaks out when her veil rips. Their family and friends decided they just had to do an awful YouTube-style flash mob dance. Kevin wears tissue boxes as shoes. But it all ends up being just fine, because they’re getting married. That’s what matters. 

(Can you tell my wedding was delayed by the pandemic and I’m finally getting married this summer?

If you don’t like rom-coms, you probably think I have this episode far too high. But I love rom-coms. It’s seeing your old pals at a wedding and it was a good time and I cried, OK? 

11. Season 2, Episode 7 – “The Client” 

  • Laughs: 8.83 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.1 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.51 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.12

TOTAL SCORE: 35.56

Best Quote: “Here’s the thing. Chili’s is the new golf course. It’s where business happens.” -Michael 

I love this episode so much and I could write that for every episode from here on out, but for real, I love this episode so much. 

Michael is off with Jan landing a deal with Lackawanna County and the gang stumbles onto his screenplay for Threat Level Midnight. Long story short, Michael — despite, at times, shouting gibberish to stop Jan — lands the deal with the assistance of some Scranton know-how. He gets Tim Meadows’ character drunk, starts talking about local landmarks, initiates some actually human conversation, and then seals the deal by complaining about the big companies ruining Scranton. It’s charming to see Michael succeed here and then, boom, Jan plants a kiss on him. 

Back at the office, the group reading Threat Level Midnight at the conference table is funny — go back and watch the way Phyllis delivers the Catherine Zeta Jones lines, it rules — but the Jim-Pam roof scene…oh man, the roof scene is perfect. In case you forgot, they escaped up there together to have dinner.

Jim, complete with a shit-eating grin, says he “can’t complain” about having to spend the night like this as he heads up the ladder to the roof. As Dwight ignites discount fireworks in a lot across the street, Pam lights a candle (“For the bugs,” she says but we all know that’s a Love Candle, Pam) as Jim hands her a sandwich. It’s nighttime and they’re still together. It’s not work hours. They’re sharing a meal. It’s a date, really. “I can’t remember the last time someone made me dinner,” Pam says. And it’s so sad but Jim smiles. Because that mother fucker knows he’s better than Roy. And he knows he’s not giving up. 

As they leave the office, Pam shares Jim’s headphones in the parking lot. They listen to a new song, bobbing along. And in that moment you can almost see them picturing their future together. 

Just beautiful.

Just beautiful.

Image: Mashable composite; NBCUniversal

10. Season 9, Episode 22 – “A.A.R.M.” 

  • Laughs: 8.11 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.96 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.47 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.09

TOTAL SCORE: 35.63

Best Quote: “Over the course of this documentary I’ve had three affairs. If you find my body in a ditch, let me save the police some trouble: My wife did it.” -Stanley

The second-to-last episode ever. The documentary is set to air. Jim schemes Dwight into being the A.A.R.M. (meaning he is the assistant to his assistant, who is Jim). They crack down on nonsense.

But the real magic of this episode is the love stories. Jim always knew Dwight the best. Through pranks and proximity, he learned who Dwight really was and what he wanted. So, we get him telling Dwight: “You just gotta do everything you can to get to the one woman who’s gonna make all this worth it. At the end of the day, you gotta jump. You love Angela, Dwight. I think you always have.” 

Then we get Jim walking up to Pam — who is watching clips of their love story via the doc crew — and telling her: “Not enough for me? You are everything.” Then he hands her the old Christmas letter we never get to read and, well, waterworks. 

It’s this fantastic one-two punch and a wonderful bit of TV magic, playing these moments out together. And that’s what is beautiful about this episode. Yes, there have been more biting episodes. There have certainly been funnier episodes. But now seven years removed from The Office finale, it’s rewarding watching these characters grow into their completed, adult selves.

Meanwhile, Pam’s worrying Jim is regressing into the person he once was, when fucking with Dwight (and pining for the receptionist) was all he had.  Pam being horrified of Jim going backwards is right. It’s right! Pam would have always been enough. But is enough actually what you want? It’s an allegory for the show. We can imagine the goofy hijinx that never were, going on in perpetuity. The version of a place that never changes: Michael’s former dream for the Dunder Mifflin Scranton. But The Office pivots here. Things have to change in order to push forward. They’re showing the audience that we’ve got to grow up and move on, and they’re doing it through characters, who are all set to move on. As great as one spot might be, staying there still means you’re stuck.   

9. Season 3, Episode 23 – “The Job”

  • Laughs: 8.13

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.13 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.03 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.54

TOTAL SCORE: 35.83

Best Quote: “No. No, no, no, no. I’ll tell you this, it is not because of the boob job. Excuse me, boob enhancement. That would be shallow. And this is the opposite of shallow. This is…emotionally magnificent.” -Michael

Things we get this episode:

  • www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts and Ryan’s assessment that, even for the internet, it’s shocking

  • Dwight’s brief tenure as boss amid Michael’s delusion that he’s being promoted and the subsequent implementation of Schrute Bucks

  • Dwight for some reason dipping with Big League Chew bubble gum

  • Jan gets fake boobs and Michael falls in love via emotional magnificence

  • Michael, Jim, and Karen, and ultimately Ryan going for the same job in NYC

And in the end, a job never mattered to Jim. Not yet, at least. Pam did. Spurred by David Wallace’s question about where he sees himself in five years, Jim rushes home to Scranton. Seemingly forgetting about Karen — you know, his girlfriend at the time — he barges in on an interview between the doc crew and Pam to ask her out on date. She says yes and turns to the doc crew and can only manage, “I’m sorry, what was the question?”

It’s a nearly perfect episode. I’m almost shocked I found eight episodes I rated better. At times crude and cringey — Michael ogling over Jan’s boobs comes to mind — but at its heart, interested in exploring how people live, and how we love, and how we get by.  

8. Season 2, Episode 3 – “Office Olympics” 

  • Laughs: 9.13 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 8.77 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.4 

  • Emotional Weight: 8.56

TOTAL SCORE: 35.86

Best Quote: “I’ve been Michael’s No. 2 guy for the last five years and we make a great team. We’re like one of those classic, famous teams. He’s like Mozart and I’m like Mozart’s friend. No, I’m like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like…Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you’re gonna get a bullet in your head, courtesy of Butch Cassidy.” -Dwight

This is almost certainly my favorite episode of The Office. “Tim,” you’re saying, “Then why is ranked No. 8 instead of No. 1, since this is your list.” Because, my good pal, I am handcuffed to my godforsaken rating system as much as you are, it is my shepherd and I but a wooly, content-makin’ sheep. And as much as I like this episode, it just doesn’t offer quite as much as others in the way of importance or emotional weight. It is my favorite but not the best episode. 

We do, however, get the first cold open, which would go on to help define the show. It’s also the first time we hear of Dwight’s beet farm and the episode in which Michael buys his condo. 

But, to return to why I love this episode, I think this is where The Office really finds its voice. The first season was good enough. But Season 2 the show figured out it could make gold from the monotony of working in America. In “Office Olympics” we see Jim actually try at something, albeit it in an effort to escape that monotony. Together, he and Pam make something ridiculous that the whole office is able to enjoy for a brief moment (sans Angela). They take the things they do to get through the day — tossing a ball off a wall, flicking paper footballs, eating massive amounts of M&Ms — and make into something communal and new. 

It’s strangely beautiful and sad when Pam says: “The thing about Jim, is when he’s excited about something, like the Office Olympics, he gets really into it, and he does a really great job. But the problem with Jim is that he works here, so that hardly ever happens.”

Isn’t that the bitch of working for many folks? That it feels like work? Also, Flonkerton rules and Phyllis — who is not to be trifled with — is the only person brave enough to sign-up for it at first.  

7. Season 4, Episode 9 – “Dinner Party” 

  • Laughs: 10 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.03 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.88 

  • Emotional Weight: 7.15

TOTAL SCORE: 36.06

Best Quote: “Snip, snap! Snip, snap! Snip, snap! … You have no idea the physical toll that three vasectomies have on a person!” -Michael

To me, “Dinner Party” is hands down the funniest episode of The Office. I mean good lord, the cringey moments alone: Michael’s tiny bed! Oh GOD, the camera in the bedroom! Dwight with his former babysitter! The tiny TV folding away! Hunter’s song! Jan forcibly dancing with a seated Jim! Babe, Babe, Babe! The fight! 

It’s a brilliant choice to take this select group of people and put them in what amounts to a bottle episode in Michael’s condo. The writers got a chance to imagine both what Michael and Jan’s home life looked like and what they might do when people entered into that bubble. Spoiler: It’s bleak. Pam, Andy, Dwight, and Jim are at the dinner — all heavy hitters in their own right — and yet the comedy is almost entirely carried by Carell and Melora Hardin’s Levinson. They’re just spouting bonkers punchlines and everyone else is getting out of the way, playing straight men. 

If you’ve never watched the outtakes from this episode it’s worth it, but I still cannot figure out how they got through the tiny TV reveal. “I love this TV, I love this TV,” Carell says with smirky pride after folding it back into the wall to make space for “guests.” The Office had a genius as its lead, and a willing and talented counter-puncher in Hardin. This episode is proof. 

6. Season 9, Episode 23 – “Finale”

  • Laughs: 7.78 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.3 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.3 

  • Emotional Weight: 10

TOTAL SCORE: 36.38

Best Quote: “I spent so much of my time here at Dunder Mifflin thinking about my old pals: my college acappella group. The weird thing is now, I’m exactly where I want to be. I got my dream job at Cornell…and I’m still just thinking about my old pals. Only now they’re the ones I made here. I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them. Someone should write a song about that.” -Andy

We’ve jumped a year forward for the finale. Dwight fired Kevin (in keeping with his character). Oscar’s running for office against The (state) Senator. Darryl is thriving with Athlead. Toby’s gone to NYC. Stanley retired to Florida. Creed faked his death. Angela and Dwight are set to marry.

Everyone’s back in town for a PBS retrospective on the documentary. There are dual bachelor/bachelorette parties for Dwight and Angela. Jim is the “bestest mensch,” or best man, for Dwight, and he carries out a series of “gutenprankens” that make Dwight’s lead-up to the wedding perfect. 

OK, so those are the basic beats. This episode cheats. It does. It gives us goodbyes, one-on-ones with each character. The mockumentary format was huge in that regard. And I could watch it 1,000 times and I’d cry 1,000 times. I love that quote from Andy about the good old days especially — I  think about it often and try to enjoy things more because you never know when the good days are gonna hit. 

We also get a second Carell goodbye, even if it’s fleeting. At the time of the finale, there was massive speculation about whether Carell would make an appearance. He did, entering, of course, with a that’s what she said joke. 

I’ve tried to come up with a way to explain why this episode matters. And I keep coming back to the idea that a great sitcom makes the characters your friends, and it makes the place in the show matter to the viewer. Think of Cheers, or Friends, or Seinfeld, or M.A.S.H — they all did it, to some extent. For nine seasons we sat in on this kooky workplace full of mishaps, arguments and, ultimately, love and friendship. In life, it’s rare that something is ended with a clean finish. Things are left messy. Yet here, we get to see Jim and Pam go off to Austin, finally broken from an endless loop of pleasant mundanity. We see Dwight and Angela, two oddballs, marry one another. We see a distant Michael Scott, there but not really, one more time. He’s off doing the thing he was always meant to do, which was have a real family. It’s a pleasant fantasy. 

It’s nice to see your sitcom friends win, all of them. Watching the show was such a good time and they managed to nail the goodbye. 

In a callback to the pilot, Jim says: “My job was to speak to clients on the phone about quantities and types of copier paper. Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have, I owe to this job. This stupid…wonderful…boring…amazing job.” 

Work can be hell. But people can be great.  

5. Season 7, Episode 19 – “Garage Sale”

  • Laughs: 8.53 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.55 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 8.99 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.57

TOTAL SCORE: 36.64

Best Quote: In a terrible Yoda voice, Michael: “Holly Flax, marry me, will you be?”

Michael and Holly get engaged and decide to leave. Maybe I’m a sucker but I laughed my ass off watching Michael try to propose via lit gasoline then cried watching him propose in the annex. 

It finally seems like Michael isn’t a petulant child anymore. He doesn’t even hesitate leaving his friends for Holly. Imagine that, Michael Scott caring about someone else’s feelings and needs. 

4. Season 7, Episode 22 – “Goodbye, Michael” 

  • Laughs: 8.78 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.03 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.22 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.65

TOTAL SCORE: 36.68

Best Quote: “Holly’s my family now. She’s my family. And the babies that I make with her will be my children. The people that you work with are just…when you get down to it…your very best friends. They say on your deathbed, you never wish you spent more time at the office. But I will. Got to be a lot better than a deathbed. I actually don’t understand deathbeds. I mean, who would buy that?” -Michael

Michael attempts to make his last day be a secret, so he’s rushing Phyllis’ knitted gift and wondering where the hell Pam is when she goes out to price shredders. 

Pam always had to deal with Michael the most. She was the buffer for his problems and the wall which he bounced bonkers ideas off. It makes sense that, in the same way we see love grow between Jim and Dwight, we see affection grow between Pam and Michael. It makes sense she says the final goodbye to him and reports back how he’s feeling to the documentary crew. Dwight was the blindly faithful right-hand man but Pam always knew what was actually going on. 

There are some good gags, too. Michael’s insistence on hitting a backwards basketball shot as he leaves the warehouse, for instance, has become something I do when alone and throwing away paper towels in a restroom.

It’s a funny, sweet episode. All the goodbyes to Michael are touching, Dwight and Jim’s especially. But I love the choice to have Michael’s final goodbye (kind of) happen off-mic, in the airport with Pam. “He wasn’t sad. He was full of hope,” she tells the camera crew.  

3. Season 4, Episode 1 – “Fun Run” 

  • Laughs: 9.45

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.01

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.12 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.13

TOTAL SCORE: 36.71

Best Quote: “I am taking responsibility. It is up to me to get rid of the curse that hit Meredith with my car. I’m not superstitious, but…I’m…I am a little stitious.” -Michael

Michael slams into Meredith with his car. He’s doing the whole back from summer, new season interview in the car and then BAM. It’s so surprising and funny as a cold open. 

The entire beginning of the episode is impossible to pull away from. Michael hits Meredith. The Karen-Jim breakup is shown. Then the guessing game of are “Jim and Pam together” begins, since the previous season ended on Jim asking her out. Then Michael tries to wriggle away from responsibility for hitting Meredith. “Is this downsizing?” Dwight asks about Michael hitting a worker with a Sebring. It’s amazing and takes only like three minutes.

From there it’s the ideal Michael-is-overcompensating episode. It’s chock full of memorable scenes. Michael forces a hug on a hospitalized Meredith. Sprinkles the Cat dies (via Dwight freezing it). The “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure” is born, a name that will live on novelty t-shirts forever. After Michael spends a fair bit of the fundraised money on a giant check and a “nurse,” Pam accidentally sees Michael’s…undercarriage…as he’s changing for the race. He blames her. The race happens. Toby wins. Andy bleeds from the nips. Michael blows fettuccine chunks everywhere. There’s just so much in this episode. Not a minute wasted, in the extended, double-episode runtime. Oh, and we learn Creed has been involved with a number of cults. Adds up. 

And Angela and Dwight are falling apart because, you know…Dwight killed her cat. Meanwhile, Jim and Pam are sweetly walking the race course while holding hands. We finally get to seem them be a couple, away from the drama. It’s the little touches like that, the quiet juxtaposition, that makes this episode so, so good.  

Always remember to thank God for your Dundie.

Always remember to thank God for your Dundie.

Image: Mashable composite; Getty images/NBCUniversal

2. Season 2, Episode 1 – “The Dundies” 

  • Laughs: 9.23

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.4 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.11 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.41

TOTAL SCORE: 37.15

Best Quote: “Finally I want to thank God. Because God gave me this Dundie. And I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.” -Pam

If an episode like “Finale” is a sledgehammer of emotions to the chest, then “The Dundies” is more of a series of precision strikes. It’s an episode composed of the small moments that made the show so special. The sort of moments I’ve talked about ad nauseam throughout this piece. 

This episode is incredibly important, in part, because it shifts the tone and style from the good-not-great first season. The cringey bits are there but there are fewer, and there’s a subtle shift in rhythm that makes the show more outwardly fun versus the deadpan efforts in the first season.

We also get Michael at the Dundies, which will, of course, serve as the spot where he’ll largely say his goodbyes years later to the office. This first go-round it’s especially clear that this is basically a talent show for Michael. He’s so bad and puts on a front of the overworked performer (Slipping on his jacket, complaining Dwight is “early on the cue”).

At the awards:

  • Stanley wins the fine work award (last year he got “great work,” he deadpans) 

  • Kevin gets an award for the stinkiest bowel movement

  • Pam, with an assist from Jim, gets the whitest tennis shoes Dundie, for once, instead of the longest engagement award 

And if there were any moment where Jim and Pam’s love story actually began in a real way, it’s here. For the first time, Pam chooses Jim. She’s fighting with Roy, who wants to ditch the whole thing. Pam goes back into the Chili’s, saddles up next to Jim and begins chugging drinks. They have fun and laugh (and Pam drinks and drinks and drinks). She encourages Michael to keep the Dundies going after he’s heckled by a Chili’s guest outside their group — she wants her one night away from Roy to keep going. And when she wins, she hugs Michael and thanks him — it’s the first sign of their budding friendship.

When she says, drunkenly, that she “feels God in this Chili’s tonight” it’s hilarious. It’s a perfect collection of words. Nothing has ever been so perfect.

But you know what? Jim got her that Dundie. Jim cared so deeply for Pam that he actively worked to spare her feelings, even though Michael’s planned “longest engagement” Dundie would’ve likely gotten Roy into some shit. And through some good luck, Jim and Pam are together that night in that Chili’s and, right after she says she felt God, Pam kisses Jim in celebration. All of a sudden. Like it was nothing at all. It makes you want to clap watching it. 

Later, drunk Pam will stare into Jim’s eyes and they’ll laugh. She falls off her stool and gets banned from Chili’s for life. (Again, hilarious.) Jim gets her into a car and on her way home. It’s all so clear: They love each other. Pam loves him and well, Jim is patently obvious about the way he feels. It’s like a perfect rom-com but it’s just one short episode of a sitcom. How did they manage it?! 

Oh and also, the God in the Chili’s thing is a joke. And it’s funny. But it’s also a wink from the people creating The Office. Pam felt something like fate in that Chili’s. Really, she felt what her life may become if she can find the strength to ditch Roy. And they crammed all that into like 20 minutes. Damn near perfect.  

1. Season 2, Episode 22 – “Casino Night”

  • Laughs: 9.25 

  • Importance to Office Universe: 9.1 

  • Memorability, Quotability: 9.3 

  • Emotional Weight: 9.6

TOTAL SCORE: 37.25

Best Quote: “Two queens on casino night. I’m going to drop a deuce on everybody.” -Michael

Just as it’s difficult to pick the worst episode of The Office, it’s a tall task picking the best. I love them all. It was a difficult choice. But “Casino Night” is truly special and it deserves the top spot. It thoroughly checks every box you’d want from a great Office episode: It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s clever, and it’s an episode that stays with you.

The Scranton branch is raising money for charity via table games and Michael is thrust into a sticky situation — two women he plans to suit, Carol and Jan, are attending his Casino Night. Thus the two queens and the dropping of the deuce.

Not for nothing, the episode has one of the all-time, dead-pan Michael insults of Toby. Flenderson sadly explains to Michael that they cannot invite literal boy scouts to Casino Night to collect a charity check: “Actually, I didn’t think it was appropriate to invite children since it’s, uh, you know there’s gambling and alcohol, and it’s in our dangerous warehouse, and it’s a school night, and, you know, Hooters is catering, you know…is that…is that enough? Should I keep going?”

With almost no emotion, Carell delivers back — you can feel the quiet seething, the rage — he says: “Why are you the way that you are? Honestly, every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not that way. I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.”

It’s just Carell fully comfortable as Michael taking a chance with a very straight-faced reading of a line. It’s unimpeachable.

The funny moments in this episode are great. Phyllis, who remains a badass, takes down Kevin in poker just by having all the “clovers.” Jim messes with Dwight (mind control prank) and Dwight is hopelessly wound-up in Michael’s two-date issue. Angela is subtly flirting with Dwight. Creed is stealing shit on the periphery. Everyone, by the end of Season 2, is in their element here. The characters are formed. We’re familiar. The Office takes a big swing and it connects.

Later, head-to-head with Pam, Jim goes all-in. I mean, literally at the poker table. But then afterwards, he gambles again when they’re alone.

He said earlier in the episode that he felt like he had no future in Scranton. He joked to Pam that he had no dreams. That’s not true. She’s the dream. Then we get the parking lot scene. Re-watching it a few times, it’s stunning how nervous it makes me. Dude is really putting it all out, all at once. And Pam gives him the, I value our friendship and I’m sorry you misinterpreted things runaround. Jenna Fischer does such a good job here. You can see her eyes welling and that she doesn’t mean that — but Jim just dropped a bomb and there’s nothing to say but platitudes. She’s not yet ready to blow up her life.

Jim finds Pam talking to her mom on the phone in the office and he kisses her and the season ends. It’s chill-inducing. It’s this little bit of hope for Jim, a great season-end to a love story and a damn funny episode. 

It’s an episode about people who are struggling to find their place. Michael is clueless and loveless. Jim is directionless. Pam is stuck. They’re all looking for a way out. Work is full of downsizing rumors and boredom and frustration. And at this point in the show, we truly have no idea how this is going to work out for any of them. But it ends with a glimmer of hope. Our friends might just be OK. 

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