It is widely perceived by fans and by television critics to be one of the greatest shows of its generation, an iconic program that, for some, put cable station AMC on the map. Mad Men was about far more than just the life and tales of Don Draper. It was a show that introduced the advertising world of 50 years ago to mass audiences, a program that, in storyline, also happened to occur during one of the more tumultuous decades in the history of the United States. So much about the world changed throughout the years during which Mad Men was set, and that is excellently depicted in each season of the show.
“Person to Person,” the final ever Mad Men episode, aired in the US on the night of May 17, and the show was hyped to be the television event of the month, the springtime and maybe even of the entire year. Diehard fans of the show could not get enough Mad Men content in the week leading up to the finale, so much so that they watched as much of the Mad Men marathon that AMC presented leading up to “Person to Person” as possible. Another portion of the waiting game included critics, bloggers and fans attempting to predict exactly what would occur during the last hour of the program.
Some of those predictions came true. It turns out, for example, that Don Draper did, in fact, play some role in creating that famous Coke TV commercial as it pertains to the Mad Men world. Other rumors, theories and myths thrown out there in the week leading up to the Mad Men finale, however, proved to be way off base. Certain unions that were allegedly supposed to occur never materialized on air, and it turns out that the opening scene that aired at the beginning of every Mad Men episode was not, in fact, to be taken literally by anybody.
10. Roger Dies
Some predicted leading into the finale that the silhouette of the man falling to his death in the Mad Men opening was a depiction of Roger Sterling and not of Don Draper. That turned out to not be the case, as the show ends with Roger both alive and happy while engaged to his latest love. It is entirely possible that Marie, the mother of the former Mrs. Megan Draper, kills Roger in a fit of passion at some point down the road – Roger probably has it coming and Marie is crazy – but the last memory we will have of the beloved character is Roger referring to Marie as his mother while speaking in French at a cafe.
9. Peggy and Joan Join Forces
You can file this Mad Men rumor in the “close, but no cigar” category. This potential union that had been predicted by some was teased to viewers in the first half of the finale when Joan asked Peggy to be her partner in what was to be a new production company. Peggy seriously considers accepting that offer, in part to no longer have to worry about working in a male-dominated world, but she instead continues to pursue her dream of being head of creative, in part because she learns that the love of her life works with her at McCann.
8. Don Becomes SuperDad
Those hoping that Don Draper would experience a change of heart upon learning that ex-wife Betty was diagnosed with terminal cancer had some hope early in the episode when the two had what was their final ever Mad Men scene together. Betty ultimately talked Don out of returning home to care for his children, though, reminding the main character that he was not a first-class father even before Betty learned of her fate. Don did not rush home to see the woman who was once the love of his life, and he instead continued his journey out west where he eventually found whatever it was he needed to locate.
7. Peggy and Stan Make the Coke Ad
Groups of Mad Men fans went into the series finale hoping that these two crazy kids would end up together when all was said and done. Part of those rumors included Peggy, perhaps with the help of Stan, creating the Coke commercial that closed Mad Men out once and for all. Perhaps, in some unknown Mad Men universe out there, the possibility exists that Don handed off his idea to the woman who served as his secretary and later as his protege. All indications, however, seem to point to Don embracing and then pitching that idea as part of a triumphant return to McCann.
6. Joan Gives it All Up
The Joan character had not, throughout the history of Mad Men, been one to succumb to pressure or to the countless men who attempted to lord over her, and thus it rubbed some fans the wrong way when she accepted the buyout from McCann before running off with her millionaire boyfriend who had been introduced to the show during the final episodes of the series. In the end, though, Joan goes all-in on herself as so many hoped she would, trading her new man for a production company that she sets up in her own home. We are all rooting for you to succeed, Joan. Knock ’em dead.
5. Don is D.B. Cooper
You can only blame yourself if you expected this rumor to come true during the Mad Men finale. Show creator Matt Weiner stated publicly during the week leading up to the finale that Don was not, in fact, D.B. Cooper, the mysterious plane hijacker from the time when the show was wrapping up. Cooper, in real life, hijacked a plane in November of 1971, and he got away with a reported $200,000 before he made his exit via parachute. That crime has never been solved, and its story led some to understandably wonder if Weiner saw Draper as being the charming hijacker.
4. Don Gets Murdered
This rumor made all kinds of sense when you consider the numerous enemies that Don made starting all the way back in the first ever Mad Men episode. Perhaps a former lover seeking revenge would take Don out in dramatic fashion – Betty with a shotgun while a lit cigarette hung out of the side of her mouth for just one example. Maybe Sally, finally fed up with her absent father, would decide that it would be better for everybody to just take Don out. Don is alive and well as far as we know, meditating on a cliff and coming up with an idea that would change the advertising world.
3. Pete Campbell Dies in a Plane Crash
Just how great was Mad Men? The show’s writers managed to turn Pete Campbell, the sniveling jerk worthy of whatever awful fate was coming his way, into one of the more likeable characters in the Mad Men universe, so much so that you are happy that he has found inner peace by the show’s conclusion. Pete’s final conversation on the show involved him praising Peggy with his kindest words to date, and he then flew off into the sunset with a cushy new job, a ton of money in his bank account, his ex-wife and his daughter all with him. It was Pete and not Don who was the ultimate Mad Men reformation project. Good for him.
2. Don Draper Turns Back to Dick Whitman
No rumor made more sense than Don reverting back to Dick Whitman, his original self who once joined the military and then stole the Draper name as a way to leave Korea. The idea was that Don had more than enough money in his bank account to live a comfortable life away from anybody he knew as Whitman. Perhaps he would take up residence in Anytown, USA somewhere on the west coast as Whitman, or maybe he would even use that name while pitching the Coke idea to a stunned Peggy at some point in the future. None of that happened, though, as Don has, at the end of Mad Men, seemingly embraced his Draper-ness.
1. Don Draper Kills Himself
Draper had lost just about everything up before he had an emotional breakdown while speaking with Peggy during the Mad Men finale. Don’s wife had left him. He had no home and no belongings outside of his clothes. His family did not want him around. He had walked away from his job at McCann. Don killing himself in the finale was not only logical. It would have brought Mad Men full circle, as the first and final scenes of the show could have been images of a man falling to his doom. Weiner instead went a different route, making Draper a man who will live on forever because of that Coke commercial. Thanks for everything, Don and the rest of the Mad Men gang. We’ll miss you.