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Breaking Bad's 'Newhart Ending' Gag Is Almost As Good As The Actual Finale

It might not be as well-known today as it used to be, but the series finale of Bob Newhart's sitcom "Newhart" boasts one of the funniest and most imaginative series finales ever produced for television. If you haven't seen it, here's a brief recap: the end of the series shows the protagonist played by Bob Newhart waking up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette, who played his previous TV wife on "The Bob Newhart Show." Essentially, the entirety of "Newhart" is revealed to have been the dream of Dr. Bob Hartley, Newhart's character from the earlier series.

It's a great sequence, and at the time, one that satisfied fans of Newhart's previous hit sitcom. And it makes sense that around the time of the "Breaking Bad" finale, the concept would find a new resonance with Bryan Cranston, another actor with two iconic TV protagonists to his name, albeit with a bit more daylight between them compared to the two characters played by Bob Newhart. And so it came to be that such an ending, placing "Breaking Bad" entirely within the troubled subconscious of Hal, Cranston's character from "Malcolm in the Middle," was actually filmed. You can check it out for yourself below.

Bryan Cranston later had to clarify that the scene was never going to be an actual Breaking Bad ending

As you can see above, for fans of both "Breaking Bad" and "Malcolm in the Middle," the sequence is note-perfect (and it probably doesn't hurt if you're a fan of both "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart," as well), but it probably seems obvious that it would never have served as an actual ending to "Breaking Bad." Nevertheless, during an interview with Rich Eisen (via YouTube), Bryan Cranston was asked whether the scene really existed, and Eisen claimed that some fans believed that the sequence was considered at one point as a real ending to the series.

Cranston shut this down, saying he had created it as a gag inspired by the famous "Newhart" ending. While that should put to rest any misguided notions about the idea ever at any point being considered as the end of the saga of Walter White, the scene is so funny and perfectly executed that you can probably still safely expect it to spread from "Breaking Bad" fan to "Breaking Bad" fan as a curious footnote to the show's expansive lore — especially those fans who also watched "Newhart."