The Alternate Ending to ‘Titanic’ Turned the Film Into an Afternoon Special

The Big Picture

  • Titanic‘s alternate ending changes a few things but ultimately doesn’t work as well as the original ending.
  • The alternate ending includes cheesy dialogue that handholds the audience through the messages of the film.
  • The original ending to Titanic reflects the themes of the film in a much more meaningful and emotional way than the alternate ending.

James Cameron‘s Titanic is perhaps one of the most timeless epic romances in the history of cinema. Its sweeping score, spectacular special effects, and romantic heart captured many people in 1997. It became the highest-grossing film of all time for years, only to be usurped by Cameron yet again with Avatar, another epic romance. But what many people may not know is that there was an alternate ending to the film. Deleted and alternate scenes are certainly common with any movie. But oftentimes we ask ourselves, why was this cut? Titanic’s Blu-ray release collects a grand total of 30 deleted scenes. Considering the film is already over three hours, that is a lot of footage. Included in this is an alternate version of the ending. No, it is not too different from the ending we know and love, but it does change a few things. Most importantly, it is an ending that does not work nearly as well as the one in the finished film.

Titanic Movie Poster


A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Release Date
November 19, 1997

James Cameron

Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart


194 minutes

Main Genre

What Is ‘Titanic’s Alternate Ending?

The film’s alternate ending is set up the same way. This takes place directly after Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and Lizzy Calvert (Suzy Amis), Rose’s (Gloria Stuart) granddaughter, are talking on the research vessel once Rose has ended her recount of events. The film cuts to Rose approaching the railing, just as she does in the theatrical version. She grabs the rail and pulls herself up so that she can look over into the ocean’s dark depths. This is where the endings diverge. We all know the original ending: she tosses the necklace into the sea, watching it sink into the dark, its final resting place next to the wreckage and the 1,500 lost that night. The necklace sinking fades into the end sequence, where it is up to interpretation if Rose passes away or is dreaming.

In the alternate ending, Lizzy sees her grandmother climbing on the railing. After an exclamation, Lizzy and Brock both run to the scene, presumably thinking she might jump overboard like she was planning to while on the Titanic. Rose warns them to not come any closer, threatening to drop the necklace. Brock is shocked to see she has had the Heart of the Ocean the entire time she’s been there on the research vessel. The others arrive at the scene. Brock asks her if he could hold it one time, and she lets him. She then throws it into the sea behind her. Brock and Rose share a laugh, and there is more implication of a romantic spark between him and Lizzy. Only then does the scene tilt to the stars and fade into the same final sequence where Rose (Kate Winslet) seemingly joins Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the rest of the voyagers in either death or a dream. It may seem like a sweet sequence, and it works well on paper. Brock gets to hold the necklace one time before Rose throws it into the sea, both of them getting closure. It should work, but there are several reasons why it doesn’t.

Why the Alternate Ending of ‘Titanic’ Doesn’t Work

The main reason why this ending doesn’t work is the cheesy dialogue that handholds the audience through the messages of the film. Brock, as he tries to barter with her for the necklace says, “I don’t know what to say to a woman who tries to jump off of the Titanic when it’s not sinking and then jumps back on when it is.” Then as Brock holds the diamond in his hand, Rose tells him that he’s “[looking] for treasure in the wrong place […] only life is priceless, and making each day count.” With that, she slowly pulls it from his grasp, James Horner‘s score sweeps in, and she throws it into the water. There’s a comedic moment where another character says “that really sucks, lady!” But the focus here is on Brock, who has finally moved on from the years he’s spent obsessively searching for the necklace. This should reflect the themes set up in the film, and it does, but not in a good way. This alternate ending is essentially telling the audience what is happening word for word. The necklace means nothing in the long run. Brock should focus on the things right in front of him. This ending gives him the chance to see it, hold it, and move on. But in the theatrical cut, he already has moved on. The alternate ending is derivative of the scene before it.

In the scene that only takes a moment before the start of the ending, Brock and Lizzy are speaking as the submersibles are being loaded back onto the vessel. He presents the same cigar we see at the start of the film when the research team retrieves the safe, noting that he planned to smoke it when he found the diamond. He chucks the cigar overboard and says “three years, I thought of nothing except Titanic, but I never got it. I never let it in.” That is the end of the scene, and it goes straight into the scene where Rose has the iconic moment to herself when she lets go of the diamond into the ocean. Yes, Brock gets to see the diamond in the alternate cut, but here it is much more meaningful, and it does not cheapen Brock’s mournful moving-on scene in the moment before. Both Rose and Brock have something physical they let go of. She has the diamond, he has the cigar he was saving to smoke when he found it. Both items end up in the same place, and it is a wonderful thematic and visual parallel that does not seem out of place in the film like the alternate ending.

Alternate endings are usually always cut for some reason, for better or worse. Sometimes it’s time. Sometimes there is sequel bait tagged on. In some countries, movies end differently than in other countries. Test audiences can be unfulfilled with an ending and cause it to be reshot. Sometimes they simply do not work, like here. Other times, it is hard to imagine why they would scrap such a perfect ending. As for Titanic, Cameron made the right choice with its ending. The alternate ending may be a fun look into how the movie could have ended, but it is only a cheesy, comedic mess in comparison to the emotional ending we all know.

Titanic is available to stream on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Watch on Paramount+

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