The 20 Best Episodes of NBC’s The Office

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Well everyone, the moment is almost here; after eight long years on television, The Office is coming to an end.  Usually, I would be really sad to see such a wonderful show go…but honestly, I feel nothing at this point.  And that’s primarily because of how rough the last few seasons have been—they don’t resemble the earlier seasons at all, and are often unfunny, lazy, and just plain bad.  But even though my love of the show was tainted by these last few years, I still remember how glorious it was at the start.  In fact, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV for a time.  So with the series coming to a close in a mere 24 hours, I thought now would be the perfect time to relive the best episodes that The Office has to offer.  Here are the 20 Best Episodes of NBC’s The Office.

Even though I’m listing 20 episodes, I’m still a lazy person—the bottom 10 will only be accompanied by a quote as explanation of their brilliance.  The Top 10 will get a full explanation though.  So let’s start then, shall we?

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20. “Niagra”—”I bought the boat tickets the day I saw that YouTube video. I knew we’d need a backup plan. The boat was actually plan C. The church was plan B. And plan A was marring her a long, long time ago. Pretty much the day I met her.”

The-Office-Cafe-Disco

19. “Cafe Disco”—”Angela, a lot of people doubted Cafe Disco at first but it is a magical place you have to give it a chance. If these walls could talk they would say, “this is a magical place. You are safe here. We have talking walls. We’re not going to eat you.”
18. “The Client”—”They just don’t get very much work done when I’m not here. That’s not true. I know how to delegate, and they do more work when I”m not here. Not more… the same amount of work is done whether I am here or not…”
17. “Fun Run”—”Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I donno, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car. So sue me– no, don’t sue me. That is opposite the point I’m trying to make.”

The-Office-Office-Olympics

16. “Office Olympics”—”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.”
15. “The Deposition”—”You expect to get screwed by your company, but you never expect to get screwed by your girlfriend.”
14. “The Dundees”—”You know what they say about a car wreck, where it’s so awful you can’t look away? The Dundees are like a car wreck that you want to look away from but you have to stare at it because your boss is making you.”
The-Office-Branch-Closing
13. “Phyllis’ Wedding”—”Since I pay her salary, it is like I am paying for the wedding. Which I’m happy to do. It’s a big day for Phyllis, but it’s an even bigger day for me. Employer of the bride.”
12. “Branch Closing”—”I worked in Scranton for a really long time. And, uh, it’s going to be weird that it’s all disapearing. I mean I always knew that the branch would shut down someday. I just figured it’d be because Michael sold the building for some magic beans.”
11. “Booze Cruise”—”What is with the guy jumping overboard? If he had just waited and heard what I had to say, he would be motivated right now, and not all wet.”

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The-Office-Stress-Relief

10. “Stress Relief”

At first I was hesitant to stick “Stress Relief” in the Top 10 Office episodes, but then I saw the opening again and my mind was made up.  The insane cold open isn’t just one of the best in the show’s history—it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen in a comedy show period.  And well the opening set the bar insanely high, the episode delivered as well with some funny moments involving crazy Dwight and The Roast of Michael Scott.  It wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was definitely one of the show’s funniest.

The-Office-A-Benihana-Christmas

9. “A Benihana Christmas”

The Office has a spectacular record when it comes to Christmas episodes—hell, not to spoil anything, but this isn’t the only Christmas themed episode on the list.  It’s another Office hour long, but every moment of it is filled with great stuff.  Sad sack Michael is a delicate tight rope, but “A Benihana Christmas” nails the formula wonderfully here with Scott’s antics, such as playing only the preview of a really sad break up song on repeat and “marking” the arm of the Asian twin he took to the Christmas party.  And the other storyline too is great, as the Party Planning Committee butts heads over the direction of the Christmas party.  Just a really fun hour of holiday goodness here that doesn’t let up until the very end.

The-Office-Goodbye-Michael

8. “Goodbye, Michael”

No matter what happens during tomorrow’s series finale, I seriously doubt the show can conjure up a better farewell episode than “Goodbye, Michael.”  In fact, this would have been a perfect way to end the series as a whole if it wasn’t for the corporate greed of NBC.  But that’s neither here nor there—”Goodbye, Michael” is a funny and heartfelt episode of The Office that says farewell to Michael in probably the best way possible.  The episode would have been near flawless if it wasn’t for the inclusion of Gabe and D’Angelo Vickers—two twisted omens that served as a good warning for just what we should have expected from a post Steve Carell Office.  But despite their inclusion, “Goodbye, Michael” is still a wonderful episode.

The-Office-Email-Survelliance7.”Email Surveillance”

Steve Carrell really owns the runtime of “Email Survelliance,” as we get our first in depth look at the sad life of main character Michael Scott.  The Office works fantastically as a study of awkwardness, and “Email Surveillance” has this element in spades.  From the hilarious look at Michael’s improv class to his hijacking of Jim’s party, “Email Surveillance  nails the cringe moments just as much as it nails the laughter ones.  And when Jim finally saves Michael from his night of misery by singing with him at karaoke, all the awkward moments were totally worth it for this little bit of sweetness.

The-Office-Christmas-Party

6. “Christmas Party”

Ah yes, the first ever Dunder Mifflin Christmas…what a wonderful time, huh?  This episode nailed the best aspects of the show at the time؅—a  terrific, hearbreaking, and then heartwarming Jim/Pam subplot.  An awkward as hell bout of petulant, whiny Michael.  And a spectacularly hilarious scene of Yankee Swap that remains one of the show’s best ever moments.  Christmas in Scranton is almost always great, but the first ever “Christmas Party” easily takes the cake for the best.

The-Office-The-Injury

5. “The Injury”

“The Injury” is another episode that straddles the line between funny, likeable Michael and annoying, off putting Michael.  Very few shows are willing to showcase their main character in such an unlikeable manner, but The Office always manages to pull it off with good writing and a fantastic performance from Steve Carrell.  “The Injury” had both of these things, and Dwight weirdness mixed in for good measure.  And thespray bottle scene in the car is freaking hilarious, so much so that I’m just going to let it stand as the main reasoning for why “The Injury” is one of The Office’s all time best.

The-Office-Beach-Games

4. “Beach Games”

By the time Season 3 was reaching its end, no one really knew what was to become of Jim and Pam.  Karen was fully in the mix, ruining everything with her Ann Perkin-ness.  But it wasn’t until “Beach Day” where the topic of Jim and Pam was really brought up again, and boy was it brought up well.  Pam’s little fireside freakout was wonderfully done, especially when you consider the fact that it could have easily been a cheesy, romantic comedy-esque moment.  But The Office is so good at nailing those moments that it manages to come off as something sincere and ultimately endearing on Pam’s part.  And even aside from the Jim/Pam stuff, this episode is pretty awesome, what with Michael searching for his replacement for when he moves up to corporate.  Of course he did never get the corporate job, but at least we got stuff like Determined Stanley to make it worthwhile.  Those eyes…

The Office "Dinner Party"

3. “Dinner Party”

Holy shit, “Dinner Party.”  Not only does it take the cake for the most consistently cringe worthy episode of the show (in a good way), it’s also a perfect look at the self-destructing relationship that was Jan and Michael. From the moment Michael first asked Jim and Pam to join him and Jan for dinner, we knew we would be in for a wild roller coaster…and “Dinner Party” delivered perfectly on that front.  From Michael’s tiny TV to the hilarious game of charades to even the incredibly awkward dinner itself, “Dinner Party” is the perfect examination of an awkward party gone wrong.

The-Office-Conflict-Resolution

2. “Conflict Resolution”

Whenever I think of The Office, I think my mind will always drift back to “Conflict Resolution.”  It has everything an episode of The Office should—awkward scenarios, hilarious situations, a piercing sense of realism—”Conflict Resolution” has it.  Michael Scott the problem solver is one of the character’s best modes, and I would argue that this episode gives us the best of pretty much all the supporting characters—Creed, Toby, Oscar, and Angela in particular.  The Office has a wonderful ensemble, and “Conflict Resolution” uses them all quite wonderfully.  Just a fantastic episode that will forever remain one of my favorites.

The-Office-Casino-Night

1. “Casino Night”

But nothing beats “Casino Night”…nothing.  I don’t know where to start with this one really—it’s just a perfect episode of television, really.  Steve Carell wrote the episode, and his script is simply fantastic—from Creed’s kleptomania to Kevin’s pro poker skills, “Casino Night” introduces a ton of classic Office gags that I still remember and love to this day.  But what really makes “Casino Night” so special is, of course, the final five minutes.  The payoff to the Jim/Pam story arc of Season 2 was perfection, and the intensity and sadness of Jim’s admission and Pam’s rejection was played off so damn well.  I would argue that Jim and Pam have the best will they/won’t they of any sitcom couple ever put to television, and the final moments of “Casino Night” just cemented that.  The Office delivered a lot of wonderful content in the nine years it was on television, but for me at least, “Casino Night” will always be its magnum opus.

And there you have it, my 20 favorite episodes of NBC’s The Office.  Even though I think I’m happy with my list, there’s still quite a few I regret leaving off (stuff like “The Return” and “The Job” come to mind specifically).  So with that in mind, let me know—what did I miss?  And more importantly, what are your favorite episodes of the show?  Be sure to sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow night for my review of the show’s final hour!

-Matthew

3 Comments

  1. Jeremy Mauss

    May 15, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Good list, but I think “Office Olympics” should be much higher. I think it is a top-10 episode, if not higher.

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