It's amazing how you can ruin a movie's perfectly happy ending with a little bit of analysis (as we've previously shown here and here). For instance, in the following films, the ending turned out just fine for the main character, but totally screwed characters who were left conveniently off-screen.
For instance ...
(Thankfully, analysis only makes the trailer for Cracked's new Star Wars mini-series even better.)
6The Battle at the End of Top Gun Would Have Triggered World War III
How It Ended:
Despite popular belief, the movie did not end here:
Although for many of us, it did.
The official ending involves an actual battle with enemy fighter jets over hostile waters. Tom Cruise and friends scratch four bogies and rescue a stricken communications ship. High-fives and hugs are liberally exchanged, and all seems to end pretty well for the Top Gun graduating class of 1985.
"Well done. Now take off your shirt and grab a ball."
The Horrific Aftermath:
While the film never made it clear which nation the U.S. engages, the initial script and audio commentary indicate that it was supposed to be North Korea. This would account for the red stars on the pilots' helmets and the fact that they were piloting state of the art MiGs they could have only gotten from the Soviet Union at the time.
"I have you now."
So, it's the height of the Cold War in the mid-1980s, when the USA and Soviet Union were at the closest to nuclear war they'd ever get after the Cuban Missile Crisis (in the real world, things were so tense that just two years earlier the two sides came seconds away from launching their nuclear arsenals). A stricken U.S. communications ship drifts into hostile waters, prompting the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to launch its Tom Cruise, which engages and destroys four MiGs, forcing the remaining two MiGs to flee.
It's portrayed as a consequence-free victory in the movie, but by engaging in aggressive military actions without a formal declaration of war, the pilots of Top Gun forced the U.S. into a de facto state of war with North Korea (or whatever nation commanded those MiGs). Thanks to them, it's only a matter of time before said unnamed country addresses the United Nations about how the U.S. violated Article V of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3314 by destroying some of their finest aircraft and killing some of their top pilots.
"Hell yeah, we did."
So the U.S. is either at war with the Soviet Union after engaging MiGs from their Pacific squadron, or Tom Cruise just kicked off a second Korean War with a North Korea so formidable they are now operating outside of the Pacific. Either way, the rest of the world has just been subjected to World War III, and it's pretty tough to play volleyball in a fallout suit.