Views From Your Muse

A New Ending for Se7en

Note from Dave Trottier: The following was submitted to me by William Rovan at my most recent Screenwriting Retreat at Sundance. I’d like to hear what you think—why does William’s new ending work or not work?

In the film Seven, William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is an about-to-retire New York City police detective who is training a somewhat arrogant and energetic David Mills (Brad Pitt) as his replacement.

They have been working on a case of a psychotic serial killer whose grisly murders follow a pattern of the seven deadly sins. The detectives capture the killer before he can execute his final masterpiece corresponding to the deadly sin of rage. But the stage has already been set and the victim chosen; it can be avoided only if the detectives agree to the killer’s conditions.

In a remote area, the detectives and the killer wait for a delivery van. It arrives with a small package for the young detective; in the box is the head of the detective’s pretty young wife.

Rage! Mills draws his pistol and is about to shoot the sorry psycho, but Somerset tries to persuade the young man not to shoot. This is what the killer wanted – to enrage the young man to the point where he would commit the unforgivable act of killing a fellow human being. Will Mills shoot? A shot rings out and the psycho falls. The end.

This ending left me unfulfilled and empty. That’s it?

…So picking up at the final moment when Somerset (Morgan Freeman) tries to stop Mills (Brad Pitt) from killing the kneeling psycho, my ending goes like this:

     Don’t do it. Don’t you see?
     That’s what he wants. You
     shoot, you lose. He wins.

Mills is torn, enraged. Shoot or don’t shoot. Finally, he raises his revolver. His trigger finger tenses.

BANG! A shot rings out. The revolver falls to the ground.

Mills clutches his bloody arm. Looks pleadingly at Somerset who is holding a pistol.


     Why? You’re young. You think
     you can make a difference. And
     maybe you’re right. I hope so.

The psycho looks perplexed, starts to stand, but Somerset points his pistol at him, and then looks at Mills.

               SOMERSET (CONT’D)
     But take my advice. Get out of
     this city. It will steal your
     soul, rob you of all emotion.
     There will be no good or evil.
     No happiness or sadness. No
     calm or anger. Nothing.

Somerset looks calmly at the kneeling psycho.

     You hear that? No anger...

He places the barrel of his gun to the killer’s forehead.

     ... No rage. You lose.

A SHOT explodes the man’s head. He is thrown backward, knees pinned awkwardly under his pathetic body.

Somerset glances at Mills, who looks at first shocked and then relieved.

Thanks to William Rovan for permission to share this.