Mad Men's penultimate season ends on Sunday, leading to preemptively high spoiler-alert levels of conversation at the water cooler: How will this show, however flailing, ultimately come to close? But TV endings are tricky, especially when you're talking about one of the greatest shows of all time. The final chapter can be absurdist, like Seinfeld's, or confusing, like The Sopranos. To some, however, Mad Men had its ending in its beginning, thanks to that instantly iconic animated man of opening-credits infamy, setting down his briefcase and tumbling down past buildings with billboards of beautiful women and happy families, perhaps toward his shadowed death. And while creator Matthew Weiner now says that his show will not end with a jump—just think how clichéd that would be—the image seems ever more important as Mad Men hurdles toward the brink.
During an interview, The Wrap's Tim Molloy said: "With so many people saying the show should end with a jump out the window, that must be pretty much the only thing you can't do." To which Weiner responded:
It never even occurred to me. I’ll be honest with you. Never occurred to me. That jump out the window was always meant to be symbolic and internal. I never meant it literally. I think it’s fascinating, though—I think people think it would be cool. But it hasn’t been an option. And now that we’ve had this conversation, I really can’t do it.
Weiner has always said that the man falling to the theme song was not supposed to be Don. He told an audience at the Paley Center that "the origin of the credits was I had an idea about a guy getting up in the morning—a faceless man, not even Don, I didn't know who he was—going to work and going in, walking past the office, going into his office, opening the window and jumping out." He explained: "To me the American businessman jumps out the window, that is a statement and it only happens—it's part of our iconography, so I wanted to say that's what's going inside of this man."