The Shawshank Redemption Deleted Scenes You've Likely Never Seen

It's hard to channel surf and not stop to watch at least a little bit of "The Shawshank Redemption" when it's on TV. The film is almost always on somewhere, haunting cable channels and popping up for every holiday weekend programming block. Even though the film started as a flop, it's now one of the most beloved films of all time. The film, based on the novella by Stephen King, stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as iconic friends Red and Andy, who are brought together by their murder raps to serve time at Shawshank Prison. Red narrates the story of their time together until Andy escapes via a plan he spent decades working on, taking back his stolen freedom in an act of defiance that instills hope in Red. 

There are so many scenes from the film that are ingrained on the minds of just about anyone who watches it, from the reveal of the Rita Hayworth poster that Andy used to hide his escape tunnel to the motto that inspired his getaway — get busy living, or get busy dying. But did you know there are deleted scenes from "The Shawshank Redemption" that haven't even made it to DVD or Blu-ray? 

Two deleted scenes have found their way to YouTube, uploaded from what seems a Showtime commentary special recorded on an old VHS recording. Considering "The Shawshank Redemption" gained an audience from home viewings and frequent cable appearances, it seems fitting that an old VHS would resurface lost scenes. 

The 10-minute clip also features commentary from Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and director Frank Darabont. The footage can be challenging to watch at times from the tape's wear, showing the age and breakdown of the VHS cassette, but it's not to the point where you can't understand or appreciate the deleted clips themselves. So let's dig into "The Shawshank Redemption" deleted scenes.

More About Red's Post Prison Life

In the first deleted sequence, we're treated to more glimpses of Red's post-prison life. In the final cut of the film, these are more quick and made for a montage narrated by Red as he explains how different his life is outside of prison. The deleted scenes, on the other hand, take up several minutes of time, which is seemingly why they were pulled, as Darabont felt it took away from the flow of the ending.

"It was pulled out," Darabont says. "It wasn't an easy decision for me to make." 

We see Red bagging groceries. Then, Red walks down a street, eyeing the fashions of women, mentally commenting on how he feels like a dirty old man for staring at styles that would have had the ladies called for a "sanity hearing" if they'd worn them back when he was young. Red comments that they're calling it "The Summer of Love," which gives the audience a sense of space and time. It's an interesting collection of moments, but they're also slow and a little on the nose.

Another scene shows Red trying to bag groceries as a child shoots a toy gun at him, seemingly triggering Red to perhaps recall the robbery that landed him in jail for murder in the first place. He flees to the bathroom as a panic attack descends upon him. This is a good moment, even if it's understandable to see why it was cut. Freeman makes small but brilliant acting choices as Red's panic takes over, sending him huffing and puffing to the floor of the cramped bathroom. Red reaches around, touching the walls, as if finding the cell-like nature of the space soothing. The camera angle is high, giving off a visual of both a cage and a comfort. 

In the end, it still was cut, but Freeman didn't have an issue with that. "Morgan was very understanding," Darabont says. "He knows that you have to look at the overall effect of the movie." 

Freeman added his own insight into the editing process. "When you're cutting a film," he says, "You sit and look at it until it pleases you. Then, you go and sit and look at it with an audience, and you watch for the time when the audience drifts off. And you cut that scene." 

Discovering the Tunnel

The other deleted sequence from "The Shawshank Redemption" deals with Andy's prison escape. As the guards and warden discover the tunnel in his cell, they come up with a plan to send one of their own through it to see if there are any clues as to where Andy has gone. One unlucky guard is chosen for the task of crawling through the claustrophobic space, and then comes face to face with the plumbing system Andy used to escape. The guard is disgusted and horrified to realize that the sewage has escaped, and he yells in a fit of horror that can be heard throughout the prison, eventually throwing up at the sight.

In his cell, realization dawns on Red as to what must be going on. He laughs in that full-bodied way that borders on hysterical, gasping on air in a way that sometimes looks like a choked back sob. The scene lets Freeman emote in a way that feels like catharsis. If nothing else, I wish this bit of laughter was added back in, even without the context of the guard being lowered through the tunnel. It's supposed to show Red finding humor in the guard's misery, but without that part, it reads like Red finding relief, joy, and maybe a bit of grief over what Andy has chosen to do. It's the prestige, it's the punchline. I found myself mirror Red in that way, as laughter can sometimes be contagious when both parties appreciate how absurd the moment is. 

I don't begrudge it being cut, but out of all of these deleted scenes, I think that one was the darling to keep, not kill. Another small piece after Red's laughing breakdown shows him in solitary for two weeks, punished for his behavior. This doesn't apparently phase him or steal Red's smile one bit as he sits alone, still chuckling at the memory, mimicking the panicked cries of the guard. 

"The Shawshank Redemption" received the 4K treatment in September 2021. If we've learned anything about the film's popularity, it's that people would always like to see more of it, if the option were available. Maybe if we're lucky, a future release will get busy on putting those scenes back in special features in high-definition.