Movies with dramatically changed endings

A movie's ending is the last thing viewers remember as they walk out of the theater—which means filmmakers have every additional incentive to craft a satisfying, memorable conclusion. Some endings, however, don't meet this standard, and are subsequently revised. Here are a few examples of movies that had their original endings dramatically changed—often in response to negative reactions from audiences at test screenings.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

In the musical Little Shop of Horrors (the basis for the 1986 movie), a carnivorous plant named Audrey II eats every major character. The original ending of the movie matched the musical's version: Seymour (Rick Moranis) rescues Audrey (Ellen Greene) from being eaten by the plant, but she dies from her wounds. He tries to fight Audrey II, but the plant eats him, and the last few minutes of the movie show Audrey II's spawn conquering Earth. Director Frank Oz changed the ending to the happier version we know today because test audiences hated the downbeat finale. Luckily, Warner Bros. included the original ending on the Blu-ray version; it's definitely dark and quite sad, but also cool to watch.

Army of Darkness (1992)

This horror-comedy cult classic originally had a bleaker ending. Fans will recall that in the theatrical cut, the movie's loudmouth hero, Ash, takes a potion to return to his own time. After returning, he dispatches a lady deadite in a hilarious and awesome action sequence while he's on the job at S-Mart. Originally, however, Ash took too much of the potion, overslept, and woke up in post-apocalyptic London. This ending may have opened up more possibilities for a sequel, but it's nowhere near as fulfilling.

True Romance (1993)

Another cult classic that had a dramatically different ending isTrue Romance. In the ending we saw in theaters, the movie's hero, Clarence (Christian Slater), is shot during a climatic gunfight between police officers and some crooks. We think he's dead, but he wakes up and rides off into the sunset with his girlfriend Alabama (Patricia Arquette). In screenwriter Quentin Tarantino's original ending, however, Clarence actually dies, after which Alabama flees the scene of the crime alone and we see her hitchiking to the Mexican border. Director Tony Scott shot both endings, but ultimately went with the happier version because he felt the movie hadn't earned a downbeat conclusion.

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1996)

In the theatrical ending of Die Hard with a Vengeance, John McClane tracks down the villainous Simon Gruber in Canada and, in action hero fashion, shoots down his helicopter with a single bullet. Originally, however, Gruber was supposed to get away, after which McClane was fired from the New York Police Department. McClane later found Gruber in an European cafe and forced him to play a game of Russian roulette with a rocket launcher (yes, we're serious). The studio stepped in and mandated the change, arguing that this ending made McClane's character too sinister (and, perhaps more importantly, lacked action). It's certainly a less spectacular ending, but it does add a final face-to-face confrontation between McClane and Gruber that the theatrical version lacked.

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Andie (Molly Ringwald) wound up with her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), not her "dream guy" Blane (Andrew McCarthy), in the original ending of this 1980s teen classic. John Hughes switched it up, ending with Andie and Blane getting together, after test audiences hated the Duckie version (here's a link to the original scripted ending). Many fans think that Some Kind of Wonderful, produced and written by John Hughes one year later, is an apology for the theatrical ending of Pretty in Pink. In Some Kind of Wonderful, Eric Stoltz's character, Keith, ends up with his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), not the popular girl at school, Amanda (Lea Thompson).

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Test audiences also hated this classic thriller's original ending. In it, Dan Gallagher's (Michael Douglas) psychopathic mistress Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) commits suicide, framing him for her murder before she kills herself. This final act fell by the wayside in favor of the theatrical cut's thrilling conclusion, in which Alex tries to murder Dan's wife Beth. It's hard to argue that the original ending is better after seeing this suspenseful sequence, but here's a link to the theatrical ending—you be the judge.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

The original ending of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World shows Scott (Michael Cera) ending up with his ex-girlfriend Knives (Ellen Wong), not Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Director Edgar Wright made the change after an indifferent test audience reaction. Also, he shot the movie before writer Bryan Lee O'Malley released the final Scott Pilgrim book, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, in which Ramona and Scott get back together.

Election (1999)

The dark comedy Election originally ended on a more conciliatory—albeit less funny—note. In that version, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) ended up working at a car dealership after resigning from his teaching position. Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is seen paying him a visit at work, and the two bury the hatchet. This is similar to the ending of the novel that the film is based on; nevertheless, test audiences didn't like it, so director Alex Payne shot the ending we saw in theaters, in which McAllister is working as a museum guide in New York.