The Office is my favorite show of all time. And I know that a ton of other people feel the same way, especially since the show’s popularity has grown proportionally with Netflix over the past few years. While some diehards go back and forth over the best character (Michael is the only real answer) or the best season (2 or 3 are both acceptable), the debate that’s probably most up for interpretation is best episode.
There were 201 episodes of The Office filmed over the show’s nine-season run, and in the spirit of March Madness, I trimmed that number down to 64. No rules or guidelines were followed in the seeding – if the episode was one of the Top 64 in the catalog, then it made the cut. So that explains why “The Incentive” or “Trivia,” two of the better episodes from Season 8, didn’t make the cut, but “Ben Franklin,” one of the lesser episodes from Season 3, did make it. I considered Michael’s highlights and lowlights, impact on the greater story arc, and GIF-ability when putting the list together, but when voting feel free to follow your heart…or Michael’s personal philosophy of “don’t ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you’ve been, ever, for any reason whatsoever.”
2. GAY WITCH HUNT
Thanks to everyone who voted! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rewatch the series for the 497th time.
1. DIVERSITY DAY vs. 2. GAY WITCH HUNT
A fun piece of trivia about DIVERSITY DAY is that…the episode was webcast on Myspace two weeks prior to airing on NBC as a promotion for the then-upcoming premiere.
A fun piece of trivia about GAY WITCH HUNT is that…the kiss between Michael and Oscar was completely improvised by Steve Carell.
1. CASINO NIGHT vs. 1. DIVERSITY DAY
Best random Michael quote of CASINO NIGHT is…“Dinkin Flicka” – Michael to Darryl.
Best random Michael quote of DIVERSITY DAY is..“This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell out of here.” – Michael to Toby.
2. STRESS RELIEF vs. 2. GAY WITCH HUNT
Best random Michael quote of STRESS RELIEF is…“Five thousand three hundred dollars for a dummy?” – Michael to David Wallace, after David told him that the dummy cost thirty-five hundred dollars.
Best random Michael quote of GAY WITCH HUNT is…”Oh, there’s Gil, Oscar’s roommate. I wonder if he knows.” – Michael to camera, right after Oscar came out of the closet.
SCRANTON REGION – ELITE 8
1. CASINO NIGHT vs. 3. THE INJURY
Worst part of CASINO NIGHT is…Jim’s “I’m sorry I misinterpreted our friendship” line. This isn’t an actual criticism. Honestly it’s really good writing. It’s just fucking brutal to watch.
Worst part of THE INJURY is…that some people apparently didn’t know the rules of Shotgun in 2006? (1:10). I know that’s a lame pick again, but these two episodes don’t really have flaws.
STAMFORD REGION – ELITE 8
9. BASKETBALL vs. 2. STRESS RELIEF
Worst part of BASKETBALL is…Michael. He’s essentially an unrecognizable character when you go back and watch this episode. The show was still attempting to emulate the British version at this point, so Michael’s character exists under the similar concept of “what if your boss was the biggest asshole in the world?” Don’t get me wrong…the aggressively non-PC version of Michael Scott is still funny. But I significantly prefer the version we grew to know and love, where Michael exists more as an idiot who will go to literally any lengths for approval.
Worst part of STRESS RELIEF is…Jim and Pam watching the bootleg DVD with Andy. This hour-long episode aired directly after the Super Bowl, so they had more time and money to work with. Those extra resources turned into this subplot featuring Jack Black and Jessica Alba, which ended up being way more weird than funny.
NASHUA REGION – ELITE 8
4. THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT vs. 2. GAY WITCH HUNT
Worst part of GAY WITCH HUNT is…how poorly some of the dialogue has aged. Even though this episode is a classic specifically because of how far it crosses the line, some of Michael’s homophobic slurs to Oscar catch you so off guard nowadays that you can’t believe this episode aired on NBC in 2006.
UTICA REGION – ELITE 8
1. DIVERSITY DAY vs. 2. THE DUNDIES
Worst part of DIVERSITY DAY is…Jim. This is a bit of a stretch, especially considering “not a bad day” is probably Jim’s best line of the entire series. But his character was not nearly developed yet. It’s strange to rewatch this episode and see Jim care a lot about work and call a girl “hot” (1:03).
Worst part of THE DUNDIES is…Ping. He ranks near the bottom of my list of Michael’s go-to characters. I feel like this might be a reference to something that’s going completely over my head though? If not, then yeah it’s just a lazy and mildly funny Asian impression.
SCRANTON REGION – SWEET 16
1. CASINO NIGHT vs. 13. A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS
Episode MVP of CASINO NIGHT is…Jim…for finally professing his love to Pam, obviously. But less obviously, for co-discovering Kevin’s band, Scrantonicity.
Episode MVPs of A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS are…Pam and Karen…for having more people show up to their Christmas party.
3. THE INJURY vs. 2. BEACH GAMES
Episode MVP of THE INJURY is…Dwight…for being nice to Pam and for dropping an A+ “that’s what she said” in front of Michael (3:28).
Episode MVP of BEACH GAMES is…Pam…for doing the coal walk, calling out the office for treating her like shit, and telling the truth to Jim. Huge episode for Pam.
STAMFORD REGION – SWEET 16
9. BASKETBALL vs. 5. FINALE
Episode MVP of BASKETBALL is…Jim…for actually being really good at basketball.
Episode MVP of FINALE is…Dwight…for burying the hatchet with Kevin, reuniting with Michael, and marrying Angela.
6. THE FIRE vs. 2. STRESS RELIEF
Episode MVP of THE FIRE is…Michael…for being the first one out of the building.
Episode MVP of STRESS RELIEF is…Dwight…for somehow not getting fired.
NASHUA REGION – SWEET 16
1. DINNER PARTY vs. 4. THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT
Episode MVP of DINNER PARTY is…Jan’s assistant, Hunter…for gracing us with “That One Night.”
Episode MVP of THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT is…Michael…for finally finishing his passion project, even if he realizes that it actually sucks.
3. GOODBYE, MICHAEL vs. 2. GAY WITCH HUNT
Episode MVP of GOODBYE, MICHAEL is…Michael…for giving meaningful goodbye gifts to everyone, besides Oscar.
Episode MVP of GAY WITCH HUNT is…Oscar…for getting three months paid vacation and use of a company car to not sue Dunder Mifflin for Michael outing him.
UTICA REGION – SWEET 16
1. DIVERSITY DAY vs. 13. GOODBYE, TOBY
Episode MVP of DIVERSITY DAY is…Kelly…for slapping Michael for his terrible Indian accent.
Episode MVP of GOODBYE, TOBY is…Phyllis…for gaining the upper hand on Angela after she catches her hooking up with Dwight.
14. DRUG TESTING vs. 2. THE DUNDIES
Episode MVP of DRUG TESTING is…Creed…for acing Dwight’s drug test.
Episode MVP of THE DUNDIES is…Ryan…for winning the “Hottest in the Office” Dundie.
SCRANTON REGION – ROUND OF 32
1. CASINO NIGHT vs. 8. THE NEGOTIATION
CASINO NIGHT…also known for: “Why are you the way that you are?”
THE NEGOTIATION…also known for: Roy attacking Jim.
5. OFFICE OLYMPICS vs. 13. A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS
OFFICE OLYMPICS…also known for: Michael asking Ryan to come into work early just to bring him breakfast.
A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS…also known for: Dwight’s Christmas miracle.
11. PHYLLIS’ WEDDING vs. 3. THE INJURY
PHYLLIS’ WEDDING…also known for: Jim conditioning Dwight with Altoids.
THE INJURY…also known for: Dwight’s concussion.
10. GOSSIP vs. 2. BEACH GAMES
GOSSIP…also known for: Michael telling everyone about Stanley’s affair.
BEACH GAMES…also known for: Team Voldemort.
STAMFORD REGION – ROUND OF 32
1. BOOZE CRUISE vs. 9. BASKETBALL
BOOZE CRUISE…also known for: Michael’s motivational dancing.
BASKETBALL…also known for: Phyllis requesting to cheerlead.
5. FINALE vs. 4. SCOTT’S TOTS
SCOTT’S TOTS…also known for: “Andy sowwy.”
6. THE FIRE vs. 3. SAFETY TRAINING
THE FIRE…also known for: Who would you do?
SAFETY TRAINING…also known for: “Hey Darryl, how’s it hanging?”
7. NIAGARA vs. 2. STRESS RELIEF
NIAGARA…also known for: Andy tearing his scrotum.
STRESS RELIEF…also known for: The Roast of Michael Scott.
NASHUA REGION – ROUND OF 32
1. DINNER PARTY vs. 8. THE JOB
DINNER PARTY…also known for: “SNIP SNAP, SNIP SNAP, SNIP SNAP!”
THE JOB…also known for: Jan’s boob job.
12. THE MERGER vs. 4. THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT
THE MERGER…also known for: Michael trying to push Tony Gardner onto the table.
THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT…also known for: Goldenface.
6. THE CONVICT vs. 3. GOODBYE, MICHAEL
THE CONVICT…also known for: Andy hitting on Pam.
GOODBYE, MICHAEL…also known for: Michael and Jim’s goodbye.
10. TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY vs. 2. GAY WITCH HUNT
TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY…also known for: Little Kid Lover.
GAY WITCH HUNT…also known for: Gaydar.
UTICA REGION – ROUND OF 32
1. DIVERSITY DAY vs. 9. FUN RUN
DIVERSITY DAY…also known for: Pam falling asleep on Jim’s shoulder.
FUN RUN…also known for: Michael’s carbo-loading.
5. THE CONVENTION vs. 13. GOODBYE, TOBY
THE CONVENTION…also known for: Michael’s hotel room party.
GOODBYE, TOBY…also known for: Michael giving Toby a rock as his going-away present.
6. COCKTAILS vs. 14. DRUG TESTING
COCKTAILS…also known for: Pam and Roy breaking up for good.
DRUG TESTING…also known for: “You look like you want to tell me something.”
7. INITIATION vs. 2. THE DUNDIES
INITIATION…also known for: Dwight ditching Ryan.
THE DUNDIES…also known for: “BEST. DUNDIES. EVER.”
SCRANTON REGION – ROUND OF 64
- CASINO NIGHT (S2/E22) vs. 16. HAPPY HOUR (S6/E21)
CASINO NIGHT…best known for: Jim finally making his move.
HAPPY HOUR…best known for: Date Mike.
- THE NEGOTIATION (S3/E19) vs. 9. THE CLIENT (S2/E7)
THE NEGOTIATION…best known for: Michael accidentally cross-dressing.
THE CLIENT…best known for: Michael holding the business meeting at Chili’s.
- OFFICE OLYMPICS (S2/E3) vs. 12. THE RETURN (S3/E14)
OFFICE OLYMPICS…best known for: Phyllis beating Kevin by a nose in Flonkerton.
THE RETURN…best known for: Andy punching a hole through the wall.
- CHRISTMAS PARTY (S2/E10) vs. 13. A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS (S3/E10-11)
CHRISTMAS PARTY…best known for: Yankee Swap.
A BENIHANA CHRISTMAS…best known for: Michael’s “Bros Before Hoes” speech.
- MURDER (S6/E10) vs. 11. PHYLLIS’ WEDDING (S3/E16)
- THE INJURY (S2/E12) vs. 14. LOCAL AD (S4/E9)
THE INJURY…best known for: “I burned my foot.”
LOCAL AD…best known for: Andy forgetting the Kit Kat slogan.
- VALENTINE’S DAY (S2/E16) vs. 10. GOSSIP (S6/E1)
VALENTINE’S DAY…best known for: “The Faces of Scranton.”
GOSSIP…best known for: Parkour PARKOUR!
- BEACH GAMES (S3/E23) vs. 15. MICHAEL SCOTT PAPER COMPANY (S5/E23)
BEACH GAMES…best known for: Pam’s confession to Jim.
MICHAEL SCOTT PAPER COMPANY…best known for: Pam making her first sale.
STAMFORD REGION – ROUND OF 64
- BOOZE CRUISE (S2/E11) vs. MICHAEL’S LAST DUNDIES (S7/E21)
BOOZE CRUISE…best known for: Michael’s advice to Jim.
MICHAEL’S LAST DUNDIES…best known for: “9,986,000 Minutes.”
- WEIGHT LOSS (S5/E1-2) vs. 9. BASKETBALL (S1/E5)
WEIGHT LOSS…best known for: Jim’s proposal to Pam.
BASKETBALL…best known for: “Secret Weapon” Stanley.
- FINALE (S9/E24-25) vs. 12. BRANCH WARS (S4/E10)
FINALE…best known for: Michael’s return.
BRANCH WARS…best known for: This incredibly awkward conversation between Jim and Karen.
- SCOTT’S TOTS (S6/E12) vs. 13. BEN FRANKLIN (S3/E15)
SCOTT’S TOTS…best known for: Being the most polarizing episode of the show.
BEN FRANKLIN…best known for: Dwight’s interrogation of the Ben Franklin impersonator.
- THE FIRE (S2/E4) vs. 11. SEXUAL HARRASSMENT (S2/E2)
THE FIRE…best known for: “RYAN STARTED THE FIRE!”
SEXUAL HARASSMENT…best known for: The debut of Todd Packer.
- SAFETY TRAINING (S3/E20) vs. 14. THE DUEL (S5/E12)
SAFETY TRAINING…best known for: The stress of Michael’s modern office causing him to go into depression.
THE DUEL…best known for: Andy using his Prius as a weapon.
- NIAGARA (S6/E4-5) vs. 10. DIWALI (S3/E6)
NIAGARA…best known for: Jim and Pam’s wedding.
DIWALI…best known for: Michael proposing to Carol.
- STRESS RELIEF (S5/E14-15) vs. 15. PDA (S7/E16)
PDA…best known for: Kevin enjoying Michael and Holly’s PDA.
NASHUA REGION – ROUND OF 64
- DINNER PARTY (S4/E13) vs. 16. CASUAL FRIDAY (S5/E26)
DINNER PARTY…best known for: Jan breaking Michael’s flat screen TV.
CASUAL FRIDAY…best known for: Kevin’s Famous Chili.
- THE JOB (S3/E24-25) vs. 9. MICHAEL’S BIRTHDAY (S3/E19)
THE JOB…best known for: Jim asking Pam out.
MICHAEL’S BIRTHDAY…best known for: Michael’s birthday call to Jan.
- CAFÉ DISCO (S5/E27) vs. 12. THE MERGER (S3/E8)
CAFÉ DISCO…best known for: Michael’s dancing.
THE MERGER…best known for: “Lazy Scranton.”
- THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT (S7/E17) vs. 13. CHAIR MODEL (S4/E14)
THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT…best known for: “The Scarn.”
CHAIR MODEL…best known for: Phyllis trying to set up Michael with her friend.
- THE CONVICT (S3/E9) vs. 11. FRAME TOBY (S5/E9)
THE CONVICT…best known for: Prison Mike.
FRAME TOBY…best known for: Michael’s reaction to Toby’s return.
- GOODBYE, MICHAEL (S7/E22) vs. 14. MONEY (S4/E7-8)
GOODBYE, MICHAEL…best known for: Being the episode that should have been the series finale.
MONEY…best known for: “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!!!”
- PRODUCT RECALL (S3/E21) vs. 10. TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY (S2/E18)
PRODUCT RECALL…best known for: Jim impersonating Dwight.
TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY…best known for: Stanley yelling at Ryan.
- GAY WITCH HUNT (S3/E1) vs. 15. HEALTH CARE (S1/E3)
GAY WITCH HUNT…best known for: Michael kissing Oscar.
HEALTH CARE…best known for: Dwight’s health care investigation.
UTICA REGION – ROUND OF 64
- DIVERSITY DAY (S1/E2) vs. 16. DID I STUTTER? (S4/E16)
DIVERSITY DAY…best known for: The index card game.
DID I STUTTER?…best known for: Stanley erupting at Michael.
- BACK FROM VACATION (S3/E12) vs. 9. FUN RUN (S4/E1-2)
BACK FROM VACATION…best known for: The topless photo of Jan.
FUN RUN…best known for: Michael hitting Meredith with his car.
- THE CONVENTION (S3/E2) vs. 12. GARAGE SALE (S7/E19)
THE CONVENTION…best known for: “I hope it’s urine.”
GARAGE SALE…best known for: Michael proposing to Holly.
- BUSINESS SCHOOL (S3/E17) vs. 13. GOODBYE, TOBY (S4/E18-19)
BUSINESS SCHOOL…best known for: Michael showing up to Pam’s art show.
GOODBYE, TOBY…best known for: Holly thinking Kevin is mentally challenged.
- COCKTAILS (S3/E18) vs. 11. TRAVELING SALESMEN (S3/E13)
COCKTAILS…best known for: Dwight inspecting David Wallace’s house.
TRAVELING SALESMEN…best known for: Ryan taking the lead on the sales pitch.
- THE DEPOSITION (S4/E12) vs. 14. DRUG TESTING (S2/E20)
THE DEPOSITION…best known for: Michael pushing Toby’s tray.
DRUG TESTING…best known for: Jim convincing Dwight that he smoked the joint.
- INITATION (S3/E5) vs. 10. BROKE (S5/E25)
INITIATION…best known for: Pretzel Day.
BROKE…best known for: “Well, well, well…how the turntables…”
- THE DUNDIES (S2/E1) vs. 15. COMPANY PICNIC (S5/E28)
THE DUNDIES…best known for: Pam’s acceptance speech.
COMPANY PICNIC…best known for: Jim and Pam realizing she’s pregnant.