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You may think you know these stories well, but alternate movie endings you’ve never seen before are everywhere. There are so many iconic films, from Legally Blonde to Jurassic Park, that could’ve ended differently—if it weren’t for some last-minute rewrites and story changes. Would these movies still have been popular with their original endings? It’s hard to say. But what we can say is that they would’ve been very, very different.
So before you pop in your favorite movie, take a look at this list of alternate movie endings you didn’t know existed. How would the plots have changed? Would your favorite characters have survived? Would the end game of your favorite romantic comedy even have happened? These questions and more are answered in these 15 films’ alternate movie endings.
It’s hard to imagine the Murphy children not living at the end of Jurassic Park or Elle Woods not graduating Harvard at the end of Legally Blonde, but those scenes weren’t the writers’ original ideas. In fact, if these movies were filmed as they were originally written, these scenes wouldn’t have happened at all and these movies would’ve been much, much different. Learn about these alternate movie endings and more ahead.
Legally Blonde (2001)
After Elle Woods wins her first court case, with her handy knowledge of chemistry and perms, Legally Blonde ends with a flash forward to Elle at her Harvard Law School graduation, where she is giving a speech as valedictorian. But that wasn’t how the film was supposed to end. “Originally it ended at the courthouse right after the trial,” Legally Blonde co-writer Karen McCullah told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “Everyone was congratulating Elle, and Emmett came up and gave her a big kiss. Then there was a tag where it was a year in the future and she and Vivian, who was now blond, had started the Blonde Legal Defense Fund and they were in the quad handing out pamphlets.”
The scene was cut after test audiences didn’t like the end, thinking it was too cliché for a movie that was more than a rom com. Because the end had to be re-filmed with the new graduation scene, many of the cast members, including Luke Wilson and Reese Witherspoon, had to wear wigs due to haircuts they received in between the filming process. The test-screening audience didn’t feel like it was an exciting enough ending for her, success-wise. The kiss made it seem like it was a rom-com,” McCullah said. “They knew that this was not a movie about a girl getting a guy,” co-writer Kirsten Smith added.
Jurassic Park (1993)
In the final version, Jurassic Park ends with Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and children Tim and Lex Murphy being saved from two raptors who have cornered them by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, who kills the smaller dinosaurs and gives the heroes a chance to escape the island. There are two alternate endings, according to Gizmodo. One is about the heroes saving themselves after Grant uses a scissor lift to knock down a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, which collapses on the raptors and gives the heroes a chance to escape. The second ending consists of the heroes escaping on a jeep. After the jeep is blocked by a fallen tree, the heroes must move on foot. Just when they reach their helicopter, the T-Rex comes and presumably kills them.
Titanic ends with Rose DeWitt Bukater, 70-something years after the death of Jack Dawson and the sinking of the Titanic. The final scene is of Rose talking to Brock Lovett, a treasure hunter who gives up his search of the Heart of the Ocean, a priceless jewel, after hearing Rose’s story about the Titanic. The film ends with Rose secretly dropping her jewel into the sea. Titanic‘s alternate ending, which was an extra on its DVD, is something much different. Instead of a calm conversation between Rose and Brock, the film ends with Rose climbing on the side of the boat. Brock, thinking that she’s about to commit suicide, runs toward her, which is when Rose tells him to not come any closer, revealing that she’s had the Heart of the Ocean the entire time. After Rose gives a speech about how “life is priceless,” she throws the jewel off the ship at the dismay of Brock and his crew.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Thelma and Louise ends on a high note with criminals on the run, Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer, accelerate their car off a cliff after being cornered by authorities. The film ends with the car flying through the air, but the original ending, revealed as an extra in the movie’s DVD, shows the car crashing, with the police looking over the cliff at the wreckage. The change was small, but director Ridley Scott had a good reason behind cutting it and letting the film end with the car in the air. ”You know they’re gonna die,” he said in the DVD. ”But I wanted to go out on the high of the car in control.”
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Pretty in Pink ends with Andie Walsh falling in love with Blane McDonough, despite the disapproval of her best friend, Duckie Dale, who has a secret crush on her. In the original ending, however, Andie chooses Duckie as her end game and Blane is left alone. However, the ending didn’t test well with audiences, which is when the film had to go through three more weeks of reshoots for the current ending to be believable.
“The ending didn’t work in the test screening … That shocked everyone because the architecture of the story was that love endures and overcomes everything,” co-director Howard Deutch told The Huffington Post in 2016. “The girls in the test screening didn’t go for that. They didn’t care about the politics; they wanted her to get the cute boy. And that was it. So we had to reshoot the ending.”
The Princess Diaries (2001)
After Mia Thermopolis agrees to become the Princess of Genovia, The Princess Diaries ends with a shot of a castle with a Genovian flag and Mia’s old car. But the last scene wasn’t supposed to happen. In the original ending, the film was supposed to end after Mia agreed to become princess. It wasn’t until director Gary Marshall’s then-5-year-old granddaughter saw a cut of the film and wondered why there wasn’t a castle that Marshall decided to change it. “She wanted to see the castle where Mia would be living and she wanted to make certain Mia’s old car would accompany her because it was Mia’s favorite possession,” Marshall said, according to Glamour UK. “It cost us a penny or two but it made my granddaughter happy.”
Pretty Woman (1990)
Pretty Woman follows Edward Lewis, a high-powered businessman who hires Vivian Ward, to be his girlfriend for a week. The two end up falling in love, resulting in this iconic line: “So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?” Edward says. “She rescues him right back,” Vivian responds. But the original Pretty Woman end is much darker than what made it on screen. In an interview with Page Six in 2017, former Disney executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg, said the original Pretty Woman script consisted of Vivian dying of an overdose. “As a script, Pretty Woman was an R-rated movie about a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard. By the way, in the original version—it’s pretty dark—I think she died of an overdose,” he said. “So convincing [people] that we should make that at the Walt Disney Co., and that it’s a fairy tale and a princess movie, a lot of people had a hard time seeing it. But, as they say, the rest is history.”
In 2015, screenwriter J.F. Lawton told Vanity Fair that the movie was originally titled 3,000 and was meant to be a drama, not a romantic comedy, and end with Vivian and her friend and fellow hooker, Kit De Luca, driving off into the distance after scamming Edward of $3,000. Here was the ending, according to Lawton: “Kit and Vivian on a bus bound for Disneyland … with Kit anticipating a fun day financed by Vivian’s week with Edward, as Vivian ‘stares out emptily ahead.'”
Heathers is seen as a black teen comedy, but the film could’ve been much, much darker. In its final version, the film ends Veronica Sawyer saving her high school from an explosion after J.D. Dean, the student who plans the explosion, decides to only explode himself. Veronica then invites Martha Dunnstock, a student who attempted to commit suicide, to watch movies with her on prom night. According to screenwriter Daniel Waters, the film could’ve been much darker. Alternate endings include the high school actually exploding or Martha stabbing Veronica, mistaking her for a Heather, one of the school’s bullies.
“It’s funny what a morbid 24-year-old I was when I wrote this,” he told Variety in 2014. “Don’t tell anyone, but I was secretly popular in high school!”
The Lion King (1994)
Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King was supposed to end in a similar way to its source material. In its final version, the film ends with Simba and his uncle, Scar, fighting on a cliff after Simba learns that Scar murdered his father, Mufasa. In the end, Simba spares Scar’s life, only for him to be later attacked by his pack of servant hyenas. In the original end, both Simba and Scar die. Simba dies from Scar pushing him off a cliff, and Scar dies seconds later when a fire engulfs after he’s too distracted with celebrating his victory. In a nod to Hamlet, the original movie was supposed to end with Scar telling Simba, “Goodnight, sweet prince”—a direct line from the Shakespeare play.
Frozen‘s original end was closer to its source material, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, which tells the tale of a pure-evil Snow Queen and an unrelated heroine. The film as a whole was supposed to be completely different. For starers, it began with prophecy, “A ruler with a frozen heart will bring destruction to the kingdom of Arendelle.” Also, Anna and Elsa aren’t sisters, with the audience believing that Elsa is the ruler with a frozen heart. After she’s stood up at the altar on her wedding day, Elsa freezes her own heart, so she will never love again. The final act sees Elsa creating an army of snow monsters to kill our heroes. Just when Anna is saved by Kristoff, Prince Hans creates an avalanche to kill both Elsa and Anna and Kristoff. The audience learns that the prophecy is actually about Prince Hans, and Anna convinces Elsa to use her powers to save the kingdom. The film ends with Elsa unfreezing her heart, allowing her to love again.
“The problem was that we felt like we had seen it before,” producer Peter Del Vecho told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “It wasn’t satisfying. We had no emotional connection to Elsa — we didn’t care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain. We weren’t drawn in. The characters weren’t relatable.”
In the end, film was changed to Anna and Elsa being sisters and each other’s true loves, which is how Elsa learns control of her powers and brings back spring.
Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Sweet Home Alabama ends with fashion designer Melanie Smooter falling back in love with her ex-husband, Jake Perry, whom she spends most of the film trying to divorce. The two have a second wedding, a child and Melanie ends up becoming a successful high-fashion designer. In its original end, Jake and Melanie still reunite, but on her wedding day, a a bolt of lightning strikes Melanie, leading the audience to think she’s dead. In the end, it’s simply a prank the couple is playing on their family and friends. Melanie springs back to life and Jake says, “Melanie Carmichael is dead, but Felony Melanie is alive!”
Get Out (2017)
In its final version, Get Out ends with Chris Washington escaping from his white girlfriend’s family and killing most of them along the way. The final scene sees Chris strangling his girlfriend, Rose Armitage, who attacks him when a police car pulls up. In the end, the police car is Chris’s friend, Rod Williams, who saves him and leaves Rose in the road. But in the alternate ending, revealed in the DVD, the film was supposed to end with two white police offers—not Rod—who arrest Chris. Rod later visits Chris in prison, where he can’t remember the details proving he was acting out of self defense.
“This movie was meant to call out the fact that racism is still simmering underneath the surface, so this ending to the movie, felt like it was the gut punch that the world needed, as something about it rings very true,” director Jordan Peele said in the DVD.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi ends with Luke Skywalker unmasking Darth Vader to find out that it’s his father, Anakin Skywalker, right before his death. But in the original ending, the film continues with Luke putting on Vader’s mask and swearing his allegiance to the dark side. “The mask is the very last thing—and then Luke puts it on and says, ‘Now I am Vader’. Surprise! The ultimate twist. ‘Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe,'” co-writer Lawrence Kasdan said, according to Digital Spy.
The twist was eventually nixed after director George Lucas argued that the movie was “for kids” and shouldn’t be so dark.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
As many know, E.T. ends with Elliott saying goodbye to the alien, who tells him, “I’ll be right before” before departing earth on a spaceship. But according to Robert MacNaughton, who plays Elliott’s older brother in the movie, the film was supposed to end a different way.
“The last scene was going to be all of us playing Dungeons and Dragons again, except this time, Elliott’s the dungeon master. Because he was the one that found ET, he sort of got in with the group,” MacNaughton told Yahoo in 2017 . “And so that was supposed to be the final scene, it was in the script and everything, and then they would pan up to the roof and you’d see the communicator and it’s still working. In other words, Elliott is still in touch with ET.”
In the end, the directors chose to end the film on a more emotional note, given the score and how everything came together. “After they did the score, the music, and they saw what they had with the spaceship taking off and everything – how can you follow that? I mean, it was a wise choice,” MacNaughton said.
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather ended with Kay Corleone discovering that her husband, Michael, is a murderous gangster when his office door shuts in her face. The original ending was supposed to be closer to The Godfather book, which shows Kay lighting a candle to try to save her husband’s soul. In the end, director Francis Ford Coppola decided to end the movie with despair, rather than hope, according to Glamour UK.