Every time you finish a good book, a satisfying ending will leave you feeling exhilarated–but one that doesn’t tie up loose ends will leave you feeling lost. Similarly, one that gives you too much grief will be difficult to get over. Good or bad, happy or sad, the end of a book always brings about mixed emotions that can usually be summarized into five stages. Since conclusions leave lasting impressions on readers, authors sometimes struggle with finding the most suitable way to finish up their stories. Imagine if authors of these famous books had adopted these alternate endings instead… How would you react?
Warning: Major SPOILERS ahead.
1. Great Expectations by Charles DickensBuy it from Amazon
Official ending: Pip reunites with Estella and believes that they shall never part from each other again.
The ending(s) that could have been: In Dickens’ original draft, Pip met Estella after she had married again. After some small talk and stiff hand-shaking, Pip leaves with the knowledge that they will never be together. Dickens’ friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton complained about how bleak this is and the writer changed it to what we are familiar with nowadays. Moreover, Dickens also wrote several other endings upon request by his Victorian writer friends such as Thomas Hardy, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw and John Ruskin. Each of these alternate ending would correspond to the friend’s style of writing.
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenBuy it from Amazon
Official ending: Augustus’ cancer returns and he dies, leaving Hazel distraught. However, the abrasive Peter van Houten shows up at Augustus’s funeral to apologize and to inform her of the sequel to An Imperial Affliction that Augustus had been writing.
The ending that could have been: John Green shared with Nat Wolff, the actor who plays Issac, that there was an “epically terrible” ending in which after Augustus dies, Hazel and van Houten team up to challenge a drug lord in honor of their dear friend despite knowing that they themselves will die “in a hail of bullets from all of the security around the drug lord.” After he sent this original draft to his editor, she read it and said, “The last 40 pages, I can’t tell if you’re kidding.”
3. Matildaby Ronald DahlBuy it from Amazon
Official ending: On Matilda’s way to the police, her nasty parents finally agree to let Miss Honey take care of her and they live happily ever after.
The ending that could have been: In an early version of Dahl’s story, Matilda dies in the end. Before you gasp at this shockingly absurd ending, you should know that Dahl had originally written this book as a cautionary tale. The earlier Matilda was an extremely naughty child who pulled nasty pranks on everyone around her. Her eventual death would have been justification for an accumulation of her wrongdoings.