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Breaking Bad: 7 secrets about the series finale
What other endings were considered by the show's writers? What happens to Jesse now? An in-depth look at the creative process behind the finale.
 
In an alternative ending, Jesse kills Walt.
In an alternative ending, Jesse kills Walt. Ursula Coyote/AMC

After five brilliant seasons and countless memorable moments, AMC's Breaking Bad has finally drawn to a close. But even if Breaking Bad is over, we're not done talking about it yet and fortunately, the show's creator and stars have been more than happy to share some of the secrets of Breaking Bad's series finale [Caution: Spoilers ahead]:

1. The finale was directly inspired by the ending of classic Western The Searchers
"A lot of astute viewers who know their film history are going to say, 'It's the ending to The Searchers.' And indeed it is," said series creator Vince Gilligan in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, going on to describe why the final moments of the classic Western are so powerful and effective. "It just gets me every time — the ending of that movie just chokes you up, it's wonderful. In the writers room, we said, 'Hey, what about the Searchers ending?' So, it's always a matter of stealing from the best."

2. A teenaged fan with cancer changed the ending of the show
Breaking Bad's midseason premiere was dedicated to Kevin Cordasco, a Calabasas teenager and Breaking Bad superfan who died after a seven-year battle with a rare type of brain cancer. But while he didn't live to see it, Cordasco's conversations with the cast and crew of Breaking Bad ended up having an impact on the show's ultimate ending. In an interview on the Breaking Bad Insider podcast, Gilligan revealed that he'd asked Cordasco what he'd like to see more of in the series and Cordasco replied that he'd like more information on Walt's former business partners, Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz. "I came back and reported [what he said] to the writers' room, and it colored our perception of the show," said Gilligan. "We added something to these final eight episodes that we wouldn't have otherwise if Kevin hadn't mentioned that." In the end, Walt's relationship with Gretchen and Elliott gave him the means to share his money with his family.

3. The writers also considered an ending where Walter lives — but his family doesn't
"There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he's standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed," said Gilligan at Entertainment Weekly. "That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers. We talked about a version where Jesse kills Walt. We talked about a version where Walt more or less gets away with it." In the end, they settled on an ending that allows Walt to "do the one thing he set out to do."

4. One deleted scene from the finale featured Walt encountering a former student
In the final episode of AMC's Breaking Bad talk show Talking Bad, Gilligan revealed that the episode originally included a scene that hearkened back to Walt's time as a public-school teacher. Before leaving to confront Gretchen and Elliott, Walt would have been stopped by a former student and be forced to pay him off in order to ensure his silence. Before leaving, Walt would have asked what kind of teacher he was, and been told that he was "a good one."

5. Both Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul are optimistic about Jesse's future
The finale ends with Jesse laughing hysterically as he drives away from the Nazis' compound. What happens next? Breaking Bad leaves Jesse's future as an open-ended question, but both Vince Gilligan and star Aaron Paul think he has a brighter future on the horizon. "Some people might think, "Well, he probably got two miles down the road before the cops nailed him.' But I prefer to believe that he got away," said Gilligan at Entertainment Weekly. "All these terrible things he's witnessed are going to scar him as well, but the romantic in me wants to believe that he gets away with it and moves to Alaska and has a peaceful life communing with nature."

Aaron Paul agrees. "In my mind, he gets the hell out of Dodge," said Paul at Entertainment Weekly. "I think he probably goes and says bye to Brock, if he can, or at least just sees him from a distance and then he leaves. Maybe Alaska, maybe New Zealand. Becomes a bush pilot. It's all part of the story."

6. Many Breaking Bad actors didn't know how the show would end
Breaking Bad's final episode found time to revisit most of the show's characters, but a few fan favorites — including Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman — didn't appear in the finale, which meant that they were as much in the dark as the rest of us. "I don't know how the show ends. I did not read the last episode and a half. Wherever I was not in it, I did not read it," said Odenkirk at Rolling Stone. "Not only did I not read the parts I was not in, I put them in the trash in my email, and then I deleted my trash. I'm a fan of the show! I want to watch it just like you!"

And not even the actors who appeared in the episode had the full story. "I don't know anything about it. That was a choice on my part," said Michael Bowen, who played the villainous Neo-Nazi Uncle Jack, in an interview with Yahoo! News. "You have an option to just get your scenes or get the whole script. I just choose to get my scenes, unless a phone call or something directly affected me. I think it's fine. Jack doesn't need to have that color in his reality, so I don't know what happens."

7. Vince Gilligan is happy Breaking Bad is over
"Every story has its running time, and it's just hard in television to know what that running length should amount to, and I feel very happy and satisfied by the fact that we're wrapping up now," said Gilligan at Entertainment Weekly. "I can't even believe that the ratings have increased with each episode — I just think it's wonderful — and people have asked me, 'Does it make you want to go on and do a bunch more episodes now?' Just the opposite. It makes me think, through quite a bit of good luck being involved, we really did pick the right moment to exit the stage, and I feel even more confident of that now than I did before."

Read more on Breaking Bad:

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor and film and television critic for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

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