A deleted scene refers to footage that has been removed, censored, or replaced in the final version of a film or television show. It is occasionally, but rarely, referred to as a "cut scene", but due to the usage of "cut scene" in reference to video games, the preference is to call it "deleted". A related term is "extended scene", which refers to scenes (such as fight scenes or montages) which were shortened for the final version of the film. Often extended scenes will be included in collections of deleted scenes, or also referred to as deleted scenes themselves, as is the case with for instance, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Serenity.
Reasons for removal of a scene
Scenes are removed, replaced, or shortened in films for a variety of reasons, including:
Requests that it be altered
The studio or network that is providing funding or support for, owns the rights to, or plans to air or distribute the film or films (usually the prior two) may be uncomfortable with a certain scene, and ask that it be altered or else removed or replaced entirely.
This kind of situation is most common in the production of television series, since networks and channels often have to be mindful of how the viewers, critics, and/or censors will react to programming, and may fear losing ratings, incurring fines, or having trouble finding advertisers.
- The 2002 Fox series Firefly's original pilot episode ("Serenity", parts 1 & 2) had such a change made, with the original, less action-packed scene being replaced in the final cut of the episode but featuring on the later DVD box set release of the series as one of several bonus features.
- A scene in the pilot of 24 involved the destruction of a 747 airplane. Aired just a few months after the events of 9/11, the producers made some creative edits to cut out shots of the plane visibly exploding.
- When the TV series Dead Like Me went from Showtime to basic cable Sci-Fi Channel, due to its heavy use of profanity, many scenes were altered in order to censor the profanity without removing a large amount of content.
- Scenes are cut from many Rankin/Bass specials for this reason. In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, there was a song called "Make Every Moment Count". This is taken off TV showings, likely in fear it might intimidate young children. This deleted scene can be viewed on YouTube.
Concerns about running time can also be cause for removal or shortening of scenes.
In feature films, sometimes scenes are cut to keep the length of the film's theatrical cut shorter. This appears to have happened with most of the Harry Potter feature films, including an arguably important transitional/plot-related scene in the second film (involving Harry's overhearing of the conversation in the shop in Knockturn Alley) which was not in the theatrical cut, but was released on the 2-disc DVD along with several other deleted scenes.
In the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the scene showing John Connor reprogramming the Terminator was shortened by deleting dialogue which made other scenes necessary, and these scenes were left out of the theatrical release version (but restored on the special edition VHS). Also, a scene where the T-1000 kills the family dog was deleted. In interviews, both Schwarzenegger and Cameron stress this was done to shorten the film (the theatrical version still ran 2 and 1/2 hours, even without these scenes), but these scenes were not restored for the DVD set released in 2003.
In the movie Thirteen Ghosts, there was a scene where Kathy and Bobby were in the trap room, where they were summoned for the Eye of Hell, in which they were having a conversation about not liking the house, and talking about one of the ghosts being their deceased mother. This scene was included on the DVD release.
In television serials, however, running time becomes an even greater concern, due to the strict timeslot limitations, especially on channels which are ad-supported, where there can only be approximately 20 minutes of actual show per half-hour timeslot (depending on the station and the particular format of the show, this may or may not include opening credits; closing credits may or may not count towards running time, either, in some cases, because many ad-supported stations now "squish" the closing credits or force them into a split-screen in order to show more advertising), and the majority of shows are either in a half-hour or one-hour timeslot. This somewhat forces producers of television serials to both break up the acts in a manner that will (hopefully) make the viewer want to continue watching after the ad-break, and to not go over the stricter running time limits.
One TV serial that has had to make such changes is Firefly, which had to remove a lengthy scene from the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" due to time constraints; this scene was also included on the series' DVD collection as an extra.
Disruption of narrative flow
Though the quality of initial vs. the final cut of a film is of course subjective, a certain scene or version of a scene in the film is sometimes perceived to have an adverse effect on the film as a whole, serving only to slow the film down, to provide unnecessary details or exposition, or to even over-explain points that might be better left either unsaid or more subtly handled. It is common to remove such scenes at the editing level, though they occasionally are released on the home video release as a bonus feature.
There are at least a few examples of this, including a number of the deleted scenes on the DVD release of the sequel film Serenity (in fact, the audio commentary on the DVD's deleted scenes collection quite often makes mention of the plot or tension being disrupted or slowed by the inclusion of a scene and/or expositional overkill being the main reason for the scene in question's non-inclusion in the final theatrical cut). Another well known example is the Cocoon Sequence in the film Alien. The scene added a lot of information about fate of several crew members, as well as new information on the life cycle of the creature, but was ultimately deleted because it was thought to slow down and disrupt the tension of the last part of the film.
As of late, more television series seem to have started to allow for more scenes even when they cannot possibly be fit into the strict running times, specifically as a bonus to fans at a later date — ABC's Desperate Housewives is a prime example of this, using its "Secret Scenes" as a special, exclusive bonus to the next day's Good Morning America's programming during season 1, as well as being included as a bonus feature on the DVD release of the series. It is also reported that the 'deleted' scenes in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith are fully produced scenes, marketed for video releases. Similarly, 2 entire episodes of .hack//SIGN were initially only available on video. The idea is that additional material will provide more of an incentive to buy home video releases (hence their common inclusion on DVD releases) or on rare occasions, as a marketing tool for a separate television show as seen with the aforementioned "Secret Scene" promotions used by Good Morning America.
Deleted or extended scenes can come in any of several different formats. They may or may not feature finished special effects (especially in science fiction and fantasy films, where visual effects are more expensive), and the film quality may or may not be the same as in the rest of the film, though in some cases this may depend only on how much post-production editing was done.
Additionally, animated films' deleted scenes might not be in the form of a fully animated scene, but rather included in the form of an animatic or a blooper form, as is the case with the deleted scenes on the DVD release of Pixar's Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
Plus, certain deleted "non-finished" scenes can be from TV shows like King of the Hill.
YTVs ZAPX on occasion makes "deleted scenes" that are not genuine deleted scenes, but rather random scenes of the movie with footage of the host of ZAPX, Simon, inserted into the clip, for this purpose.
In The Wizard of Oz, the song If I Only Had a Brain was originally over 4 minutes long, but was cut short by removing a 3-minute dance sequence performed by Ray Bolger, although this segment has since been included as a bonus feature on all DVD releases from 1999-onward.
In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Just One Bite" there was a deleted scene where Squidward Tentacles triggers a burglar alarm consisting of a bucket of gasoline which is spilled and is then set on fire by a lit match dropped by a robot arm causing an explosion. Then as Squidward bursts into the Krusty Krab kitchen a second bucket was dropped and set off another explosion. This entire scene was later deleted since it aired one month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In The Rugrats Movie, there was a nightmare about Dr. Lipschitz and the march of the wagon.
Several videos from The Wiggles had songs cut when they were reprinted or brought over to international audiences:
- "Everybody is Clever" was cut from the North American version of the Wake Up Jeff! video, and replaced by a chase scene.
- "Vini Vini" was cut from the Wiggledance! video when it was reprinted a year later.
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was cut from the 1999 re-release of Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas.
- "Bathtime" was cut from the Toot, Toot! video when it was edited and released a year later.
- In TV series 1, the Kaz the Cat segments were replaced by video clips of children at preschool in the North American version.
- "Chi Baba" was cut from the North American version of Pop Go the Wiggles.
In the 1969 film The Italian Job there was a scene which showed the Minis and Italian police cars in a room with an orchestra playing "The Blue Danube". This scene is included on the special features on the DVD.
In the 1995 Pixar film Toy Story, the DVD special features included two deleted scenes. One shows Sid torturing Woody and Buzz, and another has Woody trying to explain something to Buzz, but he struggles and the toolbox closes itself.
In the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E the DVD special features included two deleted scenes. In "Garbage Airlock", the scene shows that EVE was doing WALL-E's role while WALL-E was doing EVE's role. In another deleted scene called "Dumped", it shows WALL-E and EVE in a storage room and EVE cares more about the plant than him.
- Joss Whedon, audio commentary in Firefly, The Complete Series (DVD box set), 21st Century Fox, 2003
- Sangster, Jim (2002). 24: The Unofficial Guide. London, England: Contender Books. p. 34. ISBN 1-84357-034-3.
- Finding Nemo, DVD, Pixar, 2003
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, DVD, Touchstone Pictures, 2005