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10 TV Shows That Shot Multiple Endings Before ‘Game of Thrones’

The internet is abuzz today, because HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed today that multiple endings will be filmed for the hit series Game of Thrones, to prevent spoilers from leaking out online. And of course this comes as no surprise, since everything related to Game of Thrones goes viral nowadays. We could find out that Tyrion will wear sandals in Season 8 and there would probably be videos about it online within hours, speculating about what it REALLY means.

But the simple fact is that shooting multiple endings of a hit series is nothing new. The industry has been doing it for many years, in fact, to throw off reporters, gossip-hounds or even just die-hard fans who can’t resist the urge to snoop. And in an environment where HBO now has to worry about hackers releasing episodes of Game of Thrones early – which happened earlier this year – it only makes sense that the network would want to hedge its best and concoct some alternate conclusions where different characters die, or ascend to the Iron Throne, or are revealed to be relatives all along.

Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest, weirdest and in some cases significantly better alternate endings that were shot for various tv season and series finales, and marvel at what might have been (and almost was).

TV Shows That Shot Multiple Endings:

Before Twin Peaks was a pop culture phenomenon, the network was scared it might be a dud. So they made David Lynch shoot an alternate ending to the pilot that wrapped up the whole mystery. This ending isn't canon, but a lot of the footage wound up being used later on in the series, as part of a dream sequence that established the elaborate mythology of the show.

Photo: ABC

After Twin Peaks was a pop culture phenomenon, everyone wanted to know who killed Laura Palmer. So when the time came to reveal the killer, David Lynch shot at least one other version of the scene to prevent the real identity of the killer from leaking to the press. In the alternate version, Ben Horne - one of the show's most obvious red herrings - was the murderer.

Photo: ABC

One of the most talked about television events of the 1990s was the season six finale of The Simpsons, which set up the mystery of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?". The shooter was revealed to be Maggie Simpson, but an alternate ending was produced in which it was Mr. Burns' assistant Smithers instead (his punishment: a pay cut). Also, multiple fake-out shots were animated with various other Simpsons characters pulling the trigger. 

Photo: 20th Century Fox Television

The controversial series finale of the hit sitcom Seinfeld found the protagonists accused of "criminal indifference", and going to jail for - basically - being selfish jerks. An alternate ending was filmed in which they were found not guilty, but let's be honest: they deserved what they got.

Photo: NBC

The WB drama Everwood earned a faithful legion of fans over its four seasons, and they were probably quite satisfied when - in the series finale - Ephram and Amy reunited for a happy ending. But there was a chance that Everwood might come back for another season, so the producers also filmed a version where the reunion never happened because of interference from Eprham's ex, Madison. (CURSE YOU, MADISON!)

Photo: Warner Bros. Television

One of the biggest moments in the history of the hit action series 24 was when, at the end of season one, Jack's former lover Nina was revealed to be a traitor, and killed his wife, Teri. To keep audiences from finding out about the dramatic twist, three endings were filmed, and in two of them Teri lived.

Photo: 20th Century Fox Television

The long-running mystery series Pretty Little Liars found a group of girls who are stalked by a person or persons called "A", after the disappearance and murder of one of their friends. In the third season finale we found out who one of the culprits really is, and it was freakin' Toby all along. (Knew it.) But an alternate ending was shot where the "A" was revealed to be Caleb, and another one was also filmed where it was Paige.

Photo: Warner Bros. Television

In the season four finale of the hit genre-bending series Lost, one of the characters was revealed to have died at some point in the future. In another fake-out to fool the press and the gossiping fans, the showrunners filmed three versions, one where the corpse was Locke, one where it was Sawyer, and one where it Desmond. A real twist would have been if it was Jack looking at his OWN dead body, but anyway, we all know which direction they really went.

Photo: ABC

The long-running animated series Total Drama Island is based on reality tv competitions like Survivor, so every season ends with one of the characters winning the competition. Two different endings are filmed each time, and various countries wind up with different versions. Unlike most other alternate endings, these not only saw the light of the day, but could arguably be considered canon (depending on where you live).

Photo: Teletoon

Will Carrie finally marry Big? Well, yes, but the series finale of Sex and the City was a pretty big deal so three endings were shot, just in case of shenanigans. There's one where Carrie marries the Petrovsky instead, one where she breaks up with everyone, and another where Carrie and Big don't get married but stay together anyway.

Photo: HBO

One of the most dissatisfying series finales in history almost had a superior conclusion. In addition to the canonical version where "your mother" is met, and then promptly freakin' dies, another ending was filmed where she doesn't die. There, isn't that less of a jerk thing to do?

Photo: CBS
Top Photos: ABC / HBO / Showtime

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.