When you think about deleted scenes, you usually think about scenes with little substance, scenes that don’t change the overall landscape. These scenes are usually cut to shorten films without altering them. There is, as you might imagine, a great list of films with alternate endings out there. In fact, the majority of the scenes on this list are alternate endings. But endings do more than change only the final moments, at least the ones in this list do. Many of the scenes in this list change the way the entire film is interpreted. Some change the way characters are read. In every case, the scenes in this list change the way the audience feels at the end. The movie is a different movie with them and we’re different for having seen them. Dramatic enough for you?
But seriously, deleted scenes are fun. They’re also a little strange. Some got cut simply because of time, some because of the tone, and their films just trudged on without them. Others, like the alternate endings, were replaced by something altogether different. What we want to do is talk about the deleted scenes and talk about how the movie is changed by them. We also have to wonder, if these deleted scenes were originally meant to make the film, does that mean that everything leading up to these moments can be interpreted with the same lens as used in the deleted scenes? Simply by having been apart of the original plan, can these deleted scenes change how we interpret the final cut? That’s deep stuff right there. Here are 15 scenes cut from major films that changed everything.
15. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
SPOILER ALERT!!! At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, everything is tied up rather neatly. We like that kind of thing in Hollywood. However, that wasn’t what was originally planned. Now, if you believed that Credence was gone for good, well, shame on you. There’s a golden rule in film. If you don’t see the body, they ain’t dead. There was another ending that was cut, says director David Heyman. They cut it because they didn’t want it to be too obvious. “We actually had a scene, which we cut, which was Credence going to a boat, to get on a boat somewhere else,” he said. “But we cut that, because we didn’t want to have it be such an, ‘Ahhh, here we go.'”
14. The Dark Knight Rises
It’s not that this deleted scene from The Dark Knight Rises totally redeems the villains or anything like that, but it does go a long way in showing you the issues from both sides. If nothing else, it shows you that the villains have some reasoning behind their actions and don’t just kill for the sake of it. Ok, so Harvey Dent goes crazy but they still institute the Dent Act in Gotham. Basically, the Dent Act locks up all criminals with no real trial and no chance at appeal or parole. It’s extremely effective, but how legal is it? Later, in TDKR, Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) is playing judge in that makeshift courtroom, sending the convicted to walk out on the ice to their death. There’s a small scene that was cut when James Gordon (Gary Oldman) is on trial there. He’s judged to be guilty right away with no trial, so he asks, “No lawyer, no witnesses. What sort of due process is this?” To this Scarecrow replies, “More than you gave Harvey’s prisoners, Commissioner.” Very small, but it just illuminates that even though we know the criminals in Gotham needed to be punished, the methods of punishment weren’t fair.
13. Suicide Squad
There were quite a few people who were critical of the relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. For some, Joker was too manipulatable and too into Harley Quinn. The argument is that, while Joker does have a deep connection with Quinn, he should never have been controlled by her, something fans felt was taking place in their backstories. There is a deleted scene, however, that does add a bit more to their story. It shows a moment between when Joker escapes Arkham Asylum and when he and Harley jump into the chemicals together. The scene shows Harley on a motorcycle chasing down Joker’s Lamborghini. He’s doing his best to ignore her, but when she parks in front of his vehicle, he grinds his car to a halt before smashing into her. The scene shows more of the abusive side of their relationship, Quinn’s desperation and Joker’s indifference to her. This type of scene goes a long way to showing how Quinn slowly chipped away Joker’s emotional wall. Eventually, when she jumps into the vat at ACE Chemicals, Quinn finally manages to break through completely, making Joker’s decent into the vat following her seem like he’s finally giving in after a process. It makes a big difference.
12. Donnie Darko
Technically, the scenes we’re talking about in Donnie Darko don’t change the movie. We also promise this is the only one like this. While the deleted scenes in question in Donnie Darko pretty much only make the film clearer, it does, for many people, change the way they interpreted the film in the first place. The Director’s Cut of the film actually included superimposed text from the time travel book that Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds because it was essential, in the director, Richard Kelly’s eyes. Some criticized the new cut for spoon-feeding the interpretation, but Kelly has argued that all he did was open up another possible train of thought, not the only one. The text from the book essentially tells a story about the fourth dimension and what happens when an artifact from our universe, the primary universe, breaks through to another. This event would create what’s called a tangent universe, an unstable reality, presumably where the events of the movie take place. In this tangent universe, “The Receiver” of the artifact (Donnie) will be blessed with gifts and powers such as mind control, telekinesis, and increased strength. The receiver must return the Artifact (The Jet Engine) to the stable primary universe using his gifts in order to ensure the fate of the living and thus sacrifice himself. In the end, the fixed reality we see is actually the primary universe. It was saved because Donnie sacrificed himself to save humankind.
The story behind this alternate ending in Hostel (with probably no truth to it) goes that Eli Roth filmed his ending, but friend and confidant Quentin Tarantino saw it and convinced him to change it to the one we got in the theatrical version. In the ending that everyone saw, the victim (Jay Hernandez) sees one of his torturers at the train station. He grabs him, cuts off a finger or two and slits his throat. Good riddance. He gets retribution. The audience is happy. In the original ending, the ending that was later added for the director’s cut, the victim sees one of his torturers as well as his little daughter at the train station. In this version, the victim grabs the little girl and takes her, while the torturer watches them leave on the train. This suggests that the victim has become the torturer. Simple revenge is not enough in this version. It also shows a much darker nature to humans, making this type of evil something cyclical. It also makes the protagonists much less human in the end.
10. World War Z
There were many changes made to World War Z before it was finished. Basically, the entire third act was changed very late in the game, but we want to focus on Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family. In the final cut of the film, everything works out pretty well for the family even though they looked a little dicey for a time, but in the original story, things weren’t so awesome. Apparently, sometime after they got separated, Gerry’s wife and kids went to the Everglades where Karin (Mireille Enos) had to barter sexual favors to Matthew Fox’s character for protection. By the time Gerry actually speaks to them, the family has already been there for months. While Gerry’s been out living like a king, life sucked pretty hard for Karin, who was forced into prostitution just to keep her kids safe. It changes how important Gerry’s mission was. Yeah, you saved the world, but your family is ruined pal.
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
If you don’t know the story of Mad Max, here it is: Max’s wife and his infant son are killed by a motorcycle gang. Run over to be exact. A couple of sequels later and we have Mad Max: Fury Road. For whatever reason, Max is here as a captive, but this is the same old, brooding and dead inside Max. In the original plan, Max and Furiosa were to get together in the end in some sort of love story. It’s unclear if Max was ever planning to stick around with her, but they would at least have a connection. It took Tom Hardy pointing out that his character would in no way be over his deceased family enough to get attached to another for George Miller to scrap the idea. This would have changed Max from the constant wanderer to something more domestic. We shudder to think of it.
8. Little Shop of Horrors
Test audiences do a whole lot of bad in some cases. Who are these people who have such an impact on the movies we watch? Well, with Little Shop of Horrors, they made the wrong choice. Now, the theatrical ending of the film isn’t bad. It’s just not as good as the original. In the ending today, Seymour (Rick Moranis) destroys the plant and saves the day. Happy ending, nice, but kind of boring. In the original ending, the very expensive and much longer ending, Seymour arrives too late and finds that the Audrey II (the plant) has bitten and fatally wounded Audrey (the woman). As per her request, Seymour then feeds Audrey to Audrey II. Eventually, he too is killed by Audrey II in a tragic struggle. However, it doesn’t end there. In the epilogue, the audience then learns how Audrey II was bred and sold across the world. This led to an army of plants taking over the planet and destroying it. Beautiful.
7. Lion King
Admittedly, the current ending of The Lion King is pretty great. It was meant to be different though. Originally, the fight between Simba and Scar was meant to take place in the same way, but Simba was actually less of a murderer. In the fight scene that we all saw, Simba kicks Scar off Pride rock. Even though he didn’t die from the fall, Simba still could have saved Scar after the fall. There at the bottom, Scar is then surrounded by his hyenas and he is attacked and presumably killed. Simba could have done something had he wanted to, but he’s a thug. In the original plan, Scar was actually meant to kick Simba off the rock. Simba’s fall was broken by a branch, so he would be ok, but then flames encircled Scar and burned him alive. Scar was also meant to deliver a pretty dope line, “Good Night Sweet Prince,” a reference to “Hamlet,” which The Lion King is inspired by. Admittedly, this would have been a pretty dark ending for kids. Ain’t nobody want to see a lion burned alive, but like we said, Simba is wholly innocent in this version. Funny enough, the ending that eventually Disney chose, the hyenas mauling Scar, was meant to be the Gaston’s death in Beauty and the Beast, but they cut it out for being too dark.
6. Jurassic Park
In the initial plan for Jurassic Park, Dr. Hammond was supposed to be much more of a controversial character than he is in the final cut. Even though this scene made it’s way into Jurassic Park 3, in a way, it was meant to be in the original film. The scene discusses how mosquito DNA in the dinosaurs gives them exceedingly short life spans. Now, we get something similar in the final cut with the “Lysine Contingency,” which talks about how the animals need to be given lysine or else they will die in seven days. Yet, originally, this was out of the park’s control. The animals were bred to die young, which makes the park much darker. This realization causes Dr. Grant to freak out on Hammond, villainizing him for the audience much more than we end up seeing.
5. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
This is one of the classic deleted scenes, so by now you’ve probably heard of it. We all know the story. Obi-Wan seemed like a total jerk at first, hiding the truth to Luke and pretending he didn’t know anything about Darth Vader when in reality he friggin’ cut Luke’s dad in half. “Nah. Never heard of him.”
In a deleted scene from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, however, Yoda, in that excruciatingly long deathbed scene, tells Luke that “Obi-Wan would have told you long ago had I let him.” He says some baloney about Luke not being ready for the burden, but we’ve heard enough to let Obi-Wan off the hook. Now we just hate Yoda.
While the deleted scene called “cancer world tour” doesn’t necessarily change everything, it certainly changes a lot in terms of character development in Deadpool. In the scene, Wade and Vanessa go to Guadalajara to get some black-market cancer treatment. There Wade realizes that the doctor isn’t helping his patients but tricking them. Having lost all hope at this point, Wade kills the doctor in front of everyone. We know that the torture Wade receives goes a long way to make him into the ultra-violent Deadpool, but this scene shows us that his descent into darkness began with the disease. We see a hopeless Wade. He’s tired and angry and becoming violent with people who are taking advantage of others. It’s an essential scene for his character and one that the team behind the film desperately wanted to include in the final cut.
3. I Am Legend
In what will probably go down as the worst changed ending of all time, the team behind I Am Legend changed the ending of their film because their test audience were a bunch of idiots. In the theatrical version, Robert Neville (Will Smith) was testing on the Darkseekers in an effort to find a cure. He finds it and kills a swathe of Darkseekers and himself to preserve it and save humanity. Weak Hollywood ending. In the original ending, which was much closer to the book and far superior, Neville realizes that a group of Darkseekers are only attacking him to retrieve the female Darkseeker that he is testing on. When they leave, Neville comes to grips with the fact that he has been testing on these non-human but somewhat gentle creatures. They are civilized and understanding. Rather than a monster of the night, he, to them, is a monster of the day. He Am Legend. Wait. Imagine him saying this: “I Am Legend.” Better.
In Zootopia, we’ve got this beautiful society of animals that live peacefully together, both predators, herbivores, omnivores and whatever else there is. The law in Zootopia seems to include an agreement between each of the animals to be nice to each other. It’s called allegory, we get it. However, there exists a game-changing cut scene that went a long way in explaining this passive society phenomenon to the audience, but the producers thought it was too dark to include in the film. The scene in question was to introduce “a taming party.” Judy and Nick were to stumble upon a bah mitzvah-type party for a young bear. The father hands the young bear a present, a collar, which the little bear puts on. When the bear gets too wild, he gets a shock. He gets sad. The scene then shows how each of the predators have a collar, an external control that keeps them in line and “tame.” Judy then notices that Nick, too, is wearing a collar.
1. The Shining
After Stanley Kubrick shot the ending of The Shining, something changed in him. He decided to delete one of the final scenes, the so-called hospital scene, and obscure the ending more. The cut scene was meant to take place after we see the frozen corpse of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and before the picture of the hotel from 1920s that inexplicably has Jack present and smiling among the other hotel guests. In that hospital scene, we would have seen Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd) safe and sound and recovering. We also would have seen the hotel manager, Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson), enter the hospital. He was to tell Wendy that the police found nothing out of the ordinary and that it’s all natural to imagine things the way she did. Then, before he leaves, he was to throw a yellow ball to Danny. The same yellow ball that mysteriously rolled to him in the hotel and lured him to room 237. This tells us that Ullman is likely complicit in the hotel’s evil. He possibly lured the Torrance family there in the same way the ball lured Danny to the room.