Top 10 Classic Movies That Almost Ended Differently
Movie production is usually quite a task, often taking years of planning and shooting. After that comes the editing phase where scenes are cut or transformed into the final version of the film. Sometimes, the original ending is deleted, changing the entire plot and viewer perception of a movie.
Here are 10 movies whose final scenes were changed. All the alternate endings were shot, and we have provided their YouTube videos. The only one that was not on film is The Lion King, but we have provided its storyboard and voice-over. Some people argue that the alternate endings are better than the actual conclusions, but we will leave you to decide.
Spoiler alert: Obviously, we’re going to tell you the endings of all these movies.
Titanic is a movie about the infamous sinking of the RMS Titanic. Years after the event, former passenger Rose relates her experience to the crew of a salvage ship that was going to search the wreckage for the “Heart of the Ocean” diamond necklace that was supposedly on board when the Titanic sank. At the end, we discover that Rose had the necklace all along and we watch her throw it into the ocean before she goes to bed.
However, in the original ending, Brock, the leader of the salvage ship, and Elizabeth, Rose’s daughter, see Rose as she tries to throw the jewel overboard. They think she is trying to jump into the sea and attempt to stop her. Rose shows them the necklace—much to their surprise—and tells them that she followed the expedition just so she could throw the “Heart of the Ocean” back where it belongs.
As she throws the necklace into the ocean, a surprised, annoyed, and disgruntled crewman shouts, “That really sucks, lady.” Meanwhile, Brock laughs and asks Elizabeth if she wants to dance.
9 The Lion King
The Disney classic The Lion King ends with Simba and his wicked uncle, Scar, fighting on a burning rock over who will rule the jungle. Simba defeats Scar and spares his life. Then Scar is killed by his hyena proteges who are angry because he told Simba that they, and not Scar, were the enemy.
This ending is very different from the one originally planned where Scar wins by throwing Simba off the burning rock. Before the fight, Scar tells Simba, “Good night, sweet prince.” This is a line taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, on which the movie is based. Simba almost throws Scar off the cliff, but Scar asks for help and begs for forgiveness, saying that Simba is better than Scar is.
Simba helps Scar, who then maneuvers Simba and throws him off the cliff. Thereafter, Scar becomes so relaxed with his victory that he does not notice the ferocious fire burning behind him. The fire engulfs and kills him.
8 The Terminator
The Terminator is the first of several movies and a TV series in the franchise. It is about the Terminator, a time-traveling cyborg code-named T-800 which is sent from the future to the year 1984 to kill Sarah Connor. She is the mother of John Connor, the leader of the Resistance against the machine apocalypse happening in 2029.
The Terminator is followed by another time traveler, a human named Kyle Reese, who is sent by John Connor to rescue his mother. The plot is okay until Kyle gets Sarah pregnant and becomes the father of John, the same John who sent Kyle into the past.
In essence, the machines send a cyborg to kill the mother of their opponent while John sends a man whom he does not know is his father to protect his mother. After saving John’s mother, the man accidentally gets her pregnant and becomes John’s father.
The movie becomes more confusing when a chip retrieved from the remains of the destroyed T-800 is reverse engineered by Cyberdyne Systems to create Skynet, the same machines that started the apocalypse and sent the T-800 to the past. So the machines effectively sent a machine to the past to allow their own creation in the future.
The Terminator ends with Sarah and Kyle destroying the T-800 in a factory. However, one deleted scene shows Sarah being taken into an ambulance while engineers going through the wreckage at the factory find the chip, which they reverse engineered to create Skynet. A close-up of the exterior of the factory shows that it is owned by Cyberdyne Systems.
7 First Blood
First Blood is the first of several movies in the Rambo franchise. The hero is John Rambo, a war-scarred veteran who returns from Vietnam but is homeless and has problems adjusting to civilian life. He visits the hometown of his friend, Delmar, a fellow soldier who also went to Vietnam. But Rambo is informed that Delmar is dead.
The town’s lawman, Sheriff Teasle, does not want Rambo hanging around and arrests and tortures him. The torture brings back memories of Vietnam for Rambo, who beats up some officers and escapes. But Sheriff Teasle does not give up easily and has his men go after Rambo. An officer falls from a helicopter during the chase and dies. This angers Sheriff Teasle, who blames Rambo for the death and vows to get him at all costs.
The movie ends with Rambo trapped inside a police station where Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s commander in Vietnam, advises him to surrender. Rambo explains his difficulty in adjusting to civilian life to the colonel just before he surrenders and is arrested and taken away.
In an alternate ending, Rambo begs Colonel Trautman to shoot him. The colonel refuses, but Rambo puts a gun in his former commander’s hand. The colonel then tries to turn the gun away, but Rambo aims it at himself and it goes off.
This ending was the idea of Sylvester Stallone, who starred as Rambo and had cowritten the script. The test audience felt sympathetic toward Rambo and did not want to see him die. So the producers used the other ending where Rambo is arrested and taken away.
6 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the sequel to The Terminator. In Terminator 2, the T-800, the same one that tried to kill John in the first movie, has been reprogrammed. This time, the T-800 is sent from the future to protect 10-year-old John from another machine, the T-1000, which has been sent back to kill John.
The movie ends with Judgment Day postponed. Another sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is where the machines launch the predicted apocalypse.
In the planned original ending of Terminator 2, Judgment Day, stated to happen in 1997, is averted for good. The movie ends in the year 2027 when John is a senator and has a daughter.
The aged Sarah records a narrative, saying that humans are ignorant of the averted apocalypse and live their lives normally—laughing, complaining, and making love. She had wanted to tell them to appreciate each day and use it wisely, but she got drunk instead.
Clerks, the 1994 budget movie we remember for being shot in black-and-white, is about Dante and Randal, two clerks who work in adjacent stores. Dante is a customer-centric fellow who likes his work even though he is distracted by his fight with his current girlfriend, Veronica, and his attempt to reconcile with an ex, Caitlyn. Unlike Dante, Randal hates his job and leaves the store as he wishes.
The movie ends with the duo closing their stores and Dante choosing to make up with Veronica the next morning. But an alternate ending, which was almost used, ends with a robber entering the shop and shooting Dante before emptying the cash register and leaving.
This ending was criticized for being too much of a twist. Clerks is supposed to be a regular comedy and romance movie showing the lives of normal people. It is not supposed to end with a murder.
Even Brian O’Halloran, the actor who played Dante, hated this ending because the movie’s tone changed too quickly. Producer and director Kevin Smith originally concluded the movie with a murder because he didn’t know how to end it. But he changed his initial ending after all the complaints.
4 Fatal Attraction
Fatal Attraction is about a single lady, Alex Forrest, who becomes obsessed with Dan Gallagher, a married man who has a six-year-old daughter, Ellen, with his wife, Beth. During a night out, Dan and Alex enjoy a fling while Beth and Ellen are visiting Beth’s parents. Alex wants a relationship, but Dan does not. So she starts stalking, threatening, and fighting with Dan.
The movie tragically ends with Alex appearing in the Gallaghers’ home where she attempts to murder Beth in the bathroom. Dan interferes and drowns Alex in the bathtub. But she is still alive and suddenly rises, only to be shot dead for real by Beth. Although this ending was filled with action and suspense, it was not the conclusion that was initially planned.
In the original ending, Alex commits suicide by slitting her throat with a knife. As Dan had handled the knife earlier, his fingerprints are on it. He is suspected of being the killer, which was Alex’s plan.
Dan is arrested and will be fingerprinted. But he will probably be saved by the audio recording—in which Alex threatens to kill herself—that Beth finds in his drawer. This ending did not go down well with the test audience, prompting a reshoot.
The bunny, however, was not so lucky. It got boiled in both versions.
3 I Am Legend
I Am Legend is about a man-made virus that goes rogue and turns infected humans into strange-looking creatures that die when exposed to sunlight. Will Smith, starring as Dr. Robert Neville, is not infected and goes in search of a cure while defending himself against the mutants who either want him infected or dead.
Along the line, he captures an infected female and tries to cure her. This prompts the leader of the creatures, who wants to get the female back at all costs, to come after Neville.
At the end of the released movie, Neville, who does not know that the mutant leader is only after the female, has been joined by two others—a woman named Anna and her son, Ethan. They are also free of the virus and are making their way to a colony of uninfected humans.
But the creatures have breached Neville’s lab, where the infected female is being held. Their leader continues hitting himself on the strong glass door, trying to break in.
Neville extracts some blood from the mutant female, who has begun to look more human, and gives it to Anna, telling her that it is the cure. Then he locks Anna and Ethan inside a coal chute before grabbing a grenade.
Just as the mutant leader breaks in, Neville blows up himself, the leader, and every other mutant in the area. The last scene shows Anna and Ethan reaching the colony of the uninfected where she hands the vial to a member believed to be a scientist.
In the original ending that wasn’t released, the leader of the infected tries to break in and is unsuccessful. So he draws a butterfly on the glass. Neville assesses the female he captured and sees that she has a butterfly tattoo.
He realizes that the mutant leader is after the infected female and not him. So he has Anna open the door while he wheels the infected female out to her leader, who takes her away. The movie ends with Neville, Alice, and Ethan leaving town together.
2012 depicts the fictional December 2012 destruction of the Earth as prophesied by the Maya thousands of years ago. The movie revolves around two men, Adrian and Jackson, who both discover that the world is ending. Jackson tries to save his family from the apocalypse while Adrian informs the White House, only to discover that the US and other G8 governments are already aware.
In fact, the G8 had contracted with China to construct nine super arks—each capable of holding 100,000 people—to rescue themselves and the rich, who can afford the tickets costing one billion euros per person. The rest of the populace is unaware of the impending doom, and government officials and scientists who attempt to tell the public all die under suspicious circumstances.
At the end of the movie, the world order has changed. Mount Everest is no longer the world’s tallest mountain, and every continent except Africa is underwater. The calendar is also reset to the year 0001.
However, in the original ending, Adrian is on an ark when he receives a call from his father, Harry. Apparently, Harry has survived the super tsunami with some other people and is shipwrecked on an island. According to director Roland Emmerich, that scene was removed for being unrealistic.
1 Die Hard With A Vengeance
Die Hard with a Vengeance is the third film in the Die Hard series. The criminal, Simon, sends NYPD Lieutenant John McClane on dangerous tasks by threatening to detonate bombs in public areas if McClane does not comply.
As the police and the FBI later find out, the whole plot is meant to keep them so busy that they will not notice Simon’s planned heist of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The movie ends with McClane finding Simon and killing him in a helicopter crash as Simon tries to escape.
In an alternate ending, McClane tracks Simon to a village in Europe. McClane places a handheld Chinese rocket launcher on a table between them and insists that Simon answer some riddles. The launcher has similar looking ends—one facing Simon and the other facing McClane. The directional arrows and sights have been removed, so it’s impossible to tell which way the weapon will fire.
Then McClane forces Simon to play a form of Russian roulette. Throughout the game, Simon switches the position of the launcher while answering the riddles.
He gets the last answer wrong, and at gunpoint, McClane forces Simon to press the trigger and fire the launcher. Unfortunately for Simon, the projectile goes straight through his chest. If the launcher had been facing the opposite direction, the projectile would have fired toward McClane. But he probably would have survived because he was wearing a flak jacket.
Oliver Taylor is a freelance writer and bathroom musician. You can reach him at [email protected].
Read about more pop culture classics that could have been bizarrely different on 10 Insane Versions Of Famous Movies That Nearly Happened and 10 Insane Decisions That Nearly Ruined Pop Culture Classics.