The Scene from 'The Searchers' That Inspired the Ending of 'Breaking Bad'

The Scene from 'The Searchers' That Inspired the Ending of 'Breaking Bad'

Sep 30, 2013

Over 10 million people watched Breaking Bad close up shop last night for good, almost nine million more than when the show first debuted. Of course with any series finale of a popular television show, now comes all the conversations (both good and bad), conspiracy theories (it was all in Walt's head!) and lots of figuring out how to find an equally-as-fulfilling replacement for one of the greatest television shows of our time.

Today many are pouring over the final episode, titled "Felina," and searching for additional meanings, hidden plot points and, most importantly, closure. In making the postfinale rounds, series creator Vince Gilligan admits they kind of borrowed the ending of John Ford's The Searchers when it came time to write a suitable ending for Walt and Jesse.

‘It’s the ending to The Searchers." Gilligan told EW. "The wonderful Western The Searchers has John Wayne looking for Natalie Wood for the entire three-hour length of the movie. She’s been kidnapped by Indians and raised as one of their own, and throughout the whole movie, John Wayne says, ‘I need to put her out of her misery. As soon as I find her, I’m going to kill her.’ The whole movie Jeffrey Hunter is saying, ‘No, we’re not — she’s my blood kin, we’re saving her,’ and he says, ‘We’re killing her.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh my God, John Wayne is a monster and he’s going to do it. You know for the whole movie that this is the major drama between these two characters looking for Natalie Wood. And then at the end of the movie, on impulse, you think he’s riding toward her to shoot her, and instead he sweeps her up off her feet and he carries her away and he says, ‘Let’s go home.’ It just gets me every time — the ending of that movie just chokes you up, it’s wonderful. In the writers room, we said, ‘Hey, what about The Searchers ending?’ So, it’s always a matter of stealing from the best. [Laughs]"

Here's the scene in question from The Searchers....

Gilligan admits they had several endings for the show planned, like one where Walt winds up the only survivor, but it was this ending -- inspired by John Wayne's change of heart in The Searchers -- that made the most sense for the Breaking Bad writing crew. An ending where Walt's hatred and anger toward Jesse and his bad decisions disappears the moment he looks into the kid's wounded, disheveled eyes. Instead of killing him, Walt saved him. He didn't pick him up and ride him home on a horse, but he knocked him down, took a bullet for him and helped Jesse ride off on his own horse with his future finally back in his own hands.

Martin Scorsese, in writing about The Searchers, perhaps said it best with this quote that just as easily wraps around the ending of Breaking Bad as it does Ford's iconic Western: "In truly great films -- the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable -- nothing's ever simple or neatly resolved. You're left with a mystery. In this case, the mystery of a man who spends 10 years of his life searching for someone, realizes his goal, brings her back and then walks away. Only an artist as great as John Ford would dare to end a film on such a note. In its final moment, The Searchers suddenly becomes a ghost story. Ethan's sense of purpose has been fulfilled, and like the man whose eyes he's shot out, he's destined to wander forever between the winds."

You can watch the final scene from The Searchers below. Do you think Walt is now destined to forever wander between the winds?





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