These days, it’s hard to imagine a world in which The Office doesn’t exist. But NBC’s beloved mockumentary sitcom wasn’t always as popular as its present-day reputation — and ubiquitous meme presence — suggests. In fact, the show may have been cancelled after its second season if it hadn’t been for its soaring iTunes sales.
As we now know, The Office was destined to stay on the air for nine seasons. It even survived the departure of Steve Carell, who played Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s iconically cringey boss, Michael Scott, at the end of season 7.
But it perhaps has been the new life that The Office found on Netflix that has transformed the show into the meme-generating viral juggernaut it’s known as today. Although memes inspired by The Office were popular throughout the show’s run, as one of the most-watched shows on Netflix’s at the height of meme culture, it has become a true beacon of online humor.
Netflix has given younger viewers who never saw The Office on TV the opportunity to watch the series for the first time and fans who loved the series during its original run to revisit it time and again. In turn, like Spongebob Squarepants, the show has become one of the most memed shows in internet history. And from Michael screaming “No God, please no!” to Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight’s (Rainn Wilson) infamous “It is your birthday” sign, it truly does seem like there’s an Office reaction GIF for pretty much every occasion.
Now, Netflix has announced that The Office will be leaving in January 2021 to move to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service. But before that happens, TIME is here to rank the best The Office memes ever that the show has inspired in the nearly 15 years since its March 2005 debut — and boy, are there a lot to choose from.
Because as long as the absurd workplace comedy of The Office remains relatable to the modern world, people will keep watching and the memes will keep flowing.
Why do moments from The Office so easily lend themselves to memes?
If you had never heard of The Office and someone told you that it was about the everyday lives of people working at a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, you probably wouldn’t be too keen on watching it. But that description fails to account for the show’s incomparable slapstick comedy and sharp satirical take on contemporary work culture.
For those reasons and more, The Office continues to keep people coming back for more. Reddit user Mike Lazenby, a longtime moderator of /r/dundermifflin, tells TIME that, thanks to repeat viewings, the subreddit is more active than ever before.
“People finish the series and go straight back to the start. You simply can’t watch once and never go back to it,” he says. “It’s interesting to see the show still reaching new levels of popularity.”
And, according to Lazenby, it’s that undeniably addictive quality The Office possesses that makes it so memeable.
“Do you ever see a GIF of one of your favorite lines from a film or show and you can hear it being said in your head? There are a hundred lines from the show that will stick with you in that way, you simply never get tired of them,” he says. “I think it’s fair to say that there is a fitting Office GIF for every possible reaction.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here’s our ranking of the top 10 best memes of The Office.
10. The Office meme where Andy’s sorry he annoyed you
Season 3, Episode 14: “The Return”
Ever get a snarky response from someone when you’re just trying to be nice? Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) knows what you’re going through. After trying and failing to win Michael over in the wake of the Stamford branch merging with Scranton, a hurt Andy segues away from the conversation with this passive aggressive apology. Of course, he follows it up by punching a hole in the wall, ruining any chance he had of remaining calm, cool and collected.
9. The Office meme where that’s what she said
Obviously, Michael Scott didn’t coin the phrase, “That’s what she said.” But he definitely contributed to a resurgence in its popularity among Office fans. Michael’s NSFW response to anything that could remotely be construed as sexual innuendo became his signature catchphrase over the course of the show and was often uttered at the slightest provocation. It has since been regularly employed by memers hoping to recreate the awkward magic of him uttering those words aloud.
8. The Office meme where Dwight lays down cold, hard facts
If you’re a fan of The Office, you probably couldn’t help but read that in the voice of the one and only Dwight Schrute. As Assistant to the Regional Manager, one of Dwight’s favorite pastimes was correcting his coworkers in the least subtle way possible, loudly declaring that what they were saying was “false!”
When Jim pranked Dwight by imitating him, he even threw in his own declaration of “false!” to bring the impersonation home.
And thus, the Schrute Facts meme, a picture of Dwight overlaid with text imagining how he would refute various statements, was born. This one is mostly useful for getting on people’s nerves in classic Dwight style.
7. The Office meme where Michael is Beyoncé, always
Season 6, Episode 25: “The Chump”
After Michael discovers that Donna (Amy Pietz) is cheating on her husband with him, Andy, who was cheated on by Angela (Angela Kinsey), tries to teach him a lesson about what it feels like to realize someone is being unfaithful to you. Referencing the 2009 thriller Obsessed, Andy insists that Michael is the villain, Ali Larter, in this scenario while he’s the hero, Beyoncé.
Michael’s response to this logic remains one of the most flawless comebacks of all time: “I am Beyoncé, always.”
This reply not only shuts down pretty much any further argument, it also establishes that no matter what others think, in your mind, you can always be the hero of your own story. Not to mention that this reaction GIF is essential for whenever Queen Bey demonstrates anew how perfect she is — which happens quite frequently.
6. The Office meme where Kelly has a question
Season 4, Episode 15: “Night Out”
After getting promoted to corporate, Ryan returns to Scranton to acquaint his old branch with the new Dunder Mifflin website, “Dunder Mifflin Infinity 2.0.” But Kelly (Mindy Kaling) has no intention of letting him get off easy for dumping her. So when Ryan asks if she has a question during his meeting, Kelly doesn’t waste the chance to make her feelings known. “Yeah, I have a lot of questions,” she retorts. “Number one, how dare you?”
It pretty much goes without saying, but this is the perfect meme to have in your back pocket when you need to capture the sheer indignity of an unfair situation — like, for instance, The Office leaving Netflix.
5. The Office meme where Michael is ready to get hurt again
Season 4, Episode 14: “Chair Model”
Who else was going to give us the ultimate relationship meme if not Michael Scott, the king of being unlucky in love?
After breaking up with Jan (Melora Hardin) and becoming enamored with a chair catalog model, as one does, Michael asks his employees to set him up with some of their female friends (using the model as a blueprint). Pam eventually agrees to give Michael the number of her landlady, who she describes as “really sweet.”
As per usual, Michael royally screws the situation up, but not before gifting fans with the one of the most relatable post-breakup lines in TV history: “No question about it, I am ready to get hurt again.”
Thanks to the constant flux in people’s relationship statuses, the memes for this one are always in demand.
4. The Office meme where Pam feels God in Chili’s
Season 2, Episode 1: “The Dundies”
Who among us hasn’t had a few too many during a night out with coworkers? That’s where relatable queen Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) comes into play. After downing several drinks to calm her nerves over once again receiving the Dundie for “World’s Longest Engagement,” Pam is called on stage for the “Whitest Sneakers” award instead. Her tipsiness and surprise then combine to produce the greatest acceptance speech ending of all time: “I wanna thank God because God gave me this Dundie. And I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.”
Later in the episode, Pam is handed a lifetime ban from Chili’s for sneaking drinks. But that didn’t stop Fischer from trying to revisit the scene of her character’s crime. In 2017, she tweeted a photo of herself standing outside the restaurant with a guilty look on her face. “Should I try to go in?,” she captioned the picture, prompting the official Chili’s account to deliver the only appropriate response, “we hope you felt God tonight,” before lifting her ban.
During a 2018 appearance on The Late, Late Show, Fischer told host James Corden that she prepared for the scene by going out and getting drunk with co-star B.J. Novak, who played “fire guy” Ryan Howard.
“I had a drink, and he asked me how I was feeling and we analyzed it. Then I had another drink and he asked me how I was feeling. And then I had another drink,” she said. “I don’t remember a lot after that. But I researched it!”
The iconic line has since been heavily memed and is often used in response to a scenario that unexpectedly goes your way.
3. The Office meme where Jim looks at the camera
One of the best parts of The Office was that the show being framed as a documentary allowed the characters to break the fourth wall in hilarious ways. After all, it was that formula that gave us Jim Halpert looking directly into the camera whenever something particularly awkward or ridiculous was happening.
Jim’s many looks of uncomfortable disbelief have taken on a life of their own on the internet over the years, with Office fans frequently employing GIFs of them in response to bizarre online happenings. Even just writing some variation of the sentence, “Looks at the camera like I’m on The Office,” is usually enough to get the point across.
2. The Office meme where Stanley didn’t stutter
Season 4, Episode 16: “Did I Stutter?”
When Michael tries to get Stanley to participate in a brainstorming session about how to energize the office instead of finishing his morning crossword, Stanley takes drastic measures to ensure that Michael understands just how much he wants to be left alone. Of course, while it does serve to get your point across, yelling at your boss in a company-wide meeting usually doesn’t go over very well. And that’s exactly why this moment became an instant Office classic — it’s something that could only really happen at Dunder Mifflin Scranton.
Now, the “Did I stutter?” meme is often used to convey the message that no one need question a statement that has been made.
1. The Office meme where Michael needs to know why
Season 2, Episode 22: “Casino Night”
There are so many laugh-out-loud instances of Michael hating on human resources representative Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) that it was tempting to fill this list up solely with those moments (“I hate so much about the things that you choose to be,” “You are a thief of joy,” etc.) But in the name of spreading the love, we’ve settled for only including the time that Michael questions the essence of who Toby is as a person after Toby tells him that it’s inappropriate to invite children to Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s casino night party.
No other line gets to the heart of why Michael hates Toby more than the simple question, “Why are you the way that you are?” And it has subsequently become many Office fans’ go-to response for questioning the shady behavior of others.
- How the Biden Administration Lost Its Way
- Hanya Yanagihara Is Never Going to Read Your Mean Tweets
- Inside Finland's Plan to End All Waste by 2050
- Chloe Kim Is Ready to Win Olympic Gold Again—On Her Own Terms
- Asia Has Kept COVID-19 at Bay for 2 Years. Omicron Could Change That
- Investors Are Sinking Real Money Into Virtual Real Estate, With No Guarantees
- The Man Putin Fears