Sylvester Stallone Was Afraid Rambo’s Alternate Ending Would Give American War Veterans A Disturbing Message


When it comes to iconic action heroes, few names resonate as powerfully as Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of John Rambo in the legendary Rambo franchise. Since its inception in 1982, the character of John Rambo has become synonymous with rugged determination, unmatched combat skills, and a haunting sense of inner turmoil.

The First Blood (1982), directed by Ted Kotcheff introduced us to John Rambo, a troubled but skilled Vietnam War veteran. Rambo is portrayed in the movie as a man trying to find his place in a world that has abandoned him, based on the same-named novel by David Morrell. Although Sylvester Stallone has portrayed this enduring movie character for 30 years, it turns out that he was meant to be killed off years ago.

Sylvester Stallone’s One of the Most Iconic Characters Was Meant to Die in the First Movie

In the original script, Rambo was supposed to kill himself during the standoff with the cops at the end of the movie. Stallone admits in the making-of featurette for First Blood that he had an issue with the ending as soon as he joined the team.

“It was kind of a jinxed project,” he recalls. “I was very nervous. The [first] day of filming I was hoping it would never happen — I hoped it would just go away.”

Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas played Trautman when First Blood first went into production. Additionally, the Spartacus actor strongly advocated for the death of Rambo in the movie, which placed him at conflict with Stallone, who was furiously modifying the script. “[Kirk] went, ‘Rambo must die, Rambo must die,’” the actor recalls in the making-of featurette. “[I said] ‘I understand that, but not in this movie.‘”


“I just don’t think it should [have been] done,” Stallone continues. “It sends out the wrong message. Every Vietnam vet who sees this [ending] goes, ‘The only solution is death. Death is the only thing that awaits us at the end of the tunnel.’ I don’t think that’s the right way to do it. [Kirk] was like, ‘Yes but it’s artistic.’“

Rambo remains a complex and compelling character, and Stallone’s portrayal has transcended the screen, leaving a lasting impact on popular culture.

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo: A Legendary Icon in the Rambo Franchise

As portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, Rambo is a man struggling to find his place in a world that seems to have moved on without him.

Sylvester Stallone’s performance as John Rambo is a masterclass in physicality and emotional depth. His sculpted physique and intense gaze give Rambo a formidable presence, while his ability to convey the character’s inner turmoil and vulnerability adds a layer of complexity that sets him apart from typical action heroes.

From his return to Vietnam in Rambo: First Blood Part II to his partnership with Afghan rebels in Rambo III, Rambo’s missions often became personal quests for redemption, reflecting the character’s desire to find meaning in a world that had taken so much from him.

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