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  • Abandoned Area: The White family residence at the very end.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Marie's kleptomania just falls by the wayside and never gets fully explored or resolved. However, it does come back into play briefly during the final season when she attempts to take Holly away from Skyler after finding out about Walt and Skyler's criminal deeds.
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    • In the episode Peekaboo, after Spooge repeats his claim that the ATM theft was a "victimless crime", the scene cuts away to show the actual crime scene, which includes a dead body, lots of blood, and a baggie of Jesse and Walt's signature blue meth. Nothing ever comes of this and it is not mentioned again.
    • "Gliding Over All" introduces the concept of Walt making a deal to not only continue making the product to be sent to all the same places as before, but now to the Czech Republic as well so Lydia can have the Czechs she's associated with there sell it too. After the "Crystal Blue Persuasion" montage, Walt not long after decides he's out of the business. You would think that this would build up to the Czechs being out for blood in the second half of the final season for being denied the product...but it doesn't.
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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Cousins' axe falls out of his hands and cuts into the asphalt far enough to stay upright. It wasn't even swung downwards — it just fell about 7 feet and landed on the blade.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • In Season 2, Jesse encounters a couple of drug addicts who do nothing but rob people and get high living together in a filthy, dilapidated house — along with their horribly neglected young son. He is suitably disgusted.
    • A flashback shows how Tio Salamanca raised the two terrifying hit men we see in season three. When one of them yells in the midst of a sibling squabble that he wishes his brother were dead, Tio takes him at his word and proceeds to hold his brother's head under ice water until he fights his uncle off to save his brother. The treatment did, however, seem to instill an undying family loyalty in the brothers.
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    • Walter to his surrogate son, Jesse, in later seasons.
    • Walt to his actual son Walt Jr. at least once, when he basically forces Junior to drink until he pukes.
  • 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.
    • Mark Margolis played a ruthless cartel enforcer in Scarface (1983). He's also in the Production Posse of Darren Aronofsky.
    • What happens to Ted is almost exactly the same as the fate of Christopher Cousins' character in Terriers.
    • Around the same time Kevin Rankin starred as violent Neo-Nazi Kenny, he also appeared as violent Neo-Nazi Killick in White House Down. These roles served as a nice follow-up to his role as violent Neo-Nazi Devil in Justified.
  • Actor/Role Confusion: The intense hatred for Skyler ended up spreading to her actress, with many people (particularly on Twitter) openly stating they would attack Anna Gunn if they met her in real life. An article by Gunn revealed she even received death threats by idiotic fans who couldn't separate her from her character.
  • Adult Fear: Oh, let us count the ways...
    • Dying of a terminal illness, and being unable to pay for treatment.
    • Having a loved one die of a drug overdose while being too drugged-out yourself to do anything about it—or notice.
    • Being caught in a plane crash. If you don't find plane crashes scary, you will after you see the Season 2 finale.
    • In "Dead Freight": A child being murdered, and the evidence being hidden so thoroughly as to make the crime unsolvable.
    • In "Ozymandias":
      • A domestic fight happening while the whole family is present, forcing a child to call the police on his own father, resulting in the father kidnapping his baby daughter and running away.
      • Being kidnapped and forced into slavery, and being tortured so badly that you lose your will to fight back.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Saul Goodman, the cheerfully corrupt lawyer.
    • Mike Ehrmantraut is gruff but personable and loyal, as well as a loving grandfather, but he'll straight-up murder you if it needs to be done.
    • Jack has an easy-going, down-homey demeanor, but he's a cold-blooded killer and Neo-Nazi.
    • Todd has a very mild and friendly personality, but is also a cold-blooded criminal who kills without hesitation or regret. The dichotomy is best seen when he apologizes to his murder victim immediately before shooting her in the head, and brings an enslaved Jesse two flavors of ice cream (since he didn't know which Jesse prefers) as a reward for good work.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Jack gives Todd an affectionate noogie (still holding a gun) during the Tension-Cutting Laughter after he asks Jack not to kill Jesse because he's still trying to impress Lydia with their cooking.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
    • Both Walt and Gale plead for their lives.
    • In "Ozymandias", Walt begs for Hank's life. Hank refuses to, at least in part because he's resigned to the fact that Jack has already decided to kill him.
    • And then in the finale, Walt begs Jesse to Mercy Kill him. Jesse refuses.
    • Inverted in season one, when Walt refuses Elliott and Gretchen's offer to pay for his treatment.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • In "Face Off", the extremely moving music as Gus walks to his death reminds you that he was once a similar guy to Walt, and he'll die failing to get his final revenge on the people who killed his "brother".
    • Similarly, the sheer amount of anger and sadness in Hector's face as he looks at his target, Gus before setting off the bomb that will kill both of them makes you almost feel sorry for him.
    • Debatable as to how much of a villain he was, but Mike's death. Granted, Mike's a stone cold murderer and by no means a good guy but the writers manage to avoid making this a case of Kick the Son of a Bitch by having Mike become a guy who just wants out of the game... and then Walt goes and kills him over some petty ego bullshit.
  • All Just a Dream: In the alternate ending from the complete series DVD. Turns out Hal just ate deep-fried twinkies before bed.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • Walter's dull green Pontiac Aztek was a deliberate choice on behalf of Vince Gilligan due to the Aztek being considered one of the worst cars ever made (see the main trope article for the reasons why) yet has notoriously protective owners, to make Walt seem more pathetic. In "Fifty-One", Walt sells it to his mechanic for 50 dollars.
    • In "Salud", on Walter Jr.'s 16th birthday, Skyler is thrilled to surprise him by finally buying him a car she picked out... unfortunately, it's the infamously terrible and stupid-looking Chrysler PT Cruiser. Walt Jr. has a very hard time trying to hide his disappointment. (He had his heart set on a Dodge Challenger.)
  • All for Nothing: After two years in the drug business, Walt ends up hiding from the police alone in a cabin in the New Hampshire wilderness. He's been shunned by his family, the neo-Nazis have stolen most of his money and the one barrel of cash he has left he cannot spend or pass on to his children. He's on the verge of turning himself in, until he sees Gretchen and Elliot being interviewed about him on television.
  • Alliterative Name: Both father and son are named Walter White. The name was deliberately chosen for its blandness. Lampshaded by Hank at one point:
    Hank: W.W., who do you think that is, huh? Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? ... Walter White?
  • Alliterative Title: "Breaking Bad".
  • Always a Bigger Fish: To Walt and Jesse there's the Salamanca cartel, to them there's Gus' empire, to him there's Lydia as executive of Madrigal in the US, to her there's Peter Schuler as head of Madrigal fast food division and it may go even higher.
  • Ambiguously Brown:
    • The ethnicity of the character, Victor, Gus's personal assistant and right hand man to Mike is never revealed. He hardly ever speaks, but when does, he doesn't have a Mexican accent nor does he ever speak Spanish. Being that the actor portraying the character, Jeremiah Bitsui is a full-blooded American Indian (1/2 Navajo, 1/2 Omaha), and the city of Albuquerque is home to a big American Indian population, particularly Navajo Indians, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to assume that Victor is possibly Native American (Navajo.)
    • Gus himself, up until the point when his Chilean background is revealed, which is itself suspect. Gus alternately goes by "Gus" and "Gustavo," and his sometimes-heavy Spanish accent appears and disappears depeneding on the context, as if he is camouflaging his ethnicity. Gus seems to become more and more overtly Spanish as the series progresses.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Gus, whose unusually strong attachment to his initial meth-distributing partner (even twenty years after his death) has provoked audience speculation as to his sexuality. Word of God even states that this is a legitimate interpretation of their relationship. He references a wife and kids, but they never show up onscreen, and thus may not even exist.
    • Gale worships Walt and gives him a copy of Leaves of Grass, by the famously Ambiguously Gay Walt Whitman, that he signs "To my other favorite W.W." The rest of his tastes and personality, especially in his home, brush against some gay stereotypes, although there is never any confirmation either way.
  • Amoral Attorney: Saul Goodman, Walt and Jesse's assistant in the business side of the meth trade. Has so many clients in organized crime he can't even keep them straight, and hires a fall guy to get arrested in Heisenberg's place. He even shamelessly milks the midair collision from the season 2 finale to increase his firm's business. Zig Zagged in that, while he facilitates several illegal and immoral enterprises, he is unfailingly loyal to his clients, refuses bribes, and passes up several golden opportunities to double-cross them.
    Jesse: Going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyer. You want a criminal lawyer, know what I mean?
  • Ambulance Chaser: Saul Goodman will take advantage of any client that is desperate.
  • Analogy Backfire:
    • Hank talks about how he wanted to bring Heisenberg in himself, like Popeye Doyle. Walt points out that in The French Connection, Doyle never successfully arrested anyone.
    • Hank makes references to Rocky that seem to ignore the fact that Rocky actually lost in the first film.
    • Mike explains his Start of Darkness to try to talk Walt out of a half measure attempt to save Jesse. Walt references it again after killing the two men Jesse wanted dead, and Mike is less than pleased.
  • And Some Other Stuff: Mostly done quite subtly, we're never shown entire recipes for anything particularly dangerous. Any time Walt and Jesse are shown cooking meth, there's a montage of them manipulating lab equipment, adding ingredients, pouring out results and occasional CGI shots of reactions at the molecular level, but nothing practical to follow. According to the producers, the recipes for making meth, methods for disposing of bodies and such are deliberately either incomplete or incorrect, because the writers didn't want to educate viewers who might be... let's say, criminally motivated.
  • Animal Motifs: Tortuga is commonly associated with tortoises. His name is Spanish for tortoise and the cousins kill him by severing his head and placing it on a tortoise.
  • Anti-Hero: Walter and Jesse are deeply involved in the methamphetamine industry, and are often forced to commit gruesome acts to survive. At the same time, Walt is motivated to provide for his family should his cancer claim him, and Jesse is really just in the business because it's what he does best. By the time season five starts, Walter is motivated only by greed and power, while Jesse is more conflicted than ever. The intention of the showrunners is for the character to "start as Mr. Chips and end up as Scarface."
  • Anyone Can Die: Any character that dies on the show stays dead. Throughout the entire show, the list includes: Emilio, Krazy-8, Tuco, Tortuga, Combo, Jane, the Cousins, Gale Boetticher, Victor, the Cartel bosses, Héctor Salamanca, Tyrus, Gus, Drew Sharp, Mike, Declan and his crew, Gomez, Hank, Andrea, the Nazis, Todd, Jack, and WALT. Lydia ends the series with, at most, a few days to live. Needless to say if you took on this show you should have kept your resume current.
  • Arc Words: "Apply yourself."
    • This was written by Walt on Jesse's chemistry test when he gave it a bad grade.
    • Jesse would later say this to his friends after inviting Skinny Pete, Combo, and Badger to his new home.
    • Walt says this to a student after rejecting their pleas to let their failed test "slide".
    • Walt said this to Jesse's successor Todd as they prepared to make their first batch of methamphetamine.
  • Arms Dealer: Two Gangland Gun Runners have been seen so far:
    • A genial yokel with a van full of serious hardware who sells a couple of Bulletproof Vests, handguns and some hollow-point bullets to the Salamanca Twins. They test his own vest out before paying up, but luckily for him he sells good merchandise.
    • An even more genial vendor (Mr. Ellsworth from Deadwood, no less) who meets Walt in a motel room and gives him a brief lesson in Gun Safety and proper use. He's later seen in a flash-forward selling a now on-the-run Walt a stolen car with an M60 in the trunk.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "Ozymandias", Skyler realises that something is terribly wrong when Walt grows increasingly irate when she asks him, "Where is Hank?"
  • Artistic License – Chemistry:
    • In Real Life, it's unlikely that a meth product as pure as the stuff that Walt manufactures would appear blue, because methamphetamine itself is colorless. The color would inherently be from an impurity (presumably the <1% that isn't meth). It is handwaved in-story as a byproduct of Walt's particular chemical synthesis, but it's really just a convenient way for the writers to make Walt's meth stand out. It also gives Hank a convenient way to track "Heisenberg", since he can identify his meth by its unique color.
    • An article on Slate points out that a chemist of Walt's calibre could synthesize methylamine pretty easily, but their attempts to source a rare raw material are a convenient source of drama.
    • Phenylacetic acid is a red flag to the DEA, but they can't use that as Unobtainium because the guy in charge of the Mexican lab already spilled the beans that any college sophomore could make it. Methylamine is, if anything, easier to make from stuff that the DEA isn't terribly interested in than phenylacetic acid is.
    • Several uses of chemistry in the series were investigated in Mythbusters in a special episode about Breaking Bad. The scenes where the hydrofluoric acid ate through the tub in "Cat's in the Bag" and where mercury fulminate was used to blow up a room in "Crazy Handful of Nothin'" each wound up being busted. In response, Vince Gilligan cited Artistic License as justification. He also suggested a potential Hand Wave when the MythBusters couldn't set off the Hg fulminate with an impact: Walt used more volatile silver fulminate as a primary explosive.
    • It's extremely unlikely that a high school chemistry lab would have hydrofluoric acid sitting around to begin with. HF is highly dangerous (in deceptive, not-necessarily-immediately-apparent ways) and not actually all that useful in the sorts of experiments that are commonly done in high school or even in college (at the masters/doctoral level, maybe).
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Saul Goodman asks Walt and Jesse to give him a dollar each, claiming that it's a retainer and he's therefore forbidden from revealing anything they discuss because of attorney-client privilege. Anyone who knows how attorney-client privilege works knows it doesn't apply here since Saul is himself part of an ongoing criminal conspiracy. However, he might have been twisting the truth so they would stop threatening him and start trusting him.
    • Occasionally, methamphetamine is misclassified as a Schedule I substance on the show — it's actually Schedule IIB. This is easiest seen screen captures of the newspaper clippings on Walter's wall while he's hiding away in New Hampshire.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • When Walt starts taking chemotherapy, he only loses the hair on his scalp, not his facial hair.
    • Ricin poisoning doesn't cause flu-like symptoms when it's ingested — it causes severe digestive distress, including but not limited to vomiting and defecating blood.
    • During one of Walt's hospital trips to get an X-ray, Marie encourages him to try to talk to the radiologic tech taking the X-ray and try to get the guy to give Walt an interpretation of the X-ray. Furthermore, she claims that doctors often consult with techs as part of making a diagnosis. The former is a massive breach of healthcare policy while the latter simply isn't true. Technicians/technologists are specifically told from the time that they are students to never make a diagnosis or give medical advice based on their radiographs, (giving wrong information opens them and the hospital up to civil or even possibly criminal liability, bad advice based on incomplete knowledge can lead to adverse health outcomes for the patient, and anything they say may conflict with what a nurse or especially a doctor says, which could result in a patient saying "Well, the technician told me X, now you're telling me Y..." a situation that nobody wants to be in and which tends to enrage doctors) and in a hospital setting that isn't a tiny or low traffic hospital, radiologic doctors spend their whole day poring over hundreds or even thousands of various X-ray, MRI, and CAT scan images coming in from a dozen or more techs, interpreting them in ridiculously fine detail, and matching it up with other patient information/history to make an assessment or diagnosis. They most definitely do not consult with individual technologists as part of making a diagnosis. The closest they might come to "consulting" a tech is to maybe ask how the tech had the patient positioned when taking the image or if there was anything else to cause an image anomaly, but even that is exceedingly rare since most of these doctors have Seen It All, and thus know most things that would cause an error or anomaly and can recognize it as soon as they see it. Marie, who's implied to be a medical technician, and maybe even some sort of radiographer herself from certain lines, should absolutely know this. To the show's credit, the tech Walter sees follows protocol perfectly and deflects Walter's (weak) attempt to probe for information and an interpretation of the X-ray. Marie's claims may be attributable to her narcissism and compulsive lying. note 
    • The scene where Peter Schuler commits suicide with a defibrillator would be impossible in Real Life, because the device that he uses is an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator). As the name implies, an AED is automatic, and it's designed so that it only works if it detects an arrhythmia that could potentially be fixed with a shock to the heart. If it were possible to intentionally induce a heart attack with an AED, that would defeat the point of the device—because it's supposed to allow laypeople to induce defibrillation without worrying about whether it's safe or medically necessary.
    • In one Season 2 episode, when Walt sneaks out of the hospital at night and later sneaks back in, he reinserts puts his PVC (peripheral vein catheter) to hide the fact that he's been missing. A PVC is actually designed so that it can't be reinserted after being removed from the body; the needle is removed after the initial insertion, and the rest of the catheter is soft plastic that can't penetrate the skin. Otherwise, PVCs would be dangerous to use, not to mention painful for the patient.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the heist, Walter mentions that the methylamene has 9/10th the density of water, meaning that water is more dense and therefore would sink to the bottom. This happens rather quickly, and the water being added to displace the stolen methylamene would likely drop to the bottom within maybe 10-15 seconds. Since water is being added more or less directly above where the methylamene is being siphoned, they would be significantly diluting their own haul.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Mike, who starts out as a One-Scene Wonder in the season two finale, becomes a regular in season three and is one of the show's most central characters by season five.
    • Todd worked his way up this ladder in Season five, starting out as just an underling in Vamonos Pest. Two episodes later, he helps the guys in their train heist, and two episodes after that, he becomes Walt's new lab assistant. In the second part of the season, he becomes Lydia's new primary cook when his uncle's crew massacres Declan's.
    • Hector Salamanca starts off as a seemingly minor character in two episodes towards the beginning of season two, but returns in season three and four in arcs that gradually reveal him to be not only an important player in the Mexican cartel, but in the backstory of one of the main characters.
  • Asshole Victim: Oh so many. Hank, Todd, Lydia, the Cartel Dons, Uncle Jack, Krazy-8, Spooge, and perhaps even Walt, to name a few.
  • A-Team Firing: In season five, the episode "To'hajiilee" ends with a shootout where none of the people involved seem to hit anything. This is cleared up in the next episode.
  • Audit Threat: The risk of the IRS discovering the shady bookkeeping practices of Beneke Fabricators is attention that Skyler is determined to avoid in season 3.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Tuco Salamanca is a drug dealer with a methamphetamine addiction who is always just a few moments from flying off the handle. He will take any and every excuse he can get to beat someone up, especially when he's high on meth. As Walt tells him in season 2:
      Walt: We tried to poison you because you are an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.
    • The Salamanca Cousins. One of them carries around a chromed fire-axe with which they kill several people. When they ambush Hank, Marco refuses to shoot Hank in the face when he had the chance, choosing instead to go back to the car to get the axe. That decision works out about as well as it usually does, as Hank manages to get the drop with Leonel's gun before Marco gets a chance to axe him.
  • Baby's First Words: Played for Drama with Holly: her first words were calling for her mother and what makes it sad is that she starts talking after being kidnapped by her father Walt.
  • Back for the Finale: Gretchen, Elliot, Badger, and Skinny Pete all pop up in the finale after not being seen for a long time.
  • Badass Boast:
    Walt: Let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!
    • Something of a subversion in that his initial aim is to reassure Skyler, but just ends up panicking her all the more as she realizes for the first time that her husband may very well be a murderer.
    • Mike, after taking out some cartel goons sent to pressure one of Gus's suppliers, talks with Gus:
    Gus: [The Cartel is] Probing for weakness.
    Mike: Well, they didn't find any.
    • Gus, after poisoning the cartel, makes one to the remaining people in the Don's mansion, who promptly flee.
    • In "Crawl Space", Gus delivers one to Héctor Salamanca at the retirement home, saying that he killed off all members of the cartel and Jesse killed his grandson, making him the last of the Salamanca line.
    • Walt gets a one line Badass Boast in the season 4 finale after pulling off a double Batman Gambit and defeating Gus: "I won".
  • Badass Family: The Salamanca family, a Mexican crime family willing to defend their position in the cartel with violence.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Tuco. Shortly after we're introduced to him, we get to see him beat one of his henchmen to death for reminding Walt that he works for Tuco.
    • Gus is a cold-blooded, Faux Affably Evil Bad Boss. Kind of. He slits a mook's throat just to make a point (and incidentally to punish him for carelessness in being seen at the scene of a crime). On the other hand, he seems to be grooming Jesse for a more responsible position and the show implies that Jesse makes the wrong choice when he picks Walt over Gus. Giancarlo Esposito has an interesting take on this here: Gus treated Victor as a member of his "family", but had to kill him because he jeopardized it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Confessions", Walt is seen sitting down with a video camera in what he states was his confession before the show cut to a commercial. Hank and Marie receive the confession after meeting with Walt and, to their surprise, it's not a confession of Walt fessing up to the sins he committed while in the drug trade, but a carefully constructed lie meant to frame Hank.
  • Bald of Awesome: Quite a few characters. Hank, Mike, and Tio Salamanca are naturally bald. Walt shaves his head early in the show, but that's due to the chemo drugs he is taking. The Salamanca brothers also sport shaved heads. Jesse also crops his hair down after a traumatic event in an apparent effort to toughen himself up. The trope is even exploited in the Season 5 episode "Rabid Dog," in which a paranoid Jesse is spooked by the sight of a tough-looking bald man near where he is supposed to meet Heisenberg. Jesse, believing that the other man is a hitman, flees the scene in fear; right afterward, it's shown that the bald man is just an ordinary man waiting to meet up with his wife and child.
  • Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The Salamanca brothers meet with a gun dealer and test out the Bulletproof Vests he's selling by shooting the one the dealer is already wearing. After checking to see that the bullet in fact did not penetrate through the vest, they actually pay the dealer and leave him groaning on the floor.
  • Battle Trophy: Hank receives Tuco's grill as a gift.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Two of epic proportions in the last two episodes of season 4 by Walt. First, he gives Brock a poison with ricin-like symptoms and steals Jesse's ricin cigarette; Jesse storms his house wanting to kill him, since only the two of them knew about the ricin, but Walt convinces him at gunpoint that he would have nothing to gain and that it's a ploy by Gus to gain Jesse's compliance in killing Walt. When his initial attempt to kill Gus fails, he acquires Hector Salamanca as an ally, convinces him to talk to the DEA so Gus will think he's snitching, then booby-traps his wheelchair. This plan hinges on the hopes that a) Héctor hates Gus more than he hates Walt, b) Gus will insist on killing Héctor in person and c) Héctor is willing to kill himself to take Gus down with him. Amazingly, it all works.
    • In Season 5, Jesse and Hank manage to scare Walt into driving to exactly where his money is hidden with a falsified picture, and Jesse egging Walt on so he won't stop and try to reason out whether or not Jesse actually has the money. It works so well that Walt ends up driving so recklessly he probably broke every New Mexico motor vehicle law on the books. All it took was knowing what Walter really cared about, even more than his family.
    • The series finale is one long Batman Gambit as Walt executes several complicated plans in order to get revenge on Elliot and Gretchen, Lydia, and the Nazis.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: In "Cornered", Jesse wants to entice some meth heads, who have stolen some Blue Sky, out of their home. How does he do this? He grabs a shovel and starts digging outside. One of the meth heads comes outside and asks what he's doing. Jesse tells him he's digging and asks him to take over, leaving the house open and unguarded.
  • Beard of Evil: Walter, Declan, and Gaff are all antagonistic characters with beards. Walter's beard is particularly distinctive, as it grows between seasons.
  • Because I'm Good at It:
    • What ultimately keeps Walt cooking, his pride and ego from realizing that he has a unique skill that has created an empire that would rival that of Steve Jobs both in its value and impact on the meth industry. He's not a failure anymore and has become "the one who knocks." In the series finale, Walt admits this, saying "I was good at it."
    • In Season 4, Jesse says he wants to continue working with Mike and Gus because he feels useful for once. Mr. White was a constant reminder of Jesse's failures. Positive reinforcement from Gus goes a long way toward winning over Jesse.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Jesse has his two drug-dealing cronies, Skinny Pete & Badger, pose as recovering addicts and join a 12-step program to sell meth to the other members. They can't bring themselves to do it and end up going sober for a time.
    • Season one: weak Walter White pretends to be the ruthless Heisenberg. Season four: ruthless Heisenberg pretends to be the weak Walter White. In season five, he doesn't even bother pretending anymore, and willfully scares the shit out of everyone around him.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Manufacturing crystal meth is highly lucrative, but it's also a brutal business full of violent and unstable sociopaths. Moreover, they also have to contend with ongoing DEA investigations and the difficulties of laundering their drug money without attracting the attention of law enforcement. Walt's activities lead to Hank's death, destroy his relationship with his family and end up costing them everything. Jesse loses everyone dear to him and by the end is so broken he cannot even enjoy the money he made from it. Almost every major character involved in the illegal meth trade is dead by the end of the series.
  • Being Good Sucks: Lampshaded at least once in season 2. Saul tells Jesse and Walt that Badger is going to sell them out to the feds after he gets busted, and recommends they just have him shanked in jail. His alternate scheme to get Badger off by giving Jimmy In'n'Out to the cops as a Heisenberg stand-in will cost $80,000. When they choose the latter option, Saul says, "Conscience gets expensive, doesn't it?"
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • As the series progresses, we see flashes of just how much pent-up anger, bitterness, malice, and wounded pride had always lain beneath Walt's harmless veneer. Viewers are invited to wonder: what sort of man had Walter quietly, secretly become even before his 50th birthday? How much of his gradual "transformation" into Heisenberg amounts to the surfacing of personality traits that were always there? How many of us remain good people on the surface, but end up becoming ripe for the sort of trigger events that launched Walt's career?
    • Hank is introduced as a wisecracking, blustering oaf. However, as the stress and danger of his job increases we see that he is a Sad Clown, riddled with self-doubt, but also has more grit, integrity, bravery and intelligence than he seems to give himself credit for.
    • Gus Fring. A mild mannered, charming restaurateur who graciously supports the DEA and the community, who uses his restaurants as a front for his crystal meth trafficking ring, and ruthlessly murders enemies and subordinates alike to protect his interests.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Walt is incredibly defensive of his son in the first season. Jesse, on the other hand, gets protective of anyone's children, like Spooge's son, or Brock, or Tomas Cantillo, or Drew Sharp.
    • Eventually, Walt's biggest Berserk Button has nothing to do with his family, but with his Pride. Attacking his massive ego becomes the absolute most dangerous thing you can do, as Mike discovered.
    • Do NOT call "Spooge's Lady" a skank if you value your life.
    • Tuco Salamanca has several; his employees speaking out of term, demanding payments upfront, insulting his family, etc. Almost anything can set him off, especially when he's under the influence of Walt's meth.
  • Best Served Cold: Gus once saw his friend and partner murdered in front of him by the cartel. He then proceeds to bide his time and establish trust for twenty years. Then, when Tio, the man who pulled the trigger, is finally in his power, he still doesn't kill him, but visits him again and again, each time telling him that another one of his relatives has been killed, until he's the last member of his family alive.
  • 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.
    • One of Jack's gunmen uses an AA12 automatic shotgun.
  • Big Bad:
    • Season 1: Tuco is set up to be this at the end of Season 1, but dies within the first few episodes of Season 2.
    • Season 3: The Cousins initially, but they become a Disc-One Final Boss. Gus Fring and his empire take up the slack for the rest of season 3.
    • Season 4: Gus Fring.
    • Season 5, first half: Walter himself is the Big Bad by way of Villain Protagonist. His Heisenberg side creates much of the conflict.
    • Season 5, second half: 'Uncle' Jack Welker, with Todd Alquist as The Dragon.
  • Big "NO!": Jesse before Todd shoots the kid at the end of "Dead Freight".
    • Also, Jesse after Todd shoots Andrea.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Where to begin? The drug-cooking school teacher, his attempted Stepford Smiler wife, the gung-ho DEA agent brother-in-law, the kooky kleptomaniac sister... No wonder "Flynn" wants to change his name.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": A truly epic series of them from Skyler to Marie that verges on a mental breakdown.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: "Phoenix" is the episode in which Walt's daughter Holly is born and Jane dies.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Hank's stint with the DEA in Texas demonstrates his main problem there (not speaking Spanish) by neither translating nor subtitling much of the Spanish lines other characters around him are saying.
    • Season 5 contains a whole lot of German, some of it untranslated. Both the grammar and the contents are actually surprisingly correct, but the stilted delivery and overly formal vocabulary suggest the actors either aren't native speakers or made a point of using as little slang as humanly possible.
    • The Milanese song Gale is singing along to in the final episode of Season 3 is called "Crapa Pelada", which translates as "Bald Head", and the lyrics are based on an old folk rhyme about a greedy cook, the lyrics loosely translate as "Bald Head who makes dumplings, but he does not give them to his brothers, his brothers make an omelette, but they do not give it to Bald Head", foreshadowing the cartel/Gus situation much later in the series.
    • Tio Salamanca tries to warn his nephew about the poisoned food by ringing his bell three times quickly, three times slowly and three times quickly again. This is Morse Code for "SOS."
  • The episode "Caballo Sin Nombre" means "Horse with no name" in Spanish, a song Walter White was listening to in the episode.
  • Binge Montage: A flashback showing how Jesse lost the money he was meant to buy the RV with.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The finale of Season 4, Walt has killed Gus, protected his family, and come out on top through a superb double Batman Gambit, but to do so he had to make more compromises and put more innocents in danger than ever before, including setting off a bomb in a nursing home and even poisoning a small child.
    • The Grand Finale as well. Walt is dead, his family has completely disowned him, and the world knows that he's Heisenberg... But he died on his own terms, effectively eradicated Blue Sky, he's managed to rescue Jesse from the Aryans, Jesse passes up a chance to kill him, and he manages to get his money, over 9 million, to his children via Gretchen and Elliot. He gives Skyler the coordinates to Hank and Steve's bodies ensuring that they'll have a proper burial, and Skyler may be able to get the feds off her back in exchange for the information. Jesse is free from slavery and all ties to the meth business, and might actually make the most out of his life having had aspirations of being a carpenter during his enslavement. And Todd, Jack, Lydia and the Aryans have all gotten their just comeuppance.
  • Black and Grey Morality:
    • "Heisenberg" vs the Cartel. Season 4 gives us Walt vs Gus. Though this became Evil vs. Evil by the end.
    • From Season 5B, Hank versus Heisenberg quickly became this, as Hank's pursuit of Heisenberg proves to be not without its own compromises.
    • Uncle Jack's crew of Neo-Nazis versus Heisenberg.
  • Black Comedy: Comedy so black, no light can escape it.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Look at the list of names under Anyone Can Die — the deaths in the series overwhelmingly happen to Hispanic men and women. Among the main characters, Gus is the first to die. All of the main characters to survive the series are white.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Marco Salamanca's axe when Hank shoots him before he can deliver a Coup de Grâce.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep:
    • Walt killing Krazy-8.
    • Jesse killing Gale. Well, it's more of a "weep and bleed 'em" scenario.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The neo-Nazis. They are a particularly despicable lot who have no qualms about murdering children and are even crueler than Gus, but they find the state of the U.S. utterly dreadful:
    Kenny: Nanny state. I see a kid with a bicycle helmet on, I want to smack the shit out of him — like for his own good.
  • Blofeld Ploy: In the season 4 premiere "Box Cutter", Gus seems about to discipline Walt, but instead kills an underling and departs without a word. His motivation is left ambiguous. However, the underling, Victor, was seen at the scene of a crime and could have led authorities back to Gus. Walt, on the other hand, suspects that Gus killed Victor for cooking a batch of meth, taking on more authority than Gus had given him.
    • Although that scene could be interpreted this way, Gus' motivations aren't exactly cloudy: Victor revealed that he was ready to replace Walt if need be, meaning that Gale's death at the end of the previous season was not enough to bring Walt the security he wanted. Gus then gives walt the Radish Cure by killing Victor, showing Walt how concequential gaining that security is.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Subverted. Walt starts coughing up blood in "4 Days Out", but the end of the episode confirms that he's in remission.
  • Bloody Hilarious:
    • In the first season, Jesse tries to dispose of a body using hydrofluoric acid. In a bathtub. It doesn't work out well for the body, the bathtub, or the floor underneath. By the time the floor's weakened enough for the remains of the body to fall through, it's no longer recognizable as human. As long as you don't vomit, you'll bust a gut laughing.
    • Also, Spooge's head getting crushed by the ATM in "Peekaboo."
  • Bluffing the Authorities: Gus Fring is questioned by the police about the murder of his one-time criminal underling Gale Boetticher after trace evidence showed that Gus had been at Gale's house not long before his death. Gus, being The Chessmaster and a Villain with Good Publicity, spins the story and claims that after years of not talking, Gale had contacted Gus recently, invited him over, and tried to get him to invest in something that seemed shady. Gus refused, and then read about the murder several days later. Because Gus has such good publicity and is so methodical about covering his tracks, everyone except Hank buys it.
  • Boarding School: Skyler brings up sending Walter, Jr. to one, if only as a way of getting him away from Walt.
  • Book Dumb: Jesse, who's occasionally shown to be pretty smart (if irresponsible and naive) but under-educated. Contrasts with Walt's Science Hero, and often fills the role of The Watson regarding Walt's chemical wizardry.
  • Book-Ends:
    • In series finale "Felina," Walt arrives at the Neo-Nazi compound wearing the same outfit he wore in the first episode, "Pilot": pastel jacket, green button-up shirt, white undershirt and beige slacks.
    • For most of the series, Walt is in remission and shaves his head. However, in the final season, his cancer comes back and he lets his hair grow back out, mirroring his state in the first season, albeit a lot more disheveled.
    • Both Hank’s introduction scene and death scene feature him making backhanded compliments about Walt’s intelligence and attending slight lack of social craft. Both are clearly made out of love but in very different situations.
    • Both the first and final episodes take place on Walt's birthday.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • Hank kills one of the Salamanca twins with a hollow-point bullet to the head.
    • Gus's companion in founding Los Pollos Hermanos, Max, gets offed in this fashion by Tio right before his eyes.
    • What Uncle Jack gives to Declan and Hank.
    • Todd kills Andrea in this fashion to penalize Jesse for trying to escape Jack's compound.
    • Walt delivers the final blow to Uncle Jack this way.
  • Boredom Montage: Used in the episode "Shotgun" when Jesse begins working for Mike. In "I See You," he kills time in the lab waiting for Walt to arrive.
  • Bottle Episode: "And the Bag's in the River" and especially "Fly", which features only Jesse and Walter, and only one location (the basement lab), and only one story — Walter and Jesse trying to kill a fly. For the whole episode.
    • "Four Days Out" was supposed to be this with the majority of time spent in the RV with Jeese and Walter. However, more scenes required shooting out in the desert or in completely different locations to make the episode work, so it ended up being one of the more expensive episodes of the series.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Tuco and Hank zig-zag this trope in their shoot out. Both of them reload after exchanging shots, but both of them fired more shots than their weapons should've been able to before so.
    • Again in Hank's shootout with the Twins, Marco fires 11 bullets from what appears to be a .45 1911 before the slide locks open. Leonel fires 9 times at Hank from his own 1911, Hank then picks up Leonel's gun and fires 5 more times at Marco.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Walt does this in the finale to Gretchen and Elliot. To ensure they pay the money to his family he tells them he hired a couple of hitmen to watch them while having two laser sights pointed at them. Turns out it was just Skinny Pete and Badger with a couple of laser pointers.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Saul Goodman. He proved to be so popular that he received a spinoff called Better Call Saul which detailed how he went from being Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. And, unlike most spinoff shows, it's actually good.
    • By extension, Mike, as he features in Better Call Saul as the deuteragonist, and Gus, who gets a subplot revolving around him in Season 3 of the aforementioned show.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Jesse, over the course of the show.
    • Skyler in the third season. It got much worse throughout Season 5.
    • Really, just about every central character who isn't dead by the end of the series qualifies for this, since if they haven't died, then they've definitely gone through hell and back dozens of times. And then there the people who've died, such as Hank, Mike, and countless others. And then there are minor characters or one-off characters, such as Drew Sharp's parents and Donald Margolis (if his suicide attempt wasn't successful).
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Walt's call to Skyler in "Ozymandias" has shades of this. On the surface, he appears to be ruthlessly and cruelly raging at her, but a closer reading shows that he's taking the blame for all the crimes, for the benefit of the police listening in. It also has the effect of emotionally severing himself from Skyler, Walter Jr., and Marie, allowing them all to see him as the villain and themselves as fellow victims, so they can salvage their relationships when he's gone.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Hank and Jesse both experience extreme pressure that cracks their arrogant facades.
    • Walt goes through this in "Ozymandias": Hank's death at the hands of Jack's crew, Jack's crew taking his money, his family abandoning him, and even his baby daughter wanting her mother over him, finally makes him realize what he's become.
    • Walt's crushing continues in the following episode "Granite State": Saul's new-identity man sets him up in a remote shack where the cancer eats at his strength. He keeps starting the eight-mile walk to the nearest town, but even the Heisenberg hat can't give him the power to do it. He can't get any of the money — all that remains of the legacy that justifies any of this business — to his family without suspicion, and when he tries to send them some through a friend of Walt Jr., his son angrily rejects him.
  • Breakout Character: Jesse Pinkman (people keep asking Aaron Paul to call them a bitch) and Saul Goodman (focus of Spin-Off show Better Call Saul).
  • Bribe Backfire: Walt and Jesse's first meeting with Saul.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Lots of characters, though usually not in an actual briefcase; it's more likely to be a backpack or duffel bag, and in one scene there's a shipping pallet full of money. In the end, the totality of Walt's fortune is contained in seven plastic 55-gallon barrels full of money.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: One of Mike's first victims (that we know of) soiled himself after the former roughed him up and threatened to kill him should he hurt his wife again.
  • Buffy Speak: A hysterical Tuco orders Walt to give CPR to the dying No-Doze. Not remembering what it's called, he just makes the chest-pressing motion with his hands and shouts at Walt to "do that... that thing!"
  • Bulletproof Vest:
    • The Cousins purchase a pair from an illegal arms dealer. Played realistically: one of them shoots the dealer in the chest to test the vests — he survives, but one of his ribs is broken and he's left moaning in pain as the Cousins walk away.
    • Saul wears one under his suit after Huell suddenly goes AWOL in "To'hajiilee."
    • Jack's crew wear them when tooled in "To'hajiilee."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Hank, of all people. He's a blowhard, maybe even to Jerkass with a Heart of Gold levels, but notice throughout the show that in general, he's a very good detective.
  • Burner Phones: Several phones are snapped in half and otherwise disposed of to cover up criminal activity over the course of the series. Saul has a whole drawer full of different cell phones. In Season 2, Walter manages to deflect Skyler's suspicions about him having a second cell phone. That is, until Walter is being sedated for cancer surgery in the finale, Skyler asks him about his cell phone, and Walter says, "Which one?" This leads to Skyler finding the burner phone and unspooling Walter's entire web of lies.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: Walt's vanity is so bad that he won't let Hank believe that Heisenberg was someone as prosaic as Gale, asserting that Heisenberg's "genius might still be out there."
  • Butt-Monkey: Jesse's first scene is him falling out a window with no pants on. His humiliation grows with his success. One consistent element through the first few seasons of the show was Jesse taking a severe beating when someone was pissed at Walt. It almost grew to Running Gag status.
    • Walt has been the Butt-Monkey his whole life, but the events of the show make him more assertive and aggressive. Which is not really a good thing, it turns out.
  • Button Mashing: Jesse light-heartedly accuses Brock of this as they play a Sonic game with the wonderful line, "You're just pressing buttons and it makes you do magical stuff."

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