"Of all sad words of mouth or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been."
—John Greenleaf Whittier
This is when directors or writers release details about plots, characters, back stories, or other elements they thought about adding to the story at one point but ultimately never did. Unlike All There in the Manual, however, this new information is not released as Word of God with the intention of being added to the Canon. These elements are only What Could Have Been but never were and never will be part of the story proper.
Some may quickly find a home in Fan Work. Many fans love hearing the possible paths their favorite story could have taken... even while breathing a sigh of relief (or feeling disappointed) that they ultimately didn't come to be.
This can also refer to a Sequel Hook that never got a payoff, alternate casts or directors, or even tantalizing news that the entire story was completely different from the one we all know, when it was first conceived.
Just a few typical reasons for why stories get altered along the way:
Story quality — The writers simply decided on something different instead because some ideas, no matter how cool they sound when they first come to you, just have to go (or, in the case of comedies, the joke wasn't as funny as it should have been). Maybe the author realizes the fans wouldn't be too happy about seeing the death of a sympathetic or popular character you originally planned to kill off (not that it stops afewpeople). Or maybe you realize what sounds oh so cool in your head pushes Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far on film or paper. Or maybe it was a bad idea to begin with. In any case, someone eventually had a better idea.
A side effect of Throw It In — Something had to be thrown out or made up on the spot in its place. (This apparently happens a lot when you're working with Harrison Ford or if you're a cast member on Saturday Night Live)
A bit more subtle than the other examples on this page. Originally, each new expansion of Magic: The Gathering was going to have a new color scheme on the card backs instead of the usual brown and tan — for instance, Arabian Nights would have been orange and magenta, Ice Age would have been two shades of blue. This was nixed when the designers realized this would make it too easy for your opponents to identify the cards you have in your hand by their backs, giving them an unfair advantage, so the card backs have remained unchanged since day one. (Nowadays of course, most people have card sleeves...)
The set "Planar Chaos" focused on the theme of alternate realities. One of the original ideas to express the concept was to present the set as coming from an alternate timeline where Magic has six colors instead of five. The sixth color (purple, by the way) made it quite far in the development process (at least, by the standards of rejected ideas) but was ultimately scrapped. The set was going to feature packaging showcasing an alternate logo style and other changes, though the cardback would have stayed the same.
Wizards of the Coast kept the final set of the Scars of Mirrodin block a mystery for a time, saying it would be either New Phyrexia or Mirrodin Pure, depending on which side won the war. Eventually it was revealed to be New Phyrexia. This surprised precisely no one, but for the portion of the player base who liked Mirrodin and disliked Phyrexia, we can only wonder what the set could have been like.
Unfortunately for them, recent articles about the development process reveal that the last set never could have been Mirrodin Pure to begin with—the block was originally going to start with New Phyrexia and go from there! That only changed when they decided it would be more interesting to show the process of Mirrodin gradually being corrupted into New Phyrexia.
During the development of the Shards of Alara block (and several times before) there were an idea to introduce a 6th basic land: the Cave. It was nicknamed "Barry's Land" and would be strictly worse than any other basic land, as it only tapped for colorless mana. Sounds pretty harmless right? The idea was that it would increase the number of basic land types to 6, giving abilities such as "Domain" a bigger boost. However, this came with a slew of other problems. Due to the wording on older cards, this rendered a lot of older cards much harder to use (as they say "control all basic lands" rather than "control 5") as well as broke other cards, which mentions the other 5 basic lands by name (because they search for those lands) but not Cave.
Did you know that there was an attempt to make Yu-Gi-Oh! into a card game, before the popular CCG we know and love today? Bandai's version of Duel Monsters was simplistic, if crammed with rather bizarre rules and effects, and was much farther detached from the card game we saw in the anime and manga than Konami's version was. However, it was reportedly rather popular, so imagine if this was the version of the game we got, instead of Konami's version...
The starting authors of An Entry With A Bang! had to decide whether to go with the Earth of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan universe or the Real Life Earth, settling for the former. Fortunately, the existence of a Non-canon Stories thread allows for a glimpse at the latter. While some of the posts within will indeed come to pass after enough in-universe time has gone by, others will indeed never make the story's canon. The discussion threads, if you dare brave them, also have older versions of posts that made it to the Story Only thread. One of these had The Dukes of Hazzard explicitly show up, but it was rejected in favour of a less blatant Shout-Out.
The author originally planned for Veis instead of Vili to join Clan Gully in The Tainted Grimoire. Also, Vili didn't exist in the original plan. The original plan was scrapped and Vili was created because cuttingmoon57 didn't like the idea of altering important canon clans.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic, "Toward the World's End" apparently was - in the final instalment of its seccond series - to feature a confrontation on an alien world where the protagonists became stuck in the crossfire of an alien war, ending with an alien commander appearing, who happens to look exactly like protagonist Arthur's long dead childhood friend
Chapters for both Queen Chrysalis and Princess Cadance were written for Post Nuptials, but the author felt they would have detracted from the subject of Twilight's friends walking out on her. They have since been released as the standalone stories "Metamorphosis" and "Honeymoon", respectfully.
The author decided against shipping Rarity with Fancypants and Fluttershy with Iron Will, because both seemed unnecessary and his readership was against them.
Shining Armor's chapter would have had him speak with Cadance instead of Twilight.
The story would have ended with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie moving Applejack and Rarity into the same bed as a prank. A similar ending showed Twilight's friends finding Octavia and Vinyl Scratch sleeping in Twilight's bed while Twilight slept with Celestia. Both were nixed to keep the story friendlier for younger audiences.
The story was planned to be focused only on Spike, and went as follows: Spike learns of a magic pool that will let him see anything asked of it. He wants to see his parents, but Twilight forbids him from going, so he runs away. As Twilight searches hopelessly for him for a month before finally giving up, Spike finds the pool guarded by a character who would become the main story's Keeper. He asks to see his mother, and what does the pool show him? None other than Twilight.
After the above was changed to the plot that was actually used, the story was going to have a scene at the end where Applejack realizes that Pinkie's right and she does have a crush on Twilight. This would have led into a story focused on AJ dealing with it, with tragic results due to Twilight being straight. However, the author decided to scrap that idea, and the scene wasn't included.
Betastuck: In-Universe, what the Horrorterrors essentially were, a group of bosses that would have been fought throughout the game. They were sealed off in the far edges of the game so you shouldn't have been able to interact with them.
Twilights List starts off with Twilight making a list of positive and negative traits for each of her friends to find someone compatible to go on a practice date with. She gets a certain thrill when she notes Applejack's athleticism, thinking about some possibilities there if it wasn't just for practice. Indeed, she comes very close to choosing Applejack, noting that the pair had a huge amount of compatibility, and only at the very last moment decides to go on a practice date with Rainbow Dash instead.
The God Empress Of Ponykind: The author had said that he originally wanted to conclude Celestia's purge of Changelings from Fillydelphia with a scene where a young Chrysalis (who by Word of God was in the city during the battle), found Queen Metamorpha's body and swore revenge. The idea was scrapped because it would have made the chapter needlessly long, and that he wanted it to be ambiguous if Chrysalis was simply missed by Celestia's forces—and implicitly would have been killed if found—or spared for being a child.
The first fight with Discord would have ended with Celestia delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Discord, and later Celestia and Luna would face off against Discord and his army of Changelings with the first of the Legionnaires.
The Siege of Canterlot had a few changes made in development. For example, originally the kindly priest Celestia met prior to the battle was supposed to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to protect her, and the Loyalist Lunar Knights were to use the crystal caves underneath the city to attack the Traitor Legions from behind.
Equestrylvania: Originally, Marble was going to turn out to just be Actrise in disguise, but so many readers saw this coming that the author changed it so she was only possessed by Actrise, taking the opportunity to flesh the character out in the process.
Originally, Shatterstorm was going to be killed off rather early on, instead of becoming a main character.
Pinkie Pie was supposed to be the one that Shatterstorm and Spike ran into in chapter 2 of Equestrylvania Adventure, but for the sake of fleshing out the plot, it was made Rarity instead.
Soarin's first appearance got pushed back for pacing reasons.
The chapter of Cradle of Ruin that introduces Baldwin and Vinyl was meant to be an interlude during the portion of the story when Rainbow Dash and Shatterstorm are dealing with Rose Blade. However, it ended up moved to be published afterwards.
Alexwarlorn originally wasn't going to write any of the 7 Dreams/Nightmares chapters, but had to write Bright Eyes' story when he lost contact with writer originally assigned to it.
Chapter 36 of Dark World originally had scenes of Amicita restoring Neo Stream to existence and healing/redeeming the Emperor of Man. However, complaints from Neo Stream's owner in the former case and pressure from critics in the latter case forced Alexwarlorn to remove both scenes.
Shadows Awakening: According to Word of God, the author scrapped his idea of having Shendu be a secondary antagonist after his beta reader pointed out that Shendu needed ALL his Talismans to undo the stone curse, not just the Rat (though he only needs the Rat after that).
Queen Of All Oni: Jade's father Shen wasn't originally going to show up in the story. The events of the Mexico City chapter were going to lead directly into Jade abducting Viper to brainwash and transform her; that got pushed back a chapter in order to give Jade a chance to call the old man out first.
Also, the author was originally going to have the Shadowkhan be a separate race that had been enslaved by the Oni, but scrapped that.
The Calvin and Hobbes: The Series episode "Temporal Delay" was originally named "Terror From the Year 2011", then "2012" (a reference to Terror from the Year 5000), before adopting its current name for two reasons: the title would become dated very quickly no matter what year was chosennote aside from an obviously futuristic one, like the original film, and there's isn't really a "terror" in the plot of the episode.
New Dawn went through a couple alternate Big Bad's before Nebiros was picked.
Shuuji's father, who is instead dealt with right before a Wham Episode.
Silmarill was delayed to book II.
Ein Woe was initially set to be the Big Bad, and even has a lot in common with Nebiros. Instead, he became the Bigger Bad.
Justice League of Equestria: The series was originally only supposed to be composed of Mare of Steel, which after the second arc would have dealt with Rainbow Dash/Supermare and the rest of the Mane Six fighting off Darkseid, with the fallout of the battle causing Dash to go into self-imposed exile. After a Time Skip, this would have led to adaptations of Superman Returns, "Superman vs. the Elite", and The Death of Superman, before the story finally ended. However, the author decided to write an entire series of DCU crossovers, so all this was scrapped, with Mare of Steel ending after the second arc.
Speaking of Mare of Steel, the Red Kryptonite side story was supposed to have a scene of Twilight also tinkering with Pink Kryptonite, but that was cut.
Mare of Steel was originally going to have a third Sequel Hook, with Batpony calling a meeting with Rainbow Dash and Diana (who would have met offscreen) that lays the groundwork for the Justice League. However, due to wanting to avoid Ending Fatigue (and having not written the crossover story that had Batpony and Supermare meeting yet at that point), this was scrapped.
Dark Knight Over Trottingham had some story issues, since it technically is the first story in the universe (aside from the War in Heaven backstory), particularly over Blueblood's capture by Zod. The author wasn't sure how to make the story work in that timeframe, and even considered retconing the dates. However, thanks to a fan suggestion, he found a way to harmonize the timeline so he didn't have to change the dates.
A Shadow Of The Titans: The author's original collaborator wanted the Jade/Cyborg ageswap chapter to involve Cyborg being a Jerkass to Jade beforehand (thus making the swap karmic), and also wanted some of the chapter to be from mini-Cyborg's POV. However, the author didn't like either of those ideas, so ditched them, using Jade's Dream Walker experiences to pad out the remainder of the chapter.
Slade's entry into the story was pushed back a chapter for pacing purposes.
A blog post put up around the time the author started the rewrite of Iron Mare suggested that Rarity's mother Pearl was going to be the Big Bad, presenting her as a Knight Templar Parent who arranges Rarity's kidnapping in order to force her to get in line with Pearl's ideas for how she should live her life. Needless to say, this isn't how the story ended up going.
In Hercules the Heracross' day in the limelight chapter, the writer mentioned that Hercules was originally only going to be a minor character who didn't appear much, and the dojo would be visited in a later chapter after the first crystal had been retrieved. However, the writer then got the idea of making Hercules the mentor and confidant to one of the main characters, namely Blitz the Shinx, and thus Hercules ended up being promoted to one of the major supporting characters. This also resulted in the first visit to the dojo being pushed forward to chapter 5, and a scene which was originally going to be in chapter 5 was used in a later chapter.
Azure the Marill joins the main characters' rescue team in chapter 20, however, she was not originally going to join their team until much later in the story. However, with how Azure's Character Development was going, the writer felt it was only natural for her to join them sooner.
Kage: Word of God is that originally the story was going to be set in the first season rather than the second, with Jade becoming Phobos' minion. However, the author decided that it would be too OOC for Jade to willingly serve an Evil Overlord, so scrapped that idea and started over.
Word of God is that Apple Bloom and Scootaloo's first encounter in the story was going to be when Scootaloo lost her eye, but the author thought that was too dark and moved back when she lost the eye.
Word of God also states that Apple Bloom was originally going to have been raised by humans, but felt that the presence of humans completely changed the nature of the story, so changed it.
Originally, Merrilay was going to be part of a Terrible Trio of R.E.A.F. officers, who would balance out Lightning Dust's more aggressive, psychotic personality. Except that the author realized that that would be too OOC a leap from Lightning's personality on the show; combined with being unable to cram in that many new characters, Merrilay's comrades were cut, and she was given the psychotic personality opposite Lightning's more sympathetic character.
One off-hand comment mentioned that SweetieBelle was originally planned to be a full-fledged villain.
Emrys would become The Hero, with Harry settling back into a more Dumbledore type role.
Emrys would have developed into a Physical God and spent the rest of his very long life teetering on the edge of becoming a Fallen Hero and a Fallen Angel of a sort (his grandfather, Merlin wasn't merely a Maia. He was the son of two of the Valar, who'd incarnated in mortal form out of curiosity and had been surprised at the results when they hadn't used protection) as a result of something Morgoth did to him at the end of the From Out of the Shadows.
Speaking of Merlin, he would have become a recurring character and The Chessmaster.
The third book would have focused, in part, on Harry and Ginny's young children and Emrys' desperate struggle to control his dark side, with him finally succeeding at the end, just as Miriel, his True Love announces that she's pregnant.
This would have been followed by two more books, one starring the main cast's grown up children, the second set at least a millennium later and starring a descendant of Aragorn's who was the victim of a usurper and protected/guided by a disguised Emrys, who by now probably qualifies as the bitterest man in Middle Earth, his wife having been poisoned (the poisoner was aiming for Arwen and got it wrong). This resulted in Emrys entering a state of Tranquil Fury and going on a truly epicrampage before pulling a Salt the Earth on the city of the man responsible. This book would have led to Emrys finally being able to reach his eternal rest and the end of the series.
By the same author, Child Of The Storm probably has quite a few of these, since the author has cheerfully admitted that he's adding/removing characters and chopping and changing things all the time. The only one that has been revealed is that the story was originally intended to be about 100,000 - 150,000 words, cover all seven books, then end with a Harry/Sif ship. Needless to say, with 450,000 words of the first book being posted (and the damn thing isn't even finished yet) and Word of God casually mentioning at least three volumes and over a dozen sequels planned and partially written, along with spinoffs, prequels and the odd AU, things have changed considerably.
For Breakshot, the game was originally called "Cloud 9", and featured ancient gods playing with the nine planets of the solar system. Artist Stan Fukuoka's initial art designs were very adult-oriented, with nude Goddesses everywhere. Executives nixed the design to make the game appealing to family recreation centers, and the theme was changed as a result.
In a later stage of game development, the art director wanted to replace the female characters with farm animals.
Robin Williams and Cher were both announced in The Muppet Show Fan Club Newsletter, but neither appeared.
Gina Lollobrigida was planned for Season One, but when she couldn't make it Jim Henson suggested Mummenschanz.
The reason Chris Langham, who at the time was a Muppet Show staff writer, was the special guest in one Season 5 episode (with the central joke of the episode being that he wasn't a celebrity in any way) was, according to Langham, that Richard Pryor had been booked, but then the freebasing incident happened.
Shortly before Jim Henson's death he was in discussion with Douglas Adams to make a show about computer literacy called Muppet Institute of Technology. Yes, Douglas Adams nearly wrote for the Muppets.
Other Muppet shows that never got of the ground included Uncle Deadly's House of Badness, described as "a silly Goosebumps type show", and which presumably would have featured the titular dragon-creature as a Horror Host.
Shortly before Henson's death, the Henson Company began a major publicity campaign called "The Pig of the Nineties", beginning with an article in People magazine about Piggy and Kermit splitting up. Jim died two days after the article was published, and the campaign was shelved.
America's Next Muppet, a parody of America's Next Top Model that possibly would also have functioned as a genuine talent-reality show for puppeteers.
There were plans for a Fraggle Rock spin-off featuring Travelling Matt and two new characters travelling the world in a hot-air balloon.
An idea Henson had for The Jim Henson Hour — which, at that point, was supposed to rotate through four different styles of shows from week to week (effectively: traditional Muppet comedy poking fun at TV, Creature Shop fare like The Storyteller, children's picture book adaptations, and miscellaneous one-offs) — was the special The Saga of Fraggle Rock, about how the Fraggles first arrived there.
There are several ideas in the discussion thread of We Are Our Avatars, some of them did eventually come to fruition, others didn't, at some point, it was decided Andros and Enker would be in the Revenge of the Spark arc, ultimately, they didn't end up becoming part of Lucrezia's army.
Silver was planned to appear during the Incarnates Arc as a personification of Lust, possibly going to levels of Complete Monster that would almost rival Apos. Daionus decided he did not want to play as that sort of character, and declined.
Also, in the same arc, Catherine was planned to appear as a personification of Gluttony, and the present Catherine had to be killed in order to defeat her. It didn't happen, but it ultimately proved to be an example of Tropes Are Not Bad.
Etheru states that he planned on Joey and Catherine acting as foils for one another, but arcadiarika's decision to refuse developing the character any longer shoots this possibility down.
At one point, in revulsion of the fact that nothing was happening, Lemurian at one point thought up the "Ghost Town arc", where the characters would be dropped in a desolate town without food, water, or their powers for a week, the arc was discarded when a player pointed out that the arc wasn't proving anything, because it was pointed out to be almost exactly like the complaint: Nothing happens.
Matthew Streika was initially intended to be a student. He became a well known hero instead, given the time frame the RP was set in.
And who knows how the story would've gone had the GM not changed...
When designing 4th edition D&D, the designers decided they wanted to do a Shout-Out to Narnia and the intelligent animal fantasy concept. So originally, the Dragonborn race from 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons was originally supposed to be a race of non-anthropomorphic talkinglions based on Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia. The idea was dropped because of questions of how they would handle equipment and they were at first altered into dragons (since they believed Dungeons & Dragons should actually have dragons as a playable race) and then later into humanoid dragons called Dragonborn. (Of course, they weren't called the Dragonborn in the original concept.)
Before sales declined and their license to print Ravenloft 3E products reverted to Wizards Of The Coast, Arthaus had planned a thirteen-sourcebook run for their Gazetteer series. The narrator S would have traveled to Clusters and Islands, some of them from on board a hired ship crewed by supporting characters. Each book would've included a different half-fiend scion of the Gentleman Caller. Eventually, Azalin's intentions for them and for S would have been revealed, as would the Caller's plot to father a new and unstoppable Dukkar on a youthified Madame Eva. There was actually going to be a 4th Edition version of Ravenloft released in 2011, but it was cancelled due to the fact that they couldn't get it quite right.
Games Workshop once found itself having to get rid of one of two unpopular armies: The Squats or the Tyranids. By the time Third Edition rolled around, the Tyranids were redesigned and the Squats were eaten by the Tyranids. One can only wonder what the grim darkness of the far future would be like today with a civilization of dwarves in the mix...
Somewhat of a Common Knowledge example rather than a true example of the trope. Several races, not just Squats and Tyranids, were selling around the same level. The Squats were dropped because no one wanted to fix the awful fluff just to create yet another army that was functionally almost identical to the Space Marines. Of course, given the Unpleasable Fanbase, this has blossomed into all sorts of theories even though multiple designers active at the time have all confirmed the exact same thing. Squats were not removed by random chance or due to sales figures, so there was no possibility of them continuing.
During big events such as Games Day, Games Workshop often showcases Greens (prototype models) of possible new miniatures. While the majority of these do make it into production and later become available for purchase, some are left behind and never finished. The most notable of these is a 5th edition Eldar Guardian Jetbike, which was never even finished. However parts of it ended up being used to make the new Dark Eldar Reaver Jetbikes.
While reception for the Starship Troopers miniatures game wasn't perfect, it was a pretty solid game and had some great miniatures. However, before it was discontinued, Mongoose Publishing had made some pretty big plans such as the introduction of two new races that were also going to appear in the second edition of the RPG, which was also intended to include more rules for playing Skinnies (The original edition only had one short section and a single Skinny class, with the promise of more later on). Since they lost the licence, none of this is likely to happen.
Gareth Hanrahan, the creator of Infernum, actually said on his twitter that there were formerly plans for a second edition using the D&D 4th edition system, but now says it isn't going to happen.
Before the games were originally cancelled, there were several books planned. For Trinity, there was "Asia Ascendant", covering the telepathic Ministry and the Asian continent; an aliens book covering the Qin, the Chromatics, and the Coalition, as well as rules for making them all playable, along with info on other minor alien races of the setting; and "Bright Continent", the Africa book. Of these, "Asia Ascendant" was so close to release when cancellation hit, lacking only layout and art, that it was released as a free pdf with White Wolf's permission. For Aberrant, there was "Brainwaves", the guide to super-intelligence, and "Aberrant: Nexus", covering various crossovers with Trinity. Like "Asia Ascendant", much of "Brainwaves" had been written by cancellation, and it too was released as a free pdf.
Following "Bright Continent", the plan was to revise Trinity - advance the timeline, clean up some of the mismatches with Aberrant, etc.
Long-time TU fan Ian Watson entered the picture a while later with plans for an unofficial Trinity adventure series resulting in the creation of a new Prometheus Chamber, which triggered all eight Aptitudes, and the creation of a new psi order from the disenfranchised of the original orders.
Another idea Ian had was to reboot the whole TU New World of Darkness-style, with a corebook outlining the setting, then supplements on playing Novas and Psions (Daredevils could have been included in the core or given their own supplement). This actually got greenlit by White Wolf, but it didn't come to anything due to their merger with CCP.
Several years on, Ian ended up overseeing the official reboot. Initial signs suggest it's going in a different direction...
There is a Japanese RPG called Gundam Senki which is Gundam's One Year War setting using the Mekton rules. An English-language release was planned, but fell through.
AEG's swashbuckling RPG 7th Sea ended on a story arc where a ship had managed to sail beyond the mystical barrier that kept Thea (a continent roughly analogous to Europe, China, and the Middle East) and the chains of islands around them (representative of the United Kingdom, Nordic countries, and Polynesia) separate from the rest of the world. There were also plans to reveal the true nature of The Syrneth, and why their artifacts seem to fall into four general camps.
Exalted was originally going to have the strange mechanical world of Autochthonia in its core, but was cut for space. We did eventually get to the world of Brass and Shadow, but it's been an optional addition for the entire run of the game.
In the game's very earliest stages, there was only one type of Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded, with powers based on the kinds of magic they used. Said magic changed the Exalted physically in different ways depending on the type used.
At one point in development, The Fair Folk were supposed to be Lunars gone wrong, driven insane by prolonged exposure to the Wyld; the Fair Folk went on to become their own thing, while the chimera filled the slot of Lunars gone wrong.
When it came time to do the Fair Folk as a playable group, they were supposed to use European faerie tropes laid over a new and unique portrayal, rather than played straight, but the original drafts simply played the tropes straight, so as damage control they were quickly rewritten to draw on Hindu Mythology instead.
Theme Parks — Disney
The Haunted Mansion went through several different ideas. Early concepts included a hangout for horror-themed Disney villains, like the Lonesome Ghosts and the Headless Horseman, having a Raven narrate the ride (abandoned when it was decided the Ghost Host would work better), and a Hatbox Ghost which carried around a severed head as a character (ditched due to the Imagineers deciding it didn't look good enough). Other concepts from the 1950s included several much darker walkthrough attractions, a version where Walt himself narrated, and several very long illusions including a ghost flooding a room.
There were many locations Disney was going to originally build Disneyland before he decided to locate in California. One of the places he really had his heart set on was none other than... Flagstaff, Arizona (no, really). He loved the weather the place got during the summer, but then he came and visited during the winter, felt the harsh snowy weather, and subsequently changed his mind.
At Walt Disney World in Florida, the Western River Expedition was intended as the Wild West version of Pirates of the Caribbean and was to be exclusive to the park, thus making the California park the only one with the pirates. But early visitors to the Magic Kingdom were upset that Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't included in the lineup, so getting a Florida version of Pirates up and running became top priority, and the new ride never came to pass. An element of the land it was to be part of, Thunder Mesa, survive and was opened as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Several more countries were considered for Epcot's World Showcase, including a country from Africa or a simple "Equatorial Africa" pavillion. This one was scrapped because the only country willing to back it was South Africa, which was under apartheid in the 1980s. Two years after the park opened, Morocco was added to the lineup.
Scrapped attractions for World Showcase included boat-based rides for Germany and Italy. Meet the World, an Audio-Animatronic show retelling the history of Japan, made it as far as its show building going up — but since it glossed over World War II. Disney executives feared it would offend Americans (especially veterans). The show did successfully make it into the original Tokyo Disneyland lineup.
Japan was also originally going to have a ride. Possibilities included a Mt. Fuji roller coaster (supposedly scrapped because of Fuji Film, and Kodak sponsoring other rides...seriously), and a Circlevision (similar to what Canada and China has) train ride which might have been attacked by Godzilla!
For more on the original plans for World Showcase, which also included Israel and United Arab Emirates pavillions, see this article featuring a 1978 press release. For the record, the UAE pavilion was scrapped due to financial issues, and Israel was scrapped for security reasons.
Plans for Disney's Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios) included some Who Framed Roger Rabbit-themed attractions (cancelled due to legal issues, though the Benny the Cab ride did see the light of day at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland), a Muppet version of The Great Movie Ride (cancelled due to Jim Henson's death) and a Dick Tracy ride (cancelled due to King Features Syndicate taking Warren Beatty to court).
Originally, much more of The Great Movie Ride would have been based around The Wizard of Oz — riders would be "swept away" by the tornado to Munchkinland, and the final room would be the Wizard's chamber, in which he introduced the closing Montage of great film moments. Because Ted Turner (the movie's rights-holder) stipulated that only so much time could be given over to Oz scenes, the tornado was replaced by a Fantasia segment, and the final room became nondescript.
There would have essentially been a Muppet-themed land had Henson not died in the early years of the park's creation. It would have been centered around the courtyard where the Muppetvision 4D theatre currently is.
Animal Kingdom was originally going to have a land called "Beastly Kingdom" (or perhaps "Kingdomme") based around mythical animals, but budget cuts forced that to the back burner; the space Camp Minnie-Mickey now occupies was intended for this.
Rumor has it that the designers of the Beastly Kingdom land jumped ship to Universal and took some of their ideas with them. Specifically, Dueling Dragons (now the Harry Potter dragon coaster) would have been a major thrill ride for Animal Kingdom as "Dragon's Keep"
It seems mythical animals will finally see the light of day, as Camp Minnie-Mickey has been shuttered to construct a land based on James Cameron's AVATAR. Odd fit, but the concept art promises spectacular stuff.
What Could Have Been for Walt Disney World Hotels:
The Boardwalk Inn & Villas and their adjoining actual boardwalk were salvaged from plans for a mini-park that would have recreated seaside amusement parks of the early 20th century.
Disney's Pop Century Resort was originally going to cover 1900-1949 with a second set of buildings on the other side of Hourglass Lake, but the September 11th attacks happened shortly before the completed first set (1950-99) was to open; those eventually opened in 2004. The second set had the building "shells" put up, but there was never enough demand for rooms to complete them. Disney ultimately made the shells the basis for the Art of Animation Resort, which opened in 2012.
The Venetian Resort was to have been built between the Contemporary and TTC, but the site would have needed a very deep foundation. Despite this, the land was actually cleared for the hotel in the 1990s for the also-cancelled Mediterranean Resort, which was also cancelled because of the swampy and poor ground samples.
The Asian Resort actually began construction in the 1970s, but the hotel was scrapped, and the Grand Floridian now stands in its place.
The Persian Resort was to have been themed around Iran. In fact, the Shah of Iran was ready to fund it, but the Iranian Revolution caused the plans to be scrapped. Apparently, there was to be a monorail spur running to the hotel, then into Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom (against Walt's wishes, which were to keep the monorail outside the park).
WestCOT would have been Disneyland Anaheim's answer to Epcot in Florida. It would have had its own version of Spaceship Earth, a World Showcase based on the individual continents, and a Spiritual Successor to Adventure Thru Inner Space. Alas, the whole thing was scrapped in 1995, and Disney built the California Adventure park instead. (And it's too bad, because the concept art◊ for WestCOT looked really cool.)
In the early 1990's, Disney planned to open a theme park devoted to American history called Disney's America near Manassas, Virginia. The plan fell through in 1994, due to vehement opposition from people worried about the impact on traffic and the potential for damage to key historic sites (the Manassas National Battlefield, site of two major American Civil War battles, is located very close to the site that had been proposed for the park), not to mention concerns about the company that named the trope Disneyfication presenting a whole park built around Real Life history, as well as an attraction that would cast riders as runway slaves on the Underground Railroad. The idea was revived a few years later when Disney considered purchasing Knott's Berry Farm, but once again came to nothing. Some elements of the proposal were finally incorporated into Disney's California Adventure when that park opened in 2001.
Myst almost had a Disney World attraction — Disney owned the company that published the Myst book series — which would have been set up on the island that once hosted the Discovery Island wildlife mini-park. (That attraction shut down in The Nineties, but its name was subsequently given to a land at Animal Kingdom.)
Disney announced in 2009 that they would try to compete with/catch up to Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter by expanding Walt Disney World's Fantasyland with immersive meet-and-greets for Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, and Tinker Bell. However, they later realized this expansion might not have an audience beyond little girls. They later decided to keep the most gender-neutral parts of the expansion, move the meet-and-greets into one of the pre-existing Fantasyland buildings, and use the newly opened space to construct a (hopefully universally-appealing) roller coaster through the Seven Dwarfs' mine.
Speaking of Harry Potter, Disney was actually the first company to acquire the franchise's theme park rights. The rights were unfortunately picked up during a turbulent time at Disney, and were partly motivated by then-CEO Michael Eisner's desire to show Hollywood that he still knew what he was doing in the wake of the Disney-Pixar breakup. But then Eisner was ousted and replaced by Bob Iger, who felt that mending Disney's relationship with Pixar (along with fixing Disney's own studio) was at that moment more important to the company's long-term growth than any other deals that Eisner had made with outside companies, which included the Harry Potter theme park rights. J. K. Rowling eventually got tired of waiting for Disney to sort itself out, and went to Universal.
Theme Parks — Universal Studios
A How to Train Your Dragon attraction was discussed, but scrapped due to failed negotiations between Universal and Dreamworks Animation.
A ride based off of Casper the Friendly Ghost was first considered for the Studios park, but dropped after the 1995 film failed to meet Universal's expectations. Such a ride was later again considered, this time for the Toon Lagoon section of Islands of Adventure, but again failed to make it past the drawing boards.
A roller coaster based off of Apollo 13 was in development, (yes, we're really serious) but axed after The Mummy was released in 1999 to great success, making Universal see the latter as a much stronger franchise to make a thrill ride out of.
A Van Helsing ride was under development for Islands of Adventure, but the underpeformance of the respective film ultimately proved to be its undoing. The space it was slated for later became the site for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which uses the same KUKA Arm technology the Van Helsing ride was originally planned to).
Also considered for the space Forbidden Journey now takes up would have been a new King Kong ride along with a whole Skull Island area to go with it.
However, if rumors be true, this concept may soon finally be coming to life, but instead located between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park.
There were fairly recent plans to make a rather elaborate ride for The Lorax, but apparently the Seuss family rejected Universal's ideas.
Jurassic Park: The Ride was originally planned to be built at the Universal Studios Florida park, where Men In Black: Alien Attack stands now. However, Steven Spielberg came in and successfully encouraged Universal to do something more elaborate for the franchise, resulting in the fully themed island area now at the sister park.
Earthquake: The Big One was originally going to be themed as a trolley ride through a crumbling San Francisco, until the decision was made to duplicate the same Earthquake subway scene from the Hollywood Studio Tour. The only remnant of the original plan was the trolley house theming of the attraction's entrance.
Theme Parks — Other
Graphic artist and designer Roger Dean, best known for his work on album covers and stage designs for the progressive rock band Yes, designed several theme park attractions with his brother Martyn which were never used. The sketches appear in his book Magnetic Storm.
From The Nineties onward, Michael Jackson conceived several theme park projects for various locales; some were formally announced but none went forward. These were:
Back in 1992, there were once plans to put in a full size replica of the Enterprise from the original Star Trek series in Las Vegas. And it almost happened: everyone involved loved the idea, from the development company, to the city, to even Paramount themselves. The only reason it was scrapped was because studio chairman Stanley Jaffe feared that if a Star Trek movie flopped, the attraction would make Paramount look bad, and scrapped it. Read the entire account here
Alton Towers wanted to take the songs from the video game RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and use it for unspecified purpose for their park. Sadly, it didn't materialize.
Would you believe that there really was going to be a Superman amusement park? Gizmodo has the story. Cliff Notes version: Metropolis, Ill, and DC Comics had planned to open a theme park centered around the legendary Man of Steel. A set of concept pictures and designs were drawn by Neil Adams showing off everything the theme park would have had, including a massive Fortress of Solitude topped with a stained-glass roof and a room filled with statues of Superman's greatest foes. A comic book, "The Superman Story", was also made around this time to showcase it. The park would have cost around the tune of $25 million USD. Then, the OPEC oil crisis hit and they were forced to back down. However, one has to wonder how long it would have lasted - about a decade later would have been Crisis on Infinite Earths and it would have rendered it all moot.
Mel Birnkrant has done a ton of toyline pitches that could be listed in this category on his YouTube page, most notably the second wave of Outer Space Men, a line called Invasion that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a neat take on the Rock Em Sock Em Robots concept called Gladiators, cool little bobbing toys called Its Alive, the aborted Maxx FX figures, a toy called My Pretty Pony that was beat to the punch by My Little Pony; but actually is far better designed, and most notably his Creatures line, which sorta got produced but has a lot of cool figures that never got made. All so damned cool, a shame that none of them were ever made.
My Pretty Pony did come out. My Little Pony was actually a brand extension that proved much more popular.
While most Transformers fans know about the unproduced Unicron prototypes from the G1 and Beast Wars Neo lines, you probably don't know about this weird guy over here, apparently a prototype for some sort of spinoff for Transformers, that I can literally find nothing other than that link about. I really want to hear more about this strange, aborted branch of the Transformers line, so can anybody help me out?
Speaking of unreleased Alien figures, a ToyFair article on Stan Winston Creations' then-upcoming Aliens figures mentioned a figure that was scrapped (for obvious reasons) that would've had an actual Biggus Dickus. I wish I was joking, here; a 6" Alien figure with a phallus reaching to its chest. Imagine if that had managed to get through...
The traitorous Matoran, and servant of Teridax, Ahkmou was originally meant to have a new set coming out in '08, as a Shadow Toa. Plans were quickly scrapped, thus his only set remains his Matoran form from '04. He never became a Toa in the story either.
Nuparu Mahri's set was also supposed to come with a so called Aqua Blaster Blade, and it was even written into the books, yet the final model didn't include it. Similarly Toa Inika Jaller was originally suppose to have two of his Energized Flame Swords, but was given only one (In-Universe, he still has two).
The Toa Inika were originally suppose to have glow-in-the-dark faces, to represent the blinding light that obscured their features when their masks were off. However because their face is a 2 part plastic blend (green plastic on top, white on the bottom, for their eyes and teeth respectively) and it didn't take the glow-in-the-dark paint well, the concept had to be scrapped because they couldn't fix the problem before release date.
Toa Iruini and Toa Norik were originally suppose to be Toa Nidhiki and Toa Dume respectively. However it was decided that they should not release "legacy" characters (Dume had become a Turaga by that point, and Nidhiki was dead) and instead changed them to two of the Toa Hagah. It is unknown how much different their original incarnations would have been, as Iruini's mask is a dead ringer for Nidhiki's mutant head and, as part of the Toa Mangai, Nidhiki could have worn the same golden armor as Lihkan did. Norik, likewise, has the same chestpiece as Turaga Dume and the same mask.
And as revealed by German and Russian documentaries on LEGO, the Toa from the Mistika line had gone through a couple changes as well before finalization, mostly in the color scheme department. Official people have also mentioned that their prototypes resembled their original '02 sets closer than the final models. There was much complaining.
The sets and story originally planned for '10 and '11 (which is four waves, containing about 40-50 sets altogether). They scrapped all of this in preparation for the line's abrupt Cancellation, and released a wholly new line of merely 6, small-sized sets instead. That means no Element Lords, no shapeshifting assassin robots, no cyborgdinosaurs (although the basic setting has been recycled in Hero Factory), and no sequel to that movie that ends on a Cliffhanger.
They had vastly different plans for the '06-'11 storyline originally too. '08 would have seen the continuation of the "Jaller and his team try to save Mata Nui's life'' arc (wrapped up in '07), followed by a multi-year story of the Toa Nuva trying to awaken him. The latter arc got compressed into '08, and instead of the originally planned happy ending, had a shocking Downer/Gainax Ending.
Back in the late 80's/early 90's there was Europa, an ultimately cancelled Lego theme based on Europe in the 18th century, canned due to being too similar to Castle and Pirates.
Monster In My Pocket had a slew of products that were due to come out including unreleased monster figures, a Haunted House play-set, and a collector fan club that would issue 1 free figure each month; all of these were unrealized dreams.
Palisades, the company behind those awesomeThe Muppets toys, got the license to do Sesame Street toys in the same style. The figures (barely) got into production, but then Palisades had a major shake-up and folded. No one from the company was even 100% sure what stage the toys were in: if the toys had made it onto the boat from China, they'd be able to sell them; if not, they were dead forever. That means that at some point in late 2005/early 2006, there were entire shipping containers full of the most amazing Sesame Street collector toys imaginable, but they legally couldn't be shipped or sold, and were most likely destroyed.
Revell-Monogram's Masters of the Universe toy line took up enough of the product development budget that another project had to be cancelled. A planned 1/25 scale Dodge Diplomat sedan was thus cancelled - a Headdesk moment for '80s cop show fans.
Back when the Gundam franchise was still active, there were plans to release figurines of the Mobile Suits from the second half of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and figurines were planned for Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (including a Zeta Gundam figurine that could turn into its Waverider form). However, the oversaturation from the release of the Mobile Fighter G Gundam figurines and the relative failure of the SD Gundam Force figures killed this.
In the mid nineties Playmates Toys had a line of action figures based on The Addams Family cartoon show. They featured the whole family except for Wednesday, Cousin Itt, and Thing. These figures were pictured on the back of the other figures' packaging, however, with a small blurb saying that they were "coming soon". They never came. It's a shame too considering that those three are usually the most popular characters.
Playmates did the same thing with the TaleSpin characters Wildcat and Mad Dog.
In the late 90s, McFarlane Toys released the "3D Animation from Japan" figurine series, featuring characters from popular anime. In the second series, the figurine for Tenchi Muyo!'s Tenchi Masaki had a stand that had two grooves on one end. Seeing as the stand for the first series Tenchi representative, Ryoko Hakubi, fits in perfectly in those groves, it meant that a third figurine was planned, but nothing was revealed if it was possibly Princess Ayeka or another character from the series.
Bonnie Zacherle designed My Little Pony as a unisex series but Hasbro thought that All Girls Like Ponies and marketed as a female only series. As the years passed the toys became increasingly more feminine, eventually warping into the G2 and G3 we know of today. The series was stuck in the Girl-Show Ghetto for a long time and frequently made Shallow Parodies of due to the apparent "Girly pastel unicorns and pegasus stuff for 6 year olds" concept until Lauren Faust made Friendship is Magic, which was specifically designed to be entertaining for little girls and their family members.
On another note, Bonnie didn't design any unicorns or pegasi. The original six ponies - Cotton Candy, Butterscotch, Blossom, Blue Belle, Minty and Snuzzle - were all what modern fans would call "earth ponies". It wasn't until Year 2 that pegasi, unicorn, and sea ponies were introduced.
In the late 80s there was supposed to be a set of 18 toys called the "Irresistibles" that were designed to look more like realistic horses and had beads in them. To go with the misc animals like Kingsley, there were meant to be more humans in the toy line than Megan and Molly but they were scrapped. The Fairybright/Celestial ponies were never developed beyond concept art but they were apparently alien ponies.
Bubbles is a pink pony but was originally blue and there are several ponies who had their poses changed. In G3 a winter version of the Cute Curtsey carriage was created, and apparently even had an ad in Australia, but never released.
Several figures in Kenner's Jurassic Park toyline did not make it past prototype stage, although some were released in later toylines (the Bull T-Rex in the sequel's toyline, for example, was originally designed for the second wave of the first movie's toys). The best example is probably the Chaos Effect toyline. Widely disliked by fans due to weird concept of Mix-and-Match Critter hybrid dinosaurs and bizarre colour choises (all the dinosaurs were painted in eye-searingly bright neon colours), it didn't do much better with the general public eighter, and poor sales let to the cancellation of the actually pretty cool Ultimasaurus figure (the biggest new dinosaur figure in the serie, which was essentially the combination of traits from all the most badass dinosaurs) and the entire second wave of toys. Prototypes of the Ultimasaurus occasionally appear on ebay, but the second wave never seems to ahve made it very far in the developement, as all that exists of it are a few picutes in a promotional cataloque showing repainted versions of existing toys.
Chaos Effect is in itself an example of this. One of the people involved in the production of the toyline once made a post on J Ptoys.com (this was years ago, so it may have been deleted since) where he expained that the toyline was originally going to be tie-in to an animated series, and the bizarre aesthetic choises such as the weird colour schemes and the lack of details like scale on the new scultps were done to match the cell-shaded artstyle of the cartoon. The cartoon never seems to have made past early design phases, but Kenner went ahead with producing the toyline anyway.
8-Bit Theater was originally meant to parody multiple 8 bit games, such as Metroid, or River City Ransom. But the comic didn't go that route, and stuck to parodying Final Fantasy I.
"Gunnerkrigg Court was originally going to be more adult when I started working on it, but by the time I finished the first chapter I realized it would work better if I made it more accessible to a wider audience."
Part of the final storyline in Bob and George summarizes what would have happened if the original hand drawn comic had run its course: a fairly unoriginal superhero comic.
An early storyline had George mention some "pesky aliens" that might have followed him to the Mega Man Universe. This was a plotline from the hand drawn comic that Dave intended to intergrate into the sprite comics about alien body snatchers replacing people, but it was simply never gotten to. The original idea in the hand drawn comic involved one character getting replaced, then the alien slowly Becoming the Mask. The other characters find out, but the one who was replaced was such a jerkass that no one cared.
Instead of immediately segueing into the "Attack of Mynd" storyline after the Halloween strip, Mynd would spend a whole week reading the entire webcomic, while the other characters continued to harass him. This would have culminated with his discovery of the Evil Overlord List. The author realised that he's drawn things out long enough, so he dropped this arc. You can read these original strips here.
The sequence where Roy wears the Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity was originally envisioned as Roy putting it on to engage in "girl talk" with Miko before discovering he couldn't remove it. However, as Rich Burlew wrote Miko, he discovered that her character didn't really mesh with "light romantic comedy", so the sequence became much more dramatic.
Roy was also originally intended to be the party wizard, with Belkar being the warrior of the five-man group. Vaarsuvius only came into being because Rich needed someone to serve as the know-it-all character, and it would limit the jokes if Roy did that because he could hardly be his own straight man.
Dinosaur Comics originally had a different template, where a Maiasaurus was a fourth character — she appears in the first two panels instead of the T. rex. Additionally, the pixel art on the characters in the remaining four panels were slightly different, resulting in small yet undesirable details. You can see this early version here◊.
In an early strip, Davan takes Monette to a lesbian bar and winds up annoying one of its patrons. Originally that lesbian was going to be a recurring character named Rochelle whom Davan would develop feelings for; the author wound up scrapping the idea and gave the Incompatible Orientation gag to PeeJee==>Jhim instead.
Davan was almost made Rory's biological father, after a bunch of fans straight up told Randy Milholland that he couldn't do it. Randy realized that he'd be acting just as stupid as the readers who pissed him off, so stuck with his original "not Davan" plan.
In Get Medieval, Ironychan stated that she originally intended for Neithe to be the main character and Asher to be her foil/sidekick. Asher turned out to be more fun and interesting to write for, so she went in that direction.
Mookie himself stated that he intended for Luna to die at the end of the Maltak arc, but realized that Luna's death would pretty much destroy Dominic, so altered things so that Luna is saved at the last moment by Jacob.
He also said he originally didn't want to, but thought it might make his story stand out more and be more "dramatic." He then decided that a good writer doesn't need to kill important characters to be a good writer, and went back to his original plan. A rare case of What Could Have Been turning around and becoming What Was instead.
Originally, the comic after Problem Sleuth would have been a Midnight Crew comic. In the universe of Homestuck (the actual comic after Problem Sleuth), MS Paint Adventures actually is doing a Midnight Crew comic. Alternate Universe versions of the Midnight Crew appear in Homestuck, and eventually the actual Midnight Crew is revealed to be in an Alternate Dimension themselves.
Homestuck was originally supposed to be drawn entirely in Flash. This was cut due to Flash being difficult to use. The original all-Flash Beta edition of Homestuck can still be seen on the website.
Dave's Inventory Management Puzzle with the hash modus was originally supposed to lead up to a hash-rap battle with his Bro. This was changed to a sword fight and Dave later Lampshades this afterwards. But much later we get an actual hash rap battle.
Rose's battle with Bec Noir was supposed to be a full blown Flash, but the author decided that it would be a waste of time in an already long-running arc. So in-story, the disk of Homestuck gets scratched, reducing the events of the battle to a few panels.