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18 Movies That Changed The Ending Of The Books They're Based On

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    It's the argument that never seems to die: What's better, the book or the movie?

    While I would argue that it's nearly impossible to compare a film to a novel, not all big screen book adaptations are equal. In addition to switching up the medium, plenty of adaptations go so far as to change the ending of the work in which they are based.

    There are a few reasons why a film might swap out a novel's ending when giving it the film treatment. Is it kind of a downer? Is it lacking a certain pizzazz that works fine on the page but less so on the screen? With the creative freedom to twist a story any which way, you best believe that filmmakers will take it if it means a more memorable movie.

    You might be surprised to learn which movies altered their original conclusion for the big screen — and how these stories were actually supposed to end. Here's a list of some of the biggest changes made when a book became a film.

    Spoilers, obviously, to follow.


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    0 of 19

    Fight Club

    At the end of David Fincher's adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's famous novel, anarchist Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is no more — the Narrator (Edward Norton) "shoots" his alter-ego, killing him. However, Palahniuk's ending is a little bleaker: the Narrator wakes up in a mental institution, and it's made clear that Tyler is still very much a part of him.

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    My Sister's Keeper

    This story — about a girl who fights for the right to her own body when her parents ask her to donate a kidney to her sister with cancer — had a different, equally tragic ending. In Jodi Picoult's novel, Anna wins a lawsuit against her parents and does not have to donate a kidney to her cancer-ridden sister Kate, whom we learn set up Anna's lawsuit in the first place. However, after winning the case, Anna gets into a car accident and dies, and donates her kidney to Kate posthumously.

    In the movie, the accident never happens. Kate (played by Sofia Vassilieva) dies and her family, including sister Anna (Abigail Breslin) makes peace with her decision to stop battling cancer.

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    I Am Legend

    At the end of this zombie apocalypse flick, Will Smith's Robert Neville sacrifices himself to a hoard of zombies, so that a woman and child can live and pass on the cure to the virus that has destroyed humanity. The original book by Richard Matheson has a twist that's not so... dare I say zombie-basic?

    In the novel, Neville realizes that he has become a monster of sorts to the zombies, who have created their own society and look upon him, a murderer of their species, with fear. Neville is captured and given an execution pill, which he takes, contemplating whether it's the zombies or him that's to blame.

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    The Shining

    There are a lot of differences between Stephen King's novel and Stanley Kubrick's adaptation, so much so that King reportedly loathes the film version.

    However, one of the most notable differences is the ending: In the original novel, Jack is able to recover the love he has for his son Danny, and tells him to run away as Jack's mind is possessed by the spirits of the Overlook Hotel. The hotel then explodes. In the movie, Jack (Jack Nicholson) stays a bad guy all the way through the end, and though Danny (Danny Lloyd) is able to trick Jack into freezing to death in the maze, the Overlook Hotel remains intact.

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    The Great Gatsby (2013)

    Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic stuck pretty closely to the original — at least in terms of plot. However, there was one major change that added extra context to the story watched unfold. At the end of Luhrmann's film, it's revealed that narrator Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) was writing a book about his friend Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) which he naturally titles The Great Gatsby.