Here Are All the Scenes from ‘The Office’ That Are ‘Too Hot for TV’
When asked about an African character in German Christmas folklore, Dwight Schrute, dressed in full Belsnickel gear complete with whip and sticks, nonchalantly states that he’s obviously not going to follow every rule for Dwight Christmas and proceeds to quietly send a text. Outside, Dunder Mifflin warehouse worker Nate is walking into the building dressed in traditional Colonial Christmas garb as “Zwarte Piet,” complete with blackface. He receives a text and quietly returns to his car.
The scene is one of the moments, along with an entire episode, that you will never stumble across during your next Office streaming binge.
Able to grab the attention of multiple generations, The Office is one of the most watched shows on any platform, partly because of its timelessness and non-controversial nature. But that doesn’t mean that the tongue-in-cheek shenanigans of Michael Scott and company are immune to retroactive criticism. In fact, some gags diagnosed with the medical condition known as “WTF?” have been eliminated wholesale from the show’s streaming and syndication runs, like…
‘Koi Pond,’ Season 6, Episode 8
What Scene Was Removed: Halloween Cold Open
The cold open sees Darryl leading a group of schoolchildren through what appears to be a shoddy haunted house created in the Dunder Mifflin warehouse. Among the featured costumes and gags are Michael’s take on Saturday Night Live’s “dick-in-a-box” sketch, Angela’s black widow and the always lazy Jim Halpert’s Facebook costume, which is obnoxiously composed of writing the word “book” on his own face. The kids are walked through a couple of half-hearted horror exhibits while the office members try their best to create a scare. The ending gag is actually frightening as Michael kicks off from a chair with a rope around his neck in a fake suicide attempt, causing the kids to scream in horror. He then returns to life to deliver a lesson about suicide never being the right answer for anyone.
Despite the bit being a part of the cringe humor fans came to expect and love from the series, this particular scene has since been removed. Pressing play on the episode today will instead lead you directly into the first scene as if the cold open never existed. It was allegedly Caryn Zucker, the wife of former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker, who ultimately led to the change. Having done a tremendous amount of work in suicide prevention, people claim that she brought the insensitivity to her husband’s attention, leading to the episode’s permanent adjustment.
Still, this being the internet era, fans can find the cold open online including, strangely enough, on The Office’s own YouTube page under the video “Best of Halloween.”
‘Dwight’s Christmas,’ Season 9, Episode 9
What Scene Was Removed: Nate’s Blackface
As described above, Dwight’s dream finally comes true when given the opportunity to host a traditional Pennsylvania Colonial Christmas. His holiday vision involves dressing up as the terrorizing character Belsnickel, a crotchety gift bringer who judges everyone’s year by only two categories — “impish or admirable.” If labeled as impish, one gets to feel the wrath of Belsnickel’s whip or cane. If admirable, they’re given a humble gift of seeds or jar lids.
Upon receiving backlash from his co-workers, Dwight finally settles down and decides to cancel one part of the festivities at the last minute. Specifically, a cameo from the character “Zwarte Piet,” a small African child that is an assistant to Belsnickel. Again, with a simple text, we see the white warehouse worker Nate on his way into the office in blackface. The joke pops up later, too, as the Christmas party continues, showing Nate enjoying the festivities after having poorly removed the black makeup from his face but not his ears or lips.
The show’s creator, Greg Daniels, was open and honest regarding this change, stating, “The show employed satire to expose unacceptable behavior and deliver a message of inclusion. Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticize a specific racist European practice. Blackface is unacceptable, and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that was caused.”
‘Diversity Day,’ Season 1, Episode 2
What Scene Was Removed: All of Them
Deemed culturally insensitive and inappropriate, the entire episode has infamously been yanked from any streaming or cable service. “Diversity Day” centers around the classic corporate situation of “It’s come to HR’s attention…” A character named “Mr. Brown” (Larry Wilmore) is called in by corporate to conduct an educational seminar due to Michael reciting a famous stand-up routine by Chris Rock. After revealing to Michael that the bit and Michael’s behavior are the only reasons why he was sent to Scranton, Mr. Brown gets Michael’s signature on a form and exits, leaving Michael to run his own version of Diversity Day.
Rallying the office into the conference room, Michael reveals a card game consisting of placing an index card on everyone’s forehead with various races written on them. The object of the exercise is to get the card on your head without looking at it, then have everyone else treat you with racial ignorance so you can guess the card correctly. In classic Michael Scott fashion, he, of course, gives himself Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unaware of the game, the episode ends with an explosive slap from Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) to Michael as he greets her in a mocking Indian accent.