Brief thought exercise: does Mad Men need to end with Don, Roger or Pete dying?

You all know the theory by now, hopefully: because Mad Men‘s title sequence contains a man plummeting towards Madison Avenue, there’s been speculation for about seven years now that one of the main characters will die as the series ends. Well, the series isn’t ending for about a year, but the first of two final seasons does begin tonight. There have been notable deaths so far (Lane Pryce comes to mind), and everyone is gearing up for the potential end of Don Draper within the next 10-12 episodes.

Let’s talk about that opening credits situation for a second. Here are some of the original storyboards, and here’s an interview with the initial designer, including this relevant quote:

But Fuller added that “the main idea came from Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator. He said on the briefing call ‘I imagine a guy walking into a building, taking the elevator up to his office, putting his briefcase down and jumping out the window…but not that.’ I thought “Why NOT that?”, and started figuring out how we might be able to do that with illustration. . . . This calendar (below) I saw in “A Smile In The Mind” book [by Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart] was my main inspiration actually: .

If Weiner did call the guys before an episode had even aired and that was his vision, well, that’s interesting. If we learned anything from HIMYM, it’s that clearly show creators have an idea on how the show will end before the first episode has even wrapped, whether it ends up running two seasons or 10. Weiner could probably be the same. This theory has been floated 100 times, but he came from The Sopranos, and that show, while legendary, has a controversial finale — so maybe Weiner really wanted to do something conclusive with the end of his own show. That’s just some pop psychology for you.

There’s also this, though:

It never even occurred to me. I’ll be honest with you. Never occurred to me. That jump out the window was always meant to be symbolic and internal. I never meant it literally. I think it’s fascinating, though—I think people think it would be cool. But it hasn’t been an option. And now that we’ve had this conversation, I really can’t do it.

There are no shortage of Reddit threads on this topic, including this one on the potential series finale, which features a hell of an idea for the final scenes:

September, 2014. At a country inn in Vermont, a family gathers. The event is the wedding of Sally Draper’s heavily tattooed lesbian daughter Rain. Sally is the chair of the Women’s Studies department at Vassar and is married to a leading architect named Simon Goldberg. She kept her name.

Megan arrives with her daughter Marianne Draper (born 1972) who is a fashion editor at Canadian Vogue. Megan and Sally stayed close after she divorced Don in 1973.

Bobby Draper walks in, looking sharp in his Wall Street suit with his lovely blonde wife and daughters. He is an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and survived the 2008 crash on charm alone.

Gene walks in, escorting Don to his seat. Gene owns a used car dealership and is a recovering Vicodin addict. Don looks frail but dapper in his suit a d is seated on the front row.

As the music begins, Don turns to look and sees Betty being escorted down the aisle by one of her grandsons. The music changes to a gorgeous Fifties instrumental and we dissolve to…

Don and Betty’s wedding. Betty floats down the aisle, looking radiant in her perfect Grace Kelley wedding gown. Back in 2014, Rain’s fiancée, a beautiful Japanese performance artist named Lin emerges in her gown and the ceremony begins.

Montage of the two ceremonies intercut with each other. 2014 Betty and Don’s eyes meet. Montage ends with Fiftes Betty looking up at Don and whispering “till death do us part.” Don gazes lovingly at Betty’s glowing, adoring face…but Betty’s face blurs as the camera finds a bridesmaid over her shoulder. Brunette, gorgeous. She gives Don a small smirk. Cut to closeup of Don, his pupils dilated. Smash cut to black. The End as Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise” plays over credits.

Matthew Weiner has admitted he knows the ending of the show — apparently they’re finishing writing the last three episodes and will shoot those through the middle of June — so clearly the concept is in play (if they’ve already shot up to the fourth-to-last episode, there’s a chance someone else is already dead, eh?). Some people are fairly certain he’ll die. Twitter has differing takes:


I tossed Roger and Pete in the headline of this post just because they’re likely the other two main male characters that have been there since the beginning and had several arcs around them. I don’t see Joan or Peggy dying, but again … you cannot rule it out. I didn’t mention Megan Draper in the wake of all that Sharon Tate stuff, but that’s something to consider too.

For more on Season 7, hit this link.

Ted Bauer