From Niagra to Booze Cruise: Ranking the best episodes of The Office

Watch while you can: The 12 best episodes of The Office, ranked

With confirmation that The Office — still one of Netflix’s most popular shows — will leave the streaming service in 2021 for NBC’s own new ad-based streamer, we realized it was time to finally jot down our favorite Office episodes. You might say some of us at Digital Trends have been preparing for this for most of our adult lives, and believe us when we tell you that tensions were high, rankings were excruciating, and some damn good episodes were left on the cutting room floor.

We don’t know what we’re going to do once The Office is gone from our favorite streamer, serving as fuel for yet another contender in the streaming wars that we likely won’t be paying for. Luckily, we have our near-encyclopedic knowledge of our all-time favorite “show in the background” to keep us company. So save your tears for 2021, grab a cocktail (might we suggest an orange-vod-juice-ka?), and enjoy our list of the best Office episodes.

12. Niagara Falls

the office best episodes niagara 55012578 1920x1080

Sure, this two-parter wedding episode for Jim and Pam is an obvious choice (and frankly, a little sappy), but it’s an important one to keep in the mix when it comes to monumental moments on the show. More importantly, it has some hilarious moments, from Kevin’s tissue-box shoes to Michael’s explanation of what grandma Sylvia should be celebrating about modern couples. Heck, there’s even a YouTube-inspired dance-off during the ceremony (Jim’s brothers really are the worst, aren’t they?). After watching these two crazy kids flirt like grade-school kids for several seasons, this episode finally offers some great closure.

11. Booze Cruise

the office best episodes booze cruise

Speaking of the world’s most flirtatious office buddies, Jim and Pam start to see what’s wrong with their respective significant other, and what’s right about one another on Michael’s work-sponsored booze cruise just in time for Pam’s longtime fiancé to finally set a date. The drunken announcement results in Jim dropping his girlfriend, played by then-budding star Amy Adams. Meanwhile, Michael tries to hijack the cruise for his team-building exercises, but is thwarted every time by the ship’s Captain Jack (Rob Riggle), until one of his metaphors goes too far and sends a passenger overboard. Frankly, we should have seen that one coming.

10. Safety Training

the office safety traning

Michael’s attempts to compete with the warehouse for coolest safety training go horribly awry in this one as he nearly “kill(s) himself pretending to kill himself” as Jim so succinctly puts it. Craig Robinson shines as Michael’s warehouse foil, Darryl, who helps Jim and Pam talk Michael down as the rest of the office seems more concerned with getting some time outside on a nice day. If for no other reason, this one makes the list for serving up one of Michael’s most memorable stolen quotes: “Dwight, you ignorant slut!”

9. Dwight’s Speech

office dwight speech

In one of Jim’s most brilliant pranks of his very illustrious career, he slips Dwight an edited version of one of Mussolini’s speeches, claiming it’s one he used while studying public speaking in school. The kicker? It works like a charm for Dwight’s speech as Salesman of the Year as he embodies his despotic nature and takes Jim’s advice to pound his hands on the podium and wave his arms in the air. The ridiculous image of an entire auditorium of salespeople joining Dwight in his autocratic mantra, “Together we prevail!” still gives us a chuckle anytime we picture it.

8. Branch Closing

Branch Closing

Dunder Mifflin’s long-planned strategy to close down the Scranton branch and promote golden boy (and Jim’s new boss) Josh to Regional Manager goes sideways as Josh reveals he’s leveraged his promotion for a job at Staples instead. As Jan scrambles for a new plan, Michael and Dwight run off to CFO David Wallace’s house to try and stop the proceedings, unaware of the change in plans. The upshot is a rearrangement of the board: Scranton stays open, Josh’s Stamford branch is absorbed, and Jim’s time away at Stamford summer camp comes to an end, bringing with him key players in Andy (Ed Helms) and Karen (Rashida Jones). Best Michael quote? “Show me that farm!”

7. Broke

the office Broke

Always willing to bend the status quo (before bending it right back again), The Office is often at its best when things get shuffled around. Case in point? The Michael Scott Paper Company, Michael’s short-lived dalliance with entrepreneurship after his blow-up resignation over new boss Charles Miner (played by the indelible Idris Elba). Things come to a head when CFO David Wallace asks Jim to arrange a buyout of Michael’s new venture to stem the bleeding of clients from the Scranton branch. What Wallace doesn’t know is that the MSPC is about to go under. Can Michael keep his big mouth shut long enough for the deal to go through? Perhaps the more important question is why does Michael drink milk laced with sugar every morning?

6. The Job

the office best episodes job

In one of the most touching episodes of the first three seasons, this one starts with Michael driving to New York for his job interview at Dunder Mifflin corporate — on the wrong day. Not an auspicious start, and as you might guess, things get messier from there. Jim’s famous haircut is just one of the big changes in this one, which also includes a total meltdown from Jan, a fun jaunt to New York City for Jim and Karen, and a tear-jerking final scene that dares you not to get emotional after Jim’s simple phrase: “Are you free for dinner tonight?”

5. Beach Games

the office best episodes beach games

“I thought that I might die! On beach day!” Jim’s dramatic statement after a harrowing tangle with Stanley encapsulates the spirit of Michael’s Survivor-esque strategy to find his successor, long before he’s secured his new job. Who will rise to the top, and does anyone besides Dwight even want the job? The real fun is watching them all trying to figure out what the hell is going on — and sing road songs along the way.

4. The Injury

the office best episodes injury

In an example of a situation you’re unlikely to see in any other television show, Michael cooks his foot — and that’s why we love The Office. It’s an honest mistake, as Michael’s propensity to leave raw bacon out every night on his Foreman Grill results in him burning his foot and then throwing a day-long tantrum. More importantly, Dwight gets a head injury, and in his disoriented fugue state, bonds with Pam in what will become a slow-burning, pseudo-friendship. Best quote? “Pam, can you come rub butter on my foot? It’s Country Crock.”

3. The Return

the office best episodes return

The Scranton branch is in disarray as Dwight and Michael’s previous history of mistrust has resulted in Dwight’s resignation and replacement by Andy. Meanwhile, Andy is in rare form, annoying everyone in the office to the point where Jim and Pam have to take action. With a fun but culturally insensitive party for Oscar, a convertible cruise in a snowstorm, and the classic cellphone-in-the-ceiling prank, it all adds up to Andy’s downfall, and Dwight (and Oscar’s) triumphant return.

2. Fun Run

the office best episodes fun run

Picking up nearly right where The Job left off, Fun Run begins with one of Michael’s worst mishaps. Jan is at home, Jim is back, Michael’s “protege” Ryan is at corporate, and Michael feels “very blessed” — until he hits Meredith with his car. The result is Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Fun Run Pro-Am Race for the Cure (and yes, we definitely had to look that up). The real question? Is it worth getting the giant check if it wipes out over 25% of your charity funds? The answer? Absolutely.

1. Dinner Party

the office best episodes dinner party

In perhaps the most Office-y episode of them all, this one provides an inside look at just how terrible Michael and Jan’s relationship really is — and it’s even worse than we thought. After Michael creates a ruse that tricks Jim and Pam into coming to dinner, they’re captives to the mayhem of the Scott home, along with Andy and Angela (and uninvited guests Dwight and his former babysitter). From Michael’s attempts to enlist investors in Jan’s candle company to the most passive-aggressive use of “babe” ever recorded, the whole scene is a pressure cooker waiting to pop, finally erupting in an act of Dundie abuse, and the inevitable arrival of the cops. The best part? Jan’s assistant’s ode to their “secret” affair.

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