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What Could Have Been
aka: What Might Have Been

Go To
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.


Why a story may get altered falls into three broad categories:

  • The executives wanted to change it: Unless one is making something wholly independently, chances are that some person or company is funding the creation of a work. Meaning there's a good chance that they also want a say in what the final product is. Remember that not all executive interference is bad, and that the most beloved characters or aspects of a work can and have come at the suggestions or demands of a higher-up. But be it good or bad, a creator can expect to hear their fair share of "No" or "Yes, but only if you change this or that" during the production process.
  • The creator wanted to change it: The writer sat down to review a draft of their work and came to the realization that there is more to be done beyond fixing a few typos. No, this thing needs a serious rewrite. Or ten. Maybe they planned to kill off a sympathetic or popular character, but realized the character had more story potential walking the mortal plane instead of touring with the choir invisible (not that it stops a few people). Maybe those scenes were good, but didn't fit with the tone or themes of the story they wanted to tell; no matter how well-written that Training from Hell scene is, it probably doesn't belong in this episode of Blue's Clues. Or maybe they just changed their mind and happily threw an old idea into a fire after coming up with a new one.
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  • The changes were the result of circumstance: And sometimes things were just out of everyone's control, and both creatives and suits had to work together to figure out what the heck to do. It turns out they couldn't get the rights to that song or character after all. The special effects just aren't working. They're running out of time and money to finish. A global health crisis has thrown the entire production schedule off. The actor that was planned to play the lead never showed up on set, or died during production. Or maybe the script is just five minutes too long. The bottom line is that no one wanted to change it, but changes must happen regardless.

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. If fans prefer the original idea or concept over the final product, then it's Fan-Preferred Cut Content.

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, and here, and here.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Asian Animation 
  • The 2009 reveal trailer for BoBoiBoy and materials associated with it show a number of differences from the final product:
    • BoBoiBoy was named "BoBoi" and his dinosaur hat had three eyes. In addition, he shot lightning out of his hands rather than throwing it as in the final show.
    • Yaya's hijab likewise had a pair of eyes.
    • Adu Du was originally supposed to be a hero alongside BoBoiBoy and Yaya, and he had a dark blue vest on top of his usual getup.
    • A character named BoBot who didn't make it into the final product is shown. He's a red-colored robot with a screen for a head, likely meant to be some kind of robot sidekick to BoBoiBoy similar to Ochobot.
    • Tok Aba's hot cocoa shop was a proper building, rather than a stand.
  • The Wiki Rule: It has an English-language wiki here.
  • Lamput was created with the aim to pitch it to Nickelodeon India, thus Lamput's blobby orange nature. At the time, Cartoon Network India was looking for new pitches, thus going to that channel instead.
  • 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.
    • While it was still in its developmental stages, the show was titled Lazy Goat and Big Big Wolf and Paddi (known as Lazy Goat in Chinese) was to be the main character. The role of the main character went to Weslie instead when it was decided that Paddi's lazy personality was too negative for a protagonist.
  • 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, while 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 familiarity 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 developed 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 enough 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 accommodate 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.
    • The Allegro itself looked far better in the original concept drawings from designer Harris Mann. Unfortunately it's Italian looking lines and modernist nose style became much more rotund and frumpy in 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 MP4-12C, 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.
  • After a year sabbatical, Porsche were going to return to the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2000 with a new prototype car, the LMP-2000, but the project was shelved after one car was built and being tested. The engine design was reused as part of the 2004 Carrera GT road car.
  • 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.
  • At one point near the end of the existence of the Plymouth brand, Chrysler Corporation was considering having the PT Cruiser sold as a Plymouth (this also fed speculation, with the already in-production Prowler, that Chrysler was planning on a retro-styling theme for their entry-level brand, only for Chrysler's eventual merger with Daimler Benz AG to set the stage for Plymouth's ultimate demise in 2001.
  • And speaking of Chrysler's history, their AMC buyout killed several plans for that company's, ahem, Alliance with Renault, most notably the French automaker's plans to export the Espace minivan to the United States. Considering Chrysler's staunch placement in the American minivan market, the prospect of another contender was probably too much for Chrysler to bear, and another factor in their buyout of AMC.
    Card Games 
  • 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 manga and anime 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...
    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 performing 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.
    • Muppet High was going to be a television series set in The '50s featuring the Muppets. Kermit was going to be a leather jacket clad motorcycle rider, Piggy in a poodle skirt and Fozzie Bear as a soda jerk. It was in planning around 1990 but was most likely cancelled due to the death of Jim Henson. The series was far enough in development that a toy company actually put out Muppet High merchandise such as PVC figures.
  • 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 .
  • British radio station Virgin Radio (the original version that is now Absolute Radio, not the current version that debuted in 2016) was originally going to be sold to Capital Radio in 1997 but then-new breakfast host Chris Evans opposed said deal and instead bought the station, owning it until 2000 when he sold it to Scottish Media Group.
  • Adventures in Odyssey has its own page.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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." He's already drawn it at that point, but this gave the push he needed to post it.
    • 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.
    • He posted a few more of these for the strip's twentieth anniversary. They're all depressing and cruel, unsurprisingly.
  • 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.
  • When And Shine Heaven Now ended, Erin Ptah did a segment on 'Storylines That Weren't', ideas she had considered for the comic that never made it in:
    • A storyline about the time Reseda and Helena met during the time of the French Monarchy. Dropped cause it didn't get anywhere past the initial concept and the idea of constantly drawing French court dresses intimidated Erin.
    • A storyline involving Madeline's early days in the Holy League alongside Pepito (now her husband) and a Muslim confidant codenamed Mitraille. Didn't get anywhere past the character cast.
    • Enrico teaming up with an I-Jin of Gregor Mandel to try to create a Catholic version of Integra, and implied in the future a successor would be successful at it, creating Caterina Sforza of Trinity Blood.
    • A Bizarro Episode version of the 'fangirl' story arcs where 'flamers' would come instead and antagonize Millennium.
    • A storyline where Pip experiments with his gender presentation after becoming Seras's familiar. Likely dropped because Erin wished to move on to working full time on But I'm a Cat Person after the spoilered event happened.
    • A crossover between Hellsing and Lupin III where Hellsing teams up with Zenigata to try to thwart a heist of Lupin's. (Lupin and co would make cameo appearances during the Millennium attacks, fighting Rip van Winkle.)
    • Integra searching for someone to adopt as her heir. Dropped when canon revealed her position would be government appointed in the future.
    • A storyline hinted in Shine (by the existence of an In-Universe book) about the time Sherlock Holmes'' and Watson met Count D, which Watson shelved as he knew no one would believe the more supernatural elements.
    • Integra does The Divine Comedy. Dropped because Erin couldn't decide what Integra was searching for.
    • Cameos during the Millennium attacks that never came to fruition include:
      • Pippi Longstocking, who ends up going on the run after she's suspected of being not human
      • Kaitou Saint Tail, who comes out of retirement to steal a Nazi death ray.
      • Mystery Inc., who after their initial encounter with Hellsing became a very efficient monster fighting squad. One of them makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save the others.
      • Ms. Frizzle's class, now college aged and reunited with Ms. Frizzle to use the Bus as a mecha to fight Millennium.
  • Sleepless Domain:
    • The comic had originally been called Umbra Rising.
    • Alchemical Aether and Alchemical Earth both had different costumes. Aether's incorporated the colors of her fellow teammates and Tessa's hair was a much paler shade of pink, possible meant to be white hair, with sections colored the other girls' colors, and Earth wore poofy shorts instead of a skirt to reflect Gwen's more tomboyish nature, but Mary Cagle decided it set a bad precedent for the more heavyset Gwen to be the only one not in a skirt.
    • The comic itself was originally pitched as 'Survivor but for magical girls' and the leads would have been a four team ensemble, with early versions of Kokoro, Undine, a girl in yellow, and a girl in purple as the main cast.
    • Cagle briefly considered making the alchemical symbol for salt the sigil of the fusion of Tessa and the Purple One, but decided to go with the one for platinum instead.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): What Might Have Been


AniMat's 2020 Expectation List

AniMat lists off the movies that will be coming to 2021, only for the list to be moot due to COVID-19.

How well does it match the trope?

3.29 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhatCouldHaveBeen

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