Mad Men Ending Explained: What Happens to Don Draper in The Series Finale?

Mad Men Ending Explained

Matthew Weiner and Lionsgate Television are responsible for the American period drama series Mad Men. For seven seasons and 92 episodes, the show aired on AMC from July 19, 2007, to May 17, 2015.

Dates from March 1960 to November 1970 are used in this work of fiction. The events of Mad Men take place at two different fictional advertising agencies: Sterling Cooper on Madison Avenue and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce later renamed Sterling Cooper & Partners near the Time-Life Building at 1271 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

The pilot episode implies that the term “Mad Men” was used by Madison Avenue advertising professionals to refer to themselves in the 1950s, with “Mad” standing in for “Madison.”

However, the only known use of the term from that era appears to have been in the writings of James Kelly, an advertising executive, and writer, published in the late 1950s.

Don Draper Jon Hamm, initially the talented creative director at Sterling Cooper, is the series’ major character and the show’s protagonist.

Some of the greatest successful advertising campaigns in history have been traced back to him, despite his erratic and cryptic behavior.

In the future, Don joins Sterling Cooper and Draper Pryce as founding partners, but he faces an uphill battle as his calculated persona begins to deteriorate. His personal and professional relationships serve as the show’s narrative focus.

The evolving attitudes and social mores of the 1960s and early 1970s in the United States are reflected in the series as it proceeds.

The narrative, acting, directing, visual aesthetic, and historical authenticity of Mad Men were well praised, and the show won numerous honors, including 16 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes.

During its first four seasons, 2008–2011, the show also made history by being the first basic cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. To many, this show represents the pinnacle of television excellence from the turn of the 21st century.

Don Draper Searches for Meaning in Mad Men’s Ending

Mad Men Ending Explained

In “Lost Horizon,” which airs two episodes before the series finale, Don Draper goes on a road trip.

He does this after feeling disoriented, unimportant, and uninterested at a pitch meeting at his company’s new headquarters, the advertising powerhouse McCann Erickson. Don quits the conference shortly after it begins, gets in his car, and just starts driving without informing anyone where he’s going.

When we pick up the story again, Don has moved to Utah and is now racing automobiles in the desert there.

Don, moved by the sight of Gary Gabelich’s record-breaking land speed run, promises to back a team of young people working on a race car.

It’s miles apart both practically and figuratively from where we’re used to seeing Don. The grease monkey in him has taken over, and he has ditched the gray wool suit in favor of a Canadian tuxedo.

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Pete Completes His Redemptive Arc

Mad Men Ending Explained

Pete Campbell has only two brief appearances in the finale, but they play a significant role in his development as a character and present him in his most endearing light. Pete was unquestionably unlikeable throughout the majority of the show’s duration.

He had Don’s arrogance and selfishness but lacked Don’s affluent composure and sharp humor. One could even argue plausibly that the most rewarding sequence in the entire series was when Lane Pryce punched out Pete in season five.

The end of Mad Men, however, was a turning point in Pete’s life. Whether it was the passing of time, the accumulation of life lessons, or some mix of the two, Pete had matured into a better person over the years.

Pete and Trudy, his ex-wife, reconciled in the episodes running up to the finale, reuniting the family after a long separation.

He also accepted a position at Learjet, which would require him to uproot his family and establish a new life in peaceful Kansas. The closing scene, in which Pete says goodbye to Peggy, is the culmination of his redeemed story arc.

He seems really happy to see you go and has no hidden agenda, so you can take his words as a friend saying goodbye. This illustrates how much Pete has matured since his vulgar initial interactions with Peggy in the pilot episode.

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Ending Explained

Mad Men Ending Explained

Don Draper, still reeling from the pain he and his falsehoods have caused, checks into a retreat in the series finale. With the exception of Do, all of the other characters have been given happy endings.

Roger has found love with Marie, and Joan has launched her own successful production firm. At the conclusion of Mad Men, only Don Draper remains.

In the show, Don can be seen at the retreat sitting with a group of people and meditating when suddenly an ad pops up from 1971 and everyone is curious whether he got inner peace at the retreat or not.

In the series, Don has spent his time looking for solace in booze and women, and he has never been happier.

A number of marriages later, he was still unfulfilled. In the series’ last episode, Don goes to a retreat in search of serenity and comes to terms with the fact that he must accept himself as he is.

If the show concludes with Don smiling, it may be because he has finally found the serenity he has been seeking.

It’s more likely that when Don discovered some serenity, he went back and created that advertisement with a more optimistic frame of mind.

The producers must have figured that Don Draper, who is so skilled in advertising, would have finally found happiness after coming up with this commercial.


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