Ridiculous alternate endings we're glad never happened

It often takes a whole bunch of creative minds to make a movie happen, and they don't always have a unified vision. The director and screenwriter might disagree over the way the story should go, or studio execs might insist on making changes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, even audiences at test screenings can alter a film's final act. Were these movies improved by the changes they went through on their way to the big screen? Fortunately, their original endings have survived so we can judge for ourselves.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

It's now a massive franchise spanning half a dozen films and a TV series, but director James Cameron wrapped up the story he wanted to tell with Terminator 2. Or at least he tried to. The film initially ended with an epilogue set 30 years in the future. Narrated by Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, she tells the audience that the "Judgment Day" of August 29, 1997 came and went without any sign of a robot-human war. John Connor is just a senator and a dad. It offered a satisfying conclusion after the frightening emotional rollercoaster of the first two films, but studio bosses didn't like the epilogue because it meant no more time travel, no more robots…and no more sequels.


Titanic

But then, maybe James Cameron didn't always have the best ideas for movie endings. The theatrical cut of Titanic concludes on a sweet, romantic, tear-jerking note: Old Rose (Gloria Stuart) throws the Gem of the Ocean overboard from the boat full of explorers actively looking for that very gem. Then she goes to sleep and dies, reunited with Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), the great love of her life. It's probably a better ending than the first one Cameron wrote. Old Rose is caught by the crew throwing the Gem of the Ocean into the sea. One explorer shouts, "that really sucks, lady!" And then Bill Paxton laughs like a fool.


Clerks

Kevin Smith's directorial debut depicted a day in the life (with a few side adventures) of a convenience store clerk. His original ending finished the film on a dark note that's also a sadly unavoidable occupational hazard for anyone standing behind a retail counter: Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is shot and killed in a robbery.


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

You know what almost never happens in a sports movie? The bad guys winning the big game. Well, Dodgeball skewered a lot of sports movie clichés, and in the original cut, the Average Joes actually lost to the bad guys from Globo-Gym.


The Butterfly Effect

The good news: Ashton Kutcher can time travel. The bad news: His constant manipulation of time, as well as his general existence, messes up the lives of everyone around him. So, at the end, to spare his one true love the pain he caused her, he goes back in time and makes sure they never meet. But the film initially called for the character to go much, much, much farther back in time to prevent the damage he caused. Like, all the way back. He goes back to his own gestating body and strangles himself with the umbilical cord. Not a twist ending anyone could have expected from a movie starring the guy from Dude, Where's My Car?


Sweet Home Alabama

Romantic comedies are comfortingly formulaic or maddeningly repetitious, depending on your taste. The makers of this 2002 Reese Witherspoon vehicle at least tried to mix things up a bit. In a rejected ending, Melanie (Witherspoon) has finally renounced her Big City life for her Deep South hometown and reunited with her good ol' boy ex-husband Jake (Josh Lucas). As they seal their love (and the movie) with a kiss, a storm starts up and lightning strikes…Melanie. Jake carries her corpse to their friends' party. But then Melanie pops back to life and tells everybody she wasn't really dead, she just needed to symbolically die to shed her Big City persona.


Donnie Darko

In a movie with many confusing plot points, it's ironic that director Richard Kelly initially opted for an ending that over-explained things. It's clear that Donnie sacrificed himself to restore the inconsistencies in time and space—audiences didn't need to see him impaled on a pole.


The Blair Witch Project

The power of suggesting a bad thing can be a lot creepier than actually showing it. There are few endings as creepy as that of The Blair Witch Project, in which a young filmmaker finally succumbs to the titular supernatural menace and sticks himself in a corner. It's implied he's going to die—which is far sadder than the original ending, in which he actually hanged himself.