We'd all like to believe our favorite characters were birthed into the universe full-formed and lovable, but that's simply not the case. In fact, a distressing number of these multi-million-dollar ideas were complete turds before the writers polished them assiduously for your consumption. (Ugh, why did we type that?)
So, once again, here's to enriching your appreciation of the creative process while crapping all over your fictional heroes. Enjoy!
One of the most moving parts of Pixar's Inside Out was the character of Bing Bong -- the long-forgotten imaginary friend of Riley, the little girl whose cranium serves as the movie's setting. He's a jolly pink elephant who gives up his life so that others may live, like an amalgam of Jesus and Barney The Dinosaur.
Fan theory: The entire movie takes place during Dumbo's acid trip.
It's hard to imagine his sacrifice being so touching if they'd gone with the original characterization, though. Instead of the wacky, jovial character we got, Bing Bong was originally an angry, gruff-voiced, violent anarchist. This Bing Bong was actively rebelling against any signs that Riley was growing up. In one deleted scene, he spies some construction workers expanding Riley's mind and immediately starts chucking bricks at them.
Based on his face alone, we're guessing he would have been voiced by John DiMaggio.
As he gets angrier and angrier, the concept art looks like if Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson made Babar fan-fiction.
It's paradoxical that he doesn't have his vagabond coat and gloves in this version.
According to director Pete Docter, the idea was that Bing Bong used violence to make sure Riley didn't grow up, all "for his own self-benefit." So, pretty much the opposite of the final character. Yeah, we can see why they changed that: Disney probably figured they wouldn't sell that many Bing Bong dolls if he just taught America's children how to make Molotov cocktails and rage against the machine.
At this point, we're pretty sure Captain Jack Sparrow is both more famous and more financially successful than Johnny Depp. (That's the guy who plays him.) Just recently, the world was subjected to a fifth goddamn movie starring Sparrow, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Don't Seem To Care About Some Deeply Disturbing Allegations.
You might think that the entire creative process for this wildly successful character was just "let's let Johnny do a Keith Richards impression," but it wasn't that simple. It's not easy basing a movie off of an animatronic-filled Disney attraction -- just ask The Country Bears the next time they carjack you (and siphon your gas so they can huff it).
At first, the filmmakers didn't know anything about Sparrow other than the fact that he'd be played by Depp. The actor, however, typically didn't make Disney movies and wanted to rebel against his own decision to sell out. So, he met with director Gore Verbinski to discuss the character and asked him, "What can we do that will really freak the studio out?" After Verbinski assertively pointed out that pirates are "gross" and "disgusting," Depp had his floating light-bulb moment: Jack Sparrow should have no nose. Like Voldemort, but ... Depp-ier.
He wouldn't lose his nose in the movie, mind you. He would have lost it sometime in the past and now just have a "bloody wound" in its place. Perhaps anticipating that Disney weren't huge fans of gaping facial wounds in its films, the director simply replied: "Uh-huh." Eventually they settled on the whole Keith Richards thing -- which, as we've covered, was more controversial than you might think. Verbinski even told Depp that "This could be the end of our careers, but let's have fun." So, you know, at least they had fun.
Back To The Future had no shortage of shaky ideas on its way to the big screen -- from Marty McFly's suicide attempts, to a chimpanzee sidekick, to Eric Stoltz being in it. But even after the writers had more or less gotten their shit together in the fourth draft, the characters still had some weird-ass differences. For one thing, we finally get an explanation as to why a skateboarding teen's best friend is a disgraced scientist living in a Burger King parking lot: Doc just showed up one day and hired Marty to clean his garage. Less wholesomely, he pays Marty for his time with $50 a week and "free beer" -- because there's nothing shady about an old man using alcohol to lure minors back to his shack.
We bet that's not the only type of record he has.
Also weird in retrospect: In this draft, when Marty looks Doc up in the past, he isn't toying around with an assortment of crazy inventions ...
"This isn't a sex thing."
... but having a swingin' party, and opens the door "flanked by TWO LOVELY GIRLS."
Marty ogles their breasts, only to realize it's his aunt and grandmother.
The scene basically plays out the same, but with Doc's two girlfriends laughing at Marty.
If they did a remake today, Marty wouldn't even bother answering.
Doc kicks Marty out, but the party, which is full of "lots of attractive WOMEN," keeps raging. Then, instead of getting the idea for time travel from falling down while hanging a clock, Doc has his moment of profound inspiration after whispering something pervy into a woman's ear and subsequently being hit in the head with a beer bottle.
Above: Doc invents the concept of masturbation.
So all of the time-travelling adventures in a beloved film series (not to mention Saturday morning cartoon show) were nearly due to a man getting bottled for making unwanted sexual advances at a party. They didn't even bother to include a scene where Doc almost drowns in a truck full of feces as comeuppance.
Batman Returns may not be the truest cinematic realization of the caped crusader -- it features scenes of Batman casually setting petty thugs on fire, scratching a CD like it's a vinyl record, and fighting more rocket-strapped penguins than he has ever encountered in the comics. The whole thing also just generally looks and feels like it takes place inside a goth kid's haunted snow globe.
But here's the thing: It was almost even wackier. For the initial draft of the script, the studio turned to the screenwriter of the first Batman movie, Sam Hamm. His version also features Catwoman and the Penguin, but in the less evil pursuit of treasure hunting -- like The Goonies if they were all Danny DeVito and into S&M. In a twist straight out of the Adam West series, the treasure they're looking for is in some kind of cave under Wayne Manor ... uh-oh.
"With bats in it. Like a ... cave of bats or something."
Another big difference is that Robin was in this script, which made it far enough into production that Marlon Wayans was cast -- and he even continues to get residual checks for this movie he's not in. While Robin could conceivably inject a sense of fun into the proceedings, in this version, he's a "sunken-eyed, grimy-looking" homeless child. At least he manages to get twenty bucks out of Vicki Vale.
Who wears a raincoat over a speedo?
Even worse, this isn't a total rewrite of Robin's origin story -- they still imply he's an orphaned acrobat. In this Bat-verse, Bruce Wayne apparently saw Robin's parents get gunned down, said "aw, that's sad," and went off to bang a supermodel.
And then there's the ending. Vicki Vale isn't just rounding up homeless kids, she's still dating Batman. This leads to the film's final moments, in which Batman proposes to her. At Christmas.
"I gave Superman some coal for Christmas and just waited for him to angrily throw it back."
And then she ... asks him to choose between Batmanning and her? Gets a chandelier dropped on her head? Anything that might allow the franchise to continue? Nope, she just "falls into his arms" and the screen fades out. Luckily, most of this script was thrown out, so the movie didn't end on a moment that wouldn't have been edgy enough for Love Actually.
Seinfeld wasn't immune to coming up with nutty ideas that ultimately weren't used -- most notably, Elaine going all Taxi Driver out of nowhere. Well, one of these abandoned ideas almost made a classic episode about 5000 percent more disturbing. We all remember "The Soup Nazi," the story of a guy whose soup was so tasty, he could scream at the Seinfeld cast like ... well, like some members of the Seinfeld cast.
According to Seinfeld writer David Mandel, his colleagues talked about ending the Soup Nazi's episode with the surprise reveal that he was a real goddamn Nazi. The episode would come to a close with the character fleeing to the jungles of Brazil, where he "would return to the other Nazis -- the actual former Nazi war criminals -- with his soup recipes." Presumably the Soup Nazi isn't a World War II veteran like his pals, but who knows. Maybe his broth-based diet has just kept him in really great shape for a 75-year-old.
And it gets weirder! In a parody of The Boys From Brazil, that movie about Josef Mengele making blue-eyed Hitler clones, we would also see "lots of young boys with blue eyes from experimentation with the soups." We guess Hitler was the secret ingredient all along?
Things Bob's Burgers fans love about the show: the offbeat humor, the lovable characters, the fact that those lovable characters aren't feasting on the flesh of the innocent, etc. And yet, at one point the Belchers were supposed to be a "family of cannibals." This wasn't an idea they came up with at 3 a.m. and quickly dismissed -- it was the whole premise of the show when they originally pitched it to the network.
That's like finding out that the Simpsons were once murderous Devil worshipers, or that the Griffins in Family Guy were ... actually, they're already pretty maxed out on unpleasantness. But Bob's Burgers? As proposed, the show would find the titular restaurant cooking up and serving human remains to those who thought they were getting simple burgers -- which actually seems way harder to sustain than just popping by the grocery store to pick up some ground beef. Fox commissioned a pilot because they "liked everything but the human-eating part." (They presumably had bloodsucking ghouls on their sister channel.)
Above: Why you never see the grandmother character.
Of course, they nixed the whole cannibal business, but you can still see remnants of the original grisly plot line in the show itself. The first episode is literally called "Human Flesh" and is about Bob being mistaken for a cannibal. Most unnerving is Mort's funeral home and crematorium, which is right next door to Bob's restaurant:
At least the smells coming out of the alley serve as a buffer for the various other scents.
But why is it there? Because at first, they were going to have a grisly arrangement where Mort provided the meat/loved ones for the burgers. Luckily, network executives (perhaps anticipating they'd at least lose Arby's as a sponsor) changed the show for the better.
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