The Office ended it’s US run with around 200 episodes, most of them great, but a handful not so much so. Be it lack of plot progression, ridiculous antics, or just downright not funny, here are some episodes that probably are going to get skipped during Office binges.
How did I get this list – I tried to be as democratic as I could and consulted the “Survivor Polls” and posts over at Officetally.com. This list is comprised of the bottom two episodes from Season 4 (since it was a shortened season) and the bottom three from Seasons 5 and 6. Go to the bottom of the post to vote!
Survivor Man ep 407
If this episode feels a little out of place at all, it’s probably due to the fact that it was part of NBC’s environmentally themed “Green Week”. Michael running off to the woods and trying to “rough it” is a bit out there, even for Michael (though it’s certainly in character that he fails miserably and is back at the office by quitting time). The antics back at Dunder Mifflin are more amusing and more Office-y, though it could be argued that this is the unfortunate beginning of Jim’s “de-evolution” from a likable underachiever with lots of potential to a middle manager constantly teetering on the edge of incompetence. (The “longing for more than Dunder Mifflin” character arc he was on this season is all-but-abandoned after this episode, though it will fittingly return in the last season)
Saving Grace: the communal birthday montage is pretty great, and I always enjoy Jim and Michael’s heart-to-hearts.
Night Out ep 411
What makes The Office unique is it’s about average (albeit quirky) people in an average mid-sized town, not about fashionable party-goers in a big city. Which is probably why the “Dwight and Michael go clubbing in NYC” part of the episode doesn’t feel like The Office at all. The antics at the office are better, even if it’s not well explained why the gates are locked when the staff has stayed late before, nor is Toby caressing Pam’s knee ever really followed up on (though him jumping the fence is hilarious).
Saving Grace: Before you have time to process how out of character it is for Dwight to be making out with a blonde college basketball player, you’ll be laughing at everyone’s simultaneous “Ew” when Michael texts them all the picture.
Baby Shower ep 504
In the Season 4 finale, Jan reappears pregnant and Michael decides to be a part of the pregnancy despite the fact that Jan went to a sperm donor (while she a Michael were together, no less!) I don’t know if Melora Hardin (Jan) had another gig, or if the audience wasn’t responding well the story line, but in this episode it very much feels Jan is getting the boot by having her have the baby without Michael and then having her act really aloof towards everyone (and just downright mean to Holly) when she comes in for the baby shower. After this episode we won’t see her again until season 7. Dwight stress-testing Jan’s expensive stroller is amusing but also kind of a dick move.
Saving Grace: Michael asking Holly out and Jim and Pam leaving each other perfectly in-sync messages about feeling out of sync are a nice, sweet end to an otherwise meh episode.
Moroccan Christmas ep 511
Expectations were high since there was no Season 4 Christmas episode, and Season 2 and 3’s were both stellar. Sadly this episode just doesn’t deliver. Meredith’s intervention and Phyllis blackmailing Angela would have been fine plot lines separately but paired together it makes this episode, as Kelly says, “kind of a drag”. Add in Toby pathetically trying to buy the season’s hottest doll for his daughter and Andy performing a sitar version of “Deck the Halls” blissfully unaware that his fiancee Angela is cheating on him and we end up with a Christmas episode with almost zero Christmas cheer.
Saving Grace: The cold open with Dwight’s Christmas wrapped desk is a classic Jim-prank. Also Michael knowing the “Princess Unicorn” jingle just cracks me up for some reason.
Prince Family Paper ep 513
When Michael’s sent to get intel on a local competitor, he faces a moral dilemma as Dunder Mifflin is primed to drive the small family paper company (run by the nicest people in the world) out of business. In the end, Michael turns the info he gathered over to CFO David Wallace, and really that move alone pushs this from a perfectly fine episode to a not-so-great one; family is very important to Michael and it’s rather out-of-character for him to knowingly hurt a family like that. The office’s debate over if Hilary Swank is hot-or-not is funny initially but goes on for way too long.
Saving Grace: Jim’s “mysterious red wire” prank on Dwight is hilarious, as is Stanley’s impassioned speech about the hotness of Hilary Swank.
Mafia ep 606
In this episode’s defense, it’s the episode after “Niagara” (aka “Jim and Pam get married”) so already the deck was stacked against it. Oscar gets accidentally meta when he talks about the balance of “sane and others” being thrown off by Jim and Pam being gone on their honeymoon, because that’s the exact problem of this episode. Without Jim’s reason and Pam’s reassurance, Michael ends up getting most of his advice on how to handle a pushy insurance salesman from Andy and Dwight, and things quickly veer from “amusing” to “ridiculous”.
Saving Grace: Jim pretending his phone’s cutting out as he gives advice to Michael is pretty hilarious.
Scott’s Tots ep 612
Ten years ago, Michael foolishly promised a class of 3rd graders he’d pay their college tuition, now the class is ready to graduate high school and of course Michael can’t fulfill his promise. Usually it’s uncomfortably funny to watch Michael get into situations he can’t gracefully get out of, but in this episode it’s just uncomfortable to watch all the young dreams get dashed because of Michael’s cowardice. The other plot line isn’t much better as Dwight’s complicated plan to get father-to-be Jim fired is rather mean-spirited, even for Dwight.
Saving Grace: Michael and Erin’s heart-to-heart towards the end is pretty sweet.
Banker ep 614
It’s almost unfair to count “The Banker” as an episode since it’s a clip show. There is some original footage and an attempt at a plot; Dunder Mifflin is about to be sold and a banker comes in to assess the company. Then cue a series of clip montages about work accidents, Jim’s pranks, office romances, etc. It would have been fine as an internet/DVD feature, or a “special” immediately followed by a new episode, but as a stand-alone episode, it understandably left fans unsatisfied and not smiling.
Saving Grace: Michael trying to impress the banker at the beginning is amusing, and Jim and Pam’s montage is sweet (even if the average JAM fanvid has better editing IMHO)
There we are, the most mediocre of episodes from seasons 4-6. Now it’s time to vote! Please select which of these was the worst of Seasons 4 though 6. If your least favorite is not in the list, go ahead and list it in “Other” (make sure it’s from these seasons! There is a poll for seasons 1 to 3 already, and 7-9 will be posted later!)