30 Movies with Alternate Endings

Movies are collaborative endeavours on enormous scales, meaning they are inevitably processes of constant evolution, from tweaks to the script to entire re-shoots.

Films can consequently have alternative endings, especially if a studio takes control of the production or the director is influenced by test audiences' negative reactions.

Such cinematic substitutes can sometimes become publicly available, allowing film buffs to see what might have been.

Newsweek some of the most famous movies ever made with alternate endings, resulting in numerous spoiler alerts.

Gone with the Wind

1939 ‧ Romance/Drama ‧ 3h 58m

Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind stars Vivien Leigh as heroine Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable as her lover Rhett Butler in the iconic tear-jerker

This American classic stars Vivien Leigh as heroine Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable as her lover Rhett Butler in the iconic tear-jerker.

But while the original ending features a heartbroken Scarlett resolving to move on with her life after being jilted by Rhett, an alternative ending discovered in a script in 2014 sees her shout: "Rhett!... Rhett!... You'll come back. You'll come back ... I know you will!"

The Birds

1963 ‧ Horror/Thriller ‧ 1h 59m

The Birds
A group of schoolchildren flail about in terror at the avian attack in a publicity still for The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Universal, 1963 Archive Photos/Getty Images

This Hitchcock horror ends with the birds ceasing to attack the injured heroine as no longer poses a threat.

However, a far more bleak alternate ending existed, featuring the Golden Gate Bridge covered in birds and the town in ruins with dead birds everywhere.

Dr. Strangelove

1964 ‧ War/Comedy ‧ 1h 42m

Dr. Strangelove
Sterling Hayden puts his arm around startled Peter Sellers in a scene from the film Dr. Strangelove, 1964 Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove ends with the titular character declaring he has a plan, rising suddenly from his wheelchair and declare, "Mein Führer, I can walk!" as the Doomsday Machine activates.

This is succeeded by a montage of numerous nuclear explosions, accompanied by Vera Lynn's song "We'll Meet Again."

However, the alternative ending sequence involves large-scale pie fight taking place within the war room, which was reportedly cut when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and some of the scenes were considered offensive.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1969 ‧ Western/Drama ‧ 1h 53m

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
Paul Newman and Robert Redford have shoot out in a scene from the film 'Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid', 1969 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

The film ends before audiences can see the two free-spirited criminals die in a shootout in San Vincente.

However, there exists an arguably less satisfying ending, where the movie continues to show the pair killed and graphically depict their bullet-riddled corpses.

Dawn of the Dead

1978 ‧ Horror/Zombie ‧ 2h 36m

Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead: When hordes of zombies swarm over the U.S. two characters sacrifice themselves so the others can escape Strike Entertainment, New Amsterdam Entertainment

When hordes of zombies swarm over the U.S., two characters sacrifice themselves so the others can escape.

But the zombie movie's alternative ending is even bleaker, with those attempting to escape via helicopter all perishing when the engine cuts out.

Alien

1979 ‧ Horror/Sci-fi ‧ 1h 57m

Alien
Actors Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver in a scene from the movie 'Alien', 1979 Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images

The movie ends with Ripley managing to blast the Xenomorph alien into space with her escape shuttle's exhaust.

However, an altogether more grim ending was originally proposed by Ridley Scott, who revealed to Entertainment Weekly: "I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off."

The Shining

1980 ‧ Horror/Mystery ‧ 2h 26m

The Shining
Jack Nicholson walking through snowy maze in lobby card for the film 'The Shining', 1980 Warner Brothers/Getty Images

The film's final shot shows a photograph dated 1921 showing Jack with other guests in the hotel's ballroom.

An alternative final scene destroyed by director Stanley Kubrick reportedly depicted survivors Wendy and Danny in hospital being visited by the hotel manager, Stuart Ullman, who indicates his awareness of the hotel's supernatural forces.

Blade Runner

1982 ‧ Sci-fi/Action ‧ 1h 57m

Blade Runner
Harrison Ford and Edward James Olmos on the set of Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

Blade Runner's original U.S. Theatrical Cut screened in 1982 included narration and a happy ending.

However, of the purported seven endings, the Final Cut includes an extended dream sequence, removes the happy ending and hints heavily that Deckard (Harrison Ford) is replicant.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

1982 ‧ Adventure/Family ‧ 2h 1m

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
ET looking out window with Henry Thomas in a scene from the film 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial', 1982 Universal/Getty Images

The movie ends with E.T. bidding farewell to Michael and Gertie, as she presents him with the flower he had revived.

Then before boarding the spaceship, he tells the boy "I'll be right here," pointing his glowing finger to Elliott's forehead.

However, there was an alternative ending where the alien remains in communication with Elliot via the Dungeons and Dragons game.

First Blood

1982 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 1h 33m

First Blood
First Blood: The movie's original ending sees John Rambo live to fight another day Anabasis Investments, N.V

The movie's original ending sees John Rambo live to fight another day.

The alternative ending, featured in the novel First Blood is based on, sees the enemy kill Rambo, just before Rambo kills himself and others in an explosion of dynamite.

Return of the Jedi

1983 ‧ Sci-fi/Action ‧ 2h 16m

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the
Actor Harrison Ford's Han Solo character from "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" is shown on screen Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Return of the Jedi's ending finds the Galactic Empire defeated, the Emperor dead and the second Death Star destroyed.

George Lucas initially pitched a disturbing ending for Star Wars, with Luke Skywalker wears Darth Vader's mask and chillingly says: "Now I am Vader."

Brazil

1985 ‧ Sci-fi/Fantasy ‧ 2h 23m

Brazil
Brazil: Protagonist Sam descends into irrecoverable insanity and the final scene sees him strapped to a torture chair humming Aquarela do Brasil to himself Embassy International Pictures, Brazil Productions

Protagonist Sam descends into irrecoverable insanity and the final scene sees him strapped to a torture chair humming Aquarela do Brasil to himself.

However, this dark denouement was deemed unfit for American audiences and an alternative cut was made reflecting a mawkishly positive love conquers all concept.

Clue

1985 ‧ Mystery/Crime ‧ 1h 37m

Clue
Kellye Nakahara dressed in a maids uniform while smoking a cigarette in a scene from the film Clue, 1985 Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

The original ending finds Wadsworth admit to killing all the victims, before revealing he has poisoned all the guests so that there will be no witnesses, resulting in the perfect crime.

Three separate endings were filmed, with one suggesting every character in the movie is equally responsible for the murders in some way.

Little Shop Of Horrors

1986 ‧ Musical/Horror ‧ 1h 42m

Little Shop Of Horrors
Ellen Greene, Steve Martin and Rick Moranis in a scene from the film Little Shop Of Horrors, 1986 The Geffen Company/Getty Images

The Little Shop Of Horrors originally ends with alien plant Audrey II defeated.

But there is a far darker version of the endings, which sees Seymour and Audrey devoured by the fearsome Audrey II plant, which then breeds into a super-plant.

Stream Little Shop Of Horrors on Amazon

Fatal Attraction

1987 ‧ Thriller/Drama ‧ 2 hours

Fatal Attraction
A bloodied Glenn Close is tended to by Michael Douglas in a scene from the film 'Fatal Attraction', 1987 Paramount/Getty Images

After wrestling his obsessive stalker into the bathtub, Dan seemingly drowns her—but she suddenly emerges from the water, swinging the knife, but his wife arrives just in time to shoots her dead.

This is different to the original ending which sees Dan framed for murder and taken into custody, while his stalker leaves a message for his wife to reveal Dan's innocence.

Pretty Woman

1990 ‧ Romance/Rom-com ‧ 2h 5m

Pretty Woman
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in a scene from the film Pretty Woman, 1990 Buena Vista/Getty Images

The original script sees Vivian's (Julia Roberts) friend, Kit die of an overdose and Edward (Richard Gere) and Vivian do not continue their relationship.

However, the movie moved to Disney, where rewrites to the film occurred, giving it its current incarnation a lighter mood.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1991 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 2h 36m

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 American science fiction action film produced and directed by James Cameron Carolco Pictures Pacific Western Productions Lightstorm Entertainment Le Studio Canal+

Terminator 2: Judgement Day ends with Arnold's T-101 character killing himself after defeating the T-1000.

An alternate ending shows the woman he saves Sarah Connor several decades later, reflecting on the events prior in the voice-over.

Thelma And Louise

1991 ‧ Crime/Adventure ‧ 2h 10m

Thelma And Louise
Actresses Susan Sarandon (left) and Geena Davis (right) star in the film Thelma And Louise, 1991 MGM Studios/Getty Images

After an intense police chase through the desert, Thelma and Louise decide to drive off of a cliff instead of being caught by the police.

An alternate final sequence does exist, showing a longer take of the car's descent before it falls, followed by Harvey Keitel's character walking to the edge of the cliff and finds the photo of the pair shot before they started their journey.

True Romance

1993 ‧ Romance/Crime ‧ 2h 1m

True Romance
Christian Slater sits in bed with Patricia Arquette in a scene from the film True Romance, 1993 Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott switched the original ending in which Clarence dies in the cocaine shoot-out.

Instead, Christian Slater's character returns to life and he and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) live happily ever after in Mexico.

Clerks

1994 ‧ Comedy/Buddy ‧ 1h 45m

Clerks
Actors Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran on set of the Miramax movie Clerks circa 1994 ichael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The protagonists' character flaws have caught up with them, they are forced to confront their responsibility for the sorry states of their own lives. And in the final scene, they've settled down.

But the original ending depicts Dante being murdered at his Quick Stop by an anonymous robber.

The Lion King

1994 ‧ Family/Musical ‧ 1h 29m

The Lion King
The Lion King: The original ending sees Simba fight and defeats Scar before he and Nala settle down and have a cub together. Disney

The original ending sees Simba fight and defeats Scar before he and Nala settle down and have a cub together.

However, there is a more harrowing alternative ending, where Scar wins the final battle between him and Simba, pushing Simba to his death, but is in turn burned alive by an encroaching fire.

Se7en

1995 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 8m

Seven
August 1995. Brad Pitt in the movie Seven Getty Images

Se7en ends on a twist where serial killer John Doe reveals he's murdered Tracy (Gweneth Paltrow), the pregnant wife of detective Mills (Brad Pitt).

Several alternate endings to the movie were originally filmed, including one where Mills and Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) race to save Mills' wife.

Titanic

1997 ‧ Romance/Drama ‧ 3h 30m

Titanic
Kate Winslet offers her hand to Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from the film Titanic 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

By the end of Titanic, Rose (Kate Winslet) reveals after the death of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), she had a fresh start under a different name.

An alternate ending finds the treasure hunters race to meet Rose at the stern of the ship, believing her to be committing suicide until Rose drops the jewel central to the plot into the ocean.

Blade

1998 ‧ Horror/Action ‧ 2 hours

Blade
Wesley Snipes holding a dagger behind his back in a scene from the film Blade, 1999 Amen Ra Films/Getty Images

Blade fights his nemesis Frost and injects him with all of the syringes, with the overdose of EDTA causes his body to inflate and explode.

But an alternate ending prepares a sequel, with Blade's enemy Morbius as the main antagonist and depicts a living vampire viewing the battle from afar.

Ronin

1998 ‧ Action/Thriller ‧ 2h 1m

Ronin
Robert De Niro aiming gun in a scene from the film Ronin, 1998 United Artists/Getty Images

Ronin's original ending sees Russian shoot Gregor in the head before the ice skater is also assasinated.

An alternate ending finds Deirdre kidnapped by the IRA and branded a traitor.

Election

1999 ‧ Comedy/Romance ‧ 1h 43m

Election
American actor Reese Witherspoon attending the IFP (Independent Feature Project)/West Independent Spirit Awards, where she was nominated as Best Female Lead for her performance in director Alexander Payne's film, Election Paul Skipper/Fotos International/Getty Images

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is many years later spotted by Jim (Matthew Broderick) in Washington D.C. and he throws a soda at her limousine and then runs away.

An alternate ending has Tracy and Jim awkwardly reconciling years later, but this proved unpopular with test audiences.

Donnie Darko

2001 ‧ Sci-fi/Fantasy ‧ 1h 48m

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal promote the movie Getty Images/J. Vespa

After the vortex forewarned by Frank the Rabbit opens up on the doomed planet, Donnie Darko wakes up to discover the events of the past month have rewound, then the engine of a jet caught into the vortex falls on Donnie in his bed, killing him.

An alternate ending depicts the titular character's bloody demise in graphic detail.

28 Days Later

2002 ‧ Horror/Sci-fi ‧ 1h 57m

28 Days Later
28 Days Later: The movie ends with the three survivors spell out HELLO from the ground to try and catch the attention of a passing plane, but it remains unclear if they are rescued DNA Films, UK Film Council

28 Days Later ends with the three survivors spell out HELLO from the ground to try and catch the attention of a passing plane, but it remains unclear if they are rescued.

Among the four other endings is one where the main character Jim does survive his wounds, while another reveals the entire zombie plot was a dream.

The Bourne Identity

2002 ‧ Action/Thriller ‧ 1h 59m

The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon in a scene from the film The Bourne Identity, 2001 Universal Pictures/Getty Images

The movie ends with Bourne confronting the man behind his pursuit, former Treadstone director Alexander Conklin, who pushes him to remember his past and return to the fold.

But this ending and opening were reshot to avoid potential backlash over a negative portrayal of United States intelligence agencies following the 9/11 terror attacks.

A Star is Born

2018 ‧ Romance/Musical ‧ 2h 14m

A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper performs on the Pyramid stage to shoot footage for movie A Star Is Born on day 2 of the Glastonbury Festival 2017 Harry Durrant/Getty Images

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) hangs himself after deciding the burden of his alcoholism is too much on his successful pop star wife, Ally (Lady Gaga).

Muted alternative—and equally depressing—endings included Jackson swimming out to sea and drowning himself or riding his motorcycle and deliberately getting into an accident.