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Dwight vs. Everything: A Catalog of Dwight Schrute’s Battles on ‘The Office’

In an excerpted chapter from ‘Conference Room, Five Minutes,’ Shea Serrano’s new digital collection of illustrated essays about ‘The Office,’ he takes us inside the Dwight Club  

An illustration of Dwight with his face painted white like a mime Arturo Torres

This is an excerpt from Conference Room, Five Minutes — Ten Illustrated Essays About ‘The Office, which is a thing that was written by me (I’m Shea Serrano, a no. 1 best-selling author) and illustrated by Arturo Torres (the biggest Mexican you ever saw). The 10 essays (all of which are about The Office, one of my very favorite TV shows) are accompanied by 22 pieces of art and 97 footnotes. You can buy the entire project here. It’s a digital thing so you’ll be able to read it instantly on your phone, tablet, Kindle, or whatever. Thank you.


Meeting 4: Dwight Club

Welcome to Dwight Club.

The first rule of Dwight Club is: You do not talk about Dwight Club.

The second rule of Dwight Club is: You do not. Talk. About. Dwight Club.

Third rule of Dwight Club: Someone yells “Michael!,” goes limp, taps out, the Dwight is over. Fourth rule: Only two people to a Dwight. Fifth rule: One Dwight at a time, everyone. Sixth rule: Yellow, short-sleeved, button up shirts, work shoes. Seventh rule: Dwights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Dwight Club, you have to Dwight.

The best conversation between Jim and Dwight, perpetual foils that accidentally become very close friends, happens early during season seven. They’re sitting in Jim’s car looking at themselves in two separate mirrors to make sure everything on their persons is where it should be, and they’re doing so because they’re about to walk into a building together for a joint meeting with the chief buyer from a company that, if signed, would be a huge account.

Dwight exhales a big exhale, grabs the ends of the two sections of his hair that hang over his forehead, pulls them flat, adjusts his tie, then asks Jim, “How do I look?” Jim, who is tall and handsome and charming, looks at him, waits half a beat, then says, “Amazing.” Dwight nods at himself in the mirror to confirm that Jim is right. Jim turns from Dwight, looks back into his mirror at himself, and asks back, “How do I look?” Dwight turns to him, looks at his face, looks at his suit, looks back at his face, then very earnestly and very matter-of-factly responds, “Normal. Ugly.”

It’s a quick thing and a funny thing, yes. And also it’s a thing that’s representative of the sibling rivalry relationship the two had worked their way to by that point in the show, yes. And those are for sure reasons why I like it so much, yes. But what I most like about it is that, for that episode at least, it sets Jim and Dwight in motion toward working together in the hopes of defeating a common enemy, and them working together is a thing we only get to see a handful of times over the entire course of the show.

(The common enemy is Danny Cordray, an extremely handsome salesman from a competing paper company who is there trying to bag the same client.)

(Dwight battles a lot of things on the show.)

(Battling things is one of the fundamental tenets of his essence.)

(He’s great in nearly every setting—like when he’s required to be accidentally weird [1] or sweet [2] or oddly insightful [3] or devastated by heartache [4] or a counterbalance to Jim’s aloofness [5] or a hype man for Michael’s waywardness [6]—but he is at his very best when he is engaging a person or an idea or a situation in battle.)

An arrangement of some of the things (but not “all of the things”) (and perhaps not even “most of the things”) that Dwight has battled, organized by Threat Tiers:

Threat Tier I: Office Security

The enemies that Dwight battled and defeated easily.

  • Dwight vs. Dunder Mifflin Infinity: This one was when he battled the Dunder Mifflin Infinity site, which Ryan put in place as a way to streamline sales (customers could order directly from the site rather than having to deal with a salesperson). Dwight outsold it, and honestly I don’t think enough was made of that. He fucking beat the internet. The only other two people I’ve ever seen beat the internet so soundly were Denzel Washington (Virtuosity) and Keanu Reeves (The Matrix), which is obviously elite company to be in.
  • Dwight vs. His Own Cholesterol: “Through concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.”
  • Dwight vs. Roy: One of my favorite moments of the show. Roy found out that Jim and Pam had kissed at Casino Night and so he showed up to the office the next day to cave in Jim’s face. He busted in, spotted Jim, hollered his name, then charged him. And, truth be told, had he gotten his warehouse bear paws on Jim, he’d have destroyed him. But there was Dwight, a hero, subduing Roy by spraying him in the face with a can of pepper spray he had hidden at his desk.
  • Dwight vs. The Coalition of Reason: “The Coalition of Reason” is a thing that Oscar mentions during the episode where Andy and Dwight convince Michael that an insurance salesman is actually a member of the mafia. Oscar explains that normally it’s him, Jim, and Pam (and maybe one or two others) who always have to buck back against any crazy ideas that the other less reasonable employees lob out into the universe. Jim and Pam are on their honeymoon during the mafia episode and so Dwight easily shouts down Oscar’s claims that the insurance salesman does not have mob ties.
  • Dwight vs. Andy for Angela’s Heart: Andy gave up pretty easily, which makes sense, given that he was Andy. Angela was actually a far more harrowing war opponent than Andy was during Dwight’s love quest.
  • Dwight vs. Babies: The scene where Dwight soothes Jim and Pam’s baby is a wonderful little moment. It’s always fun when Dwight can get Jim under his thumb for a second because he always presses down on his forehead when he does.

Threat Tier II: Entry Warfare

The enemies Dwight battled against and defeated, but not easily.

  • Dwight vs. Making Michael Respect Him: Dwight’s greatest, biggest, most substantial battle. It took all the way up the last full episode of Michael’s run on the series before Michael all the way admitted Dwight had won him over, but it happened.
  • Dwight vs. Making Angela Know that He Loves Her: Two things here: First, the title here is in reference to Angela brushing off Dwight’s advances after her son (Phillip) was born because she didn’t want to feel like he was trying to be with her only to take care of the baby. Second, there’s a whole section in the ninth meeting of this packet about Angela’s willingness to be so stubborn that it freezes solid everything in the universe around her. It’s remarkable, really.
  • Dwight vs. Depression: Season 6, episode 12: “My diabolical plot is on hold for Christmas. My heart just melts with the sound of children singing. Hmmph! [laughs] Not really! I’m just tired. The days are short. I don’t know. Maybe I’m depressed.” Season 8, episode 14: “The Schrutes have a word for when everything in a man’s life comes together perfectly. Perfectenschlag. Right now, I am in it. I finally get a chance to prove myself to corporate. I am assembling a competent team. I am likely a father. I am so deep inside of perfectenschlag right now. And, just to be clear, there is a second definition, ‘perfect pork anus,’ which I don’t mean.”
  • Dwight vs. The Bat: The one where he had to catch the bat in the office.
  • Dwight vs. Landing the Manager Job: I like that after he finally officially receives the job from David Wallace he kneels down before him like one of the Knights of Excalibur.
  • Dwight vs. Downsizing: “Downsizing? I have no problem with that. I have been recommending downsizing since I first got here. I even brought it up in my interview. I say, ‘Bring it on.’”
  • Dwight vs. Angela Trying to Kill Oscar: This goes back to the thing earlier about Angela and her ability to commit to something entirely. She found out that Oscar had been sleeping with her husband and her response was to try to have Oscar murdered, which is unbelievable when you really think about it.
  • Dwight vs. Prince Paper: Prince Paper was a family-run paper shop. Dwight and Michael scouted it out together, then secret agent-ed their way into getting all of the information for Prince Paper’s biggest clients, then gave it to David Wallace, who used it to steal the clients and run them out of business.
  • Dwight vs. Todd Packer: This is the one where they were in Florida and they were both trying to win a big job at Dunder Mifflin. Dwight beat Packer out for the job, but then Robert California told Jim that Dwight had only been given the job so that he could be fired, and so Jim stopped Dwight from taking the job. Packer took it, then was immediately fired. So, really and truly, Dwight beat Todd Packer twice.
  • Dwight vs. The Mafia: After Dwight was able to defeat The Coalition of Reason mentioned in Tier I and convince Michael that the insurance salesman had mob ties, he and Andy tricked Michael into believing that actually the guy wasn’t connected to the mafia and so Michael called the insurance salesman and yelled at him. Dwight (and Andy) then told Michael that they’d just made it up and that they still believed that he actually was in the mob, meaning that they’d convinced Michael to stare down the mob. Or something. There was a lot going on that episode. I don’t know. It was funny when Andy was dressed up like a mechanic, though. That part I know.

Threat Tier III: Furious Fury

The enemies Dwight battled to a draw.

  • Dwight vs. Moving Stanley after Tranquilizing Him: This is the one where Dwight needed Stanley to go on a sales call with him but Stanley kept refusing because the elevator wasn’t working and he didn’t want to go down the stairs. Dwight shot Stanley with three tranquilizer darts and then dragged him to his car. Had their battle ended there, it would have been a victory for Dwight, but after Stanley came to and found out that he and Dwight had closed the sale, Stanley told Dwight that now he had to get him back up the stairs, then stuck himself with one of Dwight’s tranquilizer darts and passed out again.
  • Dwight vs. Jim: If you try hard enough, I think you could make a very solid argument that, by the end of the show, Dwight had actually defeated Jim (Jim was working as Dwight’s assistant; Jim was Dwight’s bestest mensch; Jim and Pam were mercy-fired by Dwight; etc.). But, as of right now, I’m of the mind that the two ended their battle in a draw (Jim was working as Dwight’s assistant only because he knew it’d provide him with the opportunity to mess with Dwight; Jim accepted being Dwight’s bestest mensch because he knew that the person Dwight really wanted for the role [Michael] wasn’t around anymore; Jim and Pam left Dunder Mifflin to go live their dream life together in Austin; etc.).
  • Dwight vs. Dwight: The one where Dwight fought himself during a self-defense seminar.
  • Dwight vs. The Corporate Coats at the Volleyball Game: Scranton was playing Corporate in the championship match of the Dunder Mifflin company-wide volleyball tournament. Pam, who, it turned out, was Scranton’s best player, twisted her ankle and had to go to the hospital for a while, so Dwight started stalling the game so they’d have enough time for her to get checked out and then come back. Jim and Pam never went back, though, because while they were at the hospital they found out that Pam was pregnant. [7] We never got to see a resolution to the volleyball game. I wonder who won?
  • Dwight vs. The Guy from the Syracuse Branch: This is another one of the times where we got to see Jim and Dwight stand on the same side of Dwight’s shield. They were fighting with him about who was going to sign a big client that was up for grabs after one of the Dunder Mifflin branches between Scranton and Syracuse closed down. During this battle, Andy snuck off and stole the client for himself.

Threat Tier IV: Death Armageddon

The enemies Dwight battled against and lost.

  • Dwight vs. The Guy From the Steamtown Mall: This was the one where they tried to get Dwight to Pretty Woman a salesperson at the Steamtown Mall but everything fell apart.
  • Dwight vs. The Flasher: He didn’t catch him. In fact, the opposite: He got tricked into being him.
  • Dwight vs. Darryl when Darryl Was Trying to Lie about a Workplace Injury: I always wondered if any disciplinary action came out of this. (Dwight figured out that Darryl was lying about how he got hurt at work. Darryl threatened he’d claim that Dwight and Toby sexually harassed his sister if they told on him because Toby mistook her for him and screamed at her.)
  • Dwight vs. Lice: Pam accidentally brought lice into the office. Dwight tried to defeat the lice and lost. (Erin ended up being the one to beat them.)
  • Dwight vs. His Appendix: It burst. It won.
  • Dwight vs. Wigs: He looked ugly in the wigs.
  • Dwight vs. Danny Cordray: He tried to defeat Danny Cordray. It ended with Meredith trying to sleep with Danny and Michael hiring him.
  • Dwight vs. Pam: This was the one where Pam was the office manager and she was trying to strongarm Dwight (who, by that point, owned the building) into fixing things. She threatened Dwight by pretending to have found a place for Dunder Mifflin to move to after their lease was up, but Dwight sniffed out the lie. She had a breakdown in private to Jim about it (she was calling herself a failure, and pointing out how she failed when she tried to become a salesperson and also how she failed when she tried to go to art school). Dwight overheard it, then arranged for her to find a way to “win” their battle. (The Dwight-Pam friendship is one of the very best running bits on the show. Their battle for the office building is their number one most touching moment. The others that make up the top five: No. 5: When Jim tries to set Dwight up by letting him overhear his credit card number and Dwight, in response, pranks Jim by sending Pam $200 in flowers. No. 4: When Dwight reminds her and Jim to grab a toothbrush for CeCe when they’re at the pharmacy. No. 3: When Dwight consoles her while she’s crying over Jim and Karen. No. 2: When Dwight is out trying to find Michael and Pam calls him and asks him to bring some supplies back to the office so they can make sundaes. Dwight blows her off at first, and when he does she pesters him just a little bit more, to which he responds, “Pam, I’m obviously going to get that stuff for you so just shut up.”)