Of all the Star Wars installments we've seen over the past 41 years, Return of the Jedi undoubtedly has the happiest ending of them all. Even now, with Disney owning the franchise, nothing can beat a party full of singing and dancing Ewoks and the emotional reunion of the film's main characters—all set against a backdrop of fireworks.
But originally, the film was supposed to have a much 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 trilogy. 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.”
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.