Movies don’t usually come together into a solid product on their own, or easily. It takes a lot of work to make a movie really, well, work. And in the process, a lot of things can change during the production of a film. And that includes the endings for movies, too. One of the most important parts of the story is, of course, the ending. And when it doesn’t work, it can transform the movie entirely. But that doesn’t mean every change works out for the best. Sometimes, the ending changes into something lesser than the original idea, and it just feels like a crushing disappointment instead of repairing any problems with the actual narrative.
Some movies just can’t manage to reach all the potential that they’re trying to reach for. Maybe the creators changed it to make way for real life context, or maybe the audiences weren’t huge fans of the main characters dying at the end of their stories. Maybe the studios even decided to complain about the direction of the ending, and eventually wanted everything to be changed. For whatever reason, these creators ended up changing their films to appease someone, and sometimes it just wasn’t the right call to make. And that’s a shame, but at least audiences still get the chance to see these endings now, thanks to the power of the internet. Here are fifteen alternate endings to major movies that would’ve been better than the ones we ended up actually getting.
15. Godfather Part 3 Was Almost Amazing
Among movie lovers, the third Godfather film is known as something of a missed opportunity. The third and final instalment in the seminal story of the Corleone Mafia family was a letdown from the heights of the previous two films. Audiences expecting some grand and operatic finale were treated to a sloppy soap opera instead. But the original idea for the film would have suited the overall themes of the cost of crime, while also making for one of the best stand-offs in movie history: Michael Corleone vs. Tom Hagen. In the released version of the movie, Tom Hagen – adopted brother to Michael and a brilliant but ruthless lawyer for the family – would have found themselves at odds in their later years, and gone to war for control of the family, which sounds amazing. But Robert Duvall was insulted by the sheer discrepancy between his payment and fellow star Al Pacino’s for the last movie, and demanded a pay bump. When he was turned down, Duvall abandoned the movie, leaving director Francis For Coppala to scramble and put together the movie that we got. Damn it.
14. Alien Almost Killed Ripley
Alien is far and away one of the best horror movies of all time. It follows the unfortunate schmucks who encounter an alien species and bring it on board their ship, and it’s a tense and tremendous film. It also led to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley becoming one of the biggest and best female leads in sci-fi/action. We would have lost out on that, though, if the original ending for the movie had been used. In the actual film, the story ends when Ripley is in the escape pod, and realizes the alien is in there with her. She manages to knock it out of the pod, and kill it with the ship’s thrusters. But in the original version, the alien is able to get the drop on Ripley and straight-up murder her on screen. The alien then takes her chair, activates a distress beacon, and makes a plea for help – in Ripley’s voice. That would have been terrifying, but it maybe pushes the line of believability too far, and would have deprived us of Aliens, which would have been a poor world to live in.
13. Get Out Ended On A Realistic Down Note
Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, has been one of the breakout hits of the year, managing to become something of a phenomenon in the earlier months of the year. The film is about a young African-American photographer being brought to an affluent white home and learning the darker truths of their success, and it was exactly what 2017 needed. But the original, bleaker ending to the film would have been the ultimate thematic conclusion. At the climax of the movie, Chris has been able to escape the family and even manage to dispatch each member. But that’s when the flashing red and blue lights of a police squad car rolls up behind him. In the original ending, Chris is promptly arrested for the carnage left in his wake. It was a powerful ending, especially considering the movie that preceded it. But following a number of unarmed black men being shot by police during the production of the movie, Peele decided he wanted a less bleak finale for the audience.
12. Paranormal Activity’s Other Endings Are Way More Scary
Paranormal Activity was a massive success when it first came out, and became the spiritual successor to movies like Blair Witch Project in a massive, cultural way. It helped that the first one is also just a solid scary movie. The movie is about a married couple named Katie and Micah who find themselves haunted by a very troll-y demon. At the end of the movie (and setting up a host of sequels), Katie is possessed by the demon and kills Micah before pouncing at the camera. She survives, and makes it out to get involved in future movies. But the movie actually featured darker alternative endings, each ending with Katie dying. In one, she goes catatonic until police arrive at the scene, and when the demons startles them, they shoot Katie. In another, Katie walks backs into the room, and slits her own throat with a butcher’s knife. Both would have been more shocking than what we got, and probably would’ve landed better.
11. Jim Dies In 28 Days Later
A lot of movies explore the idea of killing their hero at the end, and giving the story a real sense of closure. But a lot of the time, characters are spared, even at the expense of the overall attitude of the movie. Take 28 Days Later, one of the best horror movies of the last twenty five years. The sort-of zombie film follows a recently awaken coma patient, Jim, who discovers that, essentially, the zombie apocalypse happened while he was out of commission. It’s an intense, beautifully shot movie. It also probably should have ended with Jim being killed in the end. After escaping and killing the military outpost, Jim is shot in the gut on their way out. In the original version, his friends aren’t able to save him, and he dies on an operating table. The two girls agree to move on, and leave the hospital (and Jim behind). But test audiences hated it, so the creators changed it to the current version, which has Jim survive, live in a cottage, and SOS to a passing over plane. This kind of defeats the purpose, and takes away the bookends of the film (Jim starting it and ending it inside a hospital).
10. Rambo Commits Suicide By Cop
Okay, back to killing your childhood icons (this is the best job in the world, you guys). Rambo – played by Sylvester Stallone – became a national icon during the 1980s as the Commie-busting war hero a Regan America could fall in love with. But the world was incredibly close to never getting more than one Rambo story, because First Blood originally ended with Rambo basically killing himself. After being cornered at the end of the first movie, Rambo tearfully surrenders to his superior officer, and the two leave the scene. But in the original cut of the ending, Stallone’s depressing monologue ends with him standing up, and Trautman pulling a gun. After a tense moment, Trautman moves the gun away, but Rambo grabs him by the wrist and forces the gun back towards him. It goes off, and Rambo crumbles onto the ground.
9. Han Solo Almost Died 30 Years Earlier
Han Solo dying was the most obvious gut-punch of the last few years in movies, and the moment worked because how much audiences loved Han Solo. But that moment almost came thirty years earlier, during the course of Return of the Jedi. Harrison Ford was exhausted with the role after the production of the previous two and was tired of being a part of the Star Wars films, and wanted to play more interesting roles. So he lobbied George Lucas to kill Solo in the third film. The scene was even scripted, but never came to fruition. Lucas reportedly feared the lost toy revenue if a major character like Han Solo died in the movies. Ford got the last laugh, though, eventually getting the death he wanted (and making upwards of $20 million off the movie).
8. John Cusack Should Have Died In 1408
Okay, this is the last one about characters who should have died. And this one made for a way cooler ending, too. The haunted hotel movie about a ghost writer who finds himself dealing with a haunted room ends with star John Cusack lighting the room on fire and laughing while everything burns around him. In the released version of the movie, Cusack actually survived the fire and reunited with his estranged wife. But in the original version of the ending, Cusack actually died in the room, and was buried not long after. But he does manage to be reunited with his dead daughter, and give Samuel L. Jackson one good jump scare from the back seat of his car. It’s a much more fulfilling ending, and gives Cusack’s actions a greater strength to them.
7. Average Joe’s Lose In Dodgeball
Dodgeball was a fun take on the sports underdog movie, showing off a team of scrappy losers going head to head against a more popular and crueler group in a sports competition. For this movie, though, that competition is dodgeball, and everything is mercilessly mocked. The movie almost went all in on the subversive nature of their take on the upbeat sports flick, though, by having the heroes just literally lose. At the last second of the championship game, Vince Vaughn is trying to help his team beat out the Globo Gym Purple Cobras, but his rival (played by Ben Stiller) gets the drop on him and takes him out, winning the game. The movie was just supposed to end there, in defeat, but test audiences hated it. So, a lengthy final duel escalates following fouls on Ben Stiller’s part, and the Average Joe’s manage to win the game.
6. Terminator Almost Made A Good Time Loop
The Terminator films have a habit of, well, not making sense. Like, at all. The internal logic for how time travel operates in this series is extremely sloppy, and multiple failed reboots/revamps have left audiences severely confused by the events of the movies. This is super sad, because the first one actually did a really interesting time loop at the end. After Sarah Conner survives her encounter with the lethal android, she flees the city. But in the original ending, the film then cut back to the factory where she managed to bring down the Terminator. At this point, the audience gets to see a company arrive and recover the remains of the robot for study. That company is revealed to be Skynet, the same group that in the future built the very AI system that turned on humanity and killed much of the Earth. It’s an obvious but well-done twist, and sets the groundwork for future films.
5. The Bad Guy Gets Away With It In Orphan
Orphan was a surprisingly strong and creepy horror film about a little girl adopted by an average family, who (surprise, surprise) turns out to be a little person who’s also a serial killer, because this movie is amazing. The aforementioned orphan, Esther, manages to kill her adopted father before getting into a brutal fight with the adopted mother. Esther is finally dispatched in the climax of the movie, ultimately kicked right in the face and falls back into a frozen lake with a broken neck. But the original version of the ending was much creepier, and let Esther escape with her life. She even manages to dress herself up as a little girl again just before the police arrive and find her back in character.
4. John McClane’s Revenge
John McClane, played perfectly by Bruce Willis, is one of the best action movie characters of all time. His commitment to protecting people, even when the odds are stacked against him, makes him a relatable and great character. But that might have been ruined somewhat if the character went in the direction the creators initially intended for the third movie. Die Hard with a Vengeance ended with villain Jeremy Irons killed and John McClane made it out redeemed in the eyes of the law. But in the original version, Irons actually escaped and managed to get away with the money, pinning all the blame on McClane. Irons is enjoying a nice life in Europe, when McClane finds him and reveals his life has been destroyed it. McClane ends up shooting Irons with a rocket. The studio was concerned it was maybe pushing it a little far. But it could have been a fantastic moment.
3. Ash Sleeps Too Long
Army of Darkness is amazing. The movie is about an S-Mart employee who’s sent back to Camelot to help fight an army of demons alongside his shotgun, metal hand, and chainsaw. It’s fantastic, and employed Bruce Campbell to perfection. The ending of the movie, where Ash returns to the present day and fights monsters in an S-Mart, is great. But the original finale could have been a much bigger twist. Ash is given a potion that will put him into a deep slumber and wake him in the present day. But Ash, being an idiot, ends up drinking too much of the potion and sleeping through the modern day and all the way to a dark post-apocalyptic hellscape. Come on! That’s hilarious. It’s unfortunate that the creators had to go back and change it.
2. Heathers Was Almost Way Bleaker
If you haven’t seen Heathers, you totally should. What looks on the outside to be a trite high school comedy is actually a dark and ridiculous look at teenagers that’s worth hunting down. The movie follows Veronica, a popular girl at her boring school who falls in with a “teen rebel,” who turns out to much more murderous than she anticipated. The grisly film features a bunch of different murders, but the biggest ones were cut from the climax of the movie. Writer Daniel Waters actually scripted multiple takes on the climax, ranging from the school actually blowing up and taking the prom above them straight to heaven, to heroine Veronica saving the day only to be stabbed by a vengeful former friend. All of those would have felt more in-line with the rest of the movie, but the happy ending plays better to the audience.
1. The Great Pie Fight At The End Of The World
Let’s go to a lighter subject for a moment. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is one of the most clever comedies ever. It is a perfectly executed political satire by mad genius director Stanley Kubrick. The movie (about a general who goes out of his mind and orders a preemptive nuking of Russia, and the US military’s bumbling attempts to stop it before it goes off) is a landmark in comedy, and damn near perfect. But what could have pushed it over the edge was a scene cut from the ending. Just as the bombs are about the drop, the military was initially going to get into an over-the-top pie fight with the Russian ambassador, and spend some of the last moments of their lives flinging desserts at one another. Kubrick said he cut it because it pushed the satire too far into becoming a farce, but it also seems like the perfect bit to end the movie on.