The history of television situation comedy is riddled with prank rivalries. From Jerry vs. Newman to Cartman vs. Kyle, Homer vs. Ned to Pawnee vs. Eagleton, we have seen many pranks for the ages writ large, on national TV, no less. One TV sitcom rivalry just might have the stuff to top the others, however, and that is the long-running feud between The Office’s Jim Halpert and the bane of his existence, Dwight Schrute.
And while in the end, they may have put all differences aside (Jim agreed to stand by Dwight as the best man at his wedding), one of the best episodes of The Office depicts the first day we met them, where the prank rivalry had already begun. But you will have to read on as we have saved the best for last.
The 10 Best Episodes of The Office
Here are the best episodes of The Office featuring the delicious fruits of Jim and Dwight’s prank rivalry.
What We Reviewed
“Welcome back, Dad!” Well, the good feelings didn’t last long. When Jim makes his return from paternity leave to find that Dwight has created a ‘mega-desk’ by adding Jim’s and the absent Pam’s desks to a ‘command central’ combining surveillance, gaming, and business computer screens, Jim’s relaxed attitude is short-lived. He denies Dwight a request to enjoy just five more minutes of his ‘mega-desk’ and throws all of Dwight’s offending belongings to the floor.
Upon his arrival the next day, Dwight finds to his horror that Jim has created the ‘quad desk.' By stacking his own desk upon both Pam’s and Dwight’s, Jim succeeds in driving Dwight into apoplexy, not the least because Dwight takes objection to the new name from the outset. As Dwight puts it, slumping in defeat, “That’s ridiculous, this is made up of three desks.” Point to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 6, Episode 19.
One of the greatest elements of Jim’s pranks is they can be extremely well thought out. But taking many weeks to school Dwight in the realities of classical conditioning? That is some next-level prank science right there. The most famous example of a classical conditioning experiment in psychology is of course that of Pavlov’s dog, wherein Ivan Pavlov trained his dog, through long-term preparation, to salivate at the sound of a bell.
In Season 3 of the Office, Jim uses this classic psychological reasoning to conduct his own form of the experiment and successfully manages to make Dwight hold out his hand expectantly for an Altoid each time he hears the sound of Jim’s computer rebooting Windows XP. Point to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 3, Episode 15.
Jim Puts Dwight's Stuff in the Vending Machine
In this classic second season episode, Jim proves how invaluable it is to maintain a friendship with the vending machine guy, in this case, a man named Steve. When Dwight walks into the break room and finds several of his personal items, including his desk plate, souvenir bobble head dolls, family photo frames, and even his stapler lodged inside the vending machine, he refuses to shell out the coins it will take for him to reclaim them.
When Pam suggests that she is more than happy to pony up for Dwight’s pencil holder, he realizes that there will be only one way for him to retrieve his belongings. Unfortunately for Dwight, he does not have any change. Fortunately for Dwight, Jim is more than happy to lend him the nickels it will require for him to reacquire his beloved possessions. Point to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 2, Episode 11.
Jim Puts Dwight's Desk in the Bathroom
“Where is my desk?” So begins another classic Jim Halpert prank on the hapless Dwight Schrute. When Dwight arrives at work to find an empty space and vacant power supply plugs where his desk ought to have been, Jim’s only reply is, of course, “That is WEIRD!” When Dwight points out that the absence of his desk is “totally unprofessional”, Jim points out that, well, Dwight is the one who lost his desk.
Jim’s consoling plea to inquire of Dwight where might be the last place he saw the desk does nothing to calm the extremely agitated Dwight. Perhaps Dwight could begin by retracing his steps, suggests Jim. When Dwight advances toward the boss’s office so that he might reveal to his superiors the depth of the travesty, Jim merely states “colder," forcing Dwight to follow the clues until he finds his entire desk, including a ringing telephone, in the men’s bathroom. “Red hot!” Point to Jim.
Here is another example of Dwight and Jim's prank war!
Faxes to Future Dwight
There was a moment in Season 3 when Jim had resigned himself to packing up and accepting a transfer to the Stamford branch. Before he did so, however, he scooped up a whole sheath of Dwight’s personal stationery. With this treasure trove of paper product, Jim proceeds to send Dwight warnings from the future, using the incredible technological marvel of telephonic facsimile transfer to issue messages from (who else?) "Future Dwight."
Once he begins receiving these missives from his future self, Dwight has absolutely zero doubt as to their veracity. Upon being warned that the coffee that day is in fact tainted with a poison, Dwight takes matters into his own hands and smashes a cup away from the unassuming Stanley. Poor Stanley. The camera pans to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 3, Episode 7.
Dwight Gets His Revenge
Admittedly, this rivalry tends to be a tad one-sided. But by Season 7 of The Office fans began to realize that perhaps Jim, despite all his charm, wasn’t really the nice fellow they thought he was. And perhaps they craved a little comeuppance from Dwight’s hand. Leave it to writer Mindy Kaling to 'give ‘em what they want’ in this special Christmas episode, which sees Jim become vulnerable and flawed and Dwight slightly maniacal and ruthless.
When a simple snowball fight challenge ends with an ambush from Dwight and a bloody nose on Jim, we are all left thinking that Jim will retaliate in the most cunning and hilarious of ways. But no, this is Dwight’s time. Throughout the episode we see him contrive more and more elaborate ways to ambush Jim with snowballs. By the end of the episode Jim is afraid to go outside, and when he finally does, he discovers a parking lot fiendishly dotted with menacing snowmen of the kind Dwight has been jumping out of in surprise all day.
The last scene shows Jim spiraling into madness, wildly and indiscriminately attacking all of Dwight’s dummy snowmen. It is to no avail, as Dwight is watching with deserved satisfaction from the roof, wishing us all a Merry Christmas – one point for Dwight.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 7, Episode 11.
Dwight Gets Gaydar
The main thrust of this touching episode is that Oscar comes out as a homosexual to Michael, who then reveals it by accident to the entire office. While that drama is playing out in the main arch of the story, Jim seizes the moment by inventing a ‘gaydar’ machine and then mailing it to Dwight directly from their sister branch in Stamford.
While the machine is in reality only a metal detector, Dwight is, of course, convinced not only of its new purpose but also of its infallible accuracy. It does successfully tell them that Oscar is indeed a homosexual, but the look on Dwight’s face when the machine reveals the same results in a self-test is priceless: Dwight Schrute, questioning his whole existence. Point to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 3, Episode 1.
Perhaps Jim’s most elaborate and outrageous hoax comes in this episode of the final season. Even Pam joins right in on the fun as she and Jim conspire to have their Asian friend Steve arrive at the office pretending to be Jim. Steve is actually an actor and, as he sits at Jim’s desk, he convincingly behaves as if there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary going on.
When Dwight suggests that he is certainly not Jim, as Jim is certainly not Asian, Steve expresses admiration that Dwight just never noticed and doesn’t ‘see’ race. Steve expertly passes all tests Dwight attempts to put him through to prove he’s Jim. He knows all of Jim’s recent sales details, his voicemail password, has pictures on his desk of he and Pam and their (Asian!) children, and even gives Pam a familiar, loving kiss when she passes by to inform him of their dinner plans.
She reveals to us that, of course, Jim is just at the dentist and they decided to have some fun at the expense of their favorite target. Points to Jim and Pam.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 9, Episode 3.
Jim Impersonates Dwight
Upon discovering a pair of glasses at a drugstore that are eerily similar to those that Dwight wears, Jim purchases them for the low sum of $5. Using his handy Dwight-inspired calculator-watch, Jim informs us that it only cost him $7 to complete the ensemble. Top it off with a hair-do ‘more Dwight than Dwight,' and inane chatter about the ‘best’ bears eating beets, and Jim has pulled off an uncanny imitation of his rival.
Once Dwight twigs to the fact that Jim is indeed impersonating him to a tee, he feigns approval, thanking Jim and citing the maxim that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, this bonhomie is short lived when Jim takes Dwight’s beloved bobble head out of his briefcase and places it smugly on the desk. “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim!” Dwight cries. “Millions of families suffer every year!” When Dwight tries to repay the favor and imitate Jim a little later in the episode, the results are disastrous. Point to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 3, Episode 2.
Jim Puts Dwight's Stapler in Jell-O
Here we find the essence, the very DNA, of the rivalry between Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert. This is where it all began. Using a moment from its UK predecessor, the US version of The Office launches an epic rivalry with an all-time classic prank. If the pilot episode of a series is meant to set up certain tropes that will carry on throughout its entire lifespan, this particular episode shows us a glimmer of what the sometimes cringe-worthy, always hilarious relationship between Jim and Dwight will become.
During an office-wide introduction of a new temp, wherein Michael attempts to look very cool as he makes the rounds visiting each character, Dwight is bragging about his car when he opens his drawer to find that Jim has ‘once again’ encased his stapler in Jell-O. Even after watching nine seasons of these two guys go after each other, the stapler in Jell-O prank remains immensely satisfying. It is all there: Dwight’s thin skin and ridiculous priorities, Michael’s ability to allow such shenanigans to flourish, and of course Jim’s total nonchalance at the whole scene. First point, of many, to Jim.
Find this prank on one of the best episodes of The Office, Season 1, Episode 1.
Considering that nine of the top 10 best pranks on The Office were executed by Jim at the expense a hapless Dwight, it would be very easy to give Jim the overall edge in this epic rivalry. But if we look at just how thoroughly Dwight pelted Jim with snowballs early and often in Season 7’s Christmas episode, capping it all with a diabolical coup de grâce, from the roof of the Dunder Mifflin building no less, we must at least let Dwight into the conversation.
Still, there is no question that Jim be awarded victory in the last analysis, as his portfolio of pranks against Dwight represents something of an oeuvre, a paean to the very art of the practical joke. You win this time, Jim. You win this time.