10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 (2010) –Voldemort’s curse
The scene: Much like saying Macbeth (oops!) incurs terrible luck for stage actors, in the Potterverse saying Voldemort carries more heft than a bad performance. Referred to as “you know who” and “he who must not be named”, it’s never revealed why characters are so deathly afraid to speak his true name.
Snuck into a deleted scene, Ron interrupts Hermione right as she is about to say his name, telling her and Harry the truth about Voldemort’s curse. Ron explains that when a person speaks it aloud, the Dark Prince and his followers are then able to track that person. J.K. Rowling included this tidbit in the novels, so it’s odd that this key piece of plot info was excised from the big screen adaptations considering how important it is to the story.
9. I Am Legend (2007) – Humans are the ‘monsters’
The scene: I Am Legend’s theatrical ending wraps up the tale of horrific monsters, known as Darkseekers, when Will Smith’s uber-buff scientist Robert Neville palms off a vaccine cure to his two friends, then blows himself up along with a load of the beasts. So far, so Hollywood. The film’s original ending, however, walks a far less explicit ethical line.
It’s revealed that the Darkseekers broke into Veille's lab to rescue one of their own whom Neville had captured and mercilessly tortured throughout the movie. This makes the meaning behind the film’s title clear – that in this new world order, the ‘monsters’ are normal and are afraid of humans, one legend in particular because he murders Darkseekers. It’s a shame this darker, less sentimental ending was switched, it certainly doesn’t pander to happy endings, instead dropping a Fight Club-esque twist thanks to the film’s darkly delicious restricted narration.
8. The Terminator (1984) – CyberDyne’s origins
The scene: The Terminator ends when Sarah and Kyle lure the T-800 into a factory. Kyle perishes after setting off a bomb to slow down the hobbling endoskeleton, leaving Sarah to squash the murderous ‘bot in a hydraulic press and uttering the classic line: “You’re terminated, fucker!”
In the extended ending, the police are on the scene, insisting that no-one touch anything until they are done. That doesn’t stop a group of suits from picking through the wreckage for salvageable parts of the Terminator. As Sarah is wheeled into an ambulance, the camera pans upwards to the factory’s signage revealing that it’s… CyberDyne Systems, the very company that goes on to develop the technology which leads to Skynet’s creation.
This deleted ending follows on from an earlier subplot where Kyle tells Sarah about CyberDyne, prompting her desire to blow up the factory. James Cameron removed the scene after being dissatisfied with the performances of the two actors. However, it sets up T2 nicely as it makes sense that Sarah is so irate when she learns from Miles Dyson that CyberDyne covered up the original source of the “seriously advanced” tech.
7. Alien (1979) – The beast’s life cycle
The scene: Ridley Scott’s 2003 Director’s Cut reinstated several key scenes to his 1979 masterpiece, including a significant change to the alien’s life cycle. During Ripley’s final run towards the Narcissus escape pod, she discovers the xenomorph’s nest where Captain Dallas and Brett are cocooned. Dallas, barely alive, begs Ripley to kill him. Brett on the other hand looks inhuman: he has almost finished metamorphosing into an alien egg.
Had this remained in the theatrical cut, due to the huge changes this makes to the alien’s entire reproductive cycle, Aliens would no longer feature its almighty queen. Scott removed it for pacing reasons to keep the film’s finale ticking along, yet, it its excision went on to have much greater impact. Come on, can you really imagine Aliens without the queen?
6. Independence Day (1996) – David’s skills explained
The scene: Moviegoers flocked to see Independence Day in the summer of 1996, not for its realistic depiction of technology, but to witness the world unite in overthrowing an alien invasion. That being said, many folks took umbrage with one particular plot point that saw David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) write a virus on his laptop able to destabilise the alien mothership. It is a little far-fetched that a ‘90s-era Mac possesses the technological wallop to affect alien technology. However, director Roland Emmerich does address this quibble in a deleted scene.
In the cut sequence, following on from David’s earlier realisation that the ships are all coordinating using a specific frequency, Levinson goes along with Brent Spiner’s Dr. Okun board an old ship from Roswell. Once on the fighter vessel, David realises the similarities between the alien’s tech and the alien’s signal and finagles a way to reverse-engineer the virus. It apparently has something to do with binary code?
5. The Thing (1982) – The Husky lives
The scene: John Carpenter’s The Thing is no stranger to fan theories, namely because its esteemed filmmaker refuses to confirm or deny who exactly is The Thing at the end of the film. The theatrical cut closes in on the two sole survivors, Childs and Macready. Having blown to smithereens their research station, the pair hunker down in the freezing cold, sharing a bottle of scotch to “see what happens.” The big question here is: who’s human and who’s not?
While Carpenter fought for that ending on account of its ultimate ambiguity (studio heads wanted another clear-cut ending where Macready lives), this alternate ending shows one of the Husky dogs leaving the Antarctic base, charging off into the wintry wilds. It certainly implies that Macready and Childs’ valiant efforts were all for naught as the alien escapes, ready to infect another camp.
4. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) – Boromir’s true intentions
The scene: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is approximately 17 years long. Despite that epic runtime, it still received extensive trimming to keep it as concise as possible. One victim of the snip is this key flashback sequence from The Two Towers which eventually surfaced in the Extended Edition, proving that neither Boromir nor Faramir were your typical savages in pursuit of The One Ring.
While Faramir (David Wenham) cradles his brother’s broken horn, he recalls a joyous day in the past when Boromir (Sean Bean) took back Osgiliath for Gondor. We learn why the brothers are so desperate to get their hands on the ring: it’s revealed that their father, Denethor, asks Boromir to travel to Rivendell to acquire the ring and return it to Gondor. While both siblings were shown in a less-than-favourable light in the theatrical cuts, this deleted scene unearths their real intentions – to serve their father.
3. Aliens (1986) - Ripley’s daughter
The scene: Having survived the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley awakens to discover she’s “lucky to be alive, kiddo” after being picked up by a deep salvage crew. Not only that, she’s spent 57 years in hypersleep. Plagued by sweat-inducing nightmares of the xenomorph Ripley agrees to blast off with the colonial marines in their mission to help rescue a colony on LV-426 – the same planet the Nostromo sat down on in Alien.
In the Director’s Cut, before she departs Ripley asks Burke about the status of her daughter, whom she promised she’d be back for her 11th birthday. Burke hands over a photograph of an old woman (a real-life photo of Sigourney Weaver’s mother, Elizabeth Inglis), revealing that Amanda Ripley died two years previously at age 66. Ripley’s response offers up a powerful moment, a soul-shaking scene that essentially serves as motivation for her entire future relationship with Newt. It alters how the audience perceives her motivations, why she will do anything to rescue the young orphan from the queen’s nest in the final act. Apparently, Sigourney was furious when she learned this pivotal moment had been cut.
2. Return of the Jedi (1983) – Yoda tells the truth
The scene: Arguably the biggest reveal in the Star Wars franchise hinges on Luke Skywalker’s knowledge that Darth Vader is, in fact, his father Anakin. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, the two figures who possessed this knowledge all along, spend plenty of time during the original trilogy keeping this information from Luke. Their desire to keep this crucial piece of information under wraps, while still steering the young Jedi apprentice toward an antagonistic relationship with Vader, is frankly cunning as hell.
So, why did they do it? A deleted scene which emerged on an out-of-print Laserdisc shows that one of those figures had reservations. When Luke returns to Degobah to visit Yoda on his deathbed, the pint-sized Master reveals that it was he who forbade his Jedi friend from doing so: “Obi-Wan would have told you long ago, had I let him.” Interestingly, this presents Obi-Wan in a more positive light, while casting Yoda in a more ambiguous one.
1 Blade Runner (1982) – Gaff leaves Deckard a unicorn
The scene: Ever since Blade Runner reached cinemas, audiences have pondered whether Harrison Ford’s agent Rick Deckard is actually a replicant. For all of its unique world-building and blistering neo-futuristic visuals, it was this matter which captivated fans for decades. Many of the movie’s key players – including Ford himself – insist that Deckard is human, despite the fact his eyes glow red like a Replicant at one point. Some twenty years later, Ridley Scott put several scenes back into the movie, one of which appears to answer that question.
Deckard’s reinstated dream sequence – in which he manifests a unicorn – imbues a later moment with greater significance. During the scramble to leave Rachel’s apartment, Deckard bends down to retrieve a silver origami unicorn seemingly left on the floor by Deckard’s former partner. Gaff’s words ring out – “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” – suggesting that he planted the unicorn. This harks back to the dream, and has led many die-hard fans to believe that when these two scenes are taken into consideration there’s no other way of looking at it: Deckard’s a Replicant.
Read more: The best movie endings of all time