E.T the Extra-Terrestrial could have had a sequel, but Steven Spielberg ultimately decided not to move forward with it. The sci-fi classic E.T was released in 1982 and has been praised by critics ever since, who consider it one of the finest films of its generation as well as one of the best films ever made. At some point, E.T was the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing Star Wars, but it was later overtaken by another Spielberg film, Jurassic Park, in 1993.
E.T follows Elliott (Henry Thomas), a boy who finds an alien in his backyard and quickly befriends it. The creature, named “E.T” by Elliott, was left behind by his group and must find a way to return to his home planet. Elliott and his siblings, Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and Gertie (Drew Barrymore), help it contact its family while also keeping it hidden from the government. Elliott’s strong bond with the creature was one of a kind, and could have been key in a sequel, had Spielberg decided to make it happen.
Shortly after the release of E.T, Spielberg revealed that he and Melissa Mathison (who wrote the first film) had written a treatment for a sequel, which was titled E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears. Spielberg decided to not make a sequel as it would only “rob the original of its virginity”, which was a very wise decision considering that the idea for the sequel was quite obscure and far from E.T’s story of childhood and friendship. The treatment for Nocturnal Fears made its way to the web, and although it has a similar beginning to the original film, with a giant UFO descending upon the same forest, these aliens were nothing like Elliott’s friend.
This time, the aliens would have been evil - truly evil, as they were carnivorous and emitted a “hypnotic hum” with paralyzing effects on the surrounding wildlife. Although these aliens looked like E.T, they were an albino mutation that had been at war with E.T’s fraction for decades. These creatures later took Elliott and company hostage, interrogating and examining them, committing child torture. E.T eventually came back to save them, only to leave again at the end. It’s easy to see why Spielberg felt this would have deeply hurt the first film.
In an interview with Andy Cohen in 2018, Drew Barrymore shared that Spielberg was never really on board with a sequel, telling her that a second E.T film was never going to be made as “it’s just as it is”. In the end, E.T is a full story that doesn’t require any sequels, retellings, or prequels of any kind because Spielberg made it that way, and that’s one of the many reasons why it has become one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.