Breaking Bad Could Have Ended a Lot Differently

Ursula Coyote, AMC
Ursula Coyote, AMC

It was 10 years ago this month that audiences were introduced to Walter White—a loving husband, doting dad, and brilliant scientist-turned-high school chemistry teacher who, upon learning that he has lung cancer, begins moonlighting as a drug kingpin so that he can leave this world knowing that his family won’t be left struggling in the wake of his death. Breaking Bad is regularly cited as one of the greatest television shows in the history of the medium, and with good reason. Unlike so many other successful shows, it only improved with each new season, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats until the final moments of the series finale. But it turns out that the show’s final ending wasn’t the only conclusion the series’ creators considered.

To celebrate Breaking Bad’s 10th anniversary, creator Vince Gilligan and a half-dozen of the series’ key writers—including Peter Gould, Moira Walley-Beckett, Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison, Sam Catlin, and George Mastras—sat down with Variety to share some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the challenges of not just creating one of the most intense, creative, and celebrated series of all time, but the issues they faced in wrapping it up, too. And it seems that life could have turned out much differently for Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and many of the other morally challenged characters audiences came to know and love.

When asked at what point they knew what the fate of each character would be, Gilligan said that it was “late in the game. We went through every possible permutation.” While the writers all concurred that the only logical ending would include Walter’s death, Gilligan admitted that they toyed around with avoiding the inevitable:

“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.”

They ultimately agreed that Walter's demise was the only possible conclusion, but exactly how that happened was another matter—one that was brainstormed quite a bit.

While fans of the show undoubtedly remember White’s final moments, surrounded (fittingly) by the tools of his drug-making trade, Catlin said, “There was debate about that, and there was one pitch that he would die ignominiously on a gurney in a hospital, sort of pushed aside as a John Doe while life continued without him. I think the thinking behind that was, so much of what he chased was a sense of status and a sense of importance. It would have been more grim for him to be just tossed aside and overlooked at the end.”

Schnauz and Gould revealed another possible outcome. “There was the other pitch where he had been shot,” Schnauz said, “and crawled into a restaurant, sort of a Blood Simple-esque scene, ending up underneath …”

“… a Pollos Hermanos table,” Gould finished.

Gilligan said that he was, and continues to be, surprised by how beloved Walter was as a character, despite the fact that he did very bad things.

“I run into more people who were sorry he died at the end,” Gilligan said. “This whole thing about ‘Geez, is he really dead or not?’”

Though Walter may be gone, he’s certainly not forgotten. And we can always hold out hope that we’ll have a chance to see him once again on Better Call Saul.

[h/t: Variety]

HBO Is Offering Nearly 500 Hours of Free Content, From The Sopranos to Succession

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Peter Kramer/HBO

If shelter-in-place orders have you burning through your streaming service selections, HBO might be able to help. The premium network has just announced nearly 500 hours of content will be made available for free beginning Friday, April 3. In a press release, the channel said that content would be unlocked via HBO NOW and HBO GO without a subscription. Viewers can expect a mix of HBO’s original series as well as documentaries and catalog movie titles. For original series, viewers can select these nine shows:

  1. Ballers
  2. Barry
  3. Silicon Valley
  4. Six Feet Under
  5. The Sopranos
  6. Succession
  7. True Blood
  8. Veep
  9. The Wire

Documentary and Docuseries titles include:

  1. The Apollo
  2. The Case Against Adnan Syed
  3. Elvis Presley: The Searcher
  4. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter
  5. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
  6. Jane Fonda in Five Acts
  7. McMillion$
  8. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality
  9. United Skates
  10. We Are the Dream: The Kids of the MLK Oakland Oratorical Fest

Movies are from the Warner Bros. library and, unlike The Sopranos, are mostly family-friendly. They include:

  1. Arthur
  2. Arthur 2: On the Rocks
  3. Blinded By the Light
  4. The Bridges of Madison County
  5. Crazy, Stupid, Love
  6. Empire of the Sun
  7. Forget Paris
  8. Happy Feet Two
  9. Isn't It Romantic?
  10. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  11. Midnight Special
  12. My Dog Skip
  13. Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase
  14. Pan
  15. Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  16. Red Riding Hood
  17. Smallfoot
  18. Storks
  19. Sucker Punch
  20. Unknown Title To Be Announced

The shows can be viewed directly without a sign-in on the HBO GO and HBO NOW websites or via their apps. (The services are nearly identical, but HBO GO is typically included with a cable subscription; HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service.) If you’d like to sample the full range of HBO series like Game of Thrones, The Outsider, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, the channel is offering a seven-day free trial.

According to the press release, the programming will be available to watch without subscribing through the end of April.

Which Fictional Character Are You? This Online Quiz Might Give You an Eerily Accurate Answer

Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While watching a TV show or movie, you might find yourself trying to draw parallels between you and a certain character you’d want to be. If you’re like many viewers, it’s probably one of the heroic ones—the handsome private investigator with a tortured past and an unerring moral compass or the fearless queen who builds her kingdom from nothing and defends it to the death, etc.

But which character would you actually be? Openpsychometrics.org, a site that develops personality tests, has a new online quiz that might give you an uncannily accurate answer. You’ll be confronted with a series of 28 questions that ask you to pinpoint where you fall between two traits on a percentage-based spectrum. For example, if you’re more playful than serious, slide the bar toward the word playful until you’ve reached your desired ratio. The ratio could be anything from 51 percent playful and 49 percent serious, to a full 100 percent playful and not a single iota of seriousness at all. Other spectrums include artistic versus scientific, dominant versus submissive, spiritual versus skeptical, and more.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll find out which fictional character your personality most closely matches from a database of around 500 television and film characters. To pinpoint the personalities of the characters themselves, the quiz creators asked survey participants to rate them on a series of traits, and those collective results are then compared to your own self-ratings.

If you scroll down below your top result, you’ll see an option to show your full match list, which will give you a much more comprehensive picture of what kind of character you’d be. My top two results—which, ironically, were the same as Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy’s—were The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg and Joey Lucas, suggesting that we both have a no-nonsense attitude, a perfectionist streak, and an apparent aptitude for national politics that (at least in our cases) will likely go unfulfilled.

The fictional twin of managing editor Jenn Wood, on the other hand, is Game of Thrones’s Tyrion Lannister, unofficial king of witty side comments and all-around fan favorite. This was not surprising. As runner-up, Jenn got her personal hero, Elizabeth Bennet, which, in her words “makes me feel better about myself.” (Jenn has Pride and Prejudice-themed “writing gloves,” which seems important to mention.)

Take the quiz here to find out just how much you have in common with your own personal (fictional) hero.

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