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Broke (The Office)

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The Office episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 25
Directed by Steve Carell
Written by Charlie Grandy
Production code 525
Original air date April 23, 2009
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of The Office (U.S. TV series) episodes

"Broke" is the 25th episode of the fifth season of the television series The Office, and the 97th overall episode of the series. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on April 23, 2009. In this episode, Michael learns his paper company is broke, and tries to keep this fact a secret when Dunder Mifflin offers to buy out the Michael Scott Paper Company since the company has stolen most of Dunder Mifflin Scranton's clients.

The episode was written by Charlie Grandy and directed by Steve Carell, marking his directorial debut. "Broke" was the last of a six-episode arc involving Michael quitting to start the Michael Scott Paper Company; it was also the last of six episodes to prominently feature Idris Elba as Dunder Mifflin V.P. Charles Miner. According to Nielsen ratings, it was watched by 7.21 million viewers, and received the season's lowest rating in the 18–49 age group during its regular timeslot to that point in the season.


Michael (Steve Carell), Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Ryan (B. J. Novak) make early morning paper deliveries in a used van. The van has Korean writing on it because it used to belong to a Korean church, and Pam correctly thinks it translates to "Hallelujah Church of Scranton."[1] This routine, in addition to their regular duties at the Michael Scott Paper Company, takes such a toll on the group that they decide to look into hiring a delivery person. They are told by their accountant that despite their company's growth with their low prices and fixed-cost pricing model, it will mean they not only cannot afford a delivery person, but will be completely bankrupt in another month or so. This is particularly alarming for Pam, who has committed a great deal of money to her upcoming wedding and has had no luck with the other weekend part-time job applications she's submitted around.

Meanwhile, at Dunder Mifflin, a fretful Charles Miner (Idris Elba) announces that the Scranton branch, previously the company's most profitable office, has lost ten major clients to Michael's company. Chief Financial Officer David Wallace (Andy Buckley) visits Scranton to see what can be done to stem the losses. In a blatant departure from his no-nonsense persona, Charles sucks up shamelessly to David, which Jim notices. David calls a meeting with Charles and Jim (John Krasinski), but Charles insists Dwight (Rainn Wilson) also be present because he believes Dwight to be a better employee than Jim. However, while Jim comes across as professional and intelligent (by suggesting that corporate offer a temporary price reduction to returning clients), Dwight embarrasses Charles with outlandish suggestions, such as unleashing a hive of bees. When Charles kisses up to Wallace again Jim makes a snide remark, leaving Charles to look foolish.

David decides Dunder Mifflin must buy out the Michael Scott Paper Company, which is the cheapest option available. Jim, having learned the company's true financial situation from Pam, agrees to bring the idea of a buyout to Michael; instead he clues Michael's team to potential leverage in the negotiation, with even Charles encouraging Jim over Dwight to speak to Michael. Dwight learns from a past client that Michael has been begging customers for more money, but Charles refuses to listen, having already been embarrassed by Dwight's earlier ideas. Jim quickly realizes what Dwight is doing, and sabotages him by asking him for details of his detective work, to which Dwight responds by talking about catching beet burglars. Charles loses his temper and chases the pair out with insults, ordering Dwight not to go anywhere near the conference room.

Michael, Pam and Ryan come in to discuss the terms of the buyout, taking pains to avoid revealing that their company is essentially broke. David suggests to Michael that his company is too small to be very successful, but a surprisingly shrewd Michael points out that Dunder Mifflin's best branch is "bleeding" and suggests David could be replaced during an upcoming major stockholder meeting as a result. After Michael rejects an initial offer of $12,000 to buy the company, David gives a second offer of $60,000, which is strongly considered, but Michael rejects this offer at the last second. When Ryan and Pam question his decision privately, he reveals another insight: he thinks it is more important for them to have full-time jobs with a steady flow of income than just a one-time windfall; getting their jobs back will cost more than $60,000 (due to benefits, insurance, and salary) to Dunder Mifflin and has the added benefit of making David and Charles wince. Michael asks for his old job back, for both Ryan and Pam be hired as salespeople, and that Charles be fired. David refuses to fire Charles and is reluctant to hire three people with full benefits, especially given Ryan's disastrous history with the company. Michael insists that unless his demands are met, he will continue competing with Dunder Mifflin, even if his current company fails. In an impressive speech, Michael declares that his paper company is worth "nothing" because business is "not about money". Seeing that Michael is not bluffing, David reluctantly agrees to hire the three back.

As Charles leaves Scranton, not fired but returning to corporate, Michael does not allow him to have any final words, mirroring Charles's earlier poor treatment of Michael.


Steve Carell, who stars as The Office protagonist Michael Scott, made his directorial debut with the episode "Broke".

"Broke" was written by Charlie Grandy and directed by Steve Carell, who made his directorial debut with the episode.[2] It was the last of a six episode story arc involving Idris Elba's character Charles Miner,[3] although Elba has indicated the character would return in future episodes: "Mr. Charles doesn't leave the picture. [...] My storyline has come to an end, but there is a good indication that the writers see my character coming back."[4] Elba made an appearance in "Company Picnic", the fifth season finale.[5] Elba said he did not watch "Broke" after it aired because "I'm hypercritical about my work, so I try not to torture myself."[6]

The official website for The Office included three cut scenes from "Broke". In the first 90-second clip, Michael is running late because he overslept, and he instinctively runs into the Dunder Mifflin office by accident instead of his Michael Scott Paper Company office.[7] In the second one-minute clip, Andy is angry that he cannot find his personalized coffee mug with his face on it, and he and the others around the office complain about losing their clients to Michael's new company.[8] In the final 80-second clip, stress drives Ryan to the breaking point and he begins trashing the Michael Scott Paper Company Office, for which he quickly recovers and apologizes.[9]


In its original American broadcast on April 23, 2009, "Broke" was watched by 7.21 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. The episode received a 3.7 rating/10 share among viewers aged 18–49, the lowest rating in that age group for the season during its regular timeslot. It received a 4.0 rating/12 share among viewers 18-34.[10]

"He won. Michael Scott won. And he deserved to. Who would have thought when the series started and Michael was so loathsome, that he could have a moment like this that would be so thrilling? Great, great episode."

Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger[2]

The episode received generally positive reviews. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger called "Broke" a "great, great" episode, although he said he wished the Michael Scott Paper Company arc could have lasted longer. Sepinwall praised touches such as the Korean women who were constantly getting into the sales van, and Michael's moment of nervousness on the elevator, and said the ending when Michael came through was particularly satisfying.[2] Will Leitch of New York magazine described "Broke" as "a rousing, exuberant episode that continues one of The Office's best runs in history". Leitch said the negotiations during the latter half of the episode had genuine tension, and that all the storylines of the Michael Scott Paper Company arc were wrapped up perfectly.[11] Travis Fickett of IGN said the episode was strong enough that it could have served as the season finale. He said the episode had lots of good throw-away moments, like Charles brown-nosing to David and realizing Dwight is eccentric, as well as several clever twists, like Jim's actions in tricking Dwight and helping the Michael Scott Paper Company get bought out.[12] Eric Rezsnyak of the City Newspaper said the episode was a strong finale to the Michael Scott Paper Company arc, which was "probably the best thing to happen to the show in the last two seasons". Rezsnyak praised Michael's impressive actions in the episode and said he was curious to see how Michael's relationship with several of the supporting characters would be recast as a result of this episode.[13]

Margaret Lyons of Entertainment Weekly said, "'Broke' was an incredibly brisk episode that covered a lot of ground, so it worked as a good capstone on the whole Michael-leaving-the-company plot." She also said although the plot arc was a good one, she looked forward to future episodes focusing more on the Dunder Mifflin supporting cast.[14] Rick Porter of Zap2it praised the episode, but expressed concern that the show would grow more stale now that Michael, Pam and Ryan were back to their old jobs at Dunder Mifflin; Porter particularly complimented the new aspects of the Charles Miner character presented in "Broke", including his interaction with David and his exasperation with Dwight.[15] Dan Hopper of Best Week Ever praised the episode and Michael's shrewdness, but also expressed worry that the quality of future episodes would dip now that Dunder Mifflin was back to normal.[16] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club said of the episode, "Elba's stint on The Office went out on a high note. I'll miss his joyless scold of a middle manager but it's nice to have the gang reunited." Rabin also said the moment when Charles fails to listen when Dwight learns Michael's company is broke "rang a little false", but praised the episode as a whole.[17] Meghan Carlson of BuddyTV said she enjoyed seeing Michael so victorious at the end, and said, "as far as ends getting tied off cleanly, 'Broke' was an inspired episode, full of tension, suspense, and yes, humor."[18]

"Broke" was voted the highest-rated episode out of 26 from the fifth season, according to an episode poll at the fansite OfficeTally; the episode was rated 9.17 out of 10.[19] For his work on this episode, Charlie Grandy was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay – Episodic Comedy.[20]


  1. ^ Lyons, Margaret. "'The Office' Recap: Back on Track". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Sepinwall, Alan (2009-04-24). "The Office, "Broke": Let's make a deal". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  3. ^ Barshad, Amos (2009-03-19). "Idris Elba on Moving From "The Wire" to "The Office"". New York. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  4. ^ Masters, Megan (2009-04-16). "Is There Going to Be an Office Threesome?". E!. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  5. ^ "The Office - Company Picnic". NBC. Retrieved 2009-04-25. [dead link]
  6. ^ Chaney, Jen (2009-04-19). ""I've Been Just the Ordinary Chap for 30-Odd Years": From Stringer Bell to DJ Driis, Idris Elba Is a Looker With Many Faces". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  7. ^ "The Office - Broke - Clip One - Video". NBC. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  8. ^ "The Office - Broke - Clip Two - Video". NBC. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  9. ^ "The Office - Broke - Clip Three - Video". NBC. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  10. ^ Gorman, Bill (2009-04-24). "Thursday Ratings: ABC Wins; Southland, Parks & Rec, Harper's Island All Slip". TV by the Numbers. 
  11. ^ Leitch, Will (2009-04-24). "A Triumph for Michael — and for the Show". New York. 
  12. ^ Fickett, Jim (2009-04-24). "The Office: "Broke" Review: Can Michael pull victory from the jaws of defeat?". IGN. 
  13. ^ Rezsnyak, Eric (2009-04-24). ""The Office": The end of the Michael Scott Paper Company". City Newspaper (Rochester, New York). 
  14. ^ Lyons, Margaret (2009-04-24). ""The Office" recap: And all is right with the world..". Entertainment Weekly. 
  15. ^ Porter, Rick (2009-04-23). ""The Office" -- "Broke": Let's make a deal". Zap2it. 
  16. ^ Hopper, Dan (2009-04-24). "THE OFFICE: Is Everything Back to Normal?". Best Week Ever. [dead link]
  17. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2009-04-23). "The Office: Season 5: Episode 23: "Broke"". The A.V. Club. 
  18. ^ Carlson, Meghan (2009-04-24). ""The Office" Aftergasm: If It Ain't "Broke" ... Buy It!". BuddyTV. 
  19. ^ Tan, Jennie (2009-05-19). "The Office Fan Ratings, Season 5". OfficeTally. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  20. ^ "NBC Received 12 WGA Nominations". 

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