Never have there been more obsessions over who’s going to die in TV shows than there has been in the last few years. TV truly created a new magical diversion when it was decided that regular cast members in TV shows could die at any moment and throw things plot lines into a tizzy. This seemed to start in abundance with “Lost” about a decade ago where a large ensemble was asking for numerous deaths throughout the series run. Despite the large cast bringing an inevitability of deaths, the ones that did happen were still shocking to avid viewers of the show then.
Not long after, “Mad Men” picked up on this idea, even if their cast wasn’t quite as large and where we got to know some characters before they kicked the bucket. The Lane Pryce death on “Mad Men” is still one of the most shocking suicide deaths of a major TV character in TV history and probably paved the way toward the very violent and pivotal death of King Joffrey on “Game of Thrones” recently.
And let’s not forget the show that made the recurring death of cast members an art form: “The Walking Dead.” Yes, it seems AMC has become the pivotal network in bringing the random character death scenario into full bloom. The same thing happened on “Breaking Bad”, including the demise of Walter White himself. But “The Walking Dead” was one of the rare shows that seemed to take out recurring characters after viewers had become emotionally attached to them. It was also one of the first shows that had to have the producer take random members of the cast into a private room to have a discussion about their character’s imminent demise.
Yes, with actors knowing their fates in advance, you can go back and play their performances now and see little nuances they utilized that seem foreboding. You can see that in the characters on “The Walking Dead”, and now “Mad Men” as pivotal characters start to drop like flies. With actor Robert Morse perhaps knowing long in advance of his Bert Cooper’s death, it gives plenty of things to look for in the reruns now when people watch the entire series through again.
Because we know that “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is just as into death of characters as all the other AMC shows, it’s no surprise why there’s been so much obsession over who’s going to die next. Especially with Megan, we constantly see the media push the idea that she’s going to die to create the ultimate tragedy. We also still see the theories on why Don Draper may die, even if it seems far too obvious now to have it happen in the show.
Now that the final season is going to be in a year-long break as of this writing, which characters might really die, if at any at all? When it comes to the left-turns of “Mad Men”, most theories are probably wrong.
Don Draper Likely Lives, Though Not Necessarily Anybody Else
Despite the opening animated title sequence of Don Draper falling off the skyscraper, it’s clearly always been metaphorical. You have to see Draper exorcizing all his issues by the final episode without death involved, or the conceit of “Mad Men” would be ruined. The people in his orbit are the still the big “what ifs” in the analysis department. It seems that Megan would probably survive based squarely on too much speculation of her demise. Nevertheless, you have to see her having something tragic happen that scars her–as in a close friend perhaps dying in the Manson murders.
You also have to see at least one other person die in the advertising agency that will take everyone by surprise. Whether it’s Roger or even a mysterious death of Jim Cutler, it’s easy to predict one of the men other than Don having a shocking demise to throw the business into a tailspin.
The real winner may end up being Peggy who perhaps becomes the first woman to become a pivotal partner in the company by the end. As unbelievable as that might be for 1969-1970, it sets up the path toward women finally making some headway as the dominating men falter and die off.
With all of the probable death musical chairs on “Mad Men” and elsewhere, you can be sure it’s not going to be the last. Death in primetime TV dramas is now the hot thing in order to create uncertainty about what’s going to happen next. It also gives more challenges to the writers so nothing becomes overly conventional. Don’t be surprised to even see a starring character of a show die unexpectedly to throw a show into an interesting tailspin.
In “Mad Men”, the best possible ending to rise above death is to jump ahead and show Don Draper as an old man in the present day, having outlived just about everybody else. He’d be in his early 90s now, which would be the ultimate survival story ever done on TV.