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Michael Scott's Best Episodes Of The Office Ranked By Absurdity

The original U.K. version and the American reboot of "The Office" were relatable to such a broad audience because they revolved around an experience so many people have on a daily basis: working at the mercy of an insufferable boss. Ricky Gervais only got two seasons (and a two-part Christmas special) as clueless, egotistical David Brent. Steve Carell — who is a comedic actor rather than a stand-up comedian — got seven as Michael Scott. The regional manager of Dunder Mifflin started out in the same vein as David Brent, but with all those extra episodes, plus his knack for weirdly specific improv comedy choices, Carrell developed his character into someone with infinitely more positive and negative qualities than the token bad boss around whom the series was originally pitched.

Despite (or maybe because of) his many flaws, fans came to love Michael Scott. He was caring and well-intentioned with a childish innocence and shameless zest for life that sometimes rendered him adorable. But just because viewers sympathized with the corporate anti-hero at the center of "The Office" didn't mean he got any less awful or awkward. While Michael was often inappropriate or obnoxious early on, by the time the show became a phenomenon around its third season, his antics had reached new levels of ridiculousness. Carell is brilliant throughout the series' run and nearly every installment is rewatchable, but if you're looking for pure, unadulterated Michael Scott-ness, these ten episodes highlight the self-proclaimed "world's best boss" at his most absurd. 

10. The Injury

"The Injury" (Season 2, Episode 12) dates back to when Michael wasn't such a lovable buffoon. He was still a buffoon, but the comedy stemmed from how groan-worthy and outsized his reactions were compared to his small and often self-inflicted problems. 

The injury in question is the mild foot burn Michael sustains from stepping on a hot George Foreman grill. He tells the camera crew that he likes breakfast in bed, but he doesn't have a butler, so he drapes six slices of bacon over his grill before he goes to sleep. He calls into the office hysterical about his medical emergency, but he doesn't want Pam to call an ambulance. Instead, he wants anyone but Dwight to pick him up. But Dwight speeds to his rescue and suffers a real emergency when he crashes his Trans Am into the gate.

Michael arrives on crutches with his foot encased in bubble wrap. He repeatedly insists he doesn't want special treatment, but he sets up a makeshift hospital room and orders everyone around as if they are his personal butlers. When nobody respects his "disability," he invites Billy the building manager, who uses a wheelchair, to speak to his employees. Michael asks him patronizing and nonsensical questions like how long it takes him to brush his teeth (30 seconds, which is "three times" longer than Michael), but Billy's concerned about Dwight's concussion. At the ER, Michael looks for sympathy from the doctors but finds he's miraculously recovered.

9. A Benihana Christmas

"The Office" used Michael's numbskulled insensitivity toward race and gender for satirical purposes on an almost weekly basis. "Diversity Day" is one example, but "A Benihana Christmas" (Season 3, Episodes 10 and 11) is more uncomfortable to watch. After having proposed to Carol after nine dates in "Diwali," Michael surprises her with a trip to Jamaica. But she's there to break up with him, none too pleased that his Christmas card is an old picture of her family at a ski lodge with his head photoshopped over her ex-husband's face. 

Devastated at having been dumped at the company party, Michael tries to cancel Christmas, to no avail. Andy, Dwight, and Jim take him to Benihana to cheer him up. When a waitress laughs at one of his jokes, he starts to get over Carol and into the Christmas spirit. By the end of the meal, he's drunk enough to lean over and eat the steak off of another patron's plate and to ask out the waitress.

The group arrives back at Dunder Mifflin, Michael and Andy with two different women than the ones they'd been flirting with at the restaurant. Michael gives his "new girlfriend" the used bicycle that he'd planned on donating to a toy drive. Then he realizes he can't tell their dates apart. He makes a quick slash with a sharpie on one's arm to remedy the problem, but the girls take off because the party's lame and they have school. 

8. Grief Counseling

Maybe it's the downer title, but "Grief Counseling" (Season 3, Episode 4) is, line-for-line and gag-for-gag, one of the funniest and most underrated episodes of "The Office." Its Michael-centric storyline mines the death of his old boss, Ed Truck, for humor and heart. Jan calls Michael to tell him they've "lost" Ed. When Michael informs his employees (he says Ed's "capa was detated"), most didn't know the man and barely react.

"Grief Counseling" is famous for the photo of Michael — sporting a mullet and fanny pack — shaking hands with his new boss on his first day at Dunder Mifflin. But Michael's attempts to cope with his grief are much funnier. He then makes his workers participate in what's supposed to be a cathartic exercise in which they share their experiences with death. When they don't take it seriously, he yells that it's not a game, to which Phyllis mutters that there is a ball. Pam, Ryan, and Kevin just summarize movie plots, which works until Kevin uses the phrase "Weekend at Bernie's" in his personal story.

The pinnacle of "Grief Counseling" comes when Toby mentions a dead bird outside. Michael rushes to revive it, but when he's unsuccessful, he decides to hold a funeral for the bird instead. Carell is hilariously straight-faced as Dwight plays his recorder and Pam gives a eulogy. His employees realize that he needs the bird funeral to process his own place in the world. 

7. Dinner Party

"Dinner Party" (Season 4, Episode 13) is frequently cited as a fan-favorite episode. That's because Michael is at his most hysterical when he's pretending to be a normal, well-adjusted adult and failing miserably. In "Dinner Party," the facade of Michael and Jan's healthy, grown-up relationship completely, spectacularly crumbles, and Carell and Melora Hardin do some of their best acting in the process. 

Michael uses made-up overtime to ensure that Pam, Jim, Andy, and Angela will be available for his and Jan's long-anticipated get-together at his condo. When their guests arrive, the "happy" couple gives them the tour. Jan shows off her office and her workspace (she can't create where she does business). Michael shows off his comically tiny new plasma TV and the barely held-together table he made out of 2x4s.

The tension between Jan and Michael comes to a boil over the three hours it takes the osso buco to braise. She tells everyone he broke the sliding glass doors running to catch the ice cream truck. He tells everyone she made him get three vasectomies. It becomes obvious that the party's just a sales pitch for "Serenity by Jan" candles. And when the food's finally ready and Michael dips his meat into his merlot (he has soft teeth), Jan loses it. She throws his Dundee award at his $200 flat-screen and smashes it. The neighbors call the cops, but not before Michael whispers to Pam that he thinks Jan's trying to poison him. 

6. The Convict

You might think that "The Convict" (Season 3, Episode 9) is yet another episode in which Michael puts his foot in his mouth about race. He does, repeatedly, but it's clear that, in this case, his heart is in the right place, and that's not what "The Convict" is ultimately about. 

The accounting department discovers that the company is collecting a financial incentive to employ an ex-convict, and Michael is incensed that Kevin assumes it's Martin, the Black man who transferred over from Utica. Jan confirms that Kevin's right, and Michael inadvertently outs Martin while trying to defend him.

It turns out, Martin went to prison for insider trading. When he describes the experience (outdoor time, free education, a flat-screen TV), the employees remark that prison sounds nicer than Dunder Mufflin. That puts a bee in Michael's bonnet (or his purple bandana). After lifting 2.5 pound dumbbells and forcing everyone to spend outdoor time in the freezing cold, he transforms into Prison Mike and gives a "scared straight" style speech, in character, with a non-specific but vaguely mobster-like accent. The staff starts asking questions. What did they eat? Gruel sandwiches. What was the worst part? The dementors. Michael realizes they're having fun at his expense, so he locks them all in the conference room until they learn to appreciate their freedom. Pam calls Toby, who makes Michael open the door, lest HR get involved. 

5. Launch Party

In "Launch Party" (Season 4, Episodes 5 and 6), Ryan's hosting a kick-off event in New York City to celebrate the debut of Dunder Mifflin's new website. Michael has a VIP ticket, but the branches are supposed to join via webcam. He's anticipating all the "sushi and important people," but when Jim asks for the name and address of the club, Michael says it's called "Chatroom" and the password is "password." 

Incensed at being relegated to the virtual party, Michael tasks Angela with making Scranton's soiree better than corporate's. He wants beer, light beer, streamers, orchids, better lighting, something with ice, go-go dancers, and a celebrity ... maybe Al Roker. He orders eight pizzas from Pizza by Alfredo (not the superior Alfredo's Pizza Cafe) with a coupon. The delivery boy arrives and says the discount only applies to the first two pizzas. Michael argues that it doesn't say that on the coupon, but the kid insists it's not his problem, so Michael keeps him captive in the conference room to teach him a lesson. 

The staff googles the legal consequences of kidnapping and asks if they can order good pizza while they wait for the hostage situation with the bad pizza to resolve. The boy uses the webcam to tell everyone he's being held against his will. Michael realizes that he's been — as Jim warned him — underthinking it. He releases the kid, then drives to the party in New York and steals a plate of sushi. 

4. Survivor Man

Michael Scott is so iconic in "Survivor Man" (Season 4, Episode 11), there's a Funko figure to commemorate him (to be fair, fanny pack Michael and Prison Mike Funkos exist, too). Recently-promoted Ryan hosts a corporate camping retreat and invites Toby but not his former manager. The rest of the office is amused by this slight, but Michael can't let it go.  Michael decides he'll one-up Ryan by setting out on a more challenging adventure of his own in the Pennsylvania wilderness, à la the reality series "Survivorman." All he needs is a roll of duct tape and a knife.

Dwight blindfolds him with a necktie and drives him into the woods, where he pretends to leave him on his own. Michael sets up his camera and starts recording confessionals. In the first, he tries to figure out what time it is by looking at the sun's position in the sky, then sneaks a peak at his wristwatch before declaring it to be about 2:00. Within minutes, Michael cuts the arms and legs off of his pants and shirt to make a hat, a kerchief, and something to keep his "neck comfortable." But he gets cold almost immediately and has to duct tape them back together. He "tents his pants" to make himself a shelter and lasts about a three-and-a half hours before Dwight has to come out of hiding to save him from ingesting some poisonous mushrooms.

3. Fun Run

"Fun Run" (Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2) begins as Michael hits Meredith with his car. He's not worried; he was negligent on company property, with company property, so ... double jeopardy. When Ryan warns that's not how jeopardy works, he rephrases his comment as a question. 

Pam plans staff visits for Meredith, but Michael hates hospitals. He insists they all go together, so she can forgive him in front of everyone. Test results show Meredith has rabies. Though there's already a cure for rabies, Michael decides that he needs to do something and organizes the "Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun-Run Race for the Cure." 

The office raises $700 ($500 from Jan and Michael) and has T-shirts printed with the MSDMSMPMCRA logo. But Michael was hoping to present an oversized check to a rabies doctor. Just two problems: rabies doctors aren't a thing, and giant checks cost $200. So Jim hires a stripper dressed as a nurse, and Michael proudly hands her a big check for $340 made out to "science." Then he wolfs down a container of fettuccine Alfredo to "carbo-load" and refuses water in solidarity with rabies victims. He cramps up and quits partway through the race, declaring that rabies won. Pam assures him he doesn't have to fix all the world's problems. Michael finishes the race, even though it's the hardest thing he's ever had to do, then pukes up Alfredo sauce ... but not his heart. 

2. Threat Level Midnight

Pam discovers Michael's original screenplay in a Season 2 episode, "The Client." Not long before Carell's departure, "The Office" gave Michael the opportunity to screen the final product for his cherished employees. "Threat Level Midnight," (Season 7, Episode 17) is mostly the resulting film with a subplot about his and Holly's relationship. 

Michael proudly introduces the approximately 15-minute-long "Threat Level Midnight," saying it took three years of writing, one year of shooting, four years of reshoots, and two years of editing to complete. The premise: Michael Scarn is grieving the death of his wife Catherine Zeta Scarn at the hands of Goldenface, who plans to blow up the NHL All-Star game. The President owns the stadium and gets Scarn out of retirement to save the day. 

The movie is ridiculously stupid and hilariously poorly-made. There are stock photos of the White House with its full address including zip code overlaid. The local high school's rink stands in for a stadium (Michael interrupted their game and cost them their state bid). The dialogue includes gems such as, "clean up on aisle 5" and, "go puck yourself." He spent most of the budget making Toby's head explode. And partway through, there's a Will Smith-like dance break in which he teaches everyone how to "do the Scarn." But when Michael realizes that he forgot he made the President evil, he also realizes that perhaps he's outgrown this type of thing and is content to move on from Scranton with Holly. 

1. Scott's Tots

There's a fine line between comedy and horror, and "Scott's Tots" (Season 6, Episode 12) tiptoes along its edge. In fact, on his podcast, Brian Baumgartner (who played Kevin Malone) discussed how fans often tell him it's difficult to watch because of its high cringe factor. Michael's fretting an upcoming meeting. He says he's done the worst thing ever... worse than murder. Next we see a newspaper headline that reads, "Local Businessman Pledges Scholarships to 3rd Graders." 

Michael and Erin arrive at the school and are greeted by grateful seniors wearing SCOTT'S TOTS t-shirts. They've prepared a special thank you that involves breakdancing and a song. "Hey Mr. Scott, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do? Make our dreams come true," they chant. Michael tells the camera that he's made some empty promises in his life, but this one was by far the most generous. He reasons that some people have evil dreams, and at least his dreams are in the right place.

He asks the students if they've ever made a stupid mistake, then tells them they don't need college; they can do online classes. The disappointed kids think they're getting computers. Instead, Michael starts passing out lithium laptop batteries. He apologies and says he thought he'd have enough money to keep his promise by the time he turned 40, but by 40 he had less money than when he was 30. Who would do something so messed up, one student asks. Only Michael Scott.