‘Breaking Bad’ has always been an incredibly cinematic show and the series finale was no exception. It’s also, in just under 24 hours, become one of the most discussed and analyzed TV episodes of all time. Fans and critics are reading more into it — and seeing more references to their favorite movies — than ever before.
Here are a few that series Vince Gilligan had (or likely had) in mind when he crafted this ending. Doubtless you were reminded of even more. MAJOR SPOILERS for the series finale.
The Third Man
In the second-to-last episode, “Granite State,” there is a moment when Jesse puts his fingers through the bars of his underground prison before attempting to escape. As in this classic film noir where criminal Harry Lime (Orson Welles) tries, and fails, to reach for freedom.
The Third Man (sewer scene)
The final showdown between Walt and Jesse, where Walt asks Jesse to shoot him, is very reminiscent of the scene where Harry nods at his old friend Holly (Joseph Cotten) to shoot him, although the outcomes weren’t exactly the same.
A Christmas Carol
In their finale review, Vulture suggests that Walt is like Scrooge, a man who’s trying to share his riches and atone for his many mistakes after being shown the error of his ways.
On ‘Talking Bad,’ Gilligan said he was inspired by John Wayne’s quest for Natalie Wood in ‘The Searchers.’ He intends to kill her when he finds her, but instead sweeps her into his arms, much like Walt ends up saving Jesse’s life, rather than killing him.
The Wild Bunch
Walt’s nifty automation of his M60 rifle (and what ends up being a suicide mission), can’t help but remind western fans of the class ‘The Wild Bunch.’
The Return of the Jedi
Again, Vulture points out that Jesse’s triumphant killing of Todd is a lot like when Leia choked the life out of the evil Jabba the Hutt.
The deadly mass shootout at the Nazi hangout is very similar to the one in ‘Taxi Driver.’ Walt is even wearing an Army-style jacket, much like Robert De Niro.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Gilligan says that when Walt finds himself back in a meth lab at the end, he is “reunited with his Precious,” and so he dies with a smile on his face, just like Gollum.