I Am Legend (2007)
The Theatrical Ending: Colonel Robert Neville tries to administer a cure for the mutation virus to an infected woman in his lab, but a group of mutants attack the house. Neville, and his friends Anna and Ethan seal themselves in with the infected female. Realizing that the last treatment was successful, Neville draws a vial of the mutant’s blood and gives it to Anna, before shutting her and Ethan safely in a coal chute in the back of the laboratory. He then grabs a grenade, killing the mutant and himself, saving the cure so Anna can bring it to others.
The Alternate Ending: The mutant alpha-male suddenly stops the attack and makes a butterfly-shaped smear on the glass. Neville realizes that the mutant male is indicating the female who Neville was experimenting on by drawing her butterfly tattoo. He wants her back. Neville is stunned by the realization that they have intelligence. Neville puts down his gun and returns the female to the mutants. After Neville wakes the female up, she cries when she sees the mutant alpha male. Neville realizes they love each other. Although the mutants are no longer human, they are still intelligent creatures with emotions. Neville apologizes to them after witnessing the mutant alpha male shedding a tear. The mutant alpha male accepts his apology, and the mutants leave. Neville looks over the pictures of all his past test subjects, causing him to feel guilt and shame because he realizes, in their eyes, he’s the monster. The final scene shows Neville, Anna, and Ethan driving to the human survivors’ camp in Vermont with the antidote.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The Theatrical Ending: Psychotically obsessed Alexandra (Glenn Close) has been tormenting her married lover Dan (Michael Douglas) because he tries to end their affair. She breaks into Dan’s home with a knife and attacks his wife Beth (Anne Archer). Dan hears screaming and rushes to his wife’s rescue. He wrestles with Alexandra while Beth, who has retrieved Dan’s gun, shoots her and kills her.
The Alternate Ending: Alexandra frames Dan by slitting her own throat, using a knife that Dan had left on the counter, to make it seem that Dan killed her. After seeing her husband being arrested, Beth finds a cassette tape Alex sent to Dan wherein she threatened to kill herself. Beth takes the tape to the police, which acquits Dan of the murder.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986):
Theatrical Ending: Seymour (Rick Moranis) confronts the growing, mutated killer plant Audrey 2, and discovers that the talking, carnivorous plant is actually an alien from space. Audrey II collapses the store, hoping to kill Seymour. Crawling out from the debris, Seymour grabs an exposed electric cable and electrocutes Audrey 2. Seymour reunites with his lady love, the human Audrey. They get married and move to their dream home in the suburbs.
Alternating Ending: Seymour confronts Audrey 2 and tries to kill the plant but Audrey 2 grabs and eats him. Audrey 2 spits out Seymour’s glasses and laughs. The three chorus girls/narrators appear in front of an American flag and explain how the buds from Audrey 2, sold by a guy named Patrick Martin, became a global craze. The buds then grow into an army of giant, man-eating plants who begin to take over the Earth. We see the plants rampaging through cities, toppling buildings, swallowing trains and eating people. The final shot shows one of the plants sitting triumphantly atop the Statue of Liberty.
First Blood (1982):
Theatrical ending: The vengeful ex-Green Beret John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) injures Sherriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy) and prepares to kill him, but then his former commander Col. Troutman (Richard Crenna) arrives to stop him. Troutman warns Rambo that he’ll be shot by the cops if he doesn’t surrender. Rambo collapses to the floor in tears. He laments all the things that happened to him in Vietnam and after he returned to the US. He finally surrenders himself to Troutman, and is taken into custody, while Teasle is taken to the hospital.
The Alternate Ending: After Troutman stops Rambo from killing Teasle, and Rambo has his teary break-down, Rambo realizes that his life is pointless. He can’t function normally in the world anymore, and he’s wanted by the police. He has nothing but misery to look forward to, so he gives Troutman his gun and asks Troutman to kill him. Troutman hesitates, but Rambo jostles the gun, trying to make the gun fire. He succeeds and takes a bullet in the chest, dying in Troutman’s arms.
The Birds (1963):
The Theatrical Ending: After the aggressive birds have overrun the town of Bodega Bay, Melanie (Tippe Hedren), Mitch (Rod Taylor) and his family use a lull in the avian attacks to get to their car and drive out of town. The Birds are surprisingly peaceful as the group escapes. Mitch turns on the radio and listens to reports of other bird attacks in nearby towns.
The Alternate Ending: After Melanie, Mitch and the others escape Bodega Bay and reach San Francisco where they think they’ll be safe, their hopes are shattered by the sight of thousands of birds perching on the Golden Gate Bridge and massive flocks of birds circling menacingly over San Francisco, poised to attack.
These are just five films with deleted endings that are better than the original. Are there any others that should be on the list?