Is The Office emotional? That’s an easy question to answer. Obviously, yes The Office is emotional even though it is primarily a comedy. You don’t really need a blog post to tell you what you already know, but it is worth writing a blog post highlighting specific The Office scenes that brilliantly mesh comedy with drama. In this post, I’ve included examples of scenes that I think best illustrate the brilliance of the show when it comes to eliciting the full spectrum of emotions. 

The Office has the ability to concoct emotional situations that make me simultaneously laugh and feel immense empathy for the character in pain. There are many emotional moments in the show, especially in The Office finale. However, beyond the finale, some of the most moving moments for me actually are those centered around wacky characters with whom you wouldn’t normally empathize. These characters are the ones who usually are instigating the problems rather than suffering as the victim.  

Let’s talk about some of these iconic scenes and how they elicit such a variety of emotions for me. 

The Office Scenes That are Both Emotional and Funny

1. Michael’s Anguish When Jim and Pam Finally Accept his Dinner Invite but He has to Work at his Call Center Job (he doesn’t realize that this is the exact reason they accepted on this particular night)

“Dammit to hell!” exclaims Michael Scott

In these three words you hear everything going through Michael’s head: I just want to be friends with my coworkers. I just want to experience some positive social interaction. I can’t believe I have to work two jobs to support Jan’s lifestyle. 

I could hear all that in his voice, and I felt empathy. I was able to put myself in Michael’s shoes because over the course of the show, the writers, cast and crew do an excellent job of creating characters that are real. 

In fact, these masterminds made me so affected by Michael’s anguish that I inadvertently adopted “dammit to hell” as a swear word after my tenth or so time watching the series. I kid you not, I had no idea where it came from when I first noticed I had been saying it for the past year. It wasn’t until I came upon the scene again that I finally put two and two together. 

While it’s clear that I was emotionally affected by this scene, it’s also important to note that I was at the same time heartily amused. These moments where Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly are mean to the office weirdos are somehow hilarious to me.  

Another time I found Pam and Jim’s lack of empathy amusing was after the infamous dinner party when Michael needs somewhere to spend the night and Jim and Pam make up some excuse why he can’t stay with them. While it’s sad to see them exacerbate Michael’s emotional turmoil, it’s also funny because it plays on the whole idea that Michael is so annoying that only another annoying weirdo (Dwight Schrute) can tolerate him.  

2. Dwight Crying in the Stairwell After Angela Accepts Andy’s Romantic Gestures

From his memos about removing bananas from the kitchen to his single-ply toilet paper scheme, Dwight frequently makes his coworkers’ lives harder. However, he’s still a character that you occasionally root for, and as a result, it’s upsetting when you see him with a broken heart. 

It’s easy to empathize with Dwight when Angela Martin waltzes over to Andy Bernard’s desk, which is right next to Dwight’s, and tells Andy that he may ask her out to dinner. Dwight immediately heads for the stairwell where he begins to moan in emotional agony.  

It’s clear that this moment is primarily meant to elicit empathy because Jim quickly joins Dwight and tries to empathize with him. 

This scene is definitely mostly sad, but it does have a tinge of humor simply because of Dwight’s absurd moaning. It was also slightly amusing to see him reach out for Jim only to realize he had left. This gesture was a great improvised moment by Rainn Wilson that was both comical and emotional. 

3. Angela in Tears During the Fun Run When She Finds Out Dwight Killed her Cat Sprinkles

I am a cat person who treats my cat like a child, so I immediately empathized with Angela’s sorrow. It’s was also easy to empathize with her anger because Dwight’s utilitarian view of animals is infuriating, and his “alpha male” personality falls short of egalitarian when he can’t comprehend why he should have asked her for permission before euthanizing her cat. 

According to one The Office Ladies podcast listener, Angela Kinsey’s emotional performance as a woman grieving both the loss of her cat and the loss of trust in the love of her life, was nothing short of brilliant. 

I agree. Not only was her sadness believable but she managed to deliver absurd lines like “Cat heaven is a beautiful place, but you don’t get there if you’re euthanized,” without losing the intensity of her emotional performance. 

Is The Office Emotional? 

The Office is not only emotionally moving but it is amusing, and somehow, one does not impinge on the other. In the scenes mentioned above, the balance between comedy and drama is “perfectenschlag.”  

I appreciate how the writers insert humorous lines where you least expect them and know just the right amount of funny to inject into a heart wrenching scene – just enough to remind you of a character’s absurdity without deemphasizing their emotional pain.  

Let’s Keep This List Going

What are your favorite sad yet funny The Office scenes? Share your favorites in the comments below.

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