The network TV version originally broadcast on CBS in the '80s was edited by William Friedkin, who also shot a replacement insert of the Virgin Mary statue crying blood, replacing the shot of a more obscenely desecrated statue. Friedkin himself spoke the Demon's new, censored lines; he was unwilling to work with Mercedes McCambridge again. The lines "Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Karras" and "Shove it up your ass you faggot" were re-dubbed by Friedkin as "Your mother still rots in hell" and "Shut your face, you faggot." Several of Ellen Burstyn's lines were also re-dubbed by the actress, replacing "Jesus Christ" with "Judas Priest" and omitting the f-word. Most of the profanity spoken by Regan is also cut out, as are the shots of her being abused with a crucifix and forcing Chris' face into her crotch. There is also a slightly alternate shot of Regan's face morphed into the white face of the demon just after Merrin arrives at the MacNeil house (the theatrical versions only show the beginning of the transformation). This network TV version is rarely if ever used for TV and cable showings today.
Both versions of the film were remixed in 5.1 surround sound for their DVD and Blu-ray releases. However, while the 5.1 mix for the theatrical version simply just remixes the soundtrack and expands some of the mono elements to stereo. The director's cut not only remixes the soundtrack, but the majority of the original sound effects were replaced with more modern ones.
In the television versions, the image of the obscenely defiled statue of the Virgin Mary stays intact. It stays on longer for the TV-14 version, but not much.
The Special Edition released on DVD for the 25th Anniversary includes the original ending as a special feature, not used in the theatrical release: after Father Dyer is seen on top of the steps behind the MacNeil's residence, he walks away and his approached by Lt. Kinderman. They talk briefly about Regan and the events that just took place there; Kinderman then invites Dyer to the movies to see Wuthering Heights and quotes Casablanca, telling Dyer "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".
The Special Edition DVD also includes a 75-minutes documentary titled "The Fear of God" on the making of the Exorcist. The documentary includes screen tests and additional deleted scenes, including:
- Chris MacNeil and Regan going sight-seeing in Washington;
- after Chris hears about Burke's death, Regan crawls down the stairs upside down on her arms and legs like a spider and then chases Chris and Sharon around the room;
- Karras and Merrin sit on the stairs during a pause of the exorcism and exchange some words about what's happening to the girl.
The scene where the Demonic entity leaves Father Karres was originally done by filming Jason Miller in possession makeup, then stopping the camera and shooting him again with the makeup removed. This creates a noticeable jump in Father Karress's position as he is unpossessed. The 25'th anniversary video releases of "The Exorcist" smooth over the jumpy transition with a subtle computer morph effect. This updated effect was not featured in the prints used for the 75th Anniversary Warner Brothers film festivals
A new edition, labeled "The version you've never seen", was released on September 22, 2000 and includes the following additions and changes.
- A slightly different opening, which shows the MacNeil's home in Georgetown, then cuts to the opening titles.
- The scene where Chris MacNeil screams on the phone includes a new music cue and omits the line "I've been on this fucking line for 20 minutes!" and simply cuts to the next scene.
- A new scene with Regan at the hospital receiving treatment to diagnose her "unusual" behavior. The doctor tells Chris MacNeil that Regan told him to "keep his hands away from her Goddamn c--t." This scene sets up her bizarre behavior earlier and clarifies the scene where Chris tells Regan "it's just like the doctor said, it's just nerves. You just take your pills and you'll be fine"
- The party scene removes the shot of Regan laughing with the guests, obviously because of her "unusual" behavior in the previous scene.
- In the scene where Chris returns home and the lights go out, new digital effects including satanic faces and images of the statue, new sound effects, and music have been added to the scene. However in the blu-ray version, re-titled "Extended Director's Cut", one effect of the demon Pazuzu's face appearing on Regan's door has been removed.
- The "spider-walk" scene has been restored and digitally altered from the original scene. Here, crude wires from the scene have been digitally removed, she comes down the stairs much faster, and a second take with her mouth is full of blood was used instead of a serpent tongue. It then cuts to black, and the next scene opens.
- Before she grabs the psychiatrist's crotch, a new digital effect of her face morphing into the devil(which is seen in subliminal cuts throughout)including a new growl has been added.
- A new music cue has been added to the scene with Lt. Kinderman and Father Karras.
- After Father Karras leaves for the night, a new scene of him examining a tape of Regan trying to talk to her dad has been added and a new music cues ties the new scene and the scene of Father Karras at the mass together.
- New scenes with Sharon trying to tune out the devil groans and a short moment with Chris MacNeil and Father Merrin(which hints his vulnerability and weakness) have been added.
- A new music cue has been added to the scene with Father Karras and Father Merrin going up the stairs to perform the exorcism, and a short scene has been added before they enter the room. Father Damien asks Chris MacNeil what Regan's middle name is. She tells him it's Theresa, and he says "what a lovely name."
- The scene with Father Karras and Father Merrin talking on the stairs (which was included on the 25th Anniversary DVD) has been restored.
- When Father Karras looks up at the window when he's possessed, a new digital effect with Karras' mother's face has been added, and the scene includes the "subtle morph effect" that was included on the 25th anniversary edition DVD.
- When Chris MacNeil gives Father Dyer Father Karras' medal, he gives it back to her and says "I think you should keep it", instead of simply keeping it as in the original version. A new short scene of Regan smiling and waving at Father Dyer as they drive away and Father Dyer waving back has been added.
- The original ending with Father Dyer and Lt. Kinderman has been restored. The 'tubular bells' music cue plays over them walking away, and it ends before Lt. Kinderman can say quote "Casablanca", "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".