Beetlejuice isn’t a particularly dark movie, even if it is about death, haunted dinner parties, and Alec Baldwin making a miniature model town (what was that all about?), but its ending is still even cheerier than a lot of movies that don’t open with Geena Davis dying in a car accident. According to Larry Wilson, one of the movie’s writers, it almost had a much darker ending that involved Winona Ryder’s Lydia dying in a fire so she could live as a ghost with Baldwin and Davis’ characters. The ending in the film involves Lydia getting a good grade on a test and celebrating with the ghosts, but she’s still very much alive. Apparently, “a couple of people” asked Wilson and co-writer Michael McDowell if it was really a good idea to tell goth teenagers to “die in a fire,” so they wisely decided to change it.
He offered that fun fact in a conversation with Yahoo, during which he also noted that the Warner Bros. wasn’t crazy about the title being Beetlejuice at first. Its suggestion for an alternate title was apparently House Ghost, which is certainly awful even if it is weirdly endearing. Wilson also revealed than an early version of the script gave Lydia a sister, explaining that she would’ve been “the straight one” to counteract Lydia’s cool goth vibes, but he thought cutting her was a “good decision” because it “all became about Lydia.”
Whether or not the long-teased sequel ever gets made, let’s all be thankful that Beetlejuice didn’t end up being a bad movie with a different name.