Vince Gilligan Reveals How Else 'Breaking Bad' Could Have Ended

The genius of the Breaking Bad finale was that everything that happened in it felt so inevitable, even obvious in retrospect. Of course the ricin was for [spoiler]. Of course [spoiler] got revenge. Of course Walt [spoiler spoiler] in a [spoiler spoiler spoiler].

Yet in the days leading up to that episode, how the show would end was anyone's guess. And Vince Gilligan is the first to admit that Walt's path wasn't always so clear. The writers settled on the conclusion we got only after discussing several other potential outcomes. Hit the jump to see how else Breaking Bad could've ended. (Massive spoilers follow, obviously.)

We didn't feel an absolute need for Walt to expire at the end of the show. Our gut told us it was right. As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don't think it was a necessity for us. 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. 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 a way, we did get all of those endings. Walt evaded the DEA and went off to start a new life at the end of "Ozymandias," though that episode was followed by a lighter version of the Walt-as-sole-survivor option in "Granite State" when he learns that Skyler and Walt Jr.'s lives have been ruined. Even Jesse (briefly) got victory over Walt in "To'hajiilee" and "Ozymandias."

But, Gilligan explains, the writers ultimately felt that Walt should get some small measure of redemption.

And when our gut told us we had it, we wrote it, and I guess our gut told us that it would feel satisfying for Walt to at least begin to make amends for his life and for all the sadness and misery wrought upon his family and his friends. Walt is never going to redeem himself. He's just too far down the road to damnation. But at least he takes a few steps along that path. And I think more importantly for him than that is the fact that he accomplishes what he set out to accomplish way back in the first episode: He leaves his family just a ton of money.

Jesse's fate was left up in the air, but Gilligan says he personally believes that the kid finally got to Alaska.

[I]t's up to the individual viewer to decide what happens next for Jesse. 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, and he's got a long road to recovery ahead, in a sense of being held prisoner in a dungeon for the last six months and being beaten to within an inch of his life and watching Andrea be shot. 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.

Thank God. If anyone has earned a happy ending, it's poor, beleaguered Jesse.

For more insights from Gilligan and the writer's room, including explanations of how Lydia became the ricin victim, why Jesse refused to shoot Walt, and what John Ford's The Searchers has to do with all of this, read the full interview at Entertainment Weekly.