The real reason Rob Reiner changed the ‘When Harry Met Sally’ ending
(Credit: Netflix)

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The real reason Rob Reiner changed the 'When Harry Met Sally' ending

In the ever-unpredictable world of showbiz, even the most iconic movies can evolve in surprising ways. Take Pretty Woman, for instance. Initially conceived as a gritty tale about sex work and corporate greed, it underwent a transformation into the charming romantic comedy we know today. Another iconic rom-com, that is streaming on Netflix, has a similar story of transformation.

When Harry Met Sally, the beloved romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, almost had a completely different ending. Known for his diverse filmography ranging from mockumentaries to courtroom dramas, Reiner brought his unique touch to this timeless love story. But what many may not know is that the film’s conclusion was once set to tug at heartstrings rather than warm them.

In a recent interview, Reiner revealed that the original ending of When Harry Met Sally was a far cry from the happily-ever-after fans have come to cherish. “The original ending of the film that we had was that Harry and Sally didn’t get together,” Reiner disclosed on the CNN show, Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace

But fate had other plans, both for the characters on screen and for Reiner himself. Enter photographer Michele Singer, the woman who would change not only Reiner’s life but the nature of the film Reiner was working on at the time. As Reiner found love in real life during the making of the movie, he couldn’t help but reconsider the ending. 

Reiner mused about the alternate ending, “I’d been married for ten years, I’d been single for ten years, and I couldn’t figure out how I was ever going to be with anybody. That gave birth to When Harry Met Sally. I hadn’t met anybody, so it was going to be the two of them seeing each other after years, talking, and then walking away from each other.”

As much as our generation loved sobbing over Past Lives, Three of Us, One Day, and Before Sunrise, the world was better prepared for orgasm simulation scenes than bittersweet endings in rom-coms in 1989. And so, in a twist worthy of the silver screen, the film’s conclusion was altered to reflect the director’s newfound optimism and personal joy.

So, at the end of the movie, Harry and Sally, played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, finally confess their love on a New Year’s Eve that sparkles with possibility. When Harry Met Sally, penned by the legendary Nora Ephron, remains a quintessential romantic comedy that continues to capture hearts. Alongside Crystal and Ryan, the film boasts a stellar supporting cast, including Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, and more.