Titanic Alternate Ending That Would've Been One of Hollywood's Greatest Fails

Titanic Alternate Ending That Would've Been One of Hollywood's Greatest Fails
Image credit: Legion-Media

James Cameron's 1997 historical epic Titanic is one of the most successful films of all time, tied for the most Oscars won for a film and one of only six movies to break $2 billion at the box office.

It is also a film whose alternate ending could have derailed a lot of its success.

Its original ending is iconic. Rose, having taken the last name of the man she watched drift into the ocean, tells her story to a group of people looking for the magnificent Heart of the Ocean necklace.

The necklace, a gift from her wicked fiancé Cal aboard the Titanic decades before, had been with her the entire time. She drops the Heart into the ocean to lay with her lost love.

It's a nearly perfect ending – but Cameron almost ruined it. The deleted ending was part of the tenth-anniversary DVD and has since found a home on YouTube.

Rose, having finished the story that takes up the bulk of the film, strolls ominously toward the edge of the ship. Her wrinkled hands grab the railing and climb to the edge before her granddaughter and Brock (who is searching for the Heart) notice.

She tells them not to come any closer, then dangles the Heart over the edge. Brock, along with the audience, realizes that she's had it the entire time.

"The hardest part about being so poor," she explained, "was being so rich."

She couldn't sell the Heart without thinking about Cal, her miserable fiancé. She was proud about being able to give herself a good life without his help, and finding fortune from his gift would be, in essence, help from Cal.

Brock begs her to think; she tells him he's looking for the wrong treasure.

"Only life is precious," she preaches, "making each day count." She hurls the Heart into the ocean, to which one of Brock's men yells, "That really sucks, lady!" Brock bursts into joyous laughter, having now learned the secret to living life.

He asks Rose's granddaughter to dance as Rose looks to the stars.

Titanic in general is a fairly cheesy movie, but it never felt out of place. This forced ending with Rose's preachy monologue could have ruined one of cinema's most iconic films.

The theatrical ending was perfect, wrapping up everything in a satisfying way. The alternate ending tried too hard to push a meaningful lesson on its viewers – the fact that "only life is precious."

They also added the secondary climax of Rose climbing on the side of the ship, taking away the natural cool-down of the theatrical version's resolution.

Cameron definitely dodged a bullet by choosing the simpler ending, though the irony of a man yelling at an elderly woman while wearing a "No Whining" shirt made the deleted scene slightly more watchable.