The Original Ending Of THE MUPPETS

The new Muppet movie went through lots of changes from script to screen. Here's a big one.

Spoilers for The Muppets follow.

I was troubled by the ending of The Muppets. Our heroes failed to raise enough money to buy back The Muppet Studios (failed cataclysmically, in fact, as Fozzie bumping into the tote board reveals) and so lose not just the studio but the name "The Muppets" and their own names and likenesses. Evil Tex Richman wins the day. Kermit leads the Muppets (and human friends) out into the street to find thousands of folks thronging them, cheering the return of the characters. Everybody sings a happy song and there's 'The End' in fireworks and it's happy!

Except that the Muppets still failed and Tex Richman owns everything. You have to stick through the credits to see how that gets wrapped up - Gonzo hits Richman in the head with a bowling ball and, from his hospital bed, he gives everything back to the Muppets. All of this happens in newspaper headlines over the closing credits.

Whatever your opinion is of The Muppets, this is kind of a weird ending. It feels like a lot of important stuff was cut or removed and we ended up left with some newspaper headlines explaining the finale. And it feels that way because it was that way - there was once a different ending. According to my sources this different ending was shot, and I guess it could end up on the DVD/Blu.

There was actually quite a bit cut from The Muppets, including a slew of celeb cameos (you'll remember Danny Trejo showing up in a trailer but not being in the movie) and some secondary character stuff (I have heard 80s Robot had more to do at one point). But the ending is the thing most radically changed as James Bobin tried to find the shape of the movie. 

The endings diverge when the big tote board comes up one dollar short. In the released film Fozzie bumps it and we see they're actually millions short. In the original film they're always one dollar short, and when it looks like all hope is lost Waldorf and Statler pipe up from the balcony. "That wasn't so bad after all," they say, and toss down a dollar. The Muppets are victorious.

There must have been a good reason to change that ending because for my money it's way better than what they ended up with. Most importantly it redeems Waldorf and Statler, who at the beginning of the movie are helping Richman find a loophole in Kermit's contract. What's more it cleanly wraps up the story, and it does so by involving characters who are rarely directly involved in Muppet adventures. It's a good, strong ending.

I believe that elements of the Richman finale were always in the ending, especially Gonzo and the bowling ball. See, another deleted sequence involved a flashback to Tex's childhood. We learn that he was entertained at his birthday by the Muppets (remember him saying at the beginning of the film that he's been a fan since he was a kid?), but for some reason Tex can't laugh. He can't receive the third greatest gift the Muppets have to offer. It's traumatizing for him. 

That sets up his desire to destroy the Muppet Studios, as well as his 'Maniacal laugh' gag (although the reveal is later in the film, so his initial 'Maniacal laugh' would still work as a non-sequiter). What's more this sets up Richman as the ultimate anti-Walter, a nice touch. At the end of the film Gonzo would still have hit him with the bowling ball, which would knock loose the block that kept Richman from laughing - we actually see him laughing in his hospital bed in the finished film. So while Richman would have lost the day he would have won back his ability to laugh.

These are just some of the scenes that were cut or changed in The Muppets. The script was in flux during production, and there were some big reshoots on the film as well. I hope that at least some of this stuff ends up on the home video release; I actually wouldn't mind a whole new cut that incoporates the original Waldorf and Statler ending.