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Movies Where Major Characters Didn't Survive The Original Endings

Updated January 7, 2021 7.7k votes 1.3k voters 67.6k views14 items

List RulesVote up the movies that made the right call by not writing off major characters.

As it turns out, there are a surprisingly large number of main movie characters who were supposed to die before being saved by last-minute script rewrites. As you'll soon see, the demises of such characters would have changed the tone of most of their movies so dramatically that some of them would have seemed like completely different films altogether. Here you'll get the low-down on which characters were saved at the last minute - some after their final scenes had been filmed. 

Whether it was due to a last-minute decision of the higher-ups or test audiences who just couldn't deal with seeing them taken out, these characters just narrowly missed biting the big one. Be sure to cast your votes for which characters you're the happiest made it!

  • Poor Nebula. In her recurring roles in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the Avengers saga, we really get to see just how rough she's had it. Between her major daddy issues and rocky relationship with her sister Gamora, she's one confused individual. Originally, however, none of her backstory was ever going to come to light. 

    Karen Gillan, the actress who plays Nebula in the MCU, once revealed in an interview that her character wasn't initially supposed to survive the first Guardians film. 

    I thought, ‘Okay, so that's going to be it for her,’ at one point. Then suddenly they rewrote her ending - and then they rewrote it again, and I was like, ‘Oh, okay. What's going on?’ I was really shocked when I got to come back and as part of the team in the next movie. That was amazing! I definitely didn't expect that.

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  • If you think Alien is scary now, then wait until you hear what kind of ending Ridley Scott originally had in mind. Rather than featuring Ellen's nail-biting escape, Scott had originally envisioned eliminating her in a spectacularly horrible fashion. 

    Scott revealed in an interview, "I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off." After that, he had planned to have the alien use its tentacles to start controlling the buttons on the dashboard. Creepy much?

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  • When the first Rambo was filmed, it initially had no intention of launching a series of sequels. The film, which is an adaptation of the 1972 novel First Blood, follows the PTSD-fueled journey of a Vietnam veteran returning home to a country with a complete lack of sympathy for the horrors he endured. 

    We now all remember Rambo's emotional surrender at the end of First Blood, in which he claims, "Nothing is over." In the original script, however, rather than surrender peacefully, Rambo grabs Trautman's gun and says, "You trained me, you made me, you'll kill me. You owe me that." After a moment of pained hesitation, Trautman finally pulls the trigger after Rambo puts the barrel to his own stomach.

    Director Ted Kotcheff explained that it was Stallone who advised a change in direction for the film's ending. "You know, Ted, we put this character through so much. The police abuse him. He’s pursued endlessly. Dogs are sent after him. He jumps off cliffs. He runs through freezing water. He’s shot in the arm and he has to sew it up himself. All this, and now we’re gonna kill him?" Kotcheff agreed and Rambo got to live in all his shirtless glory. 

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  • It's hard to imagine the newest Star Wars sequels without fighter pilot Poe Dameron, but originally, his role was little more than a cameo. When J.J. Abrams asked Oscar Isaac to sign on for the role, Isaac was bummed to find out that his character didn't make it past the action-packed opening of The Force Awakens. "I’d done that before," Isaac lamented. "Set up the plot for the main guy and then die spectacularly."

    But in the end, it turned out that Abrams loved working with Isaac so much that he was able to flesh out an arc for the character that would last through all three films. As Abrams put it, "I loved the collaboration. People like Oscar are the people you listen to."

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