The original scripts for the Scream movies are always fascinating to read, because most of them were altered a lot throughout production. The early Scream 4 script in particular is a beautiful mess, giving us a version of the movie where the killer gets away with it. The script for the latest movie in the franchise, 2023’s Scream VI, hit the internet on Aug. 15, and once again, fans are confused by what was abandoned on the cutting room floor. Several references to departed series star Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) were cut from the final film, but more significantly, ongoing star Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) lost one of her best moments in the series so far.
[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for Scream VI.]
A little over halfway through (on page 95), new series star Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) gets a scene alone with Gale in the Ghostface museum. Sam laments that the world thinks she’s the killer. “Back when Sidney survived, everyone embraced her.” Sam says. “When I survived, they hated me. Because I’m not the good girl. […] People prefer me as the villain.”
Gale tells her, “Sam, I know this from experience — comparing yourself to Sidney is not a good use of your time. And besides, you’re more like me anyway.”
That might not sound like much, especially since the rest of the scene, where they discuss their losses and Sam’s mother, did make it into the final movie. But the exchange about Sidney could have been a lovely moment for Gale. It shows a more motherly side of her, which makes Sam’s heartbroken reaction to Gale’s later near-death feel more earned. Not only that, but we’re seeing Gale grapple with her longtime role as Sidney’s ethically dubious counterpart.
Gale has always been aware that she isn’t as “lovable” as Sidney. Like so many characters in this meta-horror franchise, she’s aware of the genre she’s in: She knows that in most other horror franchises, the coldhearted reporter character would’ve been killed off halfway through the first movie. She doesn’t meet any of the usual criteria for a beloved Final Girl, and that’s part of why we love her so much. It might also, as the scene implies, be the reason we’ll eventually come to love Sam.
The other big moment in the script for Gale is near the end of the chase sequence throughout her apartment. “You’ve been in my life so fucking long,” she tells Ghostface. “I made you. And you made me.” After another beat, she says, “You want to try and finish this? Go ahead if you’ve got the guts.”
That last line is a reference only the hardcore fans will remember — it’s from another cut moment only seen in the Scream 4 trailer, spoken by Gale when Ghostface has seemingly gotten her for good. It would’ve made for a perfect final note before the chase scene’s conclusion. The line is a little cheesy, sure, but it’s also bold and defiant right until the bitter end.
It stings that both these moments were cut from the movie, because of all the complaints long-term fans had about Scream VI, its treatment of Gale often hits the top of the list. After all, this movie could’ve very well been Gale’s time to shine. New York is her home turf, and her investigative skills could’ve played into the plot way more than they did here. But while Gale finally gets her own special phone call with the killer, that doesn’t make up for the fact that her overall character arc in this film is a half-baked mess.
After steadily maturing for five movies in a row, Gale starts this movie back in early Scream 2 mode, acting as a bloodthirsty reporter who gets rightfully punched in the face in her first scene. That punch is a cute moment of fan service, but it comes at the expense of everything Gale’s done and learned over the past 25 years.
In another movie, Gale’s backsliding could’ve worked. We could’ve had an affecting storyline about grief-ridden Gale reverting back to the version of herself before she met Dewey (David Arquette), but eventually finding the strength to return to the wiser, more compassionate version of her we got at the end of the 2022 Scream. Instead, Gale gets precious little to do either before or after her big chase scene.
She doesn’t die in her confrontation, but she spends the rest of the movie in the hospital, while Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is somehow allowed to rejoin the other protagonists just a few hours after getting her own massive stomach wounds. The movie sticks to the formula of ending as the heroes leave the final massacre crime scene, even though this would’ve been the perfect opportunity to break from tradition and skip ahead at least a few hours, to when Gale’s condition had stabilized. Just one final scene with her could’ve done wonders.
Fans can still see a general arc taking place for Gale throughout the Scream series. She gets warmer as her scenes go on, but it comes in bits and scraps. Gale spent Screams 1 through 4 as a secondary protagonist, so when she’s limited to just a few minutes each for Screams 5 and 6, every little moment counts.
It’s understandable that the writers would want to keep the focus on the new cast, but it wouldn’t have killed them to be a little more generous with what they let their legacy characters do. We don’t know much about what role Gale (or Sidney) will play in the upcoming Scream 7, but we’ve seen that the current strategy of bringing back legacy characters for minor, nearly irrelevant roles isn’t quite working. Scream 7 should revive Gale as a major player in the story with meaty material to deal with, or it shouldn’t bring her back at all.