It’s true Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi has probably the happiest ending of any of the installments over the 40+ years the series has been around. Even now with Disney owning the franchise, nothing can beat the party full of Ewoks and the reunion of main characters—a scene that’s even complete with fireworks.
But originally, the film almost had a munch different ending. According to Gizmodo, a transcription of a meeting between George Lucas and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan reveals a much darker idea for the conclusion of the first Star Wars series. After Luke Skywalker takes the mask off Darth Vader, Lucas pitched:
“The mask is the very last thing - and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.’ Surprise! The ultimate twist. 'Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.’"
Kasdan was apparently all for the idea, responding, "That's what I think should happen.” Um, what?! That would’ve been drastically different. Ultimately, Lucas decided the film “is for kids,” and went against his original idea. It probably still could be a cool horror version of Star Wars, but we don’t see any space for that kind of violence and evil in the series.
After the outrage which spawned from Luke abandoning the Force in The Last Jedi, just imagine the backlash Return of the Jedi would’ve faced. But on the other hand, the series was still new. Maybe Lucas could have gotten away with it.
This article also appears on Mental Floss.