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The Best Movie Scenes That Didn't Make The Final Cut

Movie making is a messy business. There's hundreds of people in casts and crews to wrangle, thousands of hours of work to get done, budgets that stretch into the hundreds of millions — so much has to go right that it's a minor miracle when a stressful production process results in a real a work of art.

So it's not surprising or unusual that the average movie leaves a lot of footage littering the cutting room floor. The shocking thing is that some of these left behind scenes are really, really good, but for one reason or another, they just couldn't make the final cut. Here are some of our favorite examples of the best scenes that ended up deleted.

Unbreakable—Bruce Willis outbenches the football team

M. Night Shyamalayan's underrated Unbreakable is a grounded, morose superhero origin story that follows Bruce Willis' David Dunn as he comes to understand the extent of his improbable strength. This being a "real-world" kind of story, rather than immediately start leaping off of buildings, Dunn does what just about any of us would do to test his mettle: he hits the gym.

One of the film's most memorable scenes is David at his home gym with his son, bench pressing an increasingly-absurd amount of weight. It serves as a bonding moment for Dunn and his child, but there was another version of the scene that showed him testing his limits at the gym of the university he works for, boggling the minds of athletes who all look much stronger than him. Having both scenes in the movie would be redundant, but this alternative take on the premise is just as strong as the one that made it in the final cut.

Logan—the X-Men mourn Jean Grey

Logan, the swan song for Hugh Jackman's interpretation of the mutant Wolverine, is one of the strongest single movies to come out of the comic book media boom, a tragic, melancholy story of a reluctant hero's good deeds during his last days.

It's a bummer of a narrative, fixating on death, decay, and the inevitability of sad endings, with the only moment of levity being a dinner at the home of a kindly family when, for a brief moment, it seems like things are going to be alright.

Originally, this scene too was a downcast one, with Professor X bringing up Wolverine's lost love, the dear departed Jean Grey — whom if you recall, Logan was forced to stab to death during X-Men: The Last Stand. The scene was well-done, but removed to give the audience a break. It was a wise decision, and lets the movie stand outside its continuity in a way that only improves it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—The Mouth of Sauron

The Lord of the Rings trilogy notoriously left hours of footage on the cutting room floor, comprised of scenes that would mostly be restored in the films' extended cuts. Most of these scenes were understandably dropped, but this fully-produced sequence, in which Aragorn, Gandalf, and the armies of men face down the Mouth of Sauron, is so awesome we often forget it wasn't in the original cut. It's as close as the series gets to a fight with the Dark Lord himself, and one of the most epic moments in the whole (extended) trilogy. Aragorn has never looked cooler — hail to the King, baby.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers—Boromir and Faramir's brotherly bond

Poor Faramir can never catch a break. Faramir, portrayed in the films by David Wenham, is the younger brother of Boromir, and in the books, he's much more noble. He treats Sméagol with kindness, and shepherds the hobbits on their journey.

He's a good man, which is why many fans of the books cried foul when he was interpreted in the films as a jealous, spiteful power monger whose purpose is mainly to get in the good guys' way. This scene, deleted from The Two Towers, shows Faramir and his brother in better times, on-screen as brothers following a great victory, and demonstrates the roots of Faramir's jealousy lay with the real villain, their abusive father Denethor. It's a strong scene that makes Faramir a better, more sympathetic character.

Kingdom of Heaven—The excellent director's cut

It's not terrifically common that an extended cut can make a bad movie into a good one — usually, it just makes it longer. But one of the most notable all-time exceptions is Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, a great movie that was butchered in the editing bay for its theatrical release.

The director's cut is a true epic, and all of the cut scenes took away vital motivations from the characters resulting in a sort of death by a thousand cuts for the overall story. No character suffered more than Sybilla, played by Eva Green.

The director's cut tells the story of her relationship to her husband, the haunted, leprous Baldwin IV, and her most crucial sequence comes when she learns the son they share together, Baldwin V, is also doomed to leprosy, and ultimately decides to poison him. It's a tragedy this storyline was shortened — it's one of the best parts of the movie.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi—Luke builds his lightsaber

One established aspect of Jedi lore that was introduced somewhat clunkily in the original trilogy is the Jedi apprentice building his or her own lightsaber, something that Darth Vader comments on when he and Luke meet for the last time. The fallen Jedi compliments his son's handiwork, but this small scene left out of the final film shows Luke actually in the process of constructing it — a small little grace note that nonetheless fleshes out the world of the Jedi, and the deeper spiritual meaning of that all-important laser sword.

Pulp Fiction—Mia and Vincent meet

Pulp Fiction is such a perfect, novellesque movie that it's almost surprising to hear there are any deleted scenes at all — Tarantino notoriously does most of his editing in the script stage, meaning that a lot of his extraneous story material never even gets filmed. It's debatable if the movie's better with it or without it, but it makes Mia's "Elvis man" comment to Vincent in the final cut a callback to how they met, rather than a pretty random observation.

Little Shop of Horrors—Audrey II destroys the entire world

It's not often that an "alternate" ending really gives you what you ask for. As a viewer, you want real change, radical alterations that fundamentally transform how the movie lands. No movie gives you your money's worth on that count like Little Shop of Horrors.

The original cut ends on a note of ambiguity — "the threat is dead...or is it?" But the director's cut, released over a quarter-century after the film's release, includes a full-on, 10+ minute extravaganza where Audrey II destroys the entire world. It's a legendary long-lost sequence, one of the most expensive and gorgeously-produced deleted scenes of all time — and it rules.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens—Kylo Ren searches the Millennium Falcon

Star Wars' seventh episode brought the series back to its roots (and arguably, from the dead) in a way that pleased just about everybody, for what that's worth. But on rewatches, it's hard to shake the feeling that a couple small changes here and there could turn what's pretty good into something more special.

This small scene, where Kylo Ren hunts through the crashed Millennium Falcon with his foot soldiers, establishes a quiet, early connection between the rebellious Force-user and his estranged father, Han Solo.

Kill Bill—Bill fights

Kill Bill, a film in two parts, follows the story of Uma Thurman's warrior character The Bride as she slices her way through a kill list of her nemeses, the legendary fighters of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, who betrayed her and left her for dead.

But no warrior is more legendary than Bill, played to perfection by the late David Carradine. At least, that's what we hear. For such a proficient fighter, viewers mostly learn to fear Bill through the strength of his disciples, and the final encounter with Bill and The Bride is a more muted, tragic affair. You get the sense that he could kill with ease, but only see him in action in the smallest of ways.

Not so in this deleted sequence, when he takes on Michael Jai White. It's debatable if seeing where The Bride got her moves from makes this a better movie — what's not in question is that this scene on its own is really freaking cool.

Star Trek (2009)—Nero's tragic backstory

Star Trek defied a lot of odds bringing back the dormant spacefaring franchise in a way that was palatable to all audiences, from hardcore Trekkers to more casual fans. But it did that by sacrificing a depth in its story that could've in all probability made for a stronger movie.

The villain in the theatrical cut, Eric Bana's Nero, is notably thin, a sneering evil man who wants to do evil for evil reasons because evil. His backstory, a tragic life of imprisonment spurring him to vengeance, is rich with detail that could have made him an enemy as memorable as Khan. Another notable point about his cut sequences is that they introduce the Klingons, who otherwise don't make an appearance in the rebooted franchise until its next installment.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines—Sergeant Will Candy

The first two Terminator movies are classics of action and horror, perfect character pieces, superbly directed, with fantastic special effects. Not much needs to be said about the movies that came after, beyond that they are increasingly-pale imitations of what made the first two work.

With that in mind, why not include this utterly bonkers deleted scene from the third one showing Arnold Schwarzenegger as the campy, cheesy, human Chief Master Sergeant Will Candy? There's nothing we can say about this scene that it doesn't say for itself. Intentionally or not, it's pretty hilarious.

Beauty and the Beast—an alternate Be Our Guest

Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most timeless and celebrated animated masterpieces — from the music to the animation, there's almost nothing it doesn't do right. But it's still a treat to see a different version of one of the film's classic scenes.

Originally, the enchanted objects of the castle were meant to perform their "Be Our Guest" sequence not to Belle, but Belle's doddering father Maurice. The work got far enough that an animated sequence was produced before they realized the song made a lot more sense if the movie's heroine was at the center, so they shifted focus, leaving this alternate sequence as a delightful curio.

Zootopia—The dark, depressing collar storyline

Oh man, did they ever almost screw this movie up. Zootopia, a surprisingly-nuanced metaphor about race and prejudice, shows a fantastical world where all animals live together in harmony, both predator and prey alike. But in the original conception of the story, the premise had a tortured explanation — the only reason predators didn't eat prey with impunity was fear of penalty and pain.

This deleted sequence, the collar scene, shows a young predatory animal being equipped for life with a shock collar, of all things, that would activate if ever he tried to harm a prey — which has pretty awful implications in that race and prejudice metaphor. If only to see how badly this movie almost ruined its own premise, this work-in-progress scene is a must-watch.

Mrs. Doubtfire—Robin Williams is a crappy dad

We all remember Mrs. Doubtfire for its zany title character, portrayed with soulful humor by the late, beloved Robin Williams. But underneath the wacky premise is real tragedy — this is a man whose family is breaking, who only wants to see his kids.

These deleted scenes twist the knife on that premise, showing Williams' character in all his faults as an absent dad. There's also a touching scene where Williams and his oldest daughter talk about the Doubtfire ruse after all has been revealed; it's almost too much emotion for the movie to handle — especially a movie where a highlight scene is Robin Williams accidentally setting his goofy fake boobs on fire.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off—Ferris robs his dad

Ferris Bueller is a sociopath, but his movie does a pretty good job of disguising that fact behind a tone of youthful whimsy. It's remarkable how different this movie could be with just a few changes, going from a carefree romp around Chicago to the story of a guiltless monster ruining the lives of everyone around him for the sake of his own selfishness.

The latter movie doesn't sound nearly as fun, but it's interesting to imagine how it would've felt if they had actually filmed a scene, written in the original script, where it's revealed how Ferris funds his great vacation — by cashing in his father's saving bonds, and robbing his family blind. The scene, in which he manipulates a kooky bank teller into doing his bidding, is vivid enough that you can imagine Ferris doing it — it'd just make you like him a whole lot less.

Suicide Squad—The return of the Joker

If you believe the stories, an entire extra movie's worth of scenes didn't make it into final cut of this mess of a production. One of the most improbable cuts (especially considering the Jared Leto-heavy marketing) was to the storyline of the Joker, transforming him from what would appear to be the movie's recurring antagonist into a campy, barely-there presence.

One scene, where Leto's Joker returns from the ashes of the final battle to toss a grenade at the "worst heroes ever", didn't even make it into the extended cut of the movie, along with a bunch of other footage that exists in some form who knows where. His cut material all sounds pretty strong — or at least stronger than what we eventually got — so what gives, Warner Bros?