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Fight Club’s ending changed because David Fincher said it was too dark

One of the best '90s movies almost ended very differently, with David Fincher altering Fight Club as it moved from the page to the big screen.

Edward Norton in thriller movie Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club is supposed to be that you don’t talk about Fight Club. And yet, here we are, more than 20 years later talking about the thriller movie. Hopefully, Brad Pitt doesn’t turn up to punch us in the face.

Unfortunately for sticklers, Fight Club is just too intriguing not to talk about, from its daring Jekyll and Hyde plot twist to the ending, in which Edward Norton’s protagonist shoots himself to try to excise the malevolent movie villain Tyler Durden from his mind.

As with many movies based on books, this is a different ending to the novel, and the change is something director David Fincher was passionate about.

In the original novel by Chuck Palahniuk, the Narrator shoots himself directly in the head only to survive, with the heavy implication that Tyler still lives as well to continue Project Mayhem’s work.

However, the ‘90s movie changed things slightly. The Narrator shoots himself through the cheek, which is enough to kill Tyler while allowing him to live on with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter).

It’s a much brighter conclusion to a drama movie that remains relatively bleak, and Fincher was the driving force. He told a 1999 issue of Empire Magazine that he felt the ending loved Tyler a little too much. “I wanted people to love Tyler, but I also wanted them to be OK with his vanquishing,” the director explained.

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For more of the best movies ever made, check out our lists of the best comedy movies, the best teen movies, the best horror movies, and the best adventure movies – as well as all of the new movies coming your way in 2023.