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What Could Have Been

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Top: The movie we got.
Bottom: The movie George Lucas originally conceived.
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"
John Greenleaf Whittier

This is when directors or writers release details about plots, characters, backstories, 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:

  • The Media Watchdogs or executives said, "No," or at the very least, "Yes, but only if you change this."
  • Technical reasons: the people who were originally hired to do it backed out, the special effects plans didn't play out in their favor, there was not enough money in the budget to include it.
  • Writing Around Trademarks — They couldn't get the legal rights to it.
  • 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 a few people). 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 with which to begin. In any case, someone eventually had a better idea.
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  • A side effect of Throw It In! — Something had to be thrown out or made up on the spot in its place.
  • The creator/actor/voice actor/author/director dies. Or suffers loss of reputation. Or goes bankrupt.
  • Time constraints: sometimes the creators simply run out of time and are unable to implement it.

A good place to find What Could Have Been is in DVD Commentary and out-of-continuity pilots used to pitch a show.

Keep in mind that Tropes Are Tools and that the ideas and concepts implemented into the final product are sometimes better than What Could Have Been.

See also The Other Marty, Vaporware, Development Hell, Dummied Out, Mid-Development Genre Shift, Uplifted Side Story. Contrast with Offscreen Moment of Awesome where a particularly grand moment is seemingly perfectly set up to happen but then isn't seen, and They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot for when they used an awesome idea in a less than ideal way. Occasionally something that was removed survives in another part of the series, then it is Refitted for Sequel.

Have in mind that, although the name may suggest otherwise, this trope is for divergent aspects of the work which were actually considered by the creators in the real world. A story (usually not canon) that takes the plot of an older story, alters a detail and shows how such change would have made things play out differently is a What If? — if changes concern history in fiction, it's Alternate History. If you want to discuss how the work could have been better if some detail was different (with that detail being just your own idea), start a Wild Mass Guessing.

This subject has also been covered by The Onion A.V. Club here, here and here.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples

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    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • There's speculation that there was going to be an I Love Wolffy 3, but it was cancelled due to the first two doing poorly at the box office.
    • In 2017, they registered a trademark in the United States that would've allowed them to release lots of merchandise, but they never used the trademark and they let it expire.

  • The 2000s Mini reboot was originally meant to be a kei car-style microvan, before turning into a premium hatchback.
  • In the 60s and 70s, British Leyland worked on a hatchback that would replace the original Mini. However, such a design had never reached production. Instead, a bigger hatchback was designed and released in 1980 as the Austin/MG Metro.
  • Maybach cars were originally meant to have a biturbo V24 engine, displacing 15 litres and making about 1000 HP. Due to packaging issues and problems with deigning a durable enough gearbox, the biturbo V12 from the Mercedes S600 and CL 600 was used instead.
  • First design sketches for the 1993-2000 Mercedes C-Class depicted a car with a more rounded appearance.
  • The Mercedes CLS could have never seen production, if not for an executive seeing an employee-made drawing of "a Jaguar built by Mercedes" and deciding to put it into production.
  • 1962 Dodge midsizers were originally meant to be fullsize cars, but instead got downsized to compete with new GM A-body vehicles.
  • Cadillac originally planned their 1967 models to have an OHC V12 engine.
  • The 1980-2003 Fiat Panda was originally meant to be built on a streched platform of the 126.
    • Its name was originally planned to be "Rustica", but someone pointed out that given Fiat's reputation for corrosion, a name containing the word "rust" shouldn't really be considered for any of the brand's products.
  • The 2003-2012 Fiat Panda was planned to be an experimental lightweight low fuel consumption 5-seat small car, but ended up as a more traditional city car.
    • Also, the vehicle's name was originally meant to be "Gingo", but the protests of Renault, makers of the Twingo, blocked the change.
  • The 2007 Fiat 500's original designs depicted a 5-door car with styling similar to the VW New Beetle, but with a more toy-like appearance.
  • Volkswagen could have not existed at all, if not for the British major Ivan Hirst reopening the KDF-Wagen factory after World War II and renaming the product to "Volkswagen Type 1", colloquially known as the Beetle.
  • The VW Beetle's original replacement was a project codenamed "EA 271", a mid-engined hatchback with the motor below the front seats, However, technical difficulties and the high projected cost of producing such a vehicle made the EA 271 not enter production. Instead, the VW Golf/Rabbit debuted in 1975 as a Beetle replacement.
  • Between 2010 and 2014 Porsche worked on a roadster slotting below the Boxster, but the idea ended up getting abandoned.
  • The Porsche 928 was planned as a 911 replacement, but ended up being a more luxurious alternative to it.
  • In the late 1980s, BMW was working on the idea of a V16-powered car. There even were a few prototypes of a 6.6 V16 7-Series built, based on the 750i and nicknamed "766i" or "Goldfish", but such an engine ended up being too complicated for a production car.
  • The BMW 8-Series had a 550 HP version called "M8" considered, so that BMW would have a rival for the Ferrari 456GT. However, the car never ended up hitting production.
  • In the mid-2000s BMW wanted to release a range of 3 crossovers being the middle ground between their wagons and the X SUVs. These vehicles were meant to be based on the 3-Series, 5-Series and 7-Series, respectively named V3, V5 and V7. The 7-Series-based vehicle never saw production, whiule the 3-series and 5-series-based ones morphed into the GT versions of these cars.
  • Caterham tried to release a car based on the 2017 Renault Alpine, being in an alliance with the latter. Unfortunately, the British company did not have the money it took to design the new model and the car ended up existing only in the digital form and as clay models.
    • The alliance also wanted to make a Caterham-branded subcompact and small crossover in order to get more appeal in the Asian markets. These vehicles never went further than the general idea.
  • The Lamborghini LM 001 was a civilian adaptation of the Cheetah, a military prototype that had too high fuel consumption to be accepted, and might had not existed if the Cheetah got greenlit for army service.
  • Lamborghini wanted to release a mid-engined 4-seater coupe called "Espada" in 2008. The car was planned to be built using a stretched Gallardo spaceframe and mechanics, but never saw a release.
    • Later, the company was tooling with the idea of building a front-engined 4-door sedan, like the prototypical Estoque, but instead settled on developing an SUV, the Urus.
  • DeLorean Motor Company wanted to release a 4-door counterpart of the DMC-12, but the vehicle never made it into production, due to a lack of funds for engineering it.
  • The Land Rover Series I's prototypes had a single seat and the steering wheel in the middle, due to the buyer demographics being perceived as having familarity with that layout, driving tractors as part of their work. The final production version ended up being equipped with 3 front seats and a normal left- or right-mounted steering wheel.
  • The 1964 Ford Mustang was originally meant to be a 2-seat roadster with a rear-mounted V4 engine.
  • In the 80s, Ford decided that the 4th generation Mustang would be a Mazda 626-based FWD coupe. Instead, due to public outcry, the 4th generation Mustang was an RWD car, and the FWD coupe was released as the Ford Probe, slotting below the Mustang.
  • Early prototypes of the Ford Pinto envisioned it as a highly safe car. However, the production version had many of the safety features removed.
  • The Mercury Comet was designed as an addition to the Edsel lineup, but the cancellation of the latter brand got it put in the Mercury lineup in the last second.
  • The 3rd generation Ford Focus had a Mercury counterpart, called "Tracer", originally being develeloped alongside, but the 2010 discontinuation of the Mercury brand led to the cancellation of the Tracer.
  • Rover originally planned to introduce a model called "55" in 2003. The car would have been an RWD compact/midsize sedan, competing against the BMW 3-Series. However, it had to be shelved, due to financial problems.
  • In the mid-80s, MG Rover worked on an aluminium-bodied 3-cylinder small car that would replace the Metro, but it was deemed too ambitious, and the more conventional Metro stayed on sale.
  • The 2nd generation Rover 400 was being designed as an all-new car. Instead, financial troubles led to the final version being just a Honda Concerto with different badging.
  • During the pre-order stage,the Jaguar XJ 220 was advertised as having a naturally aspirated 542 HP V12 engine, based on the one used in the XJS and XJ 12. However, due to yet unknown reasons, the final version delivered to customers ended up getting a 510 HP version of the 3.5 twin turbo V6 from the MG Metro 6R4 rally car.
  • In 2010, Jaguar showed the C-X75 concept, a turbine-engined hypercar. A year later, the turbine engine concept was shelved, due to too high CO2 emissions, and replaced with a hybrid 1.6 powertrain, making 888 HP. Unfortunately, that was also cancelled, because of a lack of a big inough target market.
  • The Jaguar XJS was originally meant to be mid-engined. A styling cue left over from the original design is the C-pillar shape, made to accomodate vents for an engine behind the seats.
    • The same car also had a Daimler version considered in the 1980s, colloquially called the Daimler-S and having normal-styled C-pillars, but it did not reach production.
  • Rover was thinking of introducing a mid-engined sports car with their V8 for 1973. Unfortunately, that idea was cancelled to avoid competition with Jaguar, which was planning to make the XJS such a car, as described above.
  • Triumph planned to introduce a redesign of the TR 7 in 1983. However, British Leyland decided to discontinue the Triumph brand altogether in 1983.
  • An alternative design for the Austin Allegro was a large redesign of its predecessor, the 1100/1300. However, such a design never got into a production.
  • For some time, Peugeot was thinking about building a replacement of the 607, the 608. At some point, the car was even meant to share many mechanical components with the Ford RWD cars (e.g. Lincoln LS) - and the Ford 5.0 V8 would be the top of the line engine! However, in the late 2000s, Peugeot decided to cancel the idea of a 607 replacement.
  • The Peugeot 309 was originally going to be sold as the Talbot Arizona, but the cancellation of the Talbot brand led to the change.
  • The Chevrolet Vega, notorious for its shoddy materials, was originally envisioned as being built out of higher-quality stuff.
  • In 2010, Lotus released 5 sports car concepts, intending to put them into production. Unfortunately, financial troubles made only one of the cars, the Elan, have any chance of getting a release, and this is because it would be a replacement to an existing model.
  • In 2015, Volvo showed a shooting brake concept, intending to put a similar design into production if the public reception is good enough. However, the estimated demand ended up being too low to justify production, and the design isn't going to be mass-produced.
  • Packard's 1957 line was originally planned to have its own styling, but ended up being rebadged Studebakers, due to budget constraints.
  • The McLaren-Mercedes partnership had 3 cars planned after the SLR: a mid-engined supercar, codenamed "P8", competing with the Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallardo, a more powerful version of the P8, codenamed "P9" competing with the Ferrari 599 or Lamborghini Murcielago, and a completely different car, codenamed "P10" and replacing the SLR. However, the partnership ended up splitting, due to different visions on it, and only the P8 ended up hitting the market as the McLaren MP 4-12C, and with McLaren's own 3.8 twin-turbo engine, not the AMG 6.3, as originally planned.
  • The Honda Fit/Jazz's name was meant to be "Fitta". There even were commercials and press photos showing the car with such badging, but the mockery by Scandinavian press (as "fitta" sounds similar to a few Scandinavian vulgar terms for female genitals) led to a name change.
  • The Daewoo Matiz's design was drawn for the Fiat Seicento. However, Fiat turned the offer back, and instead, the design was bought by Daewoo, with a pair of rear doors added.
  • The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow's original nameplate was "Silver Mist". Fortunately, someone noticed that "mist" means "manure" in German, and the car was quickly renamed, with new badges fitted just before the debut.
  • In order to turn the Rolls-Royce Phantom into "the ultimate luxury car", BMW was considering fitting it with a 9.0 V16 engine. However, such a car would be too expensive and complicated for production. The only prototypes known to the public were the ones starring in Johnny English Reborn.
  • In 2008, a start-up called Carbon Motors showed the E7, a prototypical purpose-built police car, powered by a more durable BMW straight-6 diesel and with special safety capabilities. The original production date target was 2012, but the car was first delayed, and then the company went bankrupt in 2013.
  • In 1949, 6 working prototypes of the Taylor Aerocar, a flying car, were built. However, due to financial problems and a lack of a big enough target market, the car wasn't ultimately produced.
  • The General Motors EV1 could've given General Motors an environmental edge. Its dismantlement crippled the company's image, and allowed Toyota to get ahead of it.
  • And these examples are only the tip of the iceberg, as a typical car has about 10 different designs considered before the production car one gets chosen, and most of the aborted ones never see daylight.

  • Contrary to the public's perception as a conservative company who keeps on pumping out Retraux bikes with antiquated engines, in the 1970s Harley-Davidson partnered with Porsche for "Project Nova", which was going to be a clean-slate, state-of-the-art design and a stark departure from the 1930s to 1950s-derived motorcycles the company is very well known for to this day. The Nova was going to have a liquid-cooled, overhead cam V4 engine, something that was uncharted territory for Harley back in the day. The MoCo reportedly spent between $10 and $15 million for the project, and as such a lot of work was done—tooling, prototypes and whatnot—with several pre-production examples made to be released in the 1980s. However, budgetary concerns and management changes following the buy-back led by Vaughn Beals and Willie G. Davidson from AMF forced Harley to just play it safe and concentrate on the more traditional Evolution engine, which like its predecessors was derived from the 1936 EL "Knucklehead" powerplant penned by co-founder William S. Harley. Harley's collaboration with Porsche wasn't all in vain though, as traces of the partnership could be found in the company's current models, such as the VRSC V-Rod which was jointly developed with Porsche and the use of engine counter-balancers amongst other things.

    Card Games 
  • 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...)
    • Expansion sets were planned to be temporary installments played along with the main set, then forgotten as newer sets replaced them. The "Standard" format preserves this idea.
    • 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.
      • Eventally a true 6th colorless Basic Land came to be in Oath of the Gatewatch in the form of Wastes. It also solved the problem with Domain by not including a sub-type.
    • WotC hyped up the "mystery" of the Shadows over Innistrad set, teasing us as who could be behind the strange events going on. Turns out it was the Eldrazi. This would have been an incredible surprise... if the last block hadn't been all about fighting the Eldrazi. There had originally been intended to be some time between Battle for Zendikar and SoI, but things were re-ordered behind the scenes. As it was, it was so obvious that it was the Eldrazi that some were actually surprised that it wasn't a trick.
    • War of the Spark was the culmination of centuries of Bolas' scheming and about 6 years of ongoing story. In order to hype up the set, WotC hired writers to write 3 stories, a prologue novella, a novel of the events of the set and an epilogue. Unfortunately, the prologue got delayed until well after the set was released, so a lot of stuff happened without proper set up. Niv-Mizzet was killed during the prologue, so him coming Back from the Deadnote  had way less impact as just one example.
  • 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...
  • In poker, when a hand is won before all the cards are dealt, the act of revealing the cards that would have been dealt later had the hand continued is called a rabbit hunt. Rabbit hunting usually isn't allowed in casinos, as it slows down the game.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes came about when Bill Watterson tried to submit a comic called The Doghouse to United Feature Syndicate. The strip's teenage protagonist had a younger brother (then named Marvin and having Blinding Bangs) who carried around a stuffed tiger. Watterson was told that these two were the strongest characters, so he reworked the concept, got rejected by UFS and took it to Universal Press Syndicate instead.
    • Even before that, one of Calvin's alternate personas, Spaceman Spiff, came to be as one of Watterson's earlier comic strip ideas, where he would go on galactic adventures in a space zeppelin with a dimwitted alien assistant named Fargle. The idea was rejected by the syndicates but he figured out he could reuse the idea through Calvin's imagination.
    • In his interview for Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson recollects a storyline that he scrapped involving Calvin meeting a kid on the playground who was supposed to be even weirder than him. The story never clicked with either himself or his wife, and he ended up tossing it (a rare occurrence, given the lost time rewriting material to keep ahead of deadlines). Later, he realized that the character essentially changed Calvin's role in the strip, making him seem more normal and less of an outsider.

    Music Videos 
  • Miserable: Lit originally wanted the video to be them performing the song in an arena in a manner similar to concert footage (they wanted something "sexy" and "huge"). But then they received the treatment for the video, which had them perfoming the song on a giant woman in a bikini. At first the band thought it sounded kind of cheesy but they agreed to do it if they got Pamela Anderson to play the giantess. At the time they were shooting the episode of her show VIP where they were guest stars and had enjoyed working with her. Pamela Anderson was also a major sex symbol at the time, so they figured having her star as the giant woman would give the video more clout and make it come off as less cheesy. The next time they saw Pam the first thing she said was "Hey boys, I'm gonna be in your video" and the rest was history. Considering how well received the video was, it's safe to say that not going the concert footage route was the right choice.
  • Pavement's "Painted Soldiers" video has a storyline where the members are fired one by one - the punchline is that member Scott Kannberg has promoted himself to manager, fired the rest of the band and replaced them with Veruca Salt, who mime the end of the song. The original pitch had them replaced with Weezer - this would have had different subtext, as at the time some considered Weezer a more radio friendly Pavement copycat band.

  • Prior to the end of the Cookie Jar TV block, CBS planned to re-brand the block "Team Toon" (likely because of the DHX Media takeover of Cookie Jar) and even ran promos announcing the change. Alas, this didn't happen and they simply went with sourcing children's programming from soon-to-be-monopoly-holder Litton Entertainment when the rights agreement with DHX Media expired.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • Guest-stars who were planned for The Muppet Show but never made it:
      • 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 off 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.
    • Muppet Treasure Island went through two ideas for Pirate Parrots before settling on Polly Lobster: Amazonia, a female parrot with a flirty relationship with Silver, before that got too weird even for the Muppets, and Stevenson, a male parrot named after Robert Louis Stevenson who would spend the whole film complaining about deviations from the book, and who eventually appeared as the guide in the video game adaptation.
    • A podcast interviewing Julianne Buescher, who pupeteered Denise, Kermit's new girlfriend in the ABC series The Muppets, revealed that originally the character was intended as a demanding, highly sexualized Gold Digger. Already uncomfortable about the "mean-spiritedness" of the show, she pushed to make the character the sweet, slightly goofy version who actually appears.
  • 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.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House:
    • According to this, the song "What If?" from A Berry Bear Christmas was written to end with Bear himself singing about wondering what would happen if there was no Big Blue House. This was vetoed by show creator Mitchell Kriegman as a bit too much, as Bear was the rock that viewers were to rely on. So having Tutter worry about this was as far as they could go.
    • Pip and Pop were originally Pummel and Pop, however Disney thought "Pummel" was too violent sounding. The original pilot (which has never been leaked or shown to the public) used the original names. Also, they were originally brown, looking quite similar to another ferret-like puppet character from a 90's preschool show, Warloworth "Quite Handsome" Weasel, and were performed by Joey Mazzarinonote  and David Rudmannote .
    • Another interview with the cast reveals that Tutter was supposed to be female and given the name Mouse, and that Ojo was going to be a bear named Jojo, whose design and name were different. This is why the latter doesn't appear in the first few episodes, as her name and design were changed at the last minute.
    • Yet another interview reveals that "And To All A Good Night" was supposed to be the Grand Finale for the series as they did not think it was going to be renewed, which is why everyone sings the Goodbye Song at the end, which would've made the show end at the standard 65-episode mark that most kids' shows had back then. However, the show wound up getting renewed because it was starting to become more popular among kids, resulting in a third season being produced.
    • According to this interview with Noel MacNeal , the show was originally called "The Big House" and the titular house talked.
    • Leslie Carrera Rudolph was almost a cast member for the series, but she had commitments with The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss .

  • In one of the most tragic examples of this trope, railroad enthusiast Richard Jensen had save quite a number of steam locomotives from the scrapper's torch, including the famed Chicago Burlington and Quincy 4-8-4 5632, it's smaller sibling, the 2-8-2 4960, Grand Trunk Western 4-6-2 5629, and a handful of other engines. His intention was to restore and operate excursions with these machines, beginning work with most of his collection out of a rented Chicago and Great Western roundhouse. Work was well underway by 1969, but it was around that time that the railroad decided to kick him out, giving him little notice to move the equipment. Without warning, they took everything he had and sent it to a scrap yard, where most of it was cut up on sight, including 5632! Jensen sued the railroad for damages and won, but the equipment lost could not be brought back. Only one piece of this equipment, 4960's sister 4963, was spared thanks to the Illinois Railway Museum, and even then it was at the expense of trading three Grand Trunk Western 0-8-0s they owned to accomplish it.
    • 5629 wasn't so lucky either. Planned trips for the engine were scrapped, and it too fell to the torch in the 1980s, when Metra acquired the property the engine was on, obtaining a court order to cut it up on sight after Jensen refused to move it.
    • Only 4960 got away safely, having been stored away from Jensen's other engines elsewhere. The Grand Canyon Railway got ahold of it and uses it in trips today, still hauling tourists to the South Rim.
  • While development on the massive "Triplex" locomotives (2-8-8-8-2s for the Erie, and a 2-8-8-8-4 for the Virginian) was underway, there were proposals for a massive Quadruplex 2-10-10-10-10-2 design, along with an even bigger Quintuplex 2-10-10-10-10-2 design. Given how long these engines might have been, a cab-forward design was proposed. Santa Fe seriously considered the Quadruplex for a bit before the failure of the Triplexes led any larger engines from being made.
  • Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad 576 was almost restored to service in the 1970s, when the Clinchfield Railroad needed a new steam engine to haul it's annual Santa Train (as it's existing engine, the 4-6-0 #1, was not powerful enough to handle the trains anymore). The city of Nashville, the location where the engine was preserved, refused to let it go. It wouldn't be until the late 2010's when the engine finally underwent a restoration to operation, with plans to have it running by the early 2020s.
    • On another note, the engine that Clinchfield did eventually select was the Chesapeake and Ohio 2716, a 2-8-4 "Kanawah" type, from the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven. Restoration work was underway until the mid-70s, when Clinchfield's General Manager was fired for fraud. It was then obtained by the Southern Railway, who intended to use it in excursion service more until they merged with Norfolk and Western in 1982 to create Norfolk Southern, at which point they chose to use Norfolk and Western 611 instead. 2716 wouldn't see service again until 1996, when the Fort Wayne Historical Society would bring the engine back to fill in for their out-of-service locomotive, Nickel Plate Road 765. They might have kept it longer, but a combination of its flue time expiring and the decision to focus on 765's return led to 2716 going back to Kentucky. It wouldn't be restored until work began in the 2010s to bring it back by the 2020s.
  • In 2012, Ross Rowland, a noted railroad preservationist, attempted to launch a new luxury train called "The Greenbrier Presidental Express," which was to be a service to the Greenbrier resort at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Multiple passenger cars were acquired, and his engine of choice, the Chesapeake and Ohio 614, was moved to the C&O Historical Society Headquarters in Clifton Forge, Virginia and painted in a green paint scheme to advertise the train as a billboard for it. Supposedly, Rowland intended to press 614 back into service, along with a few other steam locomotives, to work on special event trains, while the main train was powered by diesel. However, the train was scrapped altogether due to a lack of cooperation from Amtrak, who's Cardinal train ran along the same route.
  • Union Pacific 3985 was intended to be restored to service after it was taken down for an overhaul in 2010. However, a very heavy schedule for the steam crew, not in the least of which included a 150th anniversary celebration for the railroad with stablemate 844, along with the subsequent acquisition of Big Boy 4014, led the Challenger to be placed on the back burner. The railroad initially intended to begin work on it after 4014 was done, but the costs of having to get 844 under rebuild again (thanks to an improper boiler treatment clogging the tubes), plus the sheer undertaking of having to get 4014 back into steam, led the railroad to formally retire 3985 in 2020.
  • The American Freedom Train, when being put together back in 1974, considered at least a few other steam engines before Southern Pacific 4449 was selected as the primary hauler. Union Pacific 844 (or 8444, as it was numbered then) almost got the job first, since it was already in perfect running order, but Union Pacific refused to allow it to leave their tracks (though "The Living Legend" would team up with 4449 on the AFT when it passed through Cheyenne). Santa Fe 2925 was rejected for having too large of a tender, as that would have meant more water stops than allowable. A proposed team up for Nickel Plate Road 757 and 763 was deemed inappropriate, since both engines burned coal, and converting them may not have worked; a similar line of reasoning led Norfolk and Western 611 to be turned down as well.
  • When Australia was hosting a massive r ail event during the 1980s to celebrate its bicentennial, it initially invited the London and Northeastern Railway 4468 Mallard to attend the ceremonies. The National Railway Museum declined, since Mallard was nearing the 50th anniversary of the run where it broke the steam speed record it still holds today. Instead, the famous Flying Scotsman was shipped overseas to take part in the celebration.
    • Flying Scotsman's own travels, however, almost didn't happen, since the last time the engine left for another country (in this case, the United States), it almost got stranded there and scrapped when its owner bankrupted himself trying to keep it running. Fortunately, it was able to go after determining that it wouldn't turn into another money pit like before.
  • In another tragic example of losing railroad history, the New York Central's famous 4-6-4 Hudsons almost had one survivor, which the Smithsonian Institute attempted to buy for posterity. However, the railroad's long-term oriented President, Alfred E. Pearlman, didn't want to preserve any of the larger locomotives, and ordered the yard where the last Hudson was stored to scrap it. Only two large NYC engines (4-8-2 Mowhawks 2933 and 3001) survived, and it was entirely on accident, slipping away from Pearlman's grip long enough to avoid the torch.
  • The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad attempted to develop a streamliner to compete for the upper-midwest market called The Chessie. An elaborate effort was undertaken to develop a beautiful streamlined train, complete with fluted stainless steel dome cars, a quartet of modernized Hudsons rebuilt and streamlined from Pacifics, and a trio of state-of-the-art steam turbine locomotives decked out in the railroad's livery. It never came to pass, and the turbines were scrapped by 1950, while the cars were sold off to railroads like Rio Grande. One of the Hudsons, class leader 490, is preserved at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.
  • The Pennsylvania Railroad's ill-fated steam turbine locomotive, the S-2, was originally intended to be its first 4-8-4 locomotive. However, a lack of proper material during wartime saw it upgraded into the only 6-8-6 ever built, in order to distribute its massive weight.
    • Speaking go, the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement almost did come to Pennsylvania Railroad's lines in 1942. Uncertain about the future for its prototype 4-4-4-4 "Duplex" engines, it borrowed Norfolk and Western Class J 610 to test on the Chicago line, wanting to see if this engine could potentially substitute as a future passenger hauler for the railroad. It performed exceptionally well, but the railroad felt it was ill suited for their rails; out east, clearances were too tight, while out west, the smaller drivers (70 inches compared to the 80 inches on most of the wheel arrangement) were a tad bit worrisome to crews concerned about balancing issues. 610 was returned to Norfolk and Western, while the PRR ordered 50 more T-1s.
    • On that same note, Norfolk and Western and Chesapeake and Ohio borrowed the T-1 to test if the engine could be successful on their lines, but it proved unsuitable to the task.
  • Before the selection of Union Pacific 4014, the railroad looked at the seven other surviving Big Boys for restoration to service. 4014 was chosen because it was the appropriate balance of being in decent mechanical shape, while also being relatively easy to extract without issue.
    • On that note, one of the survivors, 4012, had a feasibility study done on it to see if it could be restored. The Steamtown National Historic Site overwhelmingly agreed with the possibility, but found it would be infeasible to do so, since the engine was far too large to run at the former Delaware-Lackawanna facilities where the museum was based. They instead settled for a cosmetic restoration on it.
  • Amtrak once held the name of the prestigious Super Chief trains that the Santa Fe proudly advertised as the train of the stars, following the end of most rail passenger service and the subsequent transfer of services to the government railroad. Amtrak was only able to hold onto it for a few years, and might have kept it longer, had Santa Fe not been royally mad at the newly minted line's poor quality service. No train has since carried the Super Chief name, with Amtrak only being able to create the Southwest Chief in its stead many years later.

  • 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.
  • Magic Academy
    • Leonard, who is basically The Hero by now, had initially been planned as an Expy of Lezard Valeth. The only vestige of this still remaining is his Dark Magic type and last name, Valenth.
    • It was initially planned to have Khaos and Vicelogia as the main villains. Then Khaos was retooled into a more benevolent being, and Vicelogia was written out entirely.
    • There had been a plan to have Reitt turn evil and become an expy of the Obsidian Lord.
    • Riorde Blenforte was initially to be the Evil Genius in Qord's group.
    • 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...

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 talking lions 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 because 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 GamesDay, 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 took nearly a decade before seeing a release (with massive changes).
    • The 8th edition Genestealer Cults Codex, released in early 2019, mentions in the "army building suggestion" page the existence of a Start Collecting box for the army containing an Acolyte Iconward, a squad of Acolyte Hybrids, a Squad of Neophyte Hybrids and a Goliath Rockgrinder. The box was finally released only one year after the Codex, and featured an Achilles Ridgerunner instead of the more expensive Goliath.
  • The first book released for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar had some differences to later game releases: some factions were called with different names than the one they're called in later books (Fyreslayers were Red Slayers, Bonesplitterz were Bonesplittaz, Flesh-Eater Courts were Flesh-Eaters and Beastclaw Raiders were Beastclaw Ogors). Also, the Bonesplitterz shaman hero was called Juju Dok rather than Wardokk and the Ironblaster is shown as a Beastclaw unit rather than a Gutbusters one.
  • 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 license, 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.
  • When Geist: The Sin-Eaters was still in development at White Wolf, there was still debate about what the next game line for the New World of Darkness was going to be. One idea in the running was to make a game about angels, with the angels in question merging with the souls of human hosts. They decided to go ahead with a ghost-oriented line, but kept the idea of gestalt entities. Five years later, they revisited the idea with a somewhat different interpretation of angels...
    • Olivia Hill proposed Fury: The Scourge as a potential NWOD game line, but it ultimately didn't get picked up. The basic idea is that you play someone akin to The Spectre, someone who got screwed over, who lashed out and took revenge... and got chosen by something to become a supernatural agent of vengeance, punishing selected sinners. An expanded version of the pitch can be found here.
    • Olivia's version of Changeling: The Lost 2e (given the Fan Nickname the "Underhill" version) would have leaned into having fae things linked to the Theory of Narrative Causality. Seemings would have been a result of how a changeling escaped Arcadia, and would have had different Blessings and Curses; the Grimm Seeming in Dark Eras, who escaped by figuring out the story they were caught in and how to get out of it, was planned to tie into this version, as was an unnamed eighth Seeming in a planned Hedge supplement, who escaped by embracing randomness, chance and luck. The game got overhauled when Olivia left Onyx Path and was replaced as developer, with fae magic instead centered on reciprocity, the principle of exchange, of give and take.
  • In 2015, Onyx Path announced a "4th edition" of Vampire: The Masquerade, which would have followed on from where the original line left off at cancellation, treating the 20th anniversary edition as a side-step "nostalgia edition" that commemorated the game's previous history. It was dropped when Paradox Interactive bought White Wolf and announced their own plans for a new edition.
  • The Trinity Universe saw a lot of these:
    • 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, which was slightly different to his proposal above, with a corebook outlining a contemporary setting for Talents (renamed from Daredevils), and Aeon, Aberrant and Adventure! as gamelines running off the rules in the core.
  • Before Guardians of Order folded, there were plans to expand many of the franchise-based entries to the Big Eyes, Small Mouth series. For instance, there were plans to supplement the Tenchi Muyo! series by including entries for Tenchi Universe, Tenchi in Tokyo and Pretty Sammy (the first entry only had the OVA and only the first 13 episodes to it).
  • 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.
  • The first edition of AEG's swashbuckling RPG 7th Sea ended on a story arc where a ship had managed to sail beyond the mystical barrier that kept Theah (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. The second edition, now under John Wick Presents, is a reboot, and doesn't have a barrier in place.
  • 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 planning 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.
    • For Third Edition, one proposed new Exalt type was the Devianics, demon-created Exalted with a level of power comparable to the Dragon-Blooded. They didn't make the cut due to the difficulty of making them something different from "the Infernal Exalted, but weaker".
    • Another proposed Exalt type for 3E was the Chosen of the Depths, who were intended to be a conceptual take on the undersea. When the writers started discussing the Chosen, they found they were pretty much Exalted pelagothropes (human mutants adapted to saltwater life), so they provisionally decided to go with that, moving the Chosen from being a new Exalt type to being a collective term for the Exalted pelagothropes who'd fought as part of the undersea Niobraran League against the other Exalted in the distant past.
    • 3e also had three Exalted types conceived as foils for the Lunars and Sidereals, bringing some of their themes into relief; the Hearteaters and Umbral Exalted were to be Lunar foils, while the Dream-Souled were to be Sidereal foils alongside the Getimians. However, introducing new Exalted types incurs a certain trade-off, both in that time and effort needs to go into writing their books rather than the previously established Exalted, and in their potentially complicating the setting through interactions with the established Exalted. When a new dev team took over, they came to the conclusion that Lunars didn't need foils given their dynamics with most of the established Exalted (one-time seconds of the Solars unwilling to return to that position, with the Lunar bond with the Solars also carrying over to the Abyssals and Infernals as corrupted Solars, and long-standing adversaries of the Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals), and Sidereals didn't need another one on top of the opportunities raised by the introduction of the Getimians and Exigents. So they decided to have them be optional canon, included in an appendix to the Exigents book (it doubling as the make-your-own-splat book), laying out their themes, concepts and backstories, and describing their Charmsets in sufficient detail to homebrew them, with an option of getting upgraded to their own splatbook depending on reception. For the curious, all three are featured on pages 54-55 of the 3e core; the woman with the aurora is a Hearteater, the man tormented by a shadow-monster is an Umbral Exalt, and the man in a toga is a Dream-Souled.
    • Further to that, little to nothing is known about what the original concepts for the Exalts that became the Umbrals and Dream-Souled were, apart from them being tied to a line in an Infernal Exalted preview PDF from the 3e core Kickstarter about the Yozis Isidoros and Oramus creating their own Exalted, and the Yozis being disquieted by the results. When the new dev team took over, they basically had to reinvent them from scratch because they knew next to nothing about them. As for the Hearteaters, all they had of them was their name.
  • The final release of Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid has a few differences from what was originally shown in the Kickstarter pictures and demos made at conventions:
    • Most of the Ranger and Zord skills were completely different in the demo build (for example, the Mastodon istantly destroyed two random foot soldiers at the end of each turn and the Megazord increased the damage output of all the rangers in the same area he's currently placed, while in the final game the Mastodon destroys only one foot soldier and the Megazord deals 1 damage to all the enemies in his area)
    • Most of the actual pieces had different shapes and/or designs: the board was made of a square tile and 4 rectangular tiles instead of a circular tile and 4 curved tiles, Energy Tokens had a lightning bolt instead of a crystal and Panic Tokens were square-shaped instead of triangle-shaped.
    • The Panic limits for the areas were more abundant: Angel Grove High and Ernie's Juice Bar had 6, the Industrial District 7 and Angel Grove Park 8. In the final game, Angel Grove High and Ernie's Juice Bar have a Panic limit of 5 and the Industrial District and Angel Grove Park have 6.
    • The level up originally required to defeat either a Monster or 7 foot soldiers. In the final game the foot soldiers amound has been reduced to 6.
    • In the demo game Deployment phase had 4 Deployment cards revealed. This was changed to 5 Deployment cards in the final game.
    • Guard enemy cards were originally called Taunt enemy cards.
    • Monsters and Masters originally had 3 battle cards per turn. The final game gives them 4. Also, in the demo Monsters/Masters and foot soldiers had their battle cards placed together in a single line, while the final game haves them with separate card lines.
  • In 2013, there was a small announcement made by Catalyst Game Labs about the potential of jumping BattleTech's timeline up to the year 3250 (it was currently at 3150) and performing a soft reboot of the setting to make things more streamlined. A small but highly vocal number of players raised such an outcry over this that Herb Beas, the line developer for Battletech at the time, stepped down and the idea was quietly scrapped aside from a few throw-away lines at the beginning of a couple of sourcebooks (all Battletech sourcebooks are written from an in-universe perspective).
  • In the original KickStarter for Flying Circus, one of the playbooks was called "The Sheltered," fallout-shelter inhabitants descended from nobility. This had morphed into the Scion playbook, with the shelter aspect of their backstory being dropped, by the game's first public release.

    Transportation Infrastructure 
  • The New York Subway has seen a fair share of proposed lines or extensions of existing lines that never came to fruition.
  • Highway revolts have happened several times in the United States as the first freeways were built.
    • New York City will forever be known as the home of Robert Moses, one of the most polarizing figures in the history of urban development in the United States. He had several proposed highways across Manhattan that would've displaced lots of residents if they were built.
    • Atlanta, Georgia saw the freeway revolts in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Had it not been for the revolts of several city neighborhoods that would have been at risk of getting razed, the freeways could've been a lot different. Namely, instead of terminating in Buckhead, the Georgia 400 would have continued south through East Atlanta, approximately 2-3 miles east of the Downtown Connector (which carries I-75 and I-85), and connected with I-675 at the south end of the Perimeter (I-285).
    • There was a planned beltway around the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area, which was to be signed as Interstate 470. It would have been the third auxiliary Interstate in Colorado, after I-225note  and I-270note . Eventually, a compromise was reached, and three-quarters of the beltway was built, using three different designations: Colorado State Highway 470 (from I-70 in Golden to I-25 in Lone Tree), E-470 (from I-25 in Lone Tree, past I-70 northeast of Buckley Air Force Base, and Denver International Airport, to I-25 in Eastlake to the north of Denver), and the Northwest Parkway (from I-25 in Eastlake to Broomfield). Currently, a gap remains in the northwest part of the beltway, as it stops short of reaching the Denver suburbs of Broomfield and Golden, where fierce opposition to the road continues. Golden is opposed to completion of the beltway; Broomfield supports it, and has been exploring alternate routes.
  • In the 1980s, the Southern Pacific Railroad was contemplating merging with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The holding companies merged, and were so confident enough that the ICC would approve it, that they began repainting locomotives into a new unified "Southern Pacific Santa Fe" paint scheme that combined Southern Pacific's "Bloody Nose" Red with Santa Fe's "Yellowbonnet", including the letters SP or SF and an adjacent empty space for the other two (as SPSF, the reverse order of the holding company). Most nicknamed this the "Kodachrome" paint scheme since it resembled a box of Kodak camera film, a kind commonly used by railfans. The merger was opposed by the Justice Department in 1985 and denied in a 4–1 vote by the Interstate Commerce Commission on July 24, 1986, who ruled that such a merger included too many duplicate routes and was therefore monopolistic over west coast freight rail service. Unfortunately, many, many locomotives and cabooses had been repainted into Kodachrome by this time, and the initials SPSF were jokingly changed to "Shouldn't Paint So Fast" by railfans. These two railroads would end being merged in 1996 with other railroads in the West: Southern Pacific would be merged into the Union Pacific Railroad, while the Santa Fe was merged with Burlington Northern to create the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (more commonly known as simply the BNSF).
  • The Chicago L has a history as rich as the New York City Subway's. This includes many lines that were proposed but never built.
    • The Orange Line was originally planned to run all the way to Ford City Mall, and rollsigns for the new 3200 series cars even had a Ford City destination sign incorporated into them. However, due to budget cuts, the line was only built to Midway Airport, two miles north of the Ford City Mall.
    • The Blue Line has two: you'll notice at the west portal of the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway near UIC-Halsted Street station empty tunnel portals to the outside of the ones used by the active tracks. These were once intended for a four track subway line; only two tracks were ever built, and the unused tunnels dead-end after a few yards.
    • Also on the Blue Line, you'll notice looking out the front or rear windows that when the tracks curve from Lake Street to Milwaukee Avenue, the tunnel bores continue west, albeit with no track of any kind on them, which were intended for a future subway under Lake Street that never saw the light of day.
  • The Philadelphia Subways have seen their fair share of never-completed projects, particularly as relates to the Broad Street Line:
    • The Roosevelt Boulevard Subway, a project for a subway and elevated line down Roosevelt Boulevard from its intersection with Broad Street to Northeast Philadelphia, was shovel-ready and had funding in the 1970s. It was shot down by community groups in the (largely middle-class and White) Northeast based on fears it would allow "undesirable elements" (read: poor Blacks) to enter their part of the city more easily. The funds were used instead for the Center City commuter rail tunnel that connects the previously separate Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Railroad lines radiating from Philadelphia. 30-40 years later, the people of the Northeast have warmed up to the idea of the subway—but there's no funding left. There are plans to run improved bus service on the route, and maybe if that is successful a subway line will be reconsidered, but to this day it remains the unbuilt mass-transit project in the US with the highest potential ridership (after the Second Avenue Subway, which as you can see above is actually being built).
    • The Roosevelt Boulevard Subway is just one of several forms of old plans to use the Broad Street Line as a backbone for a number of different branching lines that would connect at Olney Avenue, Erie Avenue, Tasker-Morris, and Snyder stations. These were never built, but the flying junctions to connect the unbuilt track to the Subway were.
  • The Berlin U And S Bahn has one of the longest and most complicated histories of unfulfilled plans of any city transport system, due to two world wars, the particularly nasty economic problems of the early 1920s and early 1930s, Nazism, partition, Communism, and the disappointing economic climate in the city after it became united Germany's capital. The one extension being constructed at the moment is a variation on schemes dating back to the 1930s at least.
  • The notorious M25 motorway surrounding London is the stitched-together remnants of a much more ambitious plan called "Ringways Ringways". This system was designed to solve the city's traffic problems, and consisted of 4 different motorways around London for different purposes: 1 for the middle of London, 2 for the suburbs, 3 for greater London, and 4 for avoiding London completely). They completed parts of Ringways 1, 3, and 4 before the whole project was canceled in 1973. This was for many reasons, including unpopularity from the public, concerns over noise and the city's landscape being ruined, its sheer cost, and the Labour party (its biggest critics) gaining power from the Greater London Council elections. Starting in 1975, the completed parts were stitched together and opened as the M25 in 1986. As pointed out by Jay Foreman in his Unfinished London video on the subject, there are a number of remnants of the proposed Ringways that can still be found if you know where to look: the M23 (connecting London to Brighton) abruptly cuts off just inside of its junction with the M25 at an unfinished junction, instead of at Ringway 2 where it was meant to end. The same is true with the southern end of the M1 at Staples Corner, which was originally supposed to continue down to Ringway 1 at West Hampstead. That the M25 was hastily combined from the two outer Ringways is also apparant from a point in South Mimms where the two directions momentarily break apart for a couple of nonexistent slip-roads that were never completed.
  • The London Underground:
    • The Jubilee Line was originally going to be known as the Fleet Line until it was decided to give it its current name to denote Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee.
      • As originally opened, the line ran from Stanmore to Green Park, then turned east to terminate at Charing Cross. Following the line's opening, there were multiple plans towards extending the line onwards from Charing Cross, none of which came to fruitition until 1999.
      • In the first version of the Jubilee Line Extension plan, the line ran from Charing Cross via Aldwych and Ludgate Circus to Fenchurch Street station, then via tunnel under the River Thames to connect to the East London line north of Surrey Docks (now Surrey Quays) from where it would take over East London Line services to New Cross Gate and New Cross with tunnels continuing from the latter to Lewisham. In anticipation of this, the tunnels of the first phase of the line continued eastward from Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych.
      • Eventually, in the 1980s, the development of Canary Wharf as a financial center, led to new proposals being floated for extending the Jubilee Line, including what was ultimately built: redirect the line to go from Green Park to Westminster, then following the route of the Waterloo and Greenwich Railway, continuing to Stratford via Canning Town alongside the North London Line. Even so, the approved route underwent some changes. A station was originally planned at Blackwall, but this was replaced by diverting the line between Canary Wharf and Stratford underneath the Thames to serve the Greenwich peninsula at North Greenwich station. Plans for the Millennium Dome did not yet exist, and this diversion was made to provide for a planned housing development on the site of disused gasworks.
    • The Northern Heights Line was a plan in the 1930s to extend the Northern line's Edgware branch north to Bushey Heath, with intermediate stations at Elstree South and Brockley Hill. The plans were ultimately put on hold in the 1940s due to World War II, and canceled completely after the implementation of the Metropolitan Green Belt.
  • The Interstate Highway System has a few examples:
    • The original number list for the Interstate Highway System back in the system's infancy in the late 1950s included an Interstate 67 that was meant to connect Elkhart, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and later, Benton Harbor, Michigan to Grand Rapids. The former proposal was ultimately scrapped while the Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids route instead became an auxiliary highway of Interstate 96 numbered Interstate 196. To this day, the number 67 remains unused in the Interstate Highway System.
    • The original plans also had an Interstate 92 running from Detroit, Michigan to Benton Harbor, Michigan while Interstate 94 cut a more northerly run across the state through Lansing and Grand Rapids before turning southward toward Benton Harbor (where it would meet its present routing). In the end, Interstate 92 instead became Interstate 94's final routing, and Interstate 94's original routing became Interstate 96 and the aforementioned Interstate 196. Like 67, 92 has currently gone unused in the Interstate Highway System since.
    • Interstate 13 was a highway proposed in the early 1960s that would have connected Fayetteville, North Carolina to Norfolk, Virginia via US 13 and US 17. Despite local interest, highway officials were far less interested in building said interstate, meaning that the proposal did not get very far before being scrapped. It wouldn't be until five decades later that an interstate proposal connecting Norfolk to a major North Carolina city (Raleigh instead of Fayetteville in this case) would get past the cutting room floor, in the form of Interstate 87 (no relation to the existing I-87 in New York).

  • 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.
  • Tom Siddell mentioned in an interview that Gunnerkrigg Court is actually a Lighter and Softer take on his original idea. If you read much of the comic you'll realize this is saying something.
    "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 Order of the Stick:
    • 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 another world, Doug Walker and Dan Shive might have collaborated on a webcomic.
  • Oglaf describes itself thus: "This comic started as an attempt to make pornography. It degenerated into sex comedy pretty much immediately." It could have made some good porn.
  • Something*Positive:
    • 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.
    • Conversely, everybody was going to survive the storyline with the army of murderous preteen catgirls, until one fan wrote that Milholland wasn't "allowed" to kill anybody—"not even Pepito." Guess who wound up dying horribly!
    • Originally Pepito could only speak Spanish; Randy Milholland did his best to translate the dialogue correctly, but when one irate fan wrote to harangue him about a relatively minor mistake, he struck back by just running Pepito's dialogue through a translator and writing whatever came out. Sometimes he would even translate it back into English and then back into Spanish just to make it extra garbled.
    • Monette was only supposed to stay with Fred and Faye for a few months before they got sick of her and kicked her out; instead she wound up Happily Adopted.
    • Davan's whole relationship with Branwen wasn't originally planned; she was just supposed to be a nameless Goth who Davan hit on and then drove away with his typical attitude. A friend suggested that Randy Milholland Throw the Dog a Bone this time, and she became his girlfriend and then Amicable Ex. This also delayed Vanessa's entry into the comic, because Randy knew that she would get hate if she appeared too soon after.
  • 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.
  • Dominic Deegan:
    • Mookie himself stated that he intended for Luna to die at the end of the Maltak arc. He realized that Luna's death would psychologically destroy Dominic, so he altered the story 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.
  • In Cucumber Quest, Almond originally had blue hair. Gigi also considered making a comic with Tartelette and Baguette and their bakery as the focus.
  • Quite a few things in MS Paint Adventures, though in fairness the series has a quite a bit of Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. Word of God and the commentary for the Comic Book Adaptations of Problem Sleuth and Homestuck explain there were a number of Aborted Arcs - many of which were missed by the readers. Some examples from Homestuck:
    • 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.
    • When Hussie opened up reader suggestions for the third character's name, he intended to choose the third suggested name (out of those fitting the four-letter requirement). He accidentally used the second name (Dave Strider) instead. If he had counted correctly, this character's name would have been... Chad Buskin.
  • Sonichu:
    • Silvana Rosechu's entire backstory was meant to be different. Silvana was to be a space-traveling Pikachu who crash landed on the moon, and was hit by the Rainbow created from the collision of Super Sonic and Pikachu, transforming her into a Rosechu with a Pikachu's tail. She would have created a spaceship out of the spare parts of her destroyed ship, and traveled to Earth to abduct all the Sonichus on the planet, to fill the gap of loneliness she holds while being on the moon for so long. Because of outside influences however, the author has scrapped this backstory and created the shapeshifting Silvana Rosechu we know today.
    • Chris' original plan for Issue 9 involved Punchy and Layla Flaaffy having sex in the handicapped stall of the women's bathroom at the McDonald's substitute CWCee Dees, and Reginald Sneasel walking in on them and slashing Punchy's tires.
    • The 13th issue was going to have a crossover with Planet Dolan, but outward drama involving some of the castmates changes it to involve a crossover with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic instead.
  • The Continuity Reboot of Commander Kitty originally had a much different introduction for Nin Wah and her crew. While the final version cuts to them meeting a contact at a hotel, an unfinished, more action-oriented sequence with Grootly and company stealing a box from a Space Trucker was posted on the Facebook page.
  • Freefall: Mark Stanley, on the forums, has said that Winston was originally to be a one-shot character, with Niomi to be Florence's primary human contact with the local colonists. The readership made comments to the effect that the relationship between him and Florence was too good to leave by the wayside, so that particular plot course was amended.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: The original plan was for the San siblings to be revealed to be Weres and Jyrras to die and rise Undead around the same time Dan's lineage is uncovered; this was dropped due to Amber deciding it wouldn't leave enough Beings on the cast. This leaves a number of hints at the first orphaned, up to and including a human Biggs in shadow that a similar-looking Were had to be introduced to explain away, to the point that it remains a perennial Epileptic Tree despite being thoroughly Jossed. The "undead Jyrras" thing is mentioned (and rejected by Mab) in Comic #1029.
  • In Crossed Claws, Pages 11 and 12 of Chapter 5 were originally going to be much different. They were ultimately changed both for making things too easy for the villains and too hard for the heroes to later deal with believably.
  • For Girl Genius, trial sketches of character designs are available on the site, with many characters undergoing fairly radical makeovers. Personalities have shifted too - originally, the main antagonists were going to be Klaus Ujebeck and his son Gilgamesh, who were not going to be sympathetic at all. Instead, Klaus is the Emperor Scientist and a very clear demonstration of the fact that The Extremist Was Right (although still pretty much an antagonist, especially after his override of Gil's personality), and Gil is one half of the Love Triangle involving Agatha and an occasionally misguided and occasionally mind-controlled protagonist.
  • David Morgan Mar wanted to feature Quercus, the assistant engineer of the starship Legacy, in cyberspace in the Space theme of Irregular Webcomic!. He even had a specific cyberspace avatar in mind for him — a simple LEGO tree. However, DMM had none in possession, and he had trouble finding LEGO sets with trees. It took him until No. 3877, 2652 strips since his first appearance, to have Quercus finally appear in cyberspacenote , since by that time DMM had finally resorted to getting some trees from BrickLink.

  • After Walt Disney died, a scrap of paper was found on his desk that simply read "Kurt Russel". Nobody—not even Russell himself—knows what Disney meant by that, although because at the time of Disney's death, Russell was a child actor on contract with Disney, consensus is that most likely it was a project Disney had in mind for the boy. For decades, just what this project could be has been a subject of occasional speculation.
  • The famous Yamato-class battleship could have been a far different beast had another of the two dozen design proposals been chosen, as they varied quite greatly among other things in propulsion and armament, with one putting the three gun turrets in front of the bridge.
  • Space exploration is a great example of this trope, as later redesigns and/or (especially) budget constraints may change an early design quite significantly:
    • The iconic descent module used during the Apollo program to land on the Moon changed quite significantly during development. One of the earliest inceptions was informally named "The Bug".
    • The Cassini mission to Saturn began life as a quite Voyager-like spacecraft before the aforementioned money cuts transformed her into the far more blocky design that finally went to Saturn.
    • The famed Voyager probes were originally conceived as several pairs of probes that would explore the five outer planets, from Jupiter to Plutonote . Lack of money left just the two probes we know (so no Voyager-6, at least in this timeline), and once in space the trajectory of Voyager-1 - originally slated to flyby Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto - was changed so she would make a close pass of Saturn's largest moon Titan, precluding it from going to Pluto, which would have to wait until New Horizons' arrival in 2015.
    • Several people connected with NASA confirmed that, had he not died in the Apollo 1 fire, Gus Grissom would've been the first person to walk on the Moon. Besides being the Apollo astronaut with the most seniority, the symbolic value of having one of the original Mercury astronauts take the first steps was also a consideration.
  • Real life Animal Wrongs Group Direct Action Everywhere were planning a whole week of protests at one Whole Foods Market called "Occupy Whole Foods", only for the location's management to slap them with a restraining order.
  • Alliances between the Mongols and the Crusaders to fight the mutual threat of Islamic nations were discussed but never materialized.
  • As the Soviet Union began to collapse, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to keep the country intact. In March 1991, a national referendum was held and the people overwhelmingly voted to keep the union together in a reformed state. The New Union Treaty would have turned the nation into the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, decentralizing the government, but maintaining a common president, foreign policy, and military. Unfortunately, the day before the treaty was to be signed, communist hardliners staged a coup. In its aftermath, Gorbachev's power disappeared and any hope of keeping the Soviet Union together evaporated.

Alternative Title(s): What Might Have Been


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