One of the most beloved episodes of “The Office” could have gone a completely different way — and the tale comes straight from the horses’ mouths.
On Tuesday, Entertainment Weekly published a new oral history on the making of the 2009 two-part episode “Niagara” — featuring Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam’s (Jenna Fischer) wedding — in honor of the 10th anniversary of its airing.
Most fans remember the episode fondly, especially since it ends with the Dunder Mifflin crew doing a joyously choreographed reenactment of a viral YouTube video that both Jim and Pam did not want to occur at their church wedding. Assuming that their co-workers may attempt the stunt, the couple decided to have a secret elopement on a boat in Niagara Falls. At the end of the episode, the goofy group dance at the church is intercut with the couple’s intimate ceremony, making for a hilarious and heartfelt conclusion.
Yet, according to the show’s cast and crew, that memorable ending could have been pretty dark, thanks to an original storyline that included, well, a horse.
“I was really committed to the horse for the longest time,” Greg Daniels, co-creator of “The Office,” told ET.
According to Paul Feig, the episode’s director, the morbid storyline involves Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Pam’s ex-fiancé Roy (David Denman). Roy decides the best way to win Pam back is to ride into the church on a horse during her wedding to Jim “like a knight in shining armor” and declare, “I have an objection” to their union.
Pam then rejects his objection.
“So [Roy] has to ride his horse back out of the church,” Feig explained to the magazine. “But then, in an absolute insane thing, they had this crazy ending where Dwight gets the horse and rides it into the falls.”
Daniels then explained the events that led up to that weird conclusion.
“It was like Dwight got fascinated with this historical display at the hotel [in Niagara Falls] that talked about various animals. It started with a cow had been swept over the falls and survived, and then a couple of people tried to go over the falls in a barrel and were killed, and then some sheep went over the falls and survived. And he came up with this theory that you could survive going over the falls if you were riding a horse, because a horse would have the instinct of how to swim properly. And so he was trying to get people to listen to this theory, and then Roy interrupts the wedding trying to do a big, grand romantic gesture that nobody wants and just abandons the horse and drives home. So Dwight gets on and goes into the river above the falls, but panics and jumps off the horse at the last second, while the horse goes over in the background of the wedding.”
Fortunately, a table read of the storyline changed everything.
“…We got to the table read and I was the last defender of the horse,” Daniels admitted. “The entire staff and actors were yelling at me: ‘Don’t ruin Jim and Pam’s wedding with a horse!’”
After a debate, Daniels finally backed down and the writers scrambled to come up with a new ending.
“This was right when that viral video came out,” Feig explained. “It was so popular that we went, ‘Let’s just re-create that.’ It was a real last-minute addition.”
And based on that decision, the iconic episode was able to ride off into the sunset.