For readers who know and love the subtly devastating ending of The Fault In Our Stars, it's hard to imagine a different fate for Hazel and Augustus. But according to author John Green, The Fault in Our Stars almost had two very different endings.
Fair warning: even Green describes these endings as "epically terrible."
In a podcast interview with Nerdist , Green describes his second attempt at concluding Hazel and Gus's story: "In the second draft of The Fault In Our Stars, the novels ends shortly after... [author Peter] Van Houten ties one of the characters to the railroad tracks as an exploration of the 'trolley problem,' which is a really interesting to me idea in philosophy."
The trolley problem is a thought experiment that asks you to choose between two tragic outcomes. Basically, if you saw a runaway train charging straight towards five people tied to the tracks, would you a) do nothing, and allow all five people to die, or b) divert the train onto a separate track where just one person is tied up. In choice b, more lives are saved, but you are directly responsible for the one death.
If you're not amused with that ending, you're not alone. John Green's editor nixed the idea. "[She] was like, 'I can't tell if this is a joke," Green says. "I was like, 'No, man, this is a really interesting way in to the trolley problem. And she was like, 'I don't think this book is about the trolley problem.'"
Sadly, that's not the only other ending Green considered, and it's arguably not the worst of the rejected finales. In 2014, he told Cleveland's 19 Action News that in the first draft of the novel, Hazel and Van Houten decide to die in a sacrificial way to honor Gus's life. They intend to track down and kill a drug dealer, fully intending to die in the process. At the last moment, they reconsider. Thankfully, Green's editor decided against that ending, too.
Aspiring writers, here's proof that the first draft definitely doesn't have to be perfect.
Images: 20th Century Fox