The Banned 'Office' Halloween Scene: That Time Michael Scott Hung Himself in Front of Children
You could probably make an entire Emmy-winning show out of the gold left on the cutting room floor of The Office. In fact, that might be exactly what Peacock is trying to do with The Office: Superfan Episodes as they go season-by-season inserting long-lost footage into the most-watched show on the platform.
There’s one perfect scene, however, that might not rise from the dead in the upcoming re-release. In Season Six, episode Eight, titled “Koi Pond,” Michael and Jim, co-managers at the time, paid a visit to a client’s upscale office, where Michael accidentally fell into an unguarded koi pond. The episode first aired on October 29, 2009, and, in fitting with festivities of the season, it opened with a scene where the entirety of the Dunder Mifflin staff holds a haunted house for Scranton youngsters. Michael ends the cold open by hanging himself in front of a group of screaming children, because, apparently, one simulated suicide wasn’t enough for The Office writers.
The setup and payoff in the cold open are just as tight as you can expect from the most talented writer’s room in modern TV history. At the top of the scene, Michael, dressed in a topical and wildly inappropriate “dick in a box” costume, gleefully warns the camera crew that he is “going to scare these kids so bad” before disappearing from the action entirely, leaving us to wonder what ill-conceived plan he has hatched.
After running through a handful of deadpan jokes about the office staff’s mediocre costumes, Darryl promises the crowd of children candy for sitting through the charade. Just then, a curtain falls to reveal Michael thrashing about as he hangs from a noose, before he delivers an educational button to the crying children: “Remember kids, suicide is never the answer.”
The opening drew a negative reaction upon the episode’s initial airing. Parents and critics complained that traumatizing a group of children by showing them a man with a present box over his crotch violently flailing as a noose tightens over his neck was perhaps in poor taste. In their review of the episode, Cinemablend wrote of the stunt, “Too far, Michael. And that box is just… gross.” Apparently, they didn’t watch SNL that year.
The scene was removed from reruns and the subsequent DVD release, allegedly due to the protestation of Caryn Zucker, wife of then-president and CEO of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker. According to the A.V. Club, an anonymous Office producer claimed that Caryn Zucker, having worked in suicide prevention, found the scene to be distasteful and urged her husband to pull rank and have it removed. Said the whistleblower, “The episode was re-cut and re-delivered, with the original HD-SR delivery masters collected back from NBC and thrown into deep storage.”
Though the opening has been scrubbed from streaming — both on Peacock and on The Office's previous home on Netflix — the official YouTube channel for The Office briefly reuploaded it back in 2017 before taking it down again. Last year, the channel released a compilation video of every Halloween-themed Office moment, and we’re happy to report that one special suicidal scene has returned to the mix. And no, it’s not the one with the bouncy castle.