The Terminator’s Happily Ever After And More Alternate Movie Endings

By Team GQ Middle East
24 October 2018
Movies, The Terminator, Rocky, Dr Strangelove, Return of the Jedi, I Am Legend, Thelma and Louise, Pretty Woman, The Bourne Identity, The Lion King, The Shining
Had these endings been used, our favourite movies might not have held such allure.

Would Rocky have been as successful if it had ended with muscle-man Stallone throwing a fight for money, all just to help Adrian open a pet store? Hard to say guys, it’s hard to say.

Cinema has gifted us a number of classics and iconic movie moments over the last few decades. These moments, played out on screen, have become so deeply rooted in our consciousness and fabric of pop culture that to be unaware of the reference makes you the weird one, scrambling for your phone and an iMDB page to familiarize yourself with the quote.

But not everything that’s been brought to screen has been the whim and fancy of directors, or the actors themselves. For some directors, a case of consumer dissonance seeps in which sees them want the ending that they originally didn’t choose. For other films, it was the audience that prompted the re-write with directors being heavily influenced by the reactions of test audiences.

We’d apologise for the spoilers here but hey, it’s 2018 and if you haven’t seen The Terminator, that’s on you.

The Terminator

You’ll remember that at the end of The Terminator, Kyle Reese, the human resistance soldier sent back in time from the year 2029 to protect Sarah Connor, dies when he blows up himself and the Terminator with a pipe bomb. Sarah Connor escapes to give birth to Kyle’s son, who grows up to be resistance hero John Connor.

But, had the studio gotten their way, the ending would have ended with Kyle and Sarah together, hugging, according to producer and co-writer Gale Ann Hurd. This means that some of the most iconic moments in movie history – when the skin burns off Schwarzenegger’s robot body and he continues to pursue Kyle and Sarah – never would have happened.


The original screenplay saw Rocky accept money to throw the fight against Apollo Creed, who was also going to be Jamaican. Rocky then used the cash to help Adrian open a pet store…

Dr Strangelove

It’s become something of an iconic ending that the possibility of an alternative seems an assault on humanity. Of course, the original ended with Major T.J. “King” Kong riding a nuclear bomb like it’s a bucking bronco, followed by Dr. Strangelove miraculously regaining the ability to walk just as the Doomsday Machine activates and detonates nuclear bombs across the world. But Director Stanley Kubrick almost went for another one – a massive fight at the Pentagon which saw everyone in the room creaming each other in the face with pies. Kubrick ultimately cut the scene because he “decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film.”

Good move, Stanley.

Return of the Jedi

The first version of the script saw the death of Han Solo during a raid on an Imperial base, according to producer Gary Kurtz. Kurtz says George Lucas was more concerned about how the death would impact merchandising and so he refused to kill any of the main characters which explains why the movie ended the way it did. Not surprisingly, Kurtz and Lucas went their separate ways after the film.

I Am Legend

A classic Will Smith flick that saw the leading man captivate audiences pretty much with his lone figure on the screen. The originally intended ending however was a lot more hopeful than what was screened

In the released version, Dr. Neville heroically blows himself and a bunch of Darkseekers up, saving Anna and Ethan, but giving them the cure before he goes. Critics didn’t care for the ending, but perhaps they would have preferred the one where the Darkseekers break into Neville’s lab because they’re looking for the female Darkseeker he has been experimenting on. Once Neville realizes this and gives the female back, the rest of the mob backs off and Neville realizes that the infected just see him as a murderer of their kind.

Thelma and Louise

Sure, the alternative ending isn’t anything too drastic, but it’s still a rather poignant change. The first ending showed the duo’s car tumbling all the way to the canyon floor, most likely getting demolished on the way down. Harvey Keitel’s character then finds the Polaroid that blew out of the car and looks at it as a helicopter heads down into the Grand Canyon to survey the wreckage.

The updated ending is far more hopeful. Audiences see the car drive off the cliff, but not the aftermath. Whilst me have to assume (quite rightly) that they die, who knows…maybe the director fancied a Disney-esque landing or cartoon style tumble, rather than a sad scene of their death.

Pretty Woman

The screened ending is the ultimate happily ever after. But the original script certainly wasn’t. In it, Vivian received her envelope of cash as per the original agreement and there was no exchange of love. Basically, she went straight back to the streets and the whole thing read as one really dark, depressing story about two horrible people. Julia Roberts said about this ending, “My character was this drug addict, a bad-tempered, foulmouthed, ill-humoured, poorly educated woman who had this weeklong experience with a foulmouthed, ill-tempered, bad-humoured, very wealthy, handsome but horrible man and it was just a grisly, ugly story about these two people.”

We reckon these words must have had an impact on the director and his seeking to change the ending to something far more lovey and uplifting.

The Bourne Identity

Jason Bourne almost had a happy ending with Marie, well, until the sequel which saw her killed within the first fifteen minutes. But instead, executives decided to end the first film by adding one more tragic event to Bourne’s history of tragic events.

The Lion King

Scar still dies, which we think is an ending his character certainly deserves. Instead of being ripped to hyenas though, he was going to burn to death. During their epic battle, Scar throws Simba off a cliff, saying, “Goodnight, sweet prince.” (A nod to Hamlet, FYI.) However, Simba’s fall is broken by a tree, and Scar is engulfed by the flames.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s hit novel originally ended with a two-minute hospital scene, a way to show us that Danny and Wendy had survived. But while they’re there, the manager of the Overlook Hotel comes in and tells Wendy that police have investigated, and they didn’t find a shred of paranormal evidence. As he leaves, the manager gives Danny a yellow ball – the same one that led him to the infamous room 237. Kubrick cut the scenes when he saw audience reaction. “When I was able to see for the first time the fantastic pitch of excitement which the audience reached during the climax of the movie, I decided the scene was unnecessary.” Kubrick then had projectionists cut the actual scene from the film by hand and mail the strips back to Warner Bros.

Via GQ Australia