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These are the tropes that knock:

  • Ear Worm: In-universe example, for Walt the catchy theme song for a furniture store’s late-night commercials where he bought Walter Junior’s crib 16 years ago. "Don’t let shopping strain your brain-o, Just sing this short refrain-o, Our furniture is buen-o, Tampico is the name-o!"
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Bryan Cranston's Bald of Awesome and Beard of Evil are now iconic for the show, so people might be a little startled to see him with a full head of hair and a particularly bad mustache in the first few episodes.
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    • The topless woman in the pilot. The show was eventually picked up by AMC, which doesn't show nudity.
      • Note the much later Binge Montage which takes place at a strip club and somehow never shows a nipple.
    • The F-word flows more freely in the first season as well, with several uses per episode. Subsequent seasons were limited to 1-2 uses per season.
    • Throughout Season 1, Hank is much more animated and sniffs here and there (leading some to theorize he was meant to have an ironic drug problem). He's noticably less animated and the sniffing is completely gone by Season 2.
    • Skyler is portrayed as kind of a lame, out-of-it, ignorant-of-modern-culture mother type for much of the first season. That disappears by season two, when she gets much more depth as a character.
    • Season 1 had the Black Comedy up front, and a pronounced satirical edge. While the humor was still there in later seasons, it was more subdued, while the satire largely vanished as the show became more of a straightforward crime drama and Tragedy.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
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    • As happy as it gets for a prideful cancer-stricken drug kingpin. In the end, despite everything Walt had done and been through, he has secured the future of his children, eliminated everyone who menaced his family, and, finally, died on his own terms.
    • Jesse spends the series being used by everyone around him and makes multiple failed attempts to go straight. In the final episode, he chokes Todd to death and the last shot of him in the series is him driving away from the compound where he was Made a Slave, tears of joy streaming down his face.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Walt's hilarious attempt to shatter a glass office door with a potted palm tree; the only thing that broke was the tree. Well, and Walt's composure. Oh, and then he got dragged outside by staff.
    • Walt discovers a housefly in the meth lab. He begins trying to swat the fly, but it's just too fast for him. Growing increasingly frustrated, he spots the fly on the ceiling and throws his shoe at it — and ends up breaking an overhead light, raining glass down on himself. His shoe gets stuck in the light fixture. Then, he goes up on the catwalk and over the railing to dislodge his stuck shoe, spots the fly on the railing he's hanging from and attempts to have a swing at it... and falls off the catwalk, slamming stomach-first into a vat and landing painfully on the floor. Just to make things worse, the fly then lands on his glasses.
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    • Referred to in Season 4: "That's what the kids call an 'Epic Fail'".
  • Empathy Doll Shot: The teddy bear in the pool, as well as a doll in the background of a derelict junkie house in season 2.
  • Emperor Scientist: Walt becomes one of these to the criminal underworld utilizing his chemistry skills to try his hand at building a meth empire.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • How Walter gets Héctor Salamanca to kill Gus.
    • Hank and Jesse come to an arrangement like this regarding Walt in Season 5.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Walt's first line of dialogue. The audience is first led to think that he's about to make a confession video...only for Walt to say, "This is not admission of guilt."
    • Jesse first shows up stumbling out of a window half-naked just moments after the DEA barged into the meth lab he is supposed to be working in.
    • Skyler's ECM happens when she is giving Walt a handjob as his birthday present... But before Walt can climax, Skyler gets distracted when she sees something else come up, leaving Walt in the cold.
    • As for Hank, it's when he takes his brother-in-law's glass, raises it for a toast... and then drinks from it himself.
    • As if his cheesy TV commercial wasn't enough, the first time Saul appears in the flesh, he wipes the floor with a gawky cop that was interrogating Badger.
    • In his first couple of scenes, Todd appears to be a competent, unfailingly polite henchman. Then he unhesitatingly kills a child in cold blood.
  • Establishing Series Moment:
    • The opening RV scene. Walt desperately drives only in his underpants, with an unconscious figure beside him and two more in the cabin, only to crash into a ditch soon after. It's a simple and subtle hint how things will just go downhill from this point on.
    • Walter's chemistry lecture to his students about how life is about growth, decay, and transformation is equally establishing, summing up both the series and especially Walter perfectly.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • Hank has his when he finds a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in the Whites' bathroom containing a written message from Gale to his other favorite "W.W.".
    • Walt, when he watches Elliott and Gretchen being interviewed on Charlie Rose. He realizes that he can get his money to his family without them rejecting it (or it being seized by the FBI), if he compels the Schwartzes to donate it to them.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A recurring theme. All of the important villains have family or friends they care about.
    • Walter, rapidly losing any moral high ground he might have started with, and his meth production motivated more by greed and pride than anything else, still loves his family, and he does care for Jesse too. Though by the end of Season 5, he has alienated everyone he loved.
    • A flashback reveals that the Salamanca kids have had this stomped into them by their uncle Héctor. Tuco cares for his uncle in spite of being an Axe-Crazy meth-head drug lord, and the Salamanca twins make an arduous journey into America to ruthlessly avenge Tuco's death. And when Gus eliminates most of the Salamancas and their gang, Hector volunteers to blow up both of them.
    • Gus' main motive for being in organized crime is to avenge the murder of his best friend and would-be partner in crime, Max.
    • Mike is devoted to his granddaughter Kaylee.
    • Todd also has a strong relationship with his uncle Jack and his gang.
    • Also, Lydia loves her only daughter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Gus is insulted by Walt's implied accusation that he had a child killed. Subverted when he openly threatens to have Walt's family, including his infant daughter, murdered.
    • Even Victor is disturbed and angered by all-around Nice Guy Gale's death.
    • Although implied since almost the beginning, Walt finally stated to Saul in one episode that hurting any family members is a line that he will never, ever cross. Given how much Walt's morals have descended over the course of the series, that's saying a lot. Indeed, when finally cornered by Hank and Jesse, Walt opts to surrender and be arrested rather than harm his brother-in-law.
    • Mike seems to be disgusted by Walt bombing a nursing home and by the idea of bombing a police station and killing a bunch of cops. He is also extremely pissed at Todd for killing a kid. Given that Mike is both an ex-cop and a grandfather it makes sense.
    • Saul refuses to give up Walt and Jesse's location to Mike at the end of Season 3, risks his own life when he tips off the DEA to the hit on Hank in late Season 4, and is horrified in "Live Free or Die" when he learns that he was involved in Walt's plan to poison Brock.
    • When Uncle Jack and his Nazis take Walt's barrels of money, Jack does leave Walt with one barrel, out of respect to him.
  • Evil Is Petty: After Walter and Skyler conspire to force Bogdan to sell them his carwash at a loss (implied to be all that he has), Walter then refuses to let Bogdan leave with the first dollar he'd earned (which he had framed on the wall), all for the heinous crimes of being a bad boss, sexist, and calling Walt a coward. To cap it all off, as soon as Bogdan is gone, Walt smashes the frame and spends the dollar on a drink from the vending machine.
    • Walt also still holds a massive grudge about impulsively accepting $5000 for his share of Gray Matter, which later grew into a company valued in the billions. Granted, it must be galling to see that happen, but it does seem awfully petty to have failed to get over it more than twenty years later.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • The conflict between Gus and the Cartel. Both sides have well proven how morally terrible they are, and despite Gus's organization being presented in a A Lighter Shade of Black around the time the conflict hit its apex, Gus then threatened to kill Walt's entire family, including his baby daughter. This after the audience had been given the impression he didn't want to use children for nefarious purposes or harm them in any fashion.
    • While it started as a dark Black and Grey Morality, by the end, Walter's conflict against Gus turned into this.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: In-Universe.
    Walt: Ice Road Truckers. What happens on that show?
    Jesse: Guys drive trucks. On ice.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The Ballad of Heisenberg, from "Negro y Azul".
  • Expy: Starting from the second season of Game of Thrones (and the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire), the character Strong Belwas was supposed to make an appearance. Strong Belwas, a towering, fat black man was supposed to make part of the retinue of Daenerys Targaryen. Based on the character's physical similarity to Huell, the fans mused that Strong Belwas did not appear in Game Of Thrones because he is still stuck at the apartment.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Mike decides to sit on a rock in silence, admiring the Scenery Porn, as he dies of a gut shot.
    • Hank in "Ozymandias", staring down the barrel of a neo-Nazi's gun.
      Hank: My name is ASAC Schrader, and you can go fuck yourself.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Very often; numerous important conversations have the lighting do this for both characters, switching back and forth between shots of their faces.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The whole series is one big one for Walt himself.
  • Face of a Thug: Jesse's assumptions about this regarding a random stranger causes his relationship with Walt to permanently sour in season 5. They've both retired from the drug business at this point but Jesse is working with the DEA to bring Walt down, whom he suspects is trying to have him killed to tie up loose ends. They agree to meet in a public space, but Jesse notices a man dressed like a Neo-Nazi skinhead standing close to Walt. He assumes this man to be a hitman and calls off the meeting, but it turns out the guy was just there to pick up his daughter.
  • Facial Horror: Gus' death in "Face Off". He turns to the camera, adjusting his tie to reveal his face blasted down to a gory skull on one side, before collapsing dead.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: "My name is ASAC Schrader, and you can go fuck yourself."
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Somehow, the Nazis just plumb forgot to check under that car.
    • They didn't check Walt's trunk in "Felina", either.
    • Earlier, Tyrus fails to spot the bomb attached to Hector's wheelchair.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: While it is certainly not played for laughs, Walt tries to threaten Saul into working for him before they leave with their new identities but is interrupted by a long coughing fit. This prompts Saul to leave as soon as he could before Walt could finish.
  • Fall Guy:
    • Saul helps set one up for Heisenberg, since Walt and Jesse refuse to off Badger.
    • Skyler after Walt flees following Hank's death. Saul points out that the police will not overlook the deaths of two DEA agents and will make damn sure that someone takes the blame for it. And since she doesn't know where Walt is and has no other useful information about his drug empire to cut a deal with the authorities, she will be punished instead, losing her house and her business. Averted after Walt visits Skyler for the last time and gives her the location of Hank and Steve's bodies, telling her to trade it for a plea bargain.
  • False Cause: The discredited notion of a "gateway drug" rears its head when Hank tries to scare Walter Jr. straight.
  • Family Man: Walter White is a man worried about his family and especially for his children, before and after becoming a drug lord.
  • Famous Last Words: See here.
  • Fanservice:
    • Jane does quite a bit of it in the second season.
    • The boob shot in the pilot.
    • The stripper party intro in "Sunset"
    • The strippers in "Más." Complete with lesbian kissing and nipple shots.
  • Fantastic Drug: Walter's 99.1% chemically pure crystal methamphetamine, Blue Sky. To give an idea about how insane for a product of that purity to exist on the illegal drug scene, the average purity in the Breaking Bad world was 70% for illegal meth. AND it's blue!
  • Fate Worse than Death: Jesse in "Ozymandias." Instead of killing him, Jack's gang takes him captive, tortures him for information, and then forces him to cook meth for them by threatening Andrea and Brock. Aaron Paul himself has said that Jesse would definitely prefer death.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Gus wears the mask of a mild-mannered and impeccably polite businessman, but in reality he's a ruthless drug lord with a serious sadistic streak. He only rarely breaks his facade. By the final season, Walter has become this himself.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The juxtaposition with meth and other class A drugs only makes Skyler's horror at Walt smoking pot look even more naive. On the other hand, that could be the point - emphasizing the rift between her own and her husband's worlds.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Lydia gets quite a few of these. In "Buried," she's shown walking around a barren, grimy meth lab in a skirt and heels, showing how out of place and uncomfortable she is.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Walt and Jesse start off quite rocky, and they come to blows several times. However, they eventually build a father-son relationship, with each committing murder to protect the other on several occasions. Their relationship seems to fall apart by the end of the series, but they share a silent, respectful goodbye right in the end.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Gus realizes Hector's plan about a half-second before it blows up in his face.
  • Flashforward: Used extensively:
    • The Cold Open for the season 5 premiere is a flash forward to one year to the future. "Blood Money", the Season 5 "mid-season premiere", also has a flash forward to the same day.
    • The pilot opens with the immediate aftermath of Walter killing Emilio and (almost) Krazy-8, and the rest of the episode is a How We Got Here.
    • Four episodes in season 2 open with flash-forwards to the end of the season.
  • Flat Character:
    • Walt Jr. loves breakfast. Joking aside, there really is very little else to his characterization aside from being afflicted with cerebral palsy.
    • This may also stem from being Demoted to Extra in Season 4. The show operates on an extremely short timeline with filming being painstakingly slow. More than a year went between the filming of Seasons 3 and 4, despite only about six months passing since the start of the series. When RJ Mitte first began filming scenes as Walter Junior, he was the same age as the character — a high school sophomore barely learning to drive. By the time filming began for Season 4, he was 19 and looked it, so he appeared in considerably fewer scenes. Storylines such as Junior having difficulty dealing with his parents' divorce also skidded to a halt. Lampshaded partially in an episode when Walter remarks with awe that his son drinks black coffee now and has seemingly become a man overnight.
    • By extension, Louis seems to exist solely for the purpose of having Walt Jr. out of the house for certain scenes.
  • Flaw Exploitation:
    • Walt wins by exploiting Gus' one flaw: the man's hatred of the Salamancas.
    • Lydia's routine of meeting associates at the same table in the same coffee shop (and adding Stevia to her drink) proves her undoing. Walt puts ricin in the Stevia packet at her table.
  • Flipping the Bird: When Walt sees that Gus has installed surveillance cameras in the lab, he flips off one of them.
  • Foil:
    • Hank is this to Walt. They each rise in power on opposite sides of the law and often tackle the same enemies, such as Tuco and Fring. Terrible experiences change both men, but while Walt becomes even more consumed by pride and turns into a ruthless criminal, Hank manages to subdue his Jerkass tendencies, becoming more humble and an even better cop.
    • Also, Gomez to Hank. Gomie's ideas are almost never right.
    • Walt and Jesse, complete with their character development going in two opposite directions. Walt is introduced as a straight-laced law-abiding family man, who only turns to the drug trade to provide for his family, but becomes crueler and more ruthless over the course of the series, and starts building his meth empire for its own sake. Jesse is introduced as a crude, Book Dumb, career criminal, but as the series goes on he's revealed to be a genuinely sensitive soul, who becomes uncomfortable with the things he has to do in the drug trade and wants out.
    • Jesse and Todd. Both are Walt's younger assistants. Jesse is foul-mouthed and short-tempered, but has a good heart underneath it all, particularly towards children, whereas Todd is polite and professional, but a sociopath who thinks nothing of shooting a young boy to death.
  • Food Porn:
    • A rare non-food example. The meth cooking scenes play out in loving, delectable detail that apparently hits home for bakers.
    • Played straight with the Pollos Hermanos commercial. It will probably make you wish the restaurant was real.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Skyler threatens to tell the police about Walt's uh...drug problem if he doesn't sign the paperwork, which he refuses to do.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The use of Flash Forwards in some opening scenes means that the audience knows ahead of time some of the things that will happen during the show. Jesse is seen soaking the White family's living room in gasoline in "Confessions" but the Flash Forward in "Blood Money" shows Walt returning to the house. Although it may be abandoned and in disrepair, it hasn't been burned down.
  • Foreign Remake: MetAsTasis, set in Colombia, will follow the misadventures of Walter Blanco, his wife Cielo, assistant Jose Rosas, and narcotics agent brother-in-law Henry Navarro, but without the iconic motor home (a refurbished white and blue school bus is used instead) because "motor homes aren't common in Colombia".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Walt is told by the doctor when he receives his cancer diagnosis on his birthday, that in the best case scenario, he has only two years to live. Walt dies exactly two years later, just not by cancer.
    • Hank takes Walter Jr to a SRO to try and scare him straight about marijuana, and it sounds like something out of the worst after-school special ever, with all his bullshit about gateway drugs. Only look at what's happened to Walter over the last five seasons and ask yourself, "What did Hank say about gateway crimes again? How they ruin your lives?"
    • Walt refuses the Schwartzes' offer to pay for his cancer treatment, due to his pride about accepting charity and his unresolved issues regarding Gretchen and Grey Matter. In an example of Irony, this is how Walt finally gets his remaining $9 million to his family, by threatening the Schwartzes into donating it to them in an act of charity, although unknown to everyone but them they'll be using Walt's drug money.
    • Several Cold Opens in season 2 reveal progressively more of a mysterious crime scene, the circumstances of which are not revealed until the finale. Moreover, the titles of the episodes spell out the impending disaster: "737"/"Down"/"Over"/"ABQ". Plus, the teddy bear in the plane crash also foreshadows Gus's death.
    • A lot of the chemistry classes in the first season, like the one about explosions. Walt's lecture on chirality doesn't appear to have any relevance on anything later in the episode until you remember that methamphetamine is a chiral molecule.
    • In "Over", Jesse wants to bring Jane breakfast in bed, but she walks on him in the kitchen. He says "You weren't supposed to wake up", and she responds "Ever, or...?" She eventually dies in her sleep.
    • You can tell Tio wants Gus dead early in their confrontations, but it doesn't appear to mean much as Tio can't do anything. Come the Season 4 finale, however, he finally gets his revenge... and sorts out Walt's problems at the same time.
    • Hank's condition in "One Minute" before he kills Marco is exactly like the time he's injured in 'Ozymandias'. Sadly, this time he didn't survive.
    • In the season 2 premiere, you see Skyler looking fondly of old photos of her and Ted after she and Walt start having marriage troubles. Ted isn't even introduced at that point and doesn't appear till 6 episodes after.
    • Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, a faceless international conglomerate, was first mentioned significantly in Season 4, when it is revealed that the company owns the industrial laundry that houses the superlab. The company was shown to own Los Pollos Hermanos in the fine print of a television ad in Season 3. The company's full role was only revealed in Season 5.
    • At the beginning of "Peekaboo" we see Skinny Pete stomp out a beetle. Later, Spooge's head gets crushed by an ATM. Both were done without second thoughts and the same aloof amount of ease.
    • Season five starts with a flashforward, giving a tantalizing glimpse of how the series will end.
    • Gus once said Walt, "A man provides. Even though he is not appreciated." Walt manages to win in his original goal, providing money to his family, when he becomes a nation-wide most wanted, with his family disowning him.
    • In a fit of anger, Jesse calls Todd "Ricky Hitler". Todd's uncle has prison connections in the Aryan Brotherhood.
    • Twice in "Phoenix". First Jane tells Jesse to roll over on his side after shooting up in case he vomits ("Lie on your side, or you might choke"), and Walter does the same thing for his infant daughter. When Walt tries to shake Jesse awake at the end of the episode to talk to him, Jane rolls over on her back, and a few minutes later throws up and starts choking.
    • At the beginning of season 2, Jesse tries to convince Walt to sacrifice his life for him, since he's going to die of cancer anyway. Fast-forward to "Felina," in which Walt is fatally wounded after pushing Jesse to the ground to spare him from being hit by the rigged machine gun.
    • Early in season 5, Skyler tells Walt she doesn't want her kids living in a household where people being murdered is brushed off with "shit happens." Fast forward a couple of episodes later, and Todd says "shit happens" after murdering a kid.
    • In "Blood Money", Badger's Star Trek script may foreshadow some of the events of the final season. Badger claims that the crew of the Enterprise are having a pie eating contest, and that it is down to just three: Kirk (Hank), Spock (Walter) and Chekhov (Jack). Kirk is the first to leave, foreshadowing Hank's death in "Ozymandias". Chekhov has Scotty (Todd) helping him, but when Uhura (Lydia) walks in, Scotty accidentally gets Chekhov killed, leaving Spock as the winner. If Todd hadn't become attracted to Lydia, Walter likely wouldn't have killed Jack and his gang, as they had to keep Jesse alive in order to keep making the meth, prompting Walt to go after them.
    • Ted stumbles slightly over his rug, which he takes the time to go back and smooth out before going to answer the door for Skyler. Later, Huell and Kuby come to force him to sign a check for the IRS. Guess what Ted trips over when he tries to make his escape?
    • In Season 4, Andrea tells Jesse that she'll "die first" before letting anything happen to her son Brock. Fast-forward to "Granite State," and Todd shoots her in the head. Fortunately, Brock does survive the series.
    • Walt ominously mentions Victor while disregarding Mike's request for hazard-paying Gus's men. Walt not only kills Mike regarding Gus' men, but his downfall can also be attributed to Walt's words, "He flew too close to the sun, and got his throat cut".
    • Jesse establishes Walt as a credible threat and as one to never be underestimated, when he states that 'Seriously guys, what you guys are expecting, the exact opposite is going to happen'. Hank, Gomez and Jesse successfully arrest Walt, only for Walt's Nazi backup to arrive, kill Hank and Gomez and imprison Jesse. Walt arrived back in Todd's life, where he planned with Lydia to Mercy Kill Walt. Well, Todd was killed along with his uncle and his crew, and Lydia herself was poisoned with ricin when Walt made his final entry. Jesse expected to cook one more batch of meth, only for Walt to arrive back in his life, and Jesse suddenly going free, as all his captors are dead.
  • For Want of a Nail: If only Walt hadn't left that copy of Leaves of Grass lying around in the bathroom.
  • Frame-Up: In "Confessions," Walt makes a tape that paints Hank as the Lawman Gone Bad mastermind behind everything he did, and himself as a coerced stooge. It won't get him off anything, but the threat of Taking You with Me is clear.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In "Blood Money" when Hank is looking through all the case files related to Heisenberg, when he is looking at the photos of Combo's dead body, if you look to the left you see a picture of him as a little kid. About 7-9 years old, chubby and has a mullet.
    • In "Abiquiu," when Walt enters Gus's home, there are children's toys in his living room, suggesting Gus wanted to play up a family-man persona to Walt.
  • Freudian Trio: Walt, Jesse, and Mike in Season 5A. Sure enough, the first time Walt and Mike are alone without Jesse to mediate, Walt kills Mike.
  • From Bad to Worse: This is the show's M.O. In "Four Days Out," they're in the middle of the desert and drain the RV's battery as their generator runs out of gas. Then the generator catches fire and they lose the last of their water and destroy the generator putting it out. Then their phones die. Then they trickle-charge the battery by hand-cranking the generator and the RV starts! And immediately dies. Then they collect bits and pieces of this and that and Walt puts together a makeshift battery to jump the RV...and the RV finally starts.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Played unnervingly straight. There is no reason for Walt to be a nobody in the beginning. He's highly talented, yet he's in a dead-end high school teaching job that he hates, which inspires him to become the nightmare.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Unconfirmed but a nice coincidence: "Felina" can be broken down into Fe (Iron) Li (Lithium) and Na (Sodium) — or as the internet interpreted it, "blood, meth, and tears".note 
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • Walt poisoned Brock with a not-quite lethal poison and stole the ricin cigarette from Jesse, hoping that Jesse would realize he was poisoned, assume Walt did it and come after him. Then he had to convince Jesse that Gus had planned to the whole thing, right up to Jesse holding a gun to his head. It worked (almost) perfectly, but relied on a lot of luck.
    • Gus' wholesale poisoning of the cartel in "Salud" also depended on a lot of luck (see One Dose Fits All below).
    • The way Walt takes out the Aryan Brotherhood depended on them a.) allowing him to position the car where he wanted, b.) not searching the trunk, c.) putting his keychain somewhere he could get a hold of it, d.) all gathering in the same room at the same time. Jesse wasn't kidding when he lampshades that Walt is "luckier than you."
  • The Gambling Addict: How Skyler eventually explains Walt's money to her family.
  • Generic Graffiti: "HEISENBERG" in the mid-fifth-season premiere.
  • Genius Bruiser: Hank initially comes off as tough, over-bearing cop whose main skills are kicking down doors and surviving gun battles. As time goes on, however, he reveals himself to be a pretty brilliant investigator. He deduces Gus's operation from his hospital bed, when no one else suspected a thing.
  • Genre Shift: From very dark Black Comedy to Shakespearean-style Tragedy. Not that the Bard was any stranger to using this particular shift, himself, of course.
  • Germanic Efficiency: Madrigal Elektromotiv GmbHnote .
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: A lot of problems in the show are caused by Jesse getting high, though not solely on the meth he cooks personally.
  • Get Out!: Skyler pulls this on Walt in “Ozymandias” after she figures out that Hank is dead. When Walt doesn’t comply, she tries to kill him.
  • The Ghost. We never see Walt's mother, though she does get mentioned a few times.
  • Gilligan Cut (Or perhaps a Vince Gilligan Cut):
    • After Marie's bet with Hank over whether he can still get erect after his injuries and surgery.
    • In the season 4 finale, when Marie forbids Hank to leave the house and go to the DEA after they receive a tip about an assassination planned on him. Cue Hank in the DEA. Also doubles as an ironic echo for the previous situation.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex:
    • In the first episode, Walt with Skyler after just escaping two drug dealers who were about to kill him and a fire that one of them set accidentally. A few more times in later episodes as well.
    • Subverted in the season 2 premiere, Walt returns home from a traumatic ordeal and needs some sexual healing from his wife. His abrupt and unwelcome advances escalate into a Near-Rape Experience.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Walter White just wanted to make some cash to play his medical bills and leave some left over for his family. By "Gliding Over All," he made more than enough.
    • A desperate man with sympathetic medical problems and not much savvy looked like an ideal get-rich-quick opportunity with a limited shelf life and blowback to Saul Goodman. He helped create Heisenberg. That went so well.
  • Gorn: Not every episode, but at least once or twice a season something mind-blowingly gruesome happens.
    • Several dissolved corpses over the course of the show.
    • The decapitated-head-turtle-bombing in "Negro y Azul" results in quite a lot of carnage.
    • In "Box Cutter," Gus slices open a neck with one.
    • Gus Fring's death, where one side of his face is blown down to the skull by a bomb.
    • Mike's crew are stabbed dozens of times, with the last one doused with flammable liquid and burned.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Jesse's trying to get his money back from the junkies that ripped off Skinny Pete when the woman hits him in the head with a liquor bottle. It averts Soft Glass while she's at it.
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: Walt throws a handful of mercury of fulminate on the ground and it explodes, causing major damage to the room.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Skinny Pete introduces Jesse to Tuco, Pete tries to go for a fist bump. Tuco doesn't oblige.
  • Handshake Substitute: Fist bumps are occasionally seen by the younger set.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Jesse comes to this in Season 3 premiere "No Mas" after getting out of rehab, following Jane's death, which came after he tempted her into relapsing.
      Jesse: I'm the bad guy.
    • Walt has his own by "Felina", when he finally admits to Skyler that he cooked for his own gratification rather than for the good of the family, saying, "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."
  • He Knows Too Much: Deconstructed. Walt thinks he's covering his tracks by killing Mike and his entire team so that nobody can trace his crimes back to him. The problem is, in order to pull off this bloodbath he has to get in bed with Todd's Uncle Jack and his gang, who turn out to be more of a liability than the loyal crew Mike was paying huge amounts of hush money.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Season 4's finale has Walt pulling off a Batman Gambit and finally killing Gus. Part of that plan happens to involve poisoning an innocent child (albeit non-lethally) to manipulate Jesse. Things only go downhill from there.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Walt, at first.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: A minisode reveals that Jesse's old band was named TwaüghtHammër.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Walt (the show's Villain Protagonist) and Hank (the show's Hero Antagonist) are dead by the end of the series.
  • The Hero's Birthday: The show starts on Walt's 50th birthday (when he gets the news that he has cancer) and ends on his 52nd birthday.
  • Heroes Act, Villains Hinder: The show is mainly about the chaos caused by its hero, Walter White. Most of Walt's major enemies (the only exception being Hank in Season 5) are decidedly worse people than him and thus can properly be called villains, but their involvement in the plot is still a result of his actions.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death:
    • Jesse when he finds Jane dead. He has to be slapped out of it by Mike who wants him to tell police that he "woke up, he found her, that's all [he] know[s]."
    • Jesse in Season 4 premiere "Box Cutter", too shaken up to even flee the crime scene.
    • Walt at the end of "Crawl Space" after Skyler tells him she gave the money they needed to escape Gus to Ted Beneke.
    • Hank in "Blood Money." The realization that Walt is Heisenberg brings back his panic attacks with a vengeance. By the time Walt confronts him later in the episode, Hank is clearly a distraught, shaken man.
    • Jesse is basically a walking BSoD throughout "Buried." Given all he's been through up to that point, it's hardly a surprise, too.
    • "Ozymandias"
      • Walt gets one when he witnesses Jack kill Hank despite all he does to save him.. So does Marie when she finds out about it.
      • Walt Jr. gets one when Skyler and Marie confess everything about the meth-making activities
      • Skyler's occurs when Walt kidnaps Holly and flees.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Hank in Season 3.
    • Jesse's soft-heartedness is also unexpected for Walt as well as the audience.
    • The flashback to Gus' past, showing that he has a reason for his cold and calculating personality.
    • Old Joe, the trashy junkyard owner, turns out to actually have an impressive knowledge of the law.
    • Skyler takes to money-laundering like a duck to water. But then the water turns to blood and she realises how deep a moral hole she's in.
    • "Hazard Pay" reveals that Skinny Pete, the crusty meth dealer and drug addict, is a gifted pianist.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Gus and Walt both do this. At one point Walt even jokingly confesses to Hank.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Mike Ehrmantraut is more than happy to murder just about anyone, but always makes time to take care of his granddaughter.
  • Hollywood Acid: Hydrofluoric acid, used twice in the series to dispose of bodies by Walt and Jesse. In the series, hydrofluoric acid is highly corrosive and will dissolve a human body completely. In reality... not so much... (see Hollywood Science below).
  • Hollywood Magnetism: Mostly averted by the magnet used in The Caper. Walt points out that the frame of his glasses and his wedding ring are aluminium and gold, respectively, and the crew have to add a second row of batteries to get enough amperage to get through the wall of the evidence room.
  • Hollywood Science: Minimal but present.
    • Hydrofluoric acid will kill you dead if you breathe the gas it produces or get any on your skin... eventually. Working safely with concentrated hydrofluoric acid in real life requires a full body suit, as opposed to casually wearing aprons and masks. In other words, no trained chemist in his right mind would be hanging around waiting for the bottom to fall out of the bathtub, much less look up into the hole from which blobs of liquefied, HF-contaminated dead body are probably still dripping; without extensive hazmat training and equipment, the proper procedure is to run away and call a professional hazmat team. The less lethal sodium hydroxide would work much better at dissolving the body without endangering other materials. It would still leave bones to be dealt with, though (HF would be pretty effective at this point).
    • Mercury (II) fulminate is ridiculously dangerous. Walt is meant to be a badass crystallographer, but even assuming he could make it into crystals and somehow not accidentally cause a reaction and somehow make it potent enough to wreak that much havoc (the show exaggerated the explosion a little), he'd still be dealing with lungfuls of toxic dust (mercury salts). Of course, he may not have cared about that, given that he already had lung cancer, and believed himself to be dead soon.
    • Walt suggesting he's gonna make phenylacetone in a tube furnace like it's the most natural thing in the world. It isn't. However, this is in reference to Uncle Fester's Guide to Making Amphetamine, which advocates the use of this process as it evades several legal restrictions on ingredients and has instructions to building your own furnace. Walt is enough of a badass chemist to know how to do this without reference material.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Gus Fring's public image. It's totally wrong, but it is his public image, up until the day he dies.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Saying Saul Goodman might represent this trope is like suggesting that water could, perhaps, be slightly damp. One look tells you everything you need to know.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Inverted with Gus Fring's death. After Hector detonates himself, Gus Fring walks out of the gutted room, seemingly fine... and the viewer's stomachs drop as they think the plan failed. Then the camera pans to show the half of Gus's face that isn't there.
    • Walt, in "Gliding Over All". After constantly living under the threat of death from various sources as well as increasing law enforcement scrutiny and a growing estrangement from his family, he finally seems to be free: Everyone who wanted him dead has been eliminated; he has killed everyone who would link him to the meth business; he has made enough money for several lifetimes, as well as securing means to launder said money; He has retired from cooking meth, opening the door to reconcile with Skyler. Too bad he left the last piece of evidence somewhere Hank could find it....
    • For Hank, Jesse and Gomez and perhaps even Walt himself in the events of "To'hajiilee" and "Ozymandias". After successfully baiting Walt to get to his money, the trio corner him and arrest him, and Hank even personally calls Marie to inform they got Walt. 5 minutes later, Walt's 'backup' arrives, armed to the teeth, and corner Hank and Gomez. The resulting shootout leaves Gomez dead, Hank seriously injured, and Jesse hiding below Walt's car. Walt negotiates in vain to save Hank, who is killed by Jack soon after, and Jesse is captured beneath Walt's car and Made a Slave to Jack's gang. Oh, and it is at this point, Walt, livid with Jesse's role in snitching against him, which led to the shootout in the first place, decides to break the truth about Jane's death. The trio went from utterly victorious to dead and ruined. And after that...
    • After realizing that Skyler and Walt Jr. had truly turned against him, Walt proceeds to kidnap the one family member he didn't believe could turn against him because she supposedly didn't know anything—his infant daughter Holly. But on the road, Walt sadly discovered that he was wrong when she started crying for "Mama." This made him realize he had gone too far. And it was still a terrible thing to do, even if it didn't turn out to be in vain and Holly hadn't turned against him. And still after that...
    • In "Granite State", Jesse nearly escapes the Aryan compound, after fooling Todd, not noticing the camera on the boundary. During his moment of escape, he is captured again. Todd and Jack drive Jesse to Andrea's house, where Todd lures her out on pretext of Jesse's information. When Andrea is in clear view of Jesse, he panics as he tries desperately to save her. Todd shoots her quickly, with Jack warning Jesse another such attempt will lead to Brock's death. Jesse's breakdown really seals the deal.
  • How We Got Here:
    • The episodes "Pilot", "Crazy Handful of Nothin'", "Grilled", "Breakage", "ABQ", and "Bug".
    • The entire second season is the journey towards a grim future which was teased at the start of several episodes, including the season's premiere. Going beyond In Medias Res, the events of these flash-forwards take place between the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 premiere.
    • "Live Free or Die", the first episode of the final season, starts with a glimpse to a year ahead (and yet another Ironic Birthday) showing a now more rugged-looking Walt travelling under a fake identity and purchasing an M60 Machine Gun to kill the Aryan Brotherhood and rescue Jesse.
    • "Blood Money", the premiere episode of the second half of Season 5 starts off after the M60 purchase showing Walt going back home, which after the events of the last year has now been closed off and abandoned.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Rare are characters who aren’t heavily flawed or absolute scumbags. Heck, the thesis of the show is that a decent man can be easily corrupted when given the opportunity.
  • Humiliation Conga: Several dramatic ones.
    • Jesse suffers one in "Down", which leaves him broke and homeless, with no one to help him, covered in sewage water and disinfectant and eventually crying himself to sleep while wearing a gas mask on the floor of the RV.
    • Season 4 is one long one for Walt.
    • Season 5's first half is one for Mike up until his death.
    • Walt himself suffers a nasty one in Season 5. His brother-in-law is killed in front of him, the majority of his money is stolen, the world finds out who he is and he's forced to go on the run, his own wife attacks him, and it looks like he'll be forced to live out his final days in a freezing shack in the middle of nowhere. Then, just when it looks like it can't get any worse, his son disowns him and he overhears his colleagues - who are now far more successful than him - badmouthing him on national TV. The Grand Finale gives him a chance to make a comeback, but whether he deserves it at this point is debatable.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: At one point Jesse talks about all the "mad cheddar" they're going to make. After Walt just stares at him, he continues "Cheddar, Mr. White. Fat stacks, dead presidents, cash money."
  • I Am the Noun: Walt's Badass Boast to Skyler. "I am the danger. [...] I am the one who knocks!"
  • I Know You Know I Know: Hank and Walt play this game for a bit after Hank finds out Walt's Heisenberg. But it ends pretty quickly after Walt confronts Hank about the tracker on his car.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • At the baby shower, Hank turns to Walt and asks if he has anything stronger than beer.
    • Then at the party celebrating Walt's remission, Walt goes to drink with Hank and then starts giving Walt Jr shots.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Several season 2 episodes clue the viewer in on the initially out-of-the-blue disaster which closes the season.
    • Several episodes such as "Negro Y Azul", "No Más" and "Salud" among others have titles in Spanish.
    • Similarly, "Mandala" is a Sanskrit word.
    • Season 3 has a lot of episode titles based on things that come into play in the last five minutes of the episode - "Green Light," "I.F.T", ("I fucked Ted") "One Minute," and "Sunset," for example.
    • Season 4 has had the habit of naming a lot of its episodes after objects that play into that episode's story to some degree: "Box Cutter", "Thirty-Eight Snub", "Shotgun", "Bug," "Crawl Space" and "Face Off"
  • Ignored Epiphany: In "Granite State," Walter, after hearing that his son flat-out refuses his drug money and wishes him to die, calls the DEA to surrender and accept his fate. While he waits for the cops, however, he sees Elliot and Gretchen disowning their association to Walt on TV, specifically saying that Walt has never done anything for Gray Matter except giving the company its name. At that point, Breaking Bad's theme song kicks in, pride retakes control of Walt, and he vanishes again as Heisenberg.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: "To'hajiilee" ends with Hank and Gomez up against the Aryans, the latter armed with assault rifles and even an automatic shotgun. Ultimately subverted in "Ozymandias" when it turns out that the bulletproof vest-wearing Gomez is killed (because even the best vest will eventually fail) and Hank was hit in the leg. Played with further when you look at the cars. Hank's is a perforated wreck, meaning the Aryans' More Dakka did land quite a few hits, but their own cars are pristine and none of the Neo-Nazis themselves are even injured despite Gomez having blasted away at them with a shotgun at very close range.
  • Implied Death Threat: "Blood Money" has Walt deliver one: "If you don’t know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly." However, the threat is empty; as it's shown later, Walt would rather go to prison than to kill Hank.
  • I'm Melting!: Jesse is tasked with dissolving a body in acid. Walt advises him to use a plastic tote, but Jesse ignores this and uses his own upstairs bathtub. After some time, the body is quite effectively melted... ...along with the tub, the floor around the tub, the downstairs ceiling below the tub, and even a little of the floor below that.
  • Incurable Cough of Death:
    • Walt's coughing in the pilot is a sign of his cancer.
    • Subverted; in the episode where he starts coughing up blood, he panics, but it turns out that his cancer is going into remission and that was just a relatively minor secondary condition.
    • Played straight again in season five; when his cancer comes back, he starts coughing again.
  • Indy Ploy: Walt's "thinking on his feet" attempts to obscure the truth about his second life. Much of it in the first season revolves around making up lies to tell his wife. She gets wise after a while. He comes up with more dramatic ones to throw off Hank. In "Better Call Saul," he drives up in front of him and to say hello with the actual purpose being to use his car to obscure Hank's view while Jesse redirects Badger to the right park bench for the fake Heisenberg bust. In season three, he pulls some spectacular shit out of his ass to get Hank away from the RV in the salvage yard. In the fourth season, he gets into an auto accident to prevent Hank from scoping out the laundry.
  • In-Joke: In the pilot, Hank's irresponsible and unsafe demonstration of the .40 caliber Glock 22, followed by his interview on Channel 3, is a reference to this video.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hank collects "minerals," not "rocks."
  • Inspector Javert: Hank increasingly becomes this as he chases Heisenberg and his blue meth.
  • Inside Job:
    • Walter steals hard-to-get equipment and chemicals from his high school to kick-start his meth-cooking operation. The fact that there's no sign of forced entry immediately tips off Hank that it was an inside job.
    • For a short time, Jesse skims some of the excess product he and Walt produce for Gus Fring to sell on his own.
    • It comes out that Gus Fring's operation is supplied with methylamine by Lydia, who facilitates its theft from her employer, Madrigal.
    • Later, Lydia uses her inside knowledge of Madrigal's freight shipments to tip Walt's crew off that a train hauling a tanker car full of methylamine will be vulnerable while passing through a "dead zone" with no cell coverage.
  • Inspirational Insult: In an early episode, Jesse finds an old test paper marked by Walt, on which he's written "Ridiculous - apply yourself." Jesse takes the advice and applies himself to making meth.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Walt cooks the best meth, and he's not afraid to remind people of it.
    • The cartel's meth cook Benicio Fuentes also counts as this. He repeatedly criticizes Jesse, but even the Don points out that Jesse still cooks better meth than he does, with all of his college degrees.
  • Interface Spoiler: Defied by Netflix. The last six episodes of the show are given descriptions that get even vaguer as they go, from "Confessions"' description of, "Jesse decides to make a change, while Walt and Skyler deal with an unexpected demand," to "Felina"'s simple statement of, "The award-winning series comes to a dramatic conclusion in the series finale."
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Walter watching Jane die in season 2. The threat of that truth being revealed added tension to a lot of the many disputes Walt and Jesse got into.
    • Walt poisoning Brock was another case, though it was not kept secret for as long.
    • Walt killing Mike is also set up like this, however both Jesse and Saul quickly deduce that Walt killed him.
  • In Vino Veritas:
    • Walt lets it slip that he has a second cell phone whilst under the influence of anesthetics prior to his cancer surgery, thus beginning the unraveling of his web of lies.
    • Walt also lets his pride get the better of him while drunk and shoots down Hank's notion that Gale is Heisenberg.
    • After taking prescription pain medication, Walt calls his son by Jesse's name, giving away that he's still in contact with him.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In In Season 4, Episode 5, Skyler and Walt have sex to celebrate their signing of the papers which finalize their purchase of A1A carwash from Bogdan Wolynetz and abruptly end their sexual intercourse when Walter Jr enters the house - Walt Sr was THIS CLOSE to being caught naked by his son. Walt Jr. does realize what is going on though, and leaves the scene in disgust.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Whenever a character punches something, be it an object or a person, their knuckles will show the damage.
  • Ironic Birthday: Walt has just terrible luck with birthdays:
    • In the very first episode, he comes home from the hospital on his 50th birthday, having just learned that he has terminal cancer, to find a surprise party in his living room.
    • Season five episode "51" features his next birthday (with a lampshade hung on how long a year it's been), celebrated for Walt Jr's sake despite the fact that he and Skyler are barely on speaking terms. He actually requests a "surprise" party along the lines of his last one, in an attempt to persuade Skyler that life is back to normal. Instead he gets a simple dinner with Hank and Marie during which Skyler tries to drown herself.
    • The Cold Open to season five shows his 52nd birthday in a flash-forward, "celebrated" alone in a diner, using a new identity.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Walt's Pontiac Aztek. While portrayed as an Alleged Car early in the series, it withstood an extraordinary amount of abuse, multiple crashes, and saved both Walt and Jesse's asses innumerable times. Despite this, Walt eventually unceremoniously sells it to his mechanic for $50 so he can get something cooler.
  • Ironic Echo: Quite a few.
    • After Skyler confronts Jesse and almost catches him moving Emilio's body, he angrily tells Walt, "good job on wearing the pants in the family." Later, when Jane gets Walt to give Jesse the money owed to him, Walt says, "nice job wearing the pants."
    • Saul's speech to Walt about his looming divorce in S3E2, "Caballo Sin Nombre", is very reminiscent of Walt's address to the students after the plane crash in S3E1, "No Más."
    • Walt's speech to Skyler in the second episode of season 5 about how doing bad things for the sake of family is justifiable is highly reminiscent of a similar speech given to the twins by Tio Salamanca in a flashback in season 3. Given the general audience reaction to the Salamancas, it's a pretty chilling indication of the direction in which Walt is headed.
    • In "Cornered", Walt says to Skyler: "I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger." In "Fifty-One", he tells her: "I can promise you that Gus Fring is dead. And he was the threat. He was the danger." Skyler responds, "I thought you were the danger."
    • Todd's explanation of his motives repeats Walt's argument to Gus about Gale nearly word-for-word.
    • In "Fifty-One", Skyler says to Walt: "I will not have my children living in a house where dealing drugs and hurting people and killing people is shrugged off as ‘shit happens'!" In "Buyout", after Todd kills a child witness and he, Jesse, Walt and Mike dispose of the body, he tells Jesse: "Man, shit happens, huh?" Jesse punches him in the face.
    • Walt keeping up a façade as an overly friendly staffmember when Lydia comes to the car wash to confront him in season 5, often refusing to answer her questions and treating her like just another customer - the exact same approach Gus Fring used on him whenever he came to Los Pollos Hermanos.
  • Irony:
    • The final season is packed with this. After sacrificing so much over the story arc to raise hospital and inheritance money, Walt ends up losing absolutely everything in the process. The penultimate episode has him sitting alone in the middle of nowhere, suffering from cancer again, and down to his last barrel of cash he can neither spend nor give to his family.
    • Also, Walt has taken a great many drug dealers off the streets during his tenure as a drug cooker and later drug kingpin. Krazy-8, Tuco, Gus, Declan, Jack and the Nazis, Lydia. Possibly also the Mexican cartel Gus was part of, if Walt can be considered instrumental to their extermination. Walt did a better job of getting drugs off the street than Hank.
  • Irrevocable Order: A variation in "To'hajiilee"; thinking that Jesse has lured him to a remote location in order to kill him and take his money, Walt calls Uncle Jack and gives him the co-ordinates and the green light to kill Jesse. When he realises that it's Hank come to arrest him, he calls Jack to tell him not to come — but the gang come anyway. There's actually a reason for it: Jack's gang knew that something was at this particular spot because Walt gave the exact geographical coordinates as opposed to some vague description of the location - in this case, his money.
  • It Gets Easier: Walt agonizes over his first hands-on kill for almost an entire episode, and breaks down into tears when he finally does it. As the show goes on, he becomes less and less averse to using lethal violence to achieve his goals. Walt comes out and admits it to Skyler when she's freaking out about her actions indirectly getting Ted paralysed and almost killed.
  • It's for a Book: When Skyler thinks that Walt is smoking pot, she asks Marie about how could it affect someone, claiming that it's for a short story she's writing. Marie doesn't fall for it, but she thinks it's Walt Jr. who is smoking pot.
  • It's Probably Nothing: When Todd brings up his prison connections, Walt asks Mike if that would be a problem. Mike, after having checked Todd’s background previously, responds it isn’t.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When Gus and his brotherly friend pitch the idea of mass producing meth to a cartel don in Mexico in a flashback to the 1980s, the don and his associates laugh it off.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Walter's brother-in-law, Hank, is a loud, lewd and frequently obnoxious DEA agent. This is partly due to the culture of the police department and partly due to being a Sad Clown. He's a decent man underneath the bluster.
    • Jesse is an abrasive, thickheaded junkie, but underneath it all he's far gentler than Walt.
  • Jitter Cam: The show is shot mostly on handheld cameras, with the camera operators told to be as still as possible when filming, which results in minor but noticeable jitter.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
    • While Skyler compromises her morals throughout the series because of her relationship with Walt, when she tells Walt to kill Jesse, she goes straight from money laundering and blackmail to proposing murder.
    • Since the entire show revolves around Walt's journey from "Mr. Chips to Scarface" there are several moments that could qualify for him:
      • His decision to cook meth in the first place in the pilot.
      • Killing Krazy-8 in "...And the Bag's in the River".
      • Allowing Jane to choke to death on her own vomit in "ABQ".
      • By the time he is poisoning Brock simply to manipulate Jesse into helping him against Gus as well as arranging for a bomb to go off in a retirement home in "Face Off" it's pretty clear he's well on his way down the slippery slope.
  • Justified Criminal: The main crux of the series, though pride is a big factor too, showing the justification really only exists in Walter's mind — he was offered charity early in the first season, and refused it. The show is a Deconstruction of this concept.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty/Laser-Guided Karma: Vince Gilligan has stated that one Central Theme of the series is that all actions have consequences. At some point everyone has to reap the results of all their decisions and actions, even if it takes many years — and they come either as gruesome (but deserved) deaths or being forced to live with the stigma of guilt. In the finale Jesse managed to survive because at that point he realized his colossal mistake in getting involved in the meth industry, and Saul realizes that even with an assumed identity he will never regain the prosperity he had with Walter.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • After Walt forces Bogdan to sell him the car wash in Season 4, he refuses to let Bogdan take anything with him as he leaves—not even the first dollar that he ever made, which he keeps framed on the wall of his office. As soon as Bogdan leaves, Walt shatters the glass frame, takes the dollar out, and spends it on the nearest soda machine. Although Bogdan's behavior puts some Kick the Son of a Bitch into the scene, this act of petty cruelty speaks volumes about how far Walt has fallen since the show's beginning.
    • Walt does this to Jesse in "Ozymandias" when he admits letting Jane die in her overdose.
    • The climax of season four which has Walt poison Brock in order to manipulate Jesse is presented as a new low for Walter's slide into villainy.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • Max in "Hermanos".
      "Por favor, se lo—"
    • Hank in "Ozymandias".
      "Do what you're gonna do—"
    • Jack in "Felina".
      "You pull that trigger, you'll never—"
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: Saul Goodman's ads. "Better Call Saul!" Also when Walt is talking to Domingo he brings up the commercials that used to air for the furniture store Domingo's father owns.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: How Saul arranges a meeting between Walter White and Gus Fring. Becomes practically Saul's catchphrase as the series goes on and Walt and Jesse require the services of more and more shady characters. Walt even calls him out on it during the scene where they're waiting to be given new lives by Saul's 'clean slate' man; Walt asks for the names of hitmen to take out Jack and his gang, and Saul says he doesn't know any. Walt tells him that surely he knows someone who ALSO knows someone.
    Saul: Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy... [beat] who knows another guy.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: One of Jack's men has a phrase tattooed across his knuckles, which can be best seen when he holds has hand across Skyler's mouth when Todd threatens her.
  • Lack of Empathy: Todd. The other members of his uncle's gang are vicious, nasty and aggressive — he's just a fairly amiable guy who seems to be entirely immune to guilt or empathy.
  • Last-Name Basis: Jesse only refers to Walter as anything other than "Mr. White" once in the entire series.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In "Fly," Walt tellingly adds the birth of his daughter as an after-thought, seeming to place more importance on the first million he made as a reason to have not dropped dead.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The teaser ad for Season 5 is the scene of Gus Fring's death.
  • Laughing Mad: Walt's reaction when Skyler tells him she gave Ted the $600,000 they needed to escape Gus, who said he would kill them all if he interfered in tipping off the DEA about the hit on Hank... which Saul had done on his orders mere minutes before.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Most of the cast.
    • Bogdan is a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk who names a ridiculous price (well over 20x the actual value) when Skyler tries to buy the car wash. Then when he's desperate to sell because he thinks the EPA is about to shut him down due to a toxic waste leak, she lowers her original offer by almost 10%, explicitly saying she's doing so because she doesn't like him. When he hands the keys over to Walt, he makes a big point that he's selling the business "as is." He then goes to take his framed "first dollar"... and Walt reminds him he sold the business "as is." The instant Bogdan walks out, Walt smashes the frame, takes the dollar, and buys a soda with it.
    • At the end of the fourth season, Don Eladio, the head of the Mexican cartel dies at the exact spot where he ordered the death of Gus' partner. Extra points for Gus being the one to poison him, after making a deal with him over crystal meth (a substance he used to scoff at).
    • Ted, who after refusing to use the money Skyler gave him for her intended purpose (to avoid getting arrested for tax fraud), is visited by goons sent by Saul on Skyler's orders and forced into signing the check. When he tries to run, he slips on his rug and ends up paralyzed as a result of his injury..
    • This happens to Walt in "Ozymandias" in brutal fashion: Uncle Jack executes Hank and takes 70 of Walt's 80 million in meth profits, his family disowns him because of Hank's death and Walt Jr. discovering his father is Heisenberg, and Walt finally realizes how wrong his rationalizations were. At the end of the episode, he's forced to embrace his Heisenberg persona and flee Albuquerque with the help of Saul's identity-changer.
    • Since Lydia's debut episode, she was a Karma Houdini. However, in "Felina", Lydia finally gets what she deserves, when Walt's final battle begins with him poisoning her tea with the ricin he stole from Jesse. By the time Walt calls to tell her what happened, she's already too close to death to do anything about it.
    • Vanco, who spent most of his time in "Negro y Azul" making fun of Hank for not speaking Spanish (using the language barrier to get away with trash-talking to his fellow coworkers) and reacting in horror to Tortuga's head on the tortoise. When the explosives in the tortoise go off, Vanco's leg gets blown off below the knee.
  • Laser Sight: Walt intimidates Elliot and Gretchen by telling them he spent $200,000 hiring "the two best hitmen west of the Mississippi" to keep tabs on them until they go through with his demands — cue laser dots on their chests. Subverted when it turns out it was just Badger and Skinny Pete with laser pointers.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise:
    • In the second last episode, as a build up to the Grand Finale, has Walter give the DEA his position; suddenly spurred on, the full theme song plays as the police raid the bar Walter called from, only to find his unfinished drink and tip.
    • The full theme also plays over the credits of the Series Finale.
  • Lawman Gone Bad:
    • Walt cooks up a false confession that hinges on framing Hank as one of these who manipulated his poor cash-strapped cancer-patient brother-in-law into cooking meth for him to sell through his criminal contacts, and he sends the tape to Hank as a threat. Even as he watches it, Hank can see it's a more plausible story than the truth.
    • Ex-cop turned hitman Mike qualifies too. He tells Walt about illegally threatening a suspect, the DEA agents who interrogate him imply that his career in law enforcement didn't end well, and Better Call Saul reveals that he not only took bribes, but also murdered the crooked cops who set up the death of his police officer son Matty.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • "High school teacher turned meth dealer, brother-in-law's in the DEA? That'd make one hell of a story..."
    • In season 5, Marie remarks that the time between Walt's 50th and 51st birthdays felt much longer than a year. It's been four and a half in real years.
    • In "Rabid Dog", a fifth season episode, Marie's shrink states that "There is no problem, no matter how difficult, painful or seeming unsolvable, that violence won't make worse." This is an episode where he is one of only two characters with speaking roles not to be planning to kill someone.
    • Walt himself echoes the "This'll make one hell of a story" line when he's impersonating a New York Times journalist in the finale.
  • Leave No Witnesses: A few times. In "Dead Freight," Mike points out that in his experience, "there are two kinds of heist; those where the guys get away with it, and those that leave witnesses." They eventually come up with a way to do the job without being seen by the train's crew, but they don't count on Innocent Bystanders.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: A big draw of the show is watching the timid, suburban dad with a bit of a chip on his shoulder turn into a diabolical mastermind when his back is to the wall or he's just had enough.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: The scene with Badger and Jesse in "Gray Matter" ends with the background music doing this as Badger fails to outpace Jesse.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: A common motif in the series, with Walt and Jesse as nicer drug lords than the people they generally oppose. However, by the final season it's clear that Walt has become about as evil as the rest of the industry.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Walt and Marie had this type of relationship for the majority of the series. She would confide in him Hank's problems, sometimes take his side against Skyler, let him decide for himself whether or not he wanted to get chemo when his cancer was first discovered and Walt in turn treated her well and did try to help Hank on her behalf. This however was up until Hank reveals what Walt's been up to throughout the series, wanting him to die and later calling Walt an "arrogant asshole" when she believes that he had Hank killed.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
    • "Gliding Over All", from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
    • "Ozymandias", from Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem. It's about what happens when someone's reputation crumbles and only their name is left behind. A promo for the episode has Bryan Cranston reciting it over shots of the New Mexico desert.
    • "Felina" is a reference to Marty Robbins' song "El Paso", which is about a cowboy returning to the town where he escaped from the past to see his lover, Feleena again. The song even plays briefly in the episode.
  • Little "No":
    • Jesse lets out a heartrending one after Todd shoots the kid at the end of "Dead Freight".
    • Jesse's response to Walt offering him $1.5 million in "One Minute".
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There's Walt's family, Jesse and his friends, the DEA, the Salamanca family, Saul and his employees, Los Pollos Hermanos... and those are just the ones introduced in the first two seasons!
  • Locked in a Freezer:
    • "4 Days Out", where Walt and Jesse are lost in the desert with no water and a flat battery.
    • In "Fly", they're trapped in the lab, unable to cook until they manage to decontaminate the lab (which is to say, kill the one of the most daring fly in television history). They're stuck there until they can kill the fly and cook the batch.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Walt claims that his love for his family is his only motivation for everything he's done, but this is questioned several times. It may have initially been true, but Pride and Greed soon took over.
  • Lured into a Trap: This happens a number of times:
    • Walt uses Gus' hatred of the Salamancas to get Hector to kill him.
    • Jesse and Hank trick Walt into driving to where he stole his money and then arrest him.
    • Walt does this to Jack's neo-Nazi gang in the final episode.

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