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The entire story of The Office finally explained

NBC's smash hit sitcom The Office captivated audiences as it unfolded in a nine-season run from 2005 to 2013. During that eight-year stretch, the simple premise of the series — documenting life in a typical American workspace — grew into a massive story with numerous twists, subplots, romances, and side characters. When all was said and done, the show boasted a combined 188 episodes, all filled to the brink with storytelling at its finest. 

The truth is, though, while this gigantic pile of entertainment is incredibly fun to binge over and over again, it can be a bit difficult to follow the greater storyline at times. With so many dynamic personalities co-existing in one tiny office building, it's easy to get lost in the details. So we've gone ahead and mapped things out in a sweet and condensed format in order to finally allow fans to step back and get that 10,000-foot view of what exactly happened during the eight years that America's favorite workplace was under the scrutiny of a PBS documentary crew.

Before The Office begins ...

Let's kick things off at the beginning, shall we? In 1949, Dunder Mifflin is founded, and over the following decades, it slowly turns into a heavy-hitting little competitor in the northeast regional paper and office supplies market. Fast forward to 2001, when regional manager Ed Truck retires, leaving a vacancy at Dunder Mifflin's branch in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This paves the way for abrasive salesman Michael Scott to end his eight-year career as one of the company's top salesman in order to become one of the most iconic managers in history. Three years later, accountant Tom Peets kills himself. 

In 2005, a film crew from PBS, interested in documenting a workspace in the wake of a coworker's suicide, arrives on the premise of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Realizing the interesting potential in a broader review of the eccentric company as a whole, they set up shop for the next eight years. As the dust settles, Tom Peets is replaced by a temp named Ryan Howard.

Downsizing and drama at Dunder Mifflin

Rumors soon begin to swirl throughout the company that downsizing may be coming in the near future. Health care plans are slashed, and Michael lets employee Devon White go on Halloween through a bungled, painful display of incompetence. 

In spite of this, Michael tries his best to increase company morale through less-than-successful means, which include a haphazard basketball game between the office and warehouse workers, an impromptu birthday party for alcoholic Meredith Palmer, and a botched Christmas gift exchange. Perhaps the best boost for the employees' attitudes comes in the form of an undercover reading of Michael's screenplay, Threat Level Midnight, along with a healthy dose of office-based Olympics.

Around this time, Michael buys a condo and begins juggling a complicated pair of relationships with his realtor, Carol Stills, and his superior, Jan Levinson. Of course, that's far from being the only relationship drama going on around the office. Beet-loving salesman Dwight Schrute and uptight accountant Angela Martin begin a secret relationship, and by January 2006, salesman Jim Halpert breaks up with his girlfriend, Katy. 

Not long after this, Michael reveals to corporate that he's been in a "relationship" with Jan, although he manages to explain that it wasn't serious enough to warrant termination. And as spring turns to summer, Jim finally expresses his feelings to receptionist Pam Beesly and kisses her. However, she stays with her fiancé, warehouse worker Roy Anderson — although they break up soon afterward — and Jim takes a job at the Stamford branch of Dunder Mifflin. Back in the Scranton office, Ryan the temp finally goes full time.

Dunder Mifflin starts to shrink

Michael kicks off the fall of 2006 by outing and then kissing gay accountant Oscar Martinez … who gets a three-month paid vacation as a result. The manager follows this up by dramatically shepherding the office through grief counseling after receiving news of the unexpected death of former manager Ed Truck. 

This all leads to a crescendo late in the year when Jan informs Michael that the Scranton branch is being closed. However, when the Stamford manager, Josh Porter, ditches his managerial duties for a job with Staples, the script is flipped, and Scranton ends up absorbing the Stamford branch, bringing Jim back to Pennsylvania in the process. 

The merger of the two branches is a rough one, and by early 2007, Andy Bernard and Karen Filippelli (who also happens to be Jim's new girlfriend) are the only original Stamford employees remaining. In addition, Pam's ex-fiance, Roy, is fired when he tries to assault Jim after learning that he kissed Pam. Dwight is also framed by Andy and fired, although he's quickly rehired afterward.

This period of time also sees a lot of drama in the relationship department. Carol breaks up with Michael, who steers into the relationship with Jan as a result. Salesman Phyllis Lapin also ties the knot with Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration and heads off on a six-week honeymoon. Soon after the wedding, Michael interviews with CFO David Wallace to replace Jan at the corporate office, but ultimately, that job goes to Ryan Howard, who becomes the youngest VP in the company's history. 

The Howard Administration

In the aftermath of Ryan Howard's promotion, Jim breaks up with Karen and finally hooks up with Pam. Angela privately breaks up with Dwight after he mercy-kills her cat, and she begins dating Andy openly. Michael continues to date Jan, who helps him run a charity "Fun Run" to raise funds for rabies awareness after he hits Meredith with his car. 

Yes, those two events are connected. 

Meanwhile, looking to make a splash, the new VP attempts to launch a company website called "Dunder Mifflin Infinity." The site goes live in October 2007, but six months later, it's dead in the water, and Ryan has been arrested for misleading the shareholders. 

As Dunder Mifflin struggles, Jan sues the company, unsuccessfully, for wrongful termination. She also bankrupts Michael, and then the two break up after throwing the world's worst dinner party

Throughout the chaos, Jim and Pam's fledgling relationship soars. Jim attempts to propose to Pam in early 2008, but Andy steals his thunder by proposing to Angela first at the farewell party for Toby Flenderson — the HR rep who's leaving for Costa Rica. Toby is replaced by Holly Flax, who immediately hits things off with Michael, because the two are just so perfectly dorky together.

The story gets complicated with Dwight, Andy, and Angela

The rest of 2008 is fairly quiet as far as the office is concerned. The biggest events are the return of Ryan Howard as a temp and the transfer of Holly Flax to the Nashua branch after David Wallace discovers that she and Michael are dating. This effectually breaks the couple up, although the two are still interested in each other.

Jim and Pam's relationship also comes under serious pressure for the first time when Pam leaves for three months to attend art school in New York City. Jim proposes to her while she's away, and eventually, she returns after failing to complete the course. Not long after this, Jim buys his parents' house without telling Pam and then surprises her with it as a gift. 

As the year wraps up, things take a major turn. Despite the fact that she's engaged to Andy, Angela has been having an affair with Dwight, but that all comes crashing down when Phyllis exposes Angela's infidelity. And early in 2009, the two salesmen duel with each other over their coworker. However, by the time it's over, both combatants have decided to bitterly break things off with Angela. 

Michael's new company and Jim and Pam's big news

In early 2009, Michael and Pam go on a Dunder Mifflin lecture circuit where Michael reveals his masterfully dramatic recipe for success to everyone who will listen to him. Afterward, David Wallace hires Charles Miner to fill Ryan's old job. Charles immediately clashes with Michael, who quits after one day of working with the new supervisor. Having little experience outside of the paper market, Michael decides to start his own paper company and convinces Pam and Ryan to join him. After a short run of artificial success, the trio uses the Michael Scott Paper Company as leverage to get jobs back at Dunder Mifflin. Pam is now promoted to sales, while Erin Hannon stays on as the new receptionist.

After this, Pam and Jim discover they're going to have a kid as they tend to an injury the saleswoman received at a company picnic. They manage to keep the pregnancy a secret until the fall when the rumor-mill accidentally leaks the information. In the interim, Dunder Mifflin closes their Buffalo, Camden, and Yonkers branches, and it's clear the company is on the way to bankruptcy.

The Sabre transition

In the fall of 2009, Jim and Michael are made co-managers in order to spread out the increased workload caused by all of the branch closings. The dynamic duo leads the office through the ensuing months, during which Dunder Mifflin goes under and is bought by the printer company Sabre.

As Dunder Mifflin tanks, Jim and Pam's relationship reaches new heights as they get hitched in Niagara Falls, a deliberately-planned destination wedding they hope their coworkers will skip. But despite the distance, the entire office tags along for the ride. 

Once Sabre CEO Jo Bennett and her lackey, Gabe Lewis, arrive on the scene, Jim quickly returns to sales, and Michael resumes sole command on the Dunder Mifflin managerial throne. The affable Darryl Philbin is promoted during this time as well, and he begins to fulfill his duties from the office rather than the warehouse. In March 2010, a very pregnant Pam spends an entire fearful day at the office before being talked into going to the hospital where she gives birth to Cecelia Halpert.

The Office says goodbye to Michael Scott

With the heavy days of perpetual downsizing behind them for the time being, the Scranton office enters a period of relative stability. During the rest of 2010, Michael briefly hires his nephew before he breaks down and physically punishes him by spanking him. This is followed by a series of counseling sessions with his archenemy, Toby Flenderson, who's come back from Costa Rica. 

Pam, who's miserable in sales, uses her poker face prowess to create the position of "office administrator" out of thin air, and then awards it to herself as a promotion. Incredibly successful Osprey Paper salesman Danny Cordray is also hired by Michael to work as a traveling salesman. 

As 2010 draws to a close, Toby spends a chunk of time out of the office serving as a juror on the case of the Scranton Strangler. This leads to Holly temporarily returning as a fill-in, giving Michael the chance to convince her to date him once again, and soon, the two love birds are back together. Early 2011 sees the over-the-top romantic couple get engaged and then move away together to Boulder, Colorado, where they plan to help Holly's aging parents.

A bunch of new bosses enter the story

The departure of Michael Scott (for the second and final time) leaves the office scrambling, yet again, to fill the void. Initially, Michael trains Deangelo Vickers to replace him, showing him the ropes when it comes to managing the office and even walking him through how to host his own Dundies award ceremony. However, soon after taking the job, Deangelo is seriously injured while performing a basketball stunt, and the office finds itself leaderless again. 

Sabre CEO Jo Bennet swoops in to the rescue and offers Dwight the position of acting manager for the time being. But once again, the promotion is short-lived, and Dwight finds himself relegated back to the bullpen after accidentally firing a loaded gun in the office. Jo Bennet then sets up a search committee, which interviews a menagerie of different candidates before finally settling on the uncomfortably eccentric Robert California as the new regional manager. He promptly convinces Jo Bennet to give him her own job and then hires Andy Bernard as his replacement.

The reign of King California

As 2011 plays out, Robert California quickly establishes himself as a powerful, commanding, and shockingly inappropriate superior. More than once, he plays mind games with his new employees, and he puts unreasonable pressure on Andy to push the office to overperform. 

Andy, on the other hand, takes some time to acclimate to his new position of authority, initially struggling to handle crises — like the warehouse workers winning the lottery and all quitting at once. He even stoops as low as tattooing his own keister in an attempt to inspire his employees. During this time, he also begins dating Jessica, one of the few repeat characters in the show that actually works outside of the office and the greater story. 

In the meantime, Cathy Simms is hired as a temp to replace Pam while she's on maternity leave with her second child, Philip. In addition, Angela gives birth to her first child, who's also named Philip and who she claims to have had with her husband, Senator Robert Lipton, yet another extracurricular character from outside the office who met Angela back in late 2010.

Nellie takes over the office

In early 2012, Dwight leads a team from Dunder Mifflin Scranton down to Tallahassee, Florida, where they work in the Sabre headquarters for three weeks on a project led by Nellie Bertram. The group is tasked with designing a new retail store for the printer company. However, the entire situation goes south when Robert California deliberately nixes the idea, and soon everyone (including Nellie) finds themselves back in Scranton. 

It's during this time that Andy ditches Jessica, heads to Florida to fetch ex-girlfriend Erin, and reignites a relationship with the receptionist (although, he doesn't exactly do it in that order). However, when the couple returns to Scranton, Andy finds he's been usurped by Nellie, who's taken the manager position on the grounds that Andy had abandoned his responsibilities.

Not long after this, Jo Bennet liquidates the entire Sabre company, just in time for David Wallace to return to the scene as a new investor. The ex-CFO buys the company with cash he earned from selling his startup, "Suck It," to the U.S. military. He reinstates Andy as the manager, while Nellie is allowed to stay on as an employee. 

Absentee Andy and Athlead

In late 2012, Andy receives news that his family has gone bankrupt, which leads to him taking an undisclosed three-month sabbatical so that he can sail the family yacht to the Caribbean in order to sell it. Upon his return, a justifiably angry Erin breaks up with him and starts dating the new customer service rep, Pete Miller.

While all that drama is happening, Jim starts to work part-time after going "all in" (against Pam's wishes) on his own sports marketing company in Philly, a business called Athlead. This new focus quickly escalates, and by early 2013, Jim and Pam's relationship is under serious strain. They begin attending marital counseling, and eventually, Jim realizes that he can't continue dividing his time between Philly and Scranton. He returns to Dunder Mifflin full-time late in the spring, while his startup buddy Darryl makes the opposite move and officially packs his bags for Philly.

This all coincides with Andy Bernard's third and final abrupt departure from the company when he quits in order to pursue an acting career. In his wake, Dwight at long last is truly, unquestionably crowned as the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. As the pièce de résistance for the beet farmer, it comes out that Angela's son isn't the senator's but Dwight's.

The documentary airs, and The Office story ends

In May 2013, PBS airs the documentary that's been "ten years in the making." The Scranton office is officially no longer being watched by a documentary crew around the clock. Over the following year, new regional manager Dwight Schrute makes several changes, including rehiring Devon and firing accountant Kevin Malone, who buys his own bar. Plus, salesman Stanley Hudson finally retires to a hideaway in Florida, where he spends his time alone, carving wooden figurines. 

A year after the documentary airs, the film crew catches up with everyone in order to gather bonus footage for the DVD release. Dwight and Angela are officially married during this time, and Michael Scott arrives as a surprise guest at the wedding, revealing that he's very happy living his life with Holly and their kids in Colorado. We also learn that Pam has been plotting to sell the Halpert house and move her family to Austin, Texas, so Jim can resume his career with Athlead. 

With everyone's lives officially moving forward, many in directions other than the office, the epic tale of America's favorite workplace finally comes to an end. Now, it's time to hop onto that streaming service and start binging from season one all over again.