What ends up not making it onto the screen at your local movie theater is occasionally as interesting as what does. Filmmakers and studios decide to excise scenes, shots, and even entire sequences for a variety of reasons. We usually get a chance to see what was missing in an Extended Edition (or at least in the special features of the home version), and sometimes, it's easy to see why some of them didn't make it into the projector.
We've seen deleted scenes that improved a movie or added new dimensions or nuances to the story. We've seen others that added nothing but weren't bad; the director and editor just lost them to shave the runtime or help pacing. But some deleted scenes are so bad, pointless, or puzzling that not only do we not blame the people who struck them from the film, but we aren't entirely sure why they ever existed in the first place.
Here are 15 terrible deleted scenes that you won't believe studios actually spent money to produce. Luckily, they didn't get into the final movies, but the fact that they made it as far as they did is bad enough. Be sure to let us know about your other "favorites" in the comments.
15 The Hobbit - Goblin King song
If we’re honest, we think we could have lost two movies’ worth of scenes in the Hobbit trilogy, and it would have been several times better. But barring that, we appreciated most of the cuts director Peter Jackson actually made.
The one we’d like to focus on, however, is the Great Goblin's song from the first movie, An Unexpected Journey. This comes straight from the source material, but it’s a pretty good argument for why “it was in the book” shouldn’t automatically earn something a place in the film version. And the similarly story-stopping CGI and terrible musical number George Lucas added to Return of the Jedi should have taught everyone a lesson.
If you really want to see this in place, it’s in the Extended Edition versions on DVD and Blu-ray. Or you could just read the book, which will take you way less time.
14 Aliens - Hadley's Hope 'before' scenes
Most of the tension once the Colonial Marines arrive comes from knowing they’re entering a dangerous area but not knowing the exact scope of the threat. We know as much as they do, which is that they’ve lost contact with the outpost, and the colonists are in danger. In showing the humans’ first contact with the xenomorphs, the movie gives us information the heroes don’t have, which removes us, even slightly, from the story.
It also moves the aliens’ first appearance up (even if all we see is a facehugger), which makes the initial attack later on way less impactful.
13 Back to the Future, Part III - Tannen gets too real
Admittedly, the entire plot of Back to the Future: Part III depends on Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen being a murderer; Marty goes back to 1885 to stop the outlaw from killing the time-stranded Doc Brown. But one part that didn’t make the cut — for good reason — makes Tannen's otherwise cartoon-villain menace all too real.
If you noticed that Marshall Strickland doesn’t show up to arrest Tannen at the end of the movie, this is why. The cut scene shows the officer confronting the gang outside of town before Buford's showdown with Marty and warning them not to start any trouble. The villain disarms the Marshall, tells him to disappear for a few hours, and then shoots him in the back while he rides away.
We won’t argue that this is out of character for a guy whose whole point is that he kills people, but it’s a jarring tonal shift. It’s the only on-screen murder in a series that’s otherwise just a fun, time travel romp.
12 Ant-Man - The house loses
An unused (and unfinished) scene in Ant-Man has Scott Lang using his new shrinking powers to help his friends cheat a casino. Considering the characters who have taken the mantle of the Ant-Man in comics are mostly a-holes, this doesn’t seem incredibly out of character.
But it’s a little weird for this version of the guy, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Scott Lang prides himself on being a burglar instead of a robber. We know scamming a casino by using your shrinking suit to hop up onto the craps table and change how the dice land is hardly a common stick-up, but it does feel a little too scammish for someone who takes as much pride in his extra-legal work as this Lang does.
Plus, it’s just incredibly obvious that something weird is happening to those dice, and we don’t know why nobody would notice.
11 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Lava face
This one is less a deleted scene than just a deleted shot, but it would have made one of the most famous sequences in an already iconic franchise unintentionally hilarious.
We’re talking about the bit in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in which the villain, Mola Ram, rips a man’s still-beating heart out of his chest before he casts him, still living, into lava. But according to the guy who played the victim of all that torture, it didn’t stop there.
The actor, Nizwar Karanj, claims that the doom didn’t end once he hit the molten rock. He says the filmmakers made a “lifelike face” from his own that would float briefly in the lake of fire after his body disintegrated. These were in the days before the PG-13 rating existed, so the censors would have slapped Temple of Doom with an R rating if it had included the shot. But it still exists somewhere, presumably, though we’re not sure we want to see it.
10 The Fly - Baboon Cat
We love director David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly because of its great, disgusting special effects and effectively tragic story. But one infamous deleted scene would have undercut both of those.
The awful sequence shows the mutated Seth Brundle going through a test run for his ultimate plan: to fuse himself, his girlfriend, and their unborn baby into one horrific biomass. He does this by splicing his one remaining baboon with a cat. The resulting creature proves to be violent and crazy, so Brundle beats it to death with a pipe.
Not only does this ruin the big reveal for the climax by giving away the villain’s scheme, but it’s also hard to still feel sorry for a guy after he mutilates and murders two previously cute animals.
9 Revenge of the Sith - The death of Shaak Ti
Like the Hadley’s Hope sequence in Aliens, the death of Shaak Ti in Revenge of the Sith isn’t necessarily a bad moment … although we’re not huge fans of the part where General Grievous creepily fondles her head noodles. It’s just super abrupt and adds nothing, and the stakes are a problem.
People who have only seen the movies might just recognize Shaak Ti from the background of earlier scenes. So while it’s bad that she dies, it doesn’t have any impact. Her death is as meaningful as the loss of Obi-Wan’s droid during the space battle earlier on.
We know it’s bad because characters say, “Oh no” when it happens, but the audience has no reason to care outside of the core idea that killing Jedi is bad. And they have plenty of that to contend with in the finished film as it is. And then it immediately goes into a silly joke, so not even Obi-Wan and Anakin seem to care.
8 Suicide Squad - Goat bits
The last thing we wanted after we watched Suicide Squad was more Suicide Squad, so we’re happy with anything that shortened that miserable, confusing experience. But we're particularly pleased to have missed one extended scene in particular.
It’s the one in which, during the team’s first helicopter flight, Killer Croc vomits up the goat that his guards fed him in an earlier, also deleted scene. This is a really minor change from the theatrical version, and it might have been an attempt to further humanize the character. But we’ve never in our lives watched a movie and left it wishing it had contained more puke.
We’ve even read some descriptions that say that Croc picks up the regurgitated goat chunks and re-eats them, and we were already queasy enough as it was while we were watching the theatrical version.
7 Star Trek VI - The fake Klingon
This alternate footage from the end of Star Trek VI actually appears in the movie, depending on which version you’re watching. But it isn’t in the theatrical version and some home video releases, and we’re glad it’s not.
During the finale, a Klingon attempts to murder the Federation President as part of a conspiracy to keep the two factions at war. Scotty shoots the killer before he can succeed, and in the deleted scene, we discover that the would-be assassin was actually a Federation colonel in disguise. They even do an unmasking straight out of Scooby-Doo.
We understand the ruse to a point, but we don’t know why the deception was necessary. Since some actual Klingons were also in on the plan, why didn’t they just send one of them? Luckily, removing the scene closes that plot hole, but it still doesn’t make sense.
6 Titanic - James Cameron is ice-cold
But that’s what we get in one deleted scene, which features Kathy Bates as Molly Brown, who is enjoying a drink right before the ocean liner makes its famous collision.
“Hey, sonny,” she says to a passing waiter. “How about a little ice?”
Just then, the iceberg that will soon cause the deaths of 1,500 people drifts by the window. And that’s just hilarious because she just asked for ice. It’s not funny, really, and we’re glad this didn’t make it into the final movie. It’s just kind of tacky.
5 Blade II - The organ handler
Director Guillermo del Toro’s contribution to the Blade trilogy is the best in the series, and part of how it accomplishes that is by trimming unnecessary material to leave a lean, efficient action film. And one scene in particular that has a completely crazy story behind it.
When Blade II was in development, the studio received a strange request: Michael Jackson was interested in a cameo. We aren’t sure why the late King of Pop wanted to be in a vampire movie, but to be fair, this project still isn’t as bizarre as Moonwalker.
The filmmakers didn’t want Jackson in their movie, so they wrote a role for him specifically to scare him off. An excised bit in the vampire nightclub includes a guy delicately packing human organs. When he learned that was his scene, the would-be guest developed some scheduling conflicts.
Del Toro filmed the scene with a different actor, anyway. And we have no idea why if its whole purpose was to scare off Michael Jackson.
4 Logan - Professor X ruins dinner
Logan is one of the best superhero movies ever made, plain and simple. It transcends the genre’s often silly conventions to tell a grim but hopeful story about regret and redemption. But one deleted bit of dialogue from the otherwise optimistic dinner scene was a bit bleak, even for this story.
The missing bit comes when the former X-Men’s host family asks Logan if he was ever married. Xavier answers for him, saying he was, but “he killed her.”
The director, James Mangold, says this is a direct reference to Jean Grey. And we’re glad it didn’t make it in for several reasons, not the least of which being that it’s a huge bummer in what’s supposed to be a break from the rest of the depression that movie was laying on us.
3 Hancock - Super sperm
In it, we see the downtrodden antihero take a groupie back to his trailer for some super-loving. But he warns her before the start that this is potentially dangerous for her. He lays down some rules, the main one being that when he “starts to climb the mountaintop,” she can’t be anywhere near him.
At the scene’s … high point, Hancock flings the poor woman across the room and then punches three holes in the roof of his trailer with his ejaculate. It is so weird. The point of this is to show that it’s nearly impossible for Hancock to connect with normal people. And that works, but we aren't sure that that was the best way to do it.
Actually, no, we are. That was definitely not the best way to do it.
2 The Thing (1982) - Alternate ending(s)
Director John Carpenter’s The Thing has one of our favorite movie endings ever. We love it because it’s ambiguous and potentially very dark. It leaves the last two surviving characters resigning themselves to freezing, with neither them nor the audience knowing which (if either) is still human. And it still ends with a laugh.
This ending is basically perfect … and two alternate scenes that would have taken place afterward would have ruined it completely. One, which was never used, has MacReady rescued, and a blood test proves he’s human. Nobody involved wanted this scene, but they filmed it anyway as a “precaution,” presumably against anyone liking the movie.
The other alternate ending aired in the TV version in the ‘80s and takes place the morning after that final scene. It shows a dog exiting the burned-out camp and running off, implying that regardless of what happened to the survivors, the Thing survived. We prefer the ambiguity, ourselves.
1 Terminator 2 - Coda Park
Speaking of killing ambiguity …
We know this is our third James Cameron movie, but it’s a big one. An alternate ending for Terminator 2: Judgment Day jumps into the future from the scene in the steel mill, to show a new, happier version of the future, free of murderbots and the nuclear apocalypse.
An elderly Sarah Connor tells us that “not much happened” on what would have been Judgment Day, and reveals that John has grown up to be a Senator, and that everything is fine. It’s a huge shift in both tone and color from the rest of the film, and it doesn’t match at all. While we don’t mind knowing that our heroes succeeded in the end, this scene is just too neat an ending for a series about time-traveling cyborgs that asks real questions about the nature of fate and free will.
In fact, the only thing we like about this version of Terminator 2 is that it might have saved us from the way-less-good sequels we’ve gotten since then.
What are your favorite mercifully deleted scenes? Be sure to let us know in the comments.