It's been 16 years since The Office first aired, but it still remains one of the best sitcoms of all time. The mockumentary series gave us colorful characters, quotable one-liners and laughably silly storylines, but as much as we enjoy revisiting the employees of Dunder Mifflin, we’ve got to admit: Not all seasons are created equal. From the writing and tone to the ever-changing cast, there were several factors that impacted the show’s quality during its nine-year run. Given that some fans are still debating about which season is best, we thought we’d settle the matter by ranking each one. Keep reading for the best seasons of The Office, ranked.
The Best Seasons of ‘The Office,’ Ranked
9. Season 8
The Office feels incomplete without Michael Scott (Steve Carell) in it, and this season proves just that. Though we appreciate the ongoing prank wars between Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Jim (John Krasinski), there are so many things that turn us off. For one, sex-obsessed CEO Robert California (James Spader) is grossly inappropriate and not that funny, and Andy seems to be morphing into a shell of himself as he tries to please everybody. Plus, Kate (Kate Flannery) trying to make a move on Jim with Pam (Jenna Fischer) on maternity leave just feels like a lazy attempt to ramp up the drama.
8. Season 9
This season did have some good points. For instance, it ties up loose ends, ends the series on a high note (Dwight finally becomes manager) and, best of all, includes a heartwarming appearance from Michael. Still, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s rife with plotlines that leave us feeling more frustrated than anything. Jim and Pam's relationship being on the rocks? Erin (Ellie Kemper) putting up with Andy's (Ed Helms) selfish, obnoxious behavior? All of it is just a bit much.
7. Season 1
We’ll give season one some credit for starting things off and introducing such great characters, but to be quite honest, it feels more like a trial run. This season appears to mirror more elements from the original British version, which is a bit darker and unfiltered. It’s clear that the series hasn’t exactly found its footing at this point. For one, the pilot is nearly a carbon copy of the British version’s pilot, and Michael feels more like a watered-down version of Ricky Gervais's David Brent, rather than the well-meaning, multi-faceted character we’d all grow to love.
6. Season 6
Jim and Pam’s gorgeous wedding (or shall we say weddings) is easily the best part of this season. Plus, the beginnings of Andy and Erin’s budding romance is so precious, but season six isn’t without its flaws. Dunder Mifflin is bought out by Sabre Corporation and Jim becomes co-manager, which feels oddly out of character for him. Plus, we’re introduced to Gabe (Zach Woods), one of the neediest and most insecure characters we have ever seen. We just can’t get behind his cringe-worthy relationship with Erin. And Michael’s love life at this point = one giant mess.
5. Season 7
Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) makes her grand return in this season, still attached to A.J. (Robert Anderson Huebel), and it’s completely tearing Michael (and us!) apart. We see a deeper, more vulnerable side of Michael here and we can’t help but keep rooting for him. There’s also his bittersweet departure and, of course, the completion of "Threat Level Midnight." But season seven has some low points too. Michael’s replacement, played by Will Ferrell, isn’t that memorable and Gabe's constant attempts to win Erin back are, quite frankly, really annoying.
4. Season 5
There are so many big moments in season five. It’s when Jim proposes to Pam, when the Michael Scott Paper Company gets launched and when Angela (Angela Kinsey) gets dumped by both Andy and Dwight. Not to mention, this is the season where Dwight prepares a terrifying fire drill and wreaks total havoc at the office in “Stress Relief,” but we wouldn’t say that this season is the best. While we love ourselves some Idris Elba, we have a serious bone to pick with his character for driving Michael to quit.
3. Season 3
This is the season that brings us all the drama and then some. This time, it’s Jim who’s in a relationship while Pam (who broke off her wedding with Roy at the last minute) is single. There’s also Michael and Jan’s increasingly erratic behavior and Dwight and Angela’s secret affair—both of which are equally fascinating to watch. Rashida Jones and Ed Helms also give stellar performances as the newest transferred employees.
2. Season 4
Season four is as close to perfect as it gets, so this comes in at a very, very close second. From Stanley’s iconic “Did I Stutter?” to Michael and Jan’s disastrous dinner party, this season is loaded with laugh-out-loud moments. It also marks the first time Michael and Holly meet, and we absolutely love that Jim and Pam are finally an item. But we especially enjoy getting to know the supporting characters on a deeper level. For instance, Ryan (B.J. Novak) shows his true colors after snagging Jan’s job, and Dwight crumbles after Angela ditches him for killing her cat. Overall, it’s such a well-written and compelling season that offers up the ideal blend of drama, romance and humor.
1. Season 2
This season feels like a defining moment for The Office. After a shaky season one, it finally gets the ball rolling with brilliant writing and lays a solid foundation for the remainder of the series. We see the delightfully awkward Michael in all his glory, and the one-liners are pure gold (“Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party's so lame.”). But at the heart of this season is Jim and Pam’s heart-wrenching will they or won't they storyline that keeps us on the edge of our seat. We get that pivotal moment where Jim finally makes the first move and professes his love for Pam, shifting the dynamic of their relationship. And then of course, we also see the odd beginnings of Michael and Jan’s problematic romance. We know that it’s not season one, but it just feels like the one that started it all, making it the best season of all nine.