8 Alternative Endings To Stephen King Novels That Were Originally Planned

Misery could have had a WAY more miserable ending...

Misery Alternate Ending
Columbia Pictures

All writing is re-writing, and that's never more true than when it comes to narrative prose. A story, down to ever single plot beat and character turn, has to re-litigated and revised by its author ad nauseum until it begins to approach usable. And since the most important part of any story is often the ending, it's that particular section that often sees the most significant 11th-hour revising.

Being one of the most prolific and widely-recognized horror authors of all time, Stephen King's oeuvre has more than its fare share of "what could have been" in regards to how his stories closed out. Sometimes these changes are relatively minor and don't effect the overall narrative beyond a few minor details. Other times they have massive, wide-reaching consequences that stretch beyond just the initial novel and into spin-off and crossover works.

Whether it's a few small changes to the final chapters or massive overhauls of entire stories; here are some of the endings that very well could have been, but never were.

8. The Shining - After The Play

Misery Alternate Ending
Warner Bros.

The Shining seems to have a thing when it comes to cut endings. Notably the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film adaptation had its original final scene cut from all release prints at Kubrick's request after its opening weekend. But maybe Kubrick was only sticking to the tradition of the novel, which had its own removed final section.

King originally wrote a prologue and epilogue to his novel, entitled "Before the Play" and "After the Play" respectively. Both were cut before publishing (explanations differ, with a common one being that King's editor insisted on cutting down the page length in order to save on printing costs).

The former was later published in Whispers magazine in August 1982, and an abridged version appeared in the April 26–May 2, 1997 issue of TV Guide to promote the then-upcoming miniseries adaptation. The latter was thought lost completely, even by King, but was rediscovered in 2016 in an early manuscript of the novel. Both eventually were published in whole as part of the novel's Deluxe Special Edition by Cemetery Dance Publications, released in early 2017.

The epilogue doesn't add much plot-wise, comprised mostly of newspaper clippings from stories published in the wake of the book's events a la Carrie. The prologue on the other hand, is a short story recounting events at the Overlook years before the arrival of the Torrence family.


Writer, student, and part time-journo in the Pacific Northwest. TWIN PEAKS was shot in my backyard.