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That Time The Office Filmed During a Real Earthquake - And Caught It All on Camera

One blooper reel from The Office has a certain shaky quality to it.

By Matthew Jackson

The Office is a show that thrives on a sense of spontaneity. Not only are there numerous improvisational moments peppered throughout the hit sitcom, but the mockumentary setup for the show gives the sense that anything might happen at anytime. But even the show's cast and crew couldn't plan for a real-life earthquake to rock the set during the production of Season 5. 

How to Watch

Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

You may have seen references to this event floating around social media sites like TikTok in recent years, and wondering when exactly a real-life earthquake actually hit The Office's California set, and where you can watch the footage in context. You also might be wondering whether or not the footage is real, or just a rumble that was caught on-camera that the cast simply thought was an earthquake.

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The Story of The Office's Real-Life Earthquake Episode

The entire cast of The Office Season 5 pose for a promo shoot.

Well, the truth-seeking folks at Snopes did some digging, and it turns out that yes, the footage that seemingly captures an earthquake on The Office can be connected to a real seismic event that hit California in the summer of 2008. The "moderate" earthquake measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, and while it was strong enough for people to feel it as far away as Las Vegas, it thankfully wasn't strong enough to injure anyone or do major property damage. 

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It was also strong enough to briefly rattle production on "Weight Loss," the two-part episode that opens The Office's fifth season. The quake came through while actors Steve Carell (Michael Scott), Amy Ryan (Holly Flax), John Krasinski (Jim Halpert), and Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) were filming a scene in the Dunder Mifflin break room, and we know it's the "Weight Loss" episode because we can see the healthy foods Dwight pounded into the vending machine earlier in the story.

You can watch the footage beginning about 5:20 in a blooper reel here.

In the footage, you can see everyone's expressions change to momentary concern as the quake begins, and hear crew members shouting things like "everybody stay still." When it's clear the tremor isn't growing more severe, Carell sing-songs "We're having an earthquake, get it on the DVD extra," and later jokes that the rumble is "the train" coming through Scranton. It's brief, but the footage is both a reminder of the cast's camaraderie and of the show's Southern California production, despite being set clear on the other side of the country.

The Office is now streaming, earthquake-free, on Peacock