It’s hard to believe Breaking Bad is ten years in our rear-view, but harder to imagine the roads not taken. One of the AMC drama’s most heartbreaking deaths almost arrived a full two seasons early, as creator Vince Gilligan reveals some of the writers’ worst pitches.

You’re warned of full Breaking Bad spoilers from here on out (considering its 10th anniversary, get on that), but it seemed almost inevitable certain characters would die by the time Walter White got his comeuppance. Chief among them was Dean Norris’ ASAC Hank Schrader, who met a bitter end before Walt’s eyes in the antepenultimate Season 5 episode, “Ozymandias.” Creator Vince Gilligan has repeatedly spoken to the difficulty of breaking the final season (especially the machine gun promised in its first hour), but it seems Hank’s death almost arrived much earlier.

In a new interview with UPROXX, Gilligan revealed that the writers briefly considered a Season 3 death at Walt’s hand as a means to resolve the “Sunset” RV standoff between Jesse, Hank and Walt. Suffice to say, Walt killing Hank wasn’t the only terrible idea:

Another one that pops into my head is Walt and Jesse stuck in the RV in the junkyard with Hank circling the RV like a shark and knowing that Jesse was inside, but not knowing that Walt was inside. That was a big one. And when you think about it, that’s the genius of Walter White: he figures out answers to problems that in real life, it took eight fairly smart people probably a week and a half to two weeks to figure out.

In other words, we get him to that point and Hank is outside and Hank is relentless, as we know him to be. How in the world is Walt gonna get out of this? And every conceivable thought under the sun comes up, no matter how stupid. We’re talking at one point about, well, they cut a hole in the bottom of the RV and then the dig a tunnel. Asinine.

And then the very obvious but horrible thoughts pop into your head too, like well, ‘What if Walt opens the door and Hank looks at Walt and Hank is dumbfounded and there’s this huge moment, this huge pregnant pause and then, in that moment of dumbfoundedness on Hank’s part, Walt shoots him in the head and kills him?’ It’s just every idea under the sun comes into play.

As fans will remember, the standoff instead ended with Walt and Jesse having Saul mislead Hank into believing Marie was hurt, and driving off. Had Gilligan and the staff gone through with their initial idea to kill Hank then and there, it would also have deprived us of the infamous “One Minute” shootout between Hank and the cousins in the next episode.

Sad though Hank’s ultimate fate might have been, there’s every chance we’ll see the character again in Better Call Saul regardless. What other options might Breaking Bad have considered for Hank’s end?

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