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YMMV: Breaking Bad
WARNING: Only spoilers for Seasons 4 and 5 will be Walter Whited out.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Possibly the purpose of the show.
    • It's hard to decide if Walt's "cooking" is retaliation against a world that never cut him a break or a genuine desire to provide for his family. Not that they're necessarily mutually exclusive. And Walt himself - was he a nice guy when we first encountered him at the start of the show, or was he already as sociopathic, hungry for wealth and power as he has ultimately become? Evidence is piling up to suggest the latter. Especially his explanation of his separation from Gray Matter.
    • Skyler - good woman who's acting poorly due to her husband's actions? Simple human frailty? Or a control freak who ran the family up until Walt's Break Bad and is now looking for any method to put him under her thumb in some form of twisted love?
    • In "Fifty-One", was Skyler's attempted drowning part of her attempt to get the kids out of the house, or was she actually suicidal?
    • Is Gus really a ruthless drug kingpin or a reasonable boss in the drug trade? Mike seems to think the latter, and angrily tells Walt that everything would have been fine if he just did what he was told. The rival drug dealers may or may not have murdered Tomas under orders. What does it say about Gus that he left hazard pay for his employees in the event that he dies and they are sent to prison? Or even the fact that Gus invites his employees over for dinner in his own home? They say that Gus is perfectly fine with those that follow orders and entirely overly cautious or even murderous of those that canít be trusted to follow orders.
    • Jesse's parents. The interpretation really comes down to whether or not you feel it's ever justified to give up on your child. Or whether, given how he was the one taking care of his aunt when she died of cancer, his parents are a large part of what screwed him up to begin with.
    • Was Walt right about Gretchen and Elliott all along when they dismiss him on TV? Or are they just doing damage control for their company by distancing themselves from an infamous drug lord? Likewise, is Walt right in saying that they betrayed him, or is he merely blaming them for his past errors due to his own pride?
    • Gale Boetticher - did he really miss the subtext of Gus asking him to master Walt's cooking methods and was simply too afraid to ask questions about it, or genuinely ignorant of Gus's intent to remove Walt from the picture altogether?
  • Anticlimax Boss: The Cartel for Gus. Inverted with Hector and Walt, neither one of which were seen as a major (direct) threat, but wound up costing Gus his life.
  • Anvilicious/Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: With a little talent and luck, crime does pay - and very well. But it'll destroy everything you love.
    • Drugs Are Bad. Part of why this message is effective is because it doesn't exclusively show the physical effects of drugs (as most works that focus on a "Drugs Are Bad" message tend to) - it also shows how morally bankrupt someone would have to be (or have to become) in order to run a cartel, and what living that kind of life does to the people around someone running such a business. Still, this message is subverted by showing Jesse as a fairly functioning meth user and the relative ease with which one can kick this habit, as well making Gale Boetticher, one of the few genuinely good characters on the series, a drug manufacturer who believes that he's doing nothing wrong, as his customers are adults who can choose for themselves whether or not to buy his product (though you could argue that involvement with a drug empire still cost him his life, even if he was innocent). It seems that, if anything, the ultimate message is that having to operate in the dark, lie, and deceive is devastating to one's life.
  • Award Snub: Frequently the cause of this to other shows, especially at the Emmys, where if Bryan Cranston is nominated for Best Actor, you can bet he'll win it.
    • Despite this, in the early days many fans would complain that the show itself has never managed to win the Emmy for Best Drama Series, particularly for Season 4. Thankfully, this was averted in 2013, when Season 5A won the prize.
    • Some may find it unfortunate that Giancarlo Esposito couldn't win Best Supporting Actor for his work in Season 4 as Gus Fring. However, the severity of this outcry is likely limited, given how the award ended up going to Aaron Paul.
    • There's also a number of fans who feel that Bryan Cranston deserved another Emmy for his performance in "Crawl Space", because they believe it to be the finest acting job he's done in the series.
    • Up until Season 5, the show also wasn't able to earn nominations for Writing, something that seemed odd, retroactively, after the WGA listed it as one of the 20 best-written television shows of all time. Season 4's "Crawl Space" was perhaps the most notable omission of its first few years.
      • Speaking of the WGA, while Season 5B had three out its eight episodes nominated for Best Written Drama Episode, many were shocked that "Ozymandias", widely hailed as one of the best episodes of television ever made, was not one of those three.
    • Bryan Cranston losing the 2013 Emmy to Jeff Daniels (of the far less acclaimed show The Newsroom) is particularly galling to a lot of fans.
    • Although the show did extremely well for its final season's nominations at the 2014 Emmys (with a series high 16 nominations), a few omissions were present:
      • Rian Johnson was not nominated for Directing "Ozymandias", despite him being a semi-high profile name (having done Film/Looper) and the episode being deemed the Magnum Opus of the show. This is qualified by the episode getting in for Writing and Vince Gilligan getting Writing and Directing noms for the series finale.
      • For some reason, Robert Forster was not submitted for Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his entertaining work in the series' penultimate episode, "Granite State".
      • Dean Norris was overlooked for his work as Hank, which made things particularly sour for fans who thought he was already due a nomination for his work in Season 3.
  • Awesome Ego: Walt at least until season 5B.
  • Awesome Music: Has a sub-page.
  • Badass Decay:
    • Justified with Hank. He goes through a Humiliation Conga that ultimately leads to Break the Haughty, leaving him rather helpless and emasculated in the end. He gets better though until the end.
    • Walt goes through one in "Ozymandias", and keeps falling until the end of "Granite State": His drug empire collapses, the truth comes out, and he flees to New Hampshire where his cancer leaves him so weak that even he realizes that death is imminent. Thankfully, he leaps out of the decay heap when he manages to kill the entire Neo-Nazi gang with an M60 sentry and Lydia with well-placed ricin in her tea.
      • Also, threatening Gretchen and Elliot to use his funds to pay for Walt, Jr.'s college fund, thus fulfilling his endgame and getting payback on his former friends all at once.
  • Base Breaker
    • Walt definitely qualifies. On one hand, there are the people who see him as a badass anti-hero who does terrible things for the sake of his family , and believe that he really does care for them. On the other hand are the people who also view his increasingly crueler actions as a byproduct of his ego swelling to a dangerous degree, and believe that he's become just as bad, if not worse, than Gus and the Cartel. Even some members of the cast have sharply divided opinions on the character.

      It has become so bad that by the end of 5B, the base has nearly shattered completely by the people who hate Walt, and don't want him to succeed, continuing to treat him as The Scrappy, to his supporters who are treating everyone who's against him, which by this point includes practically the whole main cast, as The Scrappy.
    • Skyler, especially in Seasons 4 and 5. She's either a Jerkass Woobie who takes a lot of abuse to protect her family, or a hypocritical Villain Tritagonist with no right to take the moral high ground when she argues with Walt.
    • Though not quite as polarizing as Walt or Skyler, Jesse also qualifies for this status. One half of the fandom believes that he's the biggest Woobie in the entire show, and that he deserves a happy ending, whilst the other half believe that he's nearly as bad as Walt and believe that he should share whatever fate befalls Walt. The divide has grown even bigger as of Season 5B. Is he a noble soul trying to find redemption by helping Hank catch Walt, or is he a whiny bitch and a rat who keeps blaming Walt for everything bad that happens to him because he can't take responsibility for his own actions? Or a man pushed to the edge by trauma seeking vengeance? And is said revenge justified or petty? You decide!
    • Hank has also joined the list as of Season 5B, for reasons similar to Jesse. Some believe that his quest to take down Walt is a justified one. Others believe that his obsessiveness and desire to best Heisenberg has made him barely any better than Walt, and is driven more by ego rather than an actual desire to do good.
  • Better on DVD: Has been hailed by many as arguably the ultimate example. Watching the show on DVD or Netflix lets you enjoy the show without the horrible feeling fans got at the end of each episode when they had to wait another week to see what happened next. In fact, Vince Gilligan himself gives Netflix, and binge watching in general, major credit for seeing the show's massive jump in viewers in its final year.
  • Broken Base:
    • Over "Fly". Much of the fandom seems to think that it's either the best or the worst episode of the show. It's either a brilliant character study, or a pointless filler episode.
    • The plane crash at the end of Season 2 is either a Contrived Coincidence that's a Cliffhanger Copout after all the vague flash forwards and build up or it's a great metaphor for how Walt's actions have consequences he can't imagine.
    • While the second half of season 5 is almost universally loved and the first half is still well liked there is a disagreement between those that believe the plot line of the first 8 episodes were rushed and could have filled a full 13 episode season and those who like those episodes specifically because of the faster pacing.
    • The ending has quickly splintered the base even further. Some people feel that it was a satisfying finale that wrapped up all the remaining loose ends and gave the audience what it wanted. Others felt that it was too cartoonish, that it didn't stay true to the darker, more tragic themes of the final seasons, and that it ended things too neatly.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Vince Gilligan admitted that the third season was written from episode to episode instead of being planned out. For some fans, it's noticeable by how the plot moves at a strange pace and how some characters ended up as mere Red Herrings, but it isn't as jarring as other shows that fell under this effect, and the season still received critical acclaim. This is ironic considering Gilligan was an executive producer and writer for The X-Files, a series infamous for this trope.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Salamanca twins, Leonel and Marco, from season 3, are ruthless enforcers for the cartel. We get a hint of their viciousness when they decapitate an informant for the DEA named Tortuga and for a touch of black comedy put his head on a tortoise rigged with a bomb to catch the Federales. After arriving in America after the death of their cousin Tuco, the two slaughter every immigrant they arrived with, then kill an old woman to take her house as a base, and the police officer who comes to investigate. The two later stalk and attempt to murder DEA agent Hank Schrader, treating everything with nothing more than emotionless, single-minded ruthlessness.
    • Jack Welker, from season 5, leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, is just as nasty as any of the Mexican Cartel. Jack starts off using his prison connections to arrange the murders of ten prisoners Walter White is afraid will turn State's witness. Jack later kills DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez with his gang and steals the money Walt had buried for his own after personally executing Hank. Jack keeps Walt's old partner Jesse Pinkman enslaved and chained in the meth lab to cook for the Nazis under threat of murdering his loved ones; this threat turns out not to be idle as when Jesse attempts to escape, he is forced to witness the murder of his beloved Andreawhile Jack informs him her son will be next if Jesse tries anything again. Even when Walt returns, Jack decides to kill him rather than bother with any other step and only stops to parade Jesse's poor treatment in front of him.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The music that plays when Gus walks into the nursing home in ''Face Off'' . It manages to convey the emotion of that scene perfectly.
    • This rap artist has a number of rather brilliant rap songs based on Breaking Bad as part of his repertoire.
    • ''Bonfire'' by Knife Party playing during the scene when Walt Jr. gets a new car.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: By the start of Season 5, there are hardly any characters left who haven't crossed the Moral Event Horizon, and Black and Gray Morality no longer applies, causing this to set in for some viewers.
  • Designated Villain: In season 3, Jesse declares his acceptance of his role as the "bad guy". He spends this season attempting to embrace this: blackmailing his parents to sell his aunt's home for a very low price, starting his own meth operation, selling to a recovering addict group, and planning the murders of two rival drug dealers. At the end of the season, he's shown that he isn't emotionally capable of murdering Gale.
  • Double Standard: Fans' utter vitriol for female characters Marie and Skyler stands in marked contrast to their praise of even the most villainous male characters on the show, Tuco included. Even Anna Gunn's noticed.
    Anna Gunn: Some of it is still the double standard in our society — that it's more acceptable for a man to be this antihero badass doing all these things that break the law or are really awful. People watching want to be Walt, or they identify with him. He doesn't have to answer to anybody. He does what he wants. There's a fantasy element to that, I think. I also think that in some ways, there's kind of a sexism to it, honestly. Sometimes ... [pauses] I've been told particularly, how do you say ... non-flattering or just really vicious — you could use the word vitriolic — angry stuff about Skyler, or about other female characters on other shows. The hatred and the vitriol and the venom and the nastiness and the attacks are so personal sometimes that it feels like, "Oh gosh, OK, I get that you don't like Skyler, you like Walt, you're on his side, but it just feels different." I don't feel like that stuff would be written about a male character.

    Vince Gilligan also commented on the issue:
    We've been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, "Why is your character such a bitch?" And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. [...] And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She's telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?"
  • Draco in Leather Pants/Ron the Death Eater:
    • The viewpoints of people who hate Skyler in Season 5 for not being more supportive of Walt, turning on him and trying to protect the children from him tend to come off a little like either of these, sometimes both.
    • Similarly, season 5B has fans bashing Walt Jr. because apparently a lot of people wouldn't be mad or feel betrayed by their father if he was revealed as a drug manufacturer AND, as far as they knew, was responsible for the death of a beloved family member.
    • Jesse also gets a good deal of Draco in Leather Pants from people - apparently, realizing that you're a bad guy but continuing to cook meth and doing bad things that aren't as bad as the other criminals you work with makes you a good person. Actually discussed in-episode: when Jesse wants out of the operation with his cut of the money, Walt points out that it's still drug money he'd be taking and asks why he would want it if he's "so pure, with such emotional depth."
      • To be fair to Jesse, he is the most visibly shaken character in the series. Every extreme action he takes has a noticeable effect on his psyche. Whereas characters like Walt, Gus, and Lydia express little remorse over any of their actions, Jesse shows obvious regret.
    • Season 5B also has people see Todd in Leather Pants despite his Lack of Empathy while doing murders or break-ins.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Hank and Saul.
    • Mike is the biggest example of this, for his gruff-but-likable demeanor and sheer badassitude and rising from a bit part in the second season to become one of the most important characters on the show at the time of his death.
    • Badger and Skinny Pete get quite a lot of love on various sites.
    • Huell, Saul's ineffectual, pointy-headed bodyguard.
    • Marie and Todd in Season 5B.
  • Escapist Character: Deconstructed with Walt - he initially starts out as this, as the audience cheers while he breaks out of his tedious existence and lives life on his own terms. But this recklessness gets a load of innocent people killed and his family ends up in shambles because of his illegal activities. Things only go From Bad to Worse as the series goes on.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Would be an understatement for fans of this show. Literally every aspect has been analysed by the fandom for some sort of meaning, from the RV to everyone's fashion choices to coffee mugs to the fact that Walt wears white briefs. One reddit user decided to take this Up to Eleven by trying to find tongue-in-cheek symbolism for every item in the restaurant scene from "Confessions"
  • Evil Is Cool: Mike, Walt, and Gus.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With fans of The Sopranos and especially The Wire, as all three shows are considered to be candidates for greatest (crime drama) show of all time.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Just look at some of Saul's suits.
  • Flame War: Ask a forum what's the greatest show of all time between Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Go ahead.
  • Fountain of Memes: Jesse. Both Walt and Skyler qualify to a lesser extent.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In one episode of season 2, Jesse tries to surprise Jane by cooking breakfast while she sleeps in. She gets up before he finishes, however, which causes Jesse to say "You weren't supposed to get up." Jane jokingly asks "What, ever?" A few episodes later Jane dies in her sleep.
      • To make it even worse, she also says "I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit..."
    • One of Jesse's insults to Walt is "Heil Hitler, bitch." It comes back to bite him when he gets enslaved by Neo-Nazis.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Heisenberg. If you paid attention in chemistry, this would bring to mind the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. If you studied German history, Walt's similarities to Werner Heisenberg are incredible. Especially in Season 5, now that Walt is working with a group of Nazis.
    • Episode 14 of Season 5 is titled "Ozymandias", after the Shelley poem. It's very fitting.
    • The air disaster in the Season 2 final has some similarities to the 1986 Cerritos disaster, when an Aeromexico jet and a private plane collided over the skies near Los Angeles International Airport. The air traffic controller monitoring the two flights was named Walter White. The sole difference is that 15 people in houses were killed when Aeromexico Flight 498 slammed into a residential neighborhood.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Many people agree that while it was tightly plotted, compelling and contained an incendiary performance from Bryan Cranston, Season 1 suffered from having its run truncated by the Writers' Strike. Season 2 picked up at exactly the point Season 1 left off and went on to exceed all viewer expectations, not only developing Walt and Jesse as characters, but giving ostensibly ancillary characters (from Hank, Skyler and even Tuco) an unexpected depth. Add to this the addition of Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut and Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo "Gus" Fring, and Breaking Bad became must-see television.
    • The pace of the show markedly picks up from the beginning of season 2, with every episode feeling like an 'end of season cliffhanger'. While season 1 was great, season 2 onwards is as addictive as, well... crystal meth.
    • Walter himself, started as a mildly complex character in the first season, but the second season began adding a massive amount of depth and layers that eventually made him one of the most complex characters ever put on television.
    • And then there's Season 5 which currently has a 99 on Metacritic from over 20 reviews. Put simply, this is a rare case of a show that many feel improves every season. And now "Ozymandias", the antepenultimate episode of the series, is being called one of the best TV episodes of all time.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A fan who got the chance to watch the finale of Breaking Bad with the cast was later found to have been operating an underground synthetic marijuana distribution scheme.
  • He's Just Hiding: Some viewers want to believe that Lydia and Walt survived the season finale, reasoning that Lydia was given fair warning of her poisoning and Walt was found by the police seconds after collapsing, giving them both time to be treated. However, Word of God says that both are dead. And the chances of their survival were very low in the first place.
  • He Really Can Act: Bryan Cranston (previously best known for playing Bumbling Dad Hal) has proven his ability to effectively act and convey emotion dramatically in this show, winning him three Emmy awards as a result.
    • In the first season Jesse and his actor, Aaron Paul, received a bit of a mixed reception with many feeling that it was going to go the route of the cliche stoner gangster-wannabe. Aaron Paul blew that prediction out of the water in season two, and continued to turn in progressively more impressive and jaw-dropping performances as the show went on, eventually winning two Emmy awards. Some even believe that his performance rivals Cranston's.
    • Likewise, Skyler was seen as little more than the typical nagging wife by at least one review for Season 1. Fast forward a few seasons, and Anna Gunn becomes the only member of the main cast to win an Emmy besides Cranston and Paul (thanks in large part to Season 5A's "Fifty-One").
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • On August 16th, 2012, the Tuscaloosa County, Alabama Sheriff's Office announced its new Most Wanted Fugitive as a meth cook named Walter White.
    • At one point during the show's first season, Hank and Walt have a discussion about the arbitrary nature of narcotics prohibition. Hank makes a joke on the basis of cannabis being illegal. Except, New Mexico legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2007, a year before the show first went on the air.
      • Except New Mexico can't actually "legalize" marijuana, they can only make it not a crime under state law. As a DEA agent, Hank works for the federal government, and (properly) still regards it as illegal, since New Mexico doesn't have the right to override the federal regulations about it.
    • Fans of Friday Night Lights get to see Landry killing Epyck.
    • Jesse drives away at top speed in a car at the end of "Felina." Guess what Aaron Paul's next major role is in? Need for Speed. May also double as an Actor Allusion.
    • In the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine, both Walter and Hank's actors, Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris, have brief, unrelated appearances where Cranston plays an obnoxious business man while Norris plays a cop.
    • In 1999, Aaron Paul was in a Corn Pops commercial where his parents are trying to talk to him about acting responsibly and being a functioning member of society, but he's too distracted by a drug-like obsession with the cereal to listen. It plays oddly like an in-canon prequel to the show.
  • HSQ: Gets high near the end of every season. Approaches infinite as the series approaches its end, especially "Ozymandias" and "Felina".
  • Ho Yay: A very strong case could be made for Walt and Jesse. And, even though they didn't get much screen time together, Max and Gus could definitely count as well. Led to many "Is Gus Gay?" questions being asked.
  • Hype Aversion/Hype Backlash: Being one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of all time, this type of reaction was inevitable.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Both Jesse and Walt qualify. Interestingly, while Walt begins as a regular woobie and Jesse the jerkass variety, they've switched places by season 3. By "Ozymandias", Walt has become this again after being forced to leave his family and let everyone think he did a lot of awful things of which he's innocent, as part of his plan to get Skyler off the hook.
    • Hank, whose private pain is concealed by a willfully ignorant and obnoxious public personality.
    • Marie approaches this territory in season 4 when she has to deal with an almost-crippled Hank, who is deeply bitter about his predicament and takes it out on Marie. By "Ozymandias", Marie has become a full Woobie.
    • Skyler as of Season 5, as Walt's sociopathic tendencies begin to seep into their home life. In Season 3, it's hard not to feel bad for her when Walt Jr. hates her guts for kicking out Walt....and she can't fight back because that would involve explaining Walt's new life in the drug trade.
    • Gus, Season 4's Big Bad. It's not hard to feel sorry for him for having to watch the Cartel kill Max in front of him.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Averted. Many assumed Hank and Gomez were safe after the cliffhanger in "To'hajille", believing that if they were going to be killed off it would be at the end of an episode rather than at the beginning. Boy, were they wrong.
  • Love to Hate: Gus and Todd.
    • Skyler, to a lesser extent, for those who see her as an Anti-Hero rather than The Scrappy
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Walt builds up to this over the course of the series, becoming steadily more confident in his ability to control people and using it to climb his way up to the power ladder of the drug world bit by bit, all the while evading capture and taking enemies out of the picture. He's unquestionably this at the end of Season 4 and into Season 5, executing masterful plans to further his goals, especially in the series finale.
    • Gus is charismatic, powerful, confident, and utterly ruthless. Most of Season 4 is him executing a grand overarching plan using Walt and Jesse, and he pulls it off flawlessly. Walt is ultimately only able to kill him by means of the one person Gus lets his guard down around, Gus is otherwise untouchable.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page, bitch!
    • "I've got dipping sticks."
  • Misaimed Fandom: There's a very vocal part of the fandom that still fails to get the memo about Walt becoming a borderline monster, fawning over everything he does and says. See Evil Is Cool way above.
    • The fact that this was occurring in the first few seasons is frustrating, but ultimately unsurprising at worst, and sometimes understandable. The fact that this has continued into season 5 is insane.
    • By relation, it's also not surprising that the characters with the biggest Hatedoms are the ones who most vocally oppose Walt.
  • Mondegreen: Many viewers misheard Lydia's line "Not if you're Madrigal." from "Gliding Over All" as "Not if you're magical." If only that was the real line.....
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Several conversations between Walt and Jesse indicate that they felt completely justified in their actions right up until Jane's death, which they consider (for different reasons) to be the worst thing they've ever done. Word of God also agrees with this moment being a MEH with both Bryan Cranston and Creator Vince Gilligan having addressed this.
    • If there was any line left for Walt to cross it was all but obliterated when Walt has Jesse kill Gale to ensure their survival.
    • Many people who hate Skyler feel she crosses it when she has an affair with Ted Beneke.
      • Some fans also thought Skyler crossed this when urging Walt to kill fan favorite Jesse; in a similar vein, fans also opposed Hank when he admitted to only wanting to use Jesse to get Walt and doesn't care if Jesse dies so long as he gets it on tape so that Walt can be arrested.
      • For others it was Skyler agreeing to help launder Walt's drug money and act as an accomplice to his criminal activity in spite of Walt urging her to keep out of it. If nothing else, fans felt she lost any claim she might've had to the moral high ground after that, and didn't have any right to take issue with Walt spending time with his children.
    • Jesse comes dangerously close to crossing it when he starts attempting to peddle meth to his addiction support group. Though he does back off from this very quickly after he meets Andrea, and later tearfully, genuinely and with self-loathing confesses it to the entire group.
    • While Gus Fring is the presumed Big Bad of the show, he draws the line at killing children to Walt. However, some episodes later Gus crosses it when he tells Walt that he plans to kill Hank, and will kill his family, including his infant daughter, if he tries to interfere.
    • Walt poisoning Brock so that he can get Jesse on his side and not Gus' is considered to be his definite line crossing by many fans.
    • Unassuming Todd crosses this pretty hardcore at the end of his second appearance when he kills a child witness without batting an eye. He stays past the horizon once he kills Andrea in "Granite State" to punish Jesse.
    • Despite everything listed above, there was still a tiny chance that Walt could make up for all his heinous deeds. But now that he's killed Mike all because he couldn't control his temper, his last shot at redemption is gone.
    • Just when you'd think that Walt has sunk so low that there is just nothing but solid ground under his feet, he records a confession video. Where he says all he did was done on the orders of Hank Schrader and then gives it to him.
    • Walter deliberately gives the appearance of crossing the horizon by abducting Holly and calmly ignoring Skyler's pleas, then calling her later and nastily blaming her for the entire situation. In actuality, the phone conversation was meant to help Skyler. Walt clearly knew the police were listening, and by claiming he had threatened her life if she ever told someone the truth (which he never did at any point in the show) and claiming she had no idea of any specifics of what he had done Walt just pinned everything on himself and gave Skyler the means for a semi-credible legal defense. He then leaves Holly so she can be returned to her mother showing that while Walt still has definitely crossed the line for good he still cares about his family, including Hank, no matter what.
    • In universe: To Skyler, who figures out that Walt had been lying about his fugue state, rejected Elliot's and Gretchen's money despite saying he did so, and then building up to the revelation that Walt lied about his visit to his mother.
  • Narm: When Walter yells/raises his voice, it earns some snickers due to the snarl he uses when yelling.
  • Never Live It Down: Contrary to Memetic Mutation, Walt Jr. does more in the show than eat breakfast.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Old Joe, the crooked owner of the junkyard where Walt wants to dispose of the RV. When Hank gets mixed up in the action, Joe stalls him long enough with some pretty extensive knowledge of law.
    • Also, the weapons dealer in "One Minute."
    • Mike, in his first couple of appearances, would only show up for a single scene to do something awesome and leave.
    • Peter Schuler, Gus' contact in the fast food industry.
    • Becky, the White's neighbor whom Walt uses to unknowingly lure out the mooks in Season 4's finale.
    • Trent, the waiter who tries to serve the White and the Schrader's during an extremely heated discussion regarding Walt's crimes.
    • Robert Forster as the vaccuum cleaner repairman and identity eraser in "Granite State".
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • In-Universe: Gale for Jesse, briefly. Ultimately subverted in that Walt really likes Gale and probably relates to him better than Jesse but decides he has to take Jesse back to keep him under control. As such, to get rid of him, Walter treats him like this.
    • Todd, for Jesse, mostly for being a dumber, more shallow, and arrogant version of him. Walt may also feel this way about Todd in-universe, since he seems disappointed to be working with Todd after Jesse quits, even though their quality didn't drop and Todd tried his hardest to help Walt.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Skyler has gradually undergone this over the course of the show, partially due to backlash against the contingent of fans who hated her so ferociously during the early seasons. It's no coincidence that as Walt falls deeper into the Heisenberg persona, Skyler's opposition to his behavior becomes more and more sympathetic. And when push comes to shove she chooses Walt and protecting her family from the truth, over just handing him over to Hank. Even though the decision means destroying her relationship with her own sister, possibly forever.
    • Hank starting in season 2 after he shoots Tuco and slowly starts to have a nervous breakdown.
    • Marie got rescued, arguably, in season 4, when she shows her genuine love for Hank and tries everything to improve his situation and only gets coldness and distance. Then it happened for real in season 5 when she finds out the whole truth, and slaps Skyler and even tries to take Holly out of the house. And then follows up by telling Walt point blank that he should just kill himself if he really wants this to end well for everyone.
    • Possibly Todd in Season 5B, when Character Development turned him from just a Replacement Scrappy for Jesse into an incredibly compelling, disturbing individual with a personality beyond "opposite of Jesse".
    • Some of the people who began to dislike Jesse After he sided with Hank in order to try and bring Walt down began to sympathize with him again once he was turned into a slave for Jack's gang, and was forced to watch Andrea get murdered.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Thanks in part to the Draco in Leather Pants / Misaimed Fandom surrounding Walter White, the most "hated" characters tends to be the ones who most vocally oppose Walt's actions.
    • Skyler was this initially to the majority of fans early on. The bit where she cheated on Walt with Ted only served to add fuel to the fire. Of course, it didn't help that she was in the rather thankless position of being in opposition to Walt's erratic behavior and suspicious actions. Even though the audience knew she had every right to be wary, given he was off cooking Meth, her husband initially had sympathetic motives. However as Walt's motivation drifted from desperately wanting to provide for his family to feeding his own massive ego and greed, she began gathering greater sympathy.
    • The Schraders didn't fare much better either - Hank is disliked for his boisterous, politically incorrect behavior while Marie was disliked for being a gossipy know-it-all. Hank is rescued after being injured and suffering panic attacks in Seasons 2 and 3 while Marie was largely rescued in Seasons 4 and 5 as she struggles to cope with an injured Hank's indifference towards her and then after she Took a Level in Badass after her sister and brother-in-law are found to be engaging in criminal activities.
    • Even Walt Jr. was not immune, with a lot of his detractors claiming him to be an whiny, ungrateful "retard" whose only saving grace was that he liked his father more than his mother. Which resulted in his calling the cops on Walt in "Ozymandias" being seen as his Moral Event Horizon to the hatedom.
  • Seasonal Rot: A minor example. Some fans prefer Season 4 over 5 because of its tense pacing and strong continuity (it centers on the development and climax of Gus Fring and The Cartel's story arcs, both which had been focal points over the previous two seasons). This isn't to say they don't feel that Season 5 isn't superb, just that Season 4 is the better of the two.
    • There were also many fans that thought held Season 2 up as the best run of episodes of the show (at least before Season 5B), given its tight structure (Gilligan noted that it was the last time that the writers mapped out exactly what they wanted to do for a season well in advance), the introduction of fan-favorite characters like Saul, Mike and Gus, and the great impact it had in growing the show's beard.
    • Note that this only applies to the first half of Season 5. Season 5B, on the other hand, is generally regarded as Season 4's equal, if not superior, for all the same reasons (pacing, continuity, etc.), and is already being listed as one of the best final seasons ever broadcast.
  • So Cool It's Awesome
    • Among the individual episodes, "Ozymandias" is not only considered one of the best episodes of the series, but one of the best tv episodes ever.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Skyler is frequently spelled as Skylar.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Before the FX program, it was as if Fargo had it's own tv show.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Devastatingly subverted. Many fans were sure the shootout wouldn't have been made into a cliffhanger if Hank and Gomez both got killed. But this show does go there.
  • Squick: Near the end of the season four premiere, Walt cleans the barrel containing Victor's remains, currently melting in acid. Walt stops cleaning for a moment when he notices the murky outline of Victor's head detaching itself from his body, and sinking to the bottom of the barrel. Yuck.
  • Take That, Audience!:
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • In episode three of season five, when Marie was constantly talking and nitpicking about the car wash workers, Skyler finally said what most fans wanted to say to Marie way back in season one: to shut up, repeatedly and boisterously. Sure, Skyler snapped because of Walt's actions bearing her down, and anyone could've triggered that reaction, but she couldn't have let out her frustrations on a more fitting character.
    • Marie's What the Hell, Hero? speech to Skyler in "Buried".
    • Skyler kicking Lydia out of the car wash.
    • For those that still hate her, Walt gives one to Skyler during his subtle Taking the Heat speech in "Ozymandias" where he basically voices all the complaints people have towards her since the beginning of the series, namely her bitchiness and nagging. On the other hand, Walt's speech could be interpreted as a subversion, since he intentionally painted himself in a horrible light to deflect any and all blame from Skyler. Some fans even theorized the speech was Vince Gilligan's Take That to the fans who endlessly attack Skyler, no matter what she has done throughout the series.
    • Walt telling Jesse the truth of Jane's death, for fans who consider Jesse a rat.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Oh, boy. Season 5 had this in spades.
    • Declan. He is (seemingly) a Benevolent Boss who takes a more relaxed, matter-of-fact approach to the drug business, yet retains a professional demeanor and is quite Genre Saavy. His character arc could have proved an interesting Foil to both Gus's (who plays The Stoic and is rather ruthless) and Walt's (who is more emotionally turbulent and arguably more ruthless). Unfortunately, he doesn't show up until Season 5. Then he dies.
    • Lydia is a surprisingly colorful character, mixing Femme Fatale with Adorkable nervousness and an Ambiguous Disorder. She probably would be more liked had she had more time to develop.
    • Huell and Kuby. Delightfully passive and humorous characters. Every time they open their mouths, they make it count. They hardly get any screen time together, unfortunately. Apart, Huell is pretty much The Silent One, while Kuby is passed over for drama's sake. Their best lines are as a pair.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Mike has a granddaughter, Kaylee. Mike mentors Jesse. Jesse loves kids, having a strong Big Brother Instinct. It would have been cool to see the two develop a bond, especially after Mike's death.
  • Too Cool to Live:
    • Tortuga. That decapitated-head-turtle bomb was a bit of a downer note for his subplot.
    • Also, Gus, and Mike.
    • "Ozymandias" kills off Steve Gomez and Hank Schrader.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Vince Gilligan, the series' creator, is already firmly convinced that he will never be able to follow it up.
    • This came up in the show itself. While the last two episodes, "Granite State" and "Felina" are widely considered superb in their own right and an excellent ending to the show, they also had the misfortune of following up "Ozymandias" which has been almost universally praised as both the best episode of the series, and one of the best episodes of television ever broadcast. Some critics and fans feel that the final two episodes suffered a bit, for no other reason than being forced to follow the near perfect "Ozymandias".
      • To accommodate for this, some fans like to classify "Ozymandias" as the climax of the show and the final two episodes as its epilogue.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Subverted with Ted's financial troubles. At first, the subplot only seems to exist for the sake of giving Skyler more screen time, but it ends up tying hugely into Walt's A-plot near the end of Season 4.
  • True Art Is Angsty: One of the most critically-acclaimed TV shows of all time and also one of the darkest - and the darker it got, the more acclaim followed. The first season plays like a Black Comedy and, while considered good, is generally regarded as the weakest season. The harrowing fifth and final season displays Walter White's inevitable fall, shows just how far he's fallen as a human being, and is the most critically acclaimed season of the show. And Ozymandias, the darkest and most emotionally-draining episode in the series, is already being hailed as BB's finest hour, if not one of the best episodes in TV history.
  • Wangst: Skyler at times, and Jesse through parts of Season 5.
    • Amusingly enough, Skyler seems to accuse Marie of engaging in this early on in Season 2 (see: Her rant to Hank).
  • What an Idiot:
    • Ted has the attitude of, "I just received a mysterious inheritance from Saul equivalent to the amount of back taxes I owe. What should I do with it? I know! Buy an expensive car and 'hold out for a better deal.'"
      • Ted takes it another step further. "So some tough guys try to force me to sign the check to pay off my debt. Fuck that, I'm going to make a break for it and cripple myself."
    • Jesse in the second episode of season 2. Their plan to poison Tuco would have worked a whole lot better if he didn't egg him on and make it extremely obvious there was something radically different with that little bit of Meth.
    • Jesse falls under this again in Rabid Dog, he abandons Hank's plan to catch Walt in favor of his own, which isn't a bad plan per see. The problem is that he goes out of his way to rattle Walt's chain, prompting his former partner to put a hit out on Pinkman, thereby getting Jack's gang involved in the process.
    • Gale. What kind of moron leaves his notes for cooking meth lying around in his apartment? Unless he really doesn't get that many visitors.
    • The drug dealer Walt meets at a home improvement store, who decides to buy all of the ingredients for meth in one store. The fact that he looks like a drug addict doesn't help. Walter actually goes out of his way to point out his mistake, as well as telling him that he got the wrong matchbooks.
    • Walt leaves a Walt Whitman book with a note from Gale just lying out in his bathroom.
    • Badger. He correctly realizes that he's being set up, but still proceeds to sell meth to the undercover cop because he fell for the old "cops can't deny that that they are cops if asked directly" urban legend .
    • Walt in early Season 4: convincing Hank that Gale Boetticher wasn't Heisenberg may have been the dumbest thing he's done all series.
    • Mike (by his standards, at least) in early Season 5: all right, tying up someone to a radiator by one hand with temporary handcuffs is perfectly reasonable. Except when you do it to someone you just called out on being a loose cannon, and who you know is a genius at MacGyvering escapes, and leave them like that for an hour or so. The only mitigating factor is that he might not have had a second cuff to use, but even then, clearing the immediate area of objects was feasible.
    • Good job Walt on creating a network with a group of ruthless Neo-Nazis who will later go on to steal your money and kill your brother-in-law
    • Skyler could be argued as having been called out in-verse in "Ozymandias". If she hadn't let her pride get in the way, if she had confessed to Hank when he first learned the truth about Heisenberg, the entire train of events leading to Hank's death, losing her daughter and having her own husband show the depths of his pettiness and anger before disappearing would not have happened.
    • Hank finally has Walt right where he wants him: blinded by rage, irrational, and leading Hank right toward a mountain of irrefutable evidence of Walt's wrongdoing. Does Hank immediately call for backup and bring the full force of the DEA down on Walt, complete with choppers and squadrons of agents in full riot gear? No. Does he at least phone his findings in to the DEA office so that if the worst should happen, someone else can bring Walt down? No. He shows up with Gomey and a couple of guns and tells no one where they're going or why. Enter a bunch of heavily-armed neo-Nazis....
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: While Word of God has stated that Breaking Bad is a story of how "Mr. Chips became Scarface," the original driving force behind Walt's meth manufacturing; to help pay for his medical bills, has prompted pro-single payer health care advocates in the US to use the show to highlight the issue of health care costs in the United States, as well as the War on Drugs. Even the creator has claimed that the show could not be set anywhere else but the United States.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: In the grand finale, taking out a room full of people with a homemade sentry gun isn't the likeliest outcome, but who cares when the alternative is neo-nazis not getting their comeuppance?
  • The Woobie: Jesse, among others.
    • Apparently, Walt thinks of Jesse as being a Woobie. According to Bryan Cranston on Inside Episode 12, in Walt's mind if something were to happen to Jesse, it would be like stabbing a puppy with a pitch fork.
    • Rather extensive thoughts on Jesse's woobiehood, for those with time and interest.
    • Gale, poor Gale.
    • Walt himself starts as this, then becomes progressively less sympathetic as the show goes on. Fortunately, he becomes a Jerkass Woobie at the end.
    • The little boy in "Peekaboo".
    • Don Margolis. His wife is gone; his daughter Jane relapses back on drugs despite his best efforts to help her stay clean after over a year, and then she winds up dead from an overdose the morning before she would have gone to rehab. After the Wayfarer 515 disaster, he's vilified across town to the point that he tries to kill himself.
    • Walt Jr. The kid really loved his dad and once he finds out he was a drug kingpin, not only is he crushed and angered, but within less than a day he intercedes into a knife fight between his parents and calls the cops on Walt, forcing him to abandon his family forever.
    • Marie becomes this in "Ozymandias": She had just heard that Hank had taken Walt into custody, giving her her first real Hope Spot in ages, only to learn shortly afterwards that Walt has escaped and Hank has been killed, possibly by Walt under her assumptions.
    • Skyler also becomes this in "Ozymandias" when Walt kidnaps Holly and drives off. This is definitely Adult Fear taken Up to Eleven.
    • Andrea. When we first meet her, Jesse is trying to get her back on meth during their Narcotics Anonymous support meeting. Fortunately, Jesse has a soft spot for kids and immediately backs off, making it clear that she's a young single mom desperately trying to get her life together and raise her son properly. But then she gets murdered by Todd for something she had nothing to do with.
    • Brock. He was poisoned by Walt as part of his plan to get Jesse on his side and not Gus' and his mother was killed right outside his house. Despite Andrea being a caring mother, the odds were already stacked against him. With the implications coming from the Fridge Horror of his situation, his odds of being murdered or going to prison are far greater than graduating high school.
  • X-Pac Heat: As mentioned above, Anna Gunn has received this big time from the fandom as a result of the extreme amounts of Skyler hate.

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