Nancy Roman

Alternate Endings

Do you ever wish that the writer of the book you just read or the movie you saw would have consulted you before she decided on that particular ending?

I do.

Sometimes it is simply historical reality that makes people or characters act the way they act. But I see so many occasions where there could be a much more interesting outcome.


Take Jane Eyre, for example.(my favorite book since I was twelve… and still 55 years later.) In 1847, Jane could hardly embrace immorality, but when you think about it, she does anyway – despite the mores of the times. She returns to Edward Rochester not knowing that Rochester’s crazy wife is dead. She returns to him willingly, aware that he already has a wife. So Jane was plenty subversive – for 1847.

But how I would love it if, when Jane Eyre returned to Thorncrest, she had found everything pretty much as she left it. Mad Bertha still alive, still living in the attic. And Jane stays anyway – her own decision. Married (by love and commitment only, not by the church) to Edward, she has a family of her own, including Adele. And Jane takes good and compassionate care of Bertha, too, for the rest of their lives.


I love the movie Baby Boom. I am willing to suspend all logic and reality to accept that Diane Keaton can inherit a baby from a long-lost cousin, and that Diane had never so much as held a baby in her life. And I even accept that she can be her ditzy self and still hold a high-level management position. I can accept that she gives it all up for a falling-down farmhouse. I accept it all because Diane is adorable and the baby Elizabeth even more adorable. And because she gets to say “screw you” to her big, important job.

But.  Oh, how I wish Diane Keaton went to Vermont to that ramshackle farmhouse and fixed it up and didn’t meet a handsome veterinarian. And liked her life anyway.


I loved Friends. I never missed an episode. I planned my Thursday evenings so I could be friends with all those friends. I loved every quirky one of them.

Phoebe was my favorite. I just wish she had pointed out a lot more often to Monica and Rachel how fantastic it is to be completely independent. Not needy. And honest without a trace of meanness. You do not have to lie to get out of an unpleasant situation.


I was on vacation at Cape Cod (in a tent, as I was one of many penniless students) when every other song on the radio was Rod Stewart’s Maggie May. No matter where we were and what we doing, when we heard that mandolin, we would all stop – and sing.

But I wish Maggie May had said, “YOU feel YOU’RE being used??? Get your freeloading ass out of my house, and go back to school. Learn something!”



My dog-eared, yellow-paged, underlined, illegibly annotated, 50-year-old copy of JANE EYRE.




  1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! All of the above! But I’m a dyed-in the-wool romantic at heart and secretly I love the fact that Jane Eyre gets her man AND gets to keep her reputation intact 🙂


    • I see your point, but I would love to have her reputation ruined and not have her give a damn.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The final scene of jaws would have much more of an impact if the mate of the deceased shark came up and ate them both as they paddled towards land. In the book, only Brodie survived.


  3. That would be very cool indeed.


  4. I love this! I, too, think some books and movies could have better endings. But, like life, we’re stuck with what we get sometimes.


    • I rather like that definition of Life: you’re stuck with what you get.


  5. kamrul688082664

    I like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And how about all those terribly sad endings in Nicholas Sparks’s books? I mean, seriously … who wants to invest in characters in a book only to have them die off at the end? I want to feel GOOD when I put a book down (or watch a movie reach its end).


    • Well, although I don’t like being obviously manipulated by the writer, I do like a good book or movie that honestly moves me to tears. I good cry is so cathartic. And in that way, a sad ending can sometimes make me feel pretty good.


  7. I know what you mean about wishing for alternative endings. I feel the same way about many books and movies. I don’t know if that is a case of me imposing my own values and preferences on the work, but even it is, it’s sure fun to think about! Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way…


  8. Pam

    I loved your alternate ending for Jane Eyre. And you are right: As far as Jane knew, Mr. Rochester was still married to his crazy wife when she came back to him and it would still have been immoral. Jane Eyre is one of my all time faves, too, although I first read it about 4 or 5 years ago.


  9. Jane Eyre, the only book I ever ‘forgot’ to return to the school library, and I still have it, 47 years later. And it still makes my heart sing 🙂


  10. yes sometimes I am not satisfied with endings (books) particularly when I feel the writer has hurried the last bit as if they are bored with the whole book and want to start a new one…..but when in the French Lieutenants woman you are given three different endings in the book…that made me uneasy …so perhaps !!!!?


  11. Your idea for Jane Eyre is brilliant! I agree that sometimes books and movies have endings that leave us wanting. One hobby I’ve recently picked up is reading fan fiction online. Fans of some books have great ideas for spinoffs and alternate endings. Plus, it’s a great way to stay in the world of your favorite book after you’ve finished reading it.


  12. Nicely written article! Sometimes I feel that a good book, movie, or play or what not should have a more satisfying conclusion. If only everything had a clear-cut resolution.


  13. SO many times. Not only that, but when books have extra pages with stuff that could be cut out and just seems like it was added to make it longer. I absolutely loved “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Although, the very very last paragraph or so definitely may have been an after thought to please publishers. Could have just left it and it still would have been a wonderful story.


  14. matraskaratedo

    Good Post


  15. Patricia Mitchell Lapidus

    You said it exactly, Nancy. But Bronte was born too early for that. Compare to The French Lieutenant’s Woman (John Knowles) and you get a truly bohemian woman.


    • Good comparison! I liked that book.


  16. Phoebe! You’re so right. She’s wonderfully kind and totally honest and high principles – which in a way makes her the least realistic character because you never meet people like that. But I love her so much I want her to be real.


    • Grrr – autocorrect changed ‘principled’ to ‘principles’. (And also ‘Grrr’ to ‘Here’!) Lesson: always re-read before posting.


  17. Kathy Zurcher

    I love the way you think, Nancy. And I love the way you write.



  1. Alternate Endings — notquiteold | Aheadguide

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