The movie

The Butterfly Effect (2004) has multiple and very different endings. Specifically there appears to be two factors on the main character's decision:

  • Save his girlfriend's life
  • Save his girlfriend's life and mother's life.

I found it weird that the first ending would not compromise the other (it's like a happy ending where the viewer doesn't know what happened to his mother or to the main character's "gift")

After checking on the web and discussing with others I am not sure which was the original intended ending.

Is it reported anywhere why the need to dramatically change the ending?

  • Given the premise - that tiny, seemingly unrelated occurrences can have ripple effects throughout our reality, doesn't it make sense that there would be multiple possible outcomes? Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


There are 4 different endings:

Theatrical Ending:

Evan travels back to the birthday party where he first meets Kayleigh and whispers to her "I hate you and if you ever come near me again I'll kill you and your whole damn family." Kayleigh runs away crying.

  1 2

After a montage of his memories disintegrating, Evan returns to present day in the dorm room with Lenny, and the two of them burn all of Evan's journals.

Eight years pass. One day, Evan and Kayleigh (Amy Smart) are walking down a street, going in opposite directions. When they pass each other, they seem to recognize each other for a second but keep walking away.


Alternate Ending 1:

Same as Theatrical Ending, only Evan turns and follows Kayleigh.

  a1 a1b

Alternate Ending 2:

Same as Alternate Ending 1 only Evan and Kayleigh talk to each other.

  a2 a2b

Director's Cut:

At the end, while Evan has barricaded himself in the office, he starts playing a home movie his father made just as his mother was giving birth to him. Evan travels back into his mother's womb and strangles himself with the umbilical cord.

  dc1 dc2

Said to be the original ending but, because it did poorly with the screening audience, the theatrical ending was chosen for cinema release.

The Director's Cut has quite a few more additional scenes.

  • 1
    Wow, never knew about the directors cut ending (well, didn't know 2 and 3 either, but those aren't that spectacular). That's amazing, thanks for the info.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 12:24
  • Great answer! Didn't know so many endings existed and you've got them nicely covered with images... +1
    – Roshnal
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:47
  • do you know which of these was the original script?
    – quinestor
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 15:44
  • 4
    weird, i've only seen the director's cut, not the theatrical.
    – DForck42
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 19:39
  • 4
    @quinestor - Did you overlook the last sentence in the Director's Cut quote? The DC actually has a lot more than just a different ending. You also learn that Evan inherited his "ability" from his father, and that his mother had 2 miscarriages before him, implying that those children went through something similar as Evan and eventually made to the same decision: not to get born in the first place.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:34

I don't quite get what you meant by,

I found it weird that the first ending would not compromise the other (it's like a happy ending where the viewer doesn't know what happened to his mother or to the main character's "gift")

Anyway, the way I understood is this:

The original ending was the ending which Evan was in a psychiatric hospital- he is in a really depressed state as he is fully aware that it is he who killed his girlfriend, Kayleigh. What the doctor said was true- Evan was making alternate realities in his mind to escape his guilt about killing her (he throwed the dynamite at her father, but it landed beneath her).

But then he steals the earliest home-movie tape in which he had met Kayleigh for the the first time in his life (the real one)- at a party. He then "travels" into the scene (for real) and then blames Kayleigh (says he hates her, etc, etc.), thus avoiding ever meeting her and playing with her- and the dynamite scene and child abuse (by her father) would never have happened in the first place. And consequently, Evan would not be crazy, his other friends would be good in life, and he would have led a normal college life.

This is not based on real facts, but is the way I interpreted the movie and understood it.

  • hey thanks!. What I meant with the compromise is that in one ending it seems that Evan's ultimate sacrifice seems completely necesary to save all, while in the other: the one you post, only sacrificing his relationship seems necesary. Was this ending the one shown in the movie theaters?
    – quinestor
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 8:08
  • OK :). But what exactly was the surroundings of "...ultimate sacrifice seems necessary to save all..." part? Can't remember. And I can't help you with what was shown in movie theaters- I only watched it from my PC.
    – Roshnal
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 9:39
  • Oh i meant that he kills himself while in the fetus because him being alive destroy his mother and girlfriend's lives. While in the other ending him being alive is only a problem if he ends up having a relationship with his GF
    – quinestor
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 11:03
  • I've not seen the scene you told (the one where he's killing himself in his mother's womb). But the other answer (by Oliver C) states that its the director's cut . He has a nice summary of endings...
    – Roshnal
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:46

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