"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 first substantial success with original programming, after Mad Men — debuted in 2008 with a seven-episode season (shortened because of the writers' strike) and soon found itself renewed for a second, full season. The show's fifth and final season will be split into two eight-episode halves, one airing in summer 2012, and the other in summer 2013.Kindly Albuquerque, New Mexico high school chemistry teacher Walter White receives a diagnosis of lung cancer after a meager lifetime of playing it safe; his world begins 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 lovablejerkass DEA brother-in-law, Walter learns of the money to be made in the highly dangerous world of illegal methamphetamine. Later the same night, Walter enlists the aid of one of his former students — who managed to escape the DEA raid by sheer dumb luck — and hatches a plan to manufacture and sell crystal meth in order to provide for his family. As Walter's journey stretches forth, bodies begin to pile up, and dark, violent Hilarity Ensues.Walter becomes known as the high-level drug dealer "Heisenberg", as nobody knows who he is, what he looks like, where he produces his product, or where he is other than they suspect he is in the Albuquerque area. Walter is rather amused at this, especially when his clueless DEA brother-in-law lets him in on the Heisenberg investigation or asks Walter for tips they might use to find Heisenberg since Walter knows his chemistry. Good thinking, Columbo.This series has seriously raised the acting profile of Bryan Cranston, who was previously best known for playing aBumbling Dad; Cranston has already won three Emmy awards for his role in this series.
Breaking Bad provides examples of the following tropes:
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.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Cousins' axe falls out of his hands and cuts into the asphalt far enough to stay upright. It wasn't even swung downwards — it just fell about 7 feet and landed on the blade.
In season 2 Jesse encounters a couple of meth 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.
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.
Affably Evil: Most notably, there is Saul Goodman, the cheerfully corrupt lawyer. Gus is a ruthless drug lord, but most of the time he comes off a polite, soft-spoken, genteel businessman (until you piss him off...). Also, Mike, a gruff but personable grandfather who'll straight-up murder you if Gus wants it done.
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.
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's tastes and personality, especially in his home, brush against some gay stereotypes, making 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. As of season 5 that list includes: Krazy 8, Tuco, Tortuga, Combo, Jane, the Cousins, Gale Boetticher, Victor, the Cartel bosses, Héctor Salamanca, Tyrus, Gus, and Mike. Needless to say if you take a supporting role on this show you should probably keep 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 in the trunk.
In Real Life, it's unlikely that a meth product as pure as the stuff that Walt manufactures would appear blue, since colors in meth are generally the result of impurities (it would more likely appear transparent, or pure white). This is handwaved in-story as a byproduct of the altered chemical formula, 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.
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 in an attempt to take the initiative — by asking for a symbolic payment, he's not helping them because they threatened him, he's helping them as their trusted legal counsel.
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 seems to be working his way up this ladder in season 5 starting out as a random underling in the pest control company that that Walt, Jesse and Mike buy, then two episodes later he helps the guys in their train heist and two episodes after that he becomes Walt's new lab assistant.
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.
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 sniperfire, daring the assassins to shoot him.
Gus poisoning himself in order to assassinate the entire cartel leadership.
In season 5, Walt himself is working pretty hard at becoming this.
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.
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.
Batman Gambit: Two of epic proportions in the last two episodes of season 4 by Walt. First, he gives Brock a non-lethal poison and steals Jesse's ricin cigarette; Pinkman storms his house wanting to kill him, since only the two of them knew about the poison, 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.
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 guy 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.
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 wilfuly 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.
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.
BFG: In season 5, Walt gets his hands on an M60 machine gun, a weapon so huge it was nicknamed "the pig" during the Vietnam War.
Big Bad: Tuco in season 2, Gus in seasons 3 and 4. In season 5, however, Walter is the villain.
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.
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: Walt starts coughing up blood in 4 Days Out. That is, until 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.
Boom, Headshot: A nasty one occurs when Hank kills one of the Salamonca twins with a hollow-point bullet.
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".
Briefcase Full of Money: Lots of characters, though usually not in an actual briefcase; it's more likely to be a backpack or duffel bag and in one scene there's a shipping pallet full of money.
Bulletproof Vest: The Cousins purchase a pair from an illegal arms dealer. Played realistically: one of them shoots the dealer in the chest to test the vests- he survives, but one of his ribs is broken and he's left moaning in pain as the Cousins walk away.
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.
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.
Call Forward: Jane in "Abiquiu". "I think I just threw up in my mouth a little"
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 in Season 3 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.
In season three, when Hank helps Walt move his belongings into his van, he lifts one particularly heavy bag, wondering what was inside. Walt's reply? "Half a million in cash". Hank thought Walt was kidding about it and laughs off his presumed optimism.
When Hank is hypothesizing about the meaning of the letters "W.W." referenced by Gale, he suggests they could just as easily mean "Walter White" to which Walt throws his hands up and says "Ya got me!"
In season five, Skyler asks Walt "Out burying bodies?" Walt (who has been planning a high-stakes heist to get methylamine out of a freight car) replies "Robbing a train."
Catch Phrase: Not so much a specific phrase, by Walter will regularly say something along the lines of "It had to be done" or "that's the last time we'll have to kill anyone"
Celebrity Paradox: In one episode Walt and Jr. watch Scarface. Mark Margolis, who plays Héctor Salamanca, also appears as Alberto in the film.
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.
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.
Subverted in the episode "Crawl Space" when Walt tells Saul to set things up with the man that he said could help him disappear under a new identity if necessary. When Walt goes home to retrieve the necessary money it's been given to Ted by Skyler without his knowledge.
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.
A long-running one that's still waiting to go off is the ricin Walt originally made in season 2 to kill Tuco, but failed to do so. In season 3, Jesse wanted to use it on the two drug dealers who used children, but it didn't work out. In season 4, Walt wanted Jesse to use it on Gus, but he didn't have the opportunity. Later, Walt made Jesse believe that Gus used it on Brock, but he was lying. In season 5, Walt planned to use it on Lydia, but he changed his mind..
Jesse's 'Roomba' vaccuum robot.
A subversion with the bag of 'blue sky' that Spooge and his wife leave at the scene of a convenience store murder in Season 2. Possibly an Aborted Arc.
The gun Mike kept in his getaway bag in S05 E07
Walt's copy of Leaves of Grass
Anyone else believe that the spider that Todd took from the kid he shot is one?
Chekhov's Gunman: Seemingly one-shot characters would routinely come back with more importance to the story, such as Skinny Pete and Badger.
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. Tomas is an 11-year old murderer, but he was coerced into it. Though when we see him later in the series, he doesn't seem all that broken up about it. His sister even claims that he calmly told her that he killed someone.
Jesse strongly believes in this trope. For one, when Jesse's family's housemaid found a marijuana joint that his parents initially believed was his but actually belonged to his overachieving younger brother, he took the fall, and later stomped on it to prevent him from smoking it. Jesse also pulled out on selling meth to a woman he met in rehab when he discovered she had a child.
Choke Holds: How Walter finally eliminates Domingo (AKA Crazy Eight) in the third episode.It takes a minute or two and Domingo has time to stab Walter a few times with a shard of broken plate.
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.
The mid-season finale for Season 5, "Gliding Over All," in which Hank at long last finds out that Walt is Heisenberg.
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).
Everything involving the midair collision in the season 2 finale.
In Season 2, Jesse's friend Combo gets killed by Tomas. In Season 3, Jesse's new girlfriend Andrea turns out to be related to Tomas.
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 and shows herself to be a talented money-launderer.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: Walt almost immediately realises 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.
Cradle of Loneliness: After Jane's death Jesse can be seen cradling his cell phone, then calling her number just to hear her speaking on her voice mail, until her line is finally disconnected.
Crocodile Tears: Walt tells Hank a sob story about his marriage in order to force the latter to get some coffee to console him. He plants bugs in Hank's office while Hank is away.
Cross Referenced Titles: "The Cat's in the Bag..."/"...And the Bag's in the River", "No Más"/"Más", "Half-Measures"/"Full Measure". There's also the "737"/"Down"/"Over"/"ABQ" foreshadowing.
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 P 2 P 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.
"Hermanos" in season 4 for Gus. The episode focuses more on him than any other character and gives a look into his Mysterious Past and provides a lot of subtext for his relationship with the Cartel, Tio in particular.
"Madrigal" features a lot of Mike being a badass.
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 by far the most morally responsible character in the show.
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.
Diabolus ex Machina: Not related to the main plot, but honestly, can you say anything else about the end of "ABQ"?
Dies Wide Open: Jane starts choking when she's asleep. When she finally dies, her eyelids slide partially open. She's seen later with her eyes still open.
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.
Walter and Jesse dispose of bodies with acid, to the point that Mike decides that it's their speciality.
Lydia calmly accepts it when Mike comes for revenge, and asks not to be shot in the head for the sake of the kid. His response that "no-one's going to find you", though, causes a freak-out. "I can't disappear!"
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When Walt refuses some charity from an old friend out of pride and a lingering grudge, the friend can only react with shock and pity. This enfuriates Walt into delivering a Precision F-Strike.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Although drug use and drug users are made to look pretty horrible, and most people in the drug trade seem to die horribly, we do spend an awful lot of time watching Walt do Mad Science in Hard Work Montages and lingering on the mountains of cash he earns. Walter destroys everything he cares about in the process, so the appeal is fleeting at best.
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.
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.
Drunk with Power: After killing Gus, Walt feels invincible as if he can do no wrong.
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.
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, alive and well, not aware that he's lost half of his face. He straightens his tie before falling over, dead.
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!"
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.
A flashback reveals that the Salamanca kids have had this stomped into them 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.
Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. Gus acts insulted when Walt accuses him of murdering a child, then later he openly threatens to have Walt's family, including his infant daughter, murdered.
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.
Face Death with Dignity: Gustavo uses his last few seconds to straighten his tie, before his injuries get the better of him. Mike decides to sit on a rock in silence, admiring the Scenery Porn, as he dies of a gut shot.
Face Framed In Shadow: Very often; numerous important conversations have the lighting do this for both characters, switching back and forth between shots of their faces.
Gus, who initially appears to be a nice friendly man who runs a chicken restaurant and sells drugs on the side to being revealed as an utterly ruthless drug overlord who uses the restaurant as a front He's able to switch back and forth between his two personalities within the same scene.
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.
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: Skylar threatens to tell the police about Walt's uh... drug problem if he doesn't sign the paperwork, which he refuses to do.
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...?"
The water heater. Walt Jr. mentions it in the first episode of the first season, and its breakdown in Season 2 starts Walt Sr. on a home repair spree.
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. Interestingly, though, it was stated as the owners of Los Pollos Hermanos in the fine print of a television ad in Season 3. Its 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, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
In Hank's first day in El Paso, he and a group of Federales go to the desert to bust a meeting of Mexican druglords, as they were told by their snitch (called "Tortuga", "Turtle" in Spanish, played by Danny Trejo). They find their snitch's severed head on top of a turtle, with "Hola DEA" written on its shell. Hank (recovering from his previous shootout with Tuco) gets light-headed and goes back to his truck, excusing himself saying he has to look for an evidence kit. The Federales don't buy it, and laugh at his suppossed-weak stomach for the job. Cue the tutle blowing up and taking several agents down, including the whipper-snapper liason with the DEA, who has his leg blown-off. This is the first time the audience sees that Mexican Cartels are nothing to fuck with.
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.
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.
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 Hacking: Skyler tracks Jesse's number through a website and somehow ends up on his homepage.
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 Tio 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 half of Gus's face gone.
Most of "Gliding Over All" qualifies, until the Wham Shot.
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 Gun for currently unknown means.
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."
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"
The Igor: Jesse; Gale. Victor, reluctantly, when Walt and Jesse are having a lovers' tiff.
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.
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 learnt 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, "celebrated" alone, in a diner halfway across the country, travelling under a fake ID.
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, "way to wear the pants."
Saul's speech to Walt about his looming divorce in S 3 E 2, "Caballo Sin Nombre", is very reminiscent of Walt's address to the students after the plane crash in S 3 E 1, "No Más."
Walt's speech to Skylar 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.
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 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.
Justified Criminal: The main crux of the series, though pride is a big factor too, showing justification really only exists in Walter's mind. The show is arguably a Deconstruction of this concept.
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's jerkass boss Bogdan gets his come-uppance when the Whites trick him into selling his business and won't even let him take his commemorative first dollar. Since Bogdan thinks that he's ripping the Whites off due to the false toxic waste report, it's hard not to feel a little of Walter's sadistic satisfaction in finally screwing the guy over.
Normally the Big Bad poisoning an about a dozen people at a party in one sitting would be harrowing, but when it's the governing body of the Mexican cartel its hard not to give him a pass.
Saul: Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy... [beat] who knows another guy.
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, 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 Skylar 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.
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.
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.
"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.
Logical Fallacies: When Skyler and Walt are practicing blackjack, Skyler acts like Walt knows nothing about the game because Walt lost the few hands they played. Actually, Walt made decent to good plays, but simply got unlucky twice.
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.
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.
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: 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 after smoking methamphetamine. 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.
"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 was also involved in creating the first nuclear bomb. 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.
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's she's so broken is Walt's decay into a murderer and power abuser.
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.
In the first scene of the opening teaser of Season 2, a pink teddy bear floats underwater. With the ominous music playing, the bear slowly drifts to face the camera, revealing that half of the bear's body has been burned away. The teddy bear may not have been a living creature, but it implies that something horrible has happened elsewhere.
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.
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.
My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: Hank gets into a legal debate with the junkyard owner while Hank is trying to break into the RV, which contains Walt, Jesse and their meth lab.
Naked Apron: Walt wears a lab apron over his tighty whities in the pilot. He still gets confused for being a nudist, though.
Neat Freak: Gus, who obsessively prioritizes keeping his clothes neat to inappropriate levels. The most ridiculous examples include carefully laying down a towel and organizing himself before vomiting up a lethal poison about to kill him in "Salud," and adjusting his tie after being caught in a bomb blast in "Face Off."
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 fucking 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 dollar tip to the kind waitress in the season 5 premiere even though he got a free meal since it was his birthday.
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.
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 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.
Averted again in Season 4 when Badger and Skinny Pete discuss differences in the zombies of Resident Evil 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), 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.
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.
When Walt tells Jesse to take care of the meth addicts that stole from them, Jesse thinks he means to kill them. Walt apparently meant that he only wanted him to scare them. But given that he gave Jesse a gun when he told him, it was still a pretty stupid move on Walt's part. Granted Jesse didn't actually kill them, but it was still a pretty big mess that could have been worse.
The only reason Mike dies in Season 5.
Precision F-Strike: Occasionally used despite being blanked out for broadcast on basic cable.
"I fucked Ted."
Again in Season 4. "Get the fuck out of here and never come back."
Also, way back 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.
"Say My Name" "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."- Mike
Previously On: Used to recap events seen in previous episodes, as well as give us brief events that are never seen in the show.
Product Placement: The game Rage is featured multiple times in season 4. At one point, there is a fight in Jesse's house, and in the scuffle Walter and Jesse crash into a shelf, causing its contents to spill and the box for Rage winds up on top of the pile.
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 the Meth King of South-West USA. 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."
Pyrrhic Villainy: Walt's obsession with amassing wealth to help his family slowly disintegrates his family over the course of the show.
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 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 the actor so much.
Vince Gilligan originally planned on killing off Jesse in the first season, but Aaron Paul was so good in the role that he essentially became the second main character.
Had it not been for contract issues with Raymond Cruz, Gus would never have been introduced, and Tuco wouldn't have been killed off.
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.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: 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.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The show plays around with this. For starters, Jesse and Walt epitomize recklessness (youth) vs. calculation (experience). Hank and Walt similarly reflect this, mainly with the former's direct, almost obnoxious way of dealing with his family and job. However, Jesse plays Blue when dealing with his less smart cohorts Badger and Skinny Pete. Walt and Gus also flip this around: the first acts more out of emotion and concern for his family and (sometimes) Jesse. The latter, who has no emotional attachments the audience knows of (or at least living ones), conducts business the way only a cold-blooded monster would, taking extreme caution to keep his respectable businessman facade while not minding his underlings' (or anyone else's) deaths to keep his outfit operating.
Red Herring: To date, the Ricin has not been used to kill a single person since it was introduced all the way back in season 2. It got a lot of false starts though.
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: Fairly early in season 3, when Jesse was trying to convince Walt to start cooking meth again, he showed him a bag of meth he made himself. Despite Walt not being fully interest in making meth at the time, a mix of envy and hubris made him denounce Jesse's meth as flawed, unprofessional, and inferior to his batch. Hilariously enough, Walt wasn't entirely wrong. In season four, when Jesse was forced to make meth for The Cartel, the batch's resulting purity was 96.3%. It's by no means awful, but it's slightly under Walt's golden standard of 99.1% purity. Jesse's meth making skills have improved as the series went on, but he still doesn't have Walt's Midas touch.
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.
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". Unlike most examples, this ends up backfiring big time.
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.
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.
In Season 4 episode 4, Skyler remarks "Tonight's the night", a likely shout-out to Dexter.
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 the flashforwards during the Season 2 teasers, the pink teddy bear is the only thing in colour, an homage to Schindler's List.
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.
When Jesse is sent to the hospital and badly mauled, Saul jokes about his bruised appearance by doing a reference to Rocky.
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.
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.
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 still this is never shown onscreen.
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 worked on cracking the ATM from the bottom with HIM UNDERNEATH wasn'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.
Train Job: Walt and company pull one in the episode "Dead Freight".
Trash the Set: Season 3 has Walt and Jesse crushing the RV, and Season 4 ends with them blowing up the laundromat superlab.
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.
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.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The only way the time line of the series makes sense is if the early seasons took place in 2011-2012. Season 1 aired in 2008.
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.
Walt does one after blowing up a Jerkass lawyer's car.
Gus does this after being the one to GET blown up.
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.
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.
Villainy-Free Villain: 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. Although she does voluntarily aid in Walt's criminal enterprise on a few occasions, these are some of the few times where she's not an antagonist.
Vocal Evolution: A bit of a minor example, but as the series goes on, Walt and Jesse's voices both change, to coincide with their Character Development. As Walt's actions become more and more reprehensible, the rather quiet tone he has at the beginning of the series is replaced with a deeper, more snarling voice. As Jesse becomes more and more competent, the rather nasal tone, and vernacular that he had in the first season is gradually replaced with a deeper, more mature sounding voice.
Vomit Discretion Shot: Used several times in "Crazy Handful of Nothin", when Walt is throwing up because of the chemotherapy.
What You Are in the Dark: A major theme in the show. The seemingly upstanding, mild-mannered, well-educated Walt, given the right set of circumstances, gradually transforms into a ruthless criminal; Hank, seemingly a bigoted, ineffectual bully of a cop, becomes a real hero when truly tested.
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.
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 and 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" is a protracted game played between Walt and Gus.
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 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.