Prestige television series Mad Men ends Sunday night, and while no one knows quite how it will wrap—creator Matthew Weiner is ridiculously, famously secretive—Don Draper could end up right here in the Pacific Northwest. Don't even want to speculate? Then stop reading now, spoilerphobe.
For years, one Mad Men fan theory has blanketed the Internet: Don Draper will end the series by becoming real-life plane hijacker D. B. Cooper, Washington's most famous mystery man. You remember ol' D. B.: The day before Thanksgiving 1971, a man hijacked a PDX-to-SEA flight with a bomb threat and demanded $200,000 in cash, which the FBI delivered when the plane landed in Seattle. Dan Cooper, as he called himself ("D. B." was a press misprint), directed the flight toward Mexico, then jumped out with a parachute over the Cascades. Cooper and the cash disappeared. Forever. DUN DUN DUN.
• The D. B. Don Draper has changed his identity before; his birth name was Dick Whitman. After you've gone from Dick to Don, is "Dan" that big of a stretch?
• The Cooper. "Cooper" is a Mad Men name—notably the moniker of one founding partner of ad agency Sterling Cooper. The late Bert Cooper was an eccentric with a penchant for artsy porn, and Don hallucinates him so often he's basically Don's Obi-Wan Kenobi. And it's not like Don would pluck an alias from lech Roger Sterling.
• The drink. While on the original Northwest Orient Airlines flight, D. B. Cooper ordered a bourbon and soda. It isn't quite Don's favored old fashioned, but it's awfully close. Also, stewardesses reported that Cooper was quite the charmer.
• The fall. Mad Men's animated credits feature a Don-like suited man tumbling to the ground. For years conspiracy theorists thought it meant eventual suicide for Don—but what if it foreshadowed a parachuted leap from a plane?
• The mystique. The character of Don Draper is defined by his secretive nature and uber-masculinity. Going out like an outlaw James Bond—it kinda fits.
But wait! Here's the evidence against the theory:
• The timeline. The final season of Mad Men takes place, so far, in 1970. Cooper took his famous skydive in late 1971. The series has been known to jump a year between seasons, but not between episodes.
• The description. Flight crews told the FBI that the perp was Caucasian, five foot ten to six foot with brown eyes. Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper, claims to be six foot two inches, and the Internet can't decide whether his eyes are green or blue. Maybe he'll squint and slump.
• The M.O. Don Draper may have killed his commanding officer, banged every broad from sea to shining sea, and walked out on his kids and career...but steal $200,000 from the U.S. government? Not Draper style. We'd be more convinced if D. B. Cooper had demanded a pack of Lucky Strikes and whichever stewardess had the biggest daddy issues.
• The creator. It's hardly creator Matthew Weiner's style to tie up the plot of Mad Men in a giant bow; safe money's on an ending of crushing existential dispair, not an action sequence.
Our verdict: Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but we're sold. Don Draper is totally going to become Dan "D. B." Cooper. Which, by our calculation, means that Don Draper lived out the rest of his life as a moderately rich man in Yakima. Our own spinoff theory: Standoffish Don Draper/D. B. Cooper was the originator of the Seattle Freeze.
The series finale of Mad Men airs Sunday at 10pm on AMC.
05/14/15: Edited to correct the name of the airline to Northwest Orient Airlines.