10 best cold openings from ‘The Office’

The Office is host to some incredible slapstick humor and plenty of silly antics, while also somehow finding space for deeply emotional and impactful scenes and a love-story for the ages. Starting in its second season, episodes frequently began with a “cold open”, a small vignette typically unrelated to the greater plot of the episode. 

Cherry picked from across each of The Office‘s nine seasons and presented in no particular order, here are the very best cold opens.

Dwight’s desk — Season 2, Episode 6

The Office offers up two great desk-related Dwight moments to reference, but our personal favorite will always be Dwight’s relocation into the toilets. This prank is simple, a little bit horrible, and proves that Jim has far too much time on his hands.

Several other desk-related scenes deserve a special shoutout, including the time Jim put Dwight’s desk on the ceiling, along with the time he wrapped it up in Christmas paper. Jim might be a slightly awful person when it comes to Dwight, but we love him for it.

Michael hits Meredith with his car — Season 4, Episode 1

The cold opening that launches Season 4 of the Office is an absolute gold star. The serenity and bliss of Michael’s newfound suburban lifestyle with Jan seems to offer a sort of panacea to the madness, only to abruptly dissolve when Michael arrives at work.

Michael, distracted by the documentary crew, ends up hitting Meredith with his car. This cold open, in a rare move, is connected to the plot of the show’s two-part episode “Fun Run,” and it’s out-of-nowhere and sudden nature is a thing of genuine beauty.

Asian Jim — Season 9, Episode 3

A classic Jim prank precedes Season 9 episode “Andy’s Ancestry.” This particular prank sees everyone’s favorite salesman hire a friend to spook Dwight with a genuinely believable impression. The addition of noted comedian Randall Park really makes this cold open work. His fantastic — albeit brief — performance elevates this excellent scene to new heights.

Future Dwight faxes — Season 3, Episode 7

Even after his move to Stanford, Jim maintains his pranking habits from a distance. He continues his careful taunting of Dwight from afar, sending him faxes from a supposed “future Dwight.” The faxes warn Dwight of things that are allegedly to come, allowing Jim to cause just a bit of long-distance chaos in his old office.

Pavlov experiment — Season 3, Episode 16

Possibly the most intellectual of all the Office‘s cold openings, Jim tries to reenact the famous Pavlov Experiment in this Season 3 scene. The famous experiment, in which dogs would learn to salivate at the sound of a bell, translates surprisingly well to Dwight. Jim attempts the experiment on his desk-mate, offering him a mint every time his Windows computer restarts, and eventually trains him to expect a mint every time the reboot audio sounds.

Kevin the receptionist — Season 5, Episode 22

After Pam, Michael, and Ryan leave Dunder Mifflin to create their own paper company, it falls on Kevin to take over as the receptionist. Unsurprisingly, he is completely and unutterably awful at this new task, leading to a hilarious cold open.

The DVD screen — Season 4, Episode 5

This is one of the Office‘s funniest moments overall, cold open or not. It is flawlessly relatable to anyone who’s sat through a painfully dull office meeting, and manages to pack its humor into less than two minutes. The scenes sees the office fixated on the small DVD logo that bounces around an idle screen, obsessed with the prospect of it perfectly bouncing into the screen’s corner.

David Brent meets Michael Scott — Season 7, Episode 14

A full seven seasons into the U.S. version of the Office, Michael Scott finally meets his British counterpart in Ricky Gervais’ David Brent. The two bond quickly over their similar quirks, sharing a memorable moment in an elevator as they connect over their shared love of immature jokes, silly and insensitive characters, and impersonations. 

Stanley doesn’t care — Season 7, Episode 6

By Season 7 of the Office, the staff has taken notice of Stanley’s unflinching focus on ignoring pretty much everything and everyone. They decide to test the limits of Stanley’s superpower, engaging in a series of experiments that include a flawless Phyllis impression from Kevin, a shirtless Andy sporting nothing more than a tie, and a truly surreal staff meeting. 

Recyclops — Season 6, Episode 11

One of Dwight’s most memorable oddities comes in the form of his utter devotion to his fictional Earth Day character Recyclops, a once mild-mannered hippie who gradually transforms into an authoritarian RoboCop-like figure. This character, who becomes hellbent on destroying the idea of Earth Day, is a classic that could fit right into the MCU’s next big release.