A lot of things can change when you’re making a movie, even the ending. New inspiration, poor planning, test audiences, or just one person saying, “This is a bad idea,” can change a creator’s mind on how to finish off their story.
We gathered some of the more intriguing alternate movie endings out there, including some that might be better than the ones we saw in the theater. Your favorite film might have originally had a totally different ending!
This movie sees a 50-something-year-old Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) come out of retirement to face the younger current champion Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver). Rocky goes the distance, proving that he is still a contender. However, the film’s alternate ending added more gold to Rocky’s golden years.
In Rocky Balboa’s original ending, Rocky beats Dixon and becomes the world champion once again. While it would’ve been cool to see The Italian Stallion wearing the title belt one last time, it was ultimately decided to have Rocky’s victory be him going toe-to-toe with the world champ without quitting.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
My Best Friend’s Wedding is a favorite among rom-com fans. Julianne (Julia Roberts) tries to break-up her best friend’s wedding in the hopes of marrying him herself. In the original ending, Julianne fails to ruin the nuptials, but meets an interesting new guy at the reception. And test audiences hated it.
People didn’t think Julianne got her proper comeuppance after nearly ruining her friend’s wedding for totally selfish reasons. So the ending was changed to Julianne dancing with George (Rupert Everett), her gay best friend, and not meeting any new romantic prospects.
Army of Darkness
After traveling to the past and defeating the army of the dead in the Middle Ages, Ash (Bruce Campbell) recites an incantation and takes a sleeping potion that allows him to wake up back in his own time. The original ending, however, was much darker.
Instead of waking up back in his own time, Ash sleeps too long, waking up in a desolate future. Director Sam Raimi was pressured to shoot a happier ending for American audiences, as Universal Pictures thought it was too much of a downer.
I Am Legend
Will Smith saving the world? Check. Vampire-like mutants? Check. I Am Legend stars Smith as Neville, a man living alone in a post-apocalyptic city and working to discover a cure for the infection that wiped out most of the population. He heroically sacrifices himself to destroy a bunch of mutants so two other survivors can escape with the cure.
The original ending was much less action-hero-ish. Neville realizes that the mutants just want to live peacefully, and that to them, he is the monster. He and the mutants share a truce, with Neville able to deliver the cure to the human survivor colony himself.
In Fatal Attraction, Dan (Michael Douglas) has an affair with Alex (Glenn Close), but things spiral out of control when Dan tries to break it off. Alex gets more threatening and unhinged until finally killing herself and framing Dan for her murder. Or, at least, that’s what happened in the original ending.
Personally, we think that ending is better, because it’s more in line with the psychological terrorism Alex inflicts on Dan for most of the film. Producers felt that ending was too grim, however, so they changed it to the one seen in theaters – Alex breaks into Dan’s house and attacks him, only to be shot and killed by Dan’s wife, Beth (Anne Archer).
Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion stars Cary Grant as Johnnie, a con artist who woos and marries Lina (Joan Fontaine), fully intending to live off of her family’s fortune. As she continues to uncover Johnnie’s many lies, she begins to fear that he is actually planning to kill her and collect on a life insurance policy. And in the film’s original ending, that’s totally what he does.
However, the climax that wound up in the film is much different. The studio didn’t want handsome hero actor Cary Grant to play a murderer, fearing that such a role would hurt his appeal as a leading man. So, the original ending was changed to one in which Johnnie doesn’t kill anyone, and goes to prison for embezzlement.
The modern thriller hit Seven follows two police detectives, the retirement-ready Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and hotshot new guy Mills (Brad Pitt), on the trail of a serial killer who commits murders inspired by the seven deadly sins. The killer ultimately murders Mills’ wife to provoke Mills into shooting him, becoming the final sin, Wrath.
Amazingly, the original ending to Seven was actually less dark. In that ending, Somerset shoots the serial killer instead, saving Mills from committing murder. When asked why he shot the killer, Somerset responds simply with “I’m retiring.”
A relentless alien lifeform invades a cargo ship, killing off the crew one by one, until only Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is left alive. She blows up the ship and escapes in a life pod, ejecting the alien out into space. At least, that’s what happened in the version we saw.
Director Ridley Scott originally wanted the alien to kill Ripley. In the scripted ending, the alien tears Ripley’s head off, makes its way to the control room, and then mimics a human voice on the radio to Earth. An executive threatened to fire Scott for even considering that ending, so it was nixed, and a franchise was born.
The first Rambo film, First Blood, saw troubled Vietnam vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) go on rampage against an abusive police force in a small town. In the end of the movie, Rambo gets taken into custody after waging war against the cops. However, Rambo wasn’t originally meant to survive.
In the planned ending, Rambo steals a gun and shoots himself. Director Ted Kotcheff was talked out of this ending by Stallone after they had shot it, who argued that Rambo deserved a happier ending. Also, Stallone might have been thinking of all the possibilities for Rambo: First Blood Part II.
Clue is unique for not only being a cult favorite comedy-mystery, but for having no true official ending! The movie was shot with three different endings, with three completely different solutions to the mystery. The filmmakers did this to pay homage to the original board game, and to encourage audiences to see the film multiple times to catch all the possible endings.
One ending saw Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren) revealed as the murderous mastermind, while another had Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan) commit all the murders in the house. The third ending had everyone except Mr. Green (Michael McKean) guilty of at least one murder, including the butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry).
On home video and when the movie is aired on TV, all three endings are usually shown in a montage at the end.
Pretty In Pink
The classic teen rom-com Pretty In Pink is a coming-of-age favorite for anyone who spent time as a teenager in the late 80s or early 90s. The end of the film saw Andie (Molly Ringwald) accepting an apology from Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and attending prom with him with the blessing her friend-date Duckie (Jon Cryer). But that wasn’t the original plan.
In the initial ending, Andie realizes that she should’ve been dating her best friend Duckie all along, and they attend prom together as a couple. Test audiences soured on this idea, so the ending was changed and reshoots were scheduled to pair Andie up with the preppy but kind-hearted Blane.
Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi wrapped up the original Star Wars trilogy, but is not without its critics. One of the largest criticisms is the ending, which features all of the main cast dancing to celebrate their victory on Endor, as the Ewoks play music and sing. Fans who felt that finale was a little cheesy might be interested to learn that a different, darker ending was originally pitched.
According to producer Gary Kurtz, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) was supposed to get killed off. The ending wouldn’t have seen the Rebellion dancing with joy, but being scrambled back together by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) to continue the fight against the Empire. And Luke (Mark Hamill) would’ve walked off into the sunset with R2-D2 like a wandering samurai, or, as Kurtz told the LA Times, “Like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns.”
The wild stoner action-comedy ends with a huge shootout that is as over-the-top as it is hilarious. Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Danny McBride blast their way through a compound of villainous drug dealers, then go to a diner to nurse their wounds before getting picked up to go to a hospital. It’s a classic buddy-movie ending that almost went in a completely different direction.
In an alternate ending, Rogen and Franco sit on a couple of barrels and smoke. Moments later, they are riddled with bullet holes like the title characters from Bonnie and Clyde.
It’s just as over-the-top as the rest of the movie, but the filmmakers ultimately decided killing their two main characters was a bridge too far. It’s also possible that the sequence was intended to be an after-credits scene or a crazy DVD extra.
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect is a crazy science-fiction thriller about Evan (Ashton Kutcher), a man who is able to travel back in time to different points in his own life. In the original ending, Evan ultimately travels back to when he was an unborn infant in the womb and strangles himself with his umbilical cord, to save his girlfriend from living a doomed life because of him.
Having such an intensely grim ending to what is already a pretty dark film didn’t sit well with the filmmakers, so it was changed. Evan travels back to his first meeting with Kayleigh and convinces her to never be his friend. She moves to a new neighborhood with her mom, avoiding an abusive upbringing with her father and all the anguish Evan inadvertently caused her.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Edgar Wright’s cult action-comedy is a favorite among comic book and video game fans. After Scott (Michael Cera) defeats all of Ramona’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) evil ex-boyfriends (and girlfriend), Scott restarts his romance with Ramona and apologizes to his ex-girlfriend Knives (Ellen Wong) for treating her badly. However, that wasn’t always the ending Wright had in mind.
In an alternate ending, Scott and Ramona decide to split up, and Scott gets back together with Knives. This has led fans of the graphic novel series to wonder which couple was better, or if neither Ramona nor Knives should end up with the not-quite-mature Scott.
A creepy thriller starring John Cusack, 1408 follows a ghost hunter as he attempts to stay one night in a severely haunted hotel room. In the theatrical ending, Mike survives a destructive fire in the room, but not before recording the voice of his dead daughter on tape, proving the existence of an afterlife. But that’s just one of four total endings!
Two different endings have Mike die in the fire, publishing a posthumous book about 1408 and continuing to search for his daughter’s spirit as a ghost. In the fourth ending, Mike survives, and his wife hears their dead daughter’s voice from the tape recorder.
Depending on where you saw the movie, you could have seen an entirely different finish to the film!
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is considered one of the greatest action movie of all time. However, the original ending was a little bit more cheerful and cheesy, and left no room for additional sequels. The film jumps several years to the future, in which Judgment Day never happened and an older Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) looks proudly on her adult son, who is serving as a US Senator.
Director James Cameron abandoned that ending for a more somber one, in which the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lowers itself into a vat of molten steel to destroy its microchip and prevent further Terminators. Then, Sarah Connor gives a speech about a now-uncertain future as she and John Connor (Edward Furlong) drive down a lonesome highway.
A Star Is Born (2018)
There have been four versions of A Star is Born, all of which feature the death of the male lead. In Bradley Cooper’s 2018 version, Jackson Maine (Cooper) hangs himself in his garage after concluding that his alcoholism is getting in the way of his wife Ally’s (Lady Gaga) career. At least, that’s the ending we saw.
In one of the earlier drafts, Jackson was going to commit suicide by swimming out to sea to drown. As production was underway, the ending was changed to Jackson recklessly riding his motorcycle and dying in an accident, leaving the audience confused whether Jackson intentionally crashed or not.
Man of Steel
This take on the origin story of Superman has been debated among superhero fans and critics for years. In Man of Steel, Superman (Henry Cavill) defeats his nemesis Zod (Michael Shannon) by snapping his neck. Granted, Zod was about to kill civilians with his heat vision, and Superman felt like he had no choice, but it still rattled audiences who felt that Superman shouldn’t kill people, no matter what.
Superman killing another person didn’t just cause arguments among fans, but also within the production of Man of Steel. Producer Christopher Nolan was against it, believing Zod should get banished instead of killed. After convincing from director Zack Snyder and getting permission from DC, Nolan approved of the neck-snap.
Star Trek Generations
Star Trek Generations features the long-awaited onscreen team-up of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The end of the film sees Kirk sacrificing himself to distract the evil Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell) long enough for Picard to prevent Soran from destroying an entire solar system.
The original ending was less impactful. Kirk gets abruptly shot in the back by Soran, which many involved in the production felt was a weak way for such an iconic character to die. Test audiences agreed, and the studio ordered a rewrite and reshoots it to give Captain Kirk a more meaningful death scene.
The Predator (2018)
The soft reboot of the Predator franchise was heavy on action and comedy, pitting the alien hunter against a team of misfit soldiers. At the end of the film, the soldiers defeat the Predator, and military scientists discover a “Predator Killer” suit in its spaceship that could even the odds for humanity.
Several different endings were suggested that would’ve connected the film to other franchises. The first ending pitched saw the surviving soldiers get recruited by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that was abandoned when Schwarzenegger declined to do a cameo. Another idea would’ve had Sigourney Weaver appear as her character, Ripley, from the Alien franchise.
Kevin Smith’s breakthrough film follows Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) as he gets called into work at a convenience store on his day off, and tries to find direction in his life between conversations about Star Wars. The film ends with his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) tossing Dante his sign and saying, “You’re closed.” At least that’s the ending seen in theaters.
In the original cut, the ending scene continues with Randal leaving and an unknown customer coming into the store. After Dante explains to the customer that the store is closed, the customer shoots and kills Dante, then proceeds to raid the cash register. Under the advice of movie producer John Pierson, Smith cut the film earlier to keep the mood light at the end.
A Quiet Place
John Krasinski’s directorial debut A Quiet Place is a home run for a first-time film director. The story of a family surviving silently among an invasion of alien predators with super-hearing was a hit at the box office. Yet we wouldn’t have gotten the hopeful ending of the film without Steven Spielberg.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Krasinski shared that one of his producers recommended that the film end with Emily Blunt’s character successfully killing one of the monsters, rather than have the bleak ending Krasinski originally intended.
He was against the idea until he listened to an old interview with Steven Spielberg, in which Spielberg argued that you can have an artistic film that “you can also eat popcorn to.” With that in mind, Krasinski approved the change, knowing it wouldn’t compromise his artistic take.
The sci-fi classic Blade Runner, about a man hunting four escaped androids (called “replicants”) has so many alternate endings and cuts that fans have argued over which version of the film was the “official” one for nearly 40 years.
The US theatrical release had Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young) leaving Los Angeles, with a voiceover explaining that Rachael didn’t have the four-year lifespan limit that other replicants had, allowing the audience to enjoy a happier ending.
However, in other re-releases and cuts of the film, the film ends more ambiguously, with Deckard and Rachael leaving on an elevator with their fates unknown. Additional scenes were added that made people question whether or not Deckard was a replicant himself (although this question was ultimately solved by the sequel, Blade Runner 2049). Now we’re not sure if we’re replicants.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
The musical sci-fi comedy Little Shop of Horrors engaged audiences with its catchy songs and broad humor. It’s the story of finding love amidst a class struggle while also doing battle with a man-eating plant from outer space. At the end of the movie, Seymour (Rick Moranis) and Audrey (Ellen Greene) defeat the killer Audrey II (Levi Stubbs, voicing a plant puppet) to live happily ever after.
The original ending was much darker, and more in line with the ending of the original stage production. Audrey II eats Audrey and Seymour, proceeding to grow and feast on humanity alongside its fellow alien plants as they successfully take over the world. After test audiences complained, the happier ending was shot and released in theaters.
The Lion King
The Lion King has spawned a Broadway adaptation and a live-action remake, but it originally had a very different ending. During their final confrontation on Pride Rock, Scar tricks Simba and tosses him into a pit of fire. Simba lands safely in a tree, but Scar believes he’s finally killed his nephew. He laughs maniacally as he’s rapidly consumed by flames.
Disney decided to change the ending, possibly believing it was too intense for children. However, altering Scar’s fate so that he gets eaten by hyenas instead of burning alive is a weird compromise to make in terms of not frightening little kids.
Jordan Peele’s directorial film debut was a critical and commercial success, and with good reason. The script’s tight grasp of horror and humor was so good that it won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. However, Get Out might not have been as well-received if Peele had kept his original ending.
In the original cut of the film, the beaten and bloodied Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) gets arrested and charged with the murder of the Armitage family. After seeing test screening results, Peele felt that the movie deserved a happier ending. He used the police lights as an ominous tease before revealing Chris’ TSA pal Rod (Lil Rel Howery) coming to the rescue.
Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film is considered a classic by science fiction fans. In the original theatrical release, the end of the film saw Sam (Johnathan Pryce) escape the fascist police in a truck driven by Jill (Kim Greist), presumably living happily ever after. However, this was not the ending Gilliam had written, or even filmed!
in the director’s version, all of this “happy ending” imagery is revealed to be within Sam’s mind. In reality, Sam was strapped into a chair and lobotomized, forever trapped in a state of ignorant bliss.
Universal Studios were worried that the ending was too much of a bummer, so they re-edited it to have a more “crowd-pleasing” finale, without clearing it with Gilliam. They fought back and forth for almost a year before Universal finally relented and released Brazil with Gilliam’s intended ending.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Disney’s animated The Jungle Book ends with Mowgli becoming smitten with a girl from a nearby village that came to the river to fetch water. Mowgli leaves with her, starting a new life in the “Man-Village.” Yet when it was in the storyboard stage, The Jungle Book didn’t just have a new ending, but an entirely new third act!
It was planned for Mowgli to reunite with his lost mother at the “Man-Village.” The story would then jump ahead in time, with Mowgli now at odds with this animal friends. A local treasure hunter tries to plunder King Louie’s Monkey City, and Mowgli ends up killing Shere Khan with a rifle. Instead of that ending, the producers decided to stick with the bare necessities.
Considered one of the best satires ever made, Dr. Strangelove’s terrifyingly funny look at the Cold War takes on the mutual assured destruction of both the US and Russia in the event of nuclear war. The film concluded with the sight of Slim Pickens riding atop a nuclear payload like a cowboy, followed by footage of several nuclear explosions as the song “We’ll Meet Again” plays on.
Originally, the movie was going to end with a giant pie fight. Director Stanley Kubrick thought the pie fight skewed the tone of the film too far, from satire to screwball. Plus, the pies were so thick, and flying so fast during the fight, that it was difficult for people to visibly make out what was going on.
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