Why Samuel L. Jackson's Jurassic Park Character Never Got The Death Scene He Deserved

Rarely do I find jump scares to be an effective cinematic device. If anything, I find them quite annoying and cheap. They become especially tiresome if they repeatedly get used in a movie, where they seem to be the only thing the filmmaker knows how to do. Steven Spielberg knows how to do a lot more than that. So when he decides to implement one in a movie, it can actually be quite effective.

The prime example of the a great Spielbergian jump scare is in "Jaws," when we are treated to iconic moment that gave us the line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." As Roy Scheider's Brody is chumming the water, the shark suddenly pops out of the water, jolting Brody up, and he slowly backs into the boat. It's one of the most famous scenes in all of cinema. I don't know why I'm describing it to you. Much has been made about how the animatronic shark in "Jaws" notoriously did not work, which is why we see so little of it in the movie. Spielberg had to pick and choose his spots carefully to put the shark on screen, and this could not have been a more perfect deployment of it. His limitations ended up becoming an asset.

When "Jurassic Park" came around 18 years later, Spielberg had the budget and latitude, as well as the skill, to both build a tremendous amount of tension and show off all the practical and digital dinosaurs created for the movie. However, there is a moment on every movie, no matter the resources, where something goes wrong, and you have to dig into your bag of tricks to come up with an ingenious solution to the problem. In the case of "Jurassic Park," Samuel L. Jackson was unable to get to the set, so Spielberg opted to create another classic jump scare.

A victim of Hurricane Iniki

While Samuel L. Jackson may be one of the most beloved and successful actors of the last 30 years, back in 1993, he was a jobbing character actor. He would pop up in small, supporting parts in "Goodfellas," "Patriot Games," and the films of Spike Lee. That trend would continue to "Jurassic Park," where he plays a tech guy at a computer. There's a good chance many of you could not remember the character's name (it's Arnold), but because he is Samuel L. Jackson, that character, along with the wonderful line "Hold onto your butts," makes far more of an impact than if any other actor played the part.

Arnold, sadly, does not make it to the end of the movie. He is killed off-screen while attempting to turn the park's power back on after rebooting the entire system. We find out about his death in one of the film's great jump scares. Laura Dern's Dr. Ellie Sattler goes out to search for the missing Arnold and ends up being chased into the power facility by a velociraptor. In a moment of relief, an arm falls onto her shoulder, and she is initially glad she has found Arnold. That is until she realizes the arm is actually severed from a body, and Arnold is dead. It's a moment that makes you gasp and chuckle at the same time, much like the shark popping out of the water. You truly do not see it coming, as you are not sure of Arnold's fate.

Well, this was never supposed to be the case. "Jurassic Park" has a number of scenes where see characters meet a grisly end, and Samuel L. Jackson's Arnold was supposed to be no different. Unfortunately, bad weather got in the way, and he was never able to shoot that scene. In an interview with the A.V. Club, Jackson explained:

"I was actually supposed to go to Hawaii to shoot my death scene. But there was a hurricane that destroyed all the sets. So I didn't get to go to Hawaii ... All you see is the residue of my body, my arm. But yeah, I was supposed to be on set."

In the grand scheme of things, Hurricane Iniki depriving us of a cool death scene for Samuel L. Jackson is small potatoes. The storm sadly took the lives of seven people and caused over $3 billion in damage in Hawaii. But we can still be a little disappointed that it didn't happen, as all of the death scenes in "Jurassic Park" are fantastic, but I'm glad Jackson got to stay safe.

One year later, he would never take this part

Again, we must remember that Samuel L. Jackson was not a massive star at the time back then. Had he been the guy we know today, I have no doubt that they would have reconvened at a later date to give him a proper death scene. You don't just dispatch Samuel L. Jackson without any pomp or circumstance, right? And "Jurassic Park" is not this contemplative film like "No Country for Old Men," where having a major character die off-screen is part of the point. No, this is a popcorn movie with extra butter.

Well, "Jurassic Park" came out in 1993, and the very next year his whole career would change with the release of "Pulp Fiction." He would earn what is still his only Oscar nomination (which he should have won), and it was off to the races. Samuel L. Jackson became the movie star we love. The thing is, if he was going to be in "Jurassic Park" after the release of "Pulp Fiction," he would probably be playing Dr. Ian Malcolm, who was played by Jeff Goldblum in the film. That is the kind of brash, meaty part that Jackson would make his stock and trade. Naturally, his performance would vary wildly from Goldblum's, but those are the kinds of parts Jackson would end up taking. I mean, he's a guy who walks around in a leather jacket who is smarter than everyone else. You can see that Samuel L. Jackson performance in your head post-"Pulp Fiction." Can you see him going back to the computer guy at the desk? I don't think so.