Last year, I noticed Comedy Central made one of the best decisions it has probably ever made: it started airing reruns of The Office. A lot of them.
Reruns all day on Sunday, reruns on weekday nights, reruns randomly on during the day. It was all Office all of the time.
It was a brilliant move, and since they started airing old episodes of the show, I have found myself on numerous occasions jumping into whatever one is on and then watching the one that follows it (and then possibly watching at least a good chunk of the one that follows that one).
This development has solidified two things I believe to be true when it comes to The Office:
- The Office is a top-five sitcom of all time (and possibly in the top three)
- The Office is one of the most rewatchable shows of the last two decades
I realized just how rewatchable The Office was back in the day when TBS would do “Office Tuesdays.” Office Tuesdays featured anywhere from four to six episodes of The Office each night. It became a weekly event for me, and even though I owned the first few seasons on DVD (and thus had the ability to watch any of those episodes I wanted whenever I so chose), I still rode with Office Tuesdays.
Now, the all-time best episode of The Office is probably “Dinner Party” and the funniest is either “Diversity Day” or “The Injury.” However, because The Office is such an amazingly rewatchable show, it’s worth asking which episode is the easiest to jump into cold and enjoy no matter what the circumstances are.
I love “Dinner Party,” but would I consider it the most rewatchable episode? It’s up there, so let’s run through the 20 best episodes of The Office to see where it lands.
20. “Stress Relief” (Season Five, Episodes 14 and 15)
PowerPoint is boring, Dwight.
Come for Dwight’s fire safety training, stay for Michael realizing he’s the one who makes everyone so stressed.
It’s also a two-part episode and Dwight’s legendary fire drill is the catalyst for everything that follows, from Dwight destroying the CPR doll to Michael hosting a roast of himself that predictably goes horribly wrong.
19. “Money” (S4, E7&8)
Jan’s extravagant lifestyle is creating massive money troubles for Michael. Sure, they downsized to one car but that car ended up being a brand new Porsche.
Not exactly a win/win/win.
These changes to his life put Michael in a position where he needs to take a second job and he gets one working nights selling products over the phone. When Ryan finds out, he demands that Michael quit his side hustle.
However, Michael elects to take Creed’s suggestion (never a good idea) to declare bankruptcy, only to quickly learn that simply saying you declare bankruptcy isn’t exactly how it works.
18. “Christmas Party” (S2,E10)
The idea of cringe-creating comedy didn’t start with The Office but the show definitely helped perfect it via Michael Scott. The “Christmas Party” episode is one of the best examples of this.
In it, Michael changes things up at the office Christmas party as Secret Santa becomes a Yankee Swap after Michael gives Ryan an iPod but receives an oven mitt from Phyllis.
“It’s like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey, man, I love you this many dollars worth,’” Michael says at one point.
Keep your eye on the teapot, as there are actually gifts inside the gift. It’s like Christmasception.
17. “Product Recall” (S3, E21)
Hey, we learn what Creed’s job is! It’s quality assurance. Cool.
However, what is not cool is a bunch of paper was sent out with an obscene image on it, sending Michael into chaos mode to squash the oncoming public relations disaster.
It’s Threat Level: Midnight, people!
This episode also features one of the show’s most famous cold opens (Jim impersonating Dwight) as well as the reveal that Andy was apparently dating a high school girl.
“Lord, beer me strength” indeed.
16. “Safety Training” (S3, E20)
Michael was always at his most dangerous when he felt inadequate or unappreciated, two things that happened when he was challenged by Daryl about the legitimate level of potential dangers in the office.
Sadly, cramping up due to sitting for prolonged periods of time doesn’t rise to the level of danger that getting your limb caught in a baler does.
As a result, Michael ends up standing on the top of the building threatening to jump just to prove a point and Jim realizing that Michael was “going to kill himself pretending to kill himself.”
And yes, you should be perfectly comfortable in a long-sleeved tee.
15. “Gay Witch Hunt” (S3, E1)
There’s a gay person in the office.
Michael and Dwight handle it about as well as could be expected, which means NOT GREAT.
In the end, Oscar is outed against his will and, on top of that, kissed by Michael against his will (and everyone in the office has to watch it against their will as well).
14. “Healthcare” (S1, E3)
This episode was Dwight’s coming out party. From this point forward, he would be the Dwight Kurt/Danger Schrute we would come to know and love.
All it took was a little responsibility he should have never had in the first place.
Said responsibility was picking the branch’s healthcare plan, something Dwight was tasked with because Michael didn’t want the responsibility (or, more accurately, Michael didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news when the office heard what kind of crappy plan they’ll end up with).
Instead, Michael busies himself with coming up with a morale booster for the team in the form of…ICE CREAM SANDWICHES!
Meanwhile, Dwight tries to decide which diseases his co-workers are listed are real and which ones are fake. “Uh, leprosy? Flesh-eating bacteria? Hot dog fingers? Government created killer nanorobot infection?”
That doesn’t even include “Count Choculitis.”
13. “Finale” (S9, E24&25)
“Michael, you came?”
“That’s what she said.”
Finales are hard and rarely does a show actually stick the landing. You could count the number of legitimately good series finales of beloved shows on one hand.
Thankfully, The Office was one of those shows, which in itself was a miracle given how it had limped and sputtered its way to the finish.
12. “Broke” (S5, E25)
When Michael, Pam, and Ryan started their own paper company, you knew that they would eventually find themselves back at Dunder-Mifflin.
It turns out that there’s a direct correlation between beating everyone’s prices and running out of money, which happens to their young company. However, because of their disruptive ways, Dunder-Mifflin is forced to buy the company out and with it, re-hire Michael, Pam, and Ryan.
It’s like Michael Scott always said (that Wayne Gretzky said before him): “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
11. “Fun Run” (S4, E1&2)
Okay, bear with me. A lot happens in this episode.
Jim and Pam are finally dating. Pam buys a lamp. Michael hits Meredith with his car, and in the process, she learns she has rabies.
This, of course, leads Michael to organize a run to raise awareness for rabies, something everyone is pretty much already well aware of. Michael proceeds to eat too much pasta, cramps up, and finishes the race barely walking and throwing up.
Oh, and Pam walks in on Michael changing.
Welcome to season four.
10. “The Merger” (S3, E8)
Just like with the Michael Scott Paper Company, when Jim ran away to work at the Stamford branch at the end of season two, it was generally assumed he’d be back in Scranton at some point.
When the time did come to bring everyone together, Jim brought along some Stamford folks with him, most notably Karen and Andy (in addition to the dude who was in prison and the lady who was breast-feeding).
Unfortunately, Tony did not stick around – maybe he’ll pop up in a reunion.
Hard to understand why.
9. “The Fight” (S2, E6)
The bond between Michael and Dwight is as strong as they come. Yet rough patches befall even the best of friendships and the one they have is no exception.
All it takes is some confusion regarding expectations followed by some casual shit talk and then (as luck would have it) access to a local dojo.
The dojo is where Dwight attends karate lessons. Therefore, Dwight is coming into the showdown as a trained fighter. Michael, though, learned to fight on the street (or so he says). There are no rules on the street.
Well, there’s one: no shots to the groin.
8. “Booze Cruise” (S2, E11)
This was the first episode of The Office to largely take place outside of said office, as Michael takes his employees on a booze cruise/leadership retreat.
Oh, and it’s in the dead of winter. In Scranton, Pennsylvania. Not ideal.
Those unfortunate circumstances, however, make “Booze Cruise” one of the best episodes of The Office in the show’s history.
This is especially true if you take one of Michael’s leadership lessons literally and jump overboard.
There are a ton of hilarious moments in this episode—including a breakdown of Titanic in the middle of one of Michael’s lessons—but the highlight was one of the first truly humanizing moments for the boss of the Scranton branch.
After Jim confesses to him that he has feelings for Pam, Michael responds, “BFD, engaged ain’t married” and encourages him to still go after her.
Michael does this while zip-tied to the railing on the bow of the boat, but that’s beside the point.
7. “The Dundies” (S2, E1)
You down with the Dundies? Not many people in the office were.
Oscar compared it to a children’s birthday party, where the adults all begrudgingly go along with it because their kid (Michael) is having so much fun. As a parent, I get that. I really do.
Kevin got the stinkiest bowel movement, Ryan got the award for the sexiest person in the office, and Pam got wasted, got kicked out of Chili’s, and then almost kissed Jim.
But please, keep your acceptance speeches short. Dwight will be timing them.
6. “Basketball” (S1, E5)
The only thing less shocking than Michael thinking he’s a good basketball player is that Michael isn’t actually a good basketball player.
Even less shocking than that? Michael assumes Stanley is good at basketball because, well, you know.
Yeah, not so much.
Jim’s got some game, though, and my man Kevin proves to be deadly from outside.
5. “The Convict” (S3, E9)
When Michael found out Oscar was gay, he botched that about as magnificently as possible. The same could be said for when Michael learns that one of his new employees from Stamford did some time in prison.
First, Michael tries to teach everyone about prison via one of his many fantastic characters, Prison Mike, who eats gruel and is tormented by the dementors. You know, like the ones from Harry Potter.
Michael even gives the office outside time and sets up a TV in the break room, all to prove (unnecessarily) that the office is better than prison.
Then, again feeling threatened and inadequate, he decides to show everyone how lucky they are not to be in prison by locking them all in the conference room.
If you forgot, the dude from Stamford who was in prison for a bit quits when everything is said and done.
4. “Diversity Day” (S1, E2)
Thanks to Michael’s Chris Rock impression, the staff is forced to undergo some diversity training, which was to be led by Larry Wilmore’s Mr. Brown (yes, Michael, that’s his real name).
Not impressed with Mr. Brown, Michael kicks him out and elects to run his own diversity training, which becomes so wildly offensive that it ends with Michael getting slapped by Kelly after asking to try her “googy googy.”
“Abraham Lincoln once said that if you’re a racist, I will attack you with the North,” Michael says at one point, which may or may not be entirely accurate.
I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
3. “Dinner Party” (S4, E13)
Let’s see here.
There’s Michael’s flat-screen TV, which is roughly the size of a toaster but still one of his most prized possessions. There’s also the busted sliding door, which was broken when he thought he heard the ice cream truck and ran right through it.
There’s the footrest at the end of the bed that Michael sleeps on to give Jan more space and, of course, the timeless music of Hunter, Jan’s former assistant and definitely someone she once hooked up with (if not carried on a full-on affair with).
The episode is a Mount Rushmore episode for The Office and arguably the show’s very best. It’s hilarious, cringeworthy, uncomfortable, sad, and sweet. It’s amazing, babe.
2. “Drug Testing” (S2, E20)
Michael goes to an Alicia Keys concert (presumably by himself) and secures a sweet seat before being handed a cigarette by a girl with a nose ring. This is huge. By his own admission, Michael never meets girls with nose rings.
It turns out the cigarette was a joint, and at some point, it made its way to the office parking lot, where it was found by Dwight.
Dwight takes it upon himself to investigate, questioning everyone from Oscar (a potential drug mule) to Creed, who has more knowledge about the different strains of weed than Dwight. Dwight even brings in someone to test everyone (and yes, it must be urine).
The episode also features a damn near perfect exchange between Jim and Dwight:
Jim: I’m just saying…that you can’t be sure that it wasn’t you.
Dwight: That’s ridiculous. Of course it wasn’t me!
Jim: Marijuana is a memory loss drug, so maybe you just don’t remember.
Dwight: I would remember!
Jim: Well how could you if it just erased your memory?
Dwight: That’s not how it works!
Jim: Now, how do you know how it works?
Dwight: Knock it off. I’m interviewing you!
Jim: No! You said I’d be conducting the interview when I walked in here. Now exactly how much pot did you smoke?!
In the end, Dwight is forced to resign as a volunteer sheriff’s deputy, once again proving his undying loyalty to Michael.
The lesson here is that shit gets a little wild at Alicia Keys concerts.
1. “The Injury” (S2, E12)
Michael Scott is a simple man with simple desires.
For example, every morning he likes to wake up to the smell of cooked bacon. Pretty simple.
Unfortunately, Michael Scott does not have someone to prepare the bacon so he can wake up to that smell. Not so simple.
So, every night, Michael lays out a few strips of bacon on his George Foreman Grill. When his alarm goes off, he turns the grill on and falls back asleep, thus allowing him to wake up to that desired aroma of cooked bacon.
However, tragedy strikes one morning when he accidentally steps on the grill and burns his foot.
Also, Dwight gets a concussion.
Some bubble wrap and fresh yams later, we have the most rewatchable episode of The Office.