What Happens To Don Draper On 'Mad Men'? The Series Finale Showed Don Starting Over
Fans of Mad Men had countless questions coming in to Sunday's dreaded series finale. It marks the end of an era for television and AMC. What happens to Don Draper in the Mad Men series finale, "Person To Person"? While we've grown to love and care about every Mad Men character over seven seasons, the fate of the show's protagonist is sure to be the most talked about. We've followed Don Draper through two identities, three legal divorces, and a handful of existential crises. How's it going to end? Is he Gossip Girl? The theories have been building like wildfire, including everything from Don Draper's suicide, to assuming the identity of history's infamous unknown hijacker D.B. Cooper.
There have been so many anti-heroes on television over the past decade, from Tony Soprano and Dexter Morgan, to Walter White and Nancy Botwin. Each one of those characters can be defined by how their respective series ended, whether it was death, departure, or the unknown. Don Draper is just the latest story to come to a close.
In the penultimate episode, Don Draper proved what we already knew from Gone Girl — don't stay in a motel in the middle of nowhere. You will get robbed. At the end of the episode, Don gave away his car and parked himself on a bench at a bus stop. That's an ominous place to leave a character with only one episode left.
Dying to know what happens to Don? You asked for it, because there are major Mad Men series finale spoilers below.
In the series finale of Mad Men, Don Draper became a hippie. Sort of.
The opening scene showed Don Draper testing cars in Utah. He had a new bed and a new bedfellow. Later, he was on the phone with Sally, who divulged Betty's cancer. Finally! Don's adventure had seemingly come to an end. Betty got a person to person call from a tearful Don, thus explaining the episode title. He said he was coming home.
The boys from the car company found him drunk in his room, but drove him to California nonetheless. He dropped in on Stephanie, the niece of Anna and the "real" Don Draper. He told her he was retired. The next morning, Stephanie took him with her to a hippie retreat. However, the retreat seemed suspiciously like a cult. They did what I can only assume were acting exercises and he was shoved by an old woman.
They participated in group therapy and stormed out, at which point Don tried to get Stephanie to let him move in with her in California and take care of him. Stephanie refused and took off with the car. "People just come and go, and don't say goodbye," he lamented.
Then came possibly the most important scene in the finale. Don placed his second person to person call of the episode to Peggy. He was stuck in California. Peggy insisted he come home. Over the phone, Don started confessing his sins. He told Peggy that wanted to say goodbye, and that he'd see her soon. It was very confusing, and he sunk to the ground at the end of the call.
When the next person found him, he didn't think he could move. However, he was dragged back to another group session. Did Don Draper somehow stumble into alcoholic's anonymous? However, by the end of the session and a revelation about love coming from other people, Don hugged a fellow outcast and decided to stay.
So that's what happens to Don Draper. He became someone else. The final scene of Don, meditating and finally at peace, faded into the famous "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" commercial that used similar imagery. Did he go back and write that ad? Did he become the ad? Either way, it's delightfully ironic.
Image: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC; Courtesy of AMC