The ending of Alien — one of the scariest movies of all time — isn’t exactly happy, but at least one of the members of the Nostromo crew survives. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley lives to fight another day, and another alien, but the original ending that Ridley Scott suggested wasn’t nearly as upbeat.

While talking to Entertainment Weekly for their Untold Stories series, Scott revealed that his original idea for the ending involved the xenomorph literally ripping Ripley’s head off in the film’s final moments.

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. It would mimic Captain Dallas [Tom Skerritt] saying, ‘I’m signing off.’ The first executive from Fox arrived on set within 14 hours, threatening to fire me on the spot. So we didn’t do that.

That would have changed basically everything we know about the Alien franchise today. Ripley wouldn’t have appeared in any of the other Alien movies — heck, there might not have even been any more Alien movies.

Oddly, as classic as that movie is now, an ending like that might actually fly today. Life, the new space horror movie that takes plenty of cues from movies like Alien (spoilers for Life follow, so if you haven’t seen it, look away!!), ends on a distinct downer: long story short, the evil, ravenous extra terrestrial ends up in an escape pod that’s supposed to be heading out to the depths of space, but instead crash-lands on Earth. The final scene is of a group of fishermen opening up the pod, allowing the creature to escape to wreak havoc on our planet. Maybe, given Hollywood’s current penchant for what they deem “realistic” movies, Scott’s Alien ending might have been able to happen. Luckily for Ripley, she was born into an era where the hero lives at the end.

Alien: Covenant hits theaters October 6.

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