The scene in which the monster throws the little girl into the lake and accidentally drowns her has long been controversial. Upon its original 1931 release, the second part of this scene was cut by state censorship boards in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. Those states also objected to a line they considered blasphemous, one that occurred during Frankenstein's exuberance when he first learns that his creature is alive. The original line was: "It's alive! It's alive! In the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!" Kansas requested the cutting of 32 scenes, which, if removed, would have halved the length of the film. Jason Joy of the Studio Relations Committee sent censor representative Joseph Breen to urge them to reconsider. Eventually, an edited version was released in Kansas. The shot of Maria being thrown into the lake was rediscovered during the 1980s in the collection of the British National Film Archive. Modern copies incorporate it.
As with many Pre-Code films that were reissued after strict enforcement of the Production Code in 1934, Universal made cuts from the master negative.