However, after a battle between Stallone and the movie's director, Ted Kotcheff, that idea was dropped when Stallone refused such an ending to the movie and Rambo survives his one-man war against the small Pacific Northwest town of Hope, Washington, and lives to fight in four sequels.
Sylvester Stallone refused to let Rambo die in the ending of ‘First Blood’
In the original script of the Rambo movie Sylvester Stallone’s character, the Vietnam veteran and Green Beret super soldier, John Rambo, actually dies.
Premiering in theaters on Oct. 22, 1982, the independently-financed First Blood became such a hit that it became Stallone’s signature movie, along with Rocky.
"[Stallone said] 'You can't kill Rocky,'" Kotcheff remembers in the fight over the ending. "I said, 'It's not Rocky — it's Rambo.'"
The movie's less than heartening ending in the ending was taken directly out of David Morrell's 1972 bestselling novel.
Morell wrote the book based on stories he had heard about returning Vietnam veterans who felt unwanted and unwelcome in American society.
Kotcheff said he was also inspired by the stories he also heard about real life Vietnam veterans when he signed on to direct the film with the book's ending in place.
"I conceived of First Blood as Rambo’s suicide mission," the director said. "The film was basically conceived as Rambo’s tragedy, that mirrored the tragedy of so many of the veterans that I talked to. I met guys that actually later on killed themselves. His tragedy mirrored their tragedy, and how they came to this sad conclusion to kill themselves."
In both Morrell's novel and the original version of the film, it's Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s former commanding officer, who ultimately kills Rambo.
"Sometimes you get so mad, you think you're going crazy — then it goes away," Rambo tells Trautman, while handing him a gun. "It's not going away anymore, and I can't control it, Colonel. I can't spend the rest of my life in a cell, either. If I've gotta die, I want you to do it."
When the Colonel hesitates, Rambo grabs his hand and the gun goes off, sending a bullet into his stomach, killing him instantly.
We thank the cinema heavens that Rambo did not die in such a fashion and wound up making more Rambo movies, turning the movie into one of the greatest movie franchises ever.
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: