Director's Cut: 10 Famous Films that Almost Had Different Endings
These iconic movies could have turned out quite differently.
1. "Alien" (1979)
In Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror masterpiece "Alien," our hero Ripley, masterfully played by Sigourney Weaver, narrowly escapes the Xenomorph terrorizing her crew, setting the stage for a franchise spanning four decades.
But the original ending had a darker twist. Instead of Ripley defeating the beast, the Xenomorph was to kill Ripley, mimic her voice, and send a creepy, calm message back to Earth. Given how traumatizing the chestburster scene was, we can all agree we didn't need another nightmare. Not to mention that would have put quite the dampener on the sequel potential.
2. "Titanic" (1997)
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in James Cameron's "Titanic" is watching the elderly Rose toss the Heart of the Ocean diamond necklace into the sea. But the original ending had more of a comedic touch.
Instead of a solitary Rose, the scene was a hullabaloo involving her granddaughter and treasure hunter Brock Lovett, who see Rose about to drop the diamond. Lovett pleads with Rose to consider the value of the diamond, but she responds, "Only life has value," before chucking it into the ocean.
While this would have given the diamond storyline some closure, it would also have removed the poignant, reflective tone of the final scene.
3. "Rocky" (1976)
"Rocky" – the film that launched Sylvester Stallone into the stratosphere of stardom – could have ended on a far less uplifting note.
The original script had Rocky throwing the fight after realizing he didn't want to be part of the corrupt world of boxing, and using his fight earnings to help Adrian open a pet store. This is a far cry from the triumphant, albeit beaten and bloody, ending we're used to. Who knows, would we have had the epic "Rocky" sequels if he'd just decided to help sell puppy chow?
4. "Pretty Woman" (1990)
Rom-com classic "Pretty Woman," starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, was initially a much darker story titled "$3,000," a reference to the amount Edward pays Vivian for her companionship. The original ending had Vivian and her friend Kit use the money to go to Disneyland, while Edward returns to his life, leaving Vivian still a prostitute.
This ending reflected the initial more somber tone of the script, which was meant to be a cautionary tale about drug use and the realities of life on the street. Can you imagine the "happily ever after" being swapped for a mouse-eared, bittersweet farewell?
5. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991)
The epic saga of the "Terminator" films nearly had a far more conclusive ending in its second installment. James Cameron initially planned for a future-set epilogue in which an older Sarah Connor watches her son John, now a senator, playing with his daughter in a peaceful, Skynet-free world.
This would have sealed the fate of our beloved characters, leaving no room for a sequel, let alone the multiple that followed. As apocalyptic as the "Terminator" franchise tends to be, it's amusing to imagine it wrapping up with a peaceful picnic scene.
6. "The Shining" (1980)
Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is known for its spine-chilling, ambiguous ending, with the iconic final shot of Jack Nicholson in the Overlook Hotel's 1921 photograph.
However, Kubrick had originally filmed a hospital-set epilogue where Wendy and Danny are recovering from their ordeal. During their recovery, the hotel's manager visits and denies that anything supernatural occurred, implying that the terrifying events were all in their heads.
Kubrick cut this scene before the wide release, leaving us with an ending that continues to confound and fascinate viewers. Talk about adding another layer to the mystery of Room 237!
7. "Clueless" (1995)
The ending of "Clueless," the quintessential 90s teen flick, sees Cher (Alicia Silverstone) realize her feelings for her ex-stepbrother, Josh (Paul Rudd ), and the two share a romantic kiss. Yet, the original conclusion had Cher ending up with Christian (Justin Walker ). This was changed when it was revealed that Christian's character is gay. Thankfully, this alternative was abandoned. The thought of Cher ending up with anyone other than Josh? As if!
8. "Get Out" (2017)
Jordan Peele's social thriller "Get Out" ends with our protagonist, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), escaping the clutches of the Armitage family, thanks to his friend Rod. However, Peele initially scripted a more pessimistic ending, where Chris is arrested by the police for the carnage at the Armitage house.
While this could have been a powerful commentary on racial injustice, Peele felt that the audience needed a win after the harrowing events of the film. Given that "Get Out" maintains a high score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's safe to say he made the right call.
9. "I Am Legend" (2007)
In the released ending of "I Am Legend," Will Smith 's character, Robert Neville, sacrifices himself to save Anna and Ethan, humanity's last hope. However, an alternate ending showed a more compassionate side of the infected creatures.
In this version, Neville realizes the infected are not mindless monsters, but sentient beings. He returns the female creature he'd been experimenting on to the alpha male, showing the film's conflict was a result of misunderstanding and fear on both sides. This alternative ending might have earned the film a higher rating than its current 68% on Rotten Tomatoes.
10. "Blade Runner" (1982)
Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" initially ended on a hopeful note with Deckard (Harrison Ford ) and Rachael (Sean Young) escaping to an idyllic, forest-covered landscape, suggesting they'd found peace away from the dystopian city.
However, an alternate ending—favoured by Ridley Scott—hints at Deckard possibly being a replicant, leaving viewers with a philosophical puzzle. This ambiguity has fueled debates among fans and critics alike, contributing to the film's cult status and 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating.