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Film: Office Space

"We don't have a lot of time on this Earth! We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements."
Peter Gibbons.

Heeeeey, Troper. What's happening? Yeah, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and describe ''Office Space'' here. If you could get that done by Monday, that'd be greeeeeaaaat. Mmkay?

A comedy by Mike Judge, Office Space introduced us to the world of Initech, a soul-crushingly inane software company presided over by Bill Lumbergh, a soul-crushingly inane boss obsessed with TPS Reports — a soul-crushingly inane bit of paperwork — who is slowly driving employee Peter Gibbons out of his mind.

Then Peter gets de-stressed by a dose of hypnotherapy and stops caring about his job. Soon after that, some outside consultants interview him, trying to find people to lay off. Instead of puffing up his importance, Peter tells them exactly how the bloated bureaucracy of the company stops him from ever doing anything. The consultants, of course, take this as sheer brilliance. Peter is fast-tracked for a promotion, but also discovers that two of his only friends, Michael and Samir, are going to be getting the axe. When he shares the news, the three decide to do the only logical thing — rob the company.

They come up with A Simple Plan, but fail to notice a few very important details, and everything starts to spiral out of control.


Office Space contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Of the "Milton" animated shorts Mike Judge did for MTV's Liquid Television in the early 1990s, from which the characters of Milton and Lumbergh (who was unnamed at the time) were taken. The bit where Milton's stapler is taken away was lifted wholesale from the first short, and dialogue from the last two shorts (Milton being moved to the basement and being asked to take care of the cockroaches, respectively) was also used. For those who remember these shorts, it is ridiculously satisfying to see Milton finally burn down the building (and, in a deleted scene, kill Lumbergh) after having promised to do both for almost a decade.
  • Affably Evil: Lumbergh, in a very passive-aggressive way.
  • All There in the Manual: In the movie it's never revealed what the "TPS" in TPS Reports stands for. But in the DVD extras it's revealed that it stands for "Totally Pointless Shit" and it's a reference to all the pointless, tedious paperwork that office workers have to deal with.
    • In reality, it stands for "Testing Procedure Specification" and is used extensively in high-end, IEEE compliant software and electrical engineering firms - like Initech. And would most likely be completely useless to Lumbergh, since he's not involved with QA.
      • Which only further demonstrates what a Jerk Ass Lumbergh is.
  • Angrish: Samir, caught in traffic in the opening.
    • Samir gives the impression of having not quite mastered English-language swearing: "This is a f-fuck!"
  • Artifact of Attraction: The Red Stapler.
  • Asshole Victim: The printer.
    • Lumbergh, if you consider a certain deleted scene to be canon.
  • Bad Boss: Good God, Lumbergh.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: Lumbergh: "Yeeeeah, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday…"
  • Berserk Button: Milton loves that stapler.
    • Also, Michael's last name is Bolton. He doesn't care for the singer.
    • The printer.
    • Do not talk to Johanna about her flair.
    • And don't tell Peter that he has a case of the Mondays.
      • Well, not as much of a Berserk Button as it normally would be, if Lawrence is any indication.
        Lawrence: I believe you could get your ass kicked for saying something like that, man.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Or they'll set the building on fire
  • Billing Displacement: These days DVD cases and the like tend to present it as if it were a Jennifer Aniston vehicle, but while she does play the Love Interest her role is actually fairly minor.
    • That was actually true at the time the movie was released as well.
      • Word of God is the studio insisted Judge hire Aniston specifically so they'd have someone (anyone) famous for the ad campaign. He agreed because he thought she was right for the part and did a good job playing it but the studio wouldn't have cared either way.
  • Bowdlerization: The redubs of swearing for network TV are truly terrible. They say "deep slime" instead of "deep shit" and "pound me into ash" instead of "pound me in the ass".
    • And Samir's incoherent swearing ("This is a fuck!") is changed into the equally incoherent "This is a suck!"
    • On Comedy Central, swearing is muted out, and the profanity in the rap songs are played backwards, creating very obvious skips in the beat.
  • Buffy Speak: Joanna rants that Peter has become a "penny-stealing … wannabe criminal … man!"
  • Burger Fool: Are you wearing your flair today?
  • Butt Monkey: Milton. He is told to move his desk around at least three times a week. It turns out he was laid off five years prior to the film, but no one ever told him and the payroll was never updated, meaning he kept getting a paycheck. Lumbergh decides not only to continue not telling him about his lack of employment but cut him from payroll and move him to the basement. All the while Milton keeps coming in, wondering about his missing paycheck, and Lumbergh keeps on being an ass to him and not telling him any of the above.
    • Peter sees himself as the butt monkey, claiming that every day is the worst day of his life because every day since he's started working has managed to be even worse than the one before it.
  • Ceiling Banger: Peter and Lawrence's apartment walls are not very thick.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted: The hypnotist dies before snapping his fingers, suggesting that Peter will return to normal after hearing a snap. This never happens, and he stays in his relaxed state until the effect wears off on its own.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Milton. "I could set the building on fire."
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In Peter's nightmare, Lumbergh is having sex with Joanna while holding a cup of coffee, and then he turns to the camera and says, "Oh, hello Peter. What's happening? Uh, could you give me those TPS reports ASAP? Mmmkay?"
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Fraud, embezzlement, and arson have never been so funny. Lampshaded by Joanna when she tells Peter off for thinking he's entitled to engage in antisocial behavior just because he doesn't like his job.
  • Comically Missing the Point: It's the Office Space "Case of the Mondays" Fun Kit! Comes with lots and lots of flair, TPS reports, and a Jump to Conclusions mat! Though seeing how it's supposed to seem like the kind of stupid-ass thing Initech would do, that's pretty much the point.
    • A minor Running Gag early on is various characters missing the point of the "What would you do if you had a million dollars?" exercise, talking about what they would do with the money rather than what they would do with their lives when money is no longer a concern.
  • Covers Always Lie: Jennifer Aniston is all over the back of the DVD cover, even though she only has a small role.
  • Creator Cameo: An uncredited Mike Judge plays Joanna's passive-aggressive boss.
  • The Dilbert Principle: The two Bobs think Peter's a great candidate for the management track, while they want to fire two of the most competent workers.
  • Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster: This song was used to great effect to show how much Peter hated Initech.
    • Subverted when the Peter and his friends have to deal with the fallout of their crime, and Michael Bolton rants about "stupid neanderthal Mafia guys [being] so good at crime, when smart guys like us can suck so badly at it."
  • Description Cut: The morning after Peter, Michael, and Samir celebrate having put their plan into action, Johanna remarks on the mess and wonders what the celebration was about, Peter replying that he's not at liberty to talk about it. Cut to Peter telling her everything.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: Trope inspiration. Michael beats the faulty fax machine to a pulp with his bare hands. The whole sequence is set to entirely appropriate music.
  • Fail O Sucky Name: Played twice with Samir Nagheenanajar note  and, of course, Michael Bolton:
    Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ghee-na-na-jar. Nagheenanajar.
    Michael Bolton: Yeah, well, at least your name isn't Michael Bolton.
    Samir: You know, there's nothing wrong with that name.
    Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it … until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
    Samir: Hmm … well, why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
    Michael Bolton: No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!
  • Flipping the Bird: Johanna's reaction to her boss insisting that she "express herself".
  • Fictional Counterpart: Chotchkie's, the casual dining restaurant where Joanna works as a waitress, is based on T.G.I. Friday's. Rumor has it that after Office Space was released, T.G.I. Friday's quietly removed the part of their dress code requiring employees to wear a certain amount of "flair" on their uniforms.
  • Foe Cooties: Peter is horrified when he mistakenly thinks that Joanna had had sex with his boss, Bill Lumburgh, before meeting him.
  • Funny Foreigner: Samir.
  • Godwin's Law: Peter: "You know, the Nazis had little pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear."
  • Going Postal: Milton finally gets his revenge, although he uses fire rather than guns.
  • Gone Horribly Right: "Well, technically, it did work."
  • Gratuitous Rap
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Initech's hiring the Bobs. That piece of advice to "avoid confrontation" by deliberately not telling Milton that he was fired didn't work out too well, did it?
    • Not to mention the implication that the Bobs are going to get Lumbergh canned too.
  • Hollywood Autism: Milton, arguably.
  • Hollywood Dress Code: Bill Lumbergh and his infuriating suspenders.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted, more or less. The therapist feels greater and greater distress while talking to Peter until he keels over.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Tom Smykowski is asked by the Bobs what exactly he does at Initech, he becomes increasingly agitated as he tries to convince them he has good people skills.
    • Kicking off the plot, Anne makes Peter see an occupational hypnotherapist. The very next morning, she gets pissed off with him when he's left in a permanent carefree state, and tells him that she won't accept hypnosis as an excuse since she thinks it's bullshit.
    • Joanna's boss at Chotchkie's wants her to "express herself" by wearing more flair to conform to the restaurant's motif.
    • The woman who unctuously orders Milton to pass on his piece of cake because "we have to make sure everyone gets some" is nevertheless very quick to make sure she gets a piece (inevitably at Milton's expense).
    • When Peter realizes that Michael's program is taking far more money than they intended, he and Samir take turns yelling at him over it, until Michael points out that the plan was Peter's idea. Peter quickly suggests that they avoid getting angry at each other in favor of figuring out how to deal with the problem.
  • Hypno Fool: Peter.
  • I Knew It: In-universe: Peter's coworker Tom Smykowski fears he's gonna get laid off for sure. And he was right. He's going to kill himself, then seeing his wife makes him decide otherwise … then he's hit by a drunk driver, but the settlement money means he's set for life.
    • Peter suspects his girlfriend Anne is cheating on him. When Peter hung up on her, she calls and tells him he embarrassed her for just sitting there while the psychiatrist is on the floor as a result of being hypnotized, she called again, more pissed off, and tells him he's a real loser and broke up with him. She ends her call saying she was cheating on him. Of course, at that point Peter, still hypnotized, doesn't give a damn.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: Peter and Lawrence have a discussion to this effect. Lawrence comes to the conclusion that he'd do "two chicks at the same time." Peter would "sit on [his] ass and do nothing" (besides two chicks at the same time, of course).
  • Incompetence, Inc.: So what does Initech do, anyway?
    • Why, they were updating bank software for Y2K, of course.
      • This might be missed by a lot of people since the movie referred to it as the "Year 2000 Problem," which is what it was called in computing circles before the Media got their hands on it. This was most likely intentionally done to make Peter's job sound all the more boring. And of course, in spite of the panic the Media stirred up over the event, Y2K was essentially an incredibly boring bit of debugging.
  • Inhuman Resources: The Bobs are the Hatchet Man variety.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Tom Smykowski uses the settlement from a car accident to fund the invention of his "Jump to Conclusions" mat ("Have a problem? Just take out the mat and jump to a conclusion!").
  • Jerkass: Joanna's co-worker Brian, an annoyingly, insincerely cheerful git whom their boss admires because he has more flair. Near the end, he flips Joanna off (mocking at how she got herself fired) and drives off laughing.
    Joanna: (teeth clenching) I hate that guy.
    • Lumbergh too, of course.
  • Karma Houdini: All of the protagonists in that they get away with their attempted crime (although they also lose the money), but most notably Milton. He gets sick of his job and burns the place down, in the process finding thousands of dollars lying on the floor and escaping to a tropical resort. Subverted somewhat in that he seems to be equally miserable when he gets there.
    • Or maybe Milton was Initech's (or just Lumbergh's) karma. Their treatment of him was downright illegal.
  • Kick the Dog: Whenever you might start to think that Lumbergh is just a guy trying to do his job in a company that happens to be bogged down with stupid and inane policies, he starts kicking Milton around for no apparent reason other than because he can. When he finds out that Milton technically doesn't have a job at Initech, he gets even worse, seemingly going out of his way to think of new ways to demean the guy while deliberately withholding the information that Milton's "missing" paycheck doesn't exist and never will again, cementing for the audience that he's every bit the soulless monster his employees consider him to be.
  • Kill It with Fire: If you take his … his s-s-stapler he'll, he'll, he could … he'll set the building on fire.
  • Lame Comeback: After Joanna (rightly) calls Peter a petty criminal, he clumsily retorts with "That may be... but at least I never slept with Lumbergh!"
  • Let The Past Burn: Milton burns down the Initech building in revenge for the company's shabby treatment of him, in the process destroying Peter's letter of confession about embezzling money from the company. Everyone just assumes the arsonist was also the embezzler (and he does end up with the money in any case), and Peter gets off scot-free... and finds a new job in the field of construction, where one of his projects is cleaning up the remains of the building.
  • MacGuffin: The stapler is used as motivation for Milton in the film, but it doesn't see much use as a stapler.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy
  • Mean Boss / Pointy-Haired Boss: Bill Lumbergh and his infuriating SELF.
    • He might genuinely believe that never raising your voice is all it takes to be considered "nice" by the rules of divine judgment.
      • Managers speaking in measured tones, using a lot of euphemisms & buzzwords, and acting passive-aggressively is often Truth in Television.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: The cause of the plan's failure was Michael misplacing a decimal point, apparently. This results in far too much money being siphoned off. He claims that he always makes these kind of mistakes.
  • Named Like My Name: Michael Bolton. "Why should I have to change my name? He's the one that sucks!"
  • Never Heard That One Before: "Michael … Bolton? Any relation to the pop singer?"
  • Never Say That Again:
    Peter: When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays"?
    Lawrence: No … No! Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked saying something like that, man.
  • The Nineties: Between the out of date technology, the mentions of the Y2K bug and the gangsta rap soundtrack, the 90s are are on full display here.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The magazine salesman who pretends to be a former crack addict to elicit sympathy. Peter, Michael, and Samir start asking him questions about money laundering, and he finally admits that he's not a former crack addict and used to be a computer programmer until he was laid off (although he now makes more money selling magazines). He then blackmails Peter into buying 40 subscriptions to Vibe because he knows about their plan to steal.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with the consultants, both named Bob.
    • There's also a second, unseen character with the last name "Lumbergh": Bill's brother Ron, whom Joanna actually slept with.
    • And there is another (real-life) Michael Bolton as well.
  • Only Sane Employee: Michael, Samir and Peter, arguably.
  • Parking Payback: The rear bumper of Lumbergh's Porsche is ripped off after he parks in the disabled space.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: Initech.
  • Percussive Therapy: Peter, Michael and Samir take the fax machine into a field and smash it to pieces with their feet and a baseball bat. Michael really gets into it.
  • Perpetual Tourist: Milton.
  • Piss Take Rap: "Back up in your ass...with the...resurrection..."
    • Samir is actually reciting the first line of the 'die motherfucker die' song that was just playing during the printer smashing scene. The resurrection is the name of the album the song comes from.
  • Prison Rape: Discussed: "Watch out for your corn-hole, buddy."
    • "We're going to federal POUND-ME-IN-THE-ASS prison!"
  • Promotion Not Punishment: Instead of getting sacked, when Peter tells the truth about how pointless and unsatisfying his job is the consultant put him on the promotion fast-track.
  • Rant Inducing Slight: I mean, Milton really loves that stapler.
    • Also, getting his desk moved to Storage B and being asked to take care of the cockroach problem down there. "Well … okay. That's the last straw."
  • Really Gets Around: Joanna, according to Peter's obnoxious officemate Drew. Corroborated by Michael.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Do you really think Peter would have kept his job if he'd been less over-the-top?
  • Running Gag: Peter is reminded about the missing cover sheet on his TPS report by no less than five people (Lumbergh, Portwood, an unknown character on the phone, Michael, and Samir).
    • Also, the pronunciation of Nagheenanajar and Michael's name sake.
  • Salaryman/Workaholic: The three main characters.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Lumbergh's secretary seems to realize Milton is about to go postal on Initech, and beats a hasty retreat out of the building.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Tom's belief that he was going to be fired. Since he apparently spent more time worrying about getting fired than preparing for the interview that he knew was coming, he was already a bundle of frayed nerves by the time he was in front of the Bobs, and falls apart after just a couple questions that really shouldn't have been that hard to answer. As a result, the Bobs assume he has no useful job there, and can him.
  • Serious Business: Apparently pieces of flair are.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Successor: Has one in Horrible Bosses. Both films feature workers setting up revenge plots on their bosses and have Jennifer Aniston in the cast. (The second one has her as a villain rather than love interest.)
    • Mike Judge's later work Extract also touches on several of the same themes of a put-upon guy trapped in an unsatisfying working and personal life at a small business, except this time it's shown from the perspective of the boss instead of the employee. Incidentally, Extract features Jason Bateman, who was also in Horrible Bosses.
    • The Comedy Central workplace comedy Workaholics has been been described as "Office Space on drugs."
  • Static Electricity: Peter gets a static shock from the door handle every day when he comes into work, and has grown to dread it. One way he illustrates his new in-control self is that he walks into work, borrows a power screwdriver from a maintenance worker and casually removes the handle.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Told you he loves that stapler …
  • Stupid Boss: Where to begin …?
  • Technology Marches On: The floppy disk that Peter and Co. use to load the virus.
  • Tempting Fate: Michael's interview with the Bobs is actually going very well... until he subtly lets it slip that he doesn't want to be associated with the singer of the same name. Unfortunately for him, the twin consultants are huge Michael Bolton fans and get him laid off as a result of this faux pas (despite the fact that he's technically one of Initech's best and most valuable programmers).
  • That Satisfying Crunch
  • Tuckerization: Parodied with Michael.
  • Vanity License Plate: Lumbergh and his infuriating car, with the tags MYPRSCHE (My Porsche).
  • Verbal Tic: "Yeah, Hi, it's Bill Lumbergh …"
    • He also has a habit of sighing as if really tired when requesting incredibly annoying things to do.
    • Lawrence has something like that too, man.
  • Visual Innuendo: When Lawrence tells Peter about his desire to do "two chicks at the same time," look at how he is holding his bottle of beer…
  • Watch the Paint Job: The Laser-Guided Karma for Lumbergh parking his Porsche in a handicapped space is its bumper being ripped off by an inept towtruck driver.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: "What exactly would you say you do here?". Tom's interview with the Bobs does not go well.
    • And of course they find out that Milton doesn't even have a job at Initech.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Joanna gives one of these to Peter late in the film, informing him that it's not okay to commit embezzlement just because you hate your job.
  • White Collar Crime: The second half of the movie revolves around an attempt at it, though the protagonists aren't very good at it (they look up money laundering in the dictionary for starters), which is lampshaded by Michael:
    Michael: "How is that all these stupid, Neanderthal mafia guys can be so good at crime, and smart guys like us can suck so badly?"
  • White Collar Worker: The characters are mostly computer programmers. In the end, though, Peter gets a blue collar job doing construction with Lawrence(ironically cleaning up the burnt wreckage of Initech) and is much happier.
  • Wish Fulfillment: Most of the film. What would happen if you just stopped giving a crap and did what you felt like? Why, you'd get a promotion!
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Well, office buildings at least.
    • And resort buildings too.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Peter's girlfriend. Peter suspects it already, Michael and Lawrence agree with his suspicions, and after Peter stops caring about anything, she dumps him and admits that she's been cheating on him, not that he even cares anymore.

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alternative title(s): Office Space
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