‘Pineapple Express’ Alternate Ending Gave Seth Rogan’s Dale and James Franco’s Saul a Tragic Sendoff

The stoner flick is a long-standing staple in American cinema, and these light-hearted comedies often present a ridiculous saga set against a mundane backdrop that ends with a feel-good conclusion. The creation of the show can be carried out by people who are actually on drugs, but that’s not the defining characteristic of the genre — and, as we know, plenty of more serious films have been made while under the influence as well.

Most commonly, stoner flicks are defined by their winding plot and, of course, the protagonists’ own altered state of mind. Pineapple Express fits the format of stoner comedy movies perfectly, but an alternate ending leaked to the public definitely would have changed things. 

The stoner flick has a long cinematic history

The key elements of the most iconic stoner flicks start with a foundation of a slacker bromance between two protagonists. These characters — almost always men — share the common goal of avoiding the more stressful parts of life and often start the film with the intention to do a whole lot of nothing — at least for the day on which it’s set.

This is the case for classic examples like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a film where the protagonists, Bill (played by Alex Winter) and Ted (played by Keanu Reeves), are just two guys who want to start a band, but Ted’s about to fail history, so instead they take a time-traveling detour to save his grade and their ultimate slacker plans. 

Other examples in the genre include Harold and Kumar Go to White CastleWayne’s World, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. They all owe something to the film that started the trope — Cheech and Chong’s 1978 classic Up in Smoke. In this film, two buddies end up deported to Mexico before trying to find their way back home and unwittingly driving a van built out of marijuana back to the states while clueless to the fact that the cops are on their tail. 

‘Pineapple Express’ followed the formula

Seth Rogen and James Franco of 'Pineapple Express'
Seth Rogen and James Franco of ‘Pineapple Express’ | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Much like stoner flicks that came before it, Pineapple Express followed the formula for a successful and fun romp through a marijuana-fueled adventure. The 2008 film features friends Dale (played by Seth Rogan) and Saul (played by James Franco) in a wild adventure they never expected.

At the beginning of the film, Dale approaches Saul, his dealer, and gets offered the chance to try the rare marijuana blend that gives the film its title: Pineapple Express. After the pair partake, they’re all set for a chill night until they accidentally witness a murder. 

Since Pineapple Express is such a rare blend of weed, the criminals are able to identify the threat and are on a quest to kill Dale and Saul before they can share what they’ve seen. The duo ends up going through many twists and turns to evade an unlucky fate — all while battling the paranoia of their now-maligned high. 

‘Pineapple Express’ had a dark alternate ending

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The theatrical release of the film featured a delightful ending that Annie Barrett, writing for Entertainment Weekly, recalls with glee: “I wanted to liquify the essence of giggly James Franco in that diner scene and pour it all over every waffle in my blazing-hot future.” 

Things could have ended much differently, however. A leaked alternate ending showed the pair ending their journey not with giggles but in a curtain of machine gun bullets.

As Stacker reports, this version has the pair falling into the clutches of the men who seek to do them in, and they die holding hands. While that may sound completely out of place for a stoner flick designed to lighten the mood, it’s worth noting that the ending was never meant to actually conclude the film. It was just bonus material provided for DVD purchasers who had a little extra time on their hands.