For better or for worse, the film you see isn’t always the film that got written—or even the film that got shot. Whether it’s temperamental directors, fussy screenwriters, demanding producers or studio execs, or audiences who boo the film off the screen, movie endings are made to be changed. Here are 10 classics that have wildly different endings than the ones you’re used to.
1. Alien: Alien is one of the most quietly terrifying films ever. The dead silence of space and the isolation of the ship make for a cocktail of terror. Yet deep down you know Ripley is going to live, right? Wrong. She almost died along with everyone else. The final scene would have had the xenomorph eating Ripley’s head and making a journal entry with her voice. Producers withheld funding until the ending became a little more upbeat.
2. Rocky: Rocky Balboa was originally meant to throw the fight and give his purse money to Adrian to open up a pet store. That makes for a decidedly different film than the one where, through sheer guts and an iron will, a loveable nobody goes the distance and heads home with the woman he loves. Can you imagine the original version of Rocky defending America’s honor against a Soviet monster?
5. The Shining: As if the version of The Shining you’ve seen weren’t creepy enough already, the original ending had something far more twisted and diabolical in store for you. Wendy and Danny escape to a nearby hospital, where they’re told there’s no evidence that anything Wendy reported actually happened. It’s then heavily implied that this has all been a sick game on the part of the regular hotel manager.
6. Chinatown: What would Chinatown be without “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown?” This is perhaps the only film on our list that was supposed to have a happy(ish) ending. Originally, Evelyn was supposed to kill her incestuous father to protect their child. Roman Polanski claimed he didn’t believe in happy endings and so he argued with the screenwriter until the two were no longer on speaking terms. He then filmed the ending we all know and love.
7. Pretty in Pink: You really thought she’d end up with Ducky, didn’t you? Well, originally, Andie was supposed to end up with Ducky, not Blane. However, this tested poorly with the screening audiences who went so far as to boo, so the ending was changed. On the upside, John Hughes got to make Some Kind of Wonderful, which is basically the same movie, with the genders reversed and the two best friends together at the end.
8. Dawn of the Dead: The sequel to Night of the Living Dead is surprisingly upbeat compared to its predecessor. Two people escape and there’s even a baby in tow. Originally, however, Dawn of the Dead was supposed to end on the same kind of down note that Night did. Peter was meant to eat a gun while Francine stuck her head in the chopper blades right before they ground to a halt from lack of fuel.
9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: The classic western with Robert Redford and Paul Newman has an ambiguous ending. The freeze frame ending the film is one of the most iconic in ’60s cinema. The original ending, however, was supposed to be far more bloody. The pair were to ride out into an onslaught of Bolivian bullets, getting the Bonnie and Clyde treatment.
10. Dr. Strangelove: You can’t forget the ending of this one. Maj. T.J. "King" Kong rides that nuclear warhead down like a bucking bronco. It’s the type of movie image you know even if you haven’t seen the movie in question. And originally… the film was supposed to end with a pie fight in the Pentagon. Fortunately, Stanley Kubrick wasn’t a fan, so we got something better.