Scenes that were wisely deleted from the movie

It's common knowledge that most film productions shoot far more footage than we ever see. A scene may be cut for a variety of reasons — perhaps it messes with the film's pacing, or contains character beats that don't make any sense. The amount of footage that winds up on the cutting room floor can range from negligible to truly astounding. For example, in the case of the comedy classic Anchorman, director Adam McKay was left with so much unused footage, constituting numerous dropped subplots and alternate takes, that he was able to assemble them into a whole other movie.

While some deleted scenes might have added something to the film had they made the cut, these are not those scenes. These excised bits would have changed our perception of the films altogether by making drastic changes to the stories, the characters, or both — and not for the better. Here's a look at scenes that were wisely deleted from the movie.

He wasn't even supposed to be here today

Kevin Smith's 1994 debut feature Clerks introduced us to his View Askewniverse with little fanfare. Shot on a shoestring budget on cheap black-and-white stock with little-known actors, the film managed to gross a respectable $3 million while becoming a cult hit and paving the way for Smith to shoulder his way into Hollywood. Focused on the everyday tribulations of convenience store clerks Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O'Halloran), the largely plot-free film got most of its comic mileage out of the pop culture reference-laden dialogue of its slacker leads. It's a slight, sardonic work in which almost nothing happens — which would have made its alternate ending not only shocking, but completely inappropriate.

In it, Dante is counting cash after Randal leaves, failing to notice that someone else has entered the store. As the man approaches the counter, Dante informs him that they're closed — only to be shot dead. As the man cleans out the register, the film ends with a closeup on Dante's lifeless stare. Smith has said he shot the original ending simply because he had no idea how to end the movie, but fortunately, O'Halloran — who hated the sequence — was able to convince him to cut it. Had he not, Clerks would have utterly confounded the audiences that made it a cult hit, and Smith's career might have turned out quite differently.

Deacon Frost's transformation

As strange as it may seem, 1998's Blade was the first successful big-screen outing based on a Marvel property (even if not many realized it at the time), and the big-budget superhero films of today owe it a debt of gratitude for demonstrating that comics could indeed be translated to the big screen without being campy and ridiculous. Even Tim Burton's Batman films, considered dark and gritty in their era, didn't approach the grim realism of Blade, and the film would spawn two successful sequels even after the X-Men and Spider-Man series kicked off the modern age of superhero films. The final showdown between the half-human, half vampire hero (Wesley Snipes) and the evil vampire overlord Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is an awesome sequence filled with kung fu, swordplay, and exploding villains — but it almost contained one unbelievably phony-looking CGI blood tornado too many.

The modestly-budgeted film simply relied too heavily on CGI for its original ending, and in the late '90s, the technology was still hit-and-miss. The alternate ending (in which Frost literally transforms into a swirling, cheesy-looking tornado of blood with a face) was singled out for scorn during a series of disastrous test screenings which forced heavy reshoots and editing, causing the film's release to be delayed by over a year. Director Stephen Norrington ultimately chose to delete the scene and completely restage the ending, a choice which saved his dark, violent film from veering straight into unintentional comedy at its climax.

Judgment revoked

James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the rare big-budget sequel to surpass its predecessor in nearly every way. It expanded on the mythology established by the original while introducing compelling new characters and cleverly flipping the allegiance of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800; along the way, it helped to establish CGI as a valuable tool in a filmmaker's arsenal (although many of its more surreal moments were actually accomplished with practical effects). It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, and it delivered on its budget by giving audiences a rollicking, original adventure. Its ending — in which our point of view traverses a dark, mysterious road while Sarah Connor's voiceover muses on the ambiguity of the future — was the perfect coda, with our weary protagonist finally allowing herself a glimmer of hope. Cameron's original ending, however, was slightly less ambiguous.

In it, we see an elderly Sarah sitting in a park while an adult John Connor plays with his daughter. Speaking into her ever-present recorder, Sarah states flatly that "August 29, 1997 came and went. Nothing much happened… there was no Judgment Day." Her bored, detached narration concludes with the heavy-handed observation that "if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life… then maybe we can, too," before cutting to black and rolling credits. It's far too tidy an ending for the mind-bending film we've just seen, although it wouldn't have left much room for sequels, which may have been a good thing.

A truly Grievous error

The battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and the wheezing, barely human General Grievous (voice of Matthew Wood) was one of the more entertaining sequences in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It's a kinetic fight that begins with Kenobi fending off four whirling, slashing lightsabers and ends with the Jedi Master, dangling precariously over an abyss, sneaking some well-placed blaster shots past Grievous' damaged chestplate into his beating heart. However, according to a discarded animatic for the scene, it almost ended with a moment of ridiculous overkill solely for the sake of looking cool.

The scene would have played out largely the same, up until the moment Kenobi manages to partially pry open Grievous' protective chestplate. Rather than getting cold-cocked and nearly falling to his death, Kenobi would have finished Grievous off by ripping out his heart with his bare hands, casually tossing it aside and — as if such an action would have made any difference at this point — shooting the heart with a blaster. It would have been a cartoonish moment to include in the final act of the darkest film of the prequel trilogy, but the fact that it wasn't shot proves George Lucas — despite strong evidence to the contrary — is sometimes capable of discarding bad ideas.

Hadley's lost Hope

James Cameron's 1986 masterpiece Aliens broke a lot of different molds. It was widely regarded as a superior sequel to a classic movie, it was the most deft blending of sci-fi, action and horror yet put to film, and its frantic, rollercoaster pacing and editing set a template that Hollywood action films have largely abided by ever since. The story picks up decades after the events of the first film, as its lone survivor Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is rescued from suspended animation by the corrupt Weyland-Yutani corporation. She's horrified to learn that the moon LV-426, where she and her crew first encountered the Xenomorphs, is now home to a human colony — a colony with which contact has been lost. She accompanies a ragtag band of space Marines to the moon's surface, only to find the colony abandoned — a mystery which instantly ratchets up the film's tension levels.

However, an extended scene was cut which would have destroyed not only the mystery, but the film's breakneck pacing in the bargain. In it, we meets the denizens of the colony ("Hadley's Hope") as they go about their day, complete with long, pointless static shots and an even longer and more pointless walk-and-talk conversation. We meet Newt (destined to become the colony's only survivor) and her family, and the scene concludes with the first appearance of a facehugger; it all amounts to a long, needlessly expository scene which would have drained much of the tension from the film's second act.

Back to the Future Part III

The Back to the Future movies are beloved classics for good reason. They have fun with their concept in a lot of inventive ways, thanks to uniformly great writing; director Robert Zemeckis' action setpieces always pop off the screen, and the series is populated with memorable characters. There would famously be no Rick and Morty if not for Back to the Future, but while the Adult Swim animated series has taken the premise of a genius mad scientist and his teen sidekick in decidedly darker directions, its cinematic inspiration was never anything but crackerjack, wholesome family fun. 

Keeping this in mind, it's easy to see why this scene from Back to the Future Part III ended up on the cutting room floor. The film takes place mainly in the Old West, where Marty McFly and Doc Brown tangle with outlaw Buford Tannen (Biff's great-great-grandfather) while trying to find a way to power their time-hopping DeLorean in the absence of gasoline. In the cut scene, Tannen's gang face off with the local marshal and his young son; after disarming the marshal, Tannen orders him to leave town. The man complies — but Tannen shoots him in the back anyway, right in front of the boy. While it may have been in keeping with Tannen's character, it would have been a shocking departure from the film's lighthearted tone.

Ant-Man goes Danny Ocean

Marvel's Ant-Man was viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism prior to its 2015 release. Not only had writer/director Edgar Wright abandoned the project after developing it for eight years, but Ant-Man himself was seen as a minor character with silly powers whose presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in no way necessary. But as is their tendency, Marvel exceeded expectations; incoming director Peyton Reed delivered an action-packed, hilarious entry into the MCU, and Paul Rudd instantly won over audiences in the role of thief-turned-hero Scott Lang, the unlikely protege of original Ant-Man Dr. Henry Pym (Michael Douglas).

Lang's desire to turn away from crime and be a suitable role model for his young daughter Cassie helps to propel his character's redemptive story arc, which makes it obvious why this unfinished scene didn't make the cut. Scott's buddies Kurt (David Dastmalchian), Luis (Michael Pena) and Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris) are seen indulging in a night out on the town at a casino, and it's made clear that they're receiving a bit of assistance in their craps game from a certain diminutive hero. They're then seen dancing and "making it rain" in their apartment while an approving Scott looks on. It's an entertaining sequence, but given Scott's steadfast intention to turn over a new leaf, it wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense.

Seth Brundle plays God

Audiences unfamiliar with David Cronenberg could be forgiven for bolting at any point during 1986's The Fly, a retelling of a 1958 horror classic with less head-switching and much, much more of Cronenberg's trademark body horror. The transformation of scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) after he accidentally merges with a housefly during a teleportation experiment is rendered with astonishing, revolting practical effects. The film's climax — in which the fully transformed "Brundlefly" merges itself with one of the teleportation pods — is as hard to watch as anything in the oeuvre of '80s horror. But throughout, Goldblum's superb performance keeps the audience sympathizing with Brundle even as he slowly becomes a monster — a sympathy that would have been mightily tested by the inclusion of this infamous scene.

In it, an increasingly desperate Brundle performs an experiment in which a baboon is merged with a cat, with predictably horrifying results. Enraged by his failure, he beats the ungodly monstrosity to death with a pipe. In a film driven by its protagonist's terrible decisions and filled to the brim with nauseating imagery, this scene would have destroyed any trust the audience had in Cronenberg — and any sympathy they may have had for Brundle.

An ending that needed to Get Out of the movie

Jordan Peele's Get Out was one of the best films of 2017, a masterful thriller in which the insidious specter of racism is the true villain. When Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) accompanies his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) on a weekend getaway to meet her parents, he has every reason to be nervous as a black man. But the bizarre plot into which he falls face first — with healthy young black people being kidnapped to serve as unwilling hosts for the minds of rich, aging whites — is beyond anything he could have imagined. At the film's climax, Chris escapes and manages to disarm a pursuing Rose; as he barely restrains himself from choking her to death, a police car arrives. Knowing nobody could possibly believe his story, Chris prepares to be arrested, or worse — but it's a fakeout. The car is driven by Chris' TSA buddy Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who helps Chris complete his escape.

The alternate ending, had it made the cut, would simply have been too brutal for most audiences. In it, the arrival of the police is real, and Chris is arrested and taken to jail. He's visited there by Rod, who asks for information on the Armitage family so he can help bring them to justice — but Chris rebuffs him. It may have been a more "realistic" conclusion, but after everything he put Chris through, Peele's decision to give him a happy ending seems like the right one.

Harry Potter and the Horrible Musical Number

The film adaptations of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series are nearly as beloved as the books. The films expertly mirror their source material's increasingly dark tone, and with the climax of the fourth installment Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the series veers for the first time into outright horror. Voldemort returns, Cedric Diggory meets his end, and Harry is left truly shell-shocked for the first time, unsure whether he's equipped to face the Dark Lord's menace.

The story leading up to this shocking conclusion is fraught with danger, as Harry and other young wizards from rival schools must complete an increasingly dangerous series of tasks as they compete in the "Triwizard Tournament." But this cut scene would have leveled any tension the film had built up thus far, as we would have been treated to the Hogwarts student body singing their school song — the lyrics of which are not Rowling's finest accomplishment as a writer. It begins, "Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy warty Hogwarts / teach us something please," and it doesn't get any better from there. "Our heads could do with filling with some interesting stuff / For now they're bare and full of air / Dead flies and bits of fluff." All this extreme cheekiness would have clashed mightily with the film's slow-building sense of dread — but tonal and pacing considerations aside, those lyrics are simply awful.