7 Bizarre Early Versions of Famous Characters

#3. The Naked Gun's Failed Sitcom


The Version You Know:

The Naked Gun movies have grossed over $200 million at the box office, baffled countless weapon fetishists looking for spank material on Google Images, and helped shape the sense of humor of many of you reading this. The still-popular films star Leslie Nielsen as rugged/clueless detective Frank Drebin, whose deadpan expression in the middle of ridiculous situations accounts for about 90 percent of the hilarity.

The rest comes from watching O.J. Simpson getting the shit beaten out of him.

The Original Version:

Before the Naked Gun films, Detective Drebin made his debut in Police Squad! (1982), a short-lived sitcom that has been called "one of the biggest flops in television history" -- it was cancelled due to abysmal ratings after only a month, with four episodes aired. Think about that: The show that inspired one of the funniest movie franchises ever failed harder than Rob Schneider's sitcom. This is despite the fact that Police Squad! featured the same type of humor, the same visual style, and even the exact same intro music as the wildly successful movies. Oh, and also the same deadpan delivery:


In fact, many of the same gags that viewers apparently found so insultingly unfunny were shamelessly recycled for the movies, like the one with the extremely tall officer eating a banana (here's the original, and here's the remake). Even the accident-prone Officer Nordberg appears on the show, except he's white and not played by a notorious wife-killer.

As far as we know.

So why did it fail? According to ABC executives, the problem was that the episodes were so densely packed with jokes that it was impossible to put a laugh track on them, so TV audiences didn't know when to laugh. We'll pause here to let that sink in.

OK, moving on.

#2. Bill Murray as Hunter S. Thompson, 18 Years Before Johnny Depp

Universal Studios

The Version You Know:

Hunter S. Thompson is one of the most influential people in both journalism and the field of doing your job while high as all fuck, but let's face it: When most people hear his name today, they automatically think of Johnny Depp's portrayal in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Universal Studios
"So, Johnny, you'd be playing an eccentric-"
"I'm in."

The movie follows Thompson and his kamikaze lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro), as they explore the heart of the American dream by getting shitfaced in Las Vegas. Depp became so associated with the role that he played Thompson again in The Rum Dairy and, basically, Rango. He also still hasn't relearned how to speak properly.

The Original Version:

However, Depp wasn't the first person to play Hunter S. Thompson on screen. Nope, that honor belongs to Bill Murray, who portrayed Thompson in a 1980 biopic called Where the Buffalo Roam.

Universal Studios
Murray's mouth was still deformed from the cigarette holder when he shot Caddyshack.

And see the mustache next to him? That's Peter Boyle, Young Frankenstein himself, as attorney Carl Lazlo ... which is actually just another name for Oscar Zeta Acosta, the guy who inspired Dr. Gonzo. The film is based on Thompson's real adventures with Acosta -- remember the scene where they freak out a hitchhiker in Fear and Loathing? That's here, too:

The reason you haven't heard of this movie is because, by most accounts, it really sucked. Variety called it "frivolous," Leonard Maltin said it was "dreadful," and Roger Ebert reportedly puked on a piece of paper and they printed that as his review. Thompson himself called it dumb, but praised Murray's performance -- in fact, the two lived together and shot guns to prepare for the film, and they became good friends as a result.

Well, shit, why didn't they just make a movie about that?

#1. Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special


The Version You Know:

Among Star Wars fans, Boba Fett has gained a reputation for being the ultimate badass, despite doing nothing to earn it. He just stands around looking cool.

Pretty sure he's actually sleeping in there most of the time.

He's basically the sci-fi equivalent of a mob movie hit man, and as such, it makes sense that he first showed up in The Empire Strikes Back, the dark and disturbing second installment that proved to viewers that there are things in this universe even cooler than space wizards and swords made out of laser.

The Original Version:

Except Empire totally does not mark the first appearance of Boba Fett. In fact, he first showed up two years earlier in the exact opposite of the most respected and highest rated movie in the franchise: the ridiculous Star Wars Holiday Special, in which he co-starred with Bea Arthur and the band Jefferson Starship. Oh, and Boba's pet dinosaur.

Most of the special concerns Chewbacca's family celebrating "Life Day" in Furrytopia or whatever their planet is called. But in an animated sequence, Chewie and Han Solo end up stranded on a planet where Han contracts an alien virus (presumably in an alley behind a cantina). Luke Skywalker and the droids travel to this planet to save Han, and that's when they meet Boba Fett, who at first pretends to be their friend.

Or in Chewie's case ... more than a friend.

Fett is then caught Skyping with Darth Vader and outed as a villain. Rather than shooting Luke's friends in the back while they're distracted, "the best bounty hunter in the galaxy" jet packs away like a pussy. You can watch the whole cartoon on YouTube, at least until George Lucas finds it and erases it from existence.

Joe Oliveto publishes the dark comedy serial The Dark Triad under the pseudonym Adam Lexington. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog. Robert is a columnist for Freakin' Awesome Network and would like for you to follow him on Twitter. Maxwell Yezpitelok also has a Twitter, but you knew that at this point.

For more bizarre originals, check out 5 Insane Early Drafts of Famous Movie Characters and 7 Bizarre Early Versions of Famous Cartoon Characters.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Sinister Reasons You're Addicted To Junk Food.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn why Han Solo was actually the one banging his sister.

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Related Reading: For crazy foreign versions of your favorite characters- like Super Mario in German hell- click here. If you're more interested in the truth behind the fiction, read this article and discover the real people who inspired fictional personalities. Even Kramer was based on a real man! And speaking of racism, clicking here will reveal the prejudice behind some of Disney's most famous creations.

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