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Nightmare On Elm Street’s Original Ending Was WAY Happier

While A Nightmare On Elm Street’s ending is pretty cheesy, the classic 80s horror movie originally had a coda that was less twisty and more outright cheerful. “Happy” is not the first word that most horror aficionados would associate with A Nightmare On Elm Street. Director Wes Craven’s iconic fantasy horror has its moments of comic relief, but the tale of dream demon Freddy Krueger invading the slumber of innocent teens and brutally picking them off in their sleep is not a happy story.

However, A Nightmare On Elm Street’s original ending could have changed that. Much like Freddy’s original death in the sixth Nightmare On Elm Street movie, the lost ending for A Nightmare On Elm Street radically altered the tone of the slasher series. In the existing ending, Nancy seemingly defeats Freddy before waking up and then leaves her mom to join her surviving friends on an idyllic morning, only for the whole scene to become a nightmare that signals Freddy isn’t really dead. However, Craven originally wanted Nancy’s mother to survive and A Nightmare On Elm Street to end on a sweet, ethereal note.

Related: Nightmare On Elm Street 2010 Almost Had An Even Worse Freddy Krueger

Craven’s Original Ending Was Sweeter (& Stranger)
Heather Langenkamp in A NIghtmare on Elm Street
Per the director’s recollection in a retrospective by CineFantastique, “the ending as written was she just comes out the front door, and her mother’s alive and there’s a tremendous fog… she was supposed to walk off into the mist, and that would be it.” While Craven’s Freddy Krueger design made it into A Nightmare On Elm Street intact, this ending was too mild for executives who wanted one last jump scare to guarantee that audiences would leave the theater scared. Unfortunately, the rushed special effects of A Nightmare On Elm Street’s theatrical ending were comically bad, meaning Craven’s more mysterious original ending would likely have been a better alternative.

Why Nightmare On Elm Street’s Ending Brought Back Freddy
Freddy Krueger as a TV nightmare on elm street
A Nightmare On Elm Street’s ending brought back Freddy to ensure that audiences didn’t forget the movie’s main attraction. Freddy’s popularity (or lack thereof) was what would go on to make or break the franchise’s potential and, despite how iconic his role is, the original A Nightmare On Elm Street only gave him seven minutes of screen time. To ensure that Freddy could compete with Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, the studio felt the need to give him one last cameo in A Nightmare On Elm Street even if this outshone the conclusion of Nancy’s character arc.

Craven’s vision for the ending is more focused on Nancy’s story and it is more fitting in that regard. Nancy faces her fears, defeats Freddy, and escapes from the dream world back into reality at the climax of A Nightmare On Elm Street. As such, seeing her emerge victorious and end up reunited with her mother would have been the most appropriate way to finish her story. However, the studio was more invested in Freddy’s potential as a sequel-spawning franchise villain than Nancy’s plot. Thus, everything from the Dream Warriors to the Dream Demons of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was set up by the new ending, which ignored Nancy in favor of Freddy.

How Nightmare On Elm Street’s New Ending Shaped The Franchise
A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Quotes Feature
Bringing back Freddy Krueger for one last jump scare allowed the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise to establish that the character could be temporarily defeated, but would still be able to repeatedly return in as many sequels as the public wanted. This turned the self-contained story of A Nightmare On Elm Street into a franchise, with the first sequel dropping Craven, forgetting Nancy, and essentially ignoring everything about the original movie that didn’t relate to Freddy himself. Much like the Friday the 13th franchise took Jason and ran with him, A Nightmare On Elm Street’s new ending gave the studio carte blanche to make Freddy a superstar.

Related: Why The Nightmare On Elm Street Reboot Is Taking So Long

By the later sequels in the series, A Nightmare On Elm Street had given up on establishing likable leads for each new movie and were instead bent on giving Freddy as much focus as possible. This resulted in increasingly dire reviews as the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise strayed further from Craven’s original vision and further into depicting Krueger as a comical anti-villain. None of this would have been possible if Craven’s dream-like original ending was the one that made it into the movie’s final cut. However, if this were the case, New Line Cinema would never have become known as “the house Freddy built” thanks to the profits of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.

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