It’s hard to believe that is has already been 15 years since The Office premiered. This was the first real show that I got super into from the beginning; it was appointment viewing. And even after watching the series through, and rewatching countless times since it went off the air in 2013, it remains just as good an as funny as ever.
The Office, with the exception of maybe Friends, might be the best indicator of Netflix’s ability to create staying power for long-since-ended shows, particularly sitcoms. Today’s youth (yikes, how old does that make me sound) discovered this genius comedy, able to binge it through like
they we all do with the newest season of Stranger Things. In terms of the age span of its fan base, The Office is inarguably one of the most widely popular shows out there.
But now the show is in its twilight run on Netflix, before moving to Peacock, the upcoming NBC streaming platform. So with that mind, it feels like a good time to run through the 10 best episodes of the series (to be fair, there’s never a bad time to do this).
10. Beach Games (Season 3, Episode 22)
As many good moments there are in “Beach Games,” this episode belongs to Pam. Finally, after being unwilling or unable to take a stand for herself for much of the series, this is her time. She walks across the fire coals – something nobody else did (successfully, at least). She then spills her heart out to Jim in front of the rest of the staff. Awkward? Maybe a little. Empowering and one of the series’ low-key best moments? Absolutely.
9. Conflict Resolution (Season 2 Episode 21)
This was my favorite episode for a long time. It maybe doesn’t quite hit it out of the park on a laughs-per-minute scale, but the funny moments are funny. Michael reading off the list of Jim’s pranks on Dwight is one the funniest moments that doesn’t seem to get enough recognition. Jim messing with Dwight’s ID card, Toby’s “special file” of Dwight’s complaints against Jim, and Oscar being forced to wear Angela’s instrument-playing babies poster as a t-shirt.
8. Dwight’s Speech (Season 2, Episode 17)
The titular scene is, in a word, incredible. After Jim messes with Dwight by giving him public speaking “tips” culled from Benito Mussolini, Dwight actually uses what he learned to overcome his fears and captivate the (much larger than expected) audience. A truly absurd scene, and with The Office, that’s saying something.
7. Michael’s Birthday (Season 2, Episode 19)
Michael Scott making a big deal out of his birthday? Couldn’t be him. It’s the most predictable move ever for the self-involved manager, and yet it still works. From the nasty party sub, to Michael checking Toby at the ice rink, to Michael not knowing a negative test result is good, there are so many small moments that help make this episode great.
And as a bonus, Michael is actually a great skater! It’s nice to see him be legitimately good at something. He gets ragged on so often for so much, and is shown as so incompetent, it’s a treat to see be able to show off in front of the staff for once.
6. Stress Relief (Season 5, Episodes 14/15)
“Stress Relief” could be a top 10 episode for the opening alone.
Between that, the CPR scene, and Dwight’s antics to get everyone to sign off on his apology letter, Dwight dominates this episode. The rest is still pretty great, but it runs off the gas of Dwight’s hilarious role.
5. The Job (Season 3, Episode 23)
Dwight treating Big League Chew like chewing tobacco will always remain one of my favorite, smallest bits from the show. I lose it every time. Then you have Schrute Bucks and Stanley Nickels battling it out.
But what really makes this episode so strong is its ending, one of the best the show had to offer: Jim finally asks Pam out on a date. Cue the tears.
4. Casino Night (Season 2, Episode 22)
Speaking of strong endings, “Casino Night” offers up one of the most emotional of the series. It was always safe to assume that as long as the show continued and both John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer stayed on the show, Jim and Pam were going to end up together. It’s just what sitcoms do. But season two was still early enough where you maybe couldn’t be quite 100% sure. So when Pam spurns Jim’s advances, only to be followed by the two of them kissing at the very end of the episode, it left fans confused, excited, sad, any number of emotions.
In addition to that, “Casino Night” has more than its fair share of great scenes to boot. Creed winning by cheating, Kevin clearly thinking his World Series of Poker bracelet is a big deal only to be defeated early on by Phyllis, Michael juggling two dates Carol and Jan, there’s so much to love about this episode. And these moments of levity to a perfect job of balancing out the more serious aspects of Jim’s potential transfer and the aforementioned profession of love for Pam.
3. Finale (Season 9, Episode 23)
The museum of series finales is littered with failures from beloved shows. Whether straight up terrible (Dexter, How I Met Your Mother) to controversial (Sopranos, Lost), there are endless examples of shows that missed the mark, at least to some degree.
But The Office nailed it. Dwight’s marrying Angela, Creed faked his own death, Michael even shows up for a few brief incredible moments. The show didn’t go for anything too over-the-top (it’s really saying something when you aren’t surprised by two main characters literally abandoning a baby and running off together). The finale was just one last chance for fans to spend some quality time with their favorite Dunder Mifflin employees.
2. Niagara (Season 6, Episodes 4/5)
Jim and Pam’s wedding. One of the most anticipated moments in The Office’s run. It was a watershed moment for the show, and there was not a single down moment in the entire double episode.
It has the humor, with Andy tearing his scrotum, Dwight kicking Isabel in the face (I may have never laughed harder at anything in my life than the first time I saw that scene), Michael sleeping in the ice machine room. The list goes on.
But it also has the sweet moments, courtesy of the bride and groom. Jim cuts his ties in half after Pam tears her veil, they say their vows on the Maid of the Mist, neither of them wanting the “Forever” aisle procession but not caring because they love each other and that’s all that matters.
1. Dinner Party (Season 4, Episode 9)
Of course, right? “Dinner Party” even won a crowd-vote bracket set up by the official Office Twitter account just a few months ago. Fans were calling their shot before the first round had even started. And with good reason.
One of the best and worst things about The Office was how awkward and cringe-inducing it could be. It’s a very fine line to walk. Cross that line, and you get “Scott’s Tots” (the second worst episode of the series for my money, only ahead of clip show “The Banker”). But “Dinner Party” toes that line to perfection. Every awkward moment, every mini argument and snide remark between Michael and Jan is absolute gold.
“Dinner Party” is also right up at the top of an episode list for most quotable one-liners. The jokes never stop. There’s nothing else to say. “Dinner Party” is peak Office.
Well there you have it. But that’s just my list. What do you agree with? Which episodes am I wrong on? What’s your top 10? Let us know in the comments!