The Office’s Top 20 Episodes

These are the episodes that stick with us most all these years later

The Office (NBC)

This feature has been edited to reflect the show’s 15th anniversary.

This week we’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of The Office. Also check out our ranking of the show’s 25 best cold openings, a virtual Dundie Awards honoring its best moments overall, as well as essays on the show’s enduring legacy and why it still holds up in the #MeToo Era.

After a couple weeks of revisiting all nine seasons of The Office, one thing has become abundantly clear: the show never should’ve lasted anywhere near that long. Now, that observation has nothing to do with poor ratings, a decline in quality, or even radon-induced shark jumping. It’s a show about a dozen or so inherently unlikeable characters, most of whom would’ve been handed pink slips within a week in any real office.

But somehow, some way Greg Daniels and staff made us grow to care about this collection of Scranton oddballs. That’s why we kept watching after the branch avoided downsizing, after Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) finally got together, and even after Michael Scott (Steve Carell) left to start a new life with Holly Flax far away from Scranton.

Ironically, we found ourselves actually caring about the employees at a small, struggling paper company in a town most of us couldn’t locate on a map of Pennsylvania. Huh, sounds like a good idea for a documentary.

To rewatch these episodes now, 15 years after the show first aired, brings back a lot of memories, laughs, and even tears. It also reminds us that not every show deserved a Dundy or even a yogurt-lid Olympic medal. Still, looking back, most of our time spent with our friends at Dunder Mifflin Scranton made us smile and perhaps even lament that we’re no closer to answering Andy Bernard’s (Ed Helms) parting wish: figuring out how to know you’re in the good, old days before you’ve actually left them.

These are our favorites. Share yours below.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

20. The Garden Party

Season 8, Episode 4

The Garden Party

Original Air Date: October 13th, 2011

Memo: Let’s be honest. There isn’t much essential going on in seasons eight and nine. James Spader’s Robert California intrigued but never quite delivered a payoff, and Andy as boss, well, was never quite as fun as Andy as hapless salesman trying to fit in somewhere. The very best of those seasons — even with members of the cast already leaving — were episodes where the whole gang got to take part in one ridiculous outing or another. Cue “Garden Party”, featuring a gala Andy throws at Schrute Farms to impress Robert California but even more so to win the approval of his fastidious Nard Dad. From Mose’s innovative valet work to Kevin’s Bogarting the hors d’oeuvres to a round of toasts that leaves nobody out (except the Nard Dog of the hour), the entire cast gets a chance to playfully shine, and Andy’s co-workers come to understand his nature a little better. Enjoy the goat!

Dwight Dance

Employee of the Episode: From voluminously announcing the arrival of guests (Peepee Halpert?) to performing a stately pre-meal dance, nothing suggests refinery and induces laughs quite like Dwight’s attention to detail as master of the garden party.

Gutenprank: Luckily, Dwight snagged the last (also the one and only available) copy of James Trickington’s The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Garden Party. You can probably guess who the royalty check will be going to.

That’s What She/He Said: “I cannot believe I didn’t think of toasting Robert. Get in the game, Gabriel. Why are you talking to Stanley’s mistress?” –Gabe Lewis or “I’d like to make a toast. To the troops, all the troops, both sides.” –Ryan Howard

–Matt Melis

19. “Did I Stutter?”

Season 4, Episode 16

The Office - Did I Stutter

Original Air Date: May 1st, 2008

Memo: The relationship between Michael and Stanley has always been a calm but tense one, with Stanley half-politely tolerating Michael’s antics. But here, their differences come to a head, as the normally languid Stanley lets his boss know exactly what he thinks of him, directly and forcefully. It creates a conflict for Michael who tries, as always, to be a friend and a cool guy with all his employees, but now needs to actually dole out some discipline. Michael’s reaction when things truly erupt after his abortive efforts to fix the problem shows him both at his most vulnerable and most competent. After clearing out the entire office and shedding a few tears, Michael convinces his employee that whatever Stanley thinks of him, he still has to speak to Michael like a boss. It’s as much of a measured victory as Michael Gary Scott could ever hope for, but it’s enough.

Did I Stutter

Employee of the Episode: Dwight, for asserting his superiority over Andy to Angela by flipping Andy’s car and, somehow, misunderstanding Mad Libs worse than she does.

Gutenprank: The cold open sees Michael taking advantage of wet cement by leaving a chunky imprint of his face in the pavement — one for the ages.

That’s What She/He Said: “So how are we going to energize our office? I mean, I haven’t done anything since Christmas. Pam, clearly, has just given up trying.” –Michael, to poor, glasses-ridden Pam

–Andrew Bloom

18. “The Return”

Season 3, Episode 14

The Office - The Return

Original Air Date: January 18th, 2007

Memo: Andy Bernard truly transformed across his seven years on The Office. By the time the show neared its wrap, he was the type of well-meaning, lost soul that fans hoped would find his place in the world (not unlike Michael Scott in some ways). That’s a far cry from the WASPish Ivy League sycophant who transferred to Scranton when the Stamford branch closed down with intentions of kissing ass and sabotaging his way to No. 2. “The Return” depicts Andy at his worst, practically glowing after steering Michael towards firing Dwight in the previous episode. This isn’t how we like to remember Andy, but if not for his a capella-induced meltdown, he never would’ve gone to anger management and grown into the Nard Dog that we came to love. Oh, and Oscar’s back from his gaycation!

Andy Bernard

Employee of the Episode: Michael, for dashing off in his snow-filled Sebring to rescue Dwight from Staples once the staff help him realize he just fired the company’s most devoted employee.

Gutenprank: DJ Jim hides Andy’s phone and gives him a taste of his own “Rockin’ Robin” medicine until Andy finally snaps and puts his fist through a wall. That … was a bit of an over-reaction.

That’s What She/He Said: “I don’t understand how someone [Andy] can have so little self-awareness.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

17. “Office Olympics”

Season 2, Episode 3

The Office - Office Olympic

Original Air Date: October 4th, 2005

Memo: The show’s eponymous office was often the site of boredom or frustration, but it could also be a place of fun and even solace. That’s the essential insight of “Office Olympics”, which not only shows Jim and Pam working together to turn Scranton Business Park into a field day-style, improvised Olympiad, to the delight of their coworkers, but also shows that for all Michael’s strained efforts to find a home, he’s most at home inside those fluorescent-lit walls. The episode shows us Jim’s enthusiasm when he’s genuinely engaged by a project, Pam’s creativity when she’s given the chance to shine, Michael’s gratitude when he’s shown the slightest modicum of appreciation, and the whole office’s communal spirit, which emerges when conditions are just right. It was an early, hilarious sign that this office could mean more, and be more, than just a place that people worked.

The Office - Medals

Employee of the Episode: Dwight, for his town home know-how and and for giving us the first few details about his infamous beet farm.

Gutenprank: The faux-solemnity of Michael, Dwight, and Jim on the “medal podium” as paper doves “fly” behind them and a muzak national anthem plays.

That’s What She/He Said: “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 K. Schrute

–Andrew Bloom

16. “Diversity Day”

Season 1, Episode 2

The Office - Diversity Day

Original Air Date: March 29th, 2005

Memo: There’s a time and place for everything, including a Chris Rock routine about the two types of black people out there. However, that time and place would not be at the office, which Michael finds out when Larry Wilmore’s Mr. Brown is sent by corporate to guide the staff (actually, just Michael) through diversity training. “Diversity Day” clued us in early on to both Michael’s need to be the center of attention at all times and his tendency to cross well-marked boundaries of appropriateness on a whim. From playing guess-my-race to naming a race you’re sexually attracted to, the second episode of The Office demonstrated the series would go places even Chris Rock might think twice about. Want a cookie?!?!

The Office Welcoming

Employee of the Episode: Everyone is a true H.E.R.O. for having survived Michael’s makeshift diversity training session.

Gutenprank: A game of guess-my-race rarely turns out well, especially when Stanley draws the “Black” card.

That’s What She/He Said: “Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North.’ And those are the principles I carry with me in the workplace.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

15. “The Dundies”

Season 2, Episode 1

the office - the dundies

Original Air Date: September 20th, 2005

Memo: If Michael Scott was going to work as a character for longer than the dozen or so episodes of The Office’s UK forebear, Greg Daniels & Co. would have to soften him around the edges. “The Dundies” is the first episode where the show presents Michael as a character worthy of pity and sympathy, despite the fact that he’s wildly oblivious and inappropriate, who means well even when he’s totally incompetent. The awards he hands out are rude and his parodies risible, but his efforts come from a good place — a desire to recognize his employees (and steal the spotlight while he’s at it). “The Dundies” also gives us a first glimpse at the (alcohol-assisted) bolder side of Pam, showing how, under the right circumstances, she could both become an unlikely ally to Michael and have the chutzpah to take the leap with Jim.

Dundies Pam

Employee of the Episode: Ryan, whose bewildered and aghast reaction to winning the “hottest in the office” award at The Dundies says it all.

Gutenprank: Pam’s tipsy acceptance speech for her “whitest sneakers” award, where she acknowledges that God was within that Chili’s.

That’s What She/He Said: “The Dundies are like a car wreck that you want to look away, but you have to stare at it because your boss is making you.” –Pam Beesly

–Andrew Bloom

14. “Prince Family Paper”

Season 5, Episode 13

The Office - Prince Family Paper

Original Air Date: January 22nd, 2009

Memo: As self-centered as Michael can be, deep down he’s a sweetheart. And however warm Dwight may be at times, at heart he is a focused, determined individual who lives by his farmer’s code wherever he goes. The result is that when this duo pulls the world’s clumsiest con job on the world’s nicest family-owned paper company, Michael agonizes over whether to use their intel and Dwight commits to ruining the kindly competitors as swiftly as possible. But the real action in the episode is the debate back at the office over whether Hilary Swank is hot. The grossness of the topic is quickly acknowledged, but the fervor, intensity, and rigor of the back-and-forth makes it a winning B-plot. Between the two, we get to see Michael at his most morally conflicted and the Dunder Mifflin employees elevating the mundane into the sublime in the funniest, most ridiculous way.

the office - kelly

Employee of the Episode: Stanley, whose conviction in defending Hilary Swank is oddly stirring.

Gutenprank: Michael futilely-but-confidently helping the Prince family’s youngest with her homework, only for the matriarch of the family to quickly tell her granddaughter not to use his answer.

That’s What She/He Said: “Ladies. Are we prepared to let the Kevins of the world decide anything for us? Anything at all? We don’t even give him full internet access.” –Pam Beesly, making all kinds of sense

–Andrew Bloom

13. “Garage Sale”

Season 7, Episode 19

The Office - Garage Sale

Original Air Date: March 24th, 2011

Memo: Michael definitely wears us down and finds a place in our hearts over the course of seven seasons. We go from wondering how any woman in her right mind could love Michael to rooting for Holly, clearly Michael’s soulmate, to come back to him. A lot happens in this episode: Michael decides it’s time to propose (which includes a rock worth three year’s salary), Pam and others help him find a romantic gesture that won’t burn the building down (but still incorporates fire), and Michael demonstrates that his love for Holly is strong enough to make him leave behind the other great love of his life: the office. It’s rare that a comedy hits audiences square in the heart. We’re so happy for Michael, and yet our wishes for him finally coming true also mean that The Office will never be the same again. Still, what a story for the grandkids: Yoda-speak on four knees in a room full of candles as the sprinkler system goes off. Silly, dumb, perfect.

michael yoda

Employee of the Episode: Pam for pushing Michael to propose and for making sure nobody died in the process.

Gutenprank: Andy and Daryl aggravate Kevin by making up rules as they play Dallas the board game, but Kevin gets the last laugh when he steals the stakes. Now, that’s Dallas!

That’s What She/He Said: “When I was a kid, I was on Dallas. We missed our connecting flight, and we spent an entire day on Dallas. When we spent a week on Hawaii, I was on heaven.” –Kevin Malone, demonstrating the importance of correct prepositions

–Matt Melis

12. “Christmas Party”

Season 2, Episode 10

the office - christmas party

Original Air Date: December 6th, 2005

Memo: Credit The Office for knowing how to handle holidays. While sitcoms have traditionally used holiday episodes as heartfelt pauses from the usual proceedings, Dunder Mifflin Christmases and Halloweens continue onward full-throttle, often advancing the season’s arc, and always shedding additional yuletide light on what makes these officemates tick. While just about any of these episodes could be on this list, “Secret Santa” first showed us what happens when the biggest kid in the room, Michael, doesn’t get his way around the holidays — a theme that would be revisited during future holiday episodes. As well as Michael means, he just can’t help himself from ruining yet another party. Luckily, as always, he comes around in the nick of time. It’s a Christmas miracle — that and vodka.

christmas party

Employee of the Episode: Pam, for trading her luxurious video iPod to Dwight to get back Jim’s intended gift of a teapot and goodies. And what of that letter Jim takes back?

Gutenprank: When Michael doesn’t like his homemade oven mitt, he changes the gift exchange from Secret Santa to Yankee Swap and introduces reverse psychology to the proceedings.

That’s What She/He Said: “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It’s this tangible thing you can point to and say, ‘Hey, man. I love you this many dollars’ worth.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

11. “Sexual Harassment”

Season 2, Episode 2

the office - sexual harassment

Original Air Date: September 27th, 2005

Memo: “Sexual Harassment” seems, based on the title alone, like an episode that would age poorly. And yet, in the era of #MeToo it is, if anything, more salient than ever. The joke, as always, is on Michael, whose boorish behavior and persecution complex at the specter of corporate sexual harassment policies (something he drops after realizing he’s upper management) serves as a firm and funny dismissal of the arguments that these policies are anything but badly-needed protections against schmucks like him. And the B-story, featuring a visit from Pam’s mom, both feeds into the main story and advances the Jim/Pam romance in subtle but meaningful ways.

the office - sexual harassment gif

Episode MVP: Phyllis, who perfectly switches from charmed to disgusted in a split second.

Gutenprank: Todd Packer wondering aloud to Ryan why everyone asks him if he’s a fan of William Hung after seeing his “WLHNG” vanity license plate.

That’s What She/He Said: “Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for corporate, so he’s really not a part of our family. Also, he’s divorced, so he’s really not a part of his family.” –Michael Scott

–Andrew Bloom

10. “Niagara”

Season 6, Episodes 4 and 5

The Office Niagara

Original Air Date: October 8th, 2009

Memo: Fans of the original British version of The Office know that the show only stuck around 12 episodes, just long enough for the Michael character (David Brent) to get the sack and the Jim character (Tim) to get shot down by the Pam character (Dawn). Creators knew that an American audience, especially if the show took off, would need a happier ending than that after following Jim’s quest for Pam, but truthfully, the Halpert/Beesly arc had ceased to be the show’s focus by their wedding episode. We’d seen them kiss and resign themselves, go their separate ways, and ultimately fall back to each other in prior seasons. However, what could have simply been a ratings grab turned into a full-ensemble destination celebration full of brilliant gags and a union that ended up being more touching than we thought. As Jim might say, it was worth the wait.

the office the wedding The Offices Top 20 Episodes

Employee of the Episode: The entire office traveled in style to Niagara Falls, but let’s shout-out everyone’s favorite accountant, Kevin Malone. After causing a bio-hazard emergency with his dress shoes, Kevin’s toupee, Kleenex footwear, and poorly timed affection for Oscar steal much of the episode. Heck, he almost got a full phone number! Nice…

Gutenprank: Does watching the Dunder Mifflin gang pranking Jim and Pam with a wedding-aisle dance set to Chris Brown’s “Forever” ever get old? Naw, not yet.

That’s What She/He Said: “It’s a bad year for love … I’m thinking about having my sperm frozen.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

09. “Stress Relief”

Season 5, Episodes 14 and 15

the office - stress relief

Original Air Date: February 1st, 2009

Memo: “Stress Relief” found an audience of 23 million viewers (more than double that of any other episode), largely because it premiered directly after Super Bowl XLIII on NBC. However, even as a Steeler fan fresh off a victory over the Cardinals, I have to admit that few moments during the game were as thrilling as Dwight’s fire drill or Hannibal Lecter facial treatment during the episode’s opening minutes. The most important football game of the year is a tough act to follow, and “Stress Relief” earned its prime-time spot by halftime. But once the show’s adrenaline settled from those early spikes, so much brilliant character writing follows. When Michael learns that he’s causing Stanley’s stress, which could lead to another heart attack, he organizes a roast of himself — the one man in the office who can dish it out but definitely not take it. As much bizarre fun as it was to watch Oscar crawling through ceiling panels and Andy singing Bee Gees tunes during CPR training, nothing beats observing Michael slowly crumble one joke at a time as the roast heats up. Of course, that breakdown makes it all the sweeter when Michael is able to make Stanley laugh at the episode’s ending with his lame joke.

the office fire gif

Employee of the Episode: The entire office, who came together in the spirit of Michael’s roast in ways Michael could never have imagined or wanted.

Gutenprank: Dwight’s fire drill will live on in television infamy for years to come. And, yes, Andy. The fire was indeed shooting at you.

That’s What She/He Said: “Stanley, you will not die! Stanley, Stanley, Barack is president! You are black, Stanley!” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

08. “Goodbye, Michael”

Season 7, Episode 22

The Office - Goodbye Michael

Original Air Date: April 28th, 2011

Memo: There’s some detritus in “Goodbye, Michael.” Deangelo Vickers is a misfire; Gabe and Erin’s break-up is a nonstarter, and the show would soon jettison Andy’s road to redemption. But The Office nails this farewell to its main character, managing to honor Michael’s relationships with everyone in the office in a little more than half an hour — no small achievement. Michael’s swan song is full of emotion, rife with his usual bad jokes and childlike misunderstandings, but also full of the moments that show how the character had, little-by-little, grown and matured over the course of seven seasons. Whether it’s his touching recommendation letter for Dwight, his faux-delayed gratitude from Jim, or his unheard goodbye from Pam, the episode shows how much this place meant to Michael and how much Holly and his new life must mean for him to be willing to leave it.

michael scott basketball

Employee of the Episode: Michael, with Steve Carell (as usual) nailing the balance of comedy and sentiment in Michael’s surreptitious exit, and seeming particularly sweet in his character’s last words to Erin.

Gutenprank: Michael’s endless series of takes while trying to make a no-look basket on his way out of the warehouse.

That’s What She/He Said: “They say, on your deathbed, you never wish you spent more time at the office. But I will. Gotta be a lot better than a deathbed. I actually don’t understand deathbeds. I mean, who would buy that?” –Michael Scott

–Andrew Bloom

07. “Fun Run”

Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2

The Office - Fun Run

Original Air Date: September 27th, 2007

Memo: Poor Michael. Every time he tries to sidestep blame in service of his desire to be liked, he’s the absolute worst. But then he’s genuinely distraught that his characteristically inept attempts to improve the world amount to nothing. That’s the tricky balance of this character — the misaimed self-importance that makes him annoying and occasionally awful and the sincerity and pitiableness that make him endearing in his myriad failures, whether they be hitting Meredith with his car, blaming it on a curse, or organizing a pointless run to raise rabies awareness. “Fun Run” pairs that great source of comedy and character with one epic coupling — as Jim and Pam are revealed to be dating and adorable as ever — and one epic uncoupling — as Dwight and Angela break up over Dwight euthanizing her cat. It’s one of the first, and best, of the show’s “super-sized” episodes.

The Office - Fun Run

Employee of the Episode: Meredith, for her nonplussed, annoyed, but eventually very gracious reaction to, you know, getting hit by a car.

Gutenprank: Pam’s description of Michael’s private parts and her futile efforts to scrub that ghastly image from her brain.

That’s What She/He Said: “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” –Michael Scott

–Andrew Bloom

06. “Scott’s Tots”

Season 6, Episode 12

Scott's Tots

Original Air Date: December 3rd, 2009

Memo: Michael Scott usually gets a pass because while his behavior is abhorrent, his bumbling often turns out to be relatively innocuous. Nobody gets seriously harmed, and he usually ends up wearing any egg on his own face. However, in “Scott’s Tots”, we see Michael let down an entire classroom of at-risk high school seniors (his “tots”) whom he had promised back in third grade that he would pay their college tuition. It’s a really dark, if hilarious, episode that demonstrates Michael’s huge heart but also traces back his lifelong habit of getting caught up in the moment, even if that means problems down the road. In the end, he does cut one of his tots a check for four thousand dollars for college books, but it rings as just one more example of Michael dreaming dreams and setting goals that belong to someone else. And this time it really stings.

The Office - Stanley

Employee of the Episode: Erin develops a special daughter-like bond with Michael towards the end of Carell’s run on the show. Even though she knows a big letdown is coming, she glows like a proud daughter as faculty and students take turns honoring and thanking their benefactor. And it’s incredibly sweet when she cheers him up on the long drive home by explaining that his Tots graduated at a higher rate than the rest of the school, probably due to Michael’s misguided promise.

Gutenprank: Any evil genius could hatch a diabolical plan that uses a rigged employee of the month program to get Jim fired, but who other than Dwight would sweeten the revenge by having Jim sent a congratulatory cake with Jim’s own picture on it?

That’s What She/He Said: “I wanted to pay for your [Scott’s Tots’] education. I really did. It was my dream. Some people have evil dreams. Some people have selfish dreams or wet dreams. My dream was in the right place.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

05. “Dinner Party”

Season 4, Episode 13

The Office - Dinner Party

Original Air Date: April 10th, 2008

Memo: “Dinner Party” is a masterclass in cringe comedy. The Office takes the uncomfortableness of a shindig with a couple on the rocks, lets all the recriminations and resentments simmer under the surface, and then brings the whole thing to an uproariously funny boil. The episode is chock-full of brilliant little bits like Michael showing off his trophy case full of Dundies and his miniscule plasma TV and Jan awkwardly dancing with Jim’s limp arm. It’s a tour de force performance for Steve Carell and Melora Hardin, both of whom sell the “hosts just trying to keep it together” routine flawlessly. For much of the episode, you don’t know whether to laugh like hell or bury your face in your hands, but that’s a line The Office could walk like no other, and this episode is the show’s best example of its mastery of that comedic style.

Michael and Jan

Employee of the Episode: Pam, for her disbelieving looks about the lack of food, her shock at Jan claiming she and Michael dated, and her skill at keeping Jim stuck at the party when his excuse can only free one of them.

Gutenprank: Dwight showing up with his former babysitter and a pair of wine glasses, plus his own food, in order to gain admittance to the party.

That’s What She/He Said: “Mmm. A sort of an oaky afterbirth.” –Michael Scott, wine expert

–Andrew Bloom

04. “Casino Night”

Season 2, Episode 22

Pam and Jim

Original Air Date: May 11th, 2006

Memo: Jim professing his feelings for Pam is one of those moments that The Office absolutely had to pull off. It’s fun to see Creed stealing chips, poker aficionado Kevin losing to just-for-fun Phyllis, or Michael somehow managing to bluff his way through the old sitcom cliché of inviting two dates to the same party. But The Office needed to make Jim’s confession to Pam work as the culmination of two seasons’ worth of flirting and dithering and what-ifs or risk an audience revolt. Thankfully, “Casino Night” nails that moment. There is relief, resignation, and the faintest bit of hope in Jim’s eyes when he tells Pam how he feels. And Pam’s expression goes from charmed to shocked to damage control mode perfectly. It all culminates in a conversation and a kiss that paid off that season-long build in a down-to-earth but riveting fashion. Jim and Pam would have more heartening moments down the line, but The Office never topped the charged atmosphere and catharsis of this long-awaited event.

Dwight and Angela

Employee of the Episode: Jim and Pam, as John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer both give outstanding dramatic performances that sell the momentousness of the season’s climax.

Gutenprank: The reveal that Kevin is not only in a Police cover band and angling to be hired for Pam’s wedding, but that he and his bandmates are counting on it as their big break.

That’s What She/He Said: “Why are you [Toby] 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.” –Michael Scott

–Andrew Bloom

03. “Gay Witch Hunt”

Season 3, Episode 1

Gay Witch Hunt

Original Air Date: September 21st, 2006

Memo: Michael lets his gaydar down and accidentally outs Oscar as a homosexual to his officemates. In an attempt to ease Oscar’s coming out, Michael leads a conference room meeting on gayness that ends in a kiss (apparently improvised by Carell) that’ll forever be “burned into our brains.” It’s a classic Michael moment. In an attempt to be funny and liked, he crosses all boundaries of acceptable behavior and finds himself spending the rest of the episode trying to make amends. It’s okay, though. All was forgiven, and Oscar settled with the firm for a paid vacation and use of a company car. “Kids, sometimes it pays to be gay.”

Michael Scott

Employee of the Episode: Oscar endures more than any gay man should in order to make Michael feel better. Frankly, he should’ve held out for that home theater.

Gutenprank: Jim mails Dwight a gaydar detector from Stamford, and Dwight accidentally learns something about himself.

That’s What She/He Said: “I would’ve never call him [Oscar] that [faggy] if I knew. You don’t call retarded people retards. It’s bad taste. You call your friends retards when they’re acting retarded.” –Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

02. “The Injury”

Season 2, Episode 12

The Office - The Injury

Original Air Date: January 12th, 2006

Memo: Ah, I love the smell of sizzling bacon and regional manager foot in the morning. In the early seasons of The Office, it didn’t take anything more than something like Michael burning his foot in a George Foreman grill to make an episode go. In “The Injury”, we see Michael milk a grilled foot for all it’s worth: asking Pam to rub butter on it, Ryan to get him yams from a gas station, and someone to clean him up a bit when he falls off the toilet. Nobody craves attention quite like Michael Scott, who likens his affliction to that of the office’s paralyzed landlord and Stanley’s being black and views Dwight’s concussion (inflicted while rescuing Michael) as competition for the spotlight. But, hey, he’s got Country Crock!

Michael Scott

Employee of the Episode: Nobody can ham it up better than Michael, but honorable mention goes to Ryan for going on a rotisserie chicken run, faking his death, and grinding up medicine into some pudding (like you might do for a pet) to keep the ultimate problem patient somewhat at bay.

Gutenprank: It’s not a prank, per se, but seeing a concussed Dwight turn genial and befriend Pam is more cute than it is Twilight Zone.

That’s What She/He Said: “Yeah, I’m a little fussy. Aspirin’s not going to do anything. I’m sitting here with a bloody stump of a foot” Michael Scott

–Matt Melis

01. “Business School”

Season 3, Episode 17

The Office - Business School

Original Air Date: February 22nd, 2007

Memo: “A good manager doesn’t fire people. He hires people and inspires people. People, Ryan. And people will never go out of business.” If you wanted to boil down the ethos of The Office to a single quote, that might be it. Despite his mug, Michael is far from the world’s greatest boss, as his clueless speech to Ryan’s business school class underscores (with the force of a 100 Grand to the noggin). But at the end of the day, he’s someone who believes in the office he oversees, who displays a hidden competence in punishing/motivating Ryan by exiling him to the annex, and who proves that his caring about people (however misguided it may be at times) matters. He’s the one person who appreciates Pam’s artwork and gives her the validation she needs when she needs it the most. Michael Scott may not be the best manager, but “Business School” shows who he is at heart and why he’s worth keeping around.

Michael Scott

Employee of the Episode: Roy and his strained attempts to show interest in Pam’s drawings (“Your art was the prettiest art of all the art”) was hilariously, adorably inept.

Gutenprank: Jim unnerving Dwight with his feigned transformation into a vampire (a plot line that purportedly annoyed guest director Joss Whedon).

That’s What She/He Said: “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ And if they would, I do not do that thing.” – Dwight K. Schrute

–Andrew Bloom