Why You Can Skip the Least-Viewed Episode of ‘The Office’

It’s easy to pick more of the best episodes of The Office than bad ones. Nevertheless, there isn’t a show in TV history that didn’t have episodes that didn’t quite hit the mark. Writing comedy is never easy to sustain for multiple seasons without eventual burnout.

There is one episode of The Office typically cited as its worst. This one is apparently so bad, it received a rating in the 6’s on IMDb.com

For fans of the series, that’s kind of a shock. Called “The Banker,” it’s worth going back and seeing why this episode was so poorly rated (with lower viewership). Fans argue it’s tied with another mediocre one that came late in the show’s run.

Which one is really worse? Going by when the shows aired, earlier seasons are generally viewed more favorably.

What made “The Banker” such a bomb?

The cast of 'The Office' at the Radio City Music Hall
The cast of ‘The Office’ | PAUL LAURIE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Just about all media sites that rank the worst The Office episodes cite “The Banker” at the very top. Screen Rant places it at #7 on their list, even though it took place when Steve Carell’s Michael Scott was still around.

There’s a different reason than some might think behind why this episode isn’t highly rated. The writers decided to make the show a flashback episode, a bit of cliché for every sitcom in existence.

The plot in this episode is very thin and basically involves a corporate banker arriving at Dunder Mifflin to do an inspection after a buyout. This is why the title is what it is, other than being an excuse to have each inspected department become a six-year recap of the characters.

Doing a highlight reel was a good way to compile the funniest moments of The Office up to the time; although, it just seemed lazy when compared to the writing prowess each prior episode offered.

Critics continue to bash the episode

Most TV critics couldn’t understand why The Office bothered with a clip show that early in its run, including after a six-week hiatus. Ratings certainly weren’t slipping (yet), making it feel like a writer cop-out.

Certainly, writers for TV shows can get burnout after so many years. Perhaps after six years, they felt like they needed at least a brief breather, hence one clip show at the season midpoint. Some critics even thought the clips used weren’t the very best, with many from the first season when the show hadn’t yet quite found its rhythm.

Ratings for that episode slipped considerably from six weeks before, proving TV watchers didn’t love clip shows even back in 2010. Most sitcoms don’t bother with clip fests nowadays because of how contrived they usually are. When they seem forced, it becomes all the more despised.

Now there’s a scarlet letter rating on “The Banker” over at IMDb. The ep still sits at a very low 6.8 compared to usual The Office standards.

Is it really the worst episode of ‘The Office,’ or is there another?

A general consensus seems to be emerging that “The Banker” isn’t the worst simply because it’s easy to give it a pass for being a clips show. Another episode from the final season is usually considered a little bit too odd when it comes to typical past episodes.

Not everyone was a fan of Rainn Wilson’s Dwight character who was arguably one of the most offbeat TV characters ever created. His starring turn in Season 9’s “The Farm” took the entire show away from Dunder Mifflin and into the world Dwight’s family, the Schrutes. When Dwight’s aunt dies, a family reunion takes place at her funeral to determine who inherits her farm.

The rumor was this was NBC’s intention of making a pilot for a Dwight spinoff show. Due to Dwight being such a disturbingly weird character, it might not have ever gelled. Placing “The Farm” under The Office banner, though, was a major mistake, outside of being the final season when it was running on fumes.

“The Farm” has a higher rating on IMDb than “The Banker.” Regardless, both episodes used the most uninspired elements of sitcoms without ruining the show’s overall comedy legacy.