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Adaptational Alternate Ending

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When a story gets adapted from one medium to another more or less faithfully, but the ending is changed for one reason or another.

There are numerous possible reasons for this type of change:

  • Perhaps the original ending was too much of a downer and those responsible for the adaptation wanted to make it more optimistic, or the inverse when they decide to make the ending bleaker than the original one.
  • Or perhaps it was very ambiguous and they wanted to add more resolution.
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  • Or perhaps it was just one of those endings that is simply not practical to do in an adaptation. For instance, an ending that was only a few lines of text in a novel might require elaborate special effects in a live-action medium.
  • Or perhaps the one that ended up being used was one of several alternative endings chosen by a focus group.
  • Or hey, maybe they just wanted to bring something new to the table.

This can overlap with Not His Sled when the original work has become so famous for a Twist Ending that everyone and their neighbor already knows it. Thus, the twist gets changed to maintain the surprise for people. It can also overlap with Disneyfication if the ending is changed from a Downer Ending to a more upbeat one to make the work more child-friendly.

Not to be confused with Gecko Ending, where an adaptation gets an ending before its source material does (which very often results in glaring discrepancies). Compare to Happily Ever Before, when a depressing ending from the original story is simply cut to suggest a more upbeat tone at the end.

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Sub-Trope of Adaptation Deviation. Also see Spared by the Adaptation and Death by Adaptation. Not to be confused with Revised Ending, which are alternate endings within the same work.

Since this is an Ending Trope, expect spoilers. Examples are sorted by medium of the adaptation, which is not necessarily the medium of the original.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • AKIRA: The original manga has Tetsuo defeated by Akira and merely killed, and Akira is still alive. In the movie adaptation, Akira is dead to begin with, and instead of killing Tetsuo when he returns in corporeal form, he seals him in another dimension where it's implied he becomes the God of it.
  • The manga version of Tokyo Mew Mew ends with Ichigo and Masaya getting together by celebrating a fake wedding, with a brief Sequel Hook with Berry (the main character in the sequel manga, Tokyo Mew Mew - à la mode) passing by the Mew Mew Café only to discover it's closed. The anime instead ends on a more generic Here We Go Again! with the main characters going to fight an undescribed new menace.
  • MÄR: The manga originally ended with Ginta and his friends storming the Chess Piece base, killing Phantom (by his own wish), the Queen (who is revealed to be Dorthy's older sister who betrayed their homeland), and the King (which is revealed to be an orb containing the evils of MAR-Hevan and has been possessing the body of Ginta's father) and ends with Ginta bidding his friends goodbye and returning home with his father after they beat the orb. However due to it's rushed pacing, it was considered very anti-climatic. So in the anime, the heroes have to get through a line of defense known as the Ghost Chess and rescue Alviss who nearly succumbs to the zombie tattoo, some extended fights with Cadence and Rolan, having to rescue Snow from a complex trap, and dealing with Phantom (though in a much more tearjerking fashion where he gets some last minute character development). From here however, Orb-Danna reveals himself much earlier and unlike the manga, he's no pushover as he actually kills near all the heroes when he confronts them save Jack and Ginta. After the queen is beaten as shown in the manga, though Dorthy is killed in a sneak attack, the Orb is pulled from Danna's body before going into the Earth world to try and take it over. This leads to a final battle in Tokyo where a last minute power-up from Snow allows Ginta to destroy the orb. In the end, the heroes are revived save Snow who merges with her Earth counterpart Koyuki to be with Ginta when he returns home with his father.
  • The Naruto anime just outright skipped over the final chapter. Chapter 700 was a Distant Finale showing the character's children growing up in a more peaceful world than their parents did. It was probably skipped because it was a surprise in the manga however the anime had already shown the children years before the anime ended. Due to how slow the final episodes came out, two movies depicted the children in anime form (one outright was about Naruto's son post-finale). All this meant that the ending would have been a bit of a redundant Late-Arrival Spoiler if it was included. The removal of chapter 700 meant that the anime ended up losing the throwback to the first episode, where Boruto paints the Hokage portraits like his dad did as a kid.
  • The manga adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion ends on a much more upbeat note, with humanity and the Earth shown restored after the events of End of Evangelion.

    Fan Works 
  • In the video game Injustice 2, you either get a Downer Ending where Superman defeats Batman and restores the Regime's power while brainwashing his former friend or a Bittersweet Ending where Batman defeats Superman and decides to restore the Justice League with Supergirl, but then the fate of Brainiac and the lost cities are left unclear. This novelization discards both endings in favor of a new one entirely. Superman defeats and cripples Batman, only to defeated in turn by the combined efforts of Supergirl, Firestorm, and Blue Beetle. Then, after being depowered by Firestorm, he commits suicide by willing falling to his death. After an alternate version of the Fortress scene, we jump ahead three years and get a Happy Ending where Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are seen leading the Justice League and ushering in a new era of superheroes, with most of the lost cities mentioned as having been restored.
  • Tales of the Monkey Queen: In the canon rewrite of Dragon Ball, Gohan is the one to kill Kid Boo rather than Goku. After having the energy of the Genki Dama transferred into him by Goku, he finishes Boo off with his signature move: the Ryuhameha.
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    Films — Animated 
  • Several films in the Disney Animated Canon do this for films based on preexisting stories:
    • Bambi: In the book Bambi spends more and more time with his mentor and parent-figure the Great Old Prince of the Forest. He in turn becomes distant from everyone and loses interest in his mate Faline. Bambi ends up becoming much like the Great Prince, a distant and aloof buck. In the film there is a fire where Bambi's father, the Great Prince of the Forest (a younger Composite Character of the book character and Bambi's sire), helps him and his new mate Faline escape. Both the book and film end with Bambi and Faline having twins, however in the book Bambi is absent in their life just like a real deer. The film also excluded the part where Bambi sees the body of a dead hunter and the part where Faline's Adapted Out brother comes back and gets shot.
    • Fun and Fancy Free: The original "Little Bear Bongo" story by Sinclair Lewis does feature a happy ending, but is still more cynical and violent. Notably, Bongo never becomes accepted by the other bears, his beloved rejects him for Lumpjaw, and the happy ending comes from another circus troupe finding him and re-introducing him to civilization. In the movie, the other bears and his beloved accept him.
    • Peter Pan: The original novel ends with Captain Hook and Smee getting eaten by the crocodile, the Lost Boys come to London to live with Wendy, John and Michael and there is a Time Skip to Wendy as a mother with a daughter, Jane. In the Disney adaptation, Captain Hook and Smee survive, the Lost Boys stay in Never Land, and there is no time skip. Interestingly, the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation keeps the original ending.
    • The book The Fox and the Hound ends with a full blown Downer Ending where Tod and both of his mates and his kits all die, and Copper gets shot in the head by Amos so he doesn't have to abandon him when he's taken to a nursing home. The Disney adaptation alters it into a Bittersweet Ending where Tod, his mate Vixie, and Copper survive, but are forced to go their separate ways.
    • In The Little Mermaid, the mermaid gets to marry the prince and live Happily Ever After. In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, she dies after refusing to kill the prince. In the original ending she turned to sea-foam however Anderson later revised it into a happier, more Christian-geared, ending. In the revised version the mermaid turns to sea-foam but instead of ceasing to exist, like other mermaids, she's turned into an air spirit and given a chance to gain a soul and get into heaven if she can do enough good things within the next several centuries.
    • If The Lion King, as it commonly is, is taken as an adaptation of Hamlet, then the equivalents of Hamlet himself (Simba), Ophelia (Nala), Gertrude (Sarabi), Polonius (Zazu), and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Timon and Pumbaa) all live, whereas the play has them all die in the end.
    • Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame heavily changes the ending of the story - in the original Victor Hugo novel, both Esmeralda and Quasimodo die; in the Disney version, they both survive, Esmeralda marries Phoebus and Quasimodo gets accepted by the society. Interestingly, the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of the Disney movie places the ending somewhere in the middle, killing off Esmeralda but not Quasimodo.
    • Disney's Hercules completely changes the ending. In the original myths, Herakles dies, but after Philoctetes lit his funeral pyre, he ascended to godhood in Mount Olympus and stayed there. The Disney movie changes it to where Hercules earns his godhood by saving Meg from Hades and is allowed to come home to Olympus—but Hercules, who realizes Meg can't join him there, willingly gives up his godhood so that he can stay with Meg.
    • Fantasia 2000: In the original Hans Christian Andersen story The Steadfast Tin Soldier, both the Tin Solider and the Ballerina he loves die in a fireplace. In the adaptation for Fantasia 2000, they both live; instead, it's the villainous jack-in-the box that dies in the fireplace. The main reason for this change in the Disney adaptation is because the writers of the film actually did not want to cause any Soundtrack Dissonance considering the fact that the musical piece accompanying this scene is an optimistic-sounding one.
  • The Fleischer Studios animated adaptation of Gulliver's Travels. Besides only being a very loose adaptation of the the Lilliput section the book, the ending is overhauled. In the book, Gulliver is convicted of treason by the Lilliputians and is sentenced to be blinded, but with the assistance of a kind friend, "a considerable person at court," he escapes to Blefuscu. Here he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship, which safely takes him back home. In the movie, Gulliver helps stop a war between the two nations and leaves in a giant boat built by both of them for him, leaving all of them on good terms.
  • The 1954 Halas & Batchelor animated adaptation of Animal Farm is a Lighter and Softer adaptation of George Orwell's hard edged allegory, so the ending is inevitably made more uplifting. The book was a Satire of the Russian Revolution, so things do not end well in it and the pigs become the new tyrants. The animated movie has a slightly more upbeat ending in which the farm animals rise up against their new overlords.
  • The 1966 animated adaptation of The Hobbit, already an In Name Only adaptation, changes the ending so that Bilbo slays Smaug himself and ends up marrying Princess Mika, a Canon Foreigner exclusive to this adaptation.
  • The 1998 direct-to-video movie The Mighty Kong, besides being a Lighter and Softer Disneyfied adaptation of King Kong (1933), changes the originals Bittersweet Ending into a straight up Happy Ending, right down to Kong surviving the battle on (and subsequent fall from) the Empire State Building.
  • Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss: Being a Lighter and Softer adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, both of the lead characters survive in the ending.
  • Gnomeo and Juliet: In Romeo and Juliet, both of the main characters die. In this comedic adaptation with lawn gnomes, the only character to die is Tybalt—-and somehow he gets reassembled for the Dance Party Ending! This is even Lampshaded during Gnomeo's conversation with a Shakespeare statue, where he calls the original a "horrible ending."
  • The book The True Meaning of Smekday has a century-long Time Skip at the end where Tip suddenly dies of old age during the unveiling of the time capsule. The film adaptation, Home, completely throws this out in favor of a happy ending, and Tip lives.
  • Mondo TV (the same people who did The Legend of the Titanic) did their own adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where everyone is spared by the adaptation (yes, even Frollo). note 
  • The ending of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Burbank Animation) is not the grim thing of the book. Almost nobody dies, Esmeralda's innocence is proven and she congratulates Quasimodo.
  • The BFG: The ending is changed significantly from the book. For one, the Fleshlumpeater is a much bigger problem in the climax when it turns out that he wasn't among the giants tied up by the soldiers and has to be dispatched by the BFG siccing a living nightmare on him. The BFG also returns to his home dimension with Sophie at the end, whereas in the book he decided to integrate into human society.
  • Christmas Carol: The Movie gives Scrooge a happier ending than usual, as he and Belle make up and get another chance at love.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Purple Noon was an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, and a pretty faithful one, up until the ending. In the book, Tom Ripley kills two people and gets away with it. In the movie, the corpse of his first victim is discovered and he's caught. Highsmith was irritated by this change.
  • A Little Princess's 1996 film radically changes the climax. Ram Dass steadily fills Sara and Becky's attic room up over a few months with fine food and fresh bedding, which Miss Minchin never sees. In the film the room is filled up overnight (and Ram Dass is implied to be magical) and Minchin assumes Sara has stolen the finery. Sara escaping from the police prompts the climax - wherein she bumps into her father, who has been Spared by the Adaptation. Also Becky ends the book becoming Sara's personal attendant. Due to the Values Dissonance, the film changes it so that Becky has been adopted by Captain Crewe at the end. In the book Miss Minchin remains on at the school, living in fear that Sara could ruin her with one word to the right people. In the film she does lose the school and is reduced to working as a chimney sweep at the end.
  • The 1940 film adaptation of Our Town changes the huge Downer Ending in which Emily dies in childbirth into an extended dream sequence.
  • Fatherland: The original novel concluded with Xavier March locked in an armed stand-off at the former Auschwitz camp site, and not knowing if Maguire will be able to deliver evidence of the Nazi war crimes to the Americans. The film provides a more conclusive ending when Maguire delivers the evidence in person to the visiting U.S. President Joseph Kennedy, who immediately calls off his meeting with Hitler. The ending narration by Xavier's grown-up son states that the Nazi state ultimately collapsed without U.S. support.
  • Flowers in the Attic killed off Corrine Dollanganger in the climaxnote , who survives the novel. Reportedly, the studio had planned on adapting all four novels of the series which proved impossible as the second book's entire story revolved around on Cathy planning an elaborate revenge against Corrine, as well as the third book's entire plot revolving around Corrine seeking forgiveness from her children. A script was apparently circulated around substituting the grandmother in Corrine's role, but obviously wasn't produced.
  • Maleficent: Being an Alternate Continuity retelling of Disneys 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty that's told from Maleficents POV, a lot of things are changed, especially in the ending. Maleficent survives and King Stefan (who is now the films Big Bad) is killed, and Maleficent, not the Prince, is the one who awakens Aurora from her curse. Aurora also is crowned queen to unify the human and fairy kingdoms.
  • In the short story "The New Daughter", the story ends with the changeling Louisa taunting "her" father that sooner or later he'll slip up and allow the mound's residents to replace "her" brother as well. The movie closes on John burning the mound and the mound-walkers creeping up on Sam.
  • The Thing (1982): In the original story "Who Goes There?", the story ends at the cabin where they locked up Blair when three survivors discover the half-finished spaceship and kill the Blair-Thing. The movie includes this final confrontation, but only those three humans survive the previous events. Afterwards is far more ambiguous with two survivors of whom one or both may be another Thing.
  • The 1986 film adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors has a happy ending where Seymour and Audrey defeat the evil plant and live Happily Ever After, as opposed to the 1960 film where Seymour gets eaten, and the stage version where everyone gets eaten and it's implied that the plant will eventually destroy humanity, starting with the audience.
  • The film adaptation of Ender's Game ended with Valentine staying on Earth instead of joining Ender, leaving him to wander the galaxy alone.
  • The Jungle Book (2016) ends with Mowgli deciding to stay in the jungle with his animal family rather than returning to the man-village like in the version it's remaking.
  • The original novel I Am Legend, essentially the Ur-Example of the Zombie Apocalypse genre, ends with the protagonist realizing that he's the real monster, because the vampires he's been killing were intelligent enough to suppress their violent instincts. It's been adapted to film three times (1964's The Last Man on Earth, 1971's The Omega Man, and 2007's I Am Legend), and none of those feature that Heel Realization. Although the I Am Legend film initially did follow the original ending—but focus groups didn't like it, so they retooled it into a Heroic Sacrifice instead.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer's Film of the Book leaves out the downside of the novel's Bittersweet Ending. In the book, while Mickey Haller gets Martinez exonerated, he ends up disbarred for several months for breach of professional ethics and is sued for malpractice by Martinez for originally convincing him to plead guilty. Additionally Martinez is now HIV-positive due to Prison Rape.
  • Tromeo and Juliet: Played for Laughs at the end. Rather than committing suicide together because of a misunderstanding like in the play, Tromeo and Juliet suddenly find out they're actually siblings and drive off into the sunset to raise their mutant children.
  • The play Pygmalion originally ended with Eliza going off to marry Freddy. The 1938 film adaptation implies Eliza and Higgins ending up together completely against Shaw's wishes and the characterization of the cast. My Fair Lady takes a middle road, where Eliza does return to Higgins but clearly is no longer in love with him.
  • Movies based on Stephen King's works:
    • Carrie (1976) is a downplayed example. The book just ends with mention of another girl somewhere who might have similar telekinetic powers to Carrie. The film's ending is far more famous; featuring Sue laying flowers on Carrie's makeshift grave and Carrie's hand grabbing her from under the earth. It was one of the first horror films to have a shock ending.
    • Carrie (2002) has Carrie being revived with CPR by Sue and then going into hiding in Florida while the FBI are investigating her. This change was for a planned TV series that never materialised.
    • Carrie (2013) has an alternate ending where Sue gives birth to Tommy's baby - a minor subplot that was cut from the first two films - and has a nightmare of Carrie in the hospital.
    • The Mist: Frank Darabont infamously changed the ending from the novella into a Diabolus ex Machina for the film. The original left it on a more ambiguous note, with the survivors facing an uncertain fate with the whole world apparently overrun by the monsters from the mist. In the film the main character reluctantly decides to shoot his companions to save them from a more horrible death mere minutes before the mist suddenly starts to dissipate and the army rolls in to clear the area. Stephen King has said that he actually preferred this version to the one that he wrote.
    • The Night Flier: The movie version expands a lot on the short story in the Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection, including an altered ending. In the story Dees just gives the vampire, Dwight Renfield, the film strip in his camera and escapes the final encounter with his life. In the film he subsequently races after Dwight because he wants to see his face, who responds by putting him in a trance that ends with Dees unwittingly hacking up the corpses that Dwight is actually responsible for. He's shot by the police and framed as the "real" Night Flier by his rival colleague—ironically putting his face back on the front cover of the tabloid magazine he worked for.
    • Apt Pupil: The original ending was pure Nightmare Fuel, with Todd murdering his guidance counsellor and going on a 5-hour shooting spree in a populated area before getting shot to death by the police. In the film he just blackmails the guy to keep the secret about Todd's connections to Kurt Dussander and goes off to college.
    • 1408: The short story ends on a far more cynical note than the movie, with Mike Enslin setting himself on fire rather than the room to escape its horrible influence. He survives with extensive third degree burns, but he lives the rest of his life alone and in fear. His tapes are also completely worthless and don't convince anyone of anything. Everything indicates that the evil room will simply continue to claim victims despite Mr. Olin's efforts to contain it. The film has multiple endings, both of them different: The theatrical version has Mike setting the room on fire to destroy it, getting saved by firemen and finding a tape recorder with his dead daughter's voice on it as proof that the room is supernatural. The director's cut has Mike setting the room on fire as well, but dying alongside it. Instead his wife finds the tape after his death.
    • Thinner: In both the book and film versions Billy Halleck manages to get the Gypsy Curse on himself lifted by forcing the sorcerer to place it inside a pie. Billy feeds it to his wife (whom he hates), before his daughter (whom he dotes on) eats a piece of it by mistake. Wracked with guilt, Billy then eats the pie himself. The movie added a subplot of a man that Billy suspects his wife is cheating on him with, who rings the door right at that moment. Billy invites him in so he can have a slice of pie as well.
    • Secret Window: The ending of the film is completely changed from the novella, despite both keeping the reveal that Mort Rainey is suffering from multiple personality disorder and is in fact his own tormentor John Shooter. However, it then diverges when in the film Mort kills his wife and her new husband and buries them in his garden, the same ending as the novel he was writing in-universe. In the novella, Mort does attempt to kill his wife after his Split-Personality Takeover but ends up getting killed instead when someone else arrives to save her. An epilogue shows her discussing Mort's mental break with her husband and hints that Shooter might be Real After All.
  • The 2007 film adaptation of A Room with a View substitutes its own epilogue for E. M. Forster's, having George die in the First World War.
  • The film and graphic novel of Road to Perdition both end with the death of Michael Sullivan (or "O'Sullivan", as he's called in the book), but Michael Jr.'s ultimate fate is quite different in both versions. In the book, he avenges his father by taking up his gun and killing his assassin in a fit of rage, but then has a crisis of conscience when he realizes that he killed a man in cold blood, with the epilogue revealing that he became a Catholic priest to atone for the murder that he committed. The movie ends a bit more happily: Michael Jr. wants to kill the assassin, but he falters, and his father manages to take a fatal shot at him with his last breath, allowing him to die at peace knowing that his son didn't become a killer like him. The ultimate fate of the crime boss John Rooney ("Looney" in the book) is also different: the book has him arrested and sent to prison by the Historical-Domain Character Elliot Ness well before the climax, while the movie's climax has Michael killing him in a hail of bullets to get to his son Connor.
  • The Power (1968): In the original book’s ending, Tanner’s discovering his own psychic powers and killing Hart leads to him going mad with power, and looking forward to abusing people the way Adam did. In the movie, however, Tanner manages to retain his humanity and walks off with Margery, though he does pause to worry about whether his new found power will corrupt him.
  • Frankenstein:
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past has a similar premise to the comic book storyline it's based on: mutants are being herded into concentration camps while the X-Men are actively hunted by Sentinels, and a member of the team with the power to send one's consciousness through time sends someone to the past to stop the villain Mystique from killing the mutant-hating Senator Kelly, an event that directly leads to the Bad Future. In the comics, Rachel Summers—the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey—sent Kitty Pryde. In the movie, Kitty herself somehow develops this power and sends Wolverine (Scott and Jean both died before conceiving a daughter in the original films, so some deviation was necessary) to prevent the murder of Bolivar Trask (Senator Kelly had already been used in the original films, set 30 years after DOFP's 1973). The biggest divergence in the ending is we're shown that Wolverine succeeded. He stopped Mystique from killing Trask, which neatly prevents the Mutant Holocaust. In the original plotline, Kitty wakes up with the older "Kate" personality already gone, and the reader doesn't find out whether the future was averted. It's not until years later that that future is revisited.
  • The ending of the film version of The Witches ends with the boy, named Luke in this version being changed back into a human by the surviving witch who had undergone a Heel–Face Turn and he tells her to also change Bruno back. Whereas in the original book they remain mice for the rest of their lives, and the boy acknowledges that he might not live very long and that he didn't want to outlive his grandmother anyway, so he decides to dedicate the rest of his life to hunting down and killing the rest of the witches with his grandmother.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wakes up at home. It turns out the entire film was All Just a Dream. This is different from the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy just goes home. Not only is Oz not fictional, but Dorothy repeatedly visits it in future Land of Oz books and later outright moves there with her family. Apparently this was because the filmmakers thought viewers wouldn't accept a real fantasy world.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) ends with the Wizard retiring as king and leaving in a hot-air balloon. Not Dorothy, just the Wizard. As a result, Dorothy is presumably stuck in Oz and she doesn't seem to care. This differs from the books where Dorothy goes back home and goes back to Oz later on.
  • Nightfall (2000): The original ending has everyone lose their minds upon realizing how little they matter compared to the size of the universe. In this adaptation, however, it's merely blind fanaticism that sends the Watchers against the Scholars. Metron and Illyra manage to survive and watch the Stars appear while Saro city burns.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu changed the ending. The original video game was open-ended, with Harry Goodman still missing and Tim and Pikachu looking elsewhere for him. The movie, however, was more conclusive, with the mystery of Harry's disappearance resolved.

    Literature 
  • Depending on which adaptation of the story you're reading or watching, Little Red Riding Hood either ends with the wolf eating Red and ending on that to serve as a cautionary tale to young ladies to beware of "wolves", especially those who are "charming, quiet, unassuming, complacent, and sweet" (the original Charles Perrault version of the story ends this way), or has the girl and her grandmother be rescued by a passing huntsman or other benefactor, whereupon they may take revenge upon the wolf (in "Rotkäppchen", they fill the wolf's belly with stones); this alternate version may have come about from the influence of The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids or similar tales.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "Operation - Annihilate", Spock is temporarily blinded when they test a cure for a neural parasite on him before using it to free a planetary population. In the novelization of that episode, the planet is freed from the infection before Spock goes through the procedure, which does not blind him.
  • A children's book/record based on Pete's Dragon (1977) ends in a different manner than the movie, where Elliot doesn't leave Pete or Passamoquoddy, and is given a medal by the town for lighting the lighthouse and saving Nora's fiance and company.
  • The novelization of the Arthur episode "The Boy Who Cried Comet" noticeably lacks the original episode's infamous Gainax Ending wherein the events of the episode (or possibly even the whole show) are revealed to have been filmed in a studio on another planet, with the characters all being costumed aliens and as a result concludes in a much more down-to-earth manner. (Incidentally, the point at which the novelization ends is right at the point where said Gainax Ending starts in the original TV episode.)
  • Saga of the People of Tattúín River Valley, Jackson Crawford's retelling of Star Wars as if it were an Icelandic saga, includes a number of changes to make the story fit the value system of the sagas. A significant one is the high value placed on loyalty to a liege lord, which turns the saga into a tragedy where Lúkr's final confrontation with Veiðari ends with Veiðari sadly concluding that his loyalty to King Falfaðinn outweighs his loyalty to his family, and executing his own son as a traitor. The saga then continues to tell of how Veiðari was killed in turn by his grandson, Leia's son.
  • My Sister's Keeper originally ended with Anna getting into a fatal car accident, and her organs are then used for Kate - who goes into remission. The film swaps this around so that Kate dies with dignity, and Anna gets to live.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer has Helen and Barry being killed off, and a twist where the man they hit with their car not only wasn't dead - but also the murderer of the man they thought they'd killed. That's hardly the only change.
  • The novelization of The Pink Panther Strikes Again (written by the screenplay's co-writer, Frank Waldman) ends very differently than the movie. Rather than just Dreyfus being disintegrated by the Doomsday Machine, both he and Professor Fassbender meet that fate. The last chapter reveals that they rematerialized in the distant future, in a lonely part of space known as the Ultimate Galaxy of the Dimension Quattro. Everything they used the Doomsday Machine to disintegrate (including the United Nations Building and the front half of a French poodle named Shlep) ended up there as well. Together in this empty plane of existence for eternity, Dreyfus and Fassbender have become friends.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Goosebumps: The TV adaptation changed a few endings from the books:
    • The original book "The Blob That Ate Everyone" ended with a bizarre twist ending that revealed the whole story to have been written by two blobs. In the episode based on that book, this ending was simply left out, possibly out of fear that it would be too narmy on screen even by the goofy standards of the show.
    • The book version of "Be Careful What You Wish For" had a sadder ending where Samantha undoes the negative effects of her wishes, but is then turned into a bird because of a wish made by the Alpha Bitch in her class. In the TV version this just becomes straight Laser-Guided Karma when the Alpha Bitch instead wishes to be "admired forever" and is turned into a park statue.
    • "A Shocker On Shock Street" ends with Erin and Marty revealed to be robots that were meant to test out the horror theme park, who end up being shut down when the staff believes they might be malfunctioning due to their odd behavior. The TV Version adds in an extra scene where they reactivate by themselves and get revenge on their creator, who was in the middle of building their replacements.
    • The ending to "Awesome Ants" is mostly the same, with the protagonist waking up from his "nightmare" about supersized ants to find that giant ants keep humans in town-sized vivaria. However, in the book this is explicitly meant to be karmic since it resulted from the food pellets that the boy gave them, and the ants kept growing until they took over. In the episode, it's more of a Tomato Surprise since it's indicated that ants have always been the dominant species on Earth, and he was really just dreaming about a role reversal.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon diverges greatly from the manga's Dark Kingdom arc. First of all Minako is suffering from a terminal illness and dies before the final battle. In the manga all the girls are killed in the fight with Queen Metaria. In this version it's actually Usagi's Superpowered Evil Side that destroys the world. In the manga (and first anime) a dying Usagi wishes for the Silver Crystal to restore everyone - and it does, removing all memories of the last six months. This time the girls remember instantly when they are restored to life. The series also plays around with a Heel–Face Turn for Queen Beryl - where she realises she can't control Metaria and decides to Face Death with Dignity, while Jaedite (who at this point in the manga had long been killed off) stays loyally by her side.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Inheritors", the fate of those who entered the alien machine built by Jacob Hardy, Kelly Risely and Curtis Sawyer is left ambiguous. At the end of The Outer Limits (1963) two-parter of the same name on which it is based, it is revealed that the disabled children are being brought to the aliens' planet so that they live out their lives free of their infirmities.

    Radio 
  • Dimension X: In the short story "Time And Time Again" by H. Beam Piper, the transfer of the 43-year-old Allan Hartley's mind into his 13-year-old self's body in 1945 is seemingly permanent. In the radio adaptation, the process reverses after only a few hours and the older Allan dies in both body and mind in 1975. As such, the radio version leaves it ambiguous as to whether his father Blake will succeed in being elected President in 1960 and preventing the outbreak of World War III. While he only has a vague impression of the events that the next 30 years will bring, he is determined to save his son's life. Blake also has the list of the race winners up to 1970 that Allan gave him before his mind returned to the future so he can still raise the necessary capital.

    Theater 
  • The stage version of And Then There Were None had a different ending authored by Agatha Christie herself that changes the bleak Kill ’Em All ending of the book so that one or more characters survive. Many of the novel's adaptations in other media follow this ending, including the 1945 and 1965 film versions. Also, in the book all the victims except the murderer were guilty of the crimes they were accused of by "U. N. Owen". Any survivors in film versions turn out to be innocent. Even the 1987 Soviet film and the 2015 BBC miniseries, the adaptations that stick the most faithfully to the book's ending, change the killer's explanation of how they pulled off their crime from a Message in a Bottle found only after their death (which wouldn't work very well in a film) to a Motive Rant delivered either in an internal monologue or to the last survivor.
  • Wicked replaces Elphaba and Fiyero's real deaths with Disney Deaths. While in the book Elphaba really does have a deadly allergy to water, here it's just a rumor that she takes advantage of to fake her own melting, and instead of being murdered for real, Fiyero is saved by Elphaba turning him into the Scarecrow. In the end, all of Oz thinks they're dead, but really they run away together.

    Theme Parks 
  • Several instances of this occur in the Disney Theme Parks:
    • Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! ends with Mike and Sulley having no trouble in returning Boo to her door while in the door hangar, and they apparently never see her again after that.
    • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride greatly deviates from the film it's based on once Toad is sent to prison. Instead of having his innocence proven, he is able to bust out on his own. Following that, he takes his motor mania so far that he ends up getting hit and killed by a train and ends up in Hell.
    • The original version of Snow White's Scary Adventures had the Evil Queen succeed in killing Snow White/the riders when she dropped a boulder onto them.
    • Stitch's Great Escape!, which is set during the beginning of Lilo & Stitch, ends with Stitch winding up in Florida instead of Hawaii.

    Video Games 
  • Dante's Inferno mostly follows Inferno's ending with Dante emerging from Hell on the opposite side of the Earth, walking towards Mount Purgatory. However, the ending cuts out Virgil and adds a major detail for a more action-oriented Sequel Hook: Satan takes the form of a serpent and slither towards Purgatory.
  • A few of the video games that adapt the storyline of Dragon Ball Z choose to end it an arc early with the Cell Saga, the most notable being Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. Since the arc ends with Goku choosing to stay dead and in the afterlife, this can make for a surprisingly bittersweet conclusion.
  • The arcade version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge ends after Billy and Jimmy defeat their shadows, showing a photograph of themselves and Marian (who gets killed during the opening) during happier times. In the NES version, the game continues with an additional stage (when played on the hardest difficulty) in which the Lee brothers confront an additional enemy after defeating shadows. Defeating this enemy results in the Lee brothers fulfilling a prophecy which restores Marian back to life.
  • Kingdom Hearts has a few cases of alternate endings in regards to the films they adapted.

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick's Stick Tales sometimes end up going in a different direction:
    • In Elan and the Beanstalk, max falling damage isn't enough to kill the giant, who isn't evil and is mostly concerned with making sure the goose, who is evil, stays locked up. Fortunately, all parties involved (including the wizard who made the cow-for-beans transaction) are able to come to a solution and everybody's happy (except for the goose).
    • In Haleo and Julelan, Haleo makes her second saving throw against the poison and wakes up before Julelan can finish stabbing himself to death (those 1d4s take a while to add up), and the two of them run off together.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987) adapted more than one of Carl Barks' stories about Scrooge's adventures, but for some reason (possibly in some cases thanks to its more family-oriented nature), some of the endings got changed.
    • "The Status Seekers": In the comics story "The Status Seeker", Scrooge keeps the Candy-Striped Ruby as the gains of another successful treasure-hunting expedition. The episode has Scrooge throw away the mask that substituted for the ruby and his membership in the Association of Status Seekers to remain true to himself and his lower-class but loyal friends and family.
    • "The Golden Fleecing": For unknown reasons, the writers changed the way Scrooge tries to obtain the fleece from judging a cooking contest to having Launchpad act as "the big deipno"note  and get the fleece's location out of the harpies so Scrooge and the boys can find it. As a result, the ending is changed from Scrooge giving up the fleece in a different way to giving it up to save Launchpad from being roasted or eaten alive by the fleece's guardian.
    • The adaptation of "Tralla La" also has a changed ending, but in this case is because of Gizmoduck's presence: instead of the ducks being sent back to civilization as persona non grata to stop the rain of bottlecaps, Gizmoduck cleans the bottlecaps from Tralla La and the ducks part in better terms.
  • The Disney Silly Symphonies short "Babes in the Woods" (which is actually an adaptation of The Brothers Grimm story Hansel and Gretel'') changes the ending to where Hansel and Gretel are almost turned into animals by the witch forever, but they end up getting saved by the town of Dwarves they met earlier. And whereas the witch was killed by being kicked into an oven in the original story, the cartoon has her get turned into stone by the potion she was using on the children she had kidnapped.
  • Likewise, the Walt Disney short adaptation of the Three Little Pigs changes the ending so that all of the pigs and the wolf live, and the latter escapes from the pigs and runs off humiliated instead.
  • The Disney short cartoon "The Brave Engineer"; In real life, John Luther "Casey" Jones actually died in the train crash. The Disney cartoon lets him live.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures did an adaptation of Ernest Thayer's Casey at the Bat called Buster at the Bat, with Buster in the titular role. While the Disney version followed the poem, the Tiny Toons adaptation ends with a last-minute switch in the last line as Buster knocks a home run out of the park. When immediately called out on that not being how the poem ends, Buster remarks that he's the hero.


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