Most movies go through a long gauntlet of edits, rewrites, and compromises. We like to think that scripts are only slightly changed to tell the same story more effectively. But as it turns out, some stories have been so thoroughly altered that the finished product is the exact opposite of what the original writer planned. Here are six unused endings to iconic films that you would never believe were part of the original drafts.

Lethal Weapon Ended With Riggs And Murtaugh Never Seeing Each Other Again

The Ending We Know:

With their adrenaline-filled adventure over and all the bad guys dead, Riggs and Murtaugh realize they've formed a lifelong partnership. Riggs spends Christmas with Murtaugh's family instead of alone, tasting bullets. He may have lost a wife, but he beat depression with the help of his new family. Merry Christmas from everyone at Lethal Weapon!

How It Almost Ended:

In the original version, Murtaugh says, "It's a mean old world," and mentions that he wants to quit the force. Riggs calls him old, and then they part ways, never to see one other again. That's it. That was almost the final scene of one of the greatest action franchises in film history.

That leaves Riggs once again on his own, battling depression, with no friends or support system. No one in his life to help him if he puts that gun back in his mouth. Not wrapping that plotline up would have been sad and disturbing, but not as sad and disturbing as the reality it would have created wherein pop culture nerds endlessly debate whether or not Riggs killed himself at the end of Lethal Weapon.

The Original Ending To The Jungle Book Was It's Own (Insane) Movie

The Ending We Know:

The ending of The Jungle Book is pretty straightforward: Mowgli's animal friends return him to the Man Village, he sees his first girl (who is alarmingly flirty for an eight-year-old encountering a feral boy), and he immediately floats after her, drunk with love. Bagheera helps Baloo accept that Mowgli is where he belongs, and they sing and dance back into the jungle. So it all ends with a couple of children pursuing a casual romance and some talking animals putting on a show. Pretty normal stuff.

How It Almost Ended:

In the wisely shelved eight-minute alternate ending, Mowgli approaches the village when Buldeo, a crazy man, tries to on blow Mowgli's brains out TWICE, all while claiming that Mowgli is a shapeshifter. Three months later (no, seriously), Mowgli calls Buldeo out for falsely claiming to have killed Shere Khan. Buldeo responds to this the only way he knows: by trying to shoot a child. A child he's now known personally for three months. In broad daylight. In public. Mowgli's parents do nothing to Buldeo about this second murder attempt, and don't believe Mowgli about Shere Khan. And we're still. Not. Done.

Walt Disney Pictures
"This gun barrel is bigger than your arm, you little turd."

So now that village life is ten times suckier and more dangerous than jungle life, Mowgli grabs a torch and steals away to live with the animals again. Then, for some reason, he rampages through the jungle, terrorizing animals with fire, picking a fight with his wolf dad, and challenging Shere Khan to battle. Mowgli then changes his mind, calls him a few names, and runs away. Remember, this was all meant to have happened after The Jungle Book movie that we already know was finished.

But there's an after party to the after party, because Mowgli then vents to Baloo and Bagheera about how terrible Man Village was, and they decide they hate him now. Mowgli officially belongs nowhere. Then Buldeo finds Mowgli and takes him out for some ice cream. Oh wait! No. He threatens to shoot a child again unless Mowgli takes him to the Lost City, which means that we're now packing 2 Jungle Book movies' worth of plot into the conclusion of one. Mowgli does so, at which point Buldeo decides he's going to burn down the entire jungle and orders Mowgli to run along and die in the fire. Mowgli knocks the torch into the river, saving Shere Khan and the jungle. Of course, he once again ends up on the business end of Buldeo's rifle.

And now it's Shere Khan to the rescue! He leaps from out of nowhere, killing Buldeo, finally using murder for the power of good. Now that the two have saved each other's lives, you'd think they would reconcile and go their separate ways as equals. But instead, Mowgli picks up the rifle and shoots Shere Khan in the face!

Walt Disney Pictures
"Jesus! You've killed enough characters! Our kids have been in the theater for six hours!"

Mowgli, in this movie which somehow still hasn't ended, then meets up with Baloo and Bagheera, and the pair are so delighted at his grotesque tale of vengeance and death that they become friends again! Seriously, here's a storyboard of Bagheera grinning with pure joy at the dead bodies.

Walt Disney Pictures
"Haha! Hey, Baloo! Know any songs about bloated corpses? Hahaha!"

Mowgli is then hero to both the village and the jungle alike -- for running away, terrorizing the place with arson, shooting everything in sight, and leaving a trail of torched trees and dead bodies in his wake. Oh, and we forgot to mention: He also got a part-time job as King of the Wolves in this ending. So congratulations to The Jungle Book, the first and only film to ever put more than 90 percent of its story into a deleted scene.

National Lampoon's Vacation Ends With No Walley World, No John Candy, Just Humiliation At Gunpoint

The Ending We Know:

After the wackiest recreational road trip in history, the Griswold family arrives at Walley World, only to find the park closed for repairs. This is the last straw for Clark Griswold, who snaps and takes a security guard (played by John Candy) hostage at gunpoint. Clark forces the guard to take them on all the rides, finally giving his family the "fun" vacation he promised them back when they were ingesting urine and tying corpses to their car. It's not an 80's movie if it doesn't include at least three moments of unadulterated insanity.

Anyway, after several rides, their hostage starts enjoying himself. He discovers he was only being terrorized with a BB gun, both the police and park owner Roy Walley show up, and Clark gives a speech so moving that nobody presses charges. And as absurd as all that is, it could have been even weirder ...

How It Almost Ended:

In the original John Hughes script, there is no John Candy (who was only hired for the reshot ending), no roller coasters, and no family fun of any kind. Instead, after arriving at the closed park, Clark tracks Roy Walley down and bursts into his house with the gun, interrupting a business meeting. Then he shoves the gun in Walley's face and threatens to shoot complete strangers if they don't sing and dance until his family is entertained.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
"If you're h-happy (sniff), and you n-n-know it, clap your h-ha-a-ands! *sob*"

The police obviously arrest Clark, but Walley, a recent death threat recipient that has only been in this film for about 3 minutes, inexplicably forgives him and refuses to press charges. And believe it or not, that's a gentler version of the Hughes-penned short story the film is based on. In "Vacation '58," published in National Lampoon, Clark shoots Walt Disney -- yes, that Walt Disney -- in the leg after gunning down his dog. It ends with Clark going to jail for attempted murder ... and noise violations.

"Haha! Attempted murder! That part gets me every time!"

In Man of Steel, Zod Returns To The Phantom Zone With His Neck Intact

The Ending We Know:

At the end of Man Of Steel, Superman is doing his best to shove General Zod through every building in Metropolis. After almost certainly killing thousands of bystanders, he is left with no choice but to break Zod's neck. He must violate his most sacred oath in order to protect Earth's most determined-to-die family, you see.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Seriously, guys? You can practically limbo under it."

It was absolutely the least-Superman thing anyone has ever written or filmed, and the internet hasn't been the same since.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Superman, upon realizing he's in a Zack Snyder movie.

How It Almost Ended:

Producer Christopher Nolan had a more traditional take on what Man Of Steel should be: Instead of a full 9/11-caliber disaster caused by wrestling aliens, he wanted Superman to stop Zod before most of the damage was dealt. According to the original script, there were many changes that didn't make it to the final cut, and the most significant was the ending. Instead of Zod being neck-murdered by Dark Superman, Supes sends Zod and his followers back into the Phantom Zone. Remember Superman's little space pod, the one shaped like a weird space bug with all its legs pulled off? It was going to be the secret weapon the good guys used to open a portal and save the Earth. Some of that concept made it into the actual movie, except Zod wasn't there, and of course, it featured a lot of neck murder.

Once the other Kryptonians are safely back in their star prison, Martha Kent persuades Superman to keep the pod as a monument to his people, despite it being a doorway to a dimension filled with genocidal super-criminals. So we're not saying this original ending was "better" -- simply more in-character.

In Iron Man 3, Ben Kingsley Goes Insane And Explodes

The Ending We Know:

There are in fact two "Mandarins" in Iron Man 3. There's Guy Pierce's "real" Mandarin -- a devious behind-the-scenes terrorist who kills innocents for profit. And there's Ben Kingsley's "Mandarin" -- a hedonist junkie actor named Trevor who was bribed with drugs to take credit for bombings. He's also kind of an endearing goofball.

In the film, the real Mandarin gets blown up, while the scapegoat Mandarin goes to trial before a screaming outraged public whom he considers to be cheering fans. It's a fun, Hollywood-appropriate ending for a likable character who never meant any harm. If anything, he was aiding the heroes. Oh, and also Tony remembers he's a billionaire with unlimited resources and finally gets the shrapnel removed from his chest.

How It Almost Ended:

The alternate ending for Trevor the Sub-Mandarin is a little bit strange. It doesn't make much sense in the context of the final film, but during the final battle wherein Tony and Rhodey are rescuing the president, Trevor comes out of nowhere and shoots himself up with Extremis. They even drew up animatics:

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
This blows figuratively and literally.

It's hard to imagine why anyone would write this, even in a first draft. Why is he there? What business does a skittish comic relief patsy have in the middle of a superpowers / robot suits fight? And where did he get the Extremis? And why does everyone, during a very important time-sensitive mission, stop to listen to him accuse someone of locking him in a cupboard? And who locked him in a cupboard, and who is he screaming at? Apparently no one wanted to try to answer these questions, because after rambling for a bit, Trevor explodes.

Yes, the original ending to Iron Man 3 involved Ben Kingsley running into the big climactic fight scene to rant incoherently for a few minutes and then explode. And we all missed out on that.

How I Met Your Mother Filmed The Ending Everyone Wanted, But Chose Not To Use It

The Ending We Know:

The ending of How I Met Your Mother was universally hated because it basically boiled down to "So I met your mom one time and then she died and nothing worked out for anyone else we know either, The End." It seemed like a traitorously anticlimactic payoff for a story that was literally the title of the nine-season show. But as we've mentioned before, it was probably the only way to end the show that made any sense.

How It Almost Ended:

The show's creators knew you wanted the happy ending, and gave you the bad one anyway! As you can see in the below video, they secretly made the ending everyone was hoping for: The mom doesn't die and everything works out for everyone. But then they purposely chose to air the depressing one, since it, you know, fit the message the show had been sending for nine seasons -- death and darkness are the only real narrative for our brief, cosmically insignificant existence.

The true irony here is that between the happy ending that makes no sense and the appropriate ending that pisses you off, there was no way to end this show that could satisfy anyone. Maybe this show just sucks and we're all going to die knowing nothing but confusion.

And that, kids, is how I met your existential depression.

Nathan is a Christian and says things like "Praise Jesus!" He is also called Treegnome, and has a hilarious website called For more on Brendan, check out his other articles on cut movie endings here and here (Sensing a pattern?). He also writes about superhero movies and makes short films. Check out his latest short film and tweet him your thoughts!

Hey, HIMYM fans, if you don't have a blue French Horn on your wall or desk or other blank space in your life, you should.

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