"Pilot", alternately titled The Office: An American Workplace, is the first episode of the first season of The Office and the first episode overall. It was written by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Greg Daniels, and directed by Ken Kwapis. It first aired on March 24, 2005 and was viewed by 11.2 million people.


A documentary crew gives a firsthand introduction to the staff of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, managed by Michael Scott.

During a meeting, Jim Halpert tells his boss, Michael, that he couldn't close a sale with the library. Michael closes the sale easily, but accidentally calls the woman he's speaking with, "Sir". He thinks she might have been a smoker.

World's Best Boss

Michael shows his mug

Michael tells the camera that he's worked for Dunder-Mifflin for 12 years and has been Regional Manager for 4. The branch has the entire second floor of the building. He introduces the camera to receptionist Pam Beesly and mentions how much better she looked a couple of years ago. She gives him a fax from corporate which he crumples up and tosses into the trash, calling it his special file for messages from the corporate office. He shows the camera his World's Best Boss mug and tells how he bought it from Spencer Gifts.

Jim tries to explain his job selling paper, but admits it's boring him even talking about it.

Michael comes out of his office and shouts the years-old gag "Whassssuuupp?" to Jim and Dwight who play along.

Michael's direct supervisor, Jan Levinson-Gould, then enters the office for a meeting with Michael. Michael admits he calls her Hillary Rodham Clinton, but not because he's afraid of her. Jan asks if Michael has any questions about the agenda which he claims not to have seen and proceeds to lecture Pam who then reveals, in front of Jan, that Michael threw it away. Michael backpedals that it was just a joke.

Jan explains that corporate doesn't see the point in having both the Scranton and Stamford branches. Michael immediately assumes the worst. Jan tries to assure him that it's not a foregone conclusion that Scranton will be shut down. Michael wonders if Josh, the regional manager at Stamford, is worried about downsizing.

Then Michael takes a call from Todd Packer, the branch's traveling salesman, who, not realizing he's on speakerphone in Jan's presence, calls her "Godzillary" and asks Michael if the carpet matches the drapes. Michael quickly realizes his mistake and mumbles about how inappropriate that was.

Jan concludes the meeting by asking Michael to keep all of this information under wraps for now.

In the break room, Oscar Martinez, Phyllis Lapin, and Stanley Hudson are at a table talking about the possibility of downsizing. Oscar admits he's updating his resume. Angela Martin worries she'll be let go and Kevin Malone agrees. Jim and Pam are too busy laughing about whether or not they will attend Angela's cat party on Sunday.

In the midst of all this, Ryan Howard arrives from the temporary employment agency. Michael demonstrates his humor by imitating Moe, from The Three Stooges and Adolf Hitler. It's clear that Michael's idea of humor is lost on his employees.

Pam admits it wouldn't be the worst thing if she was laid off. She enjoys working with watercolor and oil pencils. Jim likes her work.

Wall of Pencils

Wall of pencils between Jim and Dwight

While Jim is trying to make a sales call, Dwight distracts him by using his ruler to push some of Jim's overlapping papers off of his desk. In retaliation, Jim built a pencil fence between his desk and Dwight's, which Dwight smashes with his phone. Because of this, Jim tells the camera he's not afraid of the downsizing issue. Dwight, too, tells the camera he has no problem with downsizing and that he has been recommending it since he first arrived at Dunder Mifflin.

Pam hands Michael some of his messages. He pretends to act like the Six Million Dollar Man for several long moments. He decides that six million dollars would be a great salary for him and asks Pam's opinion. Pam mentions her salary could use a boost, too. Suddenly, Michael becomes serious, lecturing Pam she should take up her salary concerns with HR if she thinks there's a problem.

The staff is called into the conference room. Dwight, desperate to help, wants to back up Michael as Assistant Regional Manager. Michael will only acquiesce to Assistant to the Regional Manager. Michael explains that he's aware of the rumors and can confirm that Jan has indicated to him that there might be downsizing which could involve either Scranton or Stamford. Both Oscar and Stanley question Michael's assurances that he will not permit this branch to be closed. To change the subject, he tries to field a question from Pam who he claims looks like she wants to ask a question. Pam mentions that, being present in the meeting with Jan, it certainly did sound like Scranton could be shuttered. Michael, who doesn't seem to recognize that this whole meeting is breaking Jan's request for confidentiality, lectures Pam about leaking information. Out in the office, Ryan expresses his concerns by phone that he's hearing rumors the branch might be shut down.

Jim wonders what he will do with all this useless information he's gathered about paper. He also knows Pam's favorite yogurt flavor: mixed berry. Pam admits to the camera that he's right.

Michael introduces Ryan to the office. When he gets to Dwight, he asks him to tell Ryan about his car and his martial arts. Dwight starts to grab some photos of his car when he finds that someone has encased his stapler in Jell-O. He's furious because this is the third time and insists that Michael, as a witness, should discipline Jim. Jim, eating Jell-O, wants to know why Dwight thinks it's him. He and Ryan distract Michael by making dessert puns. Michael can't think of one.

Jim tries to convince Pam to join the gang for some drinks after work. Her fiancé, Roy, one of the warehouse workers, arrives. Pam admits that she and Roy have been engaged for three years. They are supposed to be married in September, but she believes it'll probably not be until Spring. Roy tells her he just wants to go home. She leaves her desk to finish up some work. Jim tries to make small talk, but Roy isn't having it.

Jim tells the camera that he doesn't think he'll be invited to the wedding.

While Michael conveys his management style to Ryan (friend first, boss second), he decides to pull a prank on Pam. When she comes in, he tells her that she's made downsizing easier because he has to fire her for stealing Post-It notes. She denies having stolen anything and bursts into tears. Ryan sits awkwardly until Michael reveals the gag. Pam calls him a jerk and storms out.

Pilot-Jim and Pam

Jim and Pam saying good-bye to each other

Michael tells the camera that people are more important than money. The proudest day of his life was when one of his employees made him the godfather of his child. It didn't work out as they had to fire the guy because he wasn't very good.

Pam and Jim say good-bye at the end of the day. They are interrupted by Roy's angry honking from outside.

Before Jim leaves, he walks into Michael's office and leaves a Jell-O mold with Michael's World's Best Boss mug inside.

Cultural references

  • Michael calls Jim grasshopper, the nickname given to the protagonist in the television series "Kung Fu" by one of his teachers.
  • Spencer Gifts is a chain of stores that sells novelty items. There is a store in Scranton.
  • Michael says "Pam-Pam" in a high-pitched voice like Bamm-Bamm, Barney Rubble's son on The Flintstones.
  • Michael shouts Whassup? in the style of a series of Clio-Award-winning Budweiser beer advertisements from 2000. (Five years before the episode takes place, not seven as Jim claims.)
  • Downsizing is a corporate euphemism for firing employees. Other corporate terms employed in the episode are compensation (pay) and HR (human resources, the department responsible for employee issues such as hiring and salary).
  • The Six Million Dollar Man was a television program popular in the 1970s. The title character was a cyborg, and footage of the character performing superhuman feats were played in slow motion and accompanied by a sound effect similar to the one Michael makes.
  • The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and Punk'd are television programs from the early 2000s. Both programs play pranks on unsuspecting victims. Michael's exclamation "You've been X'd, punk!" combines the catch phrase "You've been X'd" from first program with the name of the second program.
  • Michael peers from behind a plant and says '"Verrry interesting" in the style of Arte Johnson's recurring character on the late 1960s program Laugh-In.
  • Michael performs as Hitler, with a finger under his nose, and walking the "silly walk", like John Cleese did as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers (1975).


  • This episode was adapted from the first episode of the original British series, but "Americanized" by executive producer Greg Daniels. Most scenes are very similar to the British version, though some are very different.
  • Most of this episode was filmed more than six months before the other episodes of the season.
  • At the start of each day, director Ken Kwapis instructed the actors to pretend to be at work for 30 minutes. Cameras only shot B roll; the "work sessions" were an exercise to build an appropriate office atmosphere and dynamic, as well as to provide footage background and transition cuts. It was during these work sessions that the relationship among the three accountants was developed.[1]
  • During the "demarcation" scene with Jim and Dwight, Jim's tie has a white label (made using a label maker) that reads, "SHUT UP".
  • The scene where Jim tapes pencils to his desk and Dwight says they are a safety violation was originally filmed as the British version was, in which Tim stacks up cardboard boxes in front of Gareth so he can't see him. The script originally used the box-stacking joke from the British Office. After shooting was complete, Greg Daniels decided to replace it with the pencil-fence scene, and John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson were called back to the set (notice that no other actors other than Stanley are in the office during the pencil-fence scene). When Michael announces the meeting in the conference room, the original boxes can still be seen stacked on Jim's desk.
  • The "cat party" scene was improvised by Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski. It was inspired by an incident that took place during one of the "work sessions": Angela Kinsey (as Angela Martin) gave Jenna Fischer (as Pam Beesly) a Post-It note inviting Pam to her cat's birthday party. When Ken Kwapis instructed Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski to flirt, Jenna Fischer saw the note and improvised upon it.[1]
  • The two women in blue sweaters at the staff meeting were actual accountants that worked on the production. Greg Daniels decided not to use them regularly because their job involved a lot of telephone calls, the sound of which would disrupt filming.
  • Henriette Mantel (credited) is one of the unidentified office workers in the conference room scene; she is seated beside Dwight. She was orginally to play Meridith, but the part was recast. Henriette has appeared in numerous sitcoms and notably played the role of Alice in the Brady Bunch movies from the 1990s. Henriette is an actress, not an "actual accountant'.
  • Michael asks Ryan if he likes The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and Punk'd, which Ryan says he does. B.J. Novak, who plays Ryan, was a prankster on the second season of Punk'd.
  • The work computers are all different than in the rest of the series. They have much fatter flat panel monitors and are running on Windows 98, whereas in later episodes they are running on Windows XP.
  • This episode marks the first mention of Josh Porter, Todd Packer, and the Stamford branch. Also mentioned is the possibility of a merge of the Scranton and Stamford branches, which later happens in the Season 3 episode "The Merger".
  • Michael identifies Dane Cook as one of his comedic influences. In real life, Steve Carell co-starred with Cook in the romantic comedy Dan in Real Life as Cook's brother. Both Carell and Cook are from Massachusetts.
  • The establishing shot of the Dunder Mifflin offices at the beginning of act two is the Paper Magic building at the corner of Adams and Mulberry streets in Scranton. (The Paper Magic building appears at timecode 2:35 in this slideshow.)
  • Michael says to the camera, "We have the entire floor." We discover in later episodes, however, that the floor is shared with Vance Refrigeration.
  • Demonstrating their casual attitudes toward their jobs, Pam and Jim talk about Angela's cat party while everybody else in the office discusses downsizing.
  • During the meeting where Michael talks about the possibility of downsizing, Stanley can be seen standing in the background holding what appears to be a bottle of Pedialyte.
  • Near the beginning of the episode, Dwight is singing "The Little Drummer Boy". In the Season 3 Christmas episode, "A Benihana Christmas", Dwight holds the microphone for Angela while she sings the same song and in the Season 5 premier episode, "Weight Loss", Angela reveals that it's her favorite song.
  • Pam is the only person Michael has fake-fired twice; this was the first time. The second time was in the Season 5 episode "Casual Friday".
  • In this episode, four pranks were pulled; one from Michael, and three from Jim. This episode features the most pranks ever pulled.


  • Boxes from an original take of the "pencil-fence scene" are visible when Michael announces the meeting. (See above for more about reshooting the scene.)
  • In the conference room scene, look carefully at Jim's desk when Michael says, "Corporate has deemed it appropriate to enforce an ultimatum upon me." The shadow is that of producer Greg Daniels.[2]

Deleted scenes

Included on the Season One DVD were various deleted scenes:

  • An interview with Dwight describing his family background. This would later be used in the Season 2 episode "Drug Testing".
  • Michael holding a Dundie saying he's the best boss in the world.
  • Jim self-patronizingly says, without him dozens of small businesses would be paperless.
  • An alternate take of Michael introducing Pam, where he says every guy in the office has sprayed on Pam.
  • An interview with Dwight explaining how his human touch affects sales figures.
  • An alternate take of Michael welcoming Ryan to the office.
  • An interview with Michael talking about downsizing and lying to his co-workers about it.
  • Michael showing the Homer Simpson doll and introducing Ryan to Oscar, Kevin, and Angela.
  • Interviews with Angela, Oscar, and Kevin, who all talk about the downsizing issue and themselves.
  • Michael telling Pam he thinks he has testicular cancer as she eats her lunch.
  • Michael playing with the boom mic.
  • After being intimidated by the boom mic in an interview (it's in a blind spot), Dwight goes into detail about his self-defense experience.


see Pilot Quotes


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Sound of Young America interviews Jenna Fischer, OfficeTally, March 2, 2009.
  2. Season 1 DVD commentary.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.