The film centers around Initech, a soul-crushingly inane software company presided over by Bill Lumbergh (Cole), a soul-crushingly inane boss obsessed with TPS Reports — a soul-crushingly inane bit of paperwork — who is slowly driving employee Peter Gibbons (Livingston) out of his mind.
Then Peter gets de-stressed by a dose of hypnotherapy and stops caring about his job — not that he wants to quit, or feels that he should stop showing up; he just doesn't care. 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 (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu), are going to be getting the axe. When he shares the news, the three decide to do the only logical thing — steal from 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.
Got a mobile, Idle Game adaptation in March of 2017 called Office Space: Idle Profits. You play as a new intern at Initech just as Peter, Michael, and Samir start their Penny Shaving scheme, having you install the virus in the system. Help the virus spread and rake in more and more pennies while working your way through the events of the film and potentially burn it all down yourself. Available on iOS, Android and Steam.
"What exactly are the tropes... you do here?"
- The '90s: Between the out of date technology, the mentions of the Y2K bug and the gangsta rap soundtrack, the 90s are on full display here.
- 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.
- AM/FM Characterization: Hilariously subverted with Michael Bolton listening to bad-ass rap music in his car and then almost wetting himself when a street vendor approaches.
- Angrish: Samir, caught in traffic in the opening. He gives the impression of having not quite mastered English-language swearing: "This is a f-fuck!"
- The Artifact: A few from earlier versions of the script: When Peter gets back to his apartment, he's wearing workout clothes, a t-shirt and shorts; this was a remnant of a scene where he went jogging with Anne. And look closely in the Initech parking lot, there's a red car in the space next to Lumbergh's; that was supposed to be Dom Portwood's car, as he was supposed to drive up next to him.
- Artifact of Attraction: The Red Stapler.
- Artistic License Economics: The original plan of siphoning off the fractions of cents from transactions would immediately be noticed. The financial world deals with "fractions of a cent" all the time, and while a single transaction would probably slip by unnoticed, all the transactions suddenly returning exact change (for lack of a better term) would very quickly add up to enough money to trigger a warning.
- Atrocious Alias: 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!
- Asshole Victim: The printer.
- Lumbergh, if you consider a certain deleted scene to be canon.
- Bad News in a Good Way: Lumbergh: "I almost forgot: Um, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too. We, um, lost some people this week and we need to sort of play catch-up. Thaaaanks."
- Berserk Button: Milton loves that stapler.
- Also, Michael's last name is Bolton. He doesn't care for the singer.
- The printer. PC Load Letter? Fuck! Even in the future nothing works!
- Do not talk to Joanna about her flair.
- And don't tell Peter that he has a case of the Mondays.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Or they'll set the building on fire.
- Boss's Unfavorite Employee: Lumbergh makes Milton move his desk three times a week and takes his stapler. When Milton is laid off, Lumbergh doesn't tell him; instead he cuts off his paycheck, moves him to the basement, and makes him hunt cockroaches.
- 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". "Cock gobblers" is reworked into the totally nonsensical "hobgoblins."
- 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.
- Which leads to a Brick Joke later on.
- 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.
- Milton himself. Burning down the building, murdering Lindberg in a deleted scene, and at the end threatening to poison the entire resort by putting strychnine in the guacamole because they got his drink order wrong. This is all Played for Laughs.
- 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.
- Subverted when Peter explains his plan to Joanna. Joanna calls him out on his attempts to make embezzlement sound okay, leading to the flustered Peter acting like he didn't explain himself well.
- 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- noticeably, when he tells Joanna they need to talk about her flair, he sounds almost exactly like Mr. Van Driessen.
- 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. Of course, when you consider that Peter was the one who was actually upfront with them about the company's inefficiencies and the problems that result from them, it makes sense that they would see him as someone who was manager material.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!:
- This song was used to great effect to show how much Peter hated Initech.
- Subverted when 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.
- The Dog Bites Back: The premise is all about employees getting screwed over for little or no reason, and getting their revenge.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After Milton burns the building down, Peter gets a job he genuinely enjoys in construction. Milton also finds the embezzled money and escapes to a tropical paradise. Subverted because they both managed to escape well-deserved punishment for embezzlement and arson, respectively, albeit accidentally in the former's case.
- Exact Words: When the two Bobs discuss who they're going to fire:Bob: Here's a peculiar... uh, Milton Waddams.
Dom: Who's he?
Bob: You know, squirrelly looking guy. Mumbles a lot.
Dom: Oh, yeah.
Bob: We... we can't actually find a record of him being a current employee here.
Bob: I looked into it more deeply, and I found that apparently what happened is that he was laid off five years ago and no one ever told him about it, but through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck. So we just went ahead and fixed the glitch.
Dom: So, uh, Milton has been let go?
Bob: Just a second there, professor. We, uh, we fixed the glitch. So he won't be receiving a paycheck anymore. So it'll just work itself out naturally.
Bob: We always like to avoid confrontation whenever possible.
Bob: The problem is solved from your end.
- Extreme Doormat: Milton, who endures bullying and mistreatment from all sides at his job...until The Dog Bites Back.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop/Space Whale Aesop: Joanna's belief that jobs are supposed to be terrible and that there's no point trying to make it better, much less using it as an excuse to commit a crime.
- 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 Lumbergh, before meeting him.
- Forgettable Character: Milton is a mousy office drone who is so inconspicuous that several years before the movie he was actually fired from the company, and everybody forgot to tell him about it. He continued to work there with no employment file because a glitch in the payroll system continued to send him a monthly salary, which nobody noticed either. Well, Lumbergh noticed; he just didn't bother to tell Milton because he wanted to screw with him. Lumbergh finally gets what's coming to him, though.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Played straight with Lumbergh, averted for Michael and Tom.
- Funny Foreigner: Samir not knowing how to properly curse in English is played for laughs throughout the film.
- Funny Background Event: During Peter's meeting with the Bobs, the whiteboard has a complicated flow chart titled "Planning to Plan."
- Gilligan Cut: Joanna asks Peter what he and the guys were celebrating last night, and he says he can't talk about it. Really, he can't. Cut to the two in the car, where Peter is spilling the beans.
- 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.
- When Peter, Michael, and Samir go out for coffee, Peter complains about work and mimes firing a machine gun. Later Michael, surprised by Peter casually arriving at work, half-jokingly says he thought Peter was going to "come in and start shooting everyone!"
- Gone Horribly Right: "Well, technically, it did work." Instead of siphoning off undetectable, small percentages of Initech's money transfers into the protagonists' bank accounts, Michael's virus is off by a decimal place or two, dumping amounts sure to be noticed.
- Happiness In Minimum Wage: At the end of the film, Peter quits his Soul-Crushing Desk Job so he can spend his days as a construction worker just like his neighbor Lawrence. Although, considering construction work usually pays about the same, if not more than mid-level office work, this is a lot closer to The Simple Life Is Simple. After all, Lawrence is living in the exact same conditions Peter is.
- Heel Realization: Peter eventually comes to realize what he did was wrong with the embezzlement and that other people everywhere have jobs they hate, but do them anyway.
- Here We Go Again!:
- Milton gets the money from Peter's botched scheme and is on the beach... except that he is also miserable there, courtesy of the Jerk Ass staff of the hotel he's at. The movie cuts to credits while Milton is mumbling a threat to poison the hotel's guacamole supply.
- A deleted scene that extends the epilogue has the foreman supervising Peter's cleanup of Initech come up to Peter and talk/act exactly like Lumbergh. As a result Peter, who had just apparently discovered a line of works that makes him feel happy, becomes depressed again.
- 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 Dress Code: Bill Lumbergh and his infuriating suspenders.
- Hollywood Hacking: Averted. While the actual hacking scene has buildup with tense music and badass poses, when the time comes it's just a matter of using a floppy drive and waiting. Even the characters feel it's a little anticlimactic.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted, more or less. The therapist feels greater and greater distress while talking to Peter until he keels over.
- Hollywood Law: While the events of the film would probably prevent Initech from being able to track Peter down internally, he still had his photo taken at the ATM (if the photos survived the fire). Given that none of the participants had the rank at Initech to open an account in the bank's name (they're engineers, not bursars), and given how quickly the account drew money from Initech, it's likely that Peter should be expecting a visit from the FDIC over his obvious attempt at embezzlement.
- 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. Also ventures into Jerkass Has a Point territory - a guy whose whole job is (basically) communicating between two groups of people, but goes to pieces the way he does when things get tough, is probably not the right person for that job.
- 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. She then promptly expresses herself.
- 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 goes from a giant ball of stress to a carefree worker thanks to a hypnotic trance. It lasts far longer than it should have because the hypnotherapist who employed it died before he could bring Peter out of the trance. The effect eventually goes away on its own, though.
- Ignored Epiphany: When dealing with the Bobs, Peter unwittingly secures his own job, but is horrified to find out many of his friends are about to lose theirs. He's well aware that each of the friends so affected is more productive than he is and he's the one who's actually wanted to leave. At no point, however, does he seem to make the final connection that for all that he hated working at Initech, the people laid off are the ones the company seriously abused. He does come to realize how in the wrong he was, and tries to do right by returning the money and leaving a confession.
- 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 and the settlement money means he's set for life.
- Peter suspects his girlfriend Anne is cheating on him. She calls and tells him he embarrassed her for just sitting there while the psychiatrist was on the floor. When Peter hangs up on her, she calls again, more pissed off, and tells him he's a real loser and breaks up with him. She ends her call saying she was cheating on him. Peter, still hypnotized, doesn't give a damn.
- If I Were a Rich Man: Peter has two discussions (first with Michael and Samir and then with Lawrence) to this effect. Michael thinks the question is "bullshit to begin with... there'd be no janitors because nobody would clean shit up if they had a million dollars", while Samir muses about how he would invest his money in low-risk mutual funds and securities to set himself up for life. 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.: 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. The movie was filmed in June 1998, a few months before Y2K hit mainstream consciousness and became a media buzzword. By the time it was released in early 1999, Y2K was a media sensation. All of that said, Initech is still clearly badly run, with redundant bosses and paperwork, efficiency "experts" who promote lazy employees and sack diligent ones, supervisors who take time out of their day to torment employees, and no security worth any notice.
- Inherently Funny Words: Michael thinks "occupational hypnotherapist" sounds more cheesy than professional.
- Inhuman Resources: The Bobs are the Hatchet Man variety.
- Inside Job: Peter recruits Michael and Samir in a scheme to electronically rob Initech.
- Insufferable Genius: In a Freeze-Frame Bonus, according to Lumbergh's employee records, he has a BS in Physics from MIT.
- 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!").
- I Resemble That Remark!: In trying to defend the importance of his job, Tom says with an increasingly panicked and loud voice, "I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that?? What the hell is wrong with you people?!"
- Irony: Michael, one of the two self-proclaimed best programmers at Initech (the other being Samir) crafts a virus to siphon off fractions of a cent from every financial transaction by Initech. His code is missing a decimal place or two causing the virus to steal a very large amount of money. He later admits he is always messing up some mundane detail like this. Makes you wonder how good he actually is.
Joanna: (teeth clenching) I hate that guy.
- 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.
- 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. A deleted scene reveals Lumbergh died in the fire. Whether this is canon is unknown.
- Peter at least happens upon this on accident. After realizing what he did wrong, he does write up a letter fessing up to the crime, with the embezzled money included, slipping it through Lumbergh's door. Deus ex Machina simply happened with the aforementioned Milton setting fire to Initech and taking the money Peter left on the floor. It's up to the audience whether or not the deleted (and thus probably non-canon) scene where Peter discovers that he escaped white-collar hell only to enter a very similar blue-collar hell is an acceptably karmic result of his actions.
- Nina. She deliberately engineers the cake-passing, including breaking her own rule, to ensure it's Milton who doesn't get any (for the second time in a row). Nothing bad ever happens to her, unless you count her workplace being destroyed.
- Lumbergh seemingly gets off, too. While it's easy to think of him as simply a Jerk Ass, he's still partly responsible for Initech losing the better part of a million dollars, even aside from the arson almost certainly starting in his office. Considering how loathed he was, his ultimate fate should have been of some interest. There is a scene that shows what happened to him, but it was cut.
- Peter's (ex-)girlfriend Anne faces no consequences for triggering the events of the movie (sans of course Milton burning the place), or cheating on Peter.
- 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.
- Eventually, Milton decides being moved to the basement and asked to take care of the cockroach problem is "the last straw" and follows through with his arson threats. Lumbergh taking his stapler on the way out probably was a bad idea.
- Technically, Lumbergh's following the Bobs' advice on how to deal with Milton. This doesn't explain his seeming dedication to it.
- Kicked Upstairs: Given Initech's size and the emphasis on each supervisor getting a TPS report, as well as the relative age differences between management and employees, it's implied that the management team takes the fairly common approach of promoting from within the facility. It's also implied to be Peter's reward for hitting it off with the Bobs.
- 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.
- Kitschy-Themed Restaurant: Chotchkie's is very obviously inspired by TGI Friday's.
- 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.
- Loads and Loads of Loading: When Peter tries to get out of the office early on a Friday so he can avoid Lumbergh telling him to work on Saturday, he saves his work first. It takes an infuriatingly long time to do so, thus thwarting his plan.
- 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: Peter gets so fed up with his job that he stops caring. When it still doesn't end, he decides that he's in the moral right even as he plans to steal money from Initech.
- Mean Boss / Pointy-Haired Boss: Bill Lumbergh, a passive-aggressive Smug Snake who always speaks in measured tones, comes up with silly ways of motivating employees (ie. "Hawaiian Shirt Day"), and uses a lot of stereotypical corporate euphemisms and buzzwords, which for a manager is often Truth in Television.
- He might genuinely believe that never raising your voice is all it takes to be considered "nice" by the rules of divine judgment.
- The Bobs also qualify. As efficiency experts, they're shown to be objectively terrible, laying off productive employees but promoting a lazy one. It's implied that they're firing Samir and Michael for personal reasons unrelated to performance, and have stripped Initech to the point that the employees need to do more overtime — the exact opposite of what should be happening under efficiency.
- Meet the New Boss: A deleted scene has the foreman supervising Peter's cleanup of Initech come up to Peter and talk/act exactly like Lumbergh, making Peter miserable again. Rumor has it that no one liked this ending so it was dropped.
- Millennium Bug: Initech's main project is fixing the "Year 2000 Problem." The benign depiction — just a date code error that needs correcting — is possibly the most realistic in fiction. Though certain applications could have dangerous consequences if incorrect data was entered, it mostly involved a lot of boring software upgrades, and wasn't nearly as apocalyptic as media hype made it sound. Peter uses it as a justification for the scheme: the company will be so busy with the problem that they wouldn't notice the money that goes missing.
- Misplaced a Decimal Point: The cause of the plan's failure was Michael misplacing a decimal point, apparently. Instead of siphoning off a couple hundred thousand dollars over several years, which would be easily overlooked with a company that does business with a bank, it does that over a couple of days and raising plenty of red flags. He claims that he always makes these kind of mistakes.
- Named Like My Name: Michael Bolton, who loathes sharing a name with the singer. "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 My Fault: Peter's girlfriend who forces him to see the hypnotherapist and later chews him out for turning into a Hypno Fool, all the while telling him not to blame the hypnotherapy session.
- 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.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Played for Laughs, but also awesome, when Peter, Michael and Samir give one of these, in slow motion, with a baseball bat, to the accompaniment of the Geto Boys, to...a malfunctioning printer.
- No Sympathy: When Peter describes to the psychiatrist how every new day feels like the worst day of his life, the psychiatrist replies, "Wow, that's messed up."
- Non-Protagonist Resolver: Milton of all people ends up saving Peter, Samir and Michael.
- 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.
- Inverted with Peter himself. The Bobs mistake his Professional Slacker status as self-effacing honesty.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with the consultants, both named Bob.
- There's also a second, unseen character with the last name "Lumbergh": a Ron Lumbergh who Joanna actually slept with. Peter initially thinks the Lumbergh she slept with was Bill.
- And there is another (real-life) Michael Bolton as well.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: During his interview with the Bobs, Peter is not only completely relaxed and casual (whereas everyone else has been understandably tense), but is utterly open about his shortcomings and completely candid about how much he slacks off. This total change of pace in comparison to his fellow employees, along with his completely candid, realistic interpretation of his role in the company, surprises and intrigues the Bobs. It even leads to the interview becoming more questions of why Peter and other employees like him might not be motivated to do anything productive in the first place, rather than slating him to be laid off.
- Only Sane Employee: Michael, Samir, and Peter all know more about how to be productive than their bosses do, and get constantly frustrated by all the bureaucracy and politics.
- Only Sane Woman: Joanna is the only character who doesn't have a character flaw, annoying trait, or who conducts morally questionable acts.
- Parking Payback: The rear bumper of Lumbergh's Porsche is ripped off after he parks in the disabled space.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The trio setting their Penny Shaving scheme into effect after Michael and Samir get fired. Also, Milton burning Initech after one slight too many.
- Peace & Love, Incorporated: Initech portrays itself this way, but the inner working show it's not so rosy.
- To a lesser extent, Chotchkie's also seems to see itself this way (what with the emphasis on flair) but then the apparent best employee is a Jerkass and the manager is just as passive-aggressive and ineffectual as Lumbergh.
- Penny Shaving: As revenge for Michael and Samir being fired, the three protagonists develop a virus which is supposed to shave pennies off every transaction the company does. Due to a bug it shaves significantly more then they wanted.
- Percussive Therapy: Peter, Michael and Samir take the printer into a field and smash it to pieces with their feet and a baseball bat. Michael really gets into it, having to be pulled away when he starts punching the printer parts.
- Perpetual Tourist: Milton.
- Phrase-Catcher: Oh god, where to begin?
- Milton is repeatedly told to move his desk farther and farther away from the window.
- Every time he introduces himself, Michael Bolton gets asked, "Is that your real name?"
- Peter has enough to become a professional phrase catcher:
- "Did you get the memo?"
- "Somebody's got a case of the Mondays!"
- "I get that feeling too."
- Piss-Take Rap: "Back up in your ass...with the... resurrection..."
- Samir is actually reciting the first line of "Still" by Geto Boys, the song that was just playing during the printer smashing scene.
- Prison Rape: Discussed: "Watch out for your corn-hole, buddy."
- "If we get caught laundering money, we're not going to white-collar resort prison. No-no-no. 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.
- Properly Paranoid: Tom Smykowski suspects he's going to get fired. He's right.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: 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."
- Rage Breaking Point:
- After being insisted on wearing more flair by her boss repeatedly, even (for some really stupid reason only known to his passive-aggressive self) reminding her of the bands Jewish people wore during the Holocaust to try to encourage her, Joanna finally has had enough and not only does she delivers a Take This Job and Shove It rant, but she presents him the perfect "flair" for her to "express herself": she flips off the whole restaurant.
- Milton finally has enough after Lumbergh takes his stapler. As in makes good on his constant promising to set the whole damn building on fire.
- Really Gets Around: Joanna, according to Peter's obnoxious officemate Drew. Corroborated by Michael.
- Refuge in Audacity: Peter's candid "I don't give a damn if you fire me" attitude straight to the faces of the people who could cost him his job. If he'd been less over-the-top, Peter could have been canned on the spot.
- Played with since it's completely unintentional on Peter's part - he just genuinely doesn't care enough about his job to worry about the possibility of getting fired - and in fact the realisation that he's put this trope into practice while his more Properly Paranoid friends are getting fired is what brings him out of his Hypno Fool state.
- 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). It is implied that he was also reminded by at least five other bosses who were unknown. Also doubles as Fridge Horror.
- Also, the pronunciation of Nagheenanajar and Michael's namesake.
- Samir doesn't quite get how English swearing works, his very first line being "Mother shitter son of a...ass," and later giving us stuff like "This is a fuck."
- Milton mutters a few times that he wishes to set the building on fire while he's rambling. He makes good on his promise in the final act.
- Salaryman/Workaholic: The three main characters. Peter far less so on the latter.
- 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 to the manager of a Kitschy-Themed Restaurant.
- Also, heaven forbid you missed the memo on the new cover sheets for TPS reports...
- Soul-Crushing Desk Job: The plot is all about our main character Peter Gibbons and his friends working a dead-end job at the Initech software company under Bill Lumberg, a Mean Boss obsessed with TPS reports. When their jobs are threatened because the bosses have decided to downsize, they hatch a Stealing from the Till scheme. However, no one gets it worse than Milton, an extremely introverted person who is hounded by Lumbergh throughout the film before Going Postal and burning down Initech. Peter decides to quit his job and live a happier life as a construction worker.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: This movie about lame, mostly white office drones is soundtracked entirely with hardcore gangsta rap.
- 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."
- Silicon Valley is the closest thing to an Office Space sequel you'll likely ever see.
- Standard Office Setting: The film offers a comedic look at just how soul-crushing such an environment can be. Short cubicle walls make it easy for managers to lean over at any time to make unreasonable demands, and make it impossible to escape noise made by other workers.
- 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.
- Strawman Has a Point:
- As much of a soulless, corrupt bully as Lumbergh is, when it comes to his treatment of Peter, he kind of has a point. Peter admits to the Bobs that he always shows up late, zones out at his desk, goofs off, and rarely ever gets any actual work done. Given how production-oriented being a software engineer is, this likely means his co-workers have been forced to pick up the slack.
- The Bobs have one too. When Lumbergh objects to the idea of Peter being promoted because of his attitude, the Bobs rightfully point out that Peter's attitude is primarily a result of the company's structure and mismanagement making him dis-motivated. And when Lumbergh complains that Peter hasn't been handling the TPS reports properly, they ask how much time Lumbergh actually spends reviewing them.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Milton told you he loves that stapler. When Lumbergh doesn't listen, he burns down the building, just like he said he would.
- Stupid Boss: The Bobs don't do their jobs very well. Despite being "efficiency experts," they fire productive employees and keep lazy ones. It's also stated that the employees have been forced to work overtime just to meet their deadlines; if Initech really was efficient, the employees wouldn't need to do overtime. Joanna's boss is no better, too obsessed with the whole "employees must wear flair" detail to bother about other things, such as the fact the employee he considers good because of this being an utter asshole otherwise, or that his final attempt at telling Joanna to wear more has him saying the badges Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust is a good example of "flair".
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: When Anne admits that she was cheating on Peter during their breakup, she proclaims it so loudly it causes Peter's answering machine to vibrate.
- Swiss Cheese Security: Aside from Lumbergh's office being unlocked, most tech companies take some fairly basic precautions for keeping their internal networks safe, such as alerting security whenever a floppy drive is accessed, having multiple people tracking new code additions to major systems (like financial transfers), and keeping a log of all employee access to the networks (especially if layoffs are about to be announced). Then again, security costs money, yo... have you seen how low our profits are?
- 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: Trope inspiration. Michael beats the faulty fax machine to a pulp with his bare hands. The whole sequence is set to entirely appropriate music.
- Token Minority: Steve, the Initrode employee turned magazine salesman,as well as Tom's lawyer are the only African-American characters in the entire film, and the only other non-white character is Samir.
- Truth in Television: This movie is an extremely accurate portrayal of what it's like to work in a cubicle farm. Ask people you know who do this kind of work if they've seen anyone who looks, dresses, and talks exactly like Lumbergh. You'll hear "yes" quite a bit.
- It's also accurate in the disconnects between management and actual employees. Job security is determined by matters other than competence at the job, layoffs in the name of efficiency actually cost efficiency, and the bosses use manipulative methods to try to drive employees to quit rather than firing them (thus the company won't have to pay severance).
- 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.
- And ends all his request with "...yeah, that would be great/terrific."
- 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. Though Milton didn't know that.
- 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.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted, but only by a few subtle on-screen cues. Initech is implied to be in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. For more experienced viewers, you'll be able to spot all the Texas references peppered throughout- Lawrence mentions he's working on a new McDonalds in the town of Las Colinas, Lawrence's boat has Texas registration, and when Peter and Joanna discuss watching Kung Fu, they reference "channel 39", which did show a lot of Westerns back in the day. Outside of that, casual viewers wouldn't know, as they don't make any explicit locational references, likely because it's unimportant to the story, and all the license plates seen on cars are generic ones with US flags on them.
- 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 (cleaning up the burnt wreckage of Initech) and is much happier.
- A deleted scene has the foreman come up to Peter at the end and talk/act exactly like Lumbergh, making Peter miserable again. Rumor has it that no one liked this ending so it was dropped.
- 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: Office buildings, at least. And resort buildings too.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Milton gets off scot-free from setting Initech on fire (and in a deleted scene, killing Lumbergh as collateral damage) and goes to live it up on the beach with the stolen money. Unfortunately, the hotel staff are an equal kind of passive-aggressive assholes that make his life miserable there. As well, a deleted scene from the epilogue showcased that Peter just sacrificed his white-collar job hell (which he explicitly described as "every day is the worst day of my life, because every day feels worse than the last one" before getting hypnotized) for a blue-collar hell, complete with a near-perfect clone of his old boss, just after telling his friends that he felt content.
- Your Cheating Heart: Peter's girlfriend, Anne. 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.