Final Destination Originally Had A Very Different Ending

When we think of a horror franchise, the first image that comes to mind is likely a slasher film. But the 2000s brought a horror franchise with an even more relentless villain than all of the heavy hitters like Freddy, Jason, Chucky, and Leatherface combined. Directed by James Wong and based on an original story idea from Jeffrey Reddick, "Final Destination" ushered in the horror scene of the new millennium by pitting teenagers against the greatest enemy imaginable — death itself. Wong, Reddick, and Glen Morgan worked together to write a story about Alex Browning, Clear Rivers, Carter Horton, Valerie Lewton, and the rest of the survivors of Volée Airlines Flight 180, who barely escape death following a premonition seen by Browning just before their plane takes flight. Their classmates and the rest of the passengers on Flight 180 explode in a fireball, but this new lease on life for those that got off the plane is quickly revealed to be a curse.

Despite a carousel rotation of characters and no identifiable villain to market, "Final Destination" was a massive success that spawned a franchise of five films, with a sixth on the way. As a whole, "Final Destination" is one of the best quality horror franchises in existence, with only one entry viewed as a misfire, and the rest boasting massive fan followings. "Final Destination" became a horror phenomenon, with headlines of freak accidents frequently associated as being "Final Destinationed." The series changed what type of stories could prove profitable for horror franchises, and made it so no one on the planet would ever drive behind a logging truck on a highway ever again. 

And yet, had "Final Destination" gone with their original ending, the franchise might not have ever happened.

The theatrical ending

After the survivors of flight 180 attempt to mourn the loss of their classmates, process their survivor's guilt, and move on with their lives, they are forced to face death in the form of Rube Goldberg-style freak accidents, getting picked off in increasingly violent ways, one-by-one. The survivors realize that death is coming for them in the order in which they would have died had they stayed on flight 180, which allows Alex, Clear, and Carter the opportunity to figure out a way to save themselves.

Carter unfortunately loses his girlfriend Terry after she is killed by a speeding bus, and decides that he would rather take matters into his own hands than wait around for death to take him out. Just as he is about to be run over by a train, Alex intervenes, saving Carter's life, with death then taking out their friend Billy in his place. Armed with this newfound knowledge, Alex races over to Clear's house, knowing that he can save her if he intervenes in whatever death has in store for her. He finds her trapped inside her car, surrounded by loose electrical cables, and a lit gasoline leak. Alex uses all of his might to hold on to the electrical cable, giving her a chance to escape, and saving her life before the car explodes.

The movie then jumps ahead six months to show Alex, Clear, and Carter having dinner in Paris to celebrate their survival. Alex reveals that he doesn't believe Death actually skipped him, when suddenly a bus crash ricochets a parking sign toward a neon sign above the restaurant that comes crashing down. Carter saves Alex at the last moment, by pushing him out of the way, but the sign swings back on a pendulum directly into Carter, killing him, and thereby reigniting Death's plan.

The original ending

The final ending created for the theatrical release was a way to appease the test screening audiences who wanted Alex to stay alive, as well as open up the film to sequel possibilities with Death having not been defeated. In reality, "Final Destination" looks a lot, lot different. Clear Rivers and Alex Browning originally had a romantic relationship, but this was scrapped completely from the final product, leaving us audiences with a ball of will-they, won't-they romantic tension. With their love in bloom, "Final Destination" featured a moment of intimacy between the two, resulting in Clear becoming pregnant. In the original cut of the film, Alex does not survive holding the electrical wires, instead sacrificing himself to save Clear and their unborn baby. The ending included Clear and Carter visiting the memorial site of the lives lost on flight 180 and the freak accidents that followed, including Alex, as Clear holds her son, who shares his father's name.

Despite the tragedy of Alex's sacrifice, "Final Destination" originally ended on a positive note. The film's central premise is that Death comes for us all, appearing as a malicious force, but is in fact an inevitability of existence. In a film brimming with turmoil, "Final Destination" ends with the acknowledgement that life is something worth living. Death cannot be avoided, and it's best that we live our lives to the fullest, rather than cower in fear. How we die is nowhere near as important as how we live. Alex will live on because his child exists to carry on that legacy. The theme of "new life beats death" is explored in "Final Destination 2," but the message is far heavier when applied to beloved characters like Alex Browning and Clear Rivers.