With "Breaking Bad" over, many are still talking about that finale and the decisions made about the fates of the characters.
Show runner Vince Gilligan recently spoke with EW and revealed that various different versions of that last 10-15 minutes were considered. Some more intense, some more dramatic, but ultimately they went for a different approach:
"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. There's no right or wrong way to do this job — it’s just a matter of: You get as many smart people around you as possible in the writers room, and I was very lucky to have that.
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."
He also specifically wanted Walt's partner Jesse to get away, a kind of karmic payback for all the hell he has been put through:
"The writers room just loved Jesse and we just figured he had gotten in way over his head. When you think of it, he didn’t really have a chance in the early days. Walt said, ‘You either help me cook meth and sell it, or else I’ll turn you in to the DEA.’
So this poor kid, based on a couple of really bad decisions he made early on, has been paying through the nose spiritually and physically and mentally and emotionally.
In every which way, he’s just been paying the piper, and we just figured it felt right for him to get away. It would have been such a bummer for us, as the first fans of the show, for Jesse to have to pay with his life ultimately."
Gilligan happily admits that the classic John Wayne western "The Searchers" had a big influence on the show's ending and joking admits it's "stealing from the best."