**INCLUDES THE OFFICE (US) SPOILERS. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS SHOW**
For those of you who don’t know me, The Office is my favorite TV show in the whole world.
I’ve watched it (in total) an absurd amount of times. I know the characters inside and out. The interviews, bloopers, fan made videos, gifs– whatever’s out there, I’ve probably seen it. Don’t test me on The Office, because you will lose.
I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the best episodes. I’ve asked a few other superfans like myself for their opinions, but this list is mainly made up of what my favorites are. I tried to make it limited to 10 episodes, but there were just too many that I loved.
In this post, I’ve included a summary of each episode I mention, as well as why I think it’s great. At the end of the post, I’ve added some bonuses, like my favorite cold open, as well as some interviews/commercials related to The Office.
You’ll notice that I don’t include any episodes after Steve Carell leaves the show. This is because I think that his character Michael makes the show what it is, and without him, it’s just not as good.
A lot of people have asked me why I like this show so much. To be honest, I’m not sure. It might be because I crave someone like Jim in my life– a hopeless romantic who is patient, kind, and has a good sense of humor. It might be because I see myself in Pam, and want myself to be more confident and outgoing and less naive and submissive, just like she wants for herself. It might be because I love Jim and Pam’s relationship, and I want something like it for myself. It might be because Dwight as a character is interesting and extreme, yet lovable. It might be because Michael is one of the best (and worst) characters I’ve ever seen on American television. It might be because the cast of this show feels like they’re my family, too.
Whatever the reason, please enjoy what I consider to be the 15 best episodes of The Office.
15. Michael’s Birthday (S 2 Ep. 19)
Summary: It’s Michael’s birthday and he expects everyone in the office to be really excited about it, but they’re more worried about Kevin who is waiting to see whether or not he has skin cancer. Jim and Pam go out on their own to buy stuff to make Kevin feel better. Michael is jealous that everyone is paying attention to Kevin rather than him, but once he finds out why Kevin is so concerned, he takes everyone out ice skating. While ice skating, Michael encounters Carol (his realtor) and Kevin finds out he does not, in fact, have skin cancer, and they celebrate and the office gives Michael and Kevin their gifts.
Why it’s the best: Michael’s “worst birthday ever” stories are hilarious. Also there are a couple of really cute Jim and Pam moments in this episode, like when they go to the supermarket and when they’re ice skating. This episode also speaks really well to Michael’s character (attention seeking and childish, but still a lovable idiot)
14. Ben Franklin (S 3 Ep. 15)
Summary: The office is planning on throwing respective bachelor/bachelorette parties for Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration and Phyllis. Todd Packer convinces Michael to order a stripper for Bob Vance’s party, which Michael puts Dwight and Jim in charge of. They hire a stripper for the bachelor party, and Jim hires a Ben Franklin impersonator as a joke for the bachelorette party. Jim convinces Dwight that the Ben Franklin impersonator is the real Ben Franklin. Karen and Pam tease the Ben Franklin impersonator, and the Ben Franklin impersonator flirts incessantly with Pam. Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration refuses a lap dance from the stripper, so Michael volunteers. Michael is overcome with guilt about the lap dance because he thinks of it as cheating on Jan.
Why it’s the best: Because a Ben Franklin impersonator being provided as “adult entertainment” is freakin’ hilarious, and the fact that he is made out to be a creep and the stripper is made out to have a heart of gold is just too good. This episode also shows Pam coming out of her shell a little bit.
13. A Benihana Christmas (S 3 Ep. 10/11)
Summary: Carol and Michael break up because Carol discovers that Michael has cut and pasted a photo of him onto a photo of her kids and her ex husband on vacation. Pam has been leading Dwight to believe that he is being recruited by the CIA, and offers Jim a part in the plan. Jim refuses to participate because he wants to try and get over Pam. Andy, Dwight and Jim take Michael to Benihana’s to try and get over Carol. Andy and Michael pick up two waitresses from Benihana’s and brings them back to the office for the Christmas party. Meanwhile, Angela has kicked Karen off of the Party Planning Committee, so Karen and Pam form their own committee and plan a separate party. Everyone attends Karen and Pam’s party rather than Angela’s. When Michael, Andy, Dwight and Jim return from Benihana’s, they try and celebrate the party, but Michael struggles with telling the waitress he took home apart from the waitress Andy took home. The waitresses leave and the party continues. Jim decides to participate in the joke on Dwight with Pam and sends him on a secret mission for the CIA.
Why it’s the best: Jim and Pam are meant for each other, no matter how hard they try to fight it when they’re in different relationships at different times. The fact that Michael can’t tell his date from Andy’s is hilarious (even though it’s racist), and Pam also continues to come out of her shell and is more confident in this episode.
12. Safety Training (S 3 Ep. 20)
Darryl holds a safety training lesson for the warehouse and the office workers for the warehouse environment, which Michael continually disrupts. When Toby has a safety training lesson for the office environment, which Darryl and his warehouse workers don’t take seriously. Michael is offended by this because Darryl thinks that working in the warehouse is more dangerous than working in the office (which it is) and plans a demonstration to show the risks of depression and suicide that can be caused by working in an office. He makes a plan to jump off of the roof of the office and land on a trampoline/bouncy castle, but Jim and Pam catch him during the demonstration and make him stop. During the day, the rest of the office makes bets on other office members. Andy comes back.
Why it’s the best: One of my favorite lines in the whole series is in this episode: “Dwight, you ignorant slut!”
Despite trivializing mental illness, this episode is one of the funniest and by far one of my favorites.
11. Office Olympics (S 2 Ep. 3)
Summary: Dwight and Michael leave the office for the day to sign papers so Michael can buy a condo. Jim decides to play a bunch of games (Flonkerton, Dunderball, etc.) and gets the rest of the office workers involved. Pam makes medals for the winners out of yogurt lids. When Dwight and Michael return, Jim rewards them with medals, which they don’t understand but accept anyway.
Why it’s the best: One of the best Jim episodes. It really shows his potential, how fun he can be, and also how much Pam is in love with him without knowing it. It’s also a good episode for the office as a whole– working as a team and doing things together.
10. Fun Run (S 4 Ep. 1/2)
Summary: Jim and Pam admit to dating. Michael accidentally hits Meredith with his car on the way to work and fractures her pelvis, and when the entire office goes to visit her Meredith refuses to forgive him. While at the hospital, it is discovered that Meredith could have had rabies, so Michael decides to organize a fundraiser marathon to raise money to cure rabies. Angela accuses Dwight of murdering her cat. No one really takes the race seriously, and Michael gets sick trying to complete the race.
Why it’s the best: Rabies is already cured (?? okay, Michael.) and Michael understands nothing about fun runs– he eats a bunch of fettucini alfredo and drinks no water before the run, and also doesn’t make the run circular… Also Jim and Pam start dating.
9. The Duel (S 5 Ep. 12)
Andy still doesn’t know that Angela and Dwight are having an affair, and everyone else does (including Michael). Before Michael leaves to discuss how successful the Scranton branch is with David Wallace, he tells Andy about the affair. Andy confronts Dwight, and they agree to have a fight in the parking lot over Angela– whoever wins wins Angela, and she agrees to this deal. When Dwight gets to the parking lot, Andy sneaks up on him in his car and they play fight and yell insults at each other. While yelling at each other, Dwight learns that Angela had also been sleeping with Andy, and they give up fighting for Angela.
Why it’s the best: The scene where Michael decides that he is going to tell Andy/tells Andy that Angela has been cheating on him is one of the most uncomfortably delicious scenes in the whole series. The fact that Dwight and Andy actually DUEL over Angela is crazy and dated, but ridiculous and amazing.
8. The Negotiation (S 3 Ep. 18)
Summary: Roy tries to attack Jim for kissing Pam while he (Roy) and Pam were engaged, and Dwight saves him by pepper spraying him in the face. Angela goes around the office and asks everyone for their account of what happened, because she gets weirdly turned on by Dwight’s heroic feat. Pam says that she’s sorry to Jim and that it’s over between her and Roy for good. Roy comes to pick up his last paycheck because he was fired for the incident and he and Pam go out for coffee to talk about their relationship. Darryl tries to ask Michael for a raise, but then discovers that Michael makes less than he does and convinces Michael to go to New York to talk to Jan about getting a raise.
Why it’s the best: The scene where Roy attacks Jim is probably one of the more action-y, dramatic, and exciting scenes in the series. I want to shake Pam in this episode because I just want her to tell Jim how she feels– she came so far by being honest with Roy in the episode prior, she’s literally so close in this one… Also Michael wears a woman’s suit and it’s pretty freaking hilarious.
7. Threat Level Midnight (S 7 Ep. 17)
Summary: Michael has been working on a movie for 11 years– the entire office is casted in it, and it’s written and edited all by Michael (it’s amazing but terrible). When he finally decides to show it in full, Pam warns everyone not to make fun of it. Jim ends up laughing and Holly doesn’t take it seriously either, which Michael gets upset about. He ends up forgiving them and realizes that because it was a group effort and that the office is enjoying it, the movie is a great movie.
Why it’s the best: It’s episode that epitomizes the office as a family rather than a bunch of people that work together. Michael also becomes considerably less childish and takes himself less seriously, which shows how Holly is changing him and making him into a better person.
6. Beach Games (S 3 Ep. 23)
Summary: Michael is asked to interview for a corporate position and write a recommendation for who he wants to take over the branch if he gets it, and he takes that as him already getting the job. The whole office goes to the beach (except for Toby) and Michael takes the day as an opportunity to figure out who he would recommend by a series of trivial competitions. Jim and Karen call in to ask to be considered for the corporate position as well. Andy falls into the lake and Angela ignores his pleas for help. One of the last competitions that Michael has is running across a fire pit, which Pam does without anyone paying attention. She gives a speech about how the rest of the office pretends that she doesn’t exist, and how she misses Jim’s friendship.
Why it’s the best: This, by far, is the best Pam episode in the series. She FINALLY stands up for herself and believes in herself– she is honest and brave, and I have so much respect for her in this episode. It’s kind of all downhill for her from here (in my opinion) but I love her in this episode. GO PAM GO!
5. Diversity Day (S 1 Ep. 2)
Summary: The office is offended by Michael’s racist Chris Rock impression, so someone is brought in to administer a racial diversity seminar. Michael doesn’t like the way it is taught and refuses to sign the waiver stating that he experienced and understood the seminar, so he decides to teach his own. He administers activities like asking his employees to stereotype each other by their ethnicities, and by playing a game based on racial stereotypes.
Why it’s the best: It reflects what the show was supposed to be like originally and what the UK version of the show is like. It’s offensive, not laugh out loud funny, uncomfortable, and a little dark.
4. Goodbye Michael (S 7 Ep. 22)
Summary: Michael has lied to the office, saying that it is his second to last day before he has to move to Colorado with Holly when it is really his last. He plans individual goodbyes for each and every member of the office without them realizing that they are really saying goodbye to him. Andy and Deangelo go on a sales call and almost lose the client because Deangelo is a terrible salesman. Dwight is angry with Michael for not recommending him for the position of manager. Jim discovers that it is Michael’s last day. Michael leaves without getting to say goodbye to Pam, so she races to the airport and says goodbye to him.
Why it’s the best: It’s Michael’s last day, and his sentimentality really effects me. I’ve never NOT cried while watching this episode. Michael makes the show what it is– uncomfortable, realistic, crude, offensive, lovable, amazing. The show is nothing without him.
3. The Injury (S 2 Ep. 12)
Summary: Michael accidentally burns his foot on a George Forman grill. He calls the office and asks people to pick him up. Dwight volunteers, and in his haste to save Michael, crashes into a pole in front of the office. It’s clear that Dwight is really badly injured throughout the episode because he’s nice to everyone (especially Pam). Michael is upset about how the office doesn’t really care about his injured foot and how they care about Dwight more. Jim and Michael take Dwight to the hospital because Michael is Dwight’s emergency contact, and it is revealed that Dwight has a concussion.
Why it’s the best: The fact that Michael burns his foot on a George Forman grill is weird but hilarious. Also, this is a good Dwight and Pam and Dwight and Jim (respectively) friendship episode.
2. Casino Night (S 2 Ep. 22)
Summary: Michael organizes a casino fundraiser and invites both Jan and Carol. Jim and Pam go through band audition tapes for her wedding. Jim reveals that he had been considering transferring to Stanford. At the casino fundraiser, Jim tells Pam that he’s in love with her and she rejects him. They share a kiss.
Why it’s the best: To be honest, this is my favorite episode in the entire series. The only reason it’s not #1 is because other people that I’ve asked voted Stress Relief to be the first. I watch this episode when I’m sad. I watch this episode when I’m bored. I watch this episode when I’m happy. I’ve seen it more than anything I’ve ever watched. I can say each line verbatim.
Jim is so in love with Pam in this episode. It makes my heart hurt because they can’t be together.
1. Stress Relief (S 5 Ep. 14/15)
Summary: (Part One) Dwight is upset that no one paid attention to his fire drill preparation presentations so he seals the doors and creates the illusion of a fire to show the office that fire is a real workplace issue. During the fake fire, Stanley has a heart attack. Dwight is reprimanded for his actions by corporate and Michael. The office is exposed to a CPR information session, but make fun of it and Dwight ends up destroying the CPR dummy. He is again reprimanded by corporate. Michael tries to calm people down with meditation and yoga but comes to understand that he is the reason people are so stressed in the office. Pam’s parents are having a hard time so Pam recruits Jim to talk to her dad.
(Part Two) Michael organizes a comedic roast of himself. Everyone roasts Michael but go too far in their insults and he runs out of the roast. He returns and roasts everyone with one liners. After Jim and Pam’s dad talk, Pam’s dad declares that he’s going to divorce Pam’s mom.
Why it’s the best: This is, by far, the funniest episode of The Office. You have to see it to believe it.
Chair Model (S 4 Ep. 14)
Summary: After breaking up with Jan, Michael discovers a beautiful chair model in a catalogue. Pam sets him up on a date with her landlady and Michael is completely rude to her. Construction workers take the office workers’ parking spots, so Andy and Kevin talk to the board of the business park to get the parking spots back. Jim reveals that he is planning on proposing to Pam. Dwight helps Michael track down the chair model, finds out she is dead, and dances on her grave with him.
Why it’s the best: I love this episode because it’s my favorite Dwight and Michael friendship episode. The end scene, where they’re dancing on the chair model’s grave singing American Pie represents exactly what Dwight and Michael’s relationship to one another is. I love them so much.
Scott’s Tots (S 6 Ep. 12)
Summary: Michael promised a bunch of high school students that he would pay for their college tuitions because he expected himself to be a billionaire by the time they graduated (but he clearly is not a billionaire). Michael meets them at their high school and they express their gratitude and he has to tell them he can’t keep his promise. Jim tries to make an employee of the month program, and Dwight ruins it and makes Jim out to be corrupt.
Why it’s the best: This episode epitomizes what The Office is. I’ve seen this episode probably the least out of any episode ever in the series– it makes me so uncomfortable and makes me cringe every time I watch it. It’s horrible. Oh, Michael.
Bonus: Favorite Cold Open
Kevin’s Famous Chili
John Krasinski Giggling
Bonus: Did You Know These Guys Auditioned for The Office?
The Office Auditions
Bonus: They Did This When The Office Was Coming to an End and I Almost Died
The Office Emmy’s Skit