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Spared by the Cut

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As we all know, some film adaptations will alter things so a character survives where they died in the source material, while others will do the inverse. But sometimes, differences between the script and what ends up getting filmed - sometimes caused by Creative Differences and/or Executive Meddling - will have a character die in one cut but survive another.

Sometimes results from a Compilation Movie made from episodes where a character dies, but their death doesn't make it to the film itself.

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Also, despite the name, it has nothing to do with getting an actual physical cut - rather, a different cut of a film.

As this is a Death Trope, expect spoilers.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • While not a death aversion per se, the Death Note Relight 2 special, essentially a Compilation Movie of the series' second half (and occasionally advertised as a Director's Cut), has the subplot involving the mafia excised, so Light's sister is not abducted.
  • The 43 episode anime series Mobile Suit Gundam was edited down into three theatrical-length movies, with some additional new footage. Shortening the series means that several characters' death scenes were cut:
    • Captain Paolo (the planned captain of the White Base) is carted off for care in both the anime and the film. However, the later scene revealing he died of his wounds was cut from the movie.
    • The episodes featuring the deaths of antagonists Icelina and M'Quve were cut from the films as well. As such, they're presumed to have lived, with quasi-canon sources following on the movie continuity having one of them present at the series' climactic final battle.

    Film 
  • The final cut for 28 Days Later uses a Focus Group Ending where Jim recovers from his fight with the soldiers, but the director has said that the "true ending" is an alternate cut where he succumbs to his injuries. The latter is included as a DVD extra and is a point of contention among fans.
  • Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse has two different cuts of the dialogue-free ending scene, one of which implies that the heroine Marion dies from the gunshot wound that she received towards the end of the story and one of which implies that she survives. Typically, the French market got the sad ending and the US market the happy one.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Series:
    • The Amazing Spider-Man: Dr. Ratha was attacked by the Lizard. However, the scene doesn't fit into the final continuity of the film.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had a scene cut that featured Harry getting revenge on Menken by falling up to a great height and dropping him to Menken death.
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, one cut of the movie has Quicksilver survive, but in the theatrical cut, he is killed. Joss Whedon filmed both endings and left it up to the studio to decide which would be used.
  • The workprint of Apocalypse Now saw the Photojournalist shot dead by Captain Colby (whose part was mostly cut, even in the Redux version), whom Willard kills via knife to the chest.
  • In Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy originally killed Juy Madison with her poisoned knife. This was cut for being too dark.
  • In a deleted scene from Back to the Future Part III, Marshall Strickland was murdered by Buford, which is why he's arrested by Strickland's deputy at the end. The scene was cut because the filmmakers were afraid that it would make the audience root for Marty to kill Buford. The line "you're under arrest for the murder of Marshall Strickland" was redubbed to "you're under arrest for robbing the Pine City stage." The camera cuts away from the deputy in the middle of this line, presumably to hide the fact that his lips don't match it.
  • A downplayed example in Blade Runner: The original version of the film ended with Deckard knowing that Rachel, as a replicant, presumably only has four years to live. The theatrical release added a narration to the end, offhandedly mentioning that Deckard was told that she was special and didn't have the standard replicant expiration date.
  • In The Butterfly Effect, Evan comes to the conclusion that somebody suffers through his actions no matter what he does to avert it (he's able to go back to certain times in his life and remember what effects his actions had in previous runs), so in the director's cut he strangles himself in the womb. His mother had several miscarriages, implying this happened to all her stillborn children.
  • Carrie (2013) filmed a death scene for minor character George - who gets impaled with a lantern while trying to help people escape the prom. It's not in the final cut of the film, and his fate is left open.
  • The first cut of Clerks ends with Dante getting shot by an armed robber right after closing up, supposedly because Kevin Smith had no idea how to properly wrap up the story. Everyone hated it and agreed that the scene prior of Dante and Randal saying goodbye to one another worked just fine.
  • King Osric's death scene was cut from Conan the Barbarian (1982), where he is attacked by Thulsa Doom's henchmen in his throne room.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Human trafficker Cesar Santos gets arrested by Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice then is put in prison. He gets murdered in prison in the Ultimate Edition, which was deleted from the theatrical cut.
    • Cyborg's father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) gets disintegrated by a Mother Box in the pre-Executive Meddling version of Justice League (now known as Zack Snyder's Justice League). In the 2017 theatrical version, he gets a Happy Ending with his son having more serene control of his cybernetic powers.
    • Similarly, the theatrical version of Justice League was a retooling that has Big Bad Steppenwolf being beamed back to Apokolips with his Parademons attacking him and his fate remained uncertain. He gets skewered by Aquaman's trident then decapitated by Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
  • Darkman: Skip's fate remains unknown, though there is a deleted scene where Darkman kills him with his own prosthetic leg.
  • Amongst the deleted material from Demolition Man, Zachary Lamb was originally shot by Phoenix as the latter stole a car and would die in Spartan's arms.
  • A deleted scene for The Godfather Part II saw Michael finally extract revenge on Fabrizio via car bomb. Another saw Vito extract revenge on Ciccio's henchmen, stabbing one and beating another with an oar.
    • There was supposed to be a scene in The Godfather where Michael kills Fabrizio by shooting him in a restaurant with a double-barreled shotgun. Stills of the scene exist, but it was abandoned.
  • Halloween II (1981) has a TV Recut that does this to a couple of characters. Jill is definitely killed in the theatrical cut, but her stabbing is softened in the TV version - with a few groans dubbed over the shot where she falls to the floor (implying she survives). The girl Alice that Michael kills in the opening is seemingly spared by re-editing the scene where Mrs Elrod discovers the bloody knife in her kitchen (implying she dies instead of Alice). Janet's death is removed, and replaced with a scene where she says she's leaving the hospital. Jimmy's fate is left open in the theatrical version - he passes out from a concussion in the parking lot - but the TV cut confirms he survives.
  • Wormtail’s death scene was filmed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 but was deemed too gruesome for the PG-13 rating and therefore got cut.
  • In Highlander: Endgame, Duncan's Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Kate/Faith dies in the theatrical cut, but survives in the extended DVD edition.
  • The theatrical cut for I Am Legend sees Neville die in a blaze of glory taking out the zombies so that the other human survivors can live. The original cut of the film had him not die, but instead find out that the zombies aren't the mindless beasts that he thought they were, and instead realize that he might be the true monster. This change meant a boatload of foreshadowing ultimately went nowhere.
  • In It's a Wonderful Life, Mister Potter was originally supposed to die of a heart attack while counting his ill-gotten money, but Frank Capra decided it was too mean-spirited. The scene is sadly lost.
  • Jaws: When filming in Australia, the crew managed to capture a too-awesome-not-to-use shot of a shark rolling on top of Hooper's shark cage. However, the cage was empty at the time because the stuntman had already swam for his life. Thus, to avoid creating a continuity error, the film was rewritten so Hooper escapes his encounter with the shark instead of being torn to pieces as in the original novel.
  • In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Maisie's nanny Iris was killed by the Indoraptor in a deleted scene. Since this didn't make it into the theatrical cut, the last we see of her is when Eli fires her prior to the dinosaur auction, suggesting she left the mansion before the chaos begins.
  • An alternate ending of Lethal Weapon 2 had Riggs still with Rika, who is killed in the theatrical cut.
  • Little Shop of Horrors was originally filmed to match the ending of its inspiration with Audrey and Seymour getting eaten. Focus groups hated it and was replaced with the happy ending. A re-release of the DVD shows the original ending in Black-and-White and than later in a color adaptation.
  • The theatrical cut of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King leaves out Saruman and Gríma's appearance, leaving them effectively imprisoned in Orthanc. The extended edition restores the scene, in which Gríma kills Saruman before being killed by Legolas. Gothmog's death during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields is also omitted from the theatrical cut; he's last seen backing away from the Rohirrim charge.
  • In The Mask, journalist Peggy Brandt ends up selling out Stanley to Dorian (foolishly believing he wouldn't hurt Stanley despite knowing full well he's a mobster). In the theatrical cut she just disappears from the movie entirely after Dorian captures Stanley. In the original cut, however, Dorian kills her by throwing her into a printing press where her blood forms the ink for the text and, for some reason, a photo of her face shows up on the newspaper as well.
  • Ardeth was originally scripted to die at the end of The Mummy (1999), but Stephen Sommers changed his mind and spared him because he thought the character was too heroic to be killed off.
  • Oliver Stone's original ending to Natural Born Killers had Mickey and Mallory end up murdered by the prisoner who helped them escape.
  • In a deleted scene from Office Space, Peter and Lawrence discuss Lumbergh's death in the office fire set by Milton. This scene was left out of the final theatrical version, so Lumbbergh presumably lives.
  • In the original script for RoboCop 2 (written by Frank Miller and later adapted as Frank Miller's RoboCop), before it was split into the final version of 2 and RoboCop 3, the Rehabs would've started their campaign to discredit Murphy by killing Sgt. Reed and then killed Estevez (played by a Latina in the film, but depicted as a white man in the comic), with Lewis being among the survivors. Estevez survived the final version of 2 and didn't appear in 3; when the Rehabs were brought back for 3, it was Lewis who was killed; and Reed survived both movies.
  • Scream:
    • For Scream (1996), Wes Craven wasn't sure if he was going to kill Dewey off - so he shot it both ways (including a scene of him being loaded into an ambulance as a precaution). He chose to spare him thanks to test audiences responding well to his character. If you look closely at the scene where Gail falls unconscious next to him, he's not breathing.
    • Inverted with Kirby in Scream 4. A deleted scene had a "we got a heartbeat" from a paramedic examining her, but she appears to die in the finished film.
  • Grachhus in Spartacus was supposed to commit suicide by slitting his wrists in the bath. This scene was cut and as a result, he just disappears from the movie.
  • In Star Trek (2009), a death scene was filmed for the crewman known as "Cupcake" but the scene was cut, so he survived to return in Star Trek Into Darkness. He also had a death scene that was filmed for Into Darkness and cut, so he survived to return in Star Trek Beyond, where the same thing happened again.
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, General Veers was originally supposed to die when a damaged snowspeeder crashes head-on into his Walker. This was kept in the novelization. Also, Lobot was supposed to be captured by stormtroopers and taken away to be killed.
    • In prior cuts of Revenge of the Sith, Shaak Ti was killed in the beginning by General Grievous. This scene was cut, and Ti's death was moved to a scene during Order 66. However, that second scene was also cut, removing Shaak Ti's death from the film continuity entirely. Ti then returned in The Force Unleashed, where she was fought and killed by Starkiller. This remained her canonical death until Star Wars was acquired by Disney, putting nearly all the Expanded Universe material into the non-canonical Legends continuity. Shaak Ti's canonical death was then established to be during Order 66 just like in Revenge's second deleted scene.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) had a Foot ninja names Shinsho beaten to death by Tatsu. This was deemed to dark and lines and heavy breathing was added to the final cut to imply that he survived.
  • In the script, storyboards and novelization of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Enrique Salceda and his entire family were killed by the T-1000 after it came to their ranch looking for the Connors. This scene was cut from the final version of the film.
  • The Thing (1982): Nauls was originally killed by a jack-in-the-box like alien, only they cut the scene as the special effects didn't look real enough, and John Carpenter liked leaving it ambiguous anyway. Another scene, which made it to storyboards but was never filmed, showed him being eaten alive from the inside out by a series of Thing-tentacles.
  • Infamously happens to just about every victim in the theatrical version of Two-Minute Warning in the television Recut. The sniper deliberately misses his targets in this version, and the only person we actually see die is the sniper himself.

    Live Action TV 
  • Mitch in Baywatch was meant to be killed off with an explosion in season 9, and the scene was shot with the intention of having the cast mourn his death, but the show had difficulty finding financial backing without David Hasselhoff and scrapped the death.
  • Facing cancellation, the final two scenes of FRINGE from season 3 were filmed as the death of Peter Bishop when he bridges the two worlds. The scene was hastily modified to the evaporation of Peter Bishop once the show was picked up the week it aired.
  • In a leaked workprint of the Doctor Who episode "Into The Dalek", Dalek Rusty self-destructed when he returned to the Dalek spaceship, destroying the spaceship and its Dalek crew. This was removed from the final episode, and Dalek Rusty made a subsequent appearance in "Twice Upon a Time".

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