The greatest deleted scenes ever filmed

While it's easy to be upset when directors chop cool-sounding scenes out of our favorite movies, the reality is that deleted scenes are a necessity. If filmmakers indulged their every whim, most movies would be boring, bloated affairs that would numb the butts of even the most ardent filmgoers.  

Every now and again, though, a deleted scene is uncovered that completely alters our perception of a film. In fact, it could be argued that some of the most legendary scenes to ever hit the cutting room floor would have actually improved the film they were removed from.

Join us as we uncover the very best deleted scenes that deserve to be pulled out of the trash and given their own time to shine in the spotlight. You may be surprised at how some of them change the way you look at your favorite films.  

Aliens (1986)

After surviving the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley wakes up in the sequel to discover that she's spent 57 years traveling in hypersleep. Audiences who saw the theatrical release of Aliens assume that Ripley shrugs this ordeal off for the most part, but a deleted scene from the 1992 special edition reveals how the psychological impact of this experience hurt our heroine far more than anyone ever realized.

Following her awakening, Ripley meets company rep Carter Burke to discuss what happened to her aboard the Nostromo. In the deleted scene, Ripley does what any mother would do and immediately asks about her daughter, insisting on answers. After some hesitation, Burke reluctantly reveals that her daughter died two years earlier, at the age of 66. Upon seeing a photograph of Amanda Ripley aged beyond recognition, Sigourney Weaver's heroine is overcome with shock and grief, revealing that she'd promised her daughter they would reunite before her 11th birthday.

In hindsight, it's hard to understand why director James Cameron chose to remove this scene in the first place. Not only does the loss of Ripley's daughter help contextualize the subsequent bond that she forms with Newt, but it also serves as a stunning showcase of Weaver's acting ability.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

X-Men: First Class rebooted the franchise, taking fans back to the origins of the X-Men while revealing how the central relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr came to be. With that in mind, it it made perfect sense to see these two bitter rivals initially become friends and enjoy each other's company. However, what we didn't expect to see was Xavier telepathically alter the perceptions of a student to convince them that Magneto was dressed in women's clothing.

That's right. The Blu-ray edition of X-Men: First Class revealed a deleted scene in which Michael Fassbender actually wore a wig and dressed in drag while recruiting new students for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Unfortunately, this hilarious moment never made it to cinemas, but now that this deleted scene has come to light, it's easy to see why Magneto eventually turned against his old friend.

It (2017)

The most important and arguably most horrifying scene in Andrés Muschietti's adaptation of It is the debut of Pennywise, Stephen King's unforgettable "Eater of Worlds." Spawning a thousand memes and a thousand more nightmares, the moment when Pennywise lures Georgie Denbrough into the sewers below Derry is as terrifying as it is instantly memorable, and it's hard to imagine the situation could have played out differently.

However, it turns out that Muschietti directed a surprise alternate opening for IT which ends in a very different way for Pennywise. Instead of feasting on Bill Denbrough's younger brother, Bill Skarsgård's clown is shocked to see Georgie snatch his paper boat away in time and stroll away down the street, safe and unharmed.

While this was obviously filmed as a gag, Muschietti's alternate opening does raise some interesting points. If Georgie had survived Pennywise's attack, it's entirely possible that Pennywise's evil reign over the town of Derry would have continued unchallenged. It's murder of Georgie was the true beginning of the ageless evil being's demise, even if he didn't yet realize it at the time.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan remains a firm favorite among Trek enthusiasts, but one scene feels somewhat out of place when compared to the rest of the movie—when Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott weeps at the bedside of a dying cadet called Peter Preston. Sure, Scotty has every right to be saddened by the loss of a crewmember, but this wouldn't be the first time he's seen someone die while working for Starfleet. Why does this particular death resonate so painfully for him?

The truth lies in a deleted scene found in the director's cut, which reveals that the dying cadet is actually Scotty's nephew. An earlier exchange between Preston and Kirk establishes this familial connection and could have delivered a far more emotional payoff for Scotty if this had been included in the theatrical version. Instead, audiences were left wondering why this death was so important to the usually stoic Chief Engineer.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Once again, James Cameron has dropped the ball on one of his most popular movies, deleting a pivotal scene that could have improved what many already deem to be perfection. The film in question this time around is Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in which the titular machine has been reprogrammed to help save the human race instead of wiping out Earth's population.

While our heroes prepare in the desert for their next mission, John Connor takes the opportunity to ask the Terminator about his mechanical mind and discovers that his newfound protector can learn human behavior after being exposed to it for prolonged periods of time. However, a deleted scene found on the special edition of T2 reveals that Skynet limited The Terminator's processors to a "read only" function by default, preventing it from actually understanding human behavior on a personal level. Cue a visually stunning scene during which John and his mother open up the Terminator's skull to manually alter his CPU.

On one hand, this deleted scene serves as yet another reminder of how groundbreaking the visual effects were in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But more importantly, the ramifications of what happened here hold important implications for the rest of the movie, including the Terminator's empathy in the final scene and the ongoing power play between John and his mother, Sarah Connor.

Mean Girls (2004)

Remember when Lindsay Lohan reigned supreme in teen movies like Mean Girls? One of the defining moments from that film is when Cady broke her crown at the end and threw out the pieces to the other girls who deserved the title of Spring Fling Queen—including Regina George. At the time, audiences assumed Cady and Regina hadn't yet made up following the fight that culminated in that brutal "bus" scene, but a deleted scene reveals that the pair did actually speak before the prom took place.

The moment in question takes place in the bathroom at the school dance where Regina and Cady finally catch up after the accident. Anyone expecting Regina to come down hard on Cady after she fractured her spine may be surprised to discover that the pair actually share a rather sweet exchange that finally puts aside their differences once and for all. Sure, Regina is also high on pain medication, but the story she tells about her dollhouse actually goes a long way to help humanize her behavior and also further explains Cady's subsequent act of kindness onstage. It's a shame that audiences didn't see this conversation play out in theaters, but Mean Girls remains totally fetch regardless.

Blade Runner (1982)

The question of whether Rick Deckard is a replicant has plagued film lovers for decades, and unfortunately, Blade Runner 2049 did little to clarify the situation. However, Ridley Scott himself insists that Deckard is an artificial being, and included a scene that arguably proves this in his official Director's Cut of Blade Runner.

In typically puzzling fashion, the original cut of Blade Runner includes a scene during which Deckard finds an origami unicorn during his escape with Rachel. All audiences know at this stage is that a fellow blade runner named Gaff left this behind for Deckard, but the reason why is unclear. However, in a deleted scene that Scott included in later versions of the film, Deckard dreams of a unicorn, and the suggestion here is that Gaff left this origami for him because he knows Deckard's memories and innermost thoughts. How would he know this? Because Deckard is a replicant, and these memories were implants.

Whether you agree with this may depend on which version of Blade Runner you consider as canon. Either way, enough plot threads are left open-ended to support arguments both for and against the "replicant" debate, which is one of the main reasons Blade Runner continues to mesmerize audiences decades later.

The Thing (1982)

Released on the same weekend as Blade Runner, John Carpenter's sci-fi horror classic has inspired similar debates surrounding its protagonist, and whether he can be trusted by the film's end. The Antarctic base where pilot R.J. MacReady has been sent is occupied by a shape-shifting alien that impersonates the people it kills. In the final scene of The Thing, MacReady and fellow survivor Childs are the only two who remain, leaving audiences to guess whether one of them is secretly the monster in disguise.

In the alternate ending that Carpenter shot, it's revealed that the alien does in fact survive, escaping the Antarctic base in the form of a husky dog. The implications of this deleted scene strongly suggest that MacReady definitely did die, no matter who the monster was impersonating. However, this still doesn't explain which survivor held a deadly secret in the final scene of The Thing's original theatrical cut.

Fortunately, the mystery appears to have finally been solved thanks to some eagle-eyed Reddit fans who realized that Childs doesn't appear to be breathing in that final theatrical scene. If you look closely, it becomes clear that only MacReady's icy breath can be seen in the air, suggesting that Childs isn't really human after all.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Whether you loved or hated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's hard to deny that Zack Snyder's superhero epic crammed in huge amounts of exposition to try and turn the DCEU into a viable cinematic universe. As a result of this, some moments felt rushed, and at times, characters even seemed to possess knowledge that should have been out of their reach.

The most obvious example occurs toward the end of the movie, when an imprisoned Lex Luthor alludes to an evil force that threatens to destroy the earth. Comic book fans assumed that this ominous warning was linked to Darkseid in some way—and they were right, as his nephew Steppenwolf arrived soon after to cause havoc for our heroes in Justice League. But how did Superman's arch-nemesis know Steppenwolf would travel to Earth in the first place?

In the Ultimate Edition of Dawn of Justice, a deleted scene set on the Kryptonian ship Luthor captured reveals that the megalomaniac experienced direct contact with Steppenwolf, presumably discussing his hunt for the Mother Boxes. Sure, the character design changed dramatically between films, and the way Steppenwolf evaporates at the end of the scene is also never explained in his next appearance, but at least we finally know what Luthor was talking about while trapped in his cell.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

For decades, audiences have argued over the existence of numerous plot holes in the Star Wars franchise, but diehard fans know some of the most widely contentious issues can actually be explained away by subtle details that even the most ardent Padawan may struggle to spot on first viewing. Out of all these plot holes, the one that arguably sticks out the most is why Luke Skywalker was never told the true identity of his father. Sure, this omission did build impressive amounts of tension between Skywalker and Darth Vader, but one has to question why Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't tell him long before the pair finally clashed in battle.

Well, it turns out that Return of the Jedi originally included another line that explains exactly why Kenobi originally withheld this vital information, and it's all because of Yoda. When Skywalker returns to his bedside one last time, the fuzzy green Jedi reveals that he forbade Kenobi from telling him the truth about Vader, and it's implied that this was because such knowledge would have clouded his mind during their inevitable confrontation. Not only does this deleted scene solve one of the most troubling plot holes in the franchise, but it also sheds new light on Kenobi's relationship with Yoda and their power dynamic.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1

Long before Voldemort reemerged to cause havoc in Harry Potter's life, the young wizard had to deal with an evil far closer to home—his abusive aunt, uncle, and cousin, who adopted him following the deaths of his parents. It's easy to picture these characters purely in terms of light and darkness, but a deleted scene removed from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 reminds us that everyone contains elements of both, including Potter's rude cousin, Dudley Dursley.

The moment in question takes place when the two bid each other farewell. Despite the bad blood between them, Potter and Dursley set aside their differences with a touching handshake that would surely have brought tears to audiences everywhere had director David Yates kept this scene in the theatrical version of the film. While it's unfortunate that this parting was cut, it's still heartening for fans of the book to see this important moment play out in live action too.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) - The Jitterbug

Few deleted scenes have captured the hearts of movie lovers quite like the "Jitterbug" musical number that was cut from The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Clocking in at six minutes, the dance sequence took five weeks to rehearse and perform, costing MGM a total of $80,000. Reports suggest that the scene was ultimately cut to reduce the film's running time, but it's also possible that the upbeat nature of the song simply didn't fit with the darker elements of the story.

Written by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. Harburg, the scene was based around a pink and blue insect that caused its victims to dance uncontrollably once bitten. Although the Jitterbug wasn't included in the theatrical cut, a trace of its existence can be found when the Witch tells Nikko about her plans to attack Dorothy and her companions with an insect that will take the fight out of them all.