Alien is already a pretty terrifying film. But it turns out that Ridley Scott originally envisioned an even more depressing and cutthroat conclusion to his 1979 masterpiece. Literally. That's because he wanted Sigourney Weaver's Ripley to not only fail in her attempt to kill the Xenomorph, but to be decapitated during her attempt to fend it off, too. Sir Ridley Scott recently recalled his original idea for the ending of Alien, admitting,
I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off.
Sir Ridley Scott didn't stop there, though. The director also explained that after Ripley's tragic death he also wanted to cut to the tentacles of the alien pressing some buttons on the dashboard, before it would then "mimic Captain Dallas [Tom Skerritt] saying, 'I'm signing off'." Unfortunately Sir Ridley Scott forgot to divulge whether or not the titular beast would then have sat down with Jones the cat on his lap, or if he'd have proceeded to dismember the feline, too. I'm going to guess it would be the latter.
At the time, 20th Century Fox was far from enamored with Sir Ridley Scott's description of how Alien should come to an end. Ridley Scott also recalled to Entertainment Weekly that after calling up the bigwigs at the studio from London's Shepperton Studios and pitching this idea to them they immediately flew over from Los Angeles and threatened to fire him right there and then. Clearly Sir Ridley Scott wasn't too beholden to this conclusion, because he quickly caved in. You can remind yourself of how Alien actually ended by watching the clip below.
I'm still a little undecided about which ending I prefer. Of course the above provides a cathartic and celebratory conclusion, especially when you consider that we just spent the past 2 hours watching the crew of the Nostromo being picked off one by one. However, the proposed Ridley Scott ending would have been a fittingly depressing and earth-shattering way to bring Alien to a close, and probably the most realistic outcome, too.
Having Ripley survive actually turned out to be a rather lucrative decision for 20th Century Fox and Sir Ridley Scott. That's because Fox made three sequels to Alien, each of which starred Sigourney Weaver. While Ridley Scott has also directed the Alien prequel Prometheus, which provided him with the opportunity to behead the humanoid David (Michael Fassbender), and he has just directed Prometheus' follow-up Alien: Covenant, too. Ridley Scott has even admitted that he believes at least two more Alien films will also be released. We'll know if they're actually warranted soon after Alien: Covenant hits theaters on May 19.