Army of Darkness brought Ash Williams back to his time, but the original ending was quite different and could have set up a very interesting Evil Dead 4 story. Sam Raimi’s supernatural horror film Evil Dead (1981) was the beginning of a trilogy that introduced one of the most beloved characters of the genre: Ash Williams, played by Bruce Campbell. After Evil Dead II remade some parts from the first film in 1987, the trilogy was completed in 1992 with Army of Darkness.
At the end of Evil Dead II, Ash was sent way back in time to the year 1300 AD, where he encountered knights, deadites, and the same evil force that has been causing problems since the first film. Ash was ultimately sent back to his own time thanks to a potion given to him by the Wise Men towards the conclusion of Army of Darkness, but this ending was not the original one. In fact, the first ending had everything to set up a fourth Evil Dead film with a very interesting scenario.
The original ending (or alternate ending, depending on how you see it) to Army of Darkness had Ash messing up with the amount of potion he had to take to return to his time, causing him to oversleep. When he wakes up he’s in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic England where civilization has been destroyed. Ash screams “I slept too long!” before the film cuts to black and his insane laughter is heard over the credits. It was a very Ash Williams ending, as he has never been known for his intelligence. But Universal didn’t like it, finding it too depressing, and ordered a new ending to be shot. The original climax could have been the plot for Evil Dead 4, with Ash fighting against the deadites in a post-apocalyptic world all by himself.
Universal got what they wanted and the ending was reshot, with Ash going back to his time and bringing the deadites with him as he messed up the words he had to recite – again. Ash then tells his story to a fellow employee at a department store, and as he talks to a woman, a deadite appears. Ash kills it with a rifle from the store, saying “hail to the king baby” before kissing the aforementioned woman. This ending helped make way for the series Ash vs Evil Dead, which caught up with Ash many years after Army of Darkness.
While the ending that was shown in the film was also on-brand with the character, the original one feels more of an Ash and Evil Dead ending than the second one, and the post-apocalyptic concept would have been a very interesting plot for Evil Dead 4. The original or alternate ending for Army of Darkness can be found in the DVD and Blu-Ray (and online too), so fans can make their own decision on which ending suits the trilogy best.