10 much-loved movie characters that were supposed to die

  • 10 iconic characters that were going to be killed

A lot of characters and plots come and go through many script rewrites and some of your favourite characters aren't even planned in the film's original ideas.

Sometimes they aren't supposed to last to the last scene but get saved for one reason or another.

Here are some of cinema's most iconic characters that were planned to die, before screenwriters' divine intervention saved them...

10. Quentin Tarantino wrote Clarence to die at the end of True Romance, the director was too romantic to let it happen

Before he became the master of out-of-sequence, foot-focused films, Quentin Tarantino wrote screenplays for other directors to do not as good versions of the films that he probably would have made.

After he directed Reservoir Dogs in 1992, Tarantino wrote black comedy crime flick True Romance for Enemy of the State and Top Gun director Tony Scott.

In the film, a man named Clarence falls for a call girl named Alabama, steals a bag of cocaine from her pimp and then tries to sell it in Hollywood while mobsters try to claw back the stolen drugs.

At the film's climax, there is a big shootout in a hotel room, with Clarence getting wounded while everyone else is killed, as he and Alabama escape and flee to Mexico.

Scott fell in love with the characters of Clarence and Alabama and to appease the romantic in him, saw the two head off to start new lives, changing Tarantino's ending which saw Clarence die in the shootout and Alabama riding off with the money on her own.

When he saw Scott's finished version, Tarantino realised that the happy ending was more appropriate to Scott's direction of the film.

9. Kevin Smith wanted to give Clerks the ultimate 'down note' ending

Kevin Smith's debut Clerks, shot on a shoestring budget, catapulted the director into stardom with his tales of slackers working and hanging out at a convenience store (and neighbouring video store) in New Jersey, and has gone on to become a cult classic.

History may not have been as kind to Clerks if Smith had have stuck with his original ending, which saw the film continue past the final version to have someone come into the convenience store while Dante is counting the day's takings, and shoot the reluctant clerk, killing him.

Fans have said the original ending serves as an homage to The Empire Strikes Back, discussed earlier in the film as Dante's favourite Star Wars movie because "it ended on such a down note."

Smith said the film concluded that way because he "didn't know how to end a film", but when it was screened at the Independent Feature Film Market, it was criticised by Smith's filmmaking mentors Bob Hawk and John Pierson.

Under Pierson's advice, Smith cut the ending short to finish on Randal's departure and thankfully not have the film ending on such a bleak, depressing note.

8. A real-life shark attack saved Spielberg from killing Jaws' Hooper

Richard Dreyfuss played the oceanographer Matt Hooper, who is brought in to look at the victims of Steven Spielberg's huge great white shark that has been plaguing the population Amity Island.

Adapted from Peter Benchley's 1974 novel, Spielberg made Hooper a much more likeable character from the book, but still included the character's death in the script.

When they were due to film the scenes in which the cage that Hooper is in gets attacked, nearby Australian filmmakers enticed an actual great white to attack the cage.

Unfortunately for Spielberg, they planned to have a Hooper dummy inside the cage to be mauled by the shark, only for the shark to attack the prop cage before they had put the dummy inside.

The crew decided that the footage of the attack was too good to waste, and Spielberg had the script rewritten to have Hooper survive to the end.

7. J.J. Abrams wanted to kill Poe Dameron early into The Force Awakens

Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron - the Force Awakens fighter pilot in the Hans Solo mould, revealed in an interview with GQ that Poe was originally supposed to die early on in the film.

Isaac said that he was asked to fly to Paris to meet director J.J. Abrams, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy and was filled in with the details of the film-opening fighter pilot battling what's left of the Empire.

He was well up for the role when Abrams threw a spanner into the works by revealing that Poe dies; despite that, Isaac decided that he'd do it.

"I figured it would be a cameo: I’ll come in, do my thing, and maybe it’s actually better not to have to sign myself up for three movies."

But when he sent his decision to Abrams, he received a reply telling him: "Never mind. I’ve figured it out. You’re in the whole movie now."

And the rest is history... sort of; we still have two more Star Wars sequels to come.

See also | 27 stars who only appeared in famous films to get the paycheck

6. Rambo was supposed to have his head blown off by a shotgun; Stallone decides to churn out sequels instead

Adapted from a 1972 novel by David Morrell, the screen Rambo became more sympathetic than his book counterpart, and (despite the sequels' many deaths) doesn't kill anyone, unlike the book, where he violently kills many of his police and National Guard pursuers.

When Stallone was cast as Rambo, he smelt the opportunity for a long-running series and altered the ending of the book, in which Rambo has his head blown apart by Trautman's shotgun, instead surrendering to Trautman and taken into custody.

 A suicide scene for Rambo was filmed, but director Ted Kotcheff and Stallone decided it would be better if he handed himself in and then they could enjoy many more sequels and all of the money that comes with them.

5. Ripley was going to have a really dumb death at the end of Alien

Ellen Ripley, star of the Alien series, survives all of the Xenomorphs' attempt to kill her and turn her into a living host for their creepy offspring.

But she would have had a much shorter life, and cultural impact, had Ridley Scott gone through with his original plan to kill her off at the end of the first movie.

After shooting the majority of Alien, Scott asked the studio heads at Fox for more money to film "a new fourth act" to end the film, with multiple finales worked on before Scott settled for his idea for the film's climax.

In the final moments of the film, Scott had the idea that the Alien would finally catch Ripley and bite her head clean off - shocking, but pretty reasonable, right?

It doesn't end there, after that, the Xenomorph would then mimic Ripley's voice to record one last entry into her log and then the film would fade to black.

The good people at Fox thought this was too dark - but not dumb enough to ruin all of the suspense and tension that Scott had built in the film up to that point - and refused to finance a new ending unless the creature died at the end.

Scott complied, killing off the Alien and helping Sigourney Weaver to become a sci-fi icon and Ripley to become one of the greatest film heroes.

4. Shane Black wanted to kill Riggs in Lethal Weapon 2, quit when he wasn't allowed

Shane Black wrote Lethal Weapon, which became a critical and commercial hit, prompting the producers to set him to work on writing a sequel.

When producer Joel Silver was handed a script for the sequel, he and director Richard Donner found that Black had written Riggs to get shot in the finale in order to protect Murtaugh and his family.

They were after a more light-hearted buddy cop movie with Riggs surviving for future sequels, rather than the blood-soaked script that Black gave them, and when he was asked to rewrite it to add more comedy, Black refused and quit instead.

Jeffrey Boam, who had worked on scripts for The Lost Boys and Innerspace, was drafted in to rewrite the script.

Boam didn't change the ending with Riggs getting shot, but altered it to have Riggs survive... for two more disappointing sequels.

See also | 8 stars who turned down big movie roles for ridiculous reasons

3. Steven Spielberg turned Jurassic Park's John Hammond into a kindly Santa, saves him from a grisly death

Universal paid Michael Crichton $2 million for the rights to his novel Jurassic Park before it had even been published, and then Spielberg went about completely rewriting most of it.

In Crichton's novel, John Hammond was an egomaniacal, money-grabbing eccentric CEO who willingly puts his grandchildren into the danger of the carnivorous dinosaur-filled park, and eventually meets his maker in a gruesome way.

In the book he is startled by a T-Rex roar (that is actually a recording in the park's PA system) and falls down a hill, breaking his ankle and then set upon and eaten by a pack of the tiny Procompsognathus dinosaurs. The death was recycled for the film's sequel The Lost World for the demise of the unlikeable Dieter Stark.

Spielberg changed Hammond to be jovial and caring, keeping him completely out of dino danger throughout the film.

Also changing from the book, Ian Malcolm suffers a broken leg in the first T-Rex attack, which ultimately results in his death, but that was changed when he was brought back for Crichton's follow-up The Lost World.

Also in the book, Robert "clever girl" Muldoon blows up a raptor and the lawyer Donald Gennaro isn't eaten off the toilet, instead he helps Dr. Grant kill all the velociraptors with nerve gas as both characters surviving to the end.

2. Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo to die in Return of the Jedi; George Lucas wanted to sell toys

It's no secret that these days, old man Ford doesn't have the enthusiasm for the Star Wars series as everyone else in the world, but if he had his way, Han Solo wouldn't have been around to make that awesome entrance in The Force Awakens.

During the making of Empire Strikes Back, Ford didn't know if he could face another instalment, which is why George Lucas froze Han in carbonite - so he had a way to revive him if Ford signed on for the third film, but could leave Han eternally frozen if Ford didn't agree to return.

Of course, Ford did return, but told George Lucas that he thought that in the interests of storytelling, the space smuggler should meet his maker, as he explained while on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

"I asked [George Lucas] to ask the writers to kill me off because I thought that it would be good that the character who appeared to have not so much of a complex interweaving with the theme of the force… if he sacrificed himself in some noble way."

With his thoughts on the potential revenue, Lucas didn't agree as he didn't think anyone would buy dead Han toys (which they wouldn't) and kept him alive and well.

Harrison Ford has recently admitted that he is glad that the character didn't die and was still around for him to play in The Force Awakens.

1. Stallone wanted to kill off Rocky Balboa, gets stopped by the studio head

Grown sick of having to punch meat and run up steps, Sylvester Stallone thought it was time to terminate the life of his greatest creation, and kill off the legendary boxer.

In the script for Rocky V, Balboa and his (punningly-named) protégé Tommy Gunn throw down outside a bar which leaves Rocky dying in Adrian's arms in the street.

Then according to director John G. Avildsen, "In the last scene of the movie, Adrian comes out of the hospital and there’s the world press assembled because Rocky then is a big deal and she announces that he is dead, but as long as people believe in themselves, Rocky's spirit will live forever."

This made the execs very uncomfortable and Avildsen was called by the studio head and told: "Rocky’s not going to die. Batman doesn’t die, Superman, James Bond, these people don’t die."

With the film nearing completion, Avildsen implored Stallone to keep Rocky alive, and eventually Stallone gave in and rewrote the ending.

Stallone claimed that he changed the film's ending because Rocky was 'about perseverance and redemption, and having him die in a street brawl would be against the roots of the series.'

It also meant we could have the underwhelming Rocky Balboa, and the great sequel/spin-off/reboot Creed.

See also | 12 stars that got fired from huge movies

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