I love The Office. So. Much. I started watching it about two years ago, and I’ve never regretted something less. In many ways, its the perfect show; the characters are unique and lovable, the humor is unexpected and hilarious, and there are so many episodes to binge! If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to start!
While watching the series from beginning to end is probably the best way to do it, you can use this list as a starting point, to see if you like the show (you will!). Also, if you’ve seen every episode at least three times like me, you can use this to re-watch some faves. Here we go!
(Spoiler Alert for all of these episodes!!)
1. Office Olympics (Season 2, Episode 3)
Okay, we all know that the first season and a half of the show aren’t spectacular. However, this episode is the one that convinced me to continue watching. Basically, there is one story line about Michael signing closing final papers for his new condo with the “help” of Dwight. Back at the office, the others are participating in the “Office Olympics” set up by Jim and Pam. Games included a race will a full coffee cup, guessing who is in the elevator, and, of course, Flonkerton. This episode shows us how clueless Michael really is, how crazy Dwight is, and the chemistry between Jim and Pam. We also see some of the smaller characters come out of their shell. Example – Phyllis’ hilarious “are you calling me a hoe?” line to Jim. Finally, this episode is referenced a few times later in the series, which, if you’re anything like me, will make you super emotional.
2. Gay Witch Hunt (Season 3, Episode 1)
The season three opener picks up not long after the season two finale. Jim is in Stamford, we find out that Pam called off the wedding, and Michael outs Oscar as gay to the whole office. One of my favorite things about this episode is that we meet Andy Bernard for the first time! Although he comes across as annoying and arrogant, he ended up being one of my favorite characters as the seasons went on. This episode also introduces us to Jim’s nickname of “Big Tuna,” which sticks throughout the series. Back in Scranton, Michael is supremely insensitive to Oscar, and not only outs him, but kisses him on the lips in an attempt to make up with him. The whole scene was uncomfortable and hilarious, and it is a great example of how the show can make you not only cringe on behalf of the characters, but also laugh hysterically at how awkward it all is.
3. Local Ad (Season 4, Episode 5)
The episode opens with everyone throwing out ideas for a commercial corporate is having each branch air. However, a disappointed Michael finds out the the only part they actually have freedom over is the last five seconds, and decides to make his own commercial. What I love about this episode is how supportive the others are of Michael’s ad. It hints at this complex relationship Michael has with his employees; the majority of the time, they think he’s totally deluded, and don’t take him seriously. However, they really are a family – despite how annoying Michael can be – and the support they show for his commercial backs this up.
4. Dinner Party (Season 4, Episode 9)
What a fantastic episode this is. Basically, Michael pulls off an elaborate scheme in order to get Jim and Pam to have dinner at his house, after Jim had (understandably) declined Michael’s previous invitations “at least nine times.” The dinner party is a train wreck, but in the best way possible. It had been obvious that Jan and Michael never had a healthy relationship, but this episode really shows us how how dysfunctional that relationship is. With the passive aggressive jabs at each other, the insight that Jan makes Michael sleep on a bench at the end of their bed, and the climax of the episode when Jan throws a Dundie at Michael’s mini plasma screen, it’s easy to see that Jan is kinda crazy. Other great moments include Jan playing Hunter’s song, the video camera set up facing the bed, Michael hanging up the blue beer girl light, and Dwight’s “purely carnal” relationship with his former babysitter. Overall, this is actually one of my favorite episodes of the whole series!
5. The Surplus (Season 5, Episode 10)
There is a lot going on in this episode, and I love all of it! Oscar informs Michael of a $4300 surplus in the budget that must be spent by the end of the day, and the office is in disagreement on how to spend it. Elsewhere, Andy and Angela go to Shrute Farms and discuss their wedding plans. Dwight sneakily ends up marrying Angela under the pretense of rehearsing the wedding ceremony (Dwight stood in for Andy so Andy would be able to watch how the ceremony would unfold). I love the rivalry between Jim and Pam throughout this episode – they both want Michael to spend the surplus differently, and are playing dirty to do so. The big twist in the episode is that Michael learns that he gets to keep a percentage of the surplus if it is not spent. Basically, this is just a classic episode of The Office; it displays Michael’s cluelessness, Dwight’s conniving ways, the many facets of Jim and Pam’s relationship, and the subtle humor that the show is known for.
6. Niagra Parts I & II (Season 6, Episodes 4 & 5)
Okay, I couldn’t choose just one! The whole Jim and Pam wedding saga is just so great. From Andy injuring his scrotum, to the wedding party dancing down the isle, to the “Maid of the Mist” wedding, to the surprising Michael/Helene hookup, so much happens in these two episodes! Every time I watch the office dance down the isle to “Forever,” I get a little teary-eyed (okay so maybe more than just teary). The episode just features everything I love about the show – Jim and Pam being adorable, Michael and Dwight being ridiculous, and the office staff in general being hilarious and lovable.
7. Threat Level Midnight (Season 7, Episode 17)
Ah, yes. Threat Level Midnight. Michael’s original movie starring the office staff. The movie features Dwight as a robot butler, Jim as a gold-faced villain, and Michael as a secret agent. The office (understandably) finds it hilarious, even though Michael intended for it to be completely serious. In the end, though, he realizes that it’s actually not a great movie, and is able to laugh along with everyone else. The plot of the movie is ridiculous and great, and I loved that Michael was able to admit that it was pretty terrible, but still laugh about it. Oh, and who can forget about the most iconic dance in history – The Scarn!
8. Goodbye Michael (Season 7, Episode 22)
This one is kind of heart-wrenching, but good nonetheless. Michael is moving to Colorado with Holly, and makes it his mission to give everyone a personal goodbye. He gets to everyone except Pam, who is out “running errands” (she actually went to see a movie). In some ways I don’t like this episode, because the show just isn’t the same without Michael Scott. However, he gets a great send off with this episode, and, not gonna lie, I may have shed a few tears the first time I saw it (and every other time I’ve seen it since). What really got me was his goodbye to Pam; as incompetent of a boss as he was (not to mention him sleeping with Pam’s mother), it is clear that they truly love each other, and their goodbye solidifies that. Oh and side note: that scene at the end with Deangelo and the cake is amazing. Another amazing instance of a situation so awkward that you have to laugh.
9. The Incentive (Season 8, Episode 2)
When Robert California tells Andy he needs to double sales in the Scranton branch, Andy implements a points and rewards system as an incentive. Although there are mixed reviews among the office staff, Andy tells them that for 5000 points, he will get anything they want tattooed on his butt. Suddenly motivated by this, they all agree to pool their points, and reach the goal before the end of the day. Initially, they all want him to get something awful and ridiculous, but end up having him get a tattoo of a “Nard Dog,” in honor of his self-proclaimed nickname. The way that the whole office rallies behind Andy really shows how much of a family they are, and makes for a great episode.
10. Finale (Season 9, Episode 23)
I’ll end this list with the final episode, because, as far as final episodes go, I think this one was pretty darn good. It takes place around a year after the documentary aired, and everyone has just continued on living. While many of them moved on, they all come together for Dwight and Angela’s wedding, as well as a “where are they now” type panel discussing the documentary. The highlights of this episode include Michael’s return (!!!!), the office being surprised at how many people showed up for the panel, and when they all sneak upstairs during the party to hang out together. This is another episode that makes me cry every time. It just gets so nostalgic at the end! And even though the last two seasons weren’t stellar, they really did finish on a high note.
Okay. There we go! Hopefully you enjoyed this, and can use these recommendations next time you decide to watch The Office. I do have a couple of honorable mentions that I’d like to highlight:
The injury (S2 E12): the entire premise is just hilarious, and it was the perfect episode after the emotionally charged “Booze Cruise”
Night Out (S4 E15): great overall, but the best part is Toby announcing his move to Puerto Rico and hopping the fence after embarrassing himself
Gossip (S6 E1): the origin of the iconic quote “Dwight, you ignorant slut”
Scott’s Tots (S6 E12): both hilarious and heartbreaking
Thanks for reading, and let me know what your favorite office episodes are in the comments!