The Dunder Mifflin offices are usually the backdrop for all the best hijinks on The Office, but sometimes the show is at its most intriguing when it takes its characters and places them in less familiar settings. Some of the most iconic moments of The Office's nine-season run happen in Michael Scott's sad little condo or at Schrute Farms or, of course, at Niagara Falls. The eight best episodes of The Office that happen outside of Dunder Mifflin get the gang out from behind their desks, sometimes for really ridiculous reasons.
So much of The Office plants its characters at their computers or in conference rooms, and that emphasis on the workplace is part of what made the series such a success. Almost anyone who's ever worked in an office — not necessarily a paper company, but that works too — can relate to being pulled into seemingly pointless meetings or crushing on the cute coworker who sits a few desks away. But the show's writing and the actors alike tended to really shine when those same characters were shoved outside of their comfort zone, allowing viewers to dissect their behaviors in the real world. It also helped that the locations the show would sometimes travel to were already rife with possibility for the show's trademark humor, character development, and the undeniable awkwardness that only Michael Scott could bring. Here are the best field trips ever taken in the history of The Office:
1"The Dundies" — Season 2, Episode 1
Sure, the actual office is present in the first half of this episode, but the back half — and the most important half — all takes place at the Scranton, Pennsylvania Chili's Bar & Grill, where dreams are made. This is the first time Office viewers witness a Dundies ceremony, as well as Michael Scott's cringe-worthy rapping skills. God bless him, he tries his hardest to be a worthy emcee. Things get dicey when a few jerks at the bar throw things at him as he's trying to entertain the office clan, and that's one of the first palpable moments when viewers feel their first real heartbreak and embarrassment for Michael, who at his core just wants to be liked.
This episode also features Jim and Pam's first kiss (!!!), even though it comes after Pam has more than her fair share of margaritas. And it gives viewers the legendary Pam line, "I feel God in this Chili's tonight." She might have been banned from the restaurant chain for life, but it was worth it.
2"Booze Cruise" — Season 2, Episode 11
The majority of this episode takes place aboard a boat, as Michael has the bright idea to book a booze cruise for the office even as it's pretty chilly outside. Rob Riggle makes a guest appearance as the ship's captain, who valiantly attempts to gain control of the boat back from Michael, who can't handle the fact that he's not the main authority figure in this scenario.
Michael ends up telling the entire ship that the boat is going down, as part of some weird misguided metaphor for selling paper, causing widespread panic and landing himself in the brig. Another important Jim and Pam moment happens here as well, as Roy and Pam set a date for their wedding and Jim reveals to Michael that he "used to" have a big crush on Pam — a decision he would no doubt come to regret. On the plus side, Michael does urge him not to give up on his feelings for her, and could ultimately have contributed to the grand romance that followed.
3"Phyllis's Wedding" — Season 3, Episode 15
This is the episode that forever bonds Phyllis and Bob Vance (of Vance Refrigeration). Phyllis makes the mistake of asking Michael to wheel her father down the aisle in his wheelchair, making him think he has a much bigger role to play in the day than he actually does. He's in peak Michael fashion the entire episode, making everything about himself.
It's an episode that rivals "Scott's Tots" in making viewers uncomfortable — my boyfriend, who loves The Office with his whole heart, will literally leave the room when certain scenes of this episode come on, and he's surely not alone in that — but that's part of the beauty and the genius of it all. Michael ends up being removed from the reception as he refuses to end his way-too-long, uninvited speech about Phyllis and Bob, but redeems himself a bit at the end when he finds Phyllis's missing uncle.
4"Beach Games" — Season 3, Episode 22
Jenna Fischer kills it in "Beach Games," and it's honestly not talked about enough. It's an empowered plotline that comes nearly a season after Jim and Pam share a kiss, which prompted Pam to leave Roy, but not immediately jump into a relationship with Jim. In this episode, Michael carts the office to the beach where they're forced into a series of team-building games, and viewers (and her coworkers) see Pam in new light.
In an amazing moment toward the end of the episode, when no one else is looking, Pam runs across a line of hot coals after spending some time working up the courage. Armed with that adrenaline, she heads back to the others and delivers a heartfelt speech. She asks why no one came to her art show to support her, and tells Jim in front of everyone that she called off her wedding because of him. Gone is the meek Pam of Season 1, and here to stay is new, badass, fire-walking Pam.
5"Money" — Season 4, Episode 4
OK, OK, so a lot of "Money" does take place in the actual office, but the best chunk of the story happens at Schrute Farms, so I'm counting it. After Jim hears Dwight taking reservations from someone over the phone, he and Pam book a night at the Schrute Farms bed and breakfast. Their stay is... interesting, to say the least.
They're greeted by Cousin Mose running past their car, and later join Dwight in some beet mashing and table making. The tone of the place as a whole is perfectly set by Dwight as he shows the couple to their room. "As of this morning, we are completely wireless here at Schrute Farms," Dwight gleefully informs them. "But as soon as I find out where Mose hid all those wires, we'll get the power back on."
6"Dinner Party" — Season 4, Episode 9
This episode is arguably one of the greatest twenty-odd minutes of television that's ever aired. Jim, Pam, Angela, Andy, and eventually, Dwight and his old babysitter — why not? — all gather at Michael and Jan's condo for a dinner party, and things go downhill, to say the least.
Between Pam's horror at the fact that Jan still has hours of cooking to do when guests arrive, and the awkward (to say the least) fact that Jan and Michael obviously hate each other and proceed to fight in front of the entire group, there's no shortage of dramatic moments. There's talk of how many vasectomies and vasectomy reversals Michael has endured, and even a song that makes it perfectly clear to everyone (except Michael) that Jan is sleeping with her assistant. Rolling Stone recently interviewed cast and crew about this episode, and apparently, all of them were losing it during filming just as much as viewers do when watching.
7"Company Picnic" — Season 5, Episode 28
This episode — which was also the Season 5 finale — packs a lot into a short 21 minutes. Not only do Holly and Michael reunite at a company-wide picnic, which is made even more awkward by the fact that she is moving in with her new boyfriend, A.J., who is also present, but Idris Elba makes a reappearance as Charles, the worst manager ever. And the last few minutes also reveal to viewers that Jim and Pam are expecting a baby. Cue the tears.
A ruthless volleyball game between branches transpires in the meantime, and Holly and Michael also accidentally use a Slumdog Millionaire sketch to tell an entire branch's employees that they're about to lose their jobs. You know — just classic "company picnic" happenings.
8"Niagara" — Season 6, Episodes 4 & 5
Jim and Pam's wedding happens across two episodes, which is for the best — fans had waited years and years to watch this couple tie the knot, and the show made the right choice to give it all the time it needed to be done properly. The entire Dunder Mifflin gang ventures to Niagara Falls under strict orders not to reveal Pam's pregnancy to any of her more old-fashioned relatives (and that, of course, isn't kept under wraps for long). Andy injures his privates by attempting a dramatic split in the middle of a dance battle, in what is perhaps the most "Andy Bernard" moment featured in the entire show's run, and Pam has to drive him to the hospital.
These two episodes are packed with hilarious moments too numerous to name, but the greatest scene comes just before Jim and Pam say their vows. After Pam is all dolled up in her dress, she rips her veil, and calls Jim to come find her ahead of their ceremony. To cheer her up over this mild imperfection, Jim takes a pair of scissors and snips his tie in half. I will never stop talking about this tie moment — it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, and it will go down in history as one of the sweetest Jim Halpert moments of all time. The episode concludes with a dance down the aisle to "Forever" by Chris Brown — a cheesy wedding song about three years too late — and reveals that Jim and Pam had actually already tied the knot on a boat near the falls, solidifying that they had kept something special for just the two of them.
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list — seeing The Office clan out and about outside the walls off the actual office building is always a treat, and allows viewers to see more human side of their favorite salesperson or customer service rep. Dunder Mifflin will always be the set that feels like home, but these episodes show that The Office's characters could stand on their own in the real world.