5 Iconic Pop Culture Moments That Weren't in the Original

#2. Any Particular Reason for Frankenstein's Monster Coming to Life

Universal Studios

You know the scene: A mad scientist finishes stitching together an unholy flesh-golem, which gets struck by lightning in the middle of the night. After a few tense moments, the creature begins to twitch and move. Then: "IT'S ALIVE!" followed by "IT'S CHOKING ME!" and "THIS WAS A POORLY THOUGHT OUT EVENING, AT BEST."

Universal Studios

But Originally:

In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein's monster comes to life thanks to ... absolutely nothing. Here's the original passage:

"I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet ... by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs."

That's it. There's no lightning, no machines, no chemicals, no magic words, nothing. The monster comes to life just because it didn't have anything better to do that night. Maybe its nose itched. It's just the mystery of creation, you know? No need to go into detail.

Richard Rothwell
Her original draft had a sentence that read, "Shit got real."

Actually, there's a good reason the story was told that way: It was supposed to be narrated by a deeply ashamed Dr. Frankenstein, telling his tale to a friend after the fact. He had long realized the error of his ways and did not want others to attempt his experiment. Purposefully omitting any and all steps of the process was his way of ensuring that nobody could even try.

But that doesn't play as well on screen, so the writers of the 1931 Frankenstein movie had to scrape together a whole new scene. Taking inspiration from the book's earlier description of lightning destroying a tree, they scripted the "lightning strikes machines attached to the monster and jolt it to life" scene that everybody knows and parodies to this day. And without them, what else would you shout every time you got an erection?

Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

#1. Most of What Makes Superman Work

Warner Bros.

When asked to name their favorite superpowered flying alien whose only weakness is a radioactive shard of his long-destroyed home planet, most people would probably pick Superman. When done well, Superman is a great combination: just the right amount of wish fulfillment (strength, invincibility, flight) balanced with enough weakness to make him interesting. Of course, without his Kryptonite, Superman would be boring, but everybody knows a hero has to have that one fatal flaw ...

Warner Bros.
No, that's Iron Man's.

But Originally:

Superman didn't have all of his iconic powers at the start. He couldn't even fly -- he just hopped around everywhere like a kangaroo on a sugar high. Also, he had no weaknesses, and thus he was generally as boring as mayonnaise on white bread. Superman didn't really become the Superman we know until 1940, when the radio serial The Adventures of Superman made its grand debut. Since the creators had only audio to work with, a few changes had to be made to the Superman mythos. For starters, they decided he could now fly, because it was far easier to convey flight through sound than "repeatedly jumping really hard." Seriously, you try it. Flight is a simple "WHOOSH," while jumping is a series of pained grunts. Is that Superman leaping a tall building or taking a coffee dump on the sidewalk midchase?

You can also thank the radio show for Kryptonite. The inspiration for the radioactive ore wasn't to give Superman a humanizing weakness and add some much-needed dramatic stakes to his stories; it was just to give Superman a damn day off every now and again. See, back in the '40s, they were dead serious about their entertainment: The radio show presented Superman as a real person who voiced himself, not a fictional character who shared a voice with some dude named Bud. Because, well, he's a good dude and all -- but Bud just takes a little of the mystique out of the affair, you know?

"Look! Down in the chair! It's a dude ... He's plain ... It's Bud!"

Unlike Superman, Bud was a weak-willed human being who needed to take a vacation every so often. So, the writers had to figure out a logical way to write off Superman for a few days at a time until Bud returned. Every time Bud needed a few days in Aruba, Supes would run into Kryptonite and go catatonic. When Bud returned, Superman continued, and the paychecks started rolling in again. It took the comics several years to realize that Superman was better with a weakness, but they eventually added Kryptonite to their repertoire in 1949, and it's been deus ex machina-ing Superman's omnipotent ass ever since.

Ian Ury is Pip Ury's twin brother, a general writer of stuff, and an occasional amateur animator. If you wanna comment, drop him an email. Ryan Menezes is a writer and layout editor here at Cracked. He broke down and made a Twitter page just for his Cracked fans.

For more interesting backstories, check out 14 Origin Stories of Real-World Villains and 23 Secret Backstories of Supporting Movie Characters.

Related Reading: Speaking of improvised pop culture moments, the Vulcan nerve pinch was originally a punch to the face. Oh hey and did you know the word Ewok was never said in the original trilogy? While we're at it; Mickey Mouse is the result of a last-minute name switch.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!