The ABC television version restores nearly 40 minutes of material Universal Pictures and Kevin Costner cut from the original release against the will of director 'Kevin Reynolds'. It explains more clearly the relationship between the Mariner and Helen, and the secret behind the origin of Dry Land. The additional material includes:
One noticeable difference between the theatrical cut and the extended cut is that in the opening scene where Costner is urinating into the bottle on his boat; in the theatrical version of the film you actually see the stream of urine between his legs as the camera pans down to the bottle. In the extended cut of the film the camera pans down between his legs but the flow of urine has been edited out.
Another difference between the theatrical cut and the extended cut is the scene where Dennis Hopper's character gets his first look at his new eyeball in the mirror. In the theatrical version he says it looks like shit. In the extended version the repeated use of the word "shit" in this scene is replaced with the world "slime".
There are two fan-edit versions of the movie, one called "Waterworld: The Ulysses Cut" (from the cut scene at the end between Helen and The Mariner" and the other called "Waterworld: The Ulysses Cut Revised Edition" which add back in more of the cut scenes that were not included in the theatrical version. The "Extended Version" clocks in at 2:57 minutes.
After the Mariner's capture at the Atoll, the inhabitants of the Atoll examine his belongings. Among them they find a Thigh Master, which they believe is a torture device; a garrote which is described as an assassin's weapon used to strangle people; and a flute, which they think is used to spy on people's conversations.
A scene that explains where exactly the Mariner got the jet ski he uses to reach the Deacon's ship to rescue the little girl. The survivors of the Atol massacre are ambushed by 2 of the Deacon's men on jet skis, the Mariner kills both men and takes their weapons and one jet ski.
A scene that shows how Gregor managed to find Helen and the Mariner after their boat was burned down. (He followed the smoke.)
At least 10 minutes worth of new scenes that further detail life aboard the Deacon's ship. Including how they obtain their cigarettes and other equipment.
A scene that reveals that the two skeletons found in the shack near the end of the movie are indeed the girl's parents instead of just letting the audience guess it.
Scenes that show the Mariner building the new boat he uses to leave the island at the end of the movie.
For the first airing on ABC which restored footage cut from the film, we see Helen and Enola standing atop the cliff watching the Mariner depart before the films end credits. As they are standing there they uncover a plaque which tells us that they are at the peak of Mt. Everest. This scene was not shown in the re-broadcast.
A significantly re-edited version of "Waterworld" has been shown on the USA cable TV network. This version included somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes of new previously unreleased footage.