The Haunting of Hill House has been one of Netflix's most acclaimed original series of the year, but that may not have been the case had it stuck with Season 1's original ending. Series creator Mike Flanagan revealed that the horror/dysfunctional family drama was originally supposed to end on a cliffhanger. Flanagan explained why that ending was dropped, indicating he's more than fine with the change.
It didn't look like anything I'd want out there in the world, which is why we abandoned it quickly. It was part of the very, very early conversations we had about it, but it never really took a shape that I'd want to talk about.
Mike Flanagan wasn't comfortable discussing the original ending he envisioned for The Haunting of Hill House and made it clear to TVLine he was far more satisfied with the actual ending. What's more interesting is beyond the ending, Flanagan maintained that the original script penned was relatively unchanged in terms of where the story goes. So how could The Haunting of Hill House maintain the same direction it had in the finished version, but then end in a cliffhanger twist?
The world may never know what Mike Flanagan intended for his cliffhanger ending, but he's already revealed an alternate ending he had in mind for the Netflix original. Flanagan told The Hollywood Reporter things didn't really work out so great for the Crain sibling group in the final scene.
We toyed with the idea for a little while that over that monologue, over the image of the family together, we would put the Red Room window in the background. For a while, that was the plan. Maybe they never really got out of that room. The night before it came time to shoot it, I sat up in bed, and I felt guilty about it. I felt like it was cruel. That surprised me. I'd come to love the characters so much that I wanted them to be happy. I came in to work and said, 'I don't want to put the window up. I think it's mean and unfair.' Once that gear had kicked in, I wanted to lean as far in that direction as possible. We've been on this journey for 10 hours; a few minutes of hope was important to me.
Mike Flanagan seems to feel like the current finale of The Haunting of Hill House is a great ending for the Crain family, as he indicated he did not expect them to appear in a potential Season 2. The Netflix series has not been renewed for a new season as of yet, and Flanagan indicated that may not happen until he's finished his work on The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep.
A cliffhanger ending would've either forced Mike Flanagan to bring the Crains back into Season 2 or left some viewers disappointed if their stories were left unresolved while a new season followed a fresh set of characters. Right now, the series works as a stand-alone 10-hour movie, which is how Flanagan approached it when he wrote The Haunting of Hill House. A cliffhanger ending would've pressed the issue for Season 2, which -- as mentioned -- isn't on the table right now.