Four years after the series finale aired, the creator of Cinemax’s underrated crime drama Banshee reveals how it could have ended differently. The pulp-inspired action thriller about a formerly incarcerated man living under a false identity aired from 2013-2016 with four seasons total.
After being released from prison, the show’s main character goes by the name Lucas Hood (played by Anthony Starr) to evade a gang leader (Ben Cross) who’s out to get him. Lucas ends up on Igor Rabitov’s hit list for stealing from him and working in cahoots with his daughter, but lockup temporarily shields him from “Mr. Rabbit’s” pursuit. The show follows Lucas’s tenure living under a false identity in the remote town of Banshee, PA. Despite himself, Hood gets involved in crime and searches for Rabitov’s daughter Anastasiya (Ivana Miličević). Identity is a recurring theme on Banshee as Lucas attempts to build a life without leaving a footprint. Agent Dawson reveals that she’s figured out Hood’s real identity in the series finale, and Hood departs Banshee for a new destination.
Banshee creator Jonathan Tropper revealed the show’s original ending in an interview with Collider. Tropper says his plan for Lucas persisted until the end of filming for season 3, after which he started to reconsider what the show was really about and where the character’s arc should end up:
No, I had a very different idea of how it would end and that only changed as we were finishing up the third season. I was pretty sure I knew how it would end, and we made a real pivot away from that quickly. I always felt that the Lucas Hood story was a tragedy and I always felt that ultimately his redemption lay in sacrifice. What I came to understand, over the course of writing the show, was that this guy who doesn’t have a name, who we called Lucas Hood, went to prison when he was so young that he never really became anyone and the minute he got out of jail, he assumed another fake identity. He never had a chance to become anyone, so I realized the end of the story was less about dying and sacrifice, and more about him finally coming to the end of his journey as nobody and setting off to become the person that he is. It was about him finding his own identity instead of the non-identity of a prisoner and then this assumed identity. It was about him finally becoming liberated to find his identity. That really changed the way we wrapped up the series.
Tropper elaborates that he initially saw the character as a tragic hero who would redeem himself for his crimes by self-sacrifice. Although he doesn’t say it in so many words, the creator implies that Lucas would have died in the series finale, perhaps to protect another character. However, throughout filming, it became clear that Hood’s struggle with identity laid at the heart of the series and that a tragic fate wasn’t necessarily the most poignant way to end his story. Here’s Tropper’s explanation of how and why the series finale changed.
For anyone who’s seen Banshee, an alternate ending where the lead character dies is an interesting piece of trivia to ponder. Regardless of whether they’ve seen the show, Tropper’s comments may be useful to any television fans or burgeoning showrunners interested in learning how the sausage is made. His explanation of how he reconsidered his main character’s arc within the context of the show as a whole offers insight into what makes a satisfying series finale. In any case, Banshee fans are probably glad he changed his mind and let Lucas live.