Skip To Content

    14 Movie And TV Heroes Who Were Originally Supposed To Be Villains (Or Just Plain Unlikeable)

    The Belchers of Bob's Burgers came *this* close to cannibalism.

    1. In the original idea for Frozen, Elsa was less "good-hearted young woman on a quest to understand her own power" and more "evil queen with a magical army of snow beasts."

    Elsa standing alone in her ice castle

    Producer Peter Del Vecho told Entertainment Weekly that the original iteration of the script was a more straightforward adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Snow Queen." In this version of the story, Elsa and Anna were neither sisters nor royal, with Elsa being a "self-proclaimed Snow Queen" who's "a villain and pure evil."

    Elsa using her ice powers

    Evil Elsa had an appropriately tragic backstory to explain her turn to Snow Queendom: She was left at the altar on her wedding day and "froze her own heart so she would never love again." But when she attempts to take over the kingdom with her snow army, it's revealed that Hans is the true villain after he tries to use an avalanche to kill Elsa, Anna, and everyone else in his way. Elsa would redeem herself in the movie's final moments by using her powers to save the kingdom from the avalanche, and her heart would unfreeze.

    The snow monster from Frozen

    Del Vecho said they ended up dropping the idea because, "It wasn’t satisfying. We had no emotional connection to Elsa — we didn’t care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain. We weren’t drawn in. The characters weren’t relatable." Instead, the creative team shifted Frozen's theme from the "traditional good vs. evil" to "love vs. fear."

    Anna and Elsa together at the end of the movie

    But it's pretty funny that in every version of the script, this guy is still the worst.

    Prince Hans

    2. The John Hammond of Jurassic Park, the Michael Crichton novel, was very different from the John Hammond of Jurassic Park, the Steven Spielberg movie.

    Richard Attenborough as John Hammond

    In the source material, Hammond is a "much more sinister figure who meets a far more merciless end," while the character as played by Richard Attenborough in the 1993 adaptation is a "tragic dreamer...neither hero nor villain."

    Hammond and other characters watching a dinosaur hatch

    Naturally, the nicer, cuddlier version of Hammond survives the movie, while his evil literary counterpart gets devoured by a "herd of tiny, cute compsognathus."

    a itty bitty dinosaur

    However, Movie Hammond only narrowly avoided a similar fate: Original storyboards for the film include a sequence where Hammond is eaten by a velociraptor.

    A velociraptor

    3. When creator Loren Bouchard first pitched Bob's Burgers to Fox, the Belchers were "cannibals who served punny burgers made of human flesh."

    A bob's burgers character running screaming from a sign that says "food may contain human flesh"

    The folks at Fox liked the idea, but gently asked why, exactly, the Belchers needed to eat people. Bouchard told the Hollywood Reporter that his history of working with Adult Swim, a network that prioritizes the "darker, more shocking aspect[s]" of shows, made him think that he needed the cannibalism angle.

    The Belchers grinding meat in their basement

    He ultimately decided to drop it, and the Belchers became the lovable burger makers we all know today. The pilot episode was still called "Human Flesh," but that's because it's about a health inspector who — wrongly! — believes the Belchers are making burgers using the stuff.

    the health inspector holding a "food may contain human flesh" sign

    4. According to personal papers discovered following his death, Roald Dahl intended for Matilda to be about a "terribly unruly girl," rather than the kindhearted bookworm we all know and love.

    Mara Wilson as Matilda, eating a fruit tart at a restaurant

    And even worse, in this version of the story, Matilda doesn't end the story living peacefully with Miss Honey. Instead, she dies.

    Matilda and Miss Honey eating chocolates together

    Luckily for everyone's favorite telekinetic, by the time it was published, Matilda was no longer a "cautionary tale," though some of the pranks that the less pleasant version of the character played ended up in the finished novel.

    Matilda holding a doll that is dressed like her

    5. Woody, the beloved main character of Pixar's Toy Story franchise, was very nearly a murderous monster.

    Woody shrugs while Buzz poses

    The Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg demanded that the team at Pixar make an "edgier" movie, with an "adult, sarcastic, and barbed" sense of humor.

    Buzz yells at Woody

    This approach resulted in what is known in Pixar lore as "Black Friday," a catastrophic test screening that showed a vicious Woody shoving Buzz out of a window, to the horror of his toy companions.

    Woody throwing buzz out of the window in the test footage

    Nothing about this take on the story was well received. The film was "temporarily shut down," but when it was released a few years later with "much nicer characters," it became a hit.

    Woody posing with Buzz on the bed and smiling

    6. Simon, the socially awkward teen gifted with the power of invisibility in the British delinquents-with-superpowers show Misfits, was supposed to become a villain and get killed off by the other members of the titular group by the end of the first season. Instead, he lasted three seasons, growing steadily more heroic with each passing episode.

    Simon in the orange jumpsuit in the first episode

    The show's creator, Howard Overman, told that he couldn't go through with the decision to have Simon break bad because, "I really liked Iwan [Rheon] as an actor, he was brilliant...I thought there’s no way we’re killing him and then replacing him with someone worse. And so, I totally flipped it on its head and he went from being the villain to the real hero of the piece."

    Simon turning invisible while pulling his hoodie up

    No one's saying that Rheon doesn't have it in him to play a bone-chilling villain, though.

    Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones

    7. The Duffer Brothers revealed in the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down that Steve Harrington wasn't always going to be the adorable, bat-wielding maternal figure he turned out to be.

    Instead, Steve was going be a "giant douchebag" who got killed off at the end of the first season.

    Steve standing surrounded by his friends in Season 1

    But Joe Keery's performance was too charming for the Duffer Brothers to let him go, and Steve survived to grow out of his jerk jock characterization and become the ice cream scooper/Mom/hero we all knew he could be.

    Steve standing in between Dustin and Robin

    8. Speaking of Stranger Things: One villainous character — Max's violent, bigoted older brother Billy — was given a more sympathetic backstory at the express request of the actor portraying him, Dacre Montgomery.

    Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things

    While he's undoubtedly still an antagonist for the vast majority of the time he's onscreen, Montgomery asked for two scenes that would complicate Billy beyond his unpleasant-at-best-and-evil-at-worst characterization. The first was a violent fight with his father in season 2, and the second is the season 3 flashback to Billy's relationship with his mother before the end of his parents' marriage.

    Billy's father beating him

    Montgomery told Bustle, "That was my effort with the Duffers to show that side that no one is just bad...the ending is so fantastic in the same way. Billy is humanized and redemption is very evident, and that was a really nice arc for me to go really dark."

    Billy in a phone booth looking panicked

    He added, "I'm really not trying to play an archetypal bad guy...The thing that makes Billy interesting is that he's in a gray area, because we meet him and we see an antagonist, [but] we finally get to see a human by the end of the season."

    Billy at the pool, talking with Mike's mom

    9. The villain of Legends of Tomorrow's fourth season was supposed to be Hank Heywood, Nate Heywood's father. Showrunner Phil Klemmer told TVLine that initially, Hank was going to be a "military guy who works for the Pentagon who is going to torture [magical] creatures and turn them into super soldiers." But then they cast Tom Wilson, who was just too damn nice for all this unethical medical experimentation.

    Hank and Nate in suits

    According to Klemmer, as soon as the creative team saw Wilson (who is probably best known for playing Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future franchise) act, they realized, "He can’t just be the bad guy. There’s something deeply lovable about this human being."

    Biff throws Marty's dad out of the car

    Instead, the story was altered to make it so that Hank was working for the real Big Bad "under false pretenses," and ultimately "changed by a reconnection with his son." Had the plot remained unchanged, Hank would've convinced Nate to join the dark side.

    Nate carves a Thanksgiving turkey while Hank watches

    10. Before she was cast as Joanna in Kramer vs. Kramer, Meryl Streep wanted some pretty major changes made to the character, a woman who leaves her unsatisfying marriage and then returns to fight for custody of her young son.

    Joanna embraces her young son in the park

    Streep described the original novel's iteration of Joanna as "an ogre, a princess, an ass," whose reasons for leaving her husband were far too "hazy."

    Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in the movie

    The author of the novel, Avery Corman, wrote it as a rebuke to feminists who he felt saw men as "a whole bunch of bad guys." But Streep didn't believe Joanna was a villain; rather, she was a "reflection of a real struggle that women are going through across the country."

    Joana in the courtroom

    Streep had such a large role in the development of Joanna's character that she actually wrote the speech she gives in the courtroom, after director Robert Benton saw his version and told her, "I don’t think it’s a woman’s speech. I think it’s a man trying to write a woman’s speech."

    Joana: I have worked very, very hard to become a whole human being. And I don't think I should be punished for that. And I don't think my little boy should be punished. Billy's only seven years old. He needs me. I'm not saying he doesn't need his father

    After Kramer vs. Kramer swept the Oscars, Meryl Streep — one of the awardees, naturally, for Best Supporting Actress — responded to a reporter's question about whether the film was a "slap" to feminists and women in general. Streep said, "I don’t feel that’s true at all. I feel that the basis of feminism is something that has to do with liberating men and women from prescribed roles."

    The creative team behind Kramer vs. Kramer collects their Oscars

    11. Spike, the sardonic British vampire who ran the gamut from "villainous" to "chaotic neutral" and finally to "good and arguably noble," wasn't supposed to last more than five episodes on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and he wasn't supposed to die a hero's death, either.

    Spike in his leather duster

    James Marsters told TooFab that he was supposed to be killed by Angelus, and on an episode of the Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum podcast, he revealed that show creator Joss Whedon believed that "vampires should be ugly and not be portrayed as love interests."

    Spike with Drusilla at the Bronze nightclub

    On the podcast, Marsters recalled that when it became clear that the audience liked Spike too much for the character to be killed off, Whedon "backed me up against a wall" and said, "I don’t care how popular you are, kid, you’re dead. You hear me? Dead. Dead!" Marsters said that Whedon wasn't joking and never apologized for the outburst.

    Spike fights a slayer in a subway car

    Despite Whedon's bad behavior on set — of which he unfortunately has a long history — Spike survived long enough to transcend the brief villainy that was planned for him.

    Joss Whedon directing Marsters during an episode

    12. In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup reunites with his long-lost mother, Valka, who according to director Dean DeBlois was supposed to be the "sympathetic antagonist of that movie."

    Stoick, Valka, and Hiccup

    This version of Valka believed that "humans could not be trusted and that dragons needed to be protected from them," and she would attempt to take the dragons away from the village of Berk. She and Hiccup would fight, with Hiccup trying to "protect his way of life," and while he would ultimately triumph, Valka would remain convinced that he would "have to make a decision" about living with dragons.

    Valka standing with a dragon

    In the final version of the film, the antagonist is Drago Bludvist, who wants to force dragons to fight in his army, while Valka and Hiccup "mostly got along."

    Drago fights with Astrid

    13. In Carlo Collodi's original Pinocchio story, every child depicted is "imbecilic, disobedient, greedy, and filthy," and "none is worse than Pinocchio himself." And then, in the end, Pinocchio dies. Specifically, he's executed.

    Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket looking sad together

    Naturally, when it came time to adapt the story, Walt Disney demanded some pretty significant changes. Pinocchio was changed from a character Disney considered "too cocky, too much of a wiseguy, and too puppetlike to be sympathetic," to a "gentle, winsome" boy.

    Pinocchio and Gepetto

    This new Pinocchio doesn't, for instance, murder Jiminy Cricket in cold blood, which is something he totally does in the book.

    Jiminy Cricket talking to Pinocchio

    14. And finally: This one isn't about a fictional character, but rather, two real people who had some serious reservations about the ways their onscreen personas were being shaped by producers. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are, of course, the Mythbusters. (The original ones, anyway.)

    Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

    Fans of the show may know that the pair, while keeping up a friendly, if competitive and occasionally frustrated, rapport onscreen, aren't real life friends. Hyneman told Entertainment Weekly, "We like to point out we’ve known each other for 25 years and never once sat down to have dinner alone together." For his part, Savage told Insider, "We have respect for each other, but we also drive each other absolutely batty."

    Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage onstage

    But Savage and Hyneman didn't pretend to be best friends for the show, nor were they asked to. What they were asked to do was manufacture drama by arguing on camera. But they ultimately "pushed back against an unnamed producer," and were able to keep their relationship onscreen as mutually respectful and professional as it was in real life.

    The pair posing together