There are many reasons filmmakers cut scenes from their movies before their release. Sometimes it has to do with trying to reduce the movie’s length, while other times studios and producers pressure filmmakers to leave out certain scenes to make the movie more appealing to general audiences.
Typically, deleted scenes aren’t anything too special, but sometimes the scenes that are left out on the cutting room floor contain important details that, sadly, never make it into the final version of the movie.
In our digital age, more and more deleted scenes are being uncovered and released to the public. As it turns out, some of the most popular plot holes and burning questions surrounding a number of iconic films are all answered by deleted scenes that never saw the light of day.
From cut beginnings to missing endings to entire acts that were drastically changed before release, these deleted scenes don’t just fill in the missing blanks plot-wise, they can occasionally even change the entire feel, tone, and even overall message of their films completely.
Here are the 15 More Deleted Movie Scenes That Were Actually Important To The Plot.
15 Raiders of the Lost Ark – Rules of the Ark
Certainly one of the most iconic (and terrifying) sequences in the Indiana Jones franchise is the opening of the Ark. When the Nazis capture Indy and Marion and successfully open the Ark, nobody in the audience knew what would happen next.
Belloq, Toht, and Dietrich suffer horrible fates that are impossible to forget: one has his head shrivel up completely, one's face completely melts off, and the other’s head explodes. While all of this is happening, Indy keeps his eyes shut and yells at Marion to do the same – an act that saves both of their lives.
However, how did the famed archeologist know this survival tip? A deleted scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark reveals that Indy was taught the rules of the Ark in cut dialogue in the scene where he visits Imam with Sallah. Imam tells the men that one cannot touch the Ark or look at it if it’s opened, as either of these acts will kill you.
Viewers will notice that the Ark is not touched until that fatal scene at the end, also supporting Imam’s warning to Indy.
14 Superman Returns – Where Was Superman?
With a movie titled Superman Returns, it might be pertinent to show your audience where Superman is returning from in the first place. However, Bryan Singer’s 2006 film had other concerns, and decided to jump right into the thick of it without spending too much time on what had come before the film’s events.
The movie throws out some explanation about where Superman has been (hunting down the remnants of his home planet of Krypton), but that’s it. As it turns out, Singer did film an entire sequence about Superman returning to Krypton and exploring its ruin. The deleted scene is fairly impressive and might have improved Superman Returns, which had its fair share of issues.
The scene features no dialogue and is far different in tone than the rest of the film, which might explain why it was cut from the theatrical release.
13 The Goonies – The Octopus
The kids in The Goonies experience their fair share of adventure in the 1985 film. However, viewers may have noticed a line that caused some confusion in the film’s last scene.
When the main characters finally make their way back from their attempt to find treasure to save their homes from foreclosure, they’re hounded by journalists who want to get the scoop on where the kids have been. At one point, Data tells journalists of a “scary and dangerous” octopus attack.
This might have caused audience members to ask what exactly Data was talking about, as there is no octopus attack in the film. This attack was actually depicted in a short deleted scene, where a giant red octopus attacks the goonies in a pool of water in the cavern.
The theatrical cut makes it seem like Data has no idea what he’s talking about, but the deleted scene proves that he’s telling the truth.
12 The Thing – The Ending Explained
Easily one of the most infamous ambiguous endings is that of John Carpenter’s 1982 horror/sci-fi The Thing. Fans of Carpenter’s film have debated the ending at length, resulting in a plethora of fan theories as a result, all trying to solve the mystery of whether Childs or MacReady was The Thing.
However, an extended version of the ending erases the importance of this entire debate. Footage that was shaved off of the official ending depicts The Thing disguised as a husky running through the snow. It looks back, and the camera reveals that the dog is running away from the Childs and MacReady’s burning camp.
This footage renders all of the effort done by MacReady and the scientists useless, as they all die and The Thing escapes into the world anyway. This deleted scene leaves the film on a huge down note, and Carpenter believed that the ending of the theatrical release was more effective since it left audiences with an air of suspense, tension, and mystery.
11 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Saruman’s Death
When reports first came out that Peter Jackson had cut out Saruman’s death scene, many assumed that the studios had forced Jackson to cut Christopher Lee out of the film. The extended version of Return of the King released out on DVD included this violent scene, in which Saruman is stabbed in the back by Grima and falls from his tower to be impaled on the spoke of a wheel.
However, before the movie was released on the big screen, people complained over the cut, causing Jackson to rush and explain that the producers played no role. Instead, he said it was merely an issue of pacing and what was best for the story.
“We felt [the scene] got Return Of The King off to an uncertain beginning, since Saruman plays no role in the events of [the movie],” the director explained. “The choice was made on the basis that most people will assume that Saruman was vanquished by the Helm's Deep events, and Ent attack.”
Jackson emphasized that this choice made the most sense for the narrative of Return of the King, but the scene still feels like something too important to miss out on.
10 Reservoir Dogs – Mr. Orange Looks Up Mr. White’s History
Reservoir Dogs-- Quentin Tarantino’s bloody waltz onto the film scene-- is considered one of the strongest films to come out of the '90s. Among the best scenes are those between Mr. White and Mr. Orange, whose tragic friendship is easily one of the strongest aspects to the film.
One particularly heated argument between Mr. White and Mr. Pink reveals that White told Orange his real name and where he was from, causing Pink to chastise him for revealing such crucial information that could cause White’s downfall. Mr. White brushes him off, but a deleted scene reveals exactly how right Mr. Pink was.
Cut footage shows that Orange uses the info given to him by White to hunt him down in the police records and find out his criminal background, pinning him for conviction. The scene highlights that Orange always kept White at a distance throughout their relationship, while the theatrical cut of the film suggests that Orange really does grow close to White through the omission of this scene.
9 World War Z – A Russian Battle and Gerry’s Wife
Many were skeptical when a film adaptation of Max Brooks’ 2006 novel World War Z was announced due to the book’s complicated structure. However, the Brad Pitt-led blockbuster received positive reviews upon its release, and enjoyed healthy box office numbers.
The film did have some production drama, however – filmmakers were forced to scrap the film's ending after they began to question its strength. Originally, the film was supposed to end with an epic battle against the zombies in Russia. A few shots of this deleted sequence can be seen in the last few minutes of the theatrical release.
Other deleted material is more disturbing. While Gerry’s reunion with his family is joyful in the theatrical cut, the original reunion had a far more tragic tone, as Gerry’s wife reveals that she has been forced to sell her body in exchange for food, water, and shelter.
If these scenes were left in, they would have shown a more detailed look at what was happening on the ground during this conflict – but it also would’ve given the film a far different tone.
8 In Bruges – Ken and Harry’s Backstory
Martin McDonagh’s jet-black comedy In Bruges is known for its original storytelling and snappy dialogue. When hit man Ray botches a job, he and partner Ken hide out in Bruges, Belgium, awaiting instruction from crime boss Harry. Harry wants Ray dead, and when Ken refuses to do the job, things get ugly.
For a comedy, it has surprisingly heavy themes at its core, and it has some intense scenes. However, perhaps the most intense of all is the one that was cut. The details of Harry and Ken’s longtime friendship is only hinted at in the theatrical cut, but a deleted scene reveals that, when the two were younger, Ken’s wife was murdered by a policeman.
In an act of revenge for his friend, young Harry – who is played by none other than Matt Smith in the deleted scene – violently murders the policeman by cutting off his head with a katana. In an already violent movie, this scene might have been too over the top.
Nevertheless, it reveals the heavy history between Ken and Harry, and makes Ken’s refusal to follow Harry’s orders all the more serious.
7 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Luke’s Green Lightsaber
In the Star Wars universe, the lightsaber is a huge status symbol. Not only does it indicate that you’re a skilled fighter, but making one’s own lightsaber is a key initiation rite among the Jedi and Sith alike.
So it was a big deal when Luke Skywalker was gifted his father’s blue lightsaber back in Star Wars: A New Hope, and an equally big deal when he lost it in his fight with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. George Lucas gave Luke a flashy new green lightsaber come Return of the Jedi – but where did Luke get it in the first place?
A deleted scene reveals that Luke made the lightsaber himself in a cave in Tatooine. This scene carries some pretty serious symbolic weight, making Luke a step closer to being a true Jedi master and emphasizing how far he’s come as a character since Obi Wan first gave him Anakin’s blue lightsaber back in A New Hope.
Unfortunately, this short scene was left back on the cutting room floor by Lucas and was not included in the theatrical release.
6 The Terminator – Cyberdyne’s Involvement
The Terminator’s thrilling and terrifying final battle between the Terminator and Sarah Connor is hard to forget. However, James Cameron shaved some footage off of the ending that included some pretty important information.
After Sarah Connor successfully defeats the Terminator in a factory building, she is carted off to the hospital and the cops come in to check out the scene. A manager from the building also arrives and finds debris from the Terminator – including its processing chip, which he steals away for later.
Soon after the camera pans up and reveals that the final battle took place in a Cyberdyne Systems building, revealing that this is how the terminators were originally created.
Though this plot detail is later explained through dialogue in Terminator 2, this scene shows that it wasn’t a storyline that was whipped up just for the sake of a sequel, but was the original ending of the first film all along. Also, the building reveal is a critical part The Terminator’s story arc, and gives the movie a more impactful ending.
5 The Lion King – Scar’s Proposal to Nala
Simba’s reunion with Nala in Disney’s The Lion King is one of the most touching moments in the animated film. However, why was Nala all the way in Simba’s jungle in the first place?
The theatrical cut of movie implies that Nala had to wander that far in order to find food for the lions at Pride Rock. This isn’t the true explanation though – at least, not according to one deleted scene. In the cut scene, Scar realizes that he needs a queen and chooses Nala for the part, proposing to her in the original version of the number “Be Prepared”.
When she publicly rejects his proposal, he banishes her from Pride Rock. This is the real reason she was away from Pride Rock and able to find Simba hidden away in the jungle.
4 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – Scenes with Annie and Dale Cooper
With the unfortunate cancellation of Twin Peaks and the cliffhanger of season 2’s finale, many fans were hoping that David Lynch’s film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me would have all the answers.
In some ways it did, but in most ways it didn’t: Lynch was far more concerned with making Fire Walk With Me something of a prequel rather than follow up the events of season 2, hardly including staple character Dale Cooper.
However, in 2014, Lynch released cut footage from Fire Walk With Me that ran so long that he made a movie out of all of them. Titled Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces, the movie included scenes that, while still not answering all the questions, included more of Dale Cooper and even had a scene with Heather Graham’s character Annie.
The bulk of Cooper’s deleted scenes involve him in the Red Room, but there’s also footage showing more of Cooper possessed by Bob. Annie’s scene involves her being rushed to the ER, slipping in and out of a coma. Her nurse also steals that special Black Lodge ring off of her finger.
All of this seems like crucial info that Fire Walks With Me could’ve used.
3 The Avengers – Cap’s Character Development
Joss Whedon’s 2012 movie The Avengers certainly wasn’t lacking in the action department. However, when it came to character development, that’s more debatable – especially when it comes to Captain America.
The Avengers was the first movie featuring Captain America after his own 2011 film, Captain America: The First Avenger. Many questions swirled around Cap’s character. How would he feel being thrown into the modern world after everything that’s happened to him? Though the theatrical cut tries to answer this question with some humorous scenes, one deleted sequence provides a more dramatic, meditative look into how Steve Rogers really feels about his life.
The deleted sequence finds him watching old newsreels of himself from WWII, looking back at Peggy’s military files, and wandering New York alone, looking lonely and isolated. All of these scenes suggest a deeper conflict within Steve Rogers that the theatrical version never dives into, cutting out important character development.
The deleted scene even shows Rogers meeting Beth, the waitress he saves during the climax of the film and who later compliments him at length on a news segment later on.
2 The Shining – Stuart Ullman’s Visit
Stanley Kubrick’s chilling adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining ranks as one of the filmmaker’s strongest works, and is considered one of the best horror films ever made to boot.
The ending is certainly one of the most mysterious parts of the film, with Jack Torrence perishing in The Overlook’s maze and the final shot being a slow zoom in on a photo revealing that Jack Torrence has officially joined The Overlook family. However, this iconic ending wasn’t always the last scene in The Shining.
Kubrick filmed another end sequence that was actually included in the theatrical release for one week, until the filmmaker decided to cut it for good. The scene shows Wendy and Danny in a hospital after the terrifying events at The Overlook. They are visited by Stuart Ullman, the manager of the hotel who hired Jack Torrence in the first place.
Right before Ullman goes to leave, he gives Danny Jack Torrence's yellow tennis ball, which he mysteriously has under his possession. This ominous scene suggests that Ullman knows about The Overlook’s sinister side, and even goes so far to hint that he might be in on all of the violence that occurs there.
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 – Draco’s Redemption
Loyal fans to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise often pick apart the film adaptations for leaving out or ruining key moments that occurred in Rowling’s adored novels. However, there is one instance where filmmakers made a very interesting change to one of the franchise’s most despised characters – only to cut the scene out entirely later on.
When Harry Potter is believed to be dead in the final film of the franchise, Voldemort revels in his victory and gives a big speech attempting to recruit more to his side. Draco reluctantly follows his parent’s lead and goes over to Voldemort.
In a deleted scene from Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, after Harry is revealed to be alive, Draco goes back to the good side and even goes so far as to throw Harry his wand so he has a defense against Voldemort.
This offers Draco a redemption arc that, for better or worse, is denied to him in both Rowling’s original text and the theatrical cut of Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.
Can you think of any other instances where deleted scenes were actually important to the plot? Let us know in the comments!