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"Ultimatum" is the thirteenth episode of the seventh season of the American television comedy series The Office and the 139th overall. It was written by Carrie Kemper and directed by David Rogers. It originally aired on January 20, 2011. It was viewed by 8.26 million people.

Cold open

Jim walks into the office after hours to see Dwight wearing a uniform with several other similarly dressed men. Dwight explains that he is part of a neighborhood watch group known as "Knights of the Night". Jim insists that he is just looking for his phone, but Dwight is self-conscious about Jim witnessing the meeting, believing Jim will make fun of them. In an effort to defend his group, Dwight inadvertently insults them himself, mocking their leader's unusual voice and their choice of name. While Jim is still listening in, their leader asks Dwight to read the minutes of the last meeting, where it is revealed that they glued reflective strips to their vests and proceeded to play flashlight tag in the parking lot. Embarrassed, Dwight shuts the conference room door on a smiling Jim.


Michael anticipates the news regarding the status of Holly and A.J.'s relationship, after Holly's year-end ultimatum that A.J. propose to her. To prepare for either outcome, Michael prepares for himself a "happy box" of celebration treats and a "sad box" of consolation items, as well as two videos of himself to be used to calm himself down should he get too excited or too depressed, explaining: "If she's engaged, I'm going to go crazy and start attacking people. If she's not engaged, in all honestly I might just burn this place down out of happiness. Either way, I'm going to need some talking down."

Pam (inspired by the cheerful, involved office administrator from Vance Refrigeration) puts up a New Year's Resolution Board in the office so everyone can post their resolutions. These include Michael resolving to floss, Kevin resolving to eat more vegetables, Ryan resolving to "live life like it's an art project," and Creed resolving to learn how to do a cartwheel.

When Dwight reveals his resolution is to "meet loose women", he goes out on the town along with fellow single men Darryl and Andy, in hopes of meeting some women. First they try a bookstore (where Darryl begins fulfilling his own resolution to "read more" by purchasing an e-book reader which he conceals from Dwight and Andy), but later end up at a roller skating rink where they fail to find women (being that the rink is almost completely empty). Dwight skates off to a nearby strip club, Darryl uses his e-book reader and later lies that he was playing in the arcade, and Andy skates around by himself to the music of Dave Matthews Band. They all end up having a great time afterwards, boogieing around the rink underneath its strobe lights.

When Michael sees no ring on Holly's finger, he is at first ecstatic, and launches into celebration (which includes throwing confetti and dancing to Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"). When he approaches Holly to talk, however, Holly receives a phone call from A.J., during which she tells him she loves him. Michael finds out later, through Phyllis and Erin, that Holly gave up on the ultimatum, and is still in a relationship with A.J..

Michael becomes upset to the point of interrupting Pam's resolution-board meeting to chastise his employees for giving up on their resolutions, taking out his frustration on Kevin by force-feeding him broccoli as well as urging Creed to do a cartwheel. Holly, however, sees the parallel Michael is making between these abandoned resolutions and her own abandoned ultimatum, and leaves the room abruptly, visibly upset.

Michael attempts to apologize to Holly, but when she declines to talk, he has her join Kevin and Creed in his office so he can apologize to the two of them, simultaneously apologizing to Holly indirectly. In the end, it is clear that Holly is not that happy and she is caught by the cameras telling A.J. that she wants to take a break from their relationship at least until she returns to Nashua.

Meanwhile, the New Year's resolutions get out of hand. Kevin defaces Ryan's resolution by creating the word "fart" out of "art" (before audibly farting himself), and Ryan snaps back, "Hey, was it me or you who just shoved the butt-end of a pound of broccoli into my mouth because Michael told me to?" Meredith reverts to smoking when she sees Pam's can of soda (her resolution was "drink less caffeine," though Pam states that she's had a lot to deal with today), and Erin unintentionally angers Creed by doing a cartwheel in the middle of the office. Pam decides to toss the resolution board into a dumpster, saying she's learned her lesson.

The episode closes with Michael helping Creed learn how to do a cartwheel, which he performs (poorly). Michael congratulates an elated Creed (who states that the cartwheel was "all I had to do all year"), though Creed obliviously ignores Michael's handshake.

New Year's resolutions

  • Andy: Cook for one / Meet a loose woman
  • Angela: Make time for romance (with the Senator)
  • Creed: Do a perfect cartwheel
  • Darryl: Read more
  • Dwight: Meet a loose woman
  • Erin: Learn a new word every single day
  • Gabe: Be less squeamish around people's dogs and babies
  • Holly: Cross train
  • Jim: Bike more
  • Kelly: Get more attention by any means necessary
  • Kevin: Eat more vegetables
  • Meredith: Two cigarettes a day
  • Michael: Floss/ Never make Holly cry
  • Oscar: Finish the living room
  • Pam: Drink less caffeine
  • Phyllis: Yoga lessons with Bob
  • Ryan: Live life like it's an art project (later Fart project)
  • Stanley: Be a better husband and boyfriend

Cultural references

Connections to previous episodes

  • Erin films Michael much like Pam used to when she was the receptionist ("Product Recall"). Also Dwight has helped Michael with his videos before ("Ben Franklin").
  • One of the mugs that Kelly gave everyone as party favors in "Customer Survey" is sitting on Creed's desk.
  • In "The Merger", Kevin ate a salad that he prepared using his paper shredder, but in this episode, Kevin vegetables are a new food for him.
  • Dwight mentions that one of the goals of his group was to catch the Scranton Strangler. The Scranton Strangler was caught in "Viewing Party".

Amusing details

  • Michael's office remains covered with streamers throughout the rest of the episode.
  • Holly holds up her ring fingers to show the lack of a ring, but Kevin thinks she is showing her middle finger and reciprocates in kind while also saying, "Right back at you bitch!"
  • In the bookstore, when Dwight and Andy talk to one of the customers, a shelf of books is visible in the background, which we can see are those written by Sabre CEO Jo Bennet.
  • Jim is only present during the cold open. He is then absent without explanation for the rest of the episode. In a deleted scene, his voice is heard when he talks to Pam on the phone as he is driving to make a sale. In real life, John Krasinski was filming Big Miracle in Alaska during filming of the episode.
  • Andy's voice cracks when he says, "It's not a pity party, it's not a party at all, it's just sad."
  • Michael boasts how his old phone is indestructible and smacks it on the desk, only to break it.
  • After tricking Dwight and Andy into going to the bookstore, Darryl tells them that he's going after "the cutie behind the counter", a middle aged woman. Afterwards, in an attempt to hid his e-book reader he tells them he bought "old lady, nasty porn", both times causing them to look at Darryl with concern.
  • Phyllis tells Erin to follow her lead when they talk to Holly, causing Erin to repeat exactly what Phyllis says.
  • Dwight wears pads for his elbows, knees and wrists while at the roller skating rink.
  • Michael throws away two unopened bottles of Scotch while clearing his "Happy" and "Sad" boxes.
  • Even though the episode takes place in January in Pennsylvania, the trees still have green leaves.


  • Jim is present only in the cold open. He is then absent without explanation for the rest of the episode. In a deleted scene, his voice is heard when he talks to Pam on the phone as he is driving to make a sale. In real life, John Krasinski was filming Big Miracle in Alaska.
  • Darryl, Andy and Dwight all find what they were looking for at the end of their trip. Darryl manages to get more reading done, Andy becomes more comfortable with being by himself and Dwight achieves his resolution to meet a loose woman.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Holly's ex-boyfriend A.J..


see Ultimatum Quotes


Main cast

Supporting cast