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"Survivor Man" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of The Office and the 64th overall. It was written by Steve Carell and directed by Paul Feig. It first aired November 8, 2007. This episode is part of NBC's Green Week. It was viewed by 8.29 million people.

Cold open[]

Toby returns to the office talking about a recent wilderness retreat he took with Ryan and many other branch managers. Michael, however, had not been invited and he was upset to learn of it.


In order to show that he is capable of surviving in the wilderness, Michael decides to strand himself in the wilderness for a few days, leaving Jim in charge of the office. Michael blindfolds himself and has Dwight take him to a location deep in the forest. Michael instructs Dwight to leave after dropping him off, but Dwight, knowing that Michael does not have proper wilderness survival skills, stays behind and surreptitiously keeps an eye on Michael (even through the scope of his rifle).

Meanwhile, back at the office, Jim learns that it is "birthday month", a stretch of days that includes the birthdays of Creed, Meredith, and Oscar, Creed's being on the particular day that Jim is left in charge. As his first order of business, Jim forgoes organizing a party for Creed, instead announcing that the three parties will be celebrated together. He begins to run into problems, however, when Creed and Meredith request two different types of cake. Additionally, Andy refuses to attend unless an ice cream cake is made. Toby also requests to be included in the party, as his party two months earlier was held at 4:58pm and thus scarcely attended. In a talking head interview, Jim belittles Toby's request.

Michael proves to be completely incapable of living out in the wild by himself. With the only materials he has, he is only able to fashion himself more clothes out of a cut up pair of pants, eventually crudely creating shelter out of them. Unable to find food, Michael begins to try to eat a group of wild mushrooms, unaware that they are highly poisonous. Dwight blows his cover to tackle Michael and pull the mushrooms from his mouth.

Back at the office, after a brief meeting, Jim finds that no one likes his office-wide party idea, even provoking Phyllis to mistakenly refer to him as Michael. Once this has happened, Jim decides to have a traditional party solely for Creed. Michael and Dwight return in time for the lighting of the cake, with Michael expressing that he no longer has any desire to return to the wilderness, and Jim expressing his relief that Michael has returned to run the office.

Deleted scenes[]

The Season 4 DVD contains a number of deleted scenes.

  • In a talking head interview, Ryan explains that he wanted to go camping with some friends and invented the idea of a "green retreat" to obtain funding. He also claims that all the cute secretaries are impressed by his environmental stance, but B roll footage of Ryan smugly cruising the hallways at Corporate past several young women shows nobody paying him any attention. He explains that "No one ever does anything for the environment just to help the environment. If someone tells you they have a green initiative, it's a scam."
  • Michael asks Pam, "hypothetically, would you go camping with me?" Pam declines. In a talking head interview, Pam explains, "When Michael invents a hypothetical situation, he eventually turns it into an actual situation."
  • In a talking head interview, Michael professes that he's glad he wasn't invited. That way, he can experience the wild on his own. He conducts an imaginary conversation in which he regales an audience with his tales of the wild. At the end of the talking head interview, Michael pretends that Ryan is one of the people captivated by his stories.
  • Dwight explains to Michael the properties of one particular knife, but Michael isn't interested and just asks for the knife. Dwight offers other camping gear such as a tent and food, but Michael explains that he will simply use his instincts. Dwight moans doubtfully.
  • In a talking head interview, Angela explains that there are four birthdays in one month because, if you count back nine months, it's Valentine's Day. "Stagger your sin, people."
  • In a talking head interview, Kelly notes that everyone else who works at Dunder Mifflin is "elderly," and adds, in confidence, "Pam lies about her age."
  • In a talking head interview, Kevin says that he celebrates his birthday with friends. "Who do not work here."
  • In a talking head interview, Phyllis claims that this year, she's going to celebrate her birthday by calling in sick.
  • In the wilderness, Michael gives wildly incorrect descriptions of the wilderness. He identifies a bird call as a falcon, but it's actually just Dwight pretending to be a bird.
  • In a talking head interview after returning to the office, Michael describes that nature was beautiful, yet also repulsive "because I threw up all over Dwight's hand."

Connections to other episodes[]

  • Dwight reveals even more of the weapons he has hidden around the office, first seen in "The Negotiation".
  • Michael wears Dwight's "Battlestar Galactica" sweatshirt, previously seen in "The Return".


  • In the episode "The Alliance," Meredith's birthday was in April (based on the airdate and Pam's planner) and Creed's birthday was not directly before hers. In the episode, Pam says that the next office birthday is Meredith's, which is a month away.
  • The trees in the forest include ponderosa pine trees, Jeffery pine trees, and incense cedar trees. These trees are not native to Pennsylvania but are native to the Transverse Ranges of Southern California where the forest scenes were filmed.


  • This is the second of two episodes written by Steve Carell. The first was "Casino Night."
  • B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) is credited but appears in this episode only in a deleted scene.
  • The weaponry hidden in the office include a Jian (Chinese sword) in the ceiling, a Bowie knife in the filing cabinet, a pair of Japanese Sai daggers behind the water cooler, and a blowgun in the toilet tank. Dwight also refers to a can of pepper spray taped under his chair, which he claims to "saved Jim's life with" by using on Roy Anderson in the episode "The Negotiation."
  • The rifle Dwight uses to watch Michael is a .22 caliber rifle.
  • Michael is inspired by the television program Survivorman; see Cultural references below.
  • The species of mushroom Michael was about to consume was Hypholoma fasciculare, most commonly known as the "clustered woodlover", a type of mushroom common in woodland areas that grow on rotting trees, stumps or trunks. It is poisonous, and consumption would result in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, proteinuria and collapse.

Amusing details[]

  • There appear to be matches and an ashtray in the men's bathroom, as well as a magazine with a topless woman in the magazine rack above the toilet. In a previous episode, when the picture of a topless Jan was plastered everywhere, Dwight mentioned that there were a lot of copies in the bathroom.
  • Dwight chooses to hide the blow gun in the toilet, the one weapon he has to touch with his mouth.
  • When Michael gestures to Dwight as a "creepy guy" Dwight looks to the camera bemused.
  • Dwight mouths and gestures to the camera crew "Come on but stay back".
  • Dwight spinning Michael around to confuse his direction is pointless since after his blindfold is off he can still see Dwight run away.
  • Dwight probably keeps his hunting rifle either stashed in the office or in his car, as it is unlikely Michael would have tolerated him stopping by his house to get it. He also makes sure the safety is on but makes no mention of whether it is loaded.
  • Michael's sense of time is completely wrong throughout the entire episode. When he says he's been out in the wilderness for "several hours now" he's only been out for an hour and 45 minutes or so. And when he says he's gone "about three hours" without food it's only been two.
  • When Dwight is walking through the forest, the cameraman's hand can be seen moving branches out the way.
  • When Michael tells Pam he is leaving, the way Dwight holds the knife and other objects changes between cuts.
  • When Dwight leads a blindfolded Michael through the forest, he walks along a path and intentionally leads Michael through the brush.
  • In the flashback to Kevin's birthday, Michael dances with the doll from "Sexual Harassment," forces it onto Stanley and Dwight tries to kiss it. The doll has a "Stacy" sticker on its chest, so consequently, Kevin is not particularly amused by Michael's antics. When Dwight kisses it, Kevin rebukes, "How dare you?" takes the doll and pounds Dwight with it repetitively with the whole office (Michael included) cheering for him.
  • Andy is visibly disgusted when Michael sings the high harmony in "Happy Birthday".
  • Jim states that there are 13 people in the office and they celebrate 13 birthdays. Jim miscounted, however: There are 14 people in the office. Jim may have subconsciously left out Toby, the same way Michael ignores Toby. (On the other hand, Michael does celebrate Toby's birthday, albeit at an intentionally inconvenient time and place: in the parking lot on a Friday at 4:58.)
  • After fashioning a shelter from his clothes, Michael proudly announces that he "tented [his] pants!" Given that "tenting [one's] pants" is a euphemism for getting an erection, it is unusual that Michael does not say "That's what she said!" especially given his conversation with Jim about the phrase at the end of the episode.
  • In the flashback of Michael surprising Phyllis in the parking lot, it looks like she is trying hard not to laugh after dropping the cake. The other actors similarly hid their faces after being surprised to hide their laughter.
  • Michael says he will need to be careful not to cut his "corroded" artery while cutting his pants. He meant "carotid" artery, but the carotid artery is located at the neck. The femoral artery is in the leg.
  • In the birthday party scene, Michael wears a Battlestar Galactica sweatshirt, which he must have borrowed from Dwight.
  • Meredith's birthday was at the end of the month, after everyone else's. However, in "The Alliance", they throw a party for Meredith, whose birthday isn't for another month. This means that Kelly and Creed were not considered when they were choosing the next office birthday. In addition, later on in the episode, Creed implies Jim's birthday was in this time period, as he mentions that Jim's birthday was celebrated 3 weeks prior.
  • Creed's peach cobbler cake appears to be homemade. Based on Creed's remarks, "You tell her [Angela] it's for Creed. She'll know what that means," it's likely that Angela went home to make it.
  • Even Toby seems happy to see Michael when he arrives in the conference room at the end of the episode.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Episode writer Steve Carell pitched the episode because he and his wife Nancy were fans of the show Survivorman.[1]:02:39
  • The show had contacted Survivorman star Les Stroud about appearing in the episode. However, once the writers strike began, no further changes were permitted to the script. Nevertheless, Stroud considers it "one of the biggest honors of my life."[2]
  • The forest scenes were filmed at the Charlton Flats Picnic Area near milepost 44 of the Angeles Crest Highway.[1]:05:52
  • In the flashback to Kevin's birthday, Brian Baumgartner improvised Kevin beating Dwight with the blow-up doll.[1]:29:38 Angela Kinsey was caught out of character laughing at the spectacle.[1]:29:29
  • Steve Carell really did cut his pants with a sharp knife. Carell admitted that, in retrospect, it was a really stupid thing to do for real.[1]:33:12
  • Steve Carell notes that in the movie Cast Away, the lead character cuts his pants into shorts after two years stranded on the island. Michael Scott lasted 35 minutes.[1]:34:01
  • The bird eggs found by Dwight are really small potatoes made to look like eggs.[1]:46:04
  • The show has begun taking steps to hide Angela Kinsey's pregnancy. When Angela talks to Jim about "birthday month", her tummy is blocked by Jim's computer screen. Toward the end of the episode, when Jim tries to cancel the birthday celebration, Angela stands in the doorway to Michael's office with her hands covering her tummy.

Cultural references[]

  • Andy tells Jim he wants a Fudgie the Whale cake. Fudgie the Whale is an ice cream cake made by Carvel, a chain of ice cream stores located primarily in the Northeast United States.
  • Michael patterns his forest trip after the television program Survivorman, a reality program featuring survival expert Les Stroud surviving for several days in remote locations with little equipment. Michael copies the way Stroud films himself with a portable camera and tries to emulate Stroud's survival techniques. Survivorman is a Canadian show, which explains why Michael mentions that he watched it on satellite TV.
  • Brokeback Mountain (which Michael misidentifies as "Broken Mountain") is a romantic drama depicting the relationship between two men. Director Ang Lee won an Oscar for Best Director.


See: Survivor Man Quotes


Main cast[]

Supporting cast[]