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The Office's Steve Carell Put His Foot Down Over A Ridiculous Horse Stunt

There's this phrase that has been bastardized over the last couple of decades: "Jump the shark." These days, it's shorthand for "the part of the TV show where I started to get tired and cranky" — a quick way of communicating that you're mad at this season of "Ted Lasso" but haven't come across the word "mid" yet.

For a while, though, it had a specific meaning. It pointed to the scene in a television series when the writing became too outlandish for the audience to find it relatable, with the creators throwing out big, elaborate stunts to try and win back their disinterested viewers. The idiom comes from the events of a 5th season episode of "Happy Days" when Henry Winkler's Fonzie water-skied over a ... We all get it, right? You're familiar.

The point is, viewers have been arguing over when "The Office" jumped the shark for years. Some people point to the exit of Steve Carell as the offending incident or the introduction of Robert California (James Spader) as the lizard king of Dunder Mifflin. But according to Carell himself, the show very nearly one-upped the concept of jumping the shark: It almost jumped the horse. Over a waterfall. It's a peculiar story.

Steve Carell wasn't horsing around on The Office

Steve Carell recounted the events on an episode of "The Office Ladies" podcast. According to the Second City alum, it all went down in the days leading up to the filming of the Season 6 two-parter, "Niagara," in which Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) finally get married. The writers, apparently, wanted to send the two off into wedded bliss with a bang — or, more accurately, a splash and some potential animal abuse charges.

"They wanted to have a horse go over Niagara Falls," Carell told his former co-stars, going on to recall that his reaction to hearing the news was to raise his hand and say, "All due respect, but please don't do that" — with "that" here meaning "throw a horse over a 167-foot waterfall."

For context, as revealed in "The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s," the stunt was related to a proposed B-plot in the episode, which would have seen Dwight (Rainn Wilson) fighting a genetic predisposition to jump over Niagara Falls. After getting his hands on a horse, the noble beetsman would have ridden it too close to the landmark's edge, then bailed out just before his steed went tumbling to its death.

From the sounds of things, it's good that Carell put his foot down, since the production team wasn't messing around. Fischer chimed in, remembering that the studio was "all systems go right up until the day before" on the horse diving plan. She added, "There was a horse being trained!" Carell then replied, "Of course there was! What you don't realize is that once you write something, somebody starts to build it."

Anyway, what's the weirdest thing you've had to ask your bosses to not throw over Niagara Falls?