With Breaking Bad now in the final throes of its amazing run, we have to wonder what approach they will take for the series finale. There’s been several television shows throughout history that people have considered “the best,” and Breaking Bad seems to be the most recent show gunning for that title. So let’s take a look at how some of those other shows ended and how Vince Gilligan and crew could potentially follow suit.
They could do it the style of The Sopranos, where Walter is sitting with his family and the screen just fades to black. This will lead to several years of fans discussing the symbolism and if Walter was killed right after, when really the writers just said, “There’s no easy way to do this, so let’s just pretend the power went out.”
There’s always the Seinfeld approach: Walter and Jesse are in court, and every witness called is a character from seasons past who testifies about how awful the duo treated him or her. We, the audience, sit with great anticipation waiting for the episode to become, you know, good, like it’s supposed to be. But then Walt and Jesse are sent to prison and that’s that. We all just turn to each other and say, “Really? That was it?” But showrunner Gilligan didn’t drop out two seasons earlier only to come back and write a bad finale, so no worries here.
Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about Breaking Bad taking the Friends approach to closing out. That would require the show running an extra six seasons beyond its expiration date, leading to terrible and completely out-of-character storylines. Just imagine the horror of Jesse, now married to Marie, telling some woman “Please give us your baby. My wife’s a mother without a child!” Hard to even thinking, isn’t it? He would ride these ridiculous arcs as long as it could, only to wither across the finish line like a dying snail.
Now, they could get wild and go for something along the lines of Lost: It turns out that every terrible thing Walt has done over the last few years have been nothing more than an illusion, and his family, friends, and enemies are all just chillin’, waiting for him to move on. If they take this route, it’ll be hard to match the genius level of Lost‘s producers, as they were able to convince their fan base that the series was made so much better by having such a shitty ending that answered absolutely zero questions (several Losties still defend it to this day). Brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant.
But how could we forget about the series finale of M*A*S*H? The beautifully crafted, heartwarming, utterly flawless finale to one of the greatest achievements ever put on television. The Breaking Bad finale would be so amazingly perfect that thirty years from now, I’ll be telling my children about how Breaking Bad was this beyond amazing show–a mesmerizingly radiant display of human creativity–and they will have no idea what I’m talking about. Because they’ve never seen the show nor will they have any desire to watch it. Thus, they will go write on their stupid blog about how they have no idea why their parents won’t stop talking about this show called M*A*S*H, excuse me, Breaking Bad.
Ultimately, here’s the thing: Breaking Bad is the greatest television series ever. And it’s been so good up to this point that the amount of pressure to live up to expectations on these last 8 episodes (well, 7 episodes now) is at a level that would cause nightmares for even the most hardened of drug kingpins. Nearly every show that has ever been considered “great” has failed to produce an equally worthy finale. But I’m convinced that Vince Gilligan and company will deliver, simply because they always have.
Of course, if it fades to black, I’ve got my torch and pitchfork ready. Who’s with me?