Movie endings usually include the most powerful scenes for audiences. They can make or break great movies, so filmmakers often have a hard time perfecting those last scenes.
Thankfully, alternate endings are filmed every once in a while, allowing some fans to see a unique angle. Many movie fans agree that some alternate finales do a better job of closing films than the theatrical versions. This is true for all types of flicks, from romance to horror. Read on to see which popular films have alternate endings that are better than the original.
Little Shop of Horrors
Flower shop employee Seymour (Rick Moranis) finds a weird plant and names it Audrey II in the 1986 film adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors. What could go wrong when you adopt a weird plant? Everything. Audrey II is actually an alien life form that loses control after feeding on humans.
The original ending shows Seymour destroying the carnivorous plant before it tries to take over the world. Seymour and his co-worker, Audrey I, get married and live happily ever after. However, in the alternate ending, Audrey II alien plants spread and grow rampantly, destroying cities and dominating the world. Sometimes, the villain needs to win to make the final scene more interesting.
Pretty in Pink
High school relationships are tough. Just look at the 1986 cult classic Pretty in Pink. Duckie is in love with his best friend, Andie. The problem is that she’s madly in love with someone else, Blane. As expected in a teen romance film, everything comes together perfectly at the prom.
The theatrical ending has Duckie and Andie dancing together, but Duckie encourages Andie to go after Blane, and he finds another date at the prom. In the alternate ending, a heartbroken Duckie sits in his room listening to Morrissey sing “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” It’s not a happy finale, but it’s realistic.
This ’90s action-packed film features Sam (Robert De Niro) and his special ops team in pursuit of an important briefcase. Audiences are taken on an exciting ride to the bitter end. The original concluded with Sam waiting for his love interest, Deirdre, at a coffee shop.
Sadly, Deirdre never showed up, so fans were left with no closure. The alternate ending provided further details about Deirdre’s whereabouts. She was actually on the way to meet Sam when a mysterious van drove up to her, and she was kidnapped right off the street. No one knows who snatched her, but the new ending adds more thrill to the film.
Starring Winona Ryder as Veronica, the film Heathers reveals the downside of high school popularity. Veronica ditches her friend Martha to become one of the cool kids. To make matters worse, she teams up with the new bad boy, Jason, to go on a crime spree.
The intense ending consists of Jason dying in a bomb explosion and Veronica reuniting with Martha. It sounds like a hopeful outcome, right? The alternate ending kicks it up a notch when Martha stabs Veronica and calls her “Heather.” Veronica responds, “My name’s not Heather!”
The Butterfly Effect
Many films teach us never to go back in time to change the past. The Butterfly Effect is a dark example of how time travel can manipulate the future. The story follows Evan (Ashton Kutcher), who returns to the moment he first met his childhood friend and future lover, Kayleigh (Amy Smart).
Evan makes sure the two never meet, so they can have a better future without each other. The alternate ending shows him hopping back in time and strangling himself in the womb, which is more fitting and thought provoking than the original.
Many folks believe that ghosts should be left alone, but one author, Mike, doesn’t believe in the paranormal. To prove his point, he stays in a haunted hotel room in the thrilling film 1408. Mike (John Cusack) is in for a rude awakening.
The film’s conclusion consists of Mike patching things up with his wife, Lily. Listening to his tape recorder, he realizes the ghostly voice is his deceased daughter — confirming the deep terror that transpired in the room. In the alternate ending, a fire kills Mike and destroys the evil spirits in the chamber. Mike becomes a ghost and reunites with his ghost daughter.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
It’s crazy what people do in the name of love. Take a look at Exhibit A: the 2010 action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In the movie, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) must battle evil exes to win Ramona’s heart.
The theatrical ending shows Pilgrim and his ex, Knives, beating Ramona’s past lovers, and Pilgrim and Ramona live happily ever after. The alternate finale makes more sense, with Pilgrim realizing that he should pursue Knives — not Ramona. After all, Pilgrim and Knives did defeat evil together, and the two are a better match.
The 1982 film First Blood follows John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a Vietnam veteran and drifter. Adjusting to life after the war is tough for John, but everything goes from bad to worse due to the bigoted Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy).
In the ending we all know, Rambo is determined to kill Teasle, but Colonel Sam Trautman stops him. Rambo madly weeps about the traumatic events of the war and turns himself in. The alternate conclusion takes it to a new level. Rambo has his breakdown and begs Trautman to end his life. Sadly, Rambo does the job himself. This finale is darker, but it fits better with the film’s tragic chain of events. Of course, it would have robbed audiences of all those Rambo sequels.
Space travel is dangerous. The 2014 flick Interstellar shows exactly how scary it could be. To find a new home for the human race, Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of scientists jump through wormholes. Many fans called the film’s finale “corny.”
Interstellar ends with Cooper mysteriously escaping a fifth-dimensional tesseract and reuniting with his daughter. Cooper goes back to space to find his missing associates. However, the original ending consisted of Cooper sending critical data back to Earth and dying in a black hole.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Die Hard with a Vengeance’s finale included the good guys winning and a huge helicopter explosion. In other words, it has a typical action film ending. However, what would it be like if the good guys actually lost?
The film explored this unique angle with an alternate finale in which John McClane (Bruce Willis) gets framed for all the crimes and terrorist Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) gets away. After McClane loses his job, he takes matters into his own hands and tracks down Gruber. McClane gets vengeance, but he turns into a baddie first.
The Lion King
Disney is known to have hidden details in its movies, including some disturbing elements at times. The Lion King follows Simba and his painful journey to understanding the circle of life. The original ending includes Simba knocking Scar off a cliff into the mouths of his hyena followers.
The alternate ending is even crazier. Scar pushes Simba off Pride Rock. Simba survives, but Scar gets engulfed by flames while laughing like a madman. The producers thought the second ending was too sinister, but many fans thought it was interesting.
Director Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make the ending for The Birds extra terrifying. The finale was already thrilling with radio reports of massive bird attacks across the country and a sky full of birds. However, that’s not how Hitchcock originally envisioned it.
The director imagined the main characters seeking refuge in San Francisco, but to their surprise, the city and the Golden Gate Bridge had been wrecked by thousands of demonic birds. Unfortunately, filming the scene would have been too expensive.
Romeo Must Die
As the title suggests, Romeo Must Die is an action flick with a little bit of romance. Jet Li and Aaliyah starred in the film, portraying two lovers (Han and Trish) in the middle of their mob families’ drama.
After an epic mob showdown, Trish touches Han’s face, and the two hug. Many fans expected the couple to share a kiss in the end. However, that version was cut from the film due to disapproval from a test audience at the time.
28 Days Later
The original conclusion of 28 Days Later gave audiences a glimpse of hope in an apocalypse movie. Jim (Cillian Murphy) and his two friends, Selena and Hannah, fight to stay alive during a zombie outbreak. The three live in an isolated area and create a giant help sign, hoping passing planes will spot it and rescue them. It sounds like a good plan to have a happy ending, right?
The alternate ending was on the sad side. Selena and Hannah tried to save Jim’s life in a hospital, but he passed away from a wound. The two women leave the facility with weapons, but they have no idea what the future holds for them. It’s a realistic finale that shows no one is safe during a pandemic.
Finding out that the young girl you adopted is actually a grown woman certainly makes an insane story. That’s exactly what happened in Orphan, but Esther, the woman-child, also went on a deadly crime spree. Kate, the adoptive mother, finds out the truth and saves the day when she kicks Esther into a frozen lake.
The alternate finale wasn’t so happy. While Kate gets distracted saving her daughter, Max, Esther escapes and returns to the house to disguise herself as a child again. The cops raid the house to find the “innocent” Esther sitting at the top of the stairs. This creepy ending would have created the opportunity for a sequel.
I Am Legend
Many action and thriller films finish with an explosion, including I Am Legend. Starring Will Smith, the movie follows Robert Neville in a post-apocalyptic world. He’s the last man on the planet, but he’s not alone. Hostile mutants run the world.
The mutants break into his laboratory, so Neville gives his two friends the cure before blowing up the lab with him and the mutants inside. It’s a common finale, where the hero sacrifices his life to save humanity. However, the alternate ending was unexpectedly deep. The lab-crashing mutants actually came to rescue one of their own kind that Neville had taken for experiments. Neville said, “I am sorry,” and he lived.
In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere plays lonely businessman Edward, who offers Vivian $3,000 if she keeps him company for a whole week. The ending we all know shows Edward visiting her apartment with a rose and making a grand romantic gesture.
The alternate finale does not include a happily ever after. It’s sad, yet impressive because it doesn’t follow the romantic trope. Edward arrives at Vivian’s place and leaves an envelope of cash. As he takes off in his car, Vivian tearfully screams how much she hates him — and collects her money.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from sci-fi movies, it’s that robots and machines are the future. Chappie centers on a robot that’s been reprogrammed to think and feel for itself, but it gets kidnapped by gangsters and trained to commit crimes.
The story ends with Chappie saving his human creator, Deon, by transferring his consciousness into a nearby robot. The now-robotic Deon returns the favor before Chappie’s battery runs out. After going into hiding, Chappie uploads his “Mommy’s” consciousness into a bot that resembles her. However, the alternate ending has a stronger sci-fi vibe with an army of Chappies running the city.
Underdog Hollywood movies always have happy endings, such as Dodgeball. The flick follows Peter (Vince Vaughn) and his team of amateur dodgeballers. They compete in a national dodgeball competition, playing against the long-time champions from Globo Gym.
As you can imagine, Peter’s team defeats the Globo Gym team. Peter also gets lucky and becomes a millionaire. However, the alternate finale had a dark sense of humor. Globo Gym wins the championship at the last minute, celebrating with bromantic hugs.
The superhero film Watchmen is based on the comic book of the same name. For the most part, the flick stays true to the story, except for the ending, where the film throws Doctor Manhattan under the bus — metaphorically speaking.
Adrian Veidt uses Doctor Manhattan to bomb New York, making humans believe the hero has turned on the world. As a result, Doctor Manhattan leaves Earth and lives in isolation. The comic book series shows an intergalactic giant squid destroying the world, so everyone shares a common enemy while Doctor Manhattan remains innocent.
Army of Darkness
In Army of Darkness, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) time travels to medieval times to defeat Deadites and other demonic monsters. The hero survives his epic battle with the Deadites and returns home, where he defeats one last Deadite. For U.S. audiences, that was the end.
The international finale consists of Williams drinking a potion to go back to the 20th century. Unfortunately, his stubborn nature gets the best of him. Each drop allows him to sleep for a century, but Williams doesn’t like to follow orders and knocks back the entire vile. He wakes up with a long beard in a future apocalypse.
Man of Steel
It’s common for superheroes to be against killing villains. However, that’s not the case for Superman in Man of Steel. The 2012 flick ends with Superman facing off with Zod. Innocent people were about to die, so Superman had no choice but to slay the bad guy.
Producer Christopher Nolan wanted a less violent outcome. A different version reveals Superman actually sparing Zod’s life. The superhero ships the evildoer back to the Phantom Zone, where he must endure a lifetime of misery. This is the preferred finale for those who are against heroes killing villains.
What can go wrong on a friends’ trip to an underground cavern? Everything you can possibly imagine. In The Descent, Sarah and her pals are trapped in a cave with human-hunting mutants. That’s a weekend trip that people would definitely skip.
In the finale that U.S. viewers know, Sarah escapes the caves, jumps into her car and drives away like a maniac. When she pulls the car over, she sees a ghost sitting in the passenger seat and screams. The international ending was much darker. Sarah wakes up from her screams and realizes she’s still in the caves. Many fans prefer this terrifying tease.
This sci-fi masterpiece centers on LAPD cop Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who is assigned to take out illegal androids. The theatrical finale gives audiences a positive outcome with Deckard and Rachael (Mary Sean Young) disappearing into the mountains and living happily ever after.
Blade Runner actually had several alternate endings. However, fans liked the mysterious finale the most, where the two run out of Rachael’s apartment into an elevator, and the scene cuts to black. Will the pair escape a tragic fate? No one knows.
Director Terry Gilliam wasn’t a fan of Brazil’s finale. The dystopian flick follows a man named Sam, who tackles an oppressive government. The story has a typical Hollywood ending, which didn’t sit well with Gilliam and the film’s fans.
Thankfully, there’s an alternate ending for those who disliked the original finale. In it, Sam doesn’t get his happy ending. He actually imagines his escape and remains in the totalitarian world forever. This outcome wasn’t released until after the film won awards.
Angelina Jolie portrays CIA agent Evelyn Salt in the action-packed drama Salt. This flick is full of twists and turns. For instance, Salt finds out she’s actually a sleeper agent for a secret Russian agency. In the original ending, she survives after being hunted and vows to wipe out dangerous sleeper agents.
The alternate conclusion gives audiences what they like — more of the story. We see Salt’s next big move, which consists of wearing a nun disguise and overthrowing the sleeper agents’ system. It also ends in a classic explosion, and fans get to know how she plans to keep the world safe.
The 2013 remake of Evil Dead was packed with horror and gore. However, the original finale didn’t flow with the tone of the rest of the film. In the theatrical ending we all know, Mia survives and walks through the woods as the sun rises. Sounds hopeful, right?
The alternate version adds terror to the story, which suits the entire film. When Mia passes out on the road, a driver takes her to the hospital. In the last scene, she suddenly wakes up with her eyes wide open. Fans are left wondering if she’s possessed again.
James Franco and Seth Rogen portray two besties (Saul and Dale) who go on a wild, crime-filled adventure in Pineapple Express. The pair survive an insane chain of events. In the last scene, Dale and Saul celebrate their luck and go to the hospital.
The alternate version shows a tragic fate and some bromance. Dale and Saul made it through another near-death experience, but the two get taken down in the end. As the pair take their last breath, they are seen holding hands.
The makers of Clue came up with a brilliant plan: provide different movie theaters with alternate endings. Based on the classic board game, Clue is a murder mystery flick with three special finales. Audiences had no idea which ending they were going to see. Imagine the thrill!
One ending featured Miss Scarlet as the criminal, another pinned it on Mrs. Peacock and the third conclusion revealed multiple people were involved. The home video includes all three conclusions. The film’s DVD also joined in on the fun by allowing viewers to choose a random ending. This ingenious move kept up the mysterious tone of the film.
Game of Death
Game of Death had some trouble behind the scenes, which led to multiple alternate endings. The story is about a famous martial arts master who fakes his own death after a group of attackers tries to assassinate him. Sadly, the main star, Bruce Lee, passed away before production was completed.
In the final scene, Lee’s character (Hai) defeats the enemies and goes down a staircase to leave the pagoda, where a valuable item awaits. However, the item’s future remains a mystery. One alternate ending shows Hai saving Ann. Another ending consists of Hai waving goodbye to Ann at a harbor. These alternate endings provide the audience more closure than the original.