It has been almost two full decades since Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods worked her way through Harvard Law School to stick it to her ex-boyfriend, and the legacy of Legally Blonde remains as powerful as ever. The film stands as a surprisingly compelling tale of female empowerment, serving as the launching pad for a franchise that includes a sequel and a stage adaptation. Most fans know how it ends, but it's been revealed that the original version of the film's conclusion would've been different, with a broader focus on the romantic subplot. Legally Blonde co-writer Karen McCullah explained:
Originally it ended at the courthouse right after the trial. Everyone was congratulating Elle, and Emmett came up and gave her a big kiss. Then there was a tag where it was a year in the future and she and Vivian, who was now blond, had started the Blonde Legal Defense Fund and they were in the quad handing out pamphlets.
Sometimes a better idea rises to the top when filmmakers give it time to do so, and that's exactly what happened in the case of Legally Blonde. The original version of the film ended with Elle defeating her ex-boyfriend, Warner, in court, and closed on a kiss between her and Emmett. Still definitely a victory for Elle, but with a far deeper focus on who she ended up with at the end of the story.
As is often the case with films like these, the early audience reaction played a significant role in how Legally Blonde evolved and moved forward. In fact, Karen McCullah also explained in her conversation with EW that the changes made to Legally Blonde's finale largely stemmed from notes acquired during test screenings. The writer explained:
The test-screening audience didn't feel like it was an exciting enough ending for her, success-wise. The kiss made it seem like it was a rom-com.
Of course, as fans already know, while Legally Blonde certainly maintains some of the hallmarks of the rom-com genre, it is most certainly not a romantic comedy at its core. It's about Elle's journey, and the film hammers that idea home in the final scene, during which the newly-minted graduate from Harvard gives a rousing speech to her fellow students. Check it out, below.
Without that ending, it's hard to imagine that Legally Blonde would've developed the same degree of staying power that it has experienced with audiences. With a cult following, and demand for a third installment (from fans, as well as insiders like Reese Witherspoon), we think it's safe to say that the right decision was made in the long run.
So, there you have it. Legally Blonde almost ended in a very different way, and that likely would've changed much of the perception that fans have of it. Make sure to let us know what you think of this alternate ending in the comments, and head over to our 2018 movie premiere guide to see what movies are on the horizon in the coming year!