The Office Halloween episodes are some of the best. We get to see Jim Halpert’s not-so-creative non-costumes, the Party Planning Committee’s triumphs and failures, and Michael Scott being King of Cringe. But there’s one Halloween episode that you’re probably having a tough time finding. If you remember a haunted ride in the warehouse but now can’t seem to find the episode anywhere, there’s a reason for it: It’s banned.
When you go back to watch “Koi Pond” the eighth episode of season six, you’ll find it missing a cold open. It jumps straight into the action. In this episode, Michael falls into a koi pond while on an in-person sales call. Where did the cold open go? Without it, there’s nothing to clue you in that this was once an Office Halloween episode. Aside from the original airing on NBC on October 29, 2009, it’s been missing from TV reruns. You can’t even watch the episode with the original cold open on Peacock Premium or Amazon Prime Video.
Why ban an Office Halloween episode?
It all comes down to the content of that cold open–the little inconsequential minutes before the opening credits roll. It starts with Darryl pushing a cart of children through the warehouse. The rows of boxes are decorated with colorful Halloween lights, spider webs, and gigantic spiders. The kids are here for a fun and spooky Halloween ride.
They’re greeted by Michael in a “dick in a box” costume and a scene of some questionable surgery by the rest of the staff. Darryl apologizes to the kids about the lackluster Halloween ride. But the finale of the ride is what’s truly shocking.
There’s a clatter and the camera cuts to a metal chair crashing to the concrete floor of the warehouse. Then we get a shot of Michael Scott, writhing as he’s hanging from a noose. The kids are appropriately horrified, and so is everyone else in the room. Except for everyone’s favorite TV boss, Michael Scott, who uses it as an opportunity to teach the kids the dangers of suicide.
It’s that hanging shot that got the episode banned–but not in the way you might think. There wasn’t any huge backlash, no groups of people storming social media to complain. Keep in mind, this was 2009 and the Internet at large still hadn’t gotten the hang of complaining as a group. Instead, it was the wife of an executive that got this cold open pulled following its initial airing.
According to an exclusive interview with AV Club, a former producer said the ban came from Caryn Zucker, wife of Jeff Zucker. She’d done a lot of work with suicide prevention, so she asked her husband to have the scenes removed. He obliged. At the time, Jeff Zucker was the president and CEO of NBC Universal, so he had the authority to make such a sweeping decision.
Less than a year later, Jeff Zucker was asked to step down from his president and CEO position, yet the removal of the Halloween cold open from The Office’s “Koi Pond” episode still stood. It’s gone from reruns, removed from DVD releases, and is even missing from Peacock and Prime. Caryn Zucker’s influence affects Office stans to this day.
But be thankful, because there’s still one official way to watch the banned cold open.
Where to watch the banned Office Halloween episode.
One place is safe from the ban, and that’s YouTube. The Office is the show’s official YouTube channel, owned by NBC. In addition to the many, many compilation videos they post, they added a Halloween compilation back in 2021. In the video, they clip from all 6 Halloween episodes, including the full cold open from “Koi Pond.”
Since this is NBC’s official video, it seems they aren’t totally following Caryn Zucker’s opinions anymore. They even feature the hanging in the video’s thumbnail. If you want to watch the banned Office Halloween cold open, check out the video below. It starts at around 0:54.