The Fast and the Furious franchise is still going strong with this year's The Fate of the Furious and two more movies on the way, but 2015's Furious 7 very much marked the end of an era. When Paul Walker died in a car accident in November 2013, it became necessary to rewrite the script in order to work around his absence and bid farewell to his character, Brian O'Connor. However, had Walker not tragically passed away, the original plan for Furious 7 was to have it end with Brian and the rest of the team officially returning to their law-breaking roots. Writer Chris Morgan explained:
Well, the original ending, if I remember correctly, was our guys end up solving the problem and then kind of becoming---again, going more outlaw, it was sort of a happier ending that kind of ends with the insinuation that they were gonna go off onto this heist or this job.
Even when they've pulled off a big score or had their records wiped clean, the Fast and the Furious crew have never been able to stay out of trouble for long, so having them ride off to go on another heist sounds about right. As for the "happy" aspect, Furious 7 still managed to pull that off in its final cut, although it was also bittersweet since this would be the last time moviegoers saw Brian O'Connor/Paul Walker.
In regards to the story, the story actually kind of was the same. The only difference is that whereas we let Brian and Mia and their family kind of go off to just be a family and drop the action-y elements of their lives and stop risking everything when family is so important to them, otherwise we would've just kind of continued with Brian learning and adjusting his character a little bit.
It's obvious from watching Furious 7 that having Brian O'Connor struggling with being a dad and family man was in the cards from the beginning, but if Paul Walker hadn't died, it sounds like Brian would have tried to balance that family life with still driving around with his cohorts on crazy trips when necessary. In the end, though, the filmmakers decided to give the character a clean break from that world, and to many, it was a fitting sendoff.
While Brian O'Connor and Mia Toretto have left their action-packed lifestyle behind to focus on raising their kids, you can see their allies get into more octane-filed shenanigans now, as The Fate of the Furious is still playing in theaters.