"Some straight like you, giant stick up his ass, all of a sudden, age — what, sixty? He's just gonna break bad?"Breaking Bad
— Jesse Pinkman
's series debuted in January 2008 with a seven-episode season (shortened because of the writers' strike) and soon found itself renewed for a full-run second season. The show ran for five seasons in total, with its' Grand Finale
airing on the 29th of September 2013.
Mild-mannered Walter White (Bryan Cranston
), a New Mexico high school chemistry teacher with unrecognized genius in his field, receives a diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer
after a meager lifetime of playing it safe. His world starts to fall apart as he realizes how his medical bills will cripple the finances for his family: his pregnant wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn
) and his teenage son with cerebral palsy, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte). After participating in a ride-along with his DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris
), Walter learns about the highly dangerous methamphetamine market — and how much money someone can make selling crystal meth. During the ride-along, Walter sees a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul
), escape a drug bust by sheer dumb luck. Walter approaches Jesse later that evening with an idea: Walter will use his chemical expertise and Jesse's drug trade connections to manufacture and sell the purest crystal meth ever made (and save his family from financial ruin as a result).
Walter and Jesse's blue-colored meth becomes a major hit in the illegal drug trade due to its high quality — a benefit of having a chemist making the drug — but their work attracts the worst kind of attention from both fellow drug pushers and law enforcement. Walter and Jesse end up dealing with production problems, rival suppliers, psychotic distributors, and federal investigations — but they also deal with the personal problems they both need to work out with their families and themselves.Breaking Bad
raised the acting profile of leading man Bryan Cranston, previously best known for playing Dr. Tim Whatley in Seinfeld
and the Bumbling Dad
in Malcolm in the Middle
; he won four Emmy awards for his rolenote
in this series, which itself received near-unanimous acclaim, most particularly for the performances from the rest of the cast and strong Character Development
(particularly the meticulous process of Walter's descent into evil
). It is regularly listed alongside The Sopranos
and The Wire
in discussions and debates about the greatest television dramas ever.Vince Gilligan announced a prequel
about Saul Goodman
, which will delve into the lawyer's career before he met Walter White, soon after Breaking Bad's
series finale. Working with occasional Breaking Bad
writer Peter Gould, Gilligan said the series has the Working Title Better Call Saul
. (The show received the greenlight in September 2013.) Bob Odenkirk
said the series will be slightly darker than funny. Jonathan Banks will reprise his role as Mike Ehrmantraut as a series regular on the show.
Sony has an official Spanish-language remake of the show Metástasis
. The show will follow the same general premise of Breaking Bad
, but alter specific details about the setting and characters so audiences in Mexico and South America will better understand the story. "Metástasis" premiered on Unimás on June 8, 2014.This show has a Recap page that Needs Wiki Magic Love. You can also vote on your favorite episode here.We will only Walter White out spoilers for the fourth and fifth seasons (and even those aren't 100% guaranteed). If you do not know what happens in those seasons, we suggest you tread lightly, bitch!
These are the tropes that knock:
open/close all folders
A - B
- Abandoned Area: The White family residence at the very end.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Cousins' axe falls out of his hands and cuts into the asphalt far enough to stay upright. It wasn't even swung downwards — it just fell about 7 feet and landed on the blade.
- Abusive Parents:
- In Season 2, Jesse encounters a couple of drug addicts who do nothing but rob people and get high living together in a filthy, dilapidated house — along with their horribly neglected young son. He is suitably disgusted.
- A flashback shows how Tio Salamanca raised the two terrifying hit men we see in season three. When one of them yells in the midst of a sibling squabble that he wishes his brother were dead, Tio takes him at his word and proceeds to hold his brother's head under ice water until he fights his uncle off to save his brother. The treatment did, however, seem to instill an undying family loyalty in the brothers.
- Jesse's parents might be considered an example because of the excessively high expectations they hold Jesse's younger brother Jake to (and presumably held Jesse to as well). They also throw Jesse out on the street, although it's clear they have a long history of giving him breaks only to be disappointed. Additionally, one could assume that they're overcompensating with his younger brother to make sure they raise this one right - or that Jesse was under similar pressure before he gave up and turned to drugs, as Jake is apparently also doing.
- Walter to his surrogate son, Jesse, in later seasons.
- Walt to his actual son Walt Jr. at least once, when he basically forces Junior to drink until he pukes.
- Adult Fear: Oh, let us count the ways...
- Dying of a terminal illness, and being unable to pay for treatment.
- Having a loved one die of a drug overdose while being too drugged-out yourself to do anything about it—or notice.
- Being caught in a plane crash. If you don't find plane crashes scary, you will after you see the Season 2 finale.
- In "Dead Freight": A child being murdered, and the evidence being hidden so thoroughly as to make the crime unsolvable.
- In "Ozymandias":
- A domestic fight happening while the whole family is present, forcing a child to call the police on his own father, resulting in said father kidnapping his baby daughter and running away.
- Being kidnapped and forced into slavery, and being tortured so badly that you lose your will to fight back.
- Affably Evil:
- Saul Goodman, the cheerfully corrupt lawyer.
- Mike Ehrmantraut is gruff but personable and loyal, as well as a loving grandfather, but he'll straight-up murder you if it needs to be done.
- Jack has an easy-going, down-homey demeanor, but he's a cold-blooded killer and Neo-Nazi.
- Todd has a very mild and friendly personality, but is also a cold-blooded criminal who kills without hesitation or regret. The dichotomy is best seen when he apologizes to his murder victim immediately before shooting her in the head, and brings an enslaved Jesse two flavors of ice cream (since he didn't know which Jesse prefers) as a reward for good work.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Jack gives Todd an affectionate noogie (still holding a gun) during the Tension-Cutting Laughter after he asks Jack not to kill Jesse because he's still trying to impress Lydia with their cooking.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
- Both Walt and Gale plead for their lives.
- In "Ozymandias," Walt begs for Hank's life. Hank refuses to, at least in part because he's resigned to the fact that Jack has already decided to kill him.
- And then in the finale, Walt begs Jesse to Mercy Kill him. Jesse refuses.
- Alas, Poor Villain:
- In the episode "Face Off," the extremely moving music as Gus walks to his death reminds you that he was once a similar guy to Walt, and he'll die failing to get his final revenge on the people who killed his "brother".
- Similarly, the sheer amount of anger and sadness in Hector's face as he looks at his target, Gus before setting off the bomb that will kill both of them makes you almost feel sorry for him.
- Debatable as to how much of a villain he was, but Mike's death. Granted, Mike's a stone cold murderer and by no means a good guy but the writers manage to avoid making this a case of Kick the Son of a Bitch by having Mike become a guy who just wants out of the game... and then Walt goes and kills him over some petty ego bullshit.
- All Just a Dream: In the alternate ending from the complete series DVD. Turns out Hal just ate deep-fried twinkies before bed.
- The Alleged Car: Walter's beige 2004 Pontiac Aztek was a deliberate choice on behalf of Vince Gilligan due to the Aztek being considered one of the worst cars ever made (see the main trope article for the reasons why) yet has notoriously protective owners, to make Walt seem more pathetic. In "Fifty-One", Walt sells it to his mechanic for 50 dollars.
- Alliterative Name: Both father and son are named Walter White. The name was deliberately chosen for its blandness. Lampshaded by Hank at one point:
- Alliterative Title: "Breaking Bad".
- Ambiguously Gay:
- Gus, whose unusually strong attachment to his initial meth-distributing partner (even twenty years after his death) has provoked audience speculation as to his sexuality. Word of God even states that this is a legitimate interpretation of their relationship. He references a wife and kids, but they never show up onscreen.
- Gale worships Walt and gives him a copy of Leaves of Grass, by the famously Ambiguously Gay Walt Whitman, that he signs "To my other favorite W.W." The rest of his tastes and personality, especially in his home, brush against some gay stereotypes, although there is never any confirmation either way.
- Amoral Attorney: Saul Goodman, Walt and Jesse's assistant in the business side of the meth trade. Has so many clients in organized crime he can't even keep them straight, and hires a fall guy to get arrested in Heisenberg's place. He even shamelessly milks the midair collision from the season 2 finale to increase his firm's business. Zig-Zagged in that, while he facilitates several illegal and immoral enterprises, he is unfailingly loyal to his clients, refuses bribes, and passes up several golden opportunities to double-cross them.
Going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyer. You want a criminal
lawyer, know what I mean
- Analogy Backfire:
- Hank talks about how he wanted to bring Heisenberg in himself, like Popeye Doyle. Walt points out that in The French Connection, Doyle never successfully arrested anyone.
- Hank also makes references to Rocky that seem to ignore the fact that Rocky actually loses in the first film.
- Mike explains his Start of Darkness to try to talk Walt out of a half measure attempt to save Jesse. Walt references it again after killing the two men Jesse wanted dead, and Mike is less than pleased.
- And Some Other Stuff: Mostly done quite subtly, we're never shown entire recipes for anything particularly dangerous. Any time Walt and Jesse are shown cooking meth, there's a montage of them manipulating lab equipment, adding ingredients, pouring out results and occasional CGI shots of reactions at the molecular level, but nothing practical to follow. According to the producers, the recipes for making meth, methods for disposing of bodies and such are deliberately either incomplete or incorrect, because the writers didn't want to educate viewers who might be... let's say, criminally motivated.
- Animal Motifs: Tortuga is commonly associated with tortoises. His name is Spanish for tortoise and the cousins kill him by severing his head and placing it on a tortoise.
- Anti-Hero: Walter and Jesse are deeply involved in the methamphetamine industry, and are often forced to commit gruesome acts to survive. At the same time, Walt is motivated to provide for his family should his cancer claim him, and Jesse is really just in the business because it's what he does best. By the time season five starts, Walter is motivated only by greed and power, while Jesse is more conflicted than ever. The intention of the showrunners is for the character to "start as Mr. Chips and end up as Scarface."
- Anyone Can Die: Any character that dies on the show, stays dead. Throughout the entire show, the list includes: Emilio, Krazy-8, Tuco, Tortuga, Combo, Jane, the Cousins, Gale Boetticher, Victor, the Cartel bosses, Héctor Salamanca, Tyrus, Gus, Drew Sharp, Mike, Declan and his crew, Gomez, Hank, Andrea, the Nazis, Todd, Jack, even WALT, and many others, while Lydia ends the series with, at most, a few days to live. Needless to say if you took on this show you should have kept your resume current.
- Arms Dealer: Two Gangland Gun Runners have been seen so far:
- A genial yokel with a van full of serious hardware who sells a couple of Bulletproof Vests, handguns and some hollow-point bullets to the Salamanca Twins. They test his own vest out before paying up, but luckily for him he sells good merchandise.
- An even more genial vendor (Mr. Ellsworth from Deadwood, no less) who meets Walt in a motel room and gives him a brief lesson in Gun Safety and proper use. He's later seen in a flash-forward selling a now on-the-run Walt a stolen car with an M60 in the trunk.
- Armor-Piercing Question: In "Ozymandias", Skyler realises that something is terribly wrong when Walt grows increasingly irate when she asks him, "Where is Hank?"
- Artistic License – Chemistry:
- In Real Life, it's unlikely that a meth product as pure as the stuff that Walt manufactures would appear blue, because methamphetamine itself is colorless. The color would inherently be from an impurity (presumably the <1% that isn't meth). It is handwaved in-story as a byproduct of Walt's particular chemical synthesis, but it's really just a convenient way for the writers to make Walt's meth stand out. It also gives Hank a convenient way to track "Heisenberg", since he can identify his meth by its unique color.
- An article on Slate points out that a chemist of Walt's calibre could synthesize methylamine pretty easily, but their attempts to source a rare raw material are a convenient source of drama.
- Phenylacetic acid is a red flag to the DEA, but they can't use that as Unobtainium because the guy in charge of the Mexican lab already spilled the beans that any college sophomore could make it. Methylamine is, if anything, easier to make from stuff that the DEA isn't terribly interested in than phenylacetic acid is.
- Several uses of chemistry in the series were investigated in Mythbusters in a special episode about Breaking Bad. The scenes where the hydrofluoric acid ate through the tub in "Cat's in the Bag" and where mercury fulminate was used to blow up a room in "Crazy Handful of Nothin'" each wound up being busted. In response, Vince Gilligan cited Artistic License as justification. He also suggested a potential Hand Wave when the MythBusters couldn't set off the Hg fulminate with an impact: Walt used more volatile silver fulminate as a primary explosive.
- It's extremely unlikely that a high school chemistry lab would have hydrofluoric acid sitting around to begin with. HF is highly dangerous (in deceptive, not-necessarily-immediately-apparent ways) and not actually all that useful in the sorts of experiments that are commonly done in high school or even in college (at the masters/doctoral level, maybe).
- Artistic License – Law: Saul Goodman asks Walt and Jesse to give him a dollar each, claiming that it's a retainer and he's therefore forbidden from revealing anything they discuss because of attorney-client privilege. Privilege doesn't apply when the lawyer is himself part of an ongoing criminal conspiracy. However, he might have been twisting the truth so they would stop threatening him and start trusting him.
- Artistic License – Medicine: Ricin poisoning doesn't cause flu-like symptoms when it's ingested — it causes severe digestive distress, including but not limited to vomiting and defecating blood.
- Ascended Extra:
- Mike who starts out as a One-Scene Wonder in the season two finale, becomes a regular in season three and is one of the show's most central characters by season five.
- Todd worked his way up this ladder in Season five, starting out as just an underling in Vamonos Pest. Two episodes later he helps the guys in their train heist and two episodes after that he becomes Walt's new lab assistant. In the second part of the season, he becomes Lydia's new primary cook when his uncle's crew massacres Declan's.
- Hector Salamanca starts off as a seemingly minor character in two episodes towards the beginning of season two but returns in season three and four in arcs that gradually reveal him to be not only an important player in the Mexican cartel but in the backstory of one of the main characters.
- A-Team Firing: In season five, the episode "To'hajiilee" ends with a shootout where none of the involved seem to hit anything. This is cleared up in the next episode.
- Audit Threat: The risk of the IRS discovering the shady bookkeeping practices of Beneke Fabricators is attention that Skyler is determined to avoid in season 3.
- Tuco Salamanca is a drug dealer with a methamphetamine addiction who is always just a few moments from flying off the handle.. He will take any and every excuse he can get to beat someone up, especially when he's high on meth. As Walt tells him in season 2:
Walt: We tried to poison you because you are an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.
- The Salamanca Cousins. One of them carries around a chromed fire-axe with which they kill several people. When they ambush Hank, Marco refuses to shoot Hank in the face when he had the chance, choosing instead to go back to the car to get the axe. That decision works out about as well as it usually does, as Hank manages to get the drop with Leonel's gun before Marco gets a chance to axe him.
- Back for the Finale: Gretchen, Elliot, Badger, and Skinny Pete all pop up in the finale after not being seen for a long time.
- Badass Boast:
- Walt: Let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!
- Gus, after poisoning the cartel, makes one to the remaining people in the Don's mansion, who promptly flee.
- In "Crawl Space", Gus delivers one to Héctor Salamanca at the retirement home, saying that he killed off all members of the cartel and Jesse killed his grandson, making him the last of the Salamanca line.
- Walt gets a one line Badass Boast in the season 4 finale after pulling off a double Batman Gambit and defeating Gus: "I won."
- Badass: A number of characters get their time to shine.
- Walt walking straight into Tuco's office and blowing it up with homemade explosives.
- Walt confronting some local meth pushers and kicking them out of his turf.
- Gus walking into a hail of sniper fire, daring the assassins to shoot him.
- Gus poisoning himself in order to assassinate the entire cartel leadership.
- Jesse bending a cartel meth lab to his will.
- Hank taking on Tuco and then the Salamanca twins.
- Walt Jr. breaking up a knife fight between his parents and calling the cops on his father
- While not action moments, Skyler gets a couple when she stalls the IRS and tricks Bogdan into selling the car wash for a substantially lower price. She also has the guts to tell Walt what she thinks of him after he's gone over to the dark side.
- Mike. In every single scene he is in.
- Hank has a memorable one in his death scene. He not only accepts his death, but he insults the man pointing the gun at him.
- Badass Family: The Salamanca family.
- Badass Grandpa: Mike is one of the most dangerous characters on the show, as he has an entire career's worth of experience and is exceptionally well trained. One of the main reasons he saves up money is to set it aside for his granddaughter.
- Bad Boss:
- Tuco. Shortly after we're introduced to him, we get to see him beat one of his henchmen to death for reminding Walt that he works for Tuco.
- Gus is a cold-blooded, Faux Affably Evil Bad Boss. Kind of. He slits a mook's throat just to make a point (and incidentally to punish him for carelessness in being seen at the scene of a crime.) On the other hand, he seems to be grooming Jesse for a more responsible position and the show implies that Jesse makes the wrong choice when he picks Walt over Gus. Giancarlo Esposito has an interesting take on this here: Gus treated Victor as a member of his "family", but had to kill him because he jeopardized it.
- Bait and Switch: In "Confessions", Walt is seen sitting down with a video camera in what he states was his confession before the show cut to a commercial. Hank and Marie receive the confession after meeting with Walt and, to their surprise, it's not a confession of Walt fessing up to the sins he committed while in the drug trade, but a carefully constructed lie meant to frame Hank.
- Bald of Awesome: Quite a few characters. Hank, Mike and Tio Salamanca are naturally bald. Walt shaves his head early in the show, but that's due to the chemo drugs he is taking. The Salamanca brothers also sport shaved heads. Jesse also crops his hair down after a traumatic event in an apparent effort to toughen himself up. The trope is even exploited in the Season 5 episode "Rabid Dog," in which a paranoid Jesse is spooked by the sight of a tough-looking bald man near where he is supposed to meet Heisenberg. Jesse, believing that the other man is a hitman, flees the scene in fear; right afterward, it's shown that the bald man is just an ordinary man waiting to meet up with his wife and child.
- Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The Salamanca brothers meet with a gun dealer and test out the Bulletproof Vests he's selling by shooting the one the dealer is already wearing. After checking to see that the bullet in fact did not penetrate through the vest, they actually pay the dealer and leave him groaning on the floor.
- Battle Trophy: Hank receives Tuco's grill as a gift.
- Batman Gambit:
- Two of epic proportions in the last two episodes of season 4 by Walt. First, he gives Brock a poison with ricin-like symptoms and steals Jesse's ricin cigarette; Jesse storms his house wanting to kill him, since only the two of them knew about the ricin, but Walt convinces him at gunpoint that he would have nothing to gain and that it's a ploy by Gus to gain Jesse's compliance in killing Walt. When his initial attempt to kill Gus fails, he acquires Hector Salamanca as an ally, convinces him to talk to the DEA so Gus will think he's snitching, then booby-traps his wheelchair. This plan hinges on the hopes that a) Héctor hates Gus more than he hates Walt, b) Gus will insist on killing Héctor in person and c) Héctor is willing to kill himself to take Gus down with him. Amazingly, it all works.
- In Season 5, Jesse smokes pot in Saul's office to determine if Huell is a professional pick-pocket.
- Also Season 5, Jesse and Hank manage to scare Walt into driving to exactly where his money is hidden with a falsified picture, and Jesse egging Walt on so he won't stop and try to reason out whether or not Jesse actually has the money. It works so well that Walt ends up driving so recklessly he probably broke every New Mexico motor vehicle law on the books. All it took was knowing what Walter really cared about, even more than his family.
- The series finale is one long Batman Gambit as Walt executes several complicated plans in order to get revenge on Elliot and Gretchen, Lydia, and the Nazis.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: In "Cornered", Jesse wants to entice some meth heads, who have stolen some Blue Sky, out of their home. How does he do this? He grabs a shovel and starts digging outside. One of the meth heads comes outside and asks what he's doing. Jesse tells him he's digging and asks him to take over, leaving the house open and unguarded.
- Beard of Evil: Walter, Declan, and Gaff are all antagonistic characters with beards. Walter's beard is particularly distinctive, as it grows between seasons.
- Because I'm Good at It:
- What ultimately keeps Walt cooking, his pride and ego from realizing that he has a unique skill that has created an empire that would rival that of Steve Jobs both in its value and impact on the meth industry. He's not a failure anymore and has become "the one who knocks." In the series finale Walt admits this, saying "I was good at it."
- In Season 4, Jesse says he wants to continue working with Mike and Gus because he feels useful for once. Mr. White was a constant reminder of Jesse's failures. Positive reinforcement from Gus goes a long way toward winning over Jesse.
- Becoming the Mask:
- Jesse has his two drug-dealing cronies, Skinny Pete & Badger, pose as recovering addicts and join a 12-step program to sell meth to the other members. They can't bring themselves to do it and end up going sober instead.
- They "unmasked," though, in "Thirty-Eight Snub."
- Season one: weak Walter White pretends to be the ruthless Heisenberg. Season four: ruthless Heisenberg pretends to be the weak Walter White. In season five, he doesn't even bother pretending anymore, and willfully scares the shit out of everyone around him.
- Beneath the Mask:
- As the series progresses, we see flashes of just how much pent-up anger, bitterness, malice, and wounded pride had always lain beneath Walt's harmless veneer. Viewers are invited to wonder: what sort of man had Walter quietly, secretly become even before his 50th birthday? How much of his gradual "transformation" amounts to the surfacing of personality traits that were always there? How many of us remain good people on the surface, but end up becoming ripe for the sort of trigger events that launched Walt's career?
- Hank is introduced as a wisecracking, blustering oaf. However, as the stress and danger of his job increases we see that he is a Sad Clown, riddled with self-doubt, but also has more grit, integrity, bravery and intelligence than he seems to give himself credit for.
- Gus Fring. A mild restaurant owner who supports the DEA and the community, who uses said organization as a front for his crystal meth trafficking ring.
- Berserk Button: Walt is incredibly defensive of his son in the first season. Jesse, on the other hand, gets protective of anyone's children, like Spooge's son.
- Eventually, Walt's biggest Berserk Button has nothing to do with his family, but with his Pride. Attacking his massive ego becomes the absolute most dangerous thing you can do, as Mike discovered.
- Best Served Cold: Gus once saw his friend and partner murdered in front of him by the cartel. He then proceeds to bide his time and establish trust for twenty years. Then, when Tio, the man who pulled the trigger is finally in his power, he still doesn't kill him, but visits him again and again, each time telling him that another one of his relatives has been killed, until he's the last member of his family alive.
- In season 5, Walt gets his hands on an M60 machine gun, a weapon so huge it was nicknamed "The Pig" during the Vietnam War.
- One of Jack's gunmen uses an AA12 automatic shotgun.
- Big Bad:
- Season 1: Tuco is set up to be this at the end of Season 1, but dies within the first few episodes of Season 2.
- Season 3: The Cousins initially, but they become a Disc One Final Boss. Gus Fring and his empire take up the slack for the rest of season 3.
- Season 4: Gus Fring.
- Season 5, first half: Walter himself is the Big Bad by way of Villain Protagonist. He creates much of the conflict.
- Season 5, second half: 'Uncle' Jack Welker, with Todd Alquist as The Dragon.
- Big "NO!": Jesse before Todd shoots the kid at the end of "Dead Freight".
- Also, Jesse after Todd shoots Andrea.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Where to begin? The drug-cooking school teacher, his attempted Stepford Smiler wife, the gung-ho DEA agent brother-in-law, the kooky kleptomaniac sister... No wonder "Flynn" wants to change his name.
- Big "Shut Up!": A truly epic one from Skyler to Marie that verges on a mental breakdown.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- The Milanese song Gale is singing along to in the final episode of Season 3 is called "Crapa Pelada", which translates as "Bald Head", and the lyrics are based on an old folk rhyme about a greedy cook.
- Actually, the lyric loosely translates as "Bald Head who makes dumplings, but he does not give them to his brothers, his brothers make an omelette but they do not give it to Bald Head", foreshadowing the cartel/Gus situation much later in the serie.
- Tio Salamanca tries to warn his nephew about the poisoned food by ringing his bell three times quickly, three times slowly and three times quickly again. This is Morse Code for "SOS."
- Binge Montage: A flashback showing how Jesse lost the money he was meant to buy the RV with.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- The finale of Season 4, Walt has killed Gus, protected his family and come out on top through a superb double Batman Gambit but to do so he had to make more compromises and put more innocents in danger than ever before, even poisoning a small child.
- The Grand Finale as well. Walt is dead, his family has completely disowned him, and the world knows that he's Heisenberg... But he died on his own terms, effectively eradicated Blue Sky, he's managed to rescue Jesse from the Aryans, Jesse passes up a chance to kill him, and he manages to get his money, over 9 million, to his children via Gretchen and Elliot. He gives Skyler the coordinates to Hank and Steve's bodies ensuring that they'll have a proper burial, and Skyler may be able to get the feds off her back in exchange for the information. Jesse is free from slavery and all ties to the meth business, and might actually make the most out of his life having had aspirations of being a carpenter during his enslavement. And Todd, Jack, Lydia and the Aryans have all gotten their just comeuppance.
- Black and Grey Morality:
- "Heisenberg" vs the Cartel. Season 4 gives us Walt vs Gus. Though this became Evil Versus Evil by the end.
- From Season 5B, Hank versus Heisenberg quickly became this, as Hank's pursuit of Heisenberg proves to be not without its own compromises.
- Uncle Jack's crew of Neo-Nazis versus Heisenberg.
- Black Comedy: Comedy so black, no light can escape it.
- Black Dude Dies First: Look at the list of names under Anyone Can Die - the deaths in the series overwhelming happen to Hispanic men and women. Among the main characters, Gus is the first to die. All of the main characters to survive the series are white.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Marco Salamanca's axe when Hank shoots him before he can deliver a Coup de Grâce.
- Bleed 'em and Weep:
- Walt killing Krazy-8.
- Jesse killing Gale. Well, it's more of a "weep and bleed 'em" scenario.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The neo-Nazis. They are a particularly despicable lot who have no qualms about murdering children and are arguably even crueler than Gus, but they find the state of the U.S. utterly dreadful:
Kenny: Nanny state. I see a kid with a bicycle helmet on, I want to smack the shit out of him—like for his own good.
- Blofeld Ploy: In the season 4 premiere "Box Cutter", Gus seems about to discipline Walt, but instead kills an underling and departs without a word. His motivation is left ambiguous. However, the underling, Victor, was seen at the scene of a crime and could have led authorities back to Gus. Walt, on the other hand, suspects that Gus killed Victor for cooking a batch of meth, taking on more authority than Gus had given him.
- Blood from the Mouth: Subverted. Walt starts coughing up blood in "4 Days Out", but the end of the episode confirms that he's in remission.
- Bloody Hilarious:
- In the first season, Jesse tries to dispose of a body using hydrofluoric acid. In a bathtub. It doesn't work out well for the body, the bathtub or the floor underneath. By the time the floor's weakened enough for the remains of the body to fall through, it's no longer recognizable as human. As long as you don't vomit, you'll bust a gut laughing.
- Also, the head getting crushed by the ATM in "Peekaboo."
- Boarding School: Skyler brings up sending Walter, Jr. to one, if only as a way of getting him away from Walt.
- Book Dumb: Jesse, who's occasionally shown to be pretty smart (if irresponsible and naive) but under-educated. Contrasts with Walt's Science Hero, and often fills the role of The Watson regarding Walt's chemical wizardry.
- Book Ends: In series finale "Felina," Walt arrives at the Neo-Nazi compound wearing the same outfit he wore in the first episode, "Pilot": pastel jacket, green button-up shirt, white undershirt and beige slacks.
- Boom, Headshot:
- Hank kills one of the Salamanca twins with a hollow-point bullet to the head.
- Hank himself is killed by one, delivered by Uncle Jack
- Todd kills Andrea in this fashion to punish Jesse for trying to escape Jack's compound
- Walt delivers the final blow to Uncle Jack this way
- Boredom Montage: Used in the episode "Shotgun" when Jesse begins working for Mike. In another episode, he kills time in the lab waiting for Walt to arrive.
- Bottle Episode: "And the Bag's in the River" and especially "Fly", which features only Jesse and Walter, and only one location (the basement lab), and only one story—Walter and Jesse trying to kill a fly. For the whole episode.
- "Four Days Out" was supposed to be this with the majority of time spent in the RV with Jeese and Walter. However, more scenes required shooting out in the desert or in completely different locations to make the episode work, so it ended up being one of the more expensive episodes of the series.
- Bottomless Magazines: Tuco and Hank Zig Zag this trope in their shoot out. Both of them reload after exchanging shots, but both of them fired more shots than their weapons should've been able to before so.
- Again in Hank's shootout with the Twins, Marco fires 11 bullets from what appears to be a .45 1911 before the slide locks open. Leonel fires 9 times at Hank from his own 1911, Hank then picks up Leonel's gun and fires 5 more times at Marco.
- Break the Cutie:
- Jesse, over the course of the show.
- Skyler in the third season. It got much worse throughout Season 5.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Walt's call to Skyler in "Ozymandias" has shades of this. On the surface, he appears to be ruthlessly and cruelly raging at her, but a closer reading shows that he's taking the blame for all the crimes, for the benefit of the police listening in. It also has the effect of emotionally severing himself from Skyler, Walter Jr. and Marie, allowing them all to see him as the villain and themselves as fellow victims, so they can salvage their relationships when he's gone.
- Break the Haughty:
- Hank and Jesse both experience extreme pressure that cracks their arrogant facades.
- Walt goes through this in "Ozymandias": Hank's death at the hands of Jack's crew, Jack's crew taking his money, his family abandoning him and even his baby daughter wanting her mother over him, finally makes him realize what he's become.
- Walt's crushing continues in the following episode "Granite State": Saul's new-identity man sets him up in a remote shack where the cancer eats at his strength. He keeps starting the eight-mile walk to the nearest town but even the Heisenberg hat can't give him the power to do it. He can't get any of the money - all that remains of the legacy that justifies any of this business - to his family without suspicion, and when he tries to send them some through a friend of Walt Jr., his son angrily rejects him.
- Breakout Character: Jesse Pinkman (people keep asking Aaron Paul to call them a bitch) and Saul Goodman (focus of Spin-Off show Better Call Saul).
- Bribe Backfire: Walt and Jesse's first meeting with Saul.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Lots of characters, though usually not in an actual briefcase; it's more likely to be a backpack or duffel bag and in one scene there's a shipping pallet full of money.
- Bring Me My Brown Pants: One of Mike's first victims (that we know of) soiled himself after the former roughed him up and threatened to kill him should he hurt his wife again.
- Bulletproof Vest:
- The Cousins purchase a pair from an illegal arms dealer. Played realistically: one of them shoots the dealer in the chest to test the vests — he survives, but one of his ribs is broken and he's left moaning in pain as the Cousins walk away.
- Saul wears one under his suit after Huell suddenly goes AWOL in "To'hajiilee."
- Jack's crew wear them when tooled in "To'hajiilee."
- But He Sounds Handsome: Walt's vanity is so bad that he won't let Hank believe that Heisenberg was someone as prosaic as Gale, asserting that Heisenberg's "genius might still be out there."
- Butt Monkey: Jesse's first scene is him falling out a window with no pants on. His humiliation grows with his success. One consistent element through the first few seasons of the show was Jesse taking a severe beating when someone was pissed at Walt. It almost grew to Running Gag status.
- Walt has been the Butt Monkey his whole life, but the events of the show make him more assertive and aggressive. Which is not really a good thing, it turns out.
- Button Mashing: Jesse light-heartedly accuses Brock of this as they play a Sonic game with the wonderful line, "You're just pressing buttons and it makes you do magical stuff."
C - D
- California Doubling:
- California Doubling is the reason the series is set in Albuquerque and not, as originally planned, Riverside, California. Moving the production to Albuquerque was cheaper and left more budget to put on screen, but would have restricted the cinematography to avoid incongruous geography. The easiest answer was simply to move the story and take advantage of the local surroundings.
- When you look out of any office building in Hannover, Germany, you are exceedingly unlikely to see an empty red desert. More probably it would be some green within a grey in grey office area.
- Also, the New Hampshire scenes in "Granite State" were filmed in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.
- Otherwise, averted - everything else you see was shot on location to the maximum extent.
- Call Back:
- In episode 2, Jesse fails to appreciate how important a plastic bin is when dissolving a body in hydrofluoric acid. Three seasons later, he finally gets to do it properly, saying "trust us" when Mike questions if it'll work.
- When Walt serves Krazy 8 a sandwich, Krazy 8 plucks off the crust, which Walter makes a point to cut off when he gives him another sandwich. Ever since killing Krazy 8, when Walt makes a sandwich, he cuts off the crust.
- A season after they needed it, Jesse tells Badger that the RV should have "one of those buzzers that tells you when you leave the key in the ignition."
- The scene where Gus fires Walter is pretty reminiscent of Mike's backstory from "Half Measure". One wonders if Gus would have gotten the same speech from Mike if he was around at the time.
- In the Season 5 premiere, Walt makes the number '52' with his bacon to mark his 52nd birthday. Just like Skyler did for him making a '50' on his 50th birthday in the first ever episode, albeit with veggie bacon.
- The bacon tradition appears again three episodes later in "Fifty-One" with the titular number. This also stands to remind us that at least one more year passes over the course of the last 12 episodes of the series.
- The unsliced pizza sits atop the White garage for quite a long time.
- Early in the series a student tries to talk Walt into giving him a passing grade because he got a 58% and says he was "close." Walt refuses. A few episodes later Walt is grading papers and the student gets a 40%. Walter writes "Not even close" on it. In Season 3 when the school is discussing the air crash we see the student again trying to weasel his way into a passing grade by claiming that if a college student's roommate dies he gets passing grades and think that the school here should do the same.
- In Season 5, "Confessions", Walt records a video of himself opening with "My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 87104", just as he did in the Cold Open to the pilot episode. However, in the first tape, he explicitly says that the tape is not to be considered a confession of anything; in the second one, he proceeds "this is my confession", before proceeding to pin everything on Hank.
- In "Rabid Dog", Skyler says "I knew this would happen! I told you someday someone would show up at our door", a callback to the "I am the one who knocks" speech. Meanwhile, Saul describing Jesse as a rabid dog that needs to be put down echoes Jesse in rehab, confessing to putting down a dog when he's really talking about killing Gale.
- Also in "Rabid Dog", the attempted setup at the end mirrors the setup from "Better Call Saul" - Jesse, like Badger, is supposed to meet Heisenberg on a bench in a public setting, but is misdirected by a simple coincidence involving another bald man nearby.
- The end of "To'hajiilee", when a huge shootout occurs, mirrors a larger-scale version of Hank's shootout with Tuco from "Grilled", the event that first sparked his PTSD and set him on the downward spiral he's been in the entire series.
- "To'hajiilee" is also the second time in the series Walt stood in that desert with a handgun awaiting a standoff, and the second time he couldn't bring himself to do it.
- Not long into "Ozymandias", when Walt is rolling his last cash barrel away in the middle of the desert, the pair of pants that blew away in the first episode are visible if you keep an eye on the foreground.
- A more obvious "Ozymandias" example is the pilot flashback during the intro, returning to show how far Walt has come from the pilot to the ante-penultimate episode.
- Possible one from "Ozymandias": after Hank is shot dead, Walt breaks down and the camera lingers on his face. The way it's shot and the expression on Walt's face is reminiscent of Gus in the flashback to his partner being killed in "Hermanos"
- "Granite State": Walt tries to threaten Saul into working for him, like he did in "Live Free or Die", but he's interrupted by a coughing fit. Skyler being interrogated by the cops strongly parallels the scene where Walt finds out about the cancer◊ and Walt Jr tells his father to "fucking die already" - but for different, much darker reasons.
- In the series finale, Jesse daydreams about building a box, referencing his monologue in "Kafkaesque" where he tells the support worker about the one time he put everything he had into a school project.
- Also in the finale, the shot of Jesse crying while pointing a gun at Walt is almost identical to the shot from the season 3 finale of him about to kill Gale.
- The very first scene of the show is Walt preparing to be caught by the police, then in the very last scene he finally is.
- The titles of the episodes "Live Free or Die" and "Granite State" are meant to parallel each other, as they're named after the State Motto and State Nickname of New Hampshire, respectively. In the former, we get our first Flash Forward to Walt on the run from the police after moving to New Hampshire. In the latter, we finally get to see how he got there.
- Calling the Old Man Out: When trying to convince Walter to go into therapy, Walter Jr. delivers one so poignant, it's almost a Tear Jerker.
- And in Season 5B, he delivers a second one, considerably harsher, after Walter calls him from hiding and tries to arrange for him to receive some of the money he has left.
- Camera Tricks: Lots of fancy ones, including camera POV shots. In one POV shot the camera takes the place of a shovel's blade; in another the camera takes the POV of money being put into safety deposit boxes.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : The theme of the series. All characters who do the wrong thing, regardless of their intentions, they pay. Dearly. And their family, too.
I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
- The main plot of Season 4. Gus can't kill Walt and Jesse because he has no one else to cook meth for him. Enforced by Jesse when he kills Gale so that Gus can't kill Walt.
- The characters like to take advantage of this trope by forcibly extending it to cover other characters; Walt knows he's needed, so he refuses to work if Jesse's killed, thereby also making him indirectly "needed". Later, Jesse does the same for Walt.
- At the end of "Ozymandias", Jesse has become this to Todd.
- In "Madrigal," Lydia escapes death at Mike's hands because she can provide methylamine. (Yet another "half measure" he should've avoided.)
- Can't Take Criticism: This goes hand in hand with Walt's ego. It's why he killed Mike for calling him out for said ego causing problems in the meth business.
- Captain Obvious:
Jesse: Your windshield’s broken.
Walt: What are you doing?
Skyler: I'm negotiating.
Skyler: Because I want to pay less.
- Car Fu:
- Delivered by Walt to two child-murdering dealers.
- Hank cripples one of the Cousins with it, with just one minute's warning.
- The Cartel: A very violent Mexican one.
- The Cast Showoff: In a fifth season episode, Skinny Pete reveals that he's got some impressive classical piano skills. Hidden Depths?
- Casual Car Giveaway: The Salamanca cousins give away a car they had been using to a family in exchange for some of their clothes. They could've just taken the clothes, but they apparently didn't need the car anymore.
- Catch Phrase: Not so much a specific phrase, by Walter will regularly say something along the lines of "It had to be done" or "That's the last time we'll have to kill anyone".
- Jesse: "...Bitch!"
- "Apply yourself" seems to be heard a lot, too. This was written by Walt on Jesse's chemistry test when he gave it a bad grade. Jesse would later say this to his friends after inviting Skinny Pete, Combo, and Badger to his new home. And Walt said this to Jesse's successor Todd as they prepared to make their first batch of methamphetamine.
- Walt has said "Everything I've done, I've done for my family" so many times his neighbors might assume it's his ringtone. Of course, he gets constantly called on it, as the more time passes the less people buy that excuse.
- Celebrity Paradox:
- In one episode Walt and Jr. watch Scarface (1983), which features Steven Bauer (Don Eladio) in his most famous role, Manny. Mark Margolis, who plays Héctor Salamanca, also appears as Alberto in the film.
- "Rabid Dog" reveals that the Schraders have the complete Deadwood box set. One wonders if Hank and Marie ever think that the actress who played Martha Bullock looks familiar.
- Also in "Rabid Dog", Kuby bugs Badger in an attempt to track down Jesse and has to endure three hours of him talking about Babylon 5, of which a pre-fame Bryan Cranston appeared in one episode.
- Celebrity Resemblance:
- Cerebus Syndrome: Not exactly a light and fluffy show to begin withbut with each successive season the tone becomes tenser and more paranoid, the villains become more powerful and relentless, the characters slip deeper and deeper into amorality and instability, and the comic relief is spread increasingly thin.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The ricin: Having used their original vial in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Tuco during season 2, Walt and Jesse cooked up a new ricin cigarette in season 4 to kill Gus. Walt tried convincing Jesse, ultimately without success, to use it on Gus, and later Walt convinced Jesse that Gus had stolen it and used it to poison Brock, even though Walt was responsible for poisoning the boy, and he actually used Lily of the Valley. In the first part of season 5, Walt planned to use it on Lydia, but changed his mind. Later, Jesse realised that Walt was responsible for stealing the cigarette, and finally turned against him. Over a year later, Walt retrieves it from its hiding place in his now-abandoned home, seals it in a sweetener that Lydia prefers in her tea and places it in the jar at the table where Lydia always sits at the cafe. The last we see of Lydia is her in bed, dealing with the symptoms of ricin poisoning.
- Chekhov's Gun
- In "Crazy Handful of Nothin" Walt teaches about fulminate of mercury when he tries to explain reactions to his high school students. At the end of the episode, Walt uses the same chemicals to blow up Tuco's lair.
- Played straight in "One Minute" where the "on the house" bullet that the Cousins got from the arms dealer is used by Hank to shoot Marco in the face.
- Also see the Season 4 premiere we get Chekhov's Box Cutter and the final shot quite possibly gives us Chekhov's Folder.
- Saul's identity-eraser guy. When Walt tries to use him in "Crawl Space" he finds out that all their money's been given to Ted by Skyler without his knowledge. In Season 5, Walt suggests that Jesse use him and he almost does until he finds out about the ricin cigarette. In "Ozymandias", Walt finally uses him in the run from the cops after his family abandons him.
- Walter's gun, throughout all of Season 4. It is however used as a prominent prop in various scenes where its presence alone has either thematic or plot-relevant resonance. However, he doesn't actually use it until the end of the final episode.
- Ted's rug.
- Jesse's Roomba vacuum robot, which Walt plants the re-doctored ricin cigarette in to make him think it was just dropped on the floor instead of stolen.
- The gun Mike kept in his getaway bag in "Say My Name".
- Walt's copy of Leaves of Grass, which the camera makes sure to show in the bathroom in "Gliding Over All" before it becomes very important later.
- The knives in the flashback that opens "Ozymandias" come into play in the present day when Walt gets home.
- Lydia's Stevia obsession becomes her undoing.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Seemingly one-shot characters would routinely come back with more importance to the story, such as Skinny Pete, Badger, Combo, Todd, "Uncle" Jack, and the Schwartzes.
- Chekhov's Lecture: Walt's chemistry lectures often foreshadow later events in the episode, either by referring to a chemical process that will be exploited or by metaphorically describing relationships among characters.
- Chekhov's Skill: Walt training himself to fast draw his pistol in season 4 apparently becomes a waste of time when he realizes he'll never get a chance to use this ability against Gus, but then he uses it to rescue Jesse at the end of the season.
- Gus is gradually revealed to be one of these, a reputation cemented halfway through Season 3 when he architects the death of a leader in the cartel and the elimination of two of the relatives of the man he holds responsible for the death of his friend two decades ago.
- Walt gradually becomes one as well as terribly revealed in the last shot of Season 4. Season 4 is a chess match between Walt and Gus, which Walt wins.
- Children Are Innocent:
- Played with. Tomás is an 11-year old murderer, but he was coerced into it. Though when we see him later in the series, he doesn't seem all that broken up about it. His sister even claims that he calmly told her that he killed someone.
- Jesse strongly believes in this trope. For one, when Jesse's family's housemaid found a marijuana joint that his parents initially believed was his but actually belonged to his overachieving younger brother, he took the fall, and later stomped on it to prevent him from smoking it. Jesse also pulled out on selling meth to a woman he met in rehab when he discovered she had a child.
- Choke Holds:
- How Walter finally eliminates Domingo (AKA Crazy Eight) in the third episode. It takes a minute or two and Domingo has time to stab Walter a few times with a shard of broken plate.
- Jesse finally exacting his revenge on Todd by choking him as well as breaking his neck with the chains he was bound up in at the end of "Felina".
- Chronic Villainy: Walt would always go back to making meth no matter how dangerous the situation is. He gives up his drug business at the end of "Gliding Over All," intending to keep his head down and quietly launder the money he has for the rest of his life. Then Hank realizes that Heisenberg has been right under his nose the whole time...
- In "Granite State", faced with the realisation that all his actions were for nothing, Walt calls the DEA to give himself up... and then he sees the Schwartzes on TV, saying just the right thing to remind Walt why he felt bitter and angry enough to become Heisenberg in the first place. By the time the DEA shows up to arrest him, Walt is gone. Somewhat subverted when he actually gets back as it turns out he's becomes an admittedly dark Atoner.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Skyler starts lighting up again as the stress of her marriage and Walt's illegal activities get to her.
- Closed Circle: "Fly" has Jesse and Walt trapped in an airtight lab trying to kill a fly to prevent contamination; since they can't cook meth with the contaminant, and they can't leave until they've cooked, they spend the episode trapped.
- Cliff Hanger:
- A number of episodes, though only season 3 has come close to having the season finale variety.
- Probably the most dramatic one is at the end of the season 5 episode "To'hajiilee", when the episode ends with Hank and Gomez in a shoot-out with Jack and his men, in the middle of the desert with nobody to help them. The episode ending without a death probably conned a lot of viewers into assuming that Vince Gilligan would have killed them off at the end of the episode if he was going to do it, rather than at the start of the following episode...
- The mid-season finale for Season 5, "Gliding Over All," in which Hank at long last finds out that Walt is Heisenberg.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Four episodes in season 2 open with flashforwards to the ending of the season, depicting workers in hazmat suits retrieving objects and debris from Walter's house and two corpses in body bags in his front driveway. Many viewers speculated that there had been some sort of explosion in Walter's house related to his meth cooking and that at least one major character may have been killed off. Instead, the Twist Ending of season 2 is a plane crash which kills 167 people but otherwise has no real impact on the main characters at all.
- Coincidental Broadcast: In "Granite State", Walt has finally decided to turn himself in. Then he notices the bartender flipping through channels and sees an interview with his old partners, specifically talking about him. Keep in mind that this is the first TV broadcast he's seen in months, and that's the show that happens to be on.
- Cold Open / The Teaser: A staple of the show. Many episodes open with a scene that is utterly fascinating, beautifully shot, almost a work of art in itself—and sometimes without a single word being spoken. Sometimes ends up being crucial to The Reveal for the episode (most recently in "Dead Freight"), or for the entire season (Season 2).
- Color-Coded Characters: described here
- Walter - Green
- Jesse - Red or Yellow
- Skyler - Blue
- Hank - Brown/Orange
- Marie - Purple. Easily the most dramatic example. Clothes, accessories, kitchen decor, purple, purple, purple.
- Walt Jr. - Orange, but not tied as closely to it
- Concealment Equals Cover: Pretty thoroughly averted throughout the series. Probably the most notable example is the finale, wherein Walt kills off nearly all the Aryan Brotherhood group with an M60 parked outside the building they were in. The trope is possibly played straight in the Tuco/Hank shootout, although Tuco was wounded (and firing a rifle one-handed), and both were firing pretty wildly at first.
- Confess to a Lesser Crime:
- Consummate Liar:
- Walt, who lies in order to conceal his drug activities as well as out of a sense of pride. He's frequently placed on the spot, however, and his lies vary in quality from rather lame to masterful.
- Skyler eventually shows that she can sometimes improve on Walt's lies when required.
- Continuity Nod:
- The teddy bear eye in season 2, and Walt's method for disposing of a body with acid in the season 4 premiere.
- A number of subtle ones emerge in "Gliding Over All":
- The Cold Open features a close up of a fly not unlike the cold open of the episode "Fly" (with which this episode shares a writer).
- The ricin vial that Walt hid back in "Madrigal" makes an appearance.
- Walt has a bandage on his wrist, covering the burn he gave himself two episodes ago.
- In a run-down hotel room we see a copy of the same painting that Walt looks at while getting treatment for cancer.
- We see all nine of Mike's hazard pay recipients in prison as they are getting murdered.
- The paper towel holder that Walt punched repeatedly at the end of "4 Days Out" back in Season 2.
- Gale's Walt Whitman obsession and the letters W.W.
- "Blood Money" has a whole slew of them when Hank goes over case files while trying to piece together an investigation against Walt. Among the case files we see a slew of photographs of many dead past characters as well as the the surveillance tape of Walt and Jesse stealing methylamine back at the end of Season 1.
- Walt's pants (which he ditched in the desert in the pilot episode) make an appearance in "Ozymandias" as Walt is rolling the barrel across the desert.
- In "Felina", after retrieving the ricin, Walt stands in the middle of his now-wrecked living room, on the exact same spot where he first got the idea to cook meth two years before.
- Walt's appearance during the latter half of "Felina" (full head of hair, green shirt, white undershirt, beige pants and jacket) mirrors his appearance in the pilot.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Everything involving the midair collision in the Season 2 finale.
- In Season 2, Jesse's friend Combo gets killed by Tomás. In Season 3, Jesse's new girlfriend Andrea turns out to be Tomás's sister.
- In "Granite State" just moments after Walt decides to turn himself in to the police, he just so happens to turns his attention to a television interview of Gretchen and Elliot minimizing his role in the founding of Grey Matter Technology, which angers him so much, he decides to resurrect Heisenberg one more time.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Skyler is a straight arrow in Season 1, but as Walt's behavior is revealed to her, she engages in increasingly sketchy business dealings, shows herself to be a talented money-launderer, and even advocates murdering Jesse when he becomes a direct threat to their family.
- Corruption of a Minor: Two drug dealers have the 11-year-old Tomas Cantillo involved in their operation.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot:
- Walt almost immediately realizes this about the tense showdown with Mike Ehrmantraut that ends in the latter's death. As soon as he calms down, it occurs to him that he could have gotten the names he wanted from Lydia, who was the one who wanted them dead in the first place.
- Walt is offered a job with an excellent health plan, and then for his medical bills to be paid for outright, early in the series, and he refuses. Justified, as Walt's Fatal Flaw is pride.
- CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Subverted - after beating one of his men senseless to make a point, Tuco demands Walt perform CPR on the basis that he's "smart". He clearly knows as much about CPR as Walt does about drug deals, and it doesn't work anyway.
Tuco: Breathe into his mouth!
Walt: THAT DOESN'T WORK! They don't teach that any more!
- Cradle of Loneliness:
- After Jane's death, Jesse can be seen cradling his cell phone, then calling her number just to hear her speaking on her voice mail, until her line is finally disconnected.
- Walt still holds on to his wedding ring during his time of isolation in the middle of New Hampshire. When it doesn't fit his finger anymore due to the chemotherapy and harsh living conditions, he ties it around his neck.
- Creature of Habit: Lydia, who always sits at the same table in the same cafe at the same time and day every week, and orders the same drink and insists on the same brand of sweetener. This turns out to be a Fatal Flaw; Walt is able to arrange her death just by replacing a single packet of Stevia with ricin.
- Crocodile Tears
- Walt tells Hank a sob story about his marriage and fakes tears, reckoning that Hank will contrive a reason to leave for a moment while Walt composes himself. When Hank goes to bring them both coffee, Walt plants bugs in his office.
- Used by Walt again masterfully in Season Five's "Confessions" in a recording to be released in the event of his death, to blatantly implicate Hank as the mastermind behind Heisenberg.
- Cross Referenced Titles: "The Cat's in the Bag..."/"...And the Bag's in the River", "No Más"/"Más", "Half-Measures"/"Full Measure". There's also the "737"/"Down"/"Over"/"ABQ" foreshadowing.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check
- Gus owns quite a few legitimate businesses that would see him living quite comfortably on their own. The fact that he must "hide in plain sight" means that he cannot actually spend all the millions that he's raking in through his illegal meth trade. What's the point of it, then? A flashback episode in season 4 suggests that his entire meth enterprise has been fueled out of a desire for revenge against the cartels that murdered his partner and humiliated him.
- In Season 5, now that the Cartel and Gus are both gone and the Whites own a prosperous car wash (and more cash than they can reasonably launder through it in years), Walt could just quit. He doesn't, emphasizing how far his priorities have changed.
- Cutting the Knot / Stating the Simple Solution:
- While discussing methods of recovering/destroying Gus Fring's laptop from a police evidence locker, Walt suggests several complex methods of doing so - infiltration, smuggling in an explosive or incendiary device, breaking in from the outside using explosive charges - which Mike dismisses as impractical due to the vault's construction and countermeasures. Jesse's suggestion - use a powerful electromagnet to wipe the hard drive and destroy the laptop (and countless other items) through blunt force. Crude but ultimately effective.
- In "Four Days Out", while stranded in the wilderness due to the RV's battery running flat, Jesse frustratedly tries to coax Walt into figuring out a means of escape by MacGyvering something together. Among several laughable suggestions - including building a robot or an alternate vehicle from the RV's chassis - comes the sensible (and actually doable) notion of building a new battery out of the assorted contents of their rolling lab.
- After committing to make 4 lbs of meth for Tuco - impossible due to the restriction on purchasing pseudoephedrine in bulk - Walt indicates they will switch to a P2P cook, which relies on them being able to obtain methylamine as a precursor. When hiring a group of professionals to steal the precursor proves too expensive, Walt suggests they steal it themselves using homemade thermite. He then goes on to describe how a German WWII cannon - the Gustav gun - was able to withstand sustained bombing, but could be crippled through the same application of thermite.
- In "Felina", Walt tries and fails to hotwire a car, managing to give himself a minor shock in the process. After a brief panic when he thinks a cop is going to hassle him, he thinks to check above the sun screen, and the keys drop straight into his lap.
- Daddy's Girl / Manipulative Bastard: Jane to her father in Season 2's Phoenix when he finds she and Jesse are back on drugs and goes to call the police. She uses a variety of techniques, including emotional blackmail, reminding him of the time she left and he didn't water her houseplants so they died, overreacting to 'being judged', and telling her father that she and Jesse talked about rehab every night . It worked.
- Dark Reprise: When Walter calls the DEA from the bar in New Hampshire, the opening theme returns, sounding quite a bit darker than it usually did.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Walt starts making meth trying to help his family and pay for his cancer treatment, but keeps cooking out of pure pride and greed.
- The Dandy: Saul wears very colorful suits that are often adorned with a flower, ribbon or other ornament.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- Before he was solidified as basically being the show's co-lead Jesse gets a lot of focus in season 1's "Cancer Man" which goes into his home life and family background more than any episode up to that point.
- "Peekaboo" also counts for Jesse.
- "Negro Y Azul" in Season 2 and "One Minute" in Season 3 for Hank.
- "Open House" features an oddly heavy amount of focus on Marie.
- "Hermanos" in Season 4 for Gus. The episode focuses more on him than any other character and gives a look into his Mysterious Past and provides a lot of subtext for his relationship with the Cartel, Tio in particular.
- "Madrigal" features a lot of Mike being a badass.
- "Fifty One" is this for Skyler. Unsurprisingly it is also the episode that won Anna Gunn her Emmy.
- "Better Call Saul" obviously serves as a day in the limelight for Saul, and to a lesser extent, Badger.
- Deadly Euphemism:
- In "Buried", when Saul wants to suggest that Walt have someone killed:
Saul: Have you given any thought to sending him on a trip to Belize?
Saul: Yeah. Belize. You know, where, uh, where Mike went to. Off on a trip to... Belize.
- In "Rabid Dog", Walt criticises Saul's mealy-mouthed circumlocutions in the area of having people killed; "You're full of colourful metaphors, aren't you, Saul. 'Belize', 'Old Yeller'..." Later in the same episode, Skyler has to clarify whether Walt is using these when he's talking about Jesse.
Walt: I'm gonna... I'm gonna talk to him. Make him see reason.
Skyler: Talk to him. Make him see reason. (beat) So, I'm clear... these are just euphemisms you're using here, right?
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Walt has a chance to pin the whole "Heisenberg" thing on Gale... but alcohol and pride make him tell Hank that the guy doesn't seem like he's smart enough, and he must be working for someone else.
- Defiant to the End: Even with an injured leg and Walt's pleadings to save his life from Jack, Hank refuses to take any of his offers and gets killed by Jack. Though he's likely right that it was going to end the same anyway.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Hank's boisterous, wise-cracking personality can seem downright racist, sexist, classist, or otherwise politically incorrect all around; and yet, when the chips are down, he is a cop of true integrity and probably the most morally responsible character in the show. Until perhaps the second half of season five.
- Description Cut: Done several times; one particularly notable one involves a couple of addicts who have stolen an ATM saying that they've committed a "victimless crime", followed by a cut to a shot of the clerk at the store from which they stole the ATM lying stabbed to death in a pool of blood.
- Despair Event Horizon:
- Walt seems to have reached one in the beginning of the episode "Salud", after getting the shit beaten out of him by his surrogate son Jesse. However, his real son helps him through it. He promptly returns to it in "Crawl Space", when he learns that Gus declared him and his family free game and all of the money they had was given to Ted Beneke by Skyler.
- The moment in season two when Walt learns that his cancer is in remission. Usually, this is incredible news, but for Walt, it's outright tragic, which Walt later explains to Jesse in "Fly". He would've much preferred if he succumbed to the cancer after his daughter's birth. It's implied that this ideal death would enable Walt to avoid any heavy consequences with his drug manufacturing, but with the remission, Walt will probably be alive a little longer than he assumed. Cue Walt, beating his fists on a towel dispenser.
- It now seems that Walt has finally gone beyond the line of despair when in "Granite State", his son insults him multiple times for supposedly killing Hank and disowns him as a father, even when Walt tearfully begs him to receive the money he's giving to him through a conduit. He lets the DEA know about his location and stays a bit longer until his pride is hit by an appearance on Charlie Rose by Gray Matter in which they discuss his involvement in the company. He leaves immediately afterwards.
- Destroy the Evidence: Several times in the show Walter will cover his tracks. It works, as even after Hank figures out that Walt is Heisenberg, he is unable to arrest him due to having only circumstantial evidence. That is, until he and Jesse trick Walt into confessing to multiple murders over the phone.
- Deuteragonist: Jesse Pinkman, whose character arc and development are given just as much importance and later runs parallel to Walt's character arc.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Not related to the main plot, but honestly, can you say anything else about the end of "ABQ"? Fittingly for the trope, Vince Gilligan himself described it as a "Lucifer ex machina".
- Though it's obliquely foreshadowed by the first scene of the episode in which it happens, the discovery that some random kid saw the methylamine heist, followed immediately by seemingly mild-mannered Todd gunning the boy down is a horrifying left-field turn from Walt and Jesse's perspective.
- Dies Wide Open:
- Jane starts choking when she's asleep. When she finally dies, her eyelids slide partially open. She's seen later with her eyes still open.
- Walt himself, in the closing shot of "Felina", lying on his back and staring at the ceiling of the Neo-Nazi meth lab.
- Disaster Dominoes: In "4 Days Out" Walter tells Jesse to not put the keys to the RV on the counter where they're cooking to avoid losing them so he puts them in the ignition which results in the battery dying. Then they try to use the generator to jump it but the generator catches fire and Jesse uses the last of their drinking water to extinguish it right before Walter gets a fire extinguisher.
- Disc One Final Boss: Tuco in season 2, the Cousins in season 3, Hank in season 5. Gus for the whole series.
- Disposing of a Body: Walter and Jesse dispose of bodies with acid, to the point that Mike decides that it's their specialty.
- The Dividual: Whether its down to Twintuition or simply excellent planning, the Salamanca brothers do everything they do together, with a chilling commonality of purpose, and barely speaking a word. Brr.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When Walt refuses some charity from Gretchen Schwartz out of pride and a lingering grudge, Gretchen can only react with shock and pity. This infuriates Walt into delivering a Precision F-Strike.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- When Hank asks Walt to place a tracking bug on Gus's vehicle, he utters this remark:
"Walt, don't make me beg here. Just stick it in there!"
- The scene where Jesse tries heroin for the first time plays out very much like he's losing his virginity. It even takes place on his bed, with his girlfriend.
Jesse:[with breathless anticipation] What's it feel like?
Jane: There's a chill, and then... You'll see. I'll meet you there...
(They kiss, he gives her a small nod before she pushes the needle into his arm.)
- During the episode "Over," Walt finds fungus in the floorboards and becomes fixated on cutting out the rot before it undermines his home, which is practically a Literal Metaphor.
- Double Meaning Title: Many episodes.
- The titles "737", "Down", "Over", "ABQ" all refer to events within those episodes, but also foreshadow the plane crash.
- "Phoenix" is Jane's birthplace, the name of the Mars Lander shown on TV, a reference to Birth/Death Juxtaposition and a Cross Referenced Title with "ABQ".
- "I See You" has Leonel recognising Walt and attempting to kill him, and also plays on the term "ICU".
- "Open House" has Jesse's open-house party and Marie's open-house viewings.
- "Shotgun" has Jesse riding shotgun for Mike, and being threatened with one by a stick-up guy.
- "Face-Off" has Gus' conflicts with both Walt and Tio Salamanca come to a head, and ends with half his head being blown away.
- "Buried" refers to both Walt burying his money at the To'hajiilee reservation, and Declan's buried meth lab in which Lydia takes shelter while Declan's crew is massacred.
- "Rabid Dog" makes an explicit parallel between Jesse Pinkman and Old Yeller... but also shows Hank continuing to act outside police protocol and betraying a more ruthless streak than we've seen from him before.
- The series finale "Felina" has a doozy. It's a reference to Marty Robbins' song "El Paso" (the song playing on Walt's car radio in the opening scene), which is about a cowboy who dies in his lover's arms after being gunned down by his enemies. It's also an anagram of "Finale", and a sly reference to the chemical formula "FeLiNa" ("Iron, Lithium and Sodium", which can be seen as shorthand for "Blood, Meth and Tears").
- Downer Ending:
- Season 2 which ends with Jane dead, Jesse in rehab, Skyler leaving Walt and the plane crash over Albuquerque.
- "Ozymandias" is a downer episode, Hank and Gomez are dead, all but one of Walt's money barrels has been taken by the Aryans who have also taken Jesse into captivity and forced him to cook for them, Walt has lost his family and is forced to go into hiding alone.
- Dragon Their Feet: Subverted. After Gus is killed, Mike's immediate reaction is to go kill Walt. He's talked out of it when Walt reveals there's evidence that could implicate them both which needs to be destroyed.
- Drama Bomb: "Ozymandias" goes further than the usual Wham Episode, being the ultimate conversation of everything the series has been building up to since the first season.
- Dramatic Irony: The show is absolutely filled with dramatic irony. It's difficult to count the number of times a major drug dealer or manufacturer has a casual, friendly chat with a DEA agent or someone they intend to kill.
- The Dreaded: By Season 5, Walt is feared by everyone who knows him as Heisenberg.
Jesse: He's the devil!
- Drink Order: Lydia, a creature of routine, always orders tea with the exact same ingredients. Her habit becomes her undoing.
- Driven to Suicide: In a season 3 episode it is revealed to Walt and the audience that Donald Margolis shot himself after the death of his daughter Jane and subsequent mid-air collision caused by this distraction. We never find out if he survives the attempt.
- After Gus Fring was murdered, the DEA began investigating Madrigal Electromotive. Peter Schuler, a criminal business partner, committed suicide by sticking one end of a defibrillator in his mouth and the other over his heart.
- Skyler attempts to drown herself in the pool when she becomes too terrified of Walt.
- Walt actually attempts suicide near the end of the very first episode, when his capture by police seems imminent. It's only his unfamiliarity with firearms that saves him, and thus dooms all of his future victims.
- Drunk with Power: After killing Gus, Walt feels invincible as if he can do no wrong.
- Drop What You Are Doing: In the flash-forward in "Blood Money", Walt's neighbor sees him returning to his now boarded-up house, and freezes, shocked, in the middle of unloading her groceries. He looks across at her and simply says "Hello, Carol," and she drops the bag on the ground.
- Drowning My Sorrows:
- Walt dealing with the awful news that his cancer is in remission. Dragging his underage son into his tequila-slugging match is something of a Kick the Dog moment.
- Walt does it again with Jane's father.
- Walt attempts to do this with Mike as a way of cooling off tensions between them. Mike is actually pretty warm to the idea, until Walt suggests killing their boss. Cue a punch in the face.
- Drugs Are Bad: A major theme of the show, but not exactly the Aesop conveyed. Walter makes a deal with the devil to provide for his family after his death with drug money. As a result, he becomes a hardened murderer and manipulator, his relationship with his family is irreparably damaged, and his brother-in-law is nearly killed (and later on, actually gets killed). Jesse, for his part, loses his family, kills a person, gets his girlfriend killed, gets another girlfriend killed, and almost dies several times. Jesse's addiction and attempts to cope with his suffering also locks him into a downward spiral. Drugs are also seen having a destructive effect on various minor characters throughout the show. On the flip side, Jesse in particular can keep his drug habit while still functioning, and Gale Boetticher, a drug manufacturer, maintains a very neat lifestyle. Generally, its not the drugs themselves that bring the characters’ downfall, but all of the criminal activity and dishonesty and physical danger that comes with it and using them to the point of inability to function that do.
- Duct Tape for Everything: In "Ozymandias", Walt wraps his hand in duct tape to bandage a knife wound. By the next episode "Granite State", he's swapped it for a real bandage.
- Dumbass Has a Point:
- When Walt and Jesse are stuck in the desert in the RV after the battery dies, Jesse starts throwing out suggestions including stripping down the vehicle to make either a robot or a dune buggy (he was a bit delirious). Believe it or not, this helps Walt strike on the solution that actually does save their lives.
- Jesse comes up with a plan to destroy the laptop that can put him, Walt, and Mike away, and then has a hell of a time trying to get Walt and Mike to pay attention to him.
- Again Jesse suggests robbing a train in such a way that no one ever suspects anything was missing. (In fact the DVD extras see the writers say that Jesse started as "a doofus" and gets much smarter over time.)
- Even early on Jesse showed hints that he wasn't completely idiotic; in 2.01 he is rightfully terrified about Tuco murdering him and Walt to tie up loose ends after what happened in the junkyard.
Jesse: What is that? Conjecture? Are you basing that on that he's got like a normal, healthy brain or something? [...] And that way- that way he just kept staring at us... Saying, You're done. Wh- You're done? You wanna know what that means - I will tell you what that means. That means exactly how it sounds, yo! [...] Right now Tuco's thinking 'Yeah, hey, they cook good meth, but, can I trust them?' What happens, when he decides no?
- Dying Moment of Awesome:
- Héctor Salamanca of all people gets one, giving Gus one last look of hate before blowing them all up.
- Hank's absolute refusal to accept Walt's attempts to save his life, and final words of "My name is ASAC Schrader. And you can go fuck yourself" followed shortly by "Do what you're going to.." before being shot through the head.
- Mike: "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."
- Gus walks out of the room where a bomb has gone off, calmly straightens his tie - and falls over dead with half of his face burned down to the skull.
- The Dying Walk: The show loved this trope. Gus walks out of the room after it was blown up and then adjusts his tie so he can Face Death with Dignity, Mike walks away from the spot where Walter shot him and finds a peaceful place to die, and Walt walks away from his final confrontation with the Nazis and goes to the nearby chemistry lab (chemistry labs having been the place where he was probably always happiest in his life) and dies there.
E - L
M - R
- MacGyvering: Walt often uses his chemistry to solve practical problems.
- Thermite made using the aluminum powder from an Etch-a-Sketch.
- A makeshift battery made from sponges, bolts and brake pads was pure grade-A vintage MacGyvering.
- A bomb mostly made from stuff he's got lying around.
- Extracting ricin from castor beans.
- Walt creates an electrical arc from live wires for a coffee pot to cut through a plastic handcuff keeping him attached to a radiator. It works, but not without a nasty burn on his wrist.
- In "Felina," Walt constructs an automatic turret gun, using a garage door opening mechanism to swing the gun back and forth and his car's remote key as a trigger switch.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Subverted by Gus. He doesn't believe in using fear as a motivator as Mike suggests. Unless he comes to see you as a dangerous liability who can only be controlled that way.
- Male Gaze: Don Eladio's pool party in "Salud" opens with a long tracking shot on a woman's bikini-clad butt.
- Marijuana Is LSD: After smoking methamphetamine, Jesse sees two men in white shirts who want to talk to him about Jesus as hulking, leather-clad thugs with machetes and hand grenades. Meth isn't a hallucinogen. It can cause paranoia and long periods of sleep deprivation which in turn can cause hallucinations, but Jesse hadn't been up for that long. However, it could be interpreted as a visual representation of his paranoia.
- Match Cut
- In "Kafkaesque," the episode opens with a Los Pollos Hermanos commercial extoling the signature fried chicken. It ends with a shot of pieces of fried chicken falling in front of a background, dissolving into Walter and Jesse doing a deal of Blue Sky at the superlab.
- Three within a single montage in "Gliding Over All." Walt, sitting on a couch, leans forward to put down a drink at Hank's place—cut to Walt leaning back on another couch, in his meth-cooking suit. Skyler puts her coffee cup down on her desk at the car wash—cut to Lydia picking up her cup of tea. Saul pours himself a drink—cut to Walt pouring some liquid from a faucet.
- In "Ozymandias" Walt slams his car door out in the desert—cut to Marie slamming her car door as she arrives at the car wash.
- Meaningful Name:
- Walter White: 'Walter' means 'Ruler of the people'. Walt does say he's in the 'empire business'.
- "Heisenberg", as in "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle". Considering all the uncertainties surrounding Walter White and that persona, it's a good bet the writers had that in mind. Werner Heisenberg also worked for the Nazi nuclear weapon program during WWIInote and Walt works with a group of neo-Nazis in season 5. In Season 1 episode 6 "Crazy Handful of Nothin,'" when Walt meets Jesse's friends at a science museum to plan distribution, Heisenberg and nuclear bomb-related history are depicted in the background. Walt improvs the name when he confronts Tuco and is ready to blow everyone up with the mercury fulminate.
- Skyler White: 'Skyler' derives from the Dutch surname 'Schuyler', meaning 'student' or 'scholar'. Skyler learns to be comfortable with crime from Walt, and eventually becomes a far better liar than him.
- Walter White junior: Doesn't have a name of his own, nor a caracterization beyond loving breakfast.
- Flynn: derives from 'O'Floin', meaning 'son of Floin', which itself derives from 'flann', meaning 'red'. So, perhaps, 'Son of one with blood on his hands'?
- Hank Schrader: 'Hank' is a shortening of 'Henry', which means 'Ruler of his Home', possibly indicating his standing on the side of the law, as well as his high rank, and nicely contrasting Walter's 'ruler of the people'.
- Jesse Pinkman: 'Jesse' means 'gift from God', perhaps highlighting his more virtuous nature.
- Saul Goodman: 'Saul' means 'called for' or 'asked for'. Fits his role quite well.
- Saul Goodman's name is pronounced like "'S all good, man!" This may be intentional on Saul's part, as he tells Walter that his real surname is McGill, and he changed it to something more Jewish-sounding to appeal to Albuquerque's criminal underclass.
- From the title card, Bromine is "a fuming red-brown liquid at room temperature [and] corrosive and toxic" and Barium is used in X-Rays and turns fire green.
- Beneke Fabricators, a company which we later learn is involved in large scale tax fraud. Fabricators is the key word.
- May-December Romance: Skyler and Walt are 11 years apart in age (Walt is 50 at the start of the series, Skyler is 39).
- Mega Corp.: The German company Madrigal Electromotive, which owns Los Pollos Hermanos and the laundromat hiding the superlab.
- Mexican Standoff: In "To'hajiilee", between Hank and Gomez, and Uncle Jack's heavily tooled-up crew.
- Midair Collision: The Season 2 finale. One believes that it might be a reference to the crash of Aeromexico Flight 498, given that that plane was downed by a midair collision while in the hands of an air traffic controller named Walter White.
- Miranda Rights: Hank tells Walt his rights after he arrests Walt in "To'hajiilee". Walt's only response is calling Jesse a "coward".
- Monochrome Casting: Given that the most prominent Hispanic characters on the show (Gus, several of his dealers and subordinates, and almost all of the Cartel) are dead by the end of season four, the cast of season five consists exclusively of white Americans, with the sole exception of Gomez who only appears in a handful of episodes. The primary antagonists even happen to be a neo-Nazi organization, which naturally precludes much racial diversity.
- Mood Whiplash: So, so much. The show goes from comedy to tragedy and back at the drop of a hat.
- Probably the harshest example to date is in season 5's "Dead Freight"; it's mostly a pretty fun episode that sees the guys pulling off a brilliant train heist, for methylamine, conceived in such a way that no innocents have to be killed and they won't even know the train was robbed, the execution of it is one of the most intense, suspenseful moments in the show's history. Everything, just barely, goes off without a hitch leaving the characters and the audience feeling relieved. Then they see that a young boy has been watching them for who knows how long. Newbie Todd calmly pulls out a gun and kills the kid without batting an eye.
- Moral Event Horizon: In-universe, Skyler feels that Walt has crossed the line in "Ozymandias" when she thinks that Walt killed Hank despite his attempts in explaining that he tried to save him.
- More Dakka: Jack and his Nazi buddies believe in this wholeheartedly. And it's how they die.
- Mortal Wound Reveal: In the Season 4 finale, after Héctor sets off a bomb that obliterates his room and everything inside, Gus strangely steps out seemingly unharmed. After Gus casually adjusts his tie, the camera pans around to reveal he's missing a decent amount of his face and head, and then he promptly drops dead.
- This is also how we discover the bullet wound which kills Heisenberg.
- Motivational Lie: In the season 4 finale: Walt convinces Jesse that Gus tried to poison a child with ricin to get Jesse on his side.
- Motive Decay: Done deliberately with Walt as part of the show's deconstruction of the Justified Criminal trope. Walter initially starts cooking meth upon being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, in hopes of securing his family's financial future. However, upon learning that his cancer is in remission, he doesn't stop cooking. No matter how many times he half-heartedly attempts to leave the business, he always returns sooner or later. Early in season five he is made an offer to sell his raw materials for $5 million (well over six times the amount of money he had originally hoped to make) and leave the business scot-free, and refuses, explaining that he is in the "empire business". In the season finale, after five seasons of insisting that all of the horrific things he had done were in the interests of providing for his family, he finally confesses that he did them for himself, because he enjoyed being a villain and had a talent for it.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- The fly falling to the ground dead at Jesse's feet in slo-mo.
- One of the extras on the Season 3 DVDs is titled "Pizza Of Destiny: Cranston's Greatest Throw" and starts with an In a World-type trailer voice intoning the fate of one pizza to rise above mere food, slip the surly bonds of gravity and take to the air. It's about the scene where Walt throws a pizza on the roof.
- In "Madrigal", the montage of Walt and Jesse looking for the ricin cigarette.
- Murder By Inaction: Walt watches Jesse's girlfriend, Jane choke to death on her own vomit (she'd shot up with heroin). Jane had earlier demanded Walt fork over some drug money and threatened to rat him out. Made worse in that Walt had inadvertently moved Jane on to her back when he tried to wake Jesse up, and thus indirectly caused her death as well as refusing to prevent it.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- When Walt realizes that he was responsible for the plane crash...
- Tuco has this reaction when he realizes he's just killed one of his henchmen.
- My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Hank gets into a legal debate with the junkyard owner while Hank is trying to break into the RV, which contains Walt, Jesse and their meth lab.
- Naked Apron: Walt wears a lab apron over his tighty whities in the pilot. He still gets confused for being a nudist, though.
- Neat Freak
- Gus, who obsessively prioritizes keeping his clothes neat to inappropriate levels. The most ridiculous examples include carefully laying down a towel and organizing himself before vomiting up a lethal poison about to kill him in "Salud," and adjusting his tie after being caught in a bomb blast in "Face Off."
- Walt has bouts of this when the pressure of his criminal double life gets to him, fixating on the rotten boards in his house in "Over" and a fly in the lab in "Fly".
- Lydia, making her a comical Fish out of Water when examining Declan's filthy underground meth lab.
- Newscaster Cameo: Ashleigh Banfield in the third season and Charlie Rose in the fifth. The newscaster who reports on Gus's death at the end of the fourth, Antoinette Antonio, is a local morning radio host.
- Nice Hat: Walter dons a black porkpie as part of Heisenberg's persona.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Another big element of the show. Most of Walt's actions have consequences he is unable to foresee in any way - like the plane crash or the Cousins eventually coming after Hank - and they often end up messing up the situation even more. One of the best examples of this is the season 5 premiere, where Walt takes a giant magnet to destroy Gus' laptop at a police evidence warehouse. In the ensuing chaos, a photo breaks, revealing bank accounts meant to silence everyone involved in the operation. Plus the pull of the magnet tipping over their own truck.
- Jesse in "Granite State." While being forced to cook for Todd and Jack, there's a picture of Andrea and Brock taped on a wall in the lab, as if to say "If you fuck up, they're dead." So naturally when Jesse is caught trying to escape Jack's compound, he's promptly driven to Andrea's house to watch her execution.
- Nice to the Waiter: Walt gives a $100 tip to the kind waitress in the season 5 premiere.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: Hank, who despite having a fondness for making crude jokes at the expense of Hispanics, women and poor people turns out to be very much a good guy. In addition to his best friend being hispanic and laughing off most of his jokes.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- Tuco is very fond of this.
- In season 3, Hank does this to Jesse.
- In season 4, Mike does this to Walter.
- Also in season 4, Jesse delivers a particularly brutal one to Walt.
- In the season 5 episode "Confessions," Jesse gives one to Saul after he finds out that Walt poisoned Brock.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine:
- Gus invites Walt to his house to cook dinner with him in one episode. Which at the time seems harmless, but in retrospect...
- A season later, Gus invites Jesse for dinner while Walt and Jesse are actively conspiring to kill him and Gus is trying to manipulate Jesse into letting Walt be killed.
- No Pregger Sex; Lustily averted by Walt and Skyler in the first 2 seasons.
- No Pronunciation Guide: A couple of the episode titles can be this if you don't speak Spanish or Navajo such as "Negro Y Azul", "Abiquiu" and "To'hajiilee".
- Noodle Incident:
- Something that happened on a 4th of July weekend at Gretchen's father's place precipitated Walt and Gretchen's falling out and Walt's departure from Gray Matter.
- Walter also lost a job at Los Alamos for an unknown reason. In fact, the show never explains how a chemist of his talents wound up teaching high school chemistry.
- Gus's history in Chile causes the cartel to spare him even though they just killed his partner in front of him.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Starting with Season 2, the series became famous (and critically acclaimed) for this, breaking the status quo every few episodes, leaving it nearly completely unpredictable. However, it's final eight episodes, especially Ozymandias, stand out in particular, with every single one easily qualifying as Wham Episodes.
- Not So Different:
- In "Rabid Dog", it becomes clear that Hank is toying with other people's lives just like Walt did.
- In "Rabid Dog" as well, Skyler has become comfortable with murder as well, pushing Walt to murder Jesse.
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- After the CID catches onto Ted's book cooking, Skyler saves him from prison time by acting like a Dumb Blonde who hopelessly screwed up the company's ledgers completely by accident. Though he is still required to pay the back taxes, it prevents him from being charged with criminal fraud, and it also keeps the government from auditing Skyler's financials and catching Walt's drug income.
- People that only know of Saul Goodman's public persona as a sleazy ambulance chaser tend to rather underestimate his competence in serious matters. Badger getting arrested and Jesse buying his house back are just two examples.
- Object Tracking Shot: After the plane crash in "ABQ", we see a long, 20-second OTS from the perspective of the pink teddy bear, heading straight for Walt's pool.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: A lot of it.
- Oblivious to His Own Description: In "Cat's In The Bag..." Skyler watches Jesse's website, and sees "MILFs" listed among his "general interests".
"MILFs? What the hell is a MILF?"
- The Obstructive Love Interest: Jane Margolis (played by Krysten Ritter) is this to Jesse - let's count the ways:
- Getting Jesse addicted to heroin and thus making him useless as Walt's partner for a few episodes towards the end of Season 2
- Jane gets Jesse high on heroin during Season 2 Episode 11 that Jesse misses the funeral for his murdered friend "Combo" and Walt has to deliver the meth himself (missing his own daughter's birth while doing so).
- Due to Jesse being on heroin and thus useless to him, Walt keeps all the meth profits to himself, but when Jane finds out about this, she threatens Walt with exposure to the media if Walt does not hand over half the profits to Jesse (read: not to Jesse, but to Jane).
- Jane's father Don catches her and Jesse doing heroin and is one step away from calling the cops to arrest them, before giving her one last chance.
- Jane plans on using Jesse's meth money so that she can escape her father and Jesse can escape Walt by fleeing to New Zealand but shares one last dose of heroin with Jesse, which gives her an expectable death of unconsciously choking on her own vomit. Waking up next to Jane's corpse several days later scars Jesse forever and means that Walt has to get him to rehab.
- Obstructive Vigilantism: Héctor Salamanca goes in to testify against Jesse, but he doesn't actually tell the cops anything.
- Obviously Evil: In case it wasn't clear whether you're supposed to root for them or not, the villains of season 5 are neo-Nazis. Yes, with swastika tattoos and everything. Mind you, they show little evidence of any white supremacist beliefs or behaviour, aside from their racial makeup.
- Offscreen Crash: In I See You, Jesse is bored while waiting for Walt. Among other attempts at entertaining himself, he rolls around on a computer chair, and at one point rolls past the camera and offscreen, where there is a crash, an "ouch", and something small rolling back in the other direction.
- Offscreen Inertia: At a Q&A session at a public screening of the finale, Vince Gilligan joked that Huell is still sitting in that hotel room.
- Oh, Crap:
- Walt and Jesse when they discover that Krazy-8 wasn't killed by the phosphine gas.
- Walt when he finds out that Jesse dissolved Emilio's body in a ceramic bathtub, and then again for both of them when the sloppy remains crash through the ceiling.
- Gus noticing that Tio's bell isn't chiming properly, because the clapper's been replaced with a bomb that he's just triggered.
- Quite literally when Walt remembers Gus had a CCTV camera in the superlab that he and Jesse previously destroyed, the same one that is now crawling with DEA agents.
- Both literally and figuratively in "Gliding Over All" when Hank finally discovers that Walt is Heisenberg thanks to some light reading while on the toilet.
- Hank and Marie in "Confessions" as they watch Walter's Thanatos Gambit Confession Cam tape implicate them in his crimes.
- The whole show is really a non-stop string of Oh, Crap moments.
- On a Scale from One to Ten: After Hank is injured, his doctor uses this to help determine how much feeling he has in his legs.
- One Degree of Separation:
- Walt bumps into Jane's father at a bar and they get talking about the perils of fatherhood, completely unaware of their connection. In "Fly," Walt muses on how unlikely a coincidence it was; even more so given that the very same night, Walt would go on to watch Jane asphyxiate on her own vomit.
- Jesse meets a woman at NA who turns out to be the sister of the kid who shot Combo.
- One Dose Fits All: In "Salud", Gus proffers Don Eladio of the Mexican cartel a bottle of poisoned tequila, which he serves to Gus and his men, and also takes a shot himself (Gus has already taken an antidote to minimize the effects, and shortly afterwards makes himself sick). Sometime later, the Don and all of his men drop dead within a few seconds of each other, despite the differences in size between them (the man standing guard outside the bathroom when Gus is making himself sick is easily twice the size of the Don himself, for example).
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Gus' doctor in "Crawl Space" is apparently named Barry Goodman according to the credits, despite having no relation to Saul whatsoever. Since Saul (real name McGill) changed his name to Goodman to seem Jewish, this makes sense. Jews are thought to be good doctors as well as lawyers.
- The Oner:
- In the final scene of the episode "Bug," Jesse begs Walt to teach him the full formula, going through a long, tortured explanation of how Gus wants him to teach it to the cartel in Mexico, all shot in one take. Quite an acting tour de force by Aaron Paul.
- Also, the final shot of "Crawl Space."
- When Jesse has his first shoot of heroin and is shown levitating off of his bed.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Averted. Injuries and healing times are depicted generally quite realistically on this show. Hank's road to recovery is unusually (but realistically) long and grueling; he's still limping in season five.
- Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers:
- Gus tries to avert suspicion from himself in Season 4 by coming to answer questions from the DEA without a lawyer present.
- Mike also waives his right to have an attorney present when questioned by Hank and Gomez in "Madrigal".
- In "Buried", Hank's attempt to invoke this trope is what causes Skyler to realize he's more interested in catching Walt than protecting her.
- Only Sane Man:
- Walt thinks he's this, because he's the only one who hasn't forgotten the drug business is just that, a business.
- Mike clearly thinks he is, always behaving rationally on the job and looking annoyed when people start going off the rails.
- Out-of-Character Moment:
- At least one critic said that he thought the biggest misstep in the entire series was Walter abruptly deciding to give up his meth business and Skyler welcoming him back into the family in "Gliding Over All", both moments seeming extremely incongruous with their behaviour up to that point in the series.
- Another critic found fault with Walt's having become The Atoner by the final episode of the series, believing that the transformation in his character wasn't adequately depicted nor explained.
- Out of Focus: Used to create the twist ending in Season 4.
- Overt Rendezvous: Drug deals take place in public places, but for another reason in addition to secrecy: if negotiations go badly, people are less likely to shoot each other in public in broad daylight. Walt, in the first drug deal he participates in, sets it in an abandoned junkyard because that's where drug deals take place in the movies. He gets screwed.
- Pacing Problems: Endemic to the series:
- The first episode of season one is extraordinarily fast-paced, introducing all of the main characters and establishing in rapid succession Walter's depressing home life and dead-end job; his abilities as a chemist; his cancer diagnosis; his relationship with Jesse, a former student of his; his first meth cook; his first murder; and the fact that crime invigorates and excites Walt. The pacing then slows down for the remainder of the series and essentially re-establishes all the plot and character points that had been established in the pilot, but over the course of six episodes instead of one. It also ends on an unintended Cliff Hanger due to the writers' strike, which wouldn't be resolved until the beginning of the following season.
- Season two was the only season in which the structure of the entire season had been planned out well in advance, resulting in greatly improved pacing. Season three, by contrast, was written on the fly, and as a result has rather odd pacing, with characters and plot points introduced and then rather rapidly resolved, and little in the way of an overarching plot arc.
- Season five was split into two halves of eight episodes (as opposed to seasons two, three and four, which each had thirteen episodes), both of which were written on the fly. Some fans felt that the smaller number of episodes for each half resulted in both halves seeming rather rushed and uneven.
- Pac Man Fever:
- Averted in one episode. Jesse plays Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with a girl in a realistic manner; i.e., no button-mashing.
- And again when playing the two-player mode of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) of all things.
- Averted again in Season 4 when Badger and Skinny Pete discuss differences in the zombies of Resident Evil, Call of Duty: World at War and Left 4 Dead with actual references to the games' content. Skinny Pete mentions that Leon is the last man on earth.
- In "Problem Dog", Jesse is seen playing Rage, specifically the "Mutant Bash TV" mission, an "on-rails shooter" side quest.
- Papa Wolf: Do not make fun of Walter Jr. in front of his dad. The way that Walter Sr. put that Jerk Jock on his ass and delivered the poetic justice "having trouble walking?" line was a true Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Walt does not take kindly to threats against his family. Gus threatened to kill his son and infant daughter. Two episodes later, he got half of his face blown off with a pipe bomb.
- Parodic Table of the Elements: The logo plays with the periodic-table boxes for Bromine (Br) and Barium (Ba). An element is also highlighted in each actor's name in the opening credits.
- Incidentally, some episodes have the credit with "Ch" highlighted. No such element had that atomic symbol as of the time the show was in production.
- Parting-from-Consciousness Words: In Season 2 finale "ABQ", as Walt is going under sedation for cancer surgery, Skyler asks him where his cell phone is. A groggy Walt mumbles "Which one?". This makes Skyler realize that Walt was lying about having a second cell phone, and leads her to unravel the whole tangled web of lies Walt's been telling her ever since he started cooking meth.
- A Party Also Known as an Orgy: Jesse holds quite a few of these. In Season 4 he has a constant, increasingly out of control party at his house 24 hours a day because he can't stand being alone for even a few hours.
- Past Victim Showcase: Gus Fring likes to screw with Tio Salamanca's head, even going as far as personally delivering Don Eladio's Ojo de Dios pendant to him after killing him in "Salud."
- Pet the Dog: Walt and his relationship with Jesse. Jesse has a few moments too.
- Todd spares Walt's life, apologizes for his loss as genuinely as can be expected in the situation, and leaves him with one of his cash barrels. Granted, it is only eleven of Walt's hard-earned eighty million dollars, but Todd could simply ask his uncle to shoot Walt dead.
- The Pete Best: In-universe. Walt co-founded a multi-billion dollar chemical firm called Gray Matter, but early on had a falling out with his partners and sold his shares for a piddling sum of money. The full extent to which this eats away at him only becomes completely clear in Season 5.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Despite being billed as a white supremacist group, Jack and company don't actually say or do anything to suggest they hold such views.
- Playing Sick: Walt's fugue state, his excuse for being AWOL for several days when he and Jesse get stuck in the desert.
- Plot Armor: Despite Anyone Can Die, this trope nevertheless holds good for most of the series. None of the characters introduced in the first season get killed off until "Ozymandias", which sees Hank and Gomez killed by the neo-Nazis. Walt dies two episodes later. Every other major character survives the series.
- Poisonous Friend: Very few relationships in this series operate without a dash of something iffy on one side or another. But, the biggest, most poisonous one you're probably ever likely to see in detail in any medium can be found between Walter and Jesse. Each manages to be a detrimental influence on the other in different ways, although the balance of power is usually in Walter's hands (but, not exclusively so). Their relationship is so poisonous, it has a incidental body count of its own well into triple figures when you tot up the lives lost in a related air accident, let alone all the other lives left ended or just wrecked in its wake.
- Police Are Useless: Occasionally law enforcement can be seen in the background while a crime is being committed.
- Jesse talks a female gas station cashier into accepting meth as payment - with a police officer in line behind him.
- Jesse is kidnapped by Gus's men and hustled into a moving van just as 2 officers walk by.
- Pooled Funds: In "Buried", two Mooks sent to fetch Walt's giant cube of cash take a moment to lie down on the money and relax before loading it into barrels.
- Poor Communication Kills:
- When Gonzo gets himself killed, the DEA raids Tuco's headquarters. Walt and Jesse incorrectly believe that Tuco is killing any witness to No Doze's murder, while Tuco believes that Gonzo disappeared and sold him out. As a result, Walt and Jesse make a plan to kill Tuco, while Tuco kidnaps Walt and Jesse and wants them to go to Mexico with him to cook Meth.
- The only reason Mike dies in Season 5.
- Marie warns Hank about this in Season 5 when he's investigating Walt solo, without telling the department. If the DEA catches up to Walt, Hank will look complicit; she doesn't point out that if Walt comes after Hank, he and Marie are the only ones who know his secret.
- Precision F-Strike: Occasionally used despite being blanked out for broadcast on basic cable.
- Word of God states that they were only allowed one f-bomb per season (or half season) so each instance was placed specifically to fit this trope.
- In the pilot, Walt delivers one to Bogdan when he quits the car wash: "Fuck you and your eyebrows!"
- In "Crazy Handful of Nothin'", after Walt demonstrates his fulminated mercury is not meth: "ARE YOU FUCKIN' NUTS?!"
- Early in the same episode: "Oh, come on, Jesus! Just grow some fucking balls!"
- In "Peekaboo", Walt says "fuck you" to Gretchen.
- "I.F.T": "I fucked Ted."
- "Bug": "Get the fuck out of here and never come back."
- "Face Off": "F-U-C-"
- "Say My Name" "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."
- "Ozymandias": My name is ASAC Schrader, and you can go fuck yourself.
- "Granite State": "I'm not doing one more cook for you psycho fucks!"
- Present Day Past: There are few references to exactly when the show is supposed to be taking place, but the time frame is two years—the show kicks off with Walt's 50th birthday, and the last few episodes take place around his 52nd birthday. However, there are a few anachronisms that don't match this time frame; Walt has a 2007 handicapped sticker on his car in Season 1, and Season 5 includes an offhand comment about the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, which requires a time frame of four years. Vince Gilligan has admitted that some of these anachronisms are goofs.
Gilligan: In a perfect world, this show is somewhat timeless, and people will watch it and think of it as the present.
- Pretty Little Head Shots: Averted; use a hollow point and it gets messy. There's a messy one in "One Minute".
- Previously On: Used to recap events seen in previous episodes, as well as give us brief events that are never seen in the show.
- Product Placement:
- The game Rage is featured multiple times in season 4. At one point, there is a fight in Jesse's house, and in the scuffle Walter and Jesse crash into a shelf, causing its contents to spill and the box for Rage winds up on top of the pile.
- Rage's product placement is particularly noteworthy due to the fact that the game hadn't yet been released. It's American release date was October 4th, 2011, meaning that only the Season 4 finale, "Face Off", was the only episode broadcast after it hit store shelves.
- Jesse seems to be a Sonic the Hedgehog fan: other video games that Jesse plays include Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
- In "To'hajiilee," Walter visits Jesse's former girlfriend Andrea. To make small-talk, he awkwardly praises her son, Brock, for eating Froot Loops cereal.
- Chrysler cars are prominently featured especially later in the show. Notable examples are Skyler's Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Hank's Jeep Commander, Mike's Chrysler New Yorker, and later in the series Walter trades in his iconic Pontiac Aztek for a Chrysler 300 and Walt Jr. received a PT Cruiser for his birthday only to later exchange it for a Dodge Challenger.
- "Funyons are awesome!"
- Denny's restaurant signs are prominently placed in the background, and Walt eats at one in the Cold Open for the Season 5 premiere.
- Five-Hour Energy: sold at a money-laundering front business for a notorious meth kingpin near you!
- Sony, everywhere. Often Vaio laptops are seen used by good characters such as Hank, and Gus uses a Samsung. I'm sure there's a couple of Bravias somewhere too. Considering Breaking Bad is affiliated with Sony Pictures, this is all a little uncanny. Averted with a couple of exceptions, such as a HP in season 5 and I think a Visio TV at hanks in a clear shot.
- Garmin. The tracking device on the methylamine barrel in a later season bears their logo, as does the navigator Walter uses to find the coordinates of the location he buries his money at.
- Walt's cardinal sin. He insists on making his money illegally rather than swallowing his pride and accepting charity from an estranged former colleague. He also takes too much pride in his meth-cooking skill, to the point that he risks his own safety several times to ensure that Heisenberg's reputation as the best meth cook around remains untarnished and intact.
- Pride ends up killing Jack and his men when Jack insists on disproving Walt's accusation that Jesse is his partner rather than his slave. This distraction allows Walt to recover the trigger to his remote machine gun.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: The entire first four and a half seasons of the series are dedicated to Walter's journey from kindly high school teacher to ruthless drug lord. Showrunner Vince Gilligan states that his goal with Walter was to "turn Mr. Chips into Scarface."
- Punch Clock Villain:
- Mike, a loving grandfather and hitman for a meth kingpin. Don't make him beat you till your legs don't work.
- Walt and Jesse become examples as clock-in and clock-out meth manufacturers for Gus, despite being comparatively moral people. It's lampshaded by Jesse. As they walk in to the industrial laundromat that houses their hidden meth lab, he sees the line of workers punching a clock and says, "I'm surprised he doesn't make us do that."
- Punny Name: Saul Goodman. A play on the phrase "S'all good, man."
- Pyrrhic Victory: Walt manages to build a massive nest egg for his children, but he has effectively destroyed his family in the process. Hank is dead, their house is gone, and Walt Jr. and Skyler don't want him around anymore.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: Walt's obsession with amassing wealth to help his family slowly disintegrates his family over the course of the show. This is brought to the fore with the flashes forward in the fifth season, showing how Walt's life is ruined and he's completely alone.
- The Quiet One: The Salamanca brothers barely ever speak, their favorite form of communication being a slow shared glance that gives a creepy impression of Twintuition.
- Rage Against the Reflection: Walt, after finding out he's in remission.
- Ramming Always Works: Hank only has a few seconds to react before he's about to be shot, so he just puts the SUV in reverse and rams the guy into another car. It works.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- The 2007 writers' strike meant only eight episodes could be shot for season 1, instead of 15 or 16. This resulted in numerous changes to the show; most notably, Jesse (who was originally scripted to die at the end of the season) was kept around.
- The house used as Jesse's house was sold during season two, so they made do with a set of the kitchen for a couple episodes (with the RV blocking the view out the window) before Jesse's parents kick him out. In the next season, they were able to use it again and Jesse moves back in.
- Krazy-8 was going to be killed in the pilot, but was kept around for two more episodes just because everyone loved working with his actor, Maximino Arciniega, so much. Arciniega's name was eventually used as that of Gus' partner in meth production.
- Tuco Salamanca was originally slated to be the Big Bad of Season 2, but his actor, Raymond Cruz, decided that the part had become too exhausting for him and asked for Tuco to be killed off. Cruz' ongoing contract as a cast member on The Closer very likely contributed to his decision.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: Most of the Spanish dialogue gets this treatment.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Many people complained that Gus' death scene, in which he walks out of Héctor's room and straightens his tie with half his face blown off before falling over dead, was over-the-top. In truth, bombing victims do often survive briefly, and sometimes do weird things like calmly walk around looking for their own severed limbs, before they bleed to death. The body can behave strangely when it's in shock.
- Reality Ensues:
- Many, many examples. Everything from an undercover cop abusing the myth that police must tell them that they are cops if directly asked to a bunch of cops were blown up by a bomb stuffed into a tortoise. This show likes to use reality to beat its audience into a bloody pulp.
- "Ozymandias" is this trope to the whole series. As Walt finds out too late, you can't deal drugs without ruining your family.
- Doesn't matter how good he's proved at Batman Gambit or Xanatos Speed Chess or Indy Ploy, Walt can't do anything to stop Uncle Jack and his Aryan crew from taking his eight million dollars for themselves. They have guns and he doesn't.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- A rather unexpected one by Saul's secretary, a background character who had barely said two words throughout the entire show:
- Mike delivers a whirlwind one to Walt near the end of "Say My Name", complete with pointing out his Fatal Flaw. Walt takes it about as well as you would expect, and it seems to be what pushes him over the edge to shoot Mike.
"All of this falling apart is on you. We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring, we had a lab, we had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork. You could have shut your mouth, cooked, and made as much money as you ever needed! It was perfect, but no. You just had to blow it up. You, and your pride and your ego!"
- Redemption Equals Death: Walt, after making amends with Jesse and Skyler, plans to end his life this way by letting the former shoot him. After he refuses, and noticing the bullet in his torso, Walt instead bleeds out and dies in the Neo-Nazi meth lab. It's not a perfect example as he is noticeably unapologetic about his decisions throughout the series.
- Recycled Premise: Not exactly the same, but the starting premise of the show (mild-mannered middle-class suburbanite turns to drug dealing in order to support their family because of financial troubles) is sufficiently similar to Weeds that Vince Gilligan admitted that he wouldn't have bothered to create the show had he been familiar with Weeds beforehand.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The show plays around with this. For starters, Jesse and Walt epitomize recklessness (youth) vs. calculation (experience). Hank and Walt similarly reflect this, mainly with the former's direct, almost obnoxious way of dealing with his family and job. However, Jesse plays Blue when dealing with his less smart cohorts Badger and Skinny Pete. Walt and Gus also flip this around: the first acts more out of emotion and concern for his family and (sometimes) Jesse. The latter, who has no emotional attachments the audience knows of (or at least living ones), conducts business the way only a cold-blooded monster would, taking extreme caution to keep his respectable businessman facade while not minding his underlings' (or anyone else's) deaths to keep his outfit operating.
- Red Herring:
- Until the series finale, ricin has not been used to successfully kill a single person since it was introduced all the way back in season 2. It got a lot of false starts though.
- When the DEA first looks into Gus Fring, Hank notes that they can't find anything at all about him before he emigrated from Chile to Mexico in 1986. Later, Mike and Gus discuss the possibility of the feds finding out about Gus's background. It seems as if this will be a plot point. It never is.
- When Walt arranges for he and Jesse to discuss Brock's poisoning, Jesse sees a bald man in the distance who he thinks is a hitman. It's actually just a bystander.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- After Jesse tries to donate his drug earnings to Mike's granddaughter, Walt attempts to dissuade him by insisting that Mike is "perfectly capable of taking care of his own granddaughter." Of course, Walt killed Mike and evaporated his body with hydrofluoric acid. Walt must know that Jesse can see through this, because he spends quite a while pleading for Jesse to believe him despite his well-deserved reputation for being a Consummate Liar.
- Walt's "confession" he gives Hank, reframing everything he did as "Heisenberg" as being on Hank's orders. It's a very consummate form of blackmail.
- Released to Elsewhere: After Walter kills Mike he lies to Jesse and tells him that Mike left town safely. Well, actually he didn't lie, when Jesse asked about Mike Walt said that he was "gone".
- Retirony: Inverted with Hank in season 3. Played straight with Mike in season 5.
- Revealing Coverup: Lydia suggests that Mike kill 11 potential witnesses, but he tells her this is not how things are done in the real world. She later tries it anyway, adding Mike to the list.
- Reverse Whodunnit: A show of one.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: In "Confessions", Jesse has a Eureka Moment and figures out that Walt could have stolen his ricin cigarette to poison Brock. He's right on both counts, but they aren't directly connected; Walt poisoned Brock with Lily of the Valley and took the ricin to make Jesse think Gus had poisoned him.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gustavo's whole life since entering America seems to have been one long plan to position himself for revenge against the cartels. His final coup is quite impressive. He also visits Salamanca regularly to gloat about it.
S - Z
- Sad Clown: Hank suffers from panic attacks and later PTSD, but he hides his suffering with his gregarious personality.
- Sarcastic Confession:
- In the 3rd season premiere, brother-in-law Hank is helping Walter move out of his home after a falling out with his wife. One black duffel bag is heavy, and Walter isn't supposed to do any heavy lifting. Hank insists, and feels the heft. "What have you got in there, cinder blocks?" Without a drop of Irony, Walter replies, "Half a million dollars in cash." Hank only chuckles and says, "That's the spirit."
- It happens again in season four, when Hank jokingly speculates that the "W.W." dedication in Gale Boetticher's notebook stands for "Walter White", to which Walt "confesses". Hank flashes back to this moment in Season 5, when he finds a book with a dedication from "G.B." to "my other favourite W.W." in Walt's bathroom. Only this time, he's not laughing.
- A version occurs in the mid-season 5 finale, where Lydia says that she's afraid to give Walt the list of the 10 people who need to be killed, because if she does that, Walt has no use for her anymore. Walt responds, mocking her: "So, you put that list in my hands, and in your mind, I immediately just murder you? Right here in this restaurant, right here in this public place?!" As it turns out, that's exactly what he was planning (killing her with poison).
- Say My Name: Done literally.
- Scenery Porn: This show is probably good for tourism around Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: When Skyler needs to justify the large amount of cash Walter earned from making meth, she spins a tale about Walt gambling that also explains the fallings-out they had. It's so good Walter himself begins to listen in awe.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The final shot of season 3 has Jesse pointing the gun at Gale from an angle, but it gradually pans so that Jesse is pointing the gun at the camera just as he fires.
- Series Fauxnale: Season 4's ending.
- Serious Business: You can't have a fly in your meth lab. It taints the product.
- She's Got Legs: Lydia. She gets a lot of Feet First Introductions, and in general, the camera spends a disproportionate amount of time focusing on her ankles.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Comic relief characters Badger and Skinny Pete start to make significantly less frequent appearances as of season 4.
- Shoot the Dog: In "Ozymandias", a thoroughly-compromised Walt drops almost completely into his Heisenberg persona in his last call to Skyler, which it's implied he knows is being monitored by the police. He yells at her and abuses her worse than he ever has in the series, coming across as a deranged psychopath, but in doing so he also takes the full weight for everything that's happened, absolving Skyler of her complicity in his crimes and making her look like far more of a straightforward victim.
- Shouldn't You Stop Stealing?: Thoroughly explored with Walt. Once he achieves his original goal, he attempts to make good on his initial promise to get out of the business. His cancer temporarily going into remission means he's not going to die when he expected to (a rare case where somebody gets upset that they're not dying of cancer) and Skyler doesn't just accept the "I did it for my family" motive at face value. He goes back to cooking at one point because being the world's best meth cook is the only thing he still has pride in. Lampshaded in season 5 when Jesse points out that they have an opportunity to sell their raw materials, risk-free, for $5 million each, far more than Walt ever set out to make in the first place.
- Juan Bolsa: Juan is Spanish for John. Bolsa means "bag" in Spanish. Johnny Sack.
- The name of the last episode of season one is "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal", after a line from Fargo.
- Looking for a weapon, Jesse walks along a set of shelves picking up progressively more intimidating implements, like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction. Guess they were out of katanas.
- The season four premiere ends with Walt and Jesse getting breakfast in a diner, wearing t-shirts after their other clothes got covered in blood.
- Ted bangs his head on a table, sending several oranges falling onto his body. In the flash-forward that opens "Blood Money", Carol the neighbor drops a grocery bag full of oranges after seeing Walt again.
- Vince Gilligan stated that his goal with Walter is to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface. In "Hazard Pay", Walt and his son watch the "say hello to my little friend" scene in Scarface. This might be setting up a later shout-out when we finally find out why Walt's buying that giant machine gun.
- In season 5 episode "Dead Freight" there are actually shout outs to quite a few movies (and, cutely, the line "You've been watching too many movies"). Hank says they're going to watch Heat, cut to Todd's actions at the end of the episode being very similar to Waingro. Mike's speech about having to kill witnesses is similar to Vincent Hanna's comment while investigating the armored car robbery scene about how Neil McCauley and his crew didn't hesitate for a second to kill the other two guards once Waingro shot the first guard, because "why leave a living witness?" The ending is also a double-shout out to Once Upon a Time in the West and The Great Train Robbery. A few more subtle shots here and there shout out to other films, such as High Noon.
- Saul compares his services to what Tom Hagen did for Vito Corleone. When Walter replies that he's no Vito, Saul retorts that Walt is Fredo.
- In telling Skyler not to talk to the cops (first or second episode of Season 5A), Saul says "When you talk to the cops, just be thinking one thing: Hogan's Heroes. Remember Sergeant Schultz?" [Skyler's blank look] "I see nothing! I know NOTHING!"
- When Jesse is sent to the hospital and badly mauled, Saul jokes about his bruised appearance by doing a reference to Rocky.
- In "Ozymandias", Hank's death is a reference to a similar death in The Wild Bunch, when Bishop kills a man in the middle of saying "Just do it alrea—" (or similar)
- Another "Ozymandias" example: Hank claiming Jack made his decision "ten minutes ago" majorly parallels Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt's infamous "thirty-five minutes ago" line in Watchmen. Both situations give a hopeless vibe to the characters desperate to stop a horrifying event from happening (Walt preventing Hank's death, and Rorschach/Night Owl preventing Ozymandias from killing half of New York's population)...only for those tragic events to happen anyway.
- In "Granite State", Charlie Rose, in his interview with Gretchen and Elliot Schwarz, mentions that Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a New York Times column about Gray Matter's connection to Walt. Sorkin, who has called Breaking Bad his "favorite show", responded by writing an in-universe column about Gray Matter in Real Life.
- In the final Talking Bad, Vince says that in "Felina", Walt's final reaction to Jesse—of wanting to kill him, but then realizing that he still cares about him (by shielding him with his body)—was directly inspired by John Wayne's finally finding Natalie Wood's character in The Searchers). Additionally, Walt's final look at Junior—watching him walk back into the home that he (Walt) cannot ever go home to again, may also be an allusion to the final shot of the same film.
- Both Tuco's name and comically paranoid attitude is reminiscent to another Tuco we know.
- Shown Their Work: While the accuracy varies from episode to episode, the writers have clearly done some research into the chemistry involved in all of Walt's plans. A very subtle example is the first episode of season 5, when Walt is cleaning up after his bombmaking and picks up a bunch of wrappers from cold packs. Cold packs contain ammonium nitrate, which is a commonly used oxidizer and catalyst in manufacturing improvised bombs.
- Siblings in Crime: The Salamanca brothers.
- Significant Anagram: The name of the last episode, "Felina", is a shout-out to a song about a cowboy who returns to town when his lover Felina is captured despite knowing he will be killed trying to rescue her.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Leather cowboy boots with skulls on the toes would look silly on some people...
- Slapstick: Used infrequently.
- Jesse falling off the roof in season 1.
- Walt falling off of the lab catwalk in "Fly", slamming into a tank and then dropping to the concrete floor below.
- Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: In a show full of all kinds of terrible people, the Neo-Nazi gang led by "Uncle" Jack is established as a Darker Shade of Black when they capture Jesse and treat him as a slave, forcing him to cook meth in terrible conditions.
- Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). Or, Two Years In The Life of Walter White. And boy, are they eventful ones.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Definitely towards the cynical side. But being idealistic about this particular subject matter would be rather disingenuous.
- Space Whale Aesop: The creators would have us believe that Walter is to blame the Twist Ending of season 2, however indirectly. Ergo, the moral of the season is: don't deal drugs, kill people and fail to intervene when you find someone choking to death on their own vomit, because that will inevitably lead to a mid-air collision which kills 167 people. Even Gilligan lampshaded the Diabolus Ex Machina in an interview.
- Snowball Lie: Every lie Walt feeds Skyler in Seasons 1 thru 3.
- Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Gus Fring fails to realize that Héctor's wheelchair has been rigged with a bomb until a moment before it detonates. Cue Oh, Crap moment.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: As befits a series with The X-Files ancestry, the show is quite fond of this trope.
- Used to great effect in "Half Measures," in which The Association's bouncy sunshine pop song "Windy" plays over a montage of Wendy the hooker's sad daily routine.
- In "Gliding Over All" a soft and gentle crooner song (Nat King Cole's "Pick Yourself Up") is played while several loose ends are being brutally murdered in their jails. Even better: in the same episode, a cooking and dealing montage is set to Tommy James and the Shondells' peace'n'love anthem, "Crystal Blue Persuasion".
- Spiteful Spit: Jesse spits in Walt's face after Walt, arrested and handcuffed by Hank in "To'hajiilee", calls him a coward.
- Splash of Color: The creepy scene that opens several episodes of Season 2—someone in hazmat gear fishes a burnt teddy bear out of Walt's pool, two people lie on the front lawn in body bags—is shot in black and white, except for the teddy bear, which is pink.
- Spousal Privilege: Brought up when Skyler decides to involve herself in Walt's criminal life.
- Deconstructed in "Granite State". Skyler is left by herself to face Walter's legal consequences, and if she doesn't comply with some info she will be held accountable to some degree despite Walt's phone call. Skyler has nothing to exchange and is seized of all assets including her home and carwash business. In "Felina" Walt gives her the location of Hank and Gomez's dead bodies to trade for a deal with a prosecutor for clearance of the crimes.
- Staging an Intervention: Skyler calls the family over for an intervention to try to get Walt to take the chemotherapy treatment (and the money offered by Gretchen and Elliot to pay for it) for his cancer, since Walt was unwilling to do that.
- Steal the Surroundings: Two crooks steal an ATM. They are shown having difficulty actually breaking into the machine. And then it gets worse, as usual for the show.
- Stealth Pun:
- Saul Goodman = S'all good, man! Explicitly lampshaded in one of the 'Better Call Saul' promos for Season 4. Badger ends his account by saying that 'S'all good man, cause I called Saul Goodman.'
- Walt takes the name Heisenberg as his pseudonym. So the show is all about Heisenberg's principles.
- Gus uses a laundromat as a front organisation. Despite all the discussion of "money laundering" in other circumstances, no-one ever points out the irony.
- Ted's company is named Beneke Fabricators. He has been illegally lying about his company's profits for years.
- After a scene showing Hank being coddled by Marie, the camera cuts to his bedside table. On it is a small statue of a child riding on a pig's back. "On the pig's back" is an obscure saying meaning "to have it good".
- In Saul Goodman's website, the page "Dress Like Saul" promotes clothes from a fictitious company called Mc Gill and Mc Gill. Saul's real name (in the series) is Jimmy Mc Gill.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Both of Jesse's girlfriends, Jane and Andrea, are killed off in order to sink Jesse into deeper depths of anguish.
- Suicide by Cop: Subverted in the very first scene of the pilot. Walt prepares to commit suicide by cop, but they aren't coming.
- Super Dickery: The Flash Forward shots at the beginning of most episodes almost always mean something entirely different in the context of the scene they actually happen later in the episode or season.
- Suspicious Spending: Walt's attempting to justify his ability to pay his medical bills is a continuous problem. Finding ways to launder the money from his booming drug trade accounts for much of the conflict in many episodes.
- Symbolism: Season 5 frequently frames shots to put Jesse literally between Walt and Mike, making his metaphorical situation literal.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Decorated DEA Agent Hank is always in pursuit of the elusive "Heisenberg"... his brother-in-law.
- Taking the Heat:
- Edward James Kilkelly does this for money. ("The outside hasn't been too kind to old Jimmy").
- Jesse took the heat for his younger over-achieving brother Jake after their housemaid found a joint that he smoked, and whose parents initially assumed it to be Jesse's.
- Posthumously, Gale. Hank starts to believe Gale was Heisenberg, which actually seems to piss Walt off to no end.
- Walt does this in a subtle manner in "Ozymandias" in his police tapped call towards Skyler when he claims that he committed all the crimes and built his own empire by himself, freeing her of any suspicion that she may have been involved in Walt's criminal activities.
- Taking You with Me: Héctor's final confrontation with Gus.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Walt and Jesse for the first few seasons. Later, Walt, Jesse and Mike.
- Tempting Fate:
- When a strung-out meth-head says, "Call me a skank one more time," she is not issuing an invitation.
- Don't brag to your wife you've been lying to for the past few months about the benefits of honesty. She might just admit to having an affair with her boss.
- Jesse building a contraption to reach the ceiling in the lab and standing on top of it trying to swat a fly.
- Tension-Cutting Laughter:
- Tuco is the master of this.
- Uncle Jack pulls it on Todd in "Granite State" when he asks him to spare Jesse's life. He stares him down, gun in hand, calling him a "piece of shit"... and then bursts out laughing and tousles his hair.
- That Man Is Dead: An example of one character saying this about another. Gretchen Schwartz says during a television interview that while Heisenberg may still be out there, the Walter White she knew so many years ago is gone forever.
- Theme Music Power-Up: A villainous example at the end of "Granite State": when Walt breaks out of his Despair Event Horizon by watching Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz insult his pride by claiming he had no hand in the success of Gray Matter, the extended intro theme kicks in and continues as we see the police close in on an empty bar.
- There Are No Therapists: Walt is forced to see one after his fugue state incident, but it wasn't a psychological problem to begin with. After suffering a work-related trauma, Hank refuses to see a therapist, claiming that doing so would destroy his career. Skyler tells Marie that she is seeing a therapist, but that is a lie. The only aversion may be Marie herself, who says she sees a therapist for her kleptomania issues, but finds it frustrating that after discovering the truth about Walt, for Hank's sake she can't really share any of the details, without which there's not much she can say.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Jesse, especially at the first episodes. Much less frequent in later seasons.
Walter: (whispering) ...private domicile and I won't be harassed.
This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed. (Beat)
- Those Two Guys:
- Badger and Skinny Pete become this starting in Season 3, after previously being two separate friends of Jesse.
- Huell and Kuby, Saul's "A-Team."
- The two Deadpan Snarker detectives that interrogate Jesse about Brock's poisoning in season 4 and again about the drug money he's been throwing away in season 5.
- Thwarted Coup de Grâce: Marco Salamanca has Hank at gunpoint, but decides it's "too easy" and goes to fetch an axe. While he's gone, Hank manages to retrieve and reload his brother's gun, and shoots him in the head just as he's raising the axe, which lands edge-first in the tarmac.
- Time Passes Montage: About three months pass during "Gliding Over All"'s second montage.
- Title Drop:
- In the first episode, Jesse uses the expression "break bad," and it also appears in one of the webisodes.
- Plenty of the episodes have title drops. See, for example, Season 4, Episode 10 - "Salud".
- The real-life phone number for Saul's firm asks the caller if the cops have accused them of "breaking bad."
- Tone Shift: Not only did the series gradually become Darker and Edgier over the course of the series, but the first season was primarily Black Comedy with a darkly satirical edge, an aspect of the show that had all but vanished by the second season, as the show developed into more of a straightforward tragic crime drama. Several critics remarked that the first season feels like a completely different show compared to the following seasons.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ted. When he gets audited by the IRS, he does almost nothing to try to cover up his embezzlements. When he gets lucky enough to get money to pay off his taxes, he decides to buy a new Mercedes instead. After he finds out where the money came from, he decides to not even use it, because apparently money from gambling is worse than embezzlement. Finally, he's rendered quadriplegic because he tripped on his own rug.
- Spooge, egging on his wife by ridiculing her as he works on cracking the ATM from the bottom with HIM UNDERNEATH isn't a very sound idea.
- Took a Level in Badass: Several characters, most notably Walt and Jesse.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Walt, following his slow descent into evil.
- The Topic of Cancer: The series revolves around the protagonist, Walter White, discovering during the pilot that he has terminal lung cancer. It is this discovery that kick-starts the action of the show.
- Totally Radical: Veers towards this sometimes, particularly with the younger characters like Jesse, Skinny Pete and Combo. The writers seem to be under the impression that peppering every other line of dialogue with "mad", "bitch" and "yo" makes for convincing diction in its own right.
- Tragedy: It's become a sort of modern codifier, with many literary and television critics even comparing it to Shakespeare's tragedies.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: The Show.
- Train Job: Walt and company pull one in the episode "Dead Freight", plotting an elaborate heist in order to steal a load of methylamine from a freight train.
- Tranquil Fury: Gus hardly ever even raises his voice, yet he's been on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for years.
- Trash the Set: Season 3 has Walt and Jesse crushing the RV, and Season 4 ends with them blowing up the laundromat superlab.
- Translation: Yes: A bit with Mike has him telling his target to see if a non-English speaking coworker is still in the building. He calls for her and she responds with a very long sentence. He helpfully clarifies "She said yes".
- Trauma Conga Line: Everybody. If they're not dancing the Conga, then they're playing the tune. For example:
- Hank suffers panic attacks, a bombing and a near-fatal assassination attempt.
- Jane's dad might take the cake. First he found out that his daughter relapsed into her old drug habit, then he finds her dead. When he goes back to work, he's distracted by his daughter's death and causes an airplane crash, killing hundreds of people. He attempts suicide, but he might have survived to suffer longer.
- Things just keep getting worse for Jesse. And just when you think they can't possibly get any worse... they get worse.
- Trespassing to Talk: Walter White confronts Gretchen and Elliot inside their house.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: In Season 3 Jesse and his cronies attempt to infiltrate recovery meetings to find potential customers. In the end, none of them can bring themselves to actually sell anything to these people: "It's like shooting a baby in the face." In fact, Jesse's cronies end up actually going into recovery.
- True Companions:
- Walt and Jesse, until season 5B.
- Jesse and Mike seem to have potential for this, until Walter kills Mike.
- Tuco, Tio and The Cousins make up an evil version.
- Ultimate Evil: The cartel. We rarely get exposition on how they relate to the story, and we often see the results of their acts rather than such acts themselves (like the tortoise incident). It's only in season 3 where they start taking an active role in the plot and we begin seeing glimpses of the inner workings of their organization.
- Unexpected Inheritance: Skyler arranges through Saul for Ted to receive a large sum to pay off his debts to prevent her from being audited.
- Unflinching Walk:
- The Cousins. No matter what's happening.
- Walt does one after blowing up a Jerkass lawyer's car.
- Gus does this after being the one to GET blown up.
- Gus also does this straight into a hail of bullets. He guesses correctly that the cartel gunmen don't want to kill him.
- Yet another one occurs right after Walt and Jesse blow up the superlab and before they pull the fire alarm to warn the laundry workers to escape.
- Subverted when Walt sets up a car to explode and starts calmly walking away. But it takes longer than he was expecting, so eventually he just awkwardly sits down and waits for it.
- Un-Person: Walt's fear of becoming one kicks off the series finale. In the penultimate episode of the series, his family wants him to die, his former colleagues deny his contribution to Gray Matter, and his signature blue meth remains in the market despite Heisenberg's disappearance. Not for nothing the tag for the final season is "Remember My Name."
- The Unreveal:
- We never do find out if Gus ordered the murder of the child meth dealer, or whether Gus's other dealers did that on their own hook.
- Just what led to Walt's disastrous decision to accept a $5000 buyout and leave Gray Matter is never explained, even when Walt admits to Jesse that the whole Gray Matter incident is the reason he wants to keep cooking meth. There are small hints here and there to why, such as the never-fully-explained rift in Gretchen and Walt.
- Many things about Walt's backstory are left unexplained, such as why he became a high school chemistry teacher despite being an overqualified genius.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: The minisode "Wedding Day" (Marie and Hank's wedding, that is) shows Hank having a crisis over cheating on Marie the night before—specifically, he received a blowjob from a woman calling herself Joan Crawford, who was singing at a bar full of men called the Ivory Swallow. Hank never realizes what happened, but Walt puts two and two together.
- Unwanted Gift Plot: Marie gives Skyler a white gold baby tiara for Holly at the baby shower in Season One. It turns out to be stolen when Skyler tries to return it.
- Useless Security Camera: DEA Agent Hank Schrader is trying to interrogate a gas station clerk to find out who sold her some meth. When he finally realizes she knows nothing, he looks up and asks if the security camera is regularly on. It isn't. However, shortly thereafter he finds a working security camera on the ATM outside.
- Vanity License Plate: KEN WINS, LWYR UP, THECAPN, and GRAYMTR
- Verb This!: Both Walt and Jesse have an infrequent habit of grabbing their crotch and saying "X this!"
- Verbal Tic: It's less emphasized in later seasons, yo, but Jesse has one, bitch.
- Vertigo Effect: Done very briefly with Walt in the desert in "Ozymandias" after Hank gets shot.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
- The mid-air collision at the end of Season 2 bears a few resemblances to a couple of real life events in Southern California history. The former is referenced by name during Walt's impromptu "speech" at the high school assembly in "No Mas".
- The central regret of Walt's life—impulsively taking a $5000 buyout for his share of Gray Matter, then watching it grow into a $2 billion company—is reminiscent of Ronald Wayne, a co-founder of Apple. Wayne co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in April 1976, but sold his share of the company back less than two weeks later for $800.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Walt has one in "Crawl Space" when he begins laughing hysterically, though it's more of an anti-hero/villain breakdown.
- Walt appears to have a truly vicious one in "Ozymandias" when he calls Skyler on the phone and lays into her with a snarling, vitriolic rant that makes it seem like any hint of love he ever showed for her was either a lie to begin with or had dissolved into hatred long ago. However, he knew the phone was being tapped, and it was mostly an act to convince the police that Skyler was a wholly innocent victim... but it remains ambiguous to the viewer (and to Skyler) how much, if any, of the stuff he said was a reflection of what he really thought. Certainly, parts of it are only exaggerations of criticisms he's previously made to her in more restrained terms.
- Villainous Virtues: The Cousins are obsessively loyal to each other and their family in general. A flashback scene shows Hector instilling the lesson that "la familia es todo", forcing one of the boys to fight for his brother's life to punish him for saying "I wish he was dead."
- Villain Protagonist: Walt slowly evolves toward this over the course of the first four seasons, but remains an Anti-Villain at worst by always struggling against someone worse. By the fifth season, however, Walter has become a cruel, ruthless man, manipulating and lying to allies and family, and the transformation is complete.
- Villain Song:
- Villain with Good Publicity: Gus, a firm believer in "hiding in plain sight".
- Visual Pun: In the first episode, Walt is seen literally laundering money in a clothes dryer.
- Vocal Evolution: A bit of a minor example, but as the series goes on, Walt and Jesse's voices both change, to coincide with their Character Development. As Walt's actions become more and more reprehensible, the rather quiet tone he has at the beginning of the series is replaced with a deeper, more snarling voice. As Jesse becomes more and more competent, the rather nasal tone and Pretty Fly for a White Guy vernacular that he had in the first season is gradually replaced with a deeper, more mature sounding voice.
- Walt's voice in everyday life also changes considerably, starting out unsure and unconfident. This is especially apparent in scenes when he's talking to Skyler. By season five, everything that he says sounds not only more confident but also far more sinister and manipulative, especially when talking to Skyler.
- The Voiceless: The child-murdering rival drug dealers, who never speak a word in all of their appearances. The Salamanca brothers avoid this by the narrowest of margins, speaking in only a few key scenes (and as children in flashbacks).
- Vomit Discretion Shot
- Used in the pilot when Walt throws up after the confrontation in the RV.
- Used several times in "Crazy Handful of Nothin", when Walt is throwing up because of the chemotherapy.
- Used again in "Salud" when Gus himself purges the poisoned tequila he shared with the Mexican cartel leaders.
- Used once more in "Blood Money", after Walt begins his chemotherapy again.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
- Walter Jr. pukes in the pool, sick on tequila.
- Jane dies by choking to death on her own vomit.
- Wardrobe Flaw Of Characterization: Walter's (otherwise professional-looking) button-up shirts are always two sizes too big, lending him a disheveled appearance and making him appear scrawny and sickly even when he is in relatively good health given his condition. It also fits his characterization as a very intelligent and competent man who has a bad habit of missing small but crucial details.
- Watering Down: Jesse initially spiked his meth with chili powder before Walt put a stop to that.
- In early season 5, a plan to rob methylamine uses this technique.
- Webcomic Time: The show started on Walt's 50th birthday. He turns 51 in the season 5 episode "Fifty-One", broadcast more than four and a half years after the pilot.
- Well, This Is Not That Trope: When Mike is about to part ways with Heisenberg and Jesse:
- Wham Episode: Has its own page.
- Wham Line:
- In season 1's "Crazy Handful Of Nothin'":
Walt: This... is not meth.
- In the Season 2 finale "ABQ", while Walt is under anesthesia:
Skyler: Walt, did you bring your cell phone?
Walt: Which one?
- Another line later in the same episode which kickstarts the climactic plane crash:
: Juliet-Mike-21... ...climb and maintain 17,000. Clear direct to Albuquerque via the— Aircraft calling, please stand by. Jane
-Mike-21, turn, heading— Disregard
- In the season 3 premiere:
Skyler: You're a drug dealer.
- Forms the name of the episode "I.F.T.":
Skyler: I fucked Ted.
- The last line of the Season 4 episode "Cornered":
Hank: Since when do vegans eat fried chicken?
Walt: I won.
Skyler: "[I'm waiting] for the cancer to come back".
- A flashback version that Hank recalls in "Gliding Over All":
Hank: "To W.W. My star, my perfect silence." W.W. I mean, who do you figure that is, y'know? Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka?...Walter White?
: Why don't you just kill yourself
- Another one from the same episode:
Walt: If you're watching this tape, I'm probably dead, murdered by my brother-in-law, Hank Schrader. Hank has been building a meth empire for over a year now and using me as his chemist.
: "We've come this far. For us. What's one more?"
Walt: "I think I might have another job for your uncle".
Walt: I watched Jane die. I was there. And I watched her die. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her. But I didn't.
Walter: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was really...I was alive.
- Wham Shot:
- The final shot in "Face Off", showing the Lily of the Valley in Walter's garden.
- The final shot of "Gliding Over All", where we see Gale wrote a dedication to Walter in the Walt Whitman book he gave him, and Hank is reading it.
- "Confessions": That look on Jesse's face when he figures out who lifted the ricin-packed cigarette. And pretty much every minute after that as Jesse goes on a rampage.
- "Ozymandias": The shot of Skyler reaching for the kitchen knife over the phone after discovering Hank is dead.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Several people deliver these to Walt over the course of the show. Not that he ever really pays any attention.
- What You Are in the Dark: A major theme in the show. Walt begins manufacturing meth and tries to keep this fact a secret from the people he cares about. Eventually it turns out that in the dark, Walt is a very bad person.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: "Not Mad Dog, Not Diesel, you were held up... by a guy named Spooge?"
- Who Watches the Watchmen?:
Skyler: Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.
- Women's Mysteries: When Skyler is detained by a jeweler on suspicion of shoplifting, she fakes going into labor to scare them into letting her go. Or possibly just to get her to stop Lamaze-ing at them.
- Won the War, Lost the Peace: A constant theme.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Walter himself could be interpreted as this. The "Destroyer of Worlds" part came from him using his skill in chemistry to manufacture crystal meth and sell it to support his family, right after he found out that his death will leave his family in extreme poverty. It goes downhill from there when his actions becomes less justified and he continues to make bigger schemes, and he eventually becomes a murderous person himself.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- The street gangsters who killed Thomas.
- Gus threatens to kill Walt's son and daughter if he continues interfering with his plans.
- It turns out that Walt was responsible for non-fatally poisoning Brock.
- Todd shoots a child witness in cold blood.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Mike avoids killing Lydia, but later regrets his "sexism" and admits that he wouldn't have shown mercy if she were a man.
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back: After one of Jesse's (many) beatings, Saul takes a picture of his face and says "Hey, Adrian! Rocky called, he wants his face back!"
- X Meets Y:
- Xanatos Gambit: Gus pits the Salamanca assassins after Walt's head against the DEA agent investigating him... and then gives Hank prior warning of the hit. As Walt works out, he didn't care who died. He just wanted a big, dramatic shootout to get the American authorities to crack down on the Cartel, while also distracting both sides away from "Heisenberg". Whatever happens, Gus increases his chokehold on the market.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The latter portion of Season 3 and all of Season 4 is one giant game of Cat and Mouse between Walt and Gus as they plot each other's murder. They both exploit each other's Fatal Flaw, Walt's pride and Gus' desire for revenge. Ultimately, Walt wins out.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Oh, Hank, why did you have to go and call Marie to tell her you'd caught Walt? The next thing you know, you're diving for cover from a hail of bullets.
- You Have 48 Hours: Walt had one hour to deliver 38 pounds of meth to complete his first deal with Gus...and he got the message at exactly the same time that his daughter was being born.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
- Lydia suggests this to Mike, who angrily rejects the idea of killing eleven people who he personally vetted and trusts to be loyal. She tries to go through with the plan anyway.
- Lydia almost suffered this at Walt's hands, only squeezing out by talking him into using her to ship his product overseas.
- You Keep Telling Yourself That: Both Jesse and Skyler have called Walter out whenever he's tried to rationalize the safety of his family or others, and also the reasoning for his actions. Subverted in the last episode, he honestly tells Skyler he did everything for himself.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: Defied by Mike, when Walt is disappointed with the profits they make when they start distributing for themselves after the death of Gus, who'd built his empire up over decades.
Mike: Just because you killed Jesse James...don't make you Jesse James.
- You Monster!: Hank says this to Walt when he confronts him for being Heisenberg.
- Your Days Are Numbered: This kicks the whole plot of the series into gear, when Walt finds out he has terminal lung cancer. In "Blood Money", Walt cites this as a reason why it would be pointless for the cops to go after him (he'll be dead before he sees a jail cell). When he finds out in season two that his days might not be quite so numbered (his cancer goes into remission) Walt punches a paper towel dispenser in rage.
- Your Head Asplode:
- For Gus this happens only halfway.
- The tortoise scene, in which Tortuga's head is mounted on a tortoise packed with explosives.
- Your Mom: In "Better Call Saul":
Saul: I sense you're discussing my client. Anything you care to share with me?
Hank: Sure, your commercials? They suck ass. I've seen better acting in an epileptic whorehouse.
Saul: Is that like the one your mom works at? Is she still offering the two for one discount?
# My baby blue... #