"Some straight like you, giant stick up his ass, all the sudden, age — what, sixty? He's just gonna break bad?"
— Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad — AMC's second substantial success with original programming, after Mad Men — debuted with a seven-episode season (shortened because of the writers' strike) and soon found itself renewed for a second, full season. First airing in January 2008, the show's Grand Finale aired on September 29, 2013.Mild-mannered Walter White, an Albuquerque 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 the medical bills will cripple the finances for his family (a pregnant wife and a son afflicted with Cerebral Palsy). After going on a ride-along with his DEA brother-in-law, Walter learns of the money to be made in the highly dangerous (and illegal) methamphetamine market. During the ride-along, Walter sees one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman, escape a DEA raid by sheer dumb luck. Later that night, Walter approaches Jesse with an idea: Walt will use his chemical expertise and Jesse's connections to manufacture and sell crystal meth and thus save his family from financial ruin.After Walter and Jesse's production gets underway, it becomes abundantly clear that Walt really knows his stuff. The meth they produce becomes a major hit due to its high quality, but it also attracts the worst kind of attention from both criminal and law-enforcement organizations. As Walter and Jesse deal with production problems, rival suppliers, psychotic distributors, and federal investigations, they also have a ton of personal problems to work out with their families and themselves.This series has seriously raised the acting profile of Bryan Cranston, who was previously best known for playing a Bumbling Dad in Malcolm in the Middle; Cranston has already won three Emmy awards for his role in this series. The series itself has received near unanimous acclaim for the performances from the rest of the cast and strong Character Development, particularly the highly meticulous process of Walt's slow descent into evil.Vince Gilligan has announceda prequel about Saul Goodman, which will delve into the lawyer's career before he met Walter White. Working with occasional Breaking Bad writer Peter Gould, Gilligan said that the series has the Working Title "Better Call Saul". Bob Odenkirk said the series will be slightly more dark than funny. As of September 2013, the series has received the green light.An official Spanish-language remake, Metastasis, has been announced by Sony. The show will stay true to the original premise of Breaking Bad, but alter specific details about the setting and characters so audiences in Mexico and South America have a better understanding of what's going on.This show has a Recap page that Needs Wiki Magic Love. You can also vote on your favorite episode here.We will only white out spoilers for the fourth and fifth seasons. We suggest you tread lightly if you have not caught up yet.
Breaking Bad contains examples of the following tropes:
In Season 2, Jesse encounters a couple of heroin addicts who do nothing but rob people and get high living together in a filthy, dilapidated house — along with their horribly neglectedyoung 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.
Jesse's parents might be considered an example because of the excessively high expectations they hold Jesse's younger brother to. They also throw Jesse 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.
Actor Allusion: DJ Qualls, who played Toby Loobenfeld, who played Sheldon’s‘cousin Leo’, appears as an undercover cop trying to buy meth-in other words, the second time he pretends to be a drug addict for a living.
Adult Fear: "Ozymandias" drops a big one. 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.
Mike 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 and calculating would-be criminal mastermind 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.
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.
The Alleged Car: Walter's beige 2004 Pontiac Aztek. Vince Gilligan chose it deliberately 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.
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 we never see them.
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. There's no explicit confirmation of Gale's orientation, putting him somewhere between Ambiguously Gay and Camp Straight.
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. Shamelessly milks the midair collision from the season 2 finale to increase his firm's business.
Jesse: Going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyer. You want a criminal lawyer, know what I mean?
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.
Anti-Hero: Walter, who is doing immoral deeds for more or less moral reasons. He avoids the Villain Protagonist trope by going against druglords who are much worse than himself. Until the end of season 4, at least. 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 a BFG ,an M60 to be specific, in the trunk.
Armor-Piercing Question: When Skyler refuses to take any of Walt's prevarications and word salad for an answer and keeps asking "Where is Hank?"
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.
This 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.
Examined by the 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.
It's not terribly likely that a high school chemistry lab would have a chemical as dangerous as hydrofluoric acid to begin with.
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.
Mike who starts out as a One-Scene Wonder in the season 2 finale, becomes a regular in season 3 and is one of the show's most central characters by season 5.
Todd worked his way up this ladder in Season 5, starting out as a random underling in Vamonos Pest, then 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 2 but returns in Season 3 and 4 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: Amazingly enough, it's played for effective drama in the cliffhanger of "To'hajiilee."
Tuco takes this trope to the extreme. He will take any and every excuse he can get to beat someone up, especially when he's high on meth. Walt tells him, "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. One of them even refuses to shoot his victim in the head when he had the chance, choosing instead to go back to the car to get the axe.
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!
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.
Mike taking on multiple cartel assassins.
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.
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.
Bald of Awesome: Quite a few characters. Hank, Mike and Tio Salamanca are naturally bald. Walt shaves his head early in the show. 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 final season, when a paranoid Jesse spots a loitering bald man and suspects that he's a hitman. He's just an ordinary man waiting for his family.
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.
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; Pinkman 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 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.
Walt poisoning Lydia with the ricin cigarette relies on her obsessive routine of putting the same kind of sweetener in her tea at the same table every time she goes to the coffee shop.
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.
Be Careful What You Wish For: The part of the fandom that hates Skyler really wanted her to die. That changed for at least a part of it after seeing how terrified and distressed she's become in season 5 over the kind of man her husband has changed into.
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 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.
Walt straight up admits this. When talking to his wife for the final time, Skyler begs Walt not to feed her more bullshit, and Walt finally gives her the truth, that he did it all for himself because he enjoyed it and finally had something he was good at.
Jesse has his two drug-dealing cronies 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.
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.
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, and is actually a ruthless drug kingpin.
Berserk Button: Walt is incredibly defensive of his son in the first season. Jesse, on the other hand, gets protective of anyone's kids.
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 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.
Tuco is set up to be this at the end of Season 1, but dies within the first few episodes of Season 2.
Gus is gradually revealed to be the show's overall Big Bad, culminating in his death in Season 4, setting Walt up to be the Big Bad of the first half of season 5.
In the second half of season 5, Uncle Jack and Todd..
Big Bad Triumvirate: By "Granite State" we have Lydia, the European distributor of Blue Sky; Jack, head of the Neo-Nazis; and Todd, the new Heisenberg.
Big "NO!": Jesse after Todd shoots the kid at the end of "Dead Freight".
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blue and Orange Morality: The Neo-Nazis. They are a particularly despicable lot who have no qualms about murdering children and are arguably even crueller 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 to be 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.
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.
Hank kills one of the Salamanca twins with a hollow-point bullet to the head.
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", "Four Days Out" 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.
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.
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.
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, his family abandoning him and even his baby daughter wanting her mother over him, finally makes him realize what he's become.
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".
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. 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.
C - D
California Doubling: 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.
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 premier, 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.
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 room mate 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.
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.
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.
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.
In one episode Walt and Jr. watch Scarface, 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 the actress who played Martha Bullock looked familiar.
Cerebus Syndrome: Not exactly a light and fluffy show to begin with, but 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.
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 kill one of the Cousins.
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.
Jesse's 'Roomba' vacuum robot, which Walt plants the ricin vial 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 Hobby: Skyler mentions in "Pilot" that she likes to write short stories and sell them on eBay to make money. This would explain her Consummate Liar tendencies and her adeptness at coming up with ways to safeguard Walt's activities.
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.
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.
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 finale 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.
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.
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).
In the first season, Skyler confronts Walt about his odd behavior and consorting with Jesse Pinkman. He tells her he's been buying pot from Pinkman. She immediately confronts Pinkman at his house.
Jesse: And why'd you go and tell her I was selling you weed? Walt: Because somehow it seemed preferable to admitting that I cook crystal meth and killed a man.
At the beginning of the second season, Walt confesses to changing the channel on Tio's soaps rather than attempting to poison Tuco.
Skyler explains away all of Walt's bizarre behavior and sudden, inexplicable funds with an elaborate lie about a card counting spree in underground casinos.
In Season 5, Walt lets Marie know about Skyler's affair with Ted, so that it would appear that she was stressing about Ted's visit to the hospital, and not Walt's descent into ruthlessness.
Walt threatens to do this later in the fifth season to get Hank off his back: he confesses (on a videotape) to being the methamphetamine cook who created and produced Blue Sky... on the orders of Hank Schrader, the real Heisenberg, who used what he learned as a DEA agent to create a successful meth empire.
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.
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 related to Tomás.
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.
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 got the names he wanted from Lydia, who was the one who wanted them dead in the first place.
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!
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. This turns out to be a Fatal Flaw; since she 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, Walt is able to arrange her death just by replacing a single packet of Stevia with ricin.
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.
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", whilst 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.
Dark Reprise: When Walter calls the DEA from the bar in New Hampshire, the opening theme returns. Somewhat averted in that according to the composer the theme was meant to be dark in the firstplace but it still seems a lot more ass-kicky than it was
"Hermanos" in Season 4 for Gus. The episode focuses more on him than any other character and gives a look into his Mysterious Pastand provides a lot of subtext for his relationship with the Cartel, Tio in particular.
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? Walt: 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.
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.
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 went 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 a televised special by Gray Matter about his involvement in the company. He leaves immediately afterwards.
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.
Directed by Cast Member: As if being the best actor on TV wasn't enough, Cranston also directed the Season 2 and 3 premieres.
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.
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 enfuriates Walt into delivering a Precision F-Strike.
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 "Out", Walt finds fungus in the floorboards and becomes fixated on cutting out the rot before it makes his home collapse, which is practically a Literal Metaphor.
"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").
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.
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 neighbour 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.
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. 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. Jesse, for his part, loses his family, kills a person, gets his 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.
Duct Tape for Everything: In "Ozymandias", Walt wraps his hand in duct tape to bandage a knife wound. When we see him in the following episode, he's swapped it for a real bandage.
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. At the rate Jesse is coming up with these ideas, he probably shouldn't be considered a dumbass anymore.
Even early on Jesse showed hints that he wasn't completely idiotic, like in 2.01 when 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?
Héctor Salamanca of all people gets one, giving Gus one last look of hate before blowing them all up.
Just after that, Gus walks out of the room, seemingly alive and well, not aware that he's lost half of his face and a good chunk of his skull. He straightens his tie before falling over, dead.
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.
E - L
Ear Worm: In-universe example, for Walt the catchy theme song for a furniture store’s late-night commercials where he bought Walter Junior’s crib 16 years ago. "Don’t let shopping strain your brain-o, Just sing this short refrain-o, Our furniture is buen-o, Tampico is the name-o!"
Bryan Cranston's Bald of Awesome and Beard of Evil are now iconic for the show, so people might be a little startled to see him with a full head of hair and a particularly bad mustache in the first few episodes.
The topless woman in the pilot. The show was eventually picked up by AMC, which doesn't show nudity.
Throughout Season 1, Hank is much more animated and sniffs here and there (leading some to theorize he was meant to have an ironic drug problem). He's noticably less animated and the sniffing is completely gone by Season 2.
Earn Your Happy Ending: As happy as it gets for a prideful cancer-stricken drug kingpin. In the end, despite everything he'd done and been through, he has secured the future of his children, eliminated everyone who menaced his family, and, finally, died on his own terms.
Walt's hilarious attempt to shatter a glass office door with a potted palm tree; the only thing that broke was the tree. Well, and Walt's composure. Oh, and then he got dragged outside by staff.
Walt discovers a housefly in the meth lab. He begins trying to swat the fly, but it's just too fast for him. Growing increasingly frustrated, he spots the fly on the ceiling and throws his shoe at it—and ends up breaking an overhead light, raining glass down on himself. His shoe gets stuck in the light fixture. Then, he goes up on the catwalk to dislodge his stuck shoe... and falls off the catwalk, landing painfully on the floor. Just to make things worse, the fly then lands on his glasses.
Referred to in Season 4: "That's what the kids call an 'Epic Fail'".
Empathy Doll Shot: The teddy bear in the pool, as well as a doll in the background of a derelict junkie house in season 2.
Enemy Mine: How Walter gets Héctor Salamanca to kill Gus.
Hank and Jesse come to an arrangement like this regarding Walt in Season 5.
A flashback reveals that the Salamanca kids have had this stomped into them by Héctor. Tuco cares for his tio in spite of being an Axe Crazy meth-head drug lord, and the Salamanca twins make an arduous journey into America to avenge Tuco.
Walter, rapidly losing any moral high ground he might have started with, still loves his family.
Subverted when Gus acts insulted by Walt's accusation of him of murdering a child. He openly threatens to have Walt's family, including his infant daughter, murdered.
Even Victor is disturbed and angered by all-around Nice Guy Gale's death.
Although implied since almost the beginning, Walt finally stated to Saul in one episode that hurting any family members is a line that he will never, ever cross. Given how much Walt's morals have descended over the course of the series, that's saying a lot. Indeed, when finally cornered by Hank and Jesse, Walt opts to surrender and be arrested rather than harm his brother-in-law.
Mike seems to be disgusted by Walt bombing a nursing home and by the idea of bombing a police station and killing a bunch of cops. He is also extremely pissed at Todd for killing a kid. Given that Mike is both an ex-cop and a grandfather it makes sense.
Saul refuses to give up Walt and Jesse's location to Mike at the end of Season 3, risks his own life when he tips off the DEA to the hit on Hank in late Season 4, and is horrified in "Live Free or Die" when he learns that he was involved in Walt's plan to poison Brock.
Evil Versus Evil: The conflict between Gus and the Cartel. Both sides have well proven how morally terrible they are, and despite Gus's organization being presented in a A Lighter Shade of Black around the time the conflict hit its apex, Gus then threatened to kill Walt's entire family, which includes his infant daughter when the audience previously assumed he didn't want to use children for nefarious purposes or harm them in any fashion.
Somehow, the Nazis just plumb forgot to check under that car.
They didn't check Walt's trunk in "Felina", either.
Failed Attempt at Drama: While it is certainly not played for laughs, Walt tries to threaten Saul into working for him before they leave with their new identities but is interrupted by a long coughing fit. This prompts Saul to leave as soon as he could before Walt could finish.
Fall Guy: Saul helps set one up for Heisenberg, since Walt and Jesse refuse to off Badger.
The strippers in "Mas". Complete with lesbian kissing and nipple shots.
Fantastic Drug: Walter's 99.1% chemically pure crystal methamphetamine, Blue Sky. To give an idea about how insane for a product of that purity to exist on the illegal drug scene, the average purity in the Breaking Bad world was 70% for illegal meth, and its blue!
Fate Worse Than Death: Jesse in "Ozymandias." Instead of killing him, Jack's gang takes him captive, tortures him for information, and then forces him to cook meth for them by threatening Andrea and Brock. Aaron Paul himself has said that Jesse would definitely prefer death.
Faux Affably Evil: Gus wears the mask of a mild-mannered and impeccably polite businessman, but in reality he's a ruthless drug lord with a serious sadistic streak. He only rarely breaks his facade.
Felony Misdemeanor: The juxtaposition with meth and other class A drugs only makes Skyler's horror at Walt smoking pot look even more naive. On the other hand, that could be the point - emphasizing the rift between her own and her husband's worlds.
Feet First Introduction: Lydia gets quite a few of these. In "Buried," she's shown walking around a barren, grimy meth lab in a skirt and heels, showing how out of place and uncomfortable she is.
Fire-Forged Friends: Walt and Jesse start off quite rocky, and they come to blows several times. However, they eventually build a father-son relationship, with each committing murder to protect the other on several occasions. Their relationship seems to fall apart by the end of the series, however.
Flashforward: The Cold Open for the season 5 premiere is a flash forward to one year to the future. "Blood Money", the Season 5 "mid-season premiere", also has a flash forward to the same day.
Flipping the Bird: When Walt sees that Gus has installed surveillance cameras in the lab, he flips off one of them.
Foil: Hank is this to Walt. They each rise in power on opposite sides of the law and often tackle the same enemies, such as Tuco and Fring. Terrible experiences change both men, but while Walt becomes even more consumed by pride and turns into a ruthless criminal, Hank manages to subdue his Jerkass tendencies, becoming more humble and arguably an even better cop.
Foot Dragging Divorcee: Skyler threatens to tell the police about Walt's uh... drug problem if he doesn't sign the paperwork, which he refuses to do.
Foregone Conclusion: The use of Flash Forwards in some opening scenes means that the audience knows ahead of time some of the things that will happen during the show. Jesse is seen soaking the White family's living room in gasoline in "Confessions" but the Flash Forward in "Blood Money" shows Walt returning to the house. Although it may be abandoned and in disrepair, it hasn't been burned down.
Foreign Remake: MetAsTasis, set in Columbia, will follow the misadventures of Walter Blanco, his wife Cielo, assistant Jose Rosas, and narcotics agent brother-in-law Henry Navarro, but without the iconic motor home (a refurbished white and blue school bus is used instead) because "motor homes aren't common in Colombia".
Foreshadowing: Hank takes Walter Jr to a SRO to try and scare him straight about marijuana, and it sounds like something out of the worst after-school special ever, with all his bullshit about gateway drugs. Only look at what's happened to Walter over the last five seasons and ask yourself about gateway crimes.
Several Cold Opens in season 2 reveal progressively more of a mysterious crime scene, the circumstances of which are not revealed until the finale. Moreover, the titles of the episodes spell out the impending disaster: "737"/"Down"/"Over"/"ABQ".
In "Over", Jesse wants to bring Jane breakfast in bed, but she walks on him in the kitchen. He says "You weren't supposed to wake up", and she responds "Ever, or...?"
You can tell Tio wants Gus dead early in their confrontations, but it doesn't appear to mean much as Tio can't do anything. Come the Season 4 finale, however, he finally gets his revenge... and sorts out Walt's problems at the same time.
In the season 2 premiere, you see Skyler looking fondly of old photos of her and Ted after she and Walt start having marriage troubles. Ted isn't even introduced at that point and doesn't appear till 6 episodes after.
Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, a faceless international conglomerate, was first mentioned significantly in Season 4, when it is revealed that the company owns the industrial laundry that houses the superlab. The company was shown to own Los Pollos Hermanos in the fine print of a television ad in Season 3. The companies full role was only revealed in Season 5.
At the beginning of "Peekaboo" we see Skinny Pete squash a beetle to death. Later, Spooge's head gets squashed in by an ATM.
Season five starts with a flashforward, giving a tantalizing glimpse of how the series will end.
In a fit of anger, Jesse calls Todd "Ricky Hitler". Turns out his prison connections are the Aryan Brotherhood.
Twice in 2x12's "Phoenix". First Jane tells Jesse to roll over on his side after shooting up in case he vomits ("Lie on your side, or you might choke"), and Walter does the same thing for his infant daughter. When Walt tries to shake Jesse awake at the end of the episode to talk to him, Jane rolls over on her back, and a few minutes later throws up and starts choking.
At the beginning of season 2, Jesse tries to convince Walt to sacrifice his life for him, since he's going to die of cancer anyway. Fast-forward to "Felina," in which Walt is fatally wounded after pushing Jesse to the ground to spare him from being hit by the rigged machine gun.
Frame Up: In "Confessions", Walt makes a tape that paints Hank as the Lawman Gone Bad mastermind behind everything he did, and himself as a coerced stooge. It won't get him off anything, but the threat of Taking You with Me is clear.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Season 5 Episode 9 when Hank is looking through all the case files related to Heisenberg, when he is looking at the photos of Combo's dead body, if you look to the left you see a picture of him as a little kid. About 7-9 years old, chubby and has a mullet.
From Bad to Worse: This is the show's M.O. In "Four Days Out", they're in the middle of the desert and drain the RV's battery as their generator runs out of gas. Then the generator catches fire and they lose the last of their water and destroy the generator putting it out. Then their phones die. Then they trickle-charge the battery by hand-cranking the generator and the RV starts! And immediately dies. Then they collect bits and pieces of this and that and Walt puts together a makeshift battery to jump the RV... and the RV doesn't start.
Fun with Acronyms: Unconfirmed but a nice coincidence: "Felina" can be broken down into Fe (Iron) Li (Lithium) and Na (Sodium) — or as the internet interpreted it, "blood, meth, and tears".note Lithium metal is the most commonly used reactive metal in the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine using the anhydrous ammonia method of production. The others, of course, refer to haemoglobin and sodium chloride.
Walt poisoned Brock with a not-quite lethal poison and stole the ricin cigarette from Jesse, hoping that Jesse would realize he was poisoned, assume Walt did it and come after him. Then he had to convince Jesse that Gus had planned to the whole thing, right up to Jesse holding a gun to his head. It worked (almost) perfectly, but relied on a lot of luck.
Gus' wholesale poisoning of the cartel in "Salud" also depended on a lot of luck.
Genius Bruiser: Hank initially comes off as tough, over-bearing cop who's main skills are kicking down doors and surviving gun battles. As time goes on, however, he reveals himself to be a pretty brilliant investigator. He deduces Gus's operation from his hospital bed, when no one else suspected a thing.
Genre Savvy: Badger correctly susses that a customer looking to buy meth is a police officer, and also spots the two conspicuously inconspicuous vans parked nearby. However, it's immediately subverted when Badger falls for the old "A police officer can't deny he's one if you ask him directly" urban legend.
After Marie's bet with Hank over whether he can still get erect after being hospitalized.
Also in the season 4 finale, when Marie forbids Hank to leave the house and go to the DEA after they receive a tip about an assassination planned on him. Cue Hank in the DEA. Also doubles as an ironic echo for the previous situation.
In the first episode, Walt with Skyler after just escaping two drug dealers who were about to kill him and a fire that one of them set accidentally. A few more times in later episodes as well.
Subverted in the season 2 premiere, Walt returns home from a traumatic ordeal and needs some sexual healing from his wife. His abrupt and unwelcome advances escalate into a Near-Rape Experience.
Gone Horribly Right: Walter White just wanted to make some cash to play his medical bills and leave some left over for his family. By "Gliding Over All", he made more than enough.
Gorn: Not every episode, but at least once or twice a season something mind-blowingly gruesome happens.
Several dissolved corpses over the course of the show.
The cartel bombing in "Negro y Azul" results in quite a lot of carnage.
Gus Fring's death.
Mike's crew are stabbed dozens of times, with the last one doused with flammable liquid and burned.
Grievous Bottley Harm: Jesse's trying to get his money back from the junkies that ripped of Skinny Pete when the woman hits him in the head with a liquor bottle. It averts Soft Glass while she's at it.
Handshake Refusal: When Skinny Pete introduces Jesse to Tuco, Pete tries to go for a fist bump. Tuco doesn't oblige.
Jesse comes to this in Season 3 premiere "No Mas" after getting out of rehab, following Jane's death, which came after he tempted her into relapsing.
Jesse: I'm the bad guy.
Walt has his own by "Felina", when he finally admits to Skyler that he cooked for his own gratification rather than for the good of the family, saying, "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."
He Knows Too Much: Deconstructed. Walt thinks he's covering his tracks by killing Mike and his entire team so that nobody can trace his crimes back to him. The problem is, in order to pull off this bloodbath he has to get in bed with Todd's Uncle Jack and his gang, who turn out to be more of a liability than the loyal crew Mike was paying huge amounts of hush money.
He Who Fights Monsters: Season 4's finale has Walt pulling off a Batman Gambit and finally killing Gus. Part of that plan happens to involve poisoning an innocent child (albeit non-lethally) to manipulate Jesse. Things only go downhill from there.
Heroes Act Villains Hinder: The show is mainly about the chaos caused by its hero, Walter White. Most of Walt's major enemies (the only exception being Hank in Season 5) are decidedly worse people than him and thus can properly be called villains, but their involvement in the plot is still a result of his actions.
Jesse when he finds Jane dead. He has to be slapped out of it by Mike who wants him to tell police that he "woke up, he found her, that's all [he] know[s]."
Jesse in Season 4 premiere "Box Cutter", too shaken up to even flee the crime scene.
Walt at the end of "Crawl Space" after Skyler tells him she gave the money they needed to escape Gus to Ted Beneke.
Hank in "Blood Money." The realization that Walt is Heisenberg brings back his panic attacks with a vengeance. By the time Walt confronts him later in the episode, Hank is clearly a distraught, shaken man.
Jesse is basically a walking BSoD throughout "Buried." Given all he's been through up to that point, it's hardly a surprise, too.
Walt gets one when he witnesses Jack kill Hank despite all he does to save him.. So does Marie.
Walt Jr. gets one when Skyler and Marie confess everything about the meth-making activities
Skyler's occurs when Walt kidnaps Holly and flees.
Hollywood Acid: Hydrofluoric acid, used twice in the series to dispose of bodies by Walt and Jesse. Hydrofluoric acid is highly corrosive and will dissolve a human body completely. Its effects are portrayed more or less realistically, though the handling of it is Hollywood Science. (see below)
Hollywood Magnetism: Mostly averted by the magnet used in The Caper. Walt points out that the frame of his glasses and his wedding ring are aluminium and gold, respectively, and the crew have to add a second row of batteries to get enough amperage to get through the wall of the evidence room.
Hydrofluoric acid will kill you dead if you breathe the gas it produces or get any on your skin... eventually. Working safely with concentrated hydrofluoric acid in real life requires a full body suit, as opposed to casually wearing aprons and masks. In other words, no trained chemist in his right mind would be hanging around waiting for the bottom to fall out of the bathtub, much less look up into the hole from which blobs of liquefied, HF-contaminated dead body are probably still dripping; without extensive hazmat training and equipment, the proper procedure is to run like hell. The less lethal sodium hydroxide would work much better at dissolving the body without endangering other materials. It would still leave bones to be dealt with, though.
Mercury-(II) Fulminate is ridiculously dangerous. Walt is meant to be a badass crystallographer, but even assuming he could make it into crystals and somehow not accidentally cause a reaction and somehow make it potent enough to wreak that much havoc (the show exaggerated the explosion a little), he'd still be dealing with lungfuls of poisonous gas.
Walt suggesting he's gonna make phenylacetone in a tube furnace like it's the most natural thing in the world. It isn't. However, this is in reference to Uncle Festers' Guide to Making Amphetamine, which advocates the use of this process as it evades several legal restrictions on ingredients and has instructions to building your own furnace. Walt is enough of a badass chemist to know how to do this without reference material.
Inverted with Gus Fring's death. After Hector detonates himself, Gus Fring walks out of the gutted room, seemingly fine... and the viewer's stomachs drop as they think the plan failed. Then the camera pans to show the half of Gus's face that isn't there.
Most of "Gliding Over All" qualifies, until the Wham Shot.
In "Granite State", Jesse's hard-won escape from his torture pit is foiled by the Aryans just as he reaches the compound's perimeter fence.
The episodes "Pilot", "Crazy Handful of Nothin'", "Grilled", "Breakage", "ABQ", and "Bug".
"Live Free or Die", the first episode of the final season, starts with a glimpse to a year ahead (and yet another Ironic Birthday) showing a now more rugged-looking Walt travelling under a fake identity and purchasing an M60 Machine Gunto kill the Aryan Brotherhood and rescue Jesse.
"Blood Money", the premiere episode of the second half of Season 5 starts off after the M60 purchase showing Walt going back home, which after the events of the last year has now been closed off and abandoned.
Season 5's first half is one for Mike up until his death.
Hurricane of Euphemisms: At one point Jesse talks about all the "mad cheddar" they're going to make. After Walt just stares at him, he continues "Cheddar, Mr. White. Fat stacks, dead presidents, cash money."
Several season 2 episodes clue the viewer in on the initially out-of-the-blue disaster which closes the season.
Several episodes such as "Negro Y Azul", "Mandala", "No Más" and "Salud" among others have titles in Spanish.
"I.F.T", "I fucked Ted."
In addition to "I.F.T.," Season 3 has a lot of episode titles based on things that come into play in the last five minutes of the episode - "Green Light," "One Minute," and "Sunset," for example
Season 4 has had the habit of naming a lot of its episodes after objects that play into that episode's story to some degree: "Box Cutter", "Thirty-Eight Snub", "Shotgun", "Bug," "Crawl Space" and "Face Off"
Ignored Epiphany: In "Granite State," Walter, after hearing that his son flat-out refuses his drug money and wishes him to die, calls the DEA to surrender and accept his fate. While he waits for the cops, however, he sees Elliot and Gretchen disowning their association to Walt on TV, specifically saying that Walt has never done anything for Gray Matter except giving the company its name. At that point, Breaking Bad's theme song kicks in, pride retakes control of Walt, and he vanishes again as Heisenberg.
The Igor: Jesse; Gale. Victor, reluctantly, when Walt and Jesse are having a lovers' tiff.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: "To'hajiilee" ends with Hank and Gomez up against the Aryans, the latter armed with assault rifles and even an automatic shotgun. Ultimately subverted in "Ozymandias" when it turns out that the bulletproof vest wearing Gomez is killed and Hank was shot in the leg.
Implied Death Threat: "Blood Money" has Walt deliver one: "If you don’t know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly." However, the threat is empty; as it's shown later, Walt would rather go to prison than to kill Hank.
Walt's coughing in the pilot is a sign of his cancer.
Subverted; in the episode where he starts coughing up blood, he panics, but it turns out that his cancer is going into remission and that was just a relatively minor secondary condition.
Played straight again in season five; when his cancer comes back, he starts coughing again.
Indy Ploy: Walt's "thinking on his feet" attempts to obscure the truth about his second life. Much of it in the first season revolves around making up lies to tell his wife. She gets wise after a while. He comes up with more dramatic ones to throw off Hank. In one episode he drives up in front of him and to say hello in order to block his view during a sting. In season three, he pulls some spectacular shit out of his ass to get Hank away from the RV in the salvage yard. In the fourth season, he gets into an auto accident to prevent Hank from scoping out the laundry.
In the very first episode, he comes home from the hospital on his 50th birthday, having just learned that he has terminal cancer, to find a surprise party in his living room.
Season five episode "51" features his next birthday (with a lampshade hung on how long a year it's been), celebrated for Walt Jr's sake despite the fact that he and Skyler are barely on speaking terms. He actually requests a "surprise" party along the lines of his last one, in an attempt to persuade Skyler that life is back to normal. Instead he gets a simple dinner with Hank and Marie during which Skyler tries to drown herself.
The Cold Open to season five shows his 52nd birthday in a flash-forward, "celebrated" alone in a diner, using a new identity.
Iron Butt Monkey: Walt's Pontiac Aztek. While portrayed as an Alleged Car early in the series, it withstood an extraordinary amount of abuse, multiple crashes, and saved both Walt and Jesse's asses innumerable times. Despite this, Walt eventually unceremoniously sells it to his mechanic for $50 so he can get something cooler.
After Skyler confronts Jesse and almost catches him moving Emilio's body, he angrily tells Walt, "good job on wearing the pants in the family." Later, when Jane gets Walt to give Jesse the money owed to him, Walt says, "nice job wearing the pants."
Saul's speech to Walt about his looming divorce in S3E2, "Caballo Sin Nombre", is very reminiscent of Walt's address to the students after the plane crash in S3E1, "No Más."
Walt's speech to Skyler in the second episode of season 5 about how doing bad things for the sake of family is justifiable is highly reminiscent of a similar speech given to the twins by Tio Salamanca in a flashback in season 3. Given the general audience reaction to the Salamancas, it's a pretty chilling indication of the direction in which Walt is headed.
In "Cornered", Walt says to Skyler: "I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger." In "Fifty-One", he tells her: "I can promise you that Gus Fring is dead. And he was the threat. He was the danger." Skyler responds, "I thought you were the danger."
Todd's explanation of his motives repeats Walt's argument to Gus about Gale nearly word-for-word.
In "Fifty-One", Skyler says to Walt: "I will not have my children living in a house where dealing drugs and hurting people and killing people is shrugged off as ‘shit happens'!" In "Buyout", after Todd kills a child witness and he, Jesse, Walt and Mike dispose of the body, he tells Jesse: "Man, shit happens, huh?" Jesse punches him in the face.
Irony: The final season is packed with this. After sacrificing so much over the story arc to raise hospital and inheritance money, Walt ends up losing absolutely everything in the process. The penultimate episode has him sitting alone in the middle of nowhere, suffering from cancer again, and down to his last barrel of cash he can neither spend nor give to his family.
Irrevocable Order: A variation in "To'hajiilee"; thinking that Jesse has lured him to a remote location in order to kill him and take his money, Walt calls Uncle Jack and gives him the co-ordinates and the green light to kill Jesse. When he realises that it's Hank come to arrest him, he calls Jack to tell him not to come — but the gang come anyway.
It Gets Easier: Walt agonizes over his first hands-on kill for almost an entire episode, and breaks down into tears when he finally does it. As the show goes on, he becomes less and less averse to using lethal violence to achieve his goals. Walt comes out and admits it to Skyler when she's freaking out about her actions indirectly getting Ted paralysed and almost killed.
It's for a Book: When Skyler thinks that Walt is smoking pot, she asks Marie about how could it affect someone, claiming that it's for a short story she's writing. Marie doesn't fall for it, but she thinks it's Walt Jr. who is smoking pot.
It's Probably Nothing: When Todd brings up his prison connections, Walt asks Mike if that would be a problem. Mike, after having checked Todd’s background previously, responds it isn’t.
It Will Never Catch On: When Gus and his brotherly friend pitch the idea of mass producing meth to a cartel don in Mexico in a flashback to the 1980s, the don and his associates laugh it off.
Walter's brother-in-law, Hank, is a loud, lewd and frequently obnoxious DEA agent. This is partly due to the culture of the police department and partly due to being a Sad Clown. He's a decent man underneath the bluster.
Jesse is an abrasive, thickheaded junkie, but underneath it all he's far gentler than Walt.
Jitter Cam: The show is shot mostly on handheld cameras, with the camera operators told to be as still as possible when filming, which results in minor but noticeable jitter.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: While Skyler compromises her morals throughout the series because of her relationship with Walt, when she tells Walt to kill Jesse, she goes straight from money laundering and blackmail to proposing murder.
Justified Criminal: The main crux of the series, though pride is a big factor too, showing the justification really only exists in Walter's mind — he was offered charity early in the first season, and refused it. The show is arguably a Deconstruction of this concept.
Jesse has murdered several people and indirectly caused the deaths of several more, but he ends the show with his freedom. Although given the terrible suffering he went through, maybe he isn't a Karma Houdini after all.
Saul manages to escape any negative repercussions with an assumed identity, though he imagines that he'll be living a mundane existence from now on.
After Walt forces Bogdan to sell him the car wash in Season 4, he refuses to let Bogdan take anything with him as he leaves—not even the first dollar that he ever made, which he keeps framed on the wall of his office. As soon as Bogdan leaves, Walt shatters the glass frame, takes the dollar out, and spends it on the nearest soda machine. Although Bogdan's behavior puts some Kick the Son of a Bitch into the scene, this act of petty cruelty speaks volumes about how far Walt has fallen since the show's beginning.
Gus does this to Walt in Season 4, by taking him out into the desert, threatening to kill his entire family, then leaving.
Walt does this to Jesse in "Ozymandias" when he admits letting Jane die in her overdose.
Saul: Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy... [beat] who knows another guy.
Knuckle Tattoos: One of Jack's men has a phrase tattooed across his knuckles, which can be best seen when he holds has hand across Skylar's mouth when Todd threatens her.
Lack of Empathy: Todd. The other members of his uncle's gang are vicious, nasty and aggressive — he's just a fairly amiable guy who seems to be entirely immune to guilt or empathy.
The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In "Fly," Walt tellingly adds the birth of his daughter as an after-thought, seeming to place more importance on the first million he made as a reason to have not dropped dead.
At the end of the fourth season, Don Eladio, the head of the Mexican cartel dies at the exact spot where he ordered the death of Gus' partner. Extra points for Gus being the one to poison him, after making a deal with him over crystal meth (a substance he used to scoff at).
Ted, who after refusing to use the money Skyler gave him (to avoid getting arrested for tax fraud), is visited by goons sent by Saul on Skyler's orders and forced into signing the check. When he tries to run, he slips on his rug and ends up paralyzed as a result of his injury.
This happens to Walt in "Ozymandias" in brutal fashion: Uncle Jack executes Hank and takes 70 of Walt's 80 million in meth profits, his family disowns him because of Hank's death and Walt Jr. discovering his father is Heisenberg, and Walt finally realizes how wrong his rationalizations were. At the end of the episode, he's forced to embrace his Heisenberg persona and flee Albuquerque with the help of Saul's identity-changer.
Since Lydia's debut episode, she was a Karma Houdini. However, in "Felina", Lydia finally gets what she deserves, when Walt's final battle begins with him poisoning her tea with the ricin he stole from Jesse. By the time Walt calls to tell her what happened, she's already too close to death to do anything about it.
Laser Sight: Walt intimidates Elliot and Gretchen by telling them he spent $200,000 hiring "the two best hitmen west of the Mississippi" to keep tabs on them until they go through with his demands — cue laser dots on their chests. Subverted when it turns out it was just Badger and Skinny Pete with laser pointers.
In the second last episode, as a build up to the Grand Finale, has Walter give the DEA his position; suddenly spurred on, the full theme song plays as the police raid the bar Walter called from, only to find his unfinished drink and tip.
Lawman Gone Bad: Walt cooks up a false confession that hinges on framing Hank as one of these who manipulated his poor cash-strapped cancer-patient brother-in-law into cooking meth for him to sell through his criminal contacts, and he sends the tape to Hank as a threat. Even as he watches it, Hank can see it's a more plausible story than the truth.
In season 5, Marie remarks that the time between Walt's 50th and 51st birthdays felt much longer than a year. It's been four and a half.
In "Rabid Dog", a fifth season episode, Marie's shrink states that "There is no problem, no matter how difficult, painful or seeming unsolvable, that violence won't make worse." This is an episode where he is one of only two characters with speaking roles not to be planning to kill someone.
Walt himself echoes the "This'll make one hell of a story" line when he's impersonating a New York Times journalist in the finale.
Leave No Witnesses: A few times. In "Dead Freight," Mike points out that in his experience, "there are two kinds of heist; those where the guys get away with it, and those that leave witnesses." They eventually come up with a way to do the job without being seen by the train's crew, but they don't count on Innocent Bystanders.
Let's Get Dangerous: A big draw of the show is watching the timid, suburban dad with a bit of a chip on his shoulder turn into a diabolical mastermind when his back is to the wall or he's just had enough.
A Lighter Shade of Black: A common motif in the series, with Walt and Jesse as nicer drug lords than the people they generally oppose. However, by the final season it's clear that Walt has become about as evil as the rest of the industry.
"Ozymandias", from Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem. A promo for the episode has Bryan Cranston reciting it over shots of the New Mexico desert.
"Felina" is a reference to Marty Robbins' song "El Paso", which is about a cowboy returning to the town where he escaped from the past to see his lover, Feleena again. The song even plays briefly in the episode.
Loads and Loads of Characters: There's Walt's family, Jesse and his friends, the DEA, the Salamanca family, Saul and his employees, Los Pollos Hermanos... and those are just the ones introduced in the first two seasons!
"4 Days Out", where Walt and Jesse are lost in the desert with no water and a flat battery.
In "Fly", they're trapped in the lab, unable to cook until they manage to decontaminate the lab (which is to say, kill the one of the most daring flies on television). They're stuck there until they can kill the fly and cook the batch.
Love Makes You Evil: Walt claims that his love for his family is his only motivation for everything he's done, but this is questioned several times. It may have initially been true, but Pride and Greed soon took over.
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.
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.
"Heisenberg", as in "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle". Considering all the uncertainties surrounding Walt's character and that persona, it's a good bet the writers had that in mind. Heisenberg also worked for the Nazi nuclear weapon program during WWII 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.
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.
Br is "a fuming red-brown liquid at room temperature [and] corrosive and toxic" and Ba is used in X-Rays and turns fire green.
Beneke Fabricators, a company which we later learn is involved in large scale tax fraud.
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.
Skyler spins a story about Walt's gambling to justify the money they got. The story is bullshit, but Walt's motivation and moral decay is true.
Walt explains Skyler's near-catatonia by telling Marie that she's shaken up by seeing a paralyzed Ted Beneke, with whom she had an affair. She indeed had one, but the reason she's so broken is Walt's decay into a murderer and power abuser.
Mexican Standoff: In "To'hajiilee", between Hank and Gomez, and Uncle Jack's heavily tooled-up crew.
Miranda Rights: Hank tells Walt his rights after he arrests Walt in "To'hajiilee". Walt's only response is calling Jesse a "coward".
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", its 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.
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.
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 "Out" 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 forth, Antoinette Antonio, is a local morning radio host.
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.
Nice to the Waiter: Walt gives a $100 tip to the kind waitress in the season 5 premiere even though he got a free meal since it was his birthday.
No Antagonist: Season 2 is mainly just about Walt dealing with his cancer, making his way up in the meth business, and trying to keep his double life a secret from Skyler. Any minor antagonists only last one or two episodes.
This with the exception of the gangsters who kill Combo, but we don't see them again until the end of season 3.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In "Thirty-Eight Snub", they discuss various zombie games.
In "Blood Money" they go into their long Star Trek discussion about whether the transporter teleports or copies its users and about Badger's fanfic about Spock and Chekov competing in a blueberry pie-eating contest.
In "Rabid Dog", an attempt to bug Badger's mom's house results in the listener hearing three straight hours of Badger talking about Babylon 5.
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.
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."
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.
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. Granted, it's not the real Rage (it's depicted as an on-rails shooter; might be the tablet/iOS version?), but hey, it's a real game being played in a real way.
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.
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 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 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.
Walt saving Jesse in "Felina." Word of God says that Walt was planning to kill Jesse but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Playing Sick: Walt's fugue state, his excuse for being AWOL for several days when he and Jesse get stuck in the desert.
Police Are Useless: Occasionally law enforcement can be seen in the background while a crime is being committed.
Jesse exchanges meth for payment at a gas station to the female cashier with a police officer in line behind him.
Jesse is kidnapped by Gus's men by 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.
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.
In the pilot, Walt delivers one to Bogdan when he quits the car wash: "Fuck you and your eyebrows!"
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."
"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.
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.
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.
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 remains intact as the best meth cook around.
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."
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 favourite form of communication being a slow shared glance that gives a creepy impression of Twintuition.
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 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.
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!"
The speech Hank dishes to Walt at the end of "Blood Money" is nothing short of this.
"You killed ten witnesses to save your sorry ass. You bombed a nursing home. Heisenberg. Heisenberg! You lying, two-faced sack of shit!"
Walter Junior to Skyler, after her banalities about the seat belt: "You're shittin' me, right? If all this is true and you knew about it, then— then you're as bad as him!"
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.
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.
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.
The Red Stapler: Similar to how Back to the Future turned the obscure and worthless De Lorean into one of the most iconic cars of its era, Breaking Bad has created a new wave of interest and enthusiasm for the Pontiac Aztek due to its association with the Walter White character; it has gone from being probably the biggest Butt Monkey in the automotive world to somewhat of a Cool Car, due to it being "Heisenberg's Ride".
An Aztek used in filming of the series, which was wrecked and completely undrivable, sold for $7,500 on eBay recently. Prior to Breaking Bad, it would have been a miracle to get that much money for a serviceable Aztek.
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.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: In "Confessions", Jesse has a Eureka Moment and figures out that Walt could have stolen his ricin cigarette to kill Brock. He's right on both counts, but they aren't directly connected; Walt poisoned Brock with Lily of the Valley.
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.
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 speculates that the "W.W." dedication in Gale's notebook is "Walter White". Walt jokingly "confesses".
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).
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.
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.
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 which are not unlike those of Waynegro's in that film. Mike's speech about having to kill witnesses is similar to Al Pacino's comment in the film about how De Niro's crew didn't hesitate for a second to kill everyone once blood was shed, 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.
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.
Shown Their Work: While the accuracy varies, 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 bomb-making and picks up a bunch of wrappers from cold packs. Cold packs contain ammonium nitrate, which is a commonly used oxidizer in improvised bombs.
Significant Anagram: The name of the Season Finale was "Felina", which was confirmed as 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.
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.
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 of the law 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.
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.
Ted's company is named Beneke Fabricators. He has been illegally lying about his company's profits for years.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
Tropaholics Anonymous: In Season 3 Jesse and his cronies attempt to sell methamphetamine to people at recovery meetings. In the end, none of them can bring themselves to do it. "It's like shooting a baby in the face." In fact, Jesse's cronies end up actually going into recovery.
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.
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.
Unintentional Period Piece: For the late 2000s and earliest 2010s, and, perhaps, fully intentional. Almost all cellphones shown are cheap, disposable pay-as-you-go phones favored by criminals during the period (a phenomenon that entered the public consciousness thanks to The Sopranos). The subject matter of brutal Mexican drug cartels is very timely thanks to cartel violence spilling into southern U.S. states like Texas. The soundtrack of the show is the best example, particularly Jesse's parties in Season 4. There's some fairly "timeless" old-school party rap but it's largely dubstep (Bassnectar) and darker experimental hip-hop (Trak Kartel, Honey Claws, El-P), both of which experienced a huge surge in popularity at the end of the 2000s. To top it all off, small-time meth cooking itself is a bygone era. Most meth in the Southwest now is produced on an industrial scale in Mexico at high purity and volume.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Villainy-Free Villain: In the first four seasons, Skyler's role as an antagonist stems purely from her concern for Walt's health and her wish for him to be honest with her. In later seasons, one of her motives is her concern for the safety of their children. In the fifth season, she's brought into Walt's criminal conspiracy, giving up her antagonist role and becoming villainous.
Visual Pun: In the first episode, Walt is seen literally laundering money in a clothes dryer.
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.
Also evident in the way he treats Saul. Initially he's willing to take Saul's counsel on board to a certain extent. By season five, he's all but treating Saul as a bothersome lackey.
Walt: Why don'tcha take a walk, Saul?! (Saul reluctantly eases down the road a little)
The Voiceless: The child-murdering rival drug dealers, who never speak a word in all of their appearances.
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 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.
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.
Word of God: Vince Gilligan provides an explanation (during comic-con 2013) of what took place when Walter had Brock poisoned off screen.
Vince Gilligan: That’s an excellent question and my writers and I would always tell the stories to ourselves of the evil juice box man who somehow… Our best guess is… I can tell you that the way we worked it out in our timeline he had just enough time to do it but it would have been very tricky indeed and it was improbable perhaps but not impossible. That he could have got in over once he got that idea you know spinning the pistol by the pool and waiting to die essentially, looking at that lily of the valley, contemplating the idea at that point… Uh I think at that point what he did is he kind of crushed some of the stuff up, put it in a juice box or something and then somehow snuck into, being a guy who’s a teacher, he knows his way around a school, probably got into Brock’s nursery school and swapped it out. This is kind of the inner story for how it happened for the writers and I, but it would have been tricky timing. He was a very motivated individual at that point; he had to save his family, that’s my best guess on how it actually happened.
Worst Aid: Walt just lets Jane choke on her own vomit, even when he had a chance to prevent it from happening. Especially subtle since he dealt with the same problem just prior with his own daughter and prevented it.
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 continue to make bigger schemes, and he eventually becomes a murderous person himself.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Mike avoids killing a woman, but later regrets his "sexism" and admits that he wouldn't have shown mercy if she were a man.
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 Season 3 finale "Full Measure" starts a protracted game played between Walt and Gus.
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.
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 kill Jesse James... that 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.
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?