'Alien' Alternate Ending: Ripley Was Originally Supposed To Die

Alien had a notoriously high death count when it first hit theaters in 1979, horrifying theatergoers with its gore and blend of horror and sci-fi.

But director Ridley Scott, who is promoting his return to the Alien franchise with the upcoming Alien: Covenant, had in mind one more body to add to that death toll: Ellen Ripley. The de facto star of the following Alien movies was never originally intended to survive beyond the first film, according to a recently revealed alternate ending.

The first movie to introduce us to the terrifying "facehuggers" and the looming Xenomorphs they would grow to be, was also the first movie to introduce Sigourney Weaver as a bonafide action star. The lone survivor of her spaceship that had been slaughtered by the titular Alien, Weaver's Ellen Ripley went on to become a pop culture icon, especially with her appearance in Aliens, which transformed the timid crew member into a flamethrower-toting badass.

That was not the original intention that Scott had in mind when he first directed Alien back in 1979. Instead of triumphantly battling the Xenomorph and recording a captain's log entry before grabbing brave orange cat Jones to go into hypersleep with her, the Alien alternate ending had Ripley meet a different fate. Scott revealed to Entertainment Weekly:

"I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off."

Next, Scott says, he'd have cut to the tentacles of the alien pressing buttons on the dashboard. "It would mimic Captain Dallas [Skerritt] saying, 'I'm signing off.'"

Entertainment Weekly provided an illustration of how that ending would look.

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It's a harrowing ending for an already gruesome sci-fi movie, to have no human survivors at the end and the Xenomorph triumphing at the end of the day. No word on whether Jones would have survived.

When Scott pitched this idea from Shepperton Studios outside London to the suits at 20th Century Fox, he was met with anger. "The first executive from Fox arrived on set within 14 hours, threatening to fire me on the spot,"  Scott said with a laugh. "So we didn't do that [ending]." We — and surely Weaver, who went on to play the role of Ellen Ripley three more times — are grateful.

Nearly 40 years later, another sci-fi horror movie with glaring parallels to Alien pulled off the ending that Scott wanted to do. Life ended in (spoiler alert, highlight to reveal) a similarly bleak fashion, with the alien life form overpowering and killing the final star, and supposedly going on to wreak havoc on Earth.

And with Scott's own Alien: Covenant hitting theaters May 19, which signals the franchise's return to the narrow-corridor horror film of the original 1979 Alien, he may be able to finally go through with his original ending.