Editing is everything. It’s what makes plot points hang together in a single coherent storyline, it makes previews that sell us on a movie in under 3 minutes, and it’s how scenes that are written and filmed and constantly changed over the course of months to years can be condensed to feature length and still flow chronologically and keep people emotionally engaged with the characters.
Between film editors’ input, constraints on audience attention spans, and conventions surrounding the definition of “full length” movies, a significant number of scenes dedicated to film never make it into theatrical releases. Sometimes comedians go off-script to hilarious but lengthy results and the riffing has to be whittled down; in other cases, extended and alternate endings or additional dream or flashback sequences that add depth to the characters and their relationships or sometimes even change the entire direction or tone of a storyline have to be edited out. And still other times, scenes that fill in plot holes are cut from blockbuster films where extended action sequences and mind-bending special effects make up for gaps in story logic.
Here is a list of scenes that we feel should have made it into the final cut. These are 15 Amazing Movie Scenes That Should Have Never Been Deleted.
15. Rebooting Arnold in Terminator 2
In this exchange of a logically flowing plot for speedy storytelling, a scene was deleted from Terminator 2: Judgment Day that believably explains how Schwarzenegger‘s character loosened up Skynet’s shackles enough to override his basic instinct to kill the protagonists he ends up protecting.
This cut scene shows Sarah Conner and son catching their breath in an abandoned garage and being told by the Austrian cyborg how to “reboot” his “CPU” so that he can access more than his “read only” functions, presumably allowing the good terminator to move past his pre-programmed desire to terminate his targets and adapt to his newfound empathy and protect his new friends from the bad terminator. Or something like that, it’s all very technical. If that doesn’t sound too vital to the story, the scene also featured a standoff between mother and son over whether to effectively kill Arnold’s character while they have him shut down with his motherboard exposed.
14. Aliens, Ripley’s Daughter Is Dead
This deleted scene shows Sigourney Weaver‘s xeno-cidal astronaut reacting to the news that the fruit of her loins had passed away at the age of 66 while she was traveling at sub-light-speed through the slimy reaches of outer space. The emotional outpouring Ripley shows, over the passing of a daughter who she left on Earth at the age of eleven, makes real the feeling behind the saying that no parent should outlive their child. This raw and decidedly dramatic scene in the midst of mostly intense and repulsive alien encounters bring a depth of feeling to Aliens that makes it unclear why this scene was deleted.
13. Mean Girls, Conflict Resolution
This deleted sequence can be seen in most TV showings of 2004’s cult classic dramedy Mean Girls. A fish out of water story starring Lindsay Lohan as the transfer student fish first taken in and then shunned by an insecure and overzealous group of hot and popular girls who call themselves the Plastics. The deleted scene takes place where so many high school movies come to a head, at the prom, and has the leader of the Plastics, Regina, admitting to Lohan’s character that her harsh treatment was motivated by jealousy, plain and simple. This olive branch does more to explain Regina’s character arc than the theatrical cut, but runs 2 minutes long for very little information that is not already implied in subsequent scenes.
12. Thor, Loki’s Not Such A Bad Guy
There are no real anti-heroes in big budget, action flicks; Hollywood tends to keep things black-and-white for blockbuster audiences, but comic books and the Norse myths some are based on are more complex as are their characters. Hence, by some accounts, Loki is not just an insecure, disloyal, power-hungry trickster as he is portrayed in Thor and The Avengers. In fact, he has a very legitimate axe (or hammer) to grind with his immortal brother over his claim to their father Odin’s throne. In a story-changing deleted scene from 2011’s Thor, the god of mischief, Loki, is declared the legitimate heir and his brother, Thor, initially banished. Apparently, Loki had some grounds for being royally pissed.
11. C-3PO’s Not Such A Good Guy
Bumbling, neurotic, expert translator, deadly trickster; you might think that one of these traits does not belong on a list of facts about the fictional gold-plated android and reluctant hero of Star Wars fame, but then you might not truly know C-3PO. In a scene cut from the first act of Episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back, the stiff-walking, fast-talking ‘droid is seen fleeing the Hoth rebel outpost and on his way out removing the warning sign from a door before shuffling away and letting some unsuspecting Stormtroopers enter the doorway to be greeted by a room of deadly sci-fi beasts.
10. Jennifer Lopez Mostly Cut From Jersey Girl
In the wake of the box-office failure of Gigli, the Miramax film that brought Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez together onscreen and off, director Kevin Smith was a tad bit wary of releasing a second star powered but plot-weak Lopez-Affleck vehicle to the public with Jersey Girl. As originally written, the script for Jersey Girl was focused not on the relationship between mother and father but between a father and his daughter, but with a whirlwind off-screen romance between Lopez and Affleck stealing focus away from the onscreen relationship and the blogosphere atwitter with comparisons of Jersey Girl to Gigli, the marketing execs at Miramax Films came to see director Smith’s choice to stay true to the original vision and kill Lopez’ character off in childbirth 15 minutes into the movie. But there must still be an extended cut out there with all the star power J ‘Fleck fans who disagreed with Smith were expecting for the price of admission.
9. Mockingjay pt. 1, Some Comic Relief?
Three months after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 hit theaters, Lionsgate Films’ marketers left a trail of digital breadcrumbs across the net, leading superfans to two deleted scenes, one dramatic, the other comedic, that had not made the theatrical release. The more dramatic of the two deleted sequences is a clear candidate for the cutting room floor because it adds nothing to the audience’s understanding of protagonist Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) perspective. The bit of comedy relief that eventually “leaked” shows Katniss being worked on by several makeup artists until they are shooed away by humorless Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) who roughly corrects the botched make-up job. Funny as the clip is, it also highlights Katniss’ calmness, or numbness to her surroundings, contrasted against Effie’s anxious mannerisms.
8. Deadpool: When Improvisation Goes Wrong
As the story goes, the namesake of 2016’s Deadpool was forged in the same government-sanctioned human experiment as X-Men franchise’s Wolverine, and just like Hugh Jackman’s character, Ryan Reynold’s is set to play a man whose loyalties are unpredictable and who has a tendency towards overkill on the battlefield. Fans know the similarities more or less end there, and Deadpool brings to the mix an aggressively morbid hangman’s sense of humor. According to Deadpool’s director, an alternate version of a scene, written by Reynolds and co-star/stand-up comedian T.J. Miller, that has the title character enduring a particularly harsh barrage of insults from his sidekick, Weasel, had to be toned down before the film could even be released with an R-rating.
7. Pitch Perfect: When Improvisation Goes Right
Rebel Wilson is an Aussie comedienne who has achieved modest mainstream popularity as of late through her role as a pep-talking new friend in Bridesmaids and repeated performances as overweight and oversexed fledgling choir mate, Fat Amy. Finding even cult success as a full-figured comic actor in appearance-obsessed Hollywood takes genuine skill and confidence, but making a name as a character called Fat Amy, and managing to be funny without being self-deprecating or playing to stereotypes, that takes another level of assertiveness and hilarity. The extended version of the Fat Amy choir recruitment scene from Pitch Perfect would no doubt have improved ticket sales and brought Wilson to the mainstream much sooner.
6. The Lion King, Scar’s Alternate End
This “deleted” scene was cut from storyboards before ever being filmed. Rumor has it that the original final battle scene ended with usurper, uncle Scar hurling his nephew and rightful heir, Simba, from Pride Rock. In theaters, Scar was presumably ripped apart by his former hyena minions waiting for him in the rocks below but, in this initial storyboard, Simba falls off the cliff and Scar burns alive on top of it. In the end, and to keep things in the realm of family entertainment, Disney storytellers chose “eaten by hyenas off stage” over “burned alive on camera” for the death of their antagonist.
5. Natural Born Killers (Alternate Ending)
Director Oliver Stone fancied fictional media-obsessed serial killers Mallory (Juliette Lewis) and Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) as a pair of anti-heroes, which is why, in the theatrical release of the controversial and gruesome dark “comedy” Natural Born Killers (1994), the movie ends with the fated couple driving off into the sunset following a jail break and one last murder. In an alternate cut, the couple leaves prison with the inmate who orchestrated their escape, and before the Knoxes can make it to the good life, the inmate shoots both in the face at point blank range. Perhaps the mixed response to this movie upon its release stemmed from the audience’s need for some kind of justice that never came.
4. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Alternate “Ending”)
This deleted scene was never actually filmed; rather it was deleted from an earlier draft of writer Charlie Kaufman’s mind-bending script. In this alternate version of the story, it is implied that co-dependent lovers and voluntary amnesiacs Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey) have undergone or will undergo the procedure to erase each other from their memories multiple times after or before the events of the movie. The edited-out sequence depicts an aged Clementine going in to Lacuna Inc. for a memory erasure, and it becomes clear from her dialogue with Lacuna staff that she has done this multiple times already.
3. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows pt. 1, Long Goodbyes
Even after splitting the movie adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows into two parts, the first running almost 2 hours and 30 minutes in theaters, the digital release of these films boasts enough deleted scenes to keep any Hogwarts hopeful satisfied. After much deliberation, the cut sequences that go furthest to add depth to the story and characters are a pair of scenes in which Harry bids a final farewell to his usually miserable and initially abusive foster family, the Dursley’s. In the first scene, Mother Dursley shows some humanity by reminding Potter that they both lost a loved one the night his mother (her sister) was killed. The second scene shows son Dudley awkwardly apologizing as best he can for a childhood enduring his family’s verbal abuse. Without these scenes, the Dursley family leaves the Harry Potter saga unredeemed for their cruelty.
2. In Bruge, Dr. Who Is A Cop Killer
For all their stereotypical snootiness and sexual repression, the Brits sure have the gritty, black comedy, crime drama genre down to a science. In Bruge (2008) is a film about Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) two hitmen, the former fresh on the job, the latter a hardened veteran, laying low in beautiful Bruge, Belgium after a botched job while they wait for their psychopathic boss, Harry to react. A deleted and unedited scene shows a young Harry, played by Matt Stone also known as television’s 11th Doctor Who, seeking retribution on behalf of a young Ken by decapitating a crooked homicide detective inside of a police station. Chances are the scene never made it into the cutting room because young Harry’s character realistically would not have left the police alive.
1. X-Men: First Class, Magneto In Drag
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Professor X and Magneto walk into a bar…to recruit outcast mutants for their new school. As a way of convincing a stripper who works at the bar (Did I mention the bar was a strip club?) to reveal her superhuman powers, the two recruiters buy a private dance and reveal their own abilities. To show off, the future Magneto (Michael Fassbender) levitates a champagne bucket while the telepathic Professor (James McAvoy) gets inside the stripper’s mind, making it seem to her like his friend is wearing a dress. It is unclear why this scene didn’t make the final cut; it offers some needed comic relief and foreshadows tension between the future arch-enemies.