The Top 25 Episodes Of The Office

We're counting down the best The Office episodes of all time, including 'The Dundies’,'Casino Night', 'The Convict', 'Diversity Day' & more

the office dinner party

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the office dinner party

Now that Friends is no longer available on Netflix, The Office is the heavyweight champion emeritus of the streaming service [Ed note: at least until the series travels to Peacock in the very near future]. In 2019, it was the #1 most watched program across all streaming platforms, with subscribers collectively viewing over 52 billion minutes of the show.

But despite its overwhelming popularity today, it's easy to forget that the show was nearly canceled after its first season. When it debuted, it received mixed reviews and unfavorable comparisons to the original BBC version starring Ricky Gervais. But beginning with the second season, the writers did away with some of the meanness and cruelty. They incorporated warmth and humanity into the characters' personalities, particularly Michael Scott's. A little sweetness mixed in with the cringe made the show palatable to American tastes.

Starting in 2021, all nine seasons of The Office will be exclusively available on Peacock, NBC's upcoming streaming service. Netflix subscribers have the next eight months to binge-watch a comedy classic about the indignities and humiliations of modern life. Here are the Top 25 episodes of The Office.

25. "Branch Wars" (Season 4, Episode 10)

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Air Date: November 1, 2007

Key Quote: "Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that's always trying to teach people things. Sometimes you just have to be the boss of dancing." - Michael Scott

It's always interesting when the Scranton branch goes on a trip outside the office—even to the parking lot. And in "Branch Wars," Michael enlists Dwight and Jim to help him prank Karen, after Stanley says that he's leaving Scranton for Karen's branch. It's a disaster, of course, and it ends with Michael pinned in the stairwell by Utiuca's industrial copier and threatening to burn the building to the ground.

24. "Murder" (Season 6 Episode 10)

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Air Date: November 12, 2009

Key Quote: "I think today was a good day to have two managers. ‘Cause if you’re a family stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, one parent might want to just keep rowing. But if the other parent wants to play a game, it’s not because they’re crazy. It’s because they’re doing it for the kids. And I get that now." - Jim Halpert

Amidst rumors that Dunder Mifflin is going bankrupt, Michael persuades the entire staff to play a murder mystery parlor game. From terrible accents to a three-way standoff with finger pistols, this episode shows Michael Scott at his best. For once, his idea to play instead of work is the right call.

23. "Booze Cruise" (Season 2, Episode 11)

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Air Date: January 5, 2006

Key Quote: "I was the youngest pilot in Pan Am history. When I was four, the pilot let me ride in the cockpit and fly the plane with him. And I was four. And I was great. And I would have landed it, but my dad wanted us to go back to our seats." - Dwight Schrute

The entire staff goes on a mandatory cruise, and Michael, who can't bear being out of the spotlight for more than 15 seconds, tries to upstage the captain. What follows is a hilarious, pointless struggle for power, which ends with Michael being zip-tied to the boat for everyone's safety.

22. "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" (Season 4, Episodes 3 & 4)

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Air Date: October 4, 2007

Key Quote: "It’s not a surprise to me. Pam is the office mattress." - Angela Martin

A jealous Toby forces Jim and Pam to reveal that they're in a relationship. Ryan returns to the office with a fancy new job title and a promise to bring technology and efficiency to the Scranton branch. For fans interested in lore, this episode features Robert Dunder, the co-founder of Dunder-Mifflin, who Michael brings in as proof that old people have rights.

21. "Gossip" (Season 6, Episode 1)

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Air Date: September 17, 2009

Key Quote: "How do you untell something? You can’t. You can’t put words back in your mouth. What you can do is spread false gossip so that people think that everything that’s been said is untrue, including “Stanley is having an affair.” It’s like the end of Spartacus. I’ve seen that movie half a dozen times, and I still don’t know who the real Spartacus is, and that is what makes that movie a classic whodunnit." - Michael Scott

Michael feels left out of the office's gossip culture. Unfortunately, his attempts to ingratiate himself to the staff result in him finding out a life-destroying secret about Stanley's marriage. And if there's one thing Michael Scott knows how to do, it's keeping secrets.

20. "Michael Scott Paper Company" (Season 5, Episode 23)

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Air Date: April 9, 2009

Key Quote: "I make that one copy, and I become the girl who makes copies, and by the end of the day I’m receptionist again. And the worst part is, I like making copies. The paper comes out all warm and stuff. And it’s cold in there. Because it’s technically a closet." - Pam Beesly

Michael, Pam, and Scott start a rival paper company out of a storage closet, in the same office building as Dunder-Mifflin. This episode is extremely funny and narratively pivotal. It marks the arrival of new receptionist Erin Hannon, one of the break-out stars from the later seasons. And it features Pam making her first sale, which leads to her becoming a salesperson in later seasons.

19. "Business School" (Season 3, Episode 17)

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Air Date: February 17, 2007

Key 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 Schrute

Ryan invites Michael to speak at his business school to get a bump in his grade, and Michael, predictably, ruins the event. Dwight tries to capture a bat in the office, which leads to some great physical comedy. But the highlight is definitely Pam's art show, where after a disappointing showing, Michael attends, admires Pam's artwork, and offers to buy a painting. Michael and Pam always cared for one another, in their own way. But this was a necessary building block towards them becoming true friends.

18. "Launch Party" (Season 4, Episodes 5 & 6)

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Air Date: October 11, 2007

Key Quote: "It was kind of a slap in the face to realize that I wasn’t as important as I thought I was to a certain young executive who I cared about. But, you know, I’m not gonna cry over it. I did that in the car on the way home." - Michael Scott

This episode had one of the best cold opens in the show's history, about the mundanity of staring at a screensaver. It's always the little relatable moments that are the highlights of any Office adventure. Elsewhere in the episode, Michael takes a rare moment to assess his self-worth, after realizing that Ryan, fresh off his new promotion, doesn't like or respect him.

17. "Goodbye, Toby" (Season 4, Episodes 18 & 19)

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Air Date: May 15, 2008

Key Quote: "Thanks to Toby, I have a very strong prejudice against Human Resources. I believe that the department is a breeding ground for monsters. What I failed to consider though, is that not all monsters are bad. Like E.T. Is Holly our extraterrestrial? Maybe. Or maybe she’s just an awesome woman from this planet." - Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a friendly, if oafish, guy. He likes everyone and wants everyone to be his friend. But he loathes one man: Human Resources representative Toby Flenderson, who he infamously claims he hates more than Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden. So, on Toby's last day, Michael is gleeful. "Goodbye Toby" also marks the debut of Holly, the woman who Michael falls in love with and eventually marries. She shares his inappropriate, pop culture-heavy humor; truly, there is someone for everyone.

16. "Fun Run" (Season 4, Episodes 1 & 2)

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Air Date: September 27, 2007

Key Quote: "I’ve been involved in a number of cults, both as a leader and a follower. You have more fun as a follower, but you make more money as a leader." - Creed Bratton

Michael hits Meredith with his car, and rather than being appropriately appalled with himself and sensitive about the situation, he decides to make it about himself, first by blaming everyone for holding it against him, and later by organizing a non-sequitur charity run in her honor. Other key show moments: Dwight kills Angela's cat, Sprinkles. We also get hints that Jan is overspending Michael's money, which becomes a major plot point in future episodes.

15. "The Job" Season 3, Episode 24 & 25

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Air Date: May 17, 2007

Key Quote: "Pam is kind of a bitch." - Karen Filippelli

Michael applies for a promotion, along with Jim and Karen. He also restarts his toxic, awful relationship with Jan because of his inability to say no. But the Season 3 finale ultimately boiled down to one question: who would Jim decide to pursue? Would it be Karen, or would it be Pam? Jim finally asks Pam out on a date, and for fans who had been following the show since the beginning, it was a culmination and a triumph. Pam's happy tears were ours too.

14. "Halloween" Season 2, Episode 5

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Air Date: October 18, 2005

Key Quote: "It’s not a popularity contest. Although it does make sense to fire the least popular because it has the least effect on morale." - Michael Scott

One of Michael's biggest character flaws is his overriding desire to be liked. It prevents him from looking out for himself, and it prevents him from delivering necessary news or making important decisions, like say, firing one member of the staff before the day is over. The first Halloween episode of the series is also the best one, with great costumes and great reactions to them; Kelly dresses as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Michael, in a classic Michael move, wonders why she wasn't dressed like the girl from Bend It Like Beckham.

13. "A Benihana Christmas" Season 3, Episodes 10 & 11

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Air Date: December 14, 2006

Key Quote: I hear Angela’s party will have double-fudge brownies. It will also have Angela." - Kevin Malone

Season 3's Christmas episode follows two main plot strands, both of which work perfectly. The first follows a heartbroken Michael, who tries to pick up waitresses with Andy at Benihana. It doesn't go well, especially with Jim and Dwight third and fourth-wheeling it. The second plotline follows Angela, whose deeply ironic leadership of the Party Planning Committee is challenged by Pam and Karen.

12. "Scott's Tots" Season 6, Episode 12

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Air Date: December 3, 2009

Key Quote: "I fell in love with those kids. and I didn’t want to see them fall victim to the system, so I made them a promise. I told them that if they graduated from high school, I would pay for their college education. I’ve made some empty promises in my life. But hands down, that was the most generous." - Michael Scott

Your mileage may vary. But "Scott's Tots" definitely leans well over the dark side of dark humor episodes in the show's history, and it epitomizes the entire concept of cringe comedy. Ten years prior, Michael, believing he'd one day be rich, promised an entire class of disadvantaged kids that he would pay for their college tuition. Now, he must go to their high school and tell them that he doesn't have the money. It's a brutal episode, because we see Michael's foolishness do something more than make  a co-worker uncomfortable; he puts people's lives at stake. There's a reason there's an entire subreddit dedicated to this episode. Watch, and be horrified.

11. "Grief Counseling" Season 3, Episode 4

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Air Date: October 12, 2006

Key Quote: "That is just not the way a Dunder Mifflin manager should go, I’m sorry. Alone, out of the blue, and not even have his own head to comfort him." - Michael Scott

When Michael's former boss dies, he talks to the entire office staff as a way of processing his grief, under the guise of counseling them about their (non-existent) grief. He eventually projects his grief onto a bird that crashed into Dunder-Mifflin's glass doors that morning. Pam builds a coffin and sings a song to mark the occasion. Her character shines brightest when she surrenders to the craziness around her and plays into it.

10. "Basketball" Season 1, Episode 5

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Air Date: April 19, 2005

Key Quote: "Please don't throw garbage at me." - Pam Beesly

The first season is a bit different in tone from the rest of the show. Everyone is meaner and coarser, and Michael, rather than being lovably unlikable, is simply unlikable. "Basketball" gives us a small peak at the looser, more fun tone that the show would take in the years to come. This episode had great physical comedy. Michael challenges the warehouse employees to a pickup basketball game. Basing his choices on stereotypes, he makes Stanley (who can't dribble) a starter, and he makes Phyllis (who can play) a benchwarmer. This episode also marks the first appearance of comedian Patrice O'Neal as a warehouse employee.

9. "Gay Witch Hunt" Season 3, Episode 1

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Air Date: September 21, 2006

Key Quote: "Look, if I was gay, I would be the most flamboyant gay you have ever seen. I would be leading the parade covered in feathers." - Michael Scott

Poor Oscar. There's being outed as gay in public, and then there's being outed as gay in public by Michael Scott. The most amusing thing about this episode is that Michael views himself as tolerant, forward-thinking and ahead of the curve. And when you think about it, that's what makes the show continuously funny and palatable, no matter how offensive he is. Michael means well, even when he's kissing Oscar on the mouth (Carell improvised it, believe it or not) to prove to everyone that he accepts him. If this didn't get Michael fired, nothing would.

8. "The Injury" Season 2, Episode 12

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Air Date: January 12, 2006

Key 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 the perfect way to start the day. Today I got up, I stepped onto the grill, and it clamped down on my foot." - Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a Darwin Award waiting to happen. And his long protracted story, on how he stepped on George Foreman Grill and cooked his foot, is both unbelievable and completely believable for someone like him. The second part of the story deals with Dwight getting a concussion in his enthusiasm to help Michael. Concussed Dwight a bit nicer than normal Dwight. You can question his sanity, but you can't question his dedication. 

7. "Sexual Harassment" Season 2, Episode 2

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Air Date: September 27, 2005

Key Quote: "Usually the day we talk about sexual harassment is the day that everyone harasses me as a joke." - Pam Beesly

Michael had previously shown Toby a bit of hostility. But his full-blown, inexplicable hatred for the man started here. Toby runs a sexual harassment workshop for the staff, which causes Michael to go on a rant about how he is censored from being too funny. Michael learns nothing; he later defends Phyllis from being sexually harassed by sexually harassing her. It's been 15 years since this episode aired, and it's still as socially relevant as it was then. Progress happens in tiny, tiny baby steps.

6. "Casino Night" Season 2, Episode 22

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Air Date: May 11, 2006

Key Quote: "There are certain topics that are off-limits to comedians, JFK, AIDS, the Holocaust. The Lincoln assassination just recently became funny. "I need to see this play like I need a hole in the head." And I hope to someday live in a world where a person could tell a hilarious AIDS joke. It’s one of my dreams." - Michael Scott

The Season 2 finale ends with Pam and Jim kissing. And this time, it can't be explained away by alcohol or misunderstandings; this is the real deal, where both of them know the other's intentions. Every major plotline that had been laid in Season 2 comes to a head. Michael invites both Carol and Jan to Casino Night, which led to some cringy interactions. Dwight and Angela affirm their bizarre relationship with one another. The episode also features Kevin's band, Scrantonicity, which becomes a recurring joke in later episodes.

5. "Stress Relief" Season 5, Episodes 14 &15

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Air Date: February 1, 2009

Key Quote: "Nobody should have to go to work thinking, "Oh, this is the place that I might die today." That’s what a hospital is for. An office is for not dying. An office is a place to live life to the fullest, to the max. An office is a place where dreams come true." - Michael Scott

It's not the #1 episode of The Office on our list, but it definitely has the most laughs per minute. It is the episode that contains not one, but two of the series' most viral moments. The first is the fire drill scene, where Dwight starts a fire in the office in order to test whether anyone paid attention to his lecture on fire safety. It causes Stanley to have a heart attack, which leads to the second viral moment, when the staff attends a CPR training class with a dummy, and Dwight cuts it open to harvest for organs. The episode ends with a roast of Michael Scott, which Michael organizes to create stress relief. He's not prepared, however, for the brutality of the jokes that are launched in his direction.

4. "The Dundies" Season 2, Episode 1

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Air Date: September 20, 2005

Key Quote: "You know what they say about a car wreck, where it’s so awful you can’t look away? 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

The first episode of Season 2, where Michael hosts an unapproved "Dundies" awards show at the local Chili's, can alternatively be seen as a relaunch of the series; it's the same characters as before, but they're softer, more sympathetic versions of their Season 1 selves. Case in point: this episode ends with the office staff supporting Michael and encouraging him to hand out more Dundies instead of letting him twist in the wind. He may be an insensitive moron. But at least he's their insensitive moron.


3. "Health Care" Season 1, Episode 3

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Air Date: April 19, 2005

Key Quote: "Right now, this is just a job. If I advance any higher in this company then this would be my career. And, well, if this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train." - Jim Halpert

If you like pitch-black humor, then "Health Care" is the episode for you. It demonstrates Dwight at his absolute worst, cutting the healthcare of his fellow employees just because he can and then forcing them to reveal their medical histories in order to get their ailments covered. And it also shows Michael at his most cowardly and incompetent, he hides in his office rather than attempt to fix the problem. The episode ends with no resolution; everyone just walks out of the office in silence, as a way of showing utter contempt for their boss. Most people either eat this up or can’t bear to look at it.

2. "Diversity Day" Season 1, Episode 2

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Air Date: March 29, 2005

Key Quote: "Abraham Lincoln once said that, “If you’re a racist, I will attack you with the North.” And those are the principles that I carry with me in the workplace." - Michael Scott

This is, simply put, fantastic television. After Michael gets in trouble for repeating a Chris Rock bit to his subordinates, corporate makes him and the staff sit through a diversity sensitivity training workshop. And Michael, rather than taking the lesson at face value, decides to hold his own workshop, where he attempts to stoke racism out of his employees by encouraging their use of stereotypes. The workshop ends abruptly, with Michael doing a stereotypical Indian impression to Kelly before she slaps him across the face. Awful, tasteless, and awkward as hell. Those are the characteristics of a perfect Office episode.

1. "Dinner Party" Season 4, Episode 13

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Air Date: April 10, 2008

Key Quote: "When I said that I wanted to have kids, and you said, you wanted me to have a vasectomy, what did I do? And then when you said that you might want to have kids and I wasn’t so sure, Who had the vasectomy reversed? And then when you said you definitely didn’t want to have kids, who had it reversed back? Snip snap! Snip snap! Snip snap! I did. You have no idea the physical toll that three vasectomies have on a person."

A successful dinner party is a rite of passage for many young people. It's nearly impossible to pull off without a hitch; one needs to cook, entertain, and keep everyone comfortable, simultaneously. So of course, Michael and Jan were going to screw this up. But no one could have guessed how badly it would go. Some of the lowlights include: Jan showing off her disgusting smelling candles; the revelation that Michael sleeps at the foot of Jan's bed; Michael's desperate attempt to get Andy and Jim to invest in Jan's company; the tiny flat screen TV that Michael treasures; the revelation that Jan used to sleep with her assistant;  and a litany of ugly, personal fights, which include the revelation that Michael has had two vasectomies (and one reversal procedure in between) to make Jan happy. It gets worse and worse and worse. And that's exactly the way we like it.

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