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"Back From Vacation" is the twelfth episode of the third season of The Office and the 40th overall. It was written by Justin Spitzer and directed by Julian Farino. It first aired on January 4, 2007.

Cold open

Jim leads a meeting of the sales staff while Michael is away on vacation in Jamaica. Dwight turns on a portable tape recorder, explaining that Michael instructed him to record all meetings and type up transcripts. Jim jokes loudly to the recorder that Dwight is "completely nude and is holding a plastic knife to Stanley's neck", over Dwight's angered protest. Phyllis and Karen join in the teasing with their own absurd statements. Andy, however, takes the joke too far by shouting, "I am now chopping off Phyllis' head with a chainsaw!" He meekly adds a chainsaw sound effect.


Michael returns from his trip to Jamaica rejuvenated, unfazed by the news that Hannah quit while he was away and filed a complaint against the company. Stanley complains to Michael that his bonus check was $100 short and refuses to do any work until he gets the missing money.

Michael directs the Party Planning Committee to throw a luau-themed party in the warehouse to coincide with the postponed annual inventory project that evening. The committee initially objects, protesting that there is not enough time to plan.

Michael attempts to impart the lessons of his vacation, displaying to the staff a photograph of a sign in Jamaica reading: "No shirt, no shoes, no problem". An astounded Pam notices Jan in the margins of the photo and points it out to her colleagues. Michael states to the camera that Jan didn't want anyone to know they travelled together since it may get them both in trouble. He then reveals he and Jan had an affair in Jamaica.

Michael attempts to send another racy vacation photograph of himself and Jan as proof of the trip to Todd Packer but instead mistakenly sends it to "packaging". Warehouse supervisor Darryl receives and promptly forwards the photo to several other employees, and it quickly reaches the entire office. Mortified, Michael attempts damage control, avoiding Jan's phone calls and dodging inquiries from Toby.

Karen has been upset with Jim because he has expressed objections to the prospect of Karen moving into an apartment two blocks away in his neighborhood. When Pam asks Jim what is wrong, Jim reveals that he and Karen have been dating for a month and argues that living on the same street might be "a little close." Pam convinces Jim that he is being unreasonable, and during the luau, Jim hands Karen a piece of paper that appears to be related to the house she wanted to rent. Karen is pleased, asking Jim, "Are you sure?" Karen privately thanks Pam for her help.

Pam tells the documentary crew that she was glad to help Jim, because she likes to help her friends. During inventory, however, Dwight walks in on Pam crying in private. Though Dwight appears to have good intentions, handing Pam a handkerchief and awkwardly trying to comfort her, he mistakes Pam's crying for PMS.

As the luau/inventory is held, Jan arrives at the office to speak with Michael in private. Without explicitly revealing whether or not she is aware of the image being sent throughout the email system, she confesses her attraction to him against all reason. She informs Michael that on her psychiatrist's advice, she has decided to give in to her self-destructive tendencies and continue their affair. She kisses Michael and instructs him to make an excuse to leave the office party so he can meet her at his condo. In a Jerry Maguire moment, Michael, dazed and surprised at Jan's assertiveness can only utter, "Jan, You complete me." Jan looks stunned for a moment, and leaves.

Back in the warehouse, Pam and Roy joke about their failed engagement and Kevin takes home a large poster printout of the oversized vacation photograph produced earlier by warehouse personnel, stating that he will hang it at home since he doesn't have a lot of art.

Deleted scenes

The Season Three DVD contains a number of deleted scenes.

  • In a talking head interview, Pam shows some postcards from Michael's past vacations. Michael put ten dollars worth of postage on his postcard from Jamaica.
  • The documentary crew meet Michael at the airport. Michael sings the "Banana Boat Song" in the car and describes events from his vacation, including buying a "chill pill" from a man at the beach. "And after I finished vomiting, I was more relaxed than I've ever been." In that scene, the car passes the front of a business building where the company name is written on the wall in big capital letters mentioning "California".
  • Dwight complains to Michael about Jim's pranks while Michael was on vacation. Michael isn't interested.
  • Michael has gifts for people in the office. For Dwight, a "genuine Rastafarian wig"; for Andy, a t-shirt with an image of Bob Marley, who Michael mistakes for Milli Vanilli; for Angela, a lei, which he presents to her while joking to her disgust that she "got lei'd"; for Pam, a coconut bra; and for Stanley, he jokes that he got him some "ganja", although it was really coffee. Creed then offers to get Stanley some real ganja.
  • Jim asks Michael if he is stoned. Kevin thinks Michael looks like he has the munchies in the picture. Kelly says that she does, however, and heads for chocolate wafers.
  • Dwight admits to having taken one vacation, but never again. Jim had his desk shipped to him in Roswell.
  • Pam requires more evidence than seeing to believe that Michael and Jan went to Jamaica.
  • Ryan notes that Michael is into Photoshopping, and shows an altered photograph where he and Michael were "in Egypt."
  • Stanley won't give Phyllis the list of exchanges for inventory until he has received his bonus check. In a talking head, Phyllis says that she likes Stanley but isn't always sure he reciprocates, which is okay, because she doesn't really like him.
  • Michael unsuccessfully tries to guess Jan's email password.
  • Michael calls America Online for a "gobbler" that would eat up emails.
  • Jan is asked by an unnamed colleague about her vacation. She maintains the ruse that she was in Scottsdale, unaware that the colleague has a copy of Jamaica Jan Sun Princess on his computer screen. Jan sticks to her story in a talking head interview.
  • Meredith explains that when a woman gets older, she'll go anywhere with anyone.
  • Angela emphasizes that one's body is a temple. "You can't just whore it out."
  • As a result of his skin cancer scare ("Michael's Birthday"), Kevin just hopes Jan was wearing sunscreen, although he wishes that he could rub it on her.
  • Dwight lists advantages and disadvantages of the Internet.
  • Dwight talks about Spiderman and the internet's abilities to spread information.
  • The phone rings on Stanley's desk. He does a crossword instead of picking up. Karen stops the call.
  • To help motivate inventory, Dwight announces that he has hidden a deck of cards which can be redeemed for a soft drink. Meanwhile, Jim and Ryan play cards.
  • Pam notes that inventory luau '07 is superior to disco audit '05.
  • Ryan mentions that they are missing seven boxes of canary yellow copier paper. Roy takes the scanner and scans the same box seven times. "Looks good to me." Ryan begins to use Roy's new inventory technique.
  • Stanley says he doesn't want to miss the show when Jan comes.
  • Kelly sings as she does inventory. Michael wants her to stop, but she can't help herself.
  • Dwight and Andy get into a race stacking boxes, with Jim stuck in the middle of the craziness. Upon extrication, he and Pam observe the race in amusement.
  • To get a better look at an upper shelf, Meredith climbs on a shelf, which falls and traps her.
  • Michael gives Stanley his bonus in the form of a $1000 Jamaican dollar-bill, and mentions that the exchange rate is 65-to-1, although he is unclear which way it converts.
  • Toby says he lived in Honolulu for a year. Kevin says that that means he's been to a real luau. Angela says that she tried her best given the short notice.
  • Dwight notes that Creed is one short of the black medium-ball points. Creed replaces it, having presumably stolen it. He later says once an acquaintance and he cleaned the place out. The company blamed it on some kid.

Not on the DVD but in the script:

  • Pam and Jim use Pam's computer to look for apartments for Karen.[1]:36:19

Amusing details

  • Stanley is unconcerned with the events in the cold open, preoccupied with his crossword instead.
  • Michael shakes his head vigorously in an attempt to get Pam to comment on his hair accessory.
  • Michael puts an entire coconut over his coffee mug.
  • Kevin has a sign on the wall next to his desk saying “DON’T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW.”
  • There is a Post-It note on Angela's side of the partition with reception that reads, "Angela, can I have eight dollars petty cash to buy some more jelly beans? I'll get your licorice and cherry. Thanks, Pam."
  • Toby says he got the email with the photo several times, including from his ex-wife (who is not a Dunder Mifflin employee, which demonstrates how far and wide the nude Jan photo spread).
  • When Michael sits in his office after avoiding the phone call from Jan, he holds what appears to be a bottle of Hershey's chocolate sauce with the cap off. Was he thinking of drinking chocolate sauce?
  • Unable to find a pig to roast, Angela slices cans of spam instead.
  • Kevin gives the camera a look as Andy enthusiastically plays the steel drum. Kevin is shown to be a drummer himself in other episodes.
  • Roy reveals he wanted to go to Mexico for their honeymoon instead of Hawaii. A recurring gag in season 2 is that Roy is notoriously unromantic in their relationship.
  • Angela appears to be nervously approaching Roy to say something, but chickens out just as Darryl finds his iPod. This detail was something developed on set.[1]:51:44
  • Dwight removes his jacket, as if he were to give it to Pam to comfort her, but instead ties it around his waist, saying, "It's hot in here."
  • Kevin waves goodbye to Michael as he turns around before walking up the stairs like a man to the gallows.
  • On top of the locker at the base of the stairs is a sign that reads "Gun permit: $19.00, Photo: $6.00, (Total) $25.00." It is easiest to spot when Kevin waves to Michael. it is not clear why the warehouse has a sign for gun permits.
  • When Jan calls Michael into his office, she has already taken Michael's chair, forcing Michael into a guest chair. Total power move.
  • Jan tells Michael her therapist told her to engage in self destructive tendencies. This is medically unsound advice. In future episodes the legitimacy of her therapist is called in question when Michael reveals that Jan shows him their sex tapes as they discuss it at length.
  • Jan smiles as Michael tells her "You complete me" then immediately says "Oh God", horrified that she really does have feelings for him.


  • As of this episode, only two people (Andy & Karen) from the Stamford branch remain at the Scranton office.
  • Karen's talking head near the start of the episode is filmed while she's using the rarely-seen copier in the annex. She likely chose this copier instead of the one in the bullpen to avoid having to stand near Jim.
  • Pam uncharacteristically calls out Jan in the photo. Normally, she would make a mental note and then joke with Jim about it later. This may be an early sign of her growing self-confidence. Spoiler: In future episode "Cocktails", Pam explains that she's going to be more honest and say what she wants.
  • Ed Helms (Andy) once again shows his musical talent, this time by learning to play the steel drum after only an hour's worth of lessons.[2]
  • The object that Darryl finds is an iPod dock with speakers.[2] Presumably it was lost during "Casino Night" when Darryl voiced concerns about something getting stolen during the event.
  • This is the second episode of the series where Ryan has no dialogue.
  • Michael states that his trip to Jamaica was his first time out of the country. Presumably, his trip to Canada in "Business Trip" was his second.
  • This is one of the several times in the series where Jan says she's visiting her sister in Scottsdale to cover something up.
  • In a deleted scene, Pam shares postcards Michael has sent from his earlier vacations. This is actually kind of sweet, because it means that Pam saves them.
  • This is the final episode to feature background character Luanne.

Behind the scenes

  • The idea for this episode came from Greg Daniels, who wanted to explore the feeling of returning to the daily grind of work after a vacation.[1]:02:22
  • Justin Spitzer was given only three day to write this episode. Greg Daniels admitted to another writer that the fast turnaround was artificial: He just wanted to keep the pressure on. Spitzer said that in retrospect, the tight deadline took some of the pressure off, because nobody expected a three-day script to be great. The episode went through a number of rewrites before beng filmed.[1]:03:15
  • The photo of Michael and Jan was taken on a tiny beach set constructed in the warehouse, with sand, lounge chairs, and a green screen. Prop master Phil Shea contacted Sandals, who donated branded merchandise. Melora Hardin was not topless; her bikini was removed digitally.[1]:09:31
  • Hair stylist Kim Ferry considered dreadlocks or beads for Michael's hair. She decided on the beads, but since Steve Carell's hair was so short, the beads were placed on a toupee clip of human hair, and the toupee clipped to Carell's actual hair.[1]:16:17
  • In the script, the made-up name for Jan was "Earl-Gra", but what eneded up in the episode was "Urkel-Gru".[1]:26:44
  • Todd Packer's "How do I get you out of this picture?" was an improv.[1]:27:52
  • Michael's md dash to the warehouse was filmed in the writer's building. He's running down a hallway past all the writers' offices and turns the corner and runs into Mindy Kaling's office. At the start of his run, he goes past a woman in an orange hoodie. That woman is Mary Wall, the shows executive producer assistant.[1]:28:19
  • When Michael rushes into Darryl's office, Darryl casually eats a huge plate of food. This was not scripted. It's likely that Craig Robinson was having something to eat from craft services, and the director told him to keep it for the scene.[1]:30:18
  • When Pam calls Michael back inside, Jenna Fischer made the acting decision to stay in the building and just poke her head out the door because she doesn't have her coat, and it's winter.[1]:42:48
  • Kate Flannery did her own stunt in the deleted scene when the boxes fall on her. Stunt double Debbie Evans was present, but Kate did it herself.[1]:48:57
  • Craig Robinson found an iPod and speaker dock on the set and improvised his happy discovery.[1]:50:31
  • Jenna Fischer prepared for Pam's crying scene by listening to music that brought up memories of breakups or other emotional moments in her life.[1]:52:28
  • Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson found the scene where Dwight comforts Pam emotional, as the two actors are good friends in real life. Jenna explains in a podcast that Rainn genuinely felt tearful that his friend was upset.

Cultural references

  • Jim Carrey is an actor best known for comedic roles, and one of Michael's comic heroes.
  • The Muppet Babies is a children's television program featuring characters from The Muppet Show (including Animal) as babies.
  • Hey mon is a stereotypical Jamaican greeting.
  • The Cayman Islands is an island nation in the Caribbean. Many businesses are formally incorporated there due to its low taxes and light government regulation.
  • A luau is a Hawaiian (not Jamaican) feast.
  • The sign No shirt, no shoes, no problem is a play on the sign "No shirt, no shoes, no service" commonly seen in United States restaurants. Many health codes require shirts and shoes to be worn in food establishments. There happens to be a song titled No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, but the similarity is most likely just a coincidence.
  • Todd Packer was in Hot-lanta, a nickname for Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Montego Bay is a resort in Jamaica.
  • Ice queen is a pejorative term for an attractive woman who rejects sexual advances.
  • Maxim is a men's magazine.
  • Booty is slang for the buttocks. To hit it is slang for "to have sex with that person".
  • PG-13 is a movie rating in the United States. PG-13-rated movies are not recommended for viewers under age 13.
  • A T1 line is a type of broadband Internet connection.
  • Days Inn is a chain of budget hotels.
  • PMS (known as PMT in British English) is short for "Premenstrual syndrome", a collection of adverse symptoms tied to a woman's menstrual cycle.
  • Scottsdale is a city in Arizona. The climate there is hot and arid.
  • Identity theft is a crime wherein someone obtains enough information about the victim to be able to impersonate them. The motive can vary, but financial fraud is a common reason.
  • You complete me is a line from the climactic moment of the film Jerry Maguire.


Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 40: Back From Vacation. "Office Ladies" podcast, August 12, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sparano, John. January 4, 2007. blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=102409815&blogID=213736679 "Back From Vacation", MySpace.com