The Korean survival drama Squid Game had millions of viewers glued to their screens and rushing to click that “play next episode” button as each shocking twist unfolded, but one of the biggest moments in the series was nearly completely different from how it ended up. Shortly after confirming he was working on a second season, Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed the show’s first season almost ended on a very different note. Here’s how that finale would have changed if Squid Game Season 1’s alternate ending was used instead.
Spoiler alert: Don’t read on if you haven’t finished Squid Game Season 1. At the end of Squid Game’s first season, Seong Gi-hun emerges victorious from the contest but is scarred by having to witness his 455 fellow players being murdered in front of him. After learning the truth about the game by visiting Oh Il-nam, Gi-hun tries to do the right thing by helping Kang Sae-byeok’s brother and giving a ton of money to Cho Sang-woo’s mother, before booking a flight to the United States to be with his daughter.
However, while on the way to the airport, Gi-hun notices the man who recruited him playing ddakji with another down-and-out man. Gi-hun rescues the man from being sucked into the Squid Game, and calls the number on the card the man was given, vowing his revenge on the people behind the game. In the last minute before boarding his flight, Gi-hun has a change of heart and walks away from the airplane, suggesting he is going to stay in Korea and try to expose the Squid Game.
The cliffhanger ending left the door open for a potential second season, but Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that there was another potential ending that saw Gi-hun boarding that plane and leaving the Squid Game behind him. "We actually wrestled between two different scenarios for the ending," Hwang said. "There was one, the other alternate ending, where Gi-hun would get on the plane and leave. And then there was of course the one where he would turn back and walk towards the camera. We constantly asked ourselves, is it really right for Gi-hun to make the decision to leave and go see his family, to pursue his own happiness? Is that the right way for us to really propose the question or the message that we wanted to convey through the series?"
Hwang went on to explain that he decided on the ending of Gi-hun not boarding the plane because he felt it was the only way to really tackle Squid Game’s central question. "We came to the conclusion that the question that we wanted to propose cannot be done if he left on the plane," Hwang said. "The question that we want to answer — Why has the world come to what it is now? — can only be answered or can only be proposed if Gi-hun turned back and walked towards the camera. So that's how we ended up with that ending in the finale."
Not to mention, Gi-hun turning back in those final moments is a much better set up for a second season, which Hwang has said is in the works, although Netflix has yet to officially pick up a Season 2. Given the show’s massive popularity, though, it seems like fans will be seeing Gi-hun’s next moves soon enough.