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Deleted Starship Troopers Scenes That You Never Knew Existed

There isn't another movie out there quite like "Starship Troopers." This satirical adaptation of the 1959 novel by Richard A. Heinlein — one of the "Big Three" sci-fi authors of his day alongside Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov — plays heavily with themes concerning the dangers of hyper-militarism, class divides, government propaganda, and authoritarian overreach. Though it's quite a departure from the novel, the 1997 feature film gained a cult following in subsequent years, and even spawned two live-action and two computer-animated sequels.

Today, director Paul Verhoeven's vision for "Starship Troopers" is the most well-known iteration of the story by far. After years of evaluating the film through the eyes of the action genre — mainly due to an initial poor reaction that misinterpreted the film as "Nazi propaganda" — the sci-fi classic gained new life as a satirical commentary on the greater military industrial complex. Whether you're in it for the hard-headed satire or you just love to watch a good bug-squashing, there's something in "Starship Troopers" for almost everyone if you look hard enough.

But not everything that was shot by Verhoeven made it into the movie. What we saw in the original theatrical cut (and the subsequent home video releases) is missing a few key details that better emphasize character arcs and contribute nicely to the finale. While "Starship Troopers" as we know it today stands tall on its own, we can't help but wonder if these axed scenes might've enhanced the film for the better.

'Dumb with numbers'

In the world of "Starship Troopers," it's only the jock-like "meatheads" who end up on the front lines of the intergalactic war between mankind and the alien bugs who threaten their existence. As members of the mobile infantry, they're the first to die as they fight tooth and nail to earn their citizenship and fair treatment in Federation space. While the smart ones become pilots and the psychics join military intelligence, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) falls quickly into the infantry, and it's obvious why.

The theatrical cut makes it obvious that jocks are better built for the infantry, and thus Rico is an obvious candidate alongside his sporting friends Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer) and Ace Levy (Jake Busey). But this deleted scene, called "High School Lawn," goes a step further, implying that academics aren't Johnny's strong suit. After Johnny does poorly on a math exam, he confides in his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) who tells him that she likes him despite his intellectual limitations. As the two kiss, Johnny asks why she refuses to make love to him, to which she replies that she's waiting for the "right time."

This scene was only axed at the very end of post-production leading directly into the film's wide release, but it would've played within the first 15 minutes to help establish the romance between Johnny and Carmen. At the end of the day, this scene doesn't reveal anything we don't already know, and cutting it out only makes sense.

Johnny and Carmen bid farewell

The love affair between Johnny Rico and Carmen Ibanez is tumultuous at best. At the height of their romance, they dream (however briefly) of a future together before enlisting in the Federation. Tragically, it didn't take long before Carmen breaks Johnny's heart, deeming the distance — and their differing career paths — as too much to handle. But before they ever enlist, they're high school sweethearts with some serious Shakespearean parental issues.

In a quick deleted scene deemed "Transporter," Johnny attempts to convince Carmen to let him go home with her after the semester, but she quickly shuts him down. Though it doesn't last long, this moment gives us some extra context regarding the apparently forbidden nature of their relationship. It's revealed that the Ibanez family dislikes the Ricos for not being Federation citizens. Though Johnny's parents are wealthy and ultimately have no need for service or citizenship, their status as non-citizens is enough for Carmen's parents to look down on Johnny.

Had this moment been included in the film, it would've no doubt contributed to Johnny's decision to join the mobile infantry. As it stands, he already enlists to impress Carmen and eventually earn his own citizenship, so the added pressure of further impressing her parents might've elaborated on his increasingly complicated motivations. Nevertheless, these 43 seconds were cut for time, and the scene didn't even make it to the final edits of the film.

Zander confesses his love to Carmen

One of the best scenes in all of "Starship Troopers" is the iconic Klendathu drop, which is the first time we really lay eyes on the Arachnids who threaten humanity's survival. In all the increasing chaos, which leads to countless casualties, Johnny Rico is trapped, only to be rescued by his former high school teacher Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside), who inducts him into the Roughnecks. Since the invasion is a disaster, the Federation mistakenly reports Rico among the ever-growing list of casualties, which devastates Carmen from afar.

Though she had already broken his heart, Carmen is still in love with Johnny, and in this deleted scene — inaptly named "Zander Consoles Carmen" — she struggles with that reality. Preying upon her vulnerable state, her superior Zander Barcalow (Patrick Muldoon) enters her quarters to "console" her, only to creepily confess that he's actually in love with her. Rather than reject his off-putting advances, Carmen kisses Zander, and the scene ends implying that they sleep together.

At the end of the day, there are a bunch of good reasons to cut this scene. Adding another fling to the movie could water down the romances between Johnny and Dizzy and Johnny and Carmen, which are both more important for the rest of the story. Zander and Carmen hooking up probably doesn't add much to either character but does create a potentially counterproductive opportunity for the audience to debate the ethics of sleeping with a co-worker a short time after finding out your ex has been killed. This one was definitely better left out.

'I'm glad he's alive'

After Carmen and Zander save the Roughnecks from an Arachnid horde on the mysterious bug world of Planet P, they take the crew aboard where Carmen learns that Johnny is alive. However, tragedy has struck the young Johnny Rico once again, as his lover and former classmate Dizzy Flores didn't make it out alive. Naturally, a funeral service is held in Dizzy's honor, with their old high school buddy-turned-military intelligence officer Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) in attendance when Johnny pays his final respects to their friend.

In a scene called "Carmen's Cabin," set before the memorial, Carmen prepares for the funeral as Zander interrupts her with irritating questions that quickly get more personal. Instead of offering his condolences for her lost classmate, Zander badgers her about her relationship with Johnny, who is not as dead as she had previously thought. Offering little in response, Carmen is unsure of how she feels about the infantryman but seems to have reignited the torch that Johnny previously held for her.

Like the previous scene, all this moment does is make Zander look more and more like a creep. His insecure prodding and frustrating presence make us hate him all the more, to the point where we couldn't care less when his brain is eaten by the Brain Bug. This scene also adds very little to Carmen's arc other than her apparently rejuvenated interest in Johnny. Since this comes across in other scenes later in the film, it renders this interaction moot.

The extended ending kiss

During the final act, Johnny and Carmen are reunited after Johnny gets a strange urge to travel beneath Planet P's surface as the battle between the Federation and the bugs rages outdoors. Down below, Johnny eventually stumbles upon a bug stronghold where the Brain Bug — the supposed leader of the entire alien race — has killed Zander. With Carmen next on the menu, Johnny, Ace, and Watkins (Seth Gilliam) arrive just in time to save Carmen and blow the cave to smithereens. Though Watkins doesn't make it, the others live to see another day.

In the final moments of "Starship Troopers," the Brain Bug is captured and Carl, being a psychic 'n all, reveals that the creature is afraid. Having won the battle, Carmen remarks that when she, Johnny, and Carl are together, "things might just work out." In an extended version of the same scene called "Last Kiss," Carmen lays a friendly one on Carl, thankful that he psychically led Johnny to her rescue. Soon after, she and Johnny share a final romantic moment themselves where they also kiss (albeit, more romantically), picking up where they left off.

Though this is a nice note to end on given their tortured romance, the removal of this blissful moment is almost necessary. Not only would the rekindling of their romance feel a bit cliche, but their decision to remain close friends reflects how much they've both grown, and that they understand and respect the other's choices moving forward.

Other workprint cuts

Beyond the officially released deleted scenes, there exists another cut of "Starship Troopers," one mentioned scarcely online, with only a few photos to prove its existence. This workprint was as close to the final cut of the film as Verhoeven got before switching things up before for the theatrical release. This cut includes nearly every deleted scene, with the only exception being the "Transporter" scene near the beginning. With a runtime not much longer than the two hours and nine minutes of the theatrical, the workprint added just shy of 10 minutes of additional content total.

Apart from the aforementioned deleted scenes, one notable addition includes a brief peek at Zander, who stumbles in the background behind Carmen as she talks with Johnny over video call. Though they aren't a romantic item, it foreshadows Carmen's eventual fling with her co-pilot and only causes Johnny more pain. Beyond some added battle shots that lengthen the war between men and bugs, Neil Patrick Harris gets a few more moments of screentime, including a line where Carl mentions that it's good to see Johnny and Carmen again after all this time.

Evidently, test audiences didn't love the love-triangle, and after the removal of all those scenes, other clips were axed soon after. The theatrical version of "Starship Troopers" is an excellent film, and although some of the additional materials might've expanded the world, most of them proved unnecessary since characters like Johnny Rico and Carmen Ibanez speak clearly for themselves.