Breaking Bad is one of the few TV shows that started great and stayed that way throughout its entire run. But apparently Walter White’s end was almost very different.
To celebrate Breaking Bad’s 10th anniversary, the show’s creator Vince Gilligan and some of the writing staff sat down with Variety discuss various things about the AMC hit. One of the topics that came up was the show’s ending, and Gilligan said it was originally going to be completely different.
If you’ll remember, the show ends with White saving Jesse Pinkman, his former associate, from a gang that was forcing him to cook meth. But White suffers an injury and dies as the show ends. It was a bittersweet moment as Walter seems to have redeemed himself, at least partially, for his terrible actions throughout the show.
But apparently the show’s ending was originally much darker. Apparently one of the writers came up with an idea where Walter would be the only one left alive, and his whole family would’ve been killed in the finale. Here’s what Gilligan said about the ending:
“There was a hive mind with these wonderful writers, where I don’t remember who said what, and it doesn’t even matter whose idea was whose. But I remember one afternoon, somebody said—and I was kind of into it for a while—’Wouldn’t it be really ironic if Walt is the only one to survive this?’ Because it does seem so obvious that Walt should expire at the end of the final episode—but maybe he’s the only one left alive. Maybe he still does have a death sentence, but we go out on him alive, and maybe his whole family’s been wiped out. That would have been really f***ing dark.”
The writers eventually agreed that the show needed to end with Walter dying, and simply worked through a way to figure out how to get him there.
Would that darker ending have been better? Maybe. But it definitely would’ve far less enjoyable for viewers.