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Jim and Pam's wedding on The Office almost ended with a bizarre tragedy

One of the most beloved weddings in modern sitcom history almost had a much darker, much weirder ending. 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of The Office's best episodes, Entertainment Weekly released an oral history of "Niagara," the two-part episode that focuses on the wedding of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). From Michael Scott's (Steve Carell) dancing surprise during the ceremony to Andy Bernard's (Ed Helms) embarrassing pre-wedding injury to Jim and Pam's secret, actual wedding ceremony on a tour boat, this episode remains a fan favorite — but most viewers had no idea "Niagara" originally included an extraordinarily dark twist that resulted in a bizarre tragedy.

The episode's director, Paul Feig, revealed that showrunner Greg Daniels initially wanted to send a horse flying to its death over Niagara Falls… in a strange subplot that involved Pam's ex-fiancé Roy (David Denman) and a half-baked idea conceived by Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson).

As Feig explained to EW, "All throughout the episode, Roy's been kind of haunting around and unhappy that [Jim and Pam are] getting married, so when they ask if anybody has reason why this couple can't get married, he rides into the church on a horse to sweep Pam off her feet like a knight in shining armor and declares, 'I have an objection.' And she's like, 'What are you doing? No, I want to get married.' She sends him away, so he has to ride his horse back out of the church. But then, in an absolute insane thing, they had this crazy ending where Dwight gets the horse and rides it into the falls."

For his part, Daniels remembers being extraordinarily committed to this extremely weird bit.

"I was really committed to the horse for the longest time. It was like Dwight got fascinated with this historical display at the hotel 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," said Daniels. "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."

It seems like that should be the end of the story, but Daniels continued, detailing that Dwight rides the horse into the river above Niagara Falls and quickly chickens out of his plan. When Dwight dismounts, the horse goes tumbling over the falls "in the background of the wedding." 

"I remember scouting this tank on the Universal lot and talking about how we're going to shoot this horse being swept over the waterfall. Then we got to the table read and I was the last defender of the horse," Daniels said. "The entire staff and actors were yelling at me: 'Don't ruin Jim and Pam's wedding with a horse!'"

Feig and the rest of the cast eventually won the debate: "We were all like, 'This is insane. You can't send a horse over the falls.' And Greg was like, 'No, it would be really funny.' And there was this whole debate that went on in the writers' room, people are like, 'I don't know, I think this is kind of dark and weird.'"

In the end, neither Roy nor the horse made it into Jim and Pam's wedding on The Office, but it's certainly fascinating to know where the writers (especially Daniels) wanted to go with this iconic episode. Frankly, it's probably a good thing that the horse idea got nixed.

How Jim and Pam's wedding came together

We now know what might have happened at Jim and Pam's wedding, but what about how their nuptials actually came to be?

After three seasons of push and pull, the iconic couple finally got together at the beginning of The Office's fourth season, and as their courtship joyously continued, a wedding seemed inevitable. However, weddings can be tricky for sitcoms — especially for one as acerbic as The Office. The same show that aired the hilariously, famously nasty "Dinner Party" episode was now tasked with creating a heartfelt, sweet wedding that would have to steer away from straight schmaltz and still please fans across the world. So, how did the team finish that task?

Kelly Kapoor actress Mindy Kaling, who was also a staff writer on The Office at the time, co-wrote the wedding episode with Daniels and admitted she was nervous about taking on the assignment. 

"I remember being assigned the wedding and thinking, 'Wow, this is a doozy.' A lot of episodes will have a funny hook at the beginning, but this one just has a really happy thing," Kaling said. "The Office is built on awkward situations, but with the wedding episode, I was like, 'There's nothing inherently funny about two people very much in love getting married.' A few days later, Greg Daniels said he'd love to write it with me."

However, as Daniels points out in the EW deep-dive, a wedding in a comedic setting has its roots in the classics — "all Shakespeare comedies end with a wedding" — and thanks to ingenious details like Kevin Malone's (Brian Baumgartner) tissue box shoes, Dwight's insane gift of a homemade turtle-cooking kit that includes two live turtles, and Jim and Pam's matching ruined tie and veil, the episode managed to stay true to the show overall as well as produce an incredible, ambitious wedding for the ages.

The Office will soon leave Netflix for Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service, but for now, you can relive "Niagara" with your Netflix subscription. There's no better way to celebrate 10 years of marriage for the Beesly-Halperts.