Killing Eve's fourth and final season originally wasn't slated to end with that divisive character death. In a recent discussion with Deadline, series star Sandra Oh revealed that an alternative ending was originally pitched that would have seen everyone's favorite female assassin living to see another day. Warning: This story contains spoilers for Killing Eve Season 4.
In the final seconds of the Killing Eve series finale, which aired back in April, Jodie Comer's Villanelle was shot and killed by a sniper shot ordered by none other than Fiona Shaw's Carolyn Martens, with Eve helplessly watching the scene play out. However, the roles were initially set to be reversed. Oh told Deadline that as she and Season 4 lead writer Laura Neal began "chatting about how we were going to end this," the actress pitched the idea of Eve being the one to die. Oh recalled, "I was like, 'You should kill my character.' I thought that would be the strongest and the most interesting."
"I felt, emotionally, it was the right place of where I was at," she explained. "Eve was starting to get into, like, a nihilistic place, and we're like, 'Let's just continue that line and go straight into it.'"
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production, those plans changed. Oh said, "They came to me, and they said, 'We can't do it. We need to change it... Eve needs to live.'" Of Eve, Oh noted that her onscreen counterpart "is the way into this world. She's our everywoman. So it's kind of really super depressing if she dies." As a result, "we switched it around."
Villanelle's death in the final seconds of the series' four-season run was controversial, to say the least. As "The End" flashed on the screen, fans immediately took to social media to protest the death of the beloved character, a death that, once again, spurred conversation about the too-often used "Bury Your gays" trope in media. The ending even sparked a response from Luke Jennings, who authored the Codename Villanelle novels on which the series is based. In a letter to fans, Jennings criticized the series for "bowing to convention" and "punishing" Eve and Villanelle. He went on to write that a "truly subversive storyline would have defied the trope which sees same-sex lovers in TV dramas permitted only the most fleeting of relationships before one of them is killed off," posing the question, "How much more darkly satisfying, and true to Killing Eve's original spirit, for the couple to walk off into the sunset together?"
Addressing the controversial ending in an interview with TVLine just after the episode aired, Neal shared that the show's writers simply "couldn't imagine a world where Eve and Villanelle could exist in domestic bliss for very long" and argued that "it is a happy ending for Villanelle in some respects." In the weeks since the series finale, Killing Eve fans have called for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was lead writer for the critically-acclaimed Season 1, to rewrite the ending, with one Change.org petition surpassing 10,000 signatures.