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"You're the kind of lawyer guilty people hire."
Betsy Kettleman
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Better Call Saul is an American drama television series from AMC which premiered in 2015. A prequel to Breaking Bad, it centers on the past of Ambulance Chaser and notorious mob lawyer "Saul Goodman."

Before he was Saul Goodman, he was Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk): a hardworking attorney struggling to find clients receptive to his slick charm and loose ethics. Complicating matters is his ailing brother Chuck (Michael McKean), a brilliant, if officious, senior lawyer whose bizarre and isolating condition forces his sibling to take care of him. Jimmy finds a kindred spirit in his ambitions with his close friend Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a junior attorney at Chuck's law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, whose ironclad moral code and fondness for Jimmy's antics often complicate her career. His search for clients that will boost his solo practice, and his attempts to join HHM, are foiled by Chuck's successful and smarmy law partner Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). All three are well aware of Jimmy's weakness for doing what's easy over what's right, and as his situation changes and his loyalties shift, he becomes less interested in rising above his reputation as "Slippin' Jimmy" - and more interested in becoming someone much worse.

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Meanwhile, recent events have forced Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) into an early retirement from the Philadephia PD, moving to Albuquerque to pursue a quiet life as a doting grandfather. His concerns over providing for his family - as well as trauma after a recent loss - begin to push Mike towards less legal pursuits, where his professionalism and specialized skill set make him a highly-demanded commodity.

Despite their best efforts, both Jimmy and Mike become acquainted with the power players of the Albuquerque underworld, especially due to their dealings with an ambitious cartel associate by the name of Nacho Varga (Michael Mando)...

For the Breaking Bad episode which introduced Saul, see "Better Call Saul."

This is the recap page, which seriously Needs Wiki Magic Love.

Only spoilers for the third and fourth seasons will be whited out (and even that isn't 100% guaranteed). You have been warned.

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Better Call Saul provides examples of:

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    A-G 
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Aesop Amnesia: At the end of season 1, Jimmy tells Mike that he'll never let doing the "right thing" stop him again. At the end of season 3, he finds himself in a similar position with his scheme to turn the residents of Sandpiper on Irene, and ultimately sacrifices both his million dollar payday and his reputation in elder law to set things right.
  • Affably Evil: Lalo is a merciless cartel gangster, but he's also very chipper and polite. When he arrives to take control of the Salamanca gang's collections away from Nacho, he does so by cheerfully introducing himself and serving him a home-made dinner, then smoothly sitting down in the lead position without any discussion of the matter.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Sure, Chuck repeatedly proved he was an asshole through and through, but the penultimate scene depicting his mental breakdown sort of causes you to pity him when he meets his demise.
  • The Alleged Car: Jimmy's Suzuki Esteem leaves much to be desired, what with it sometimes having problems starting and the mismatched paint job on his right rear door (implying that the car probably got into an accident and the door had to be replaced, and Jimmy couldn't afford to have the door repainted). It's such a pile that he asks the skaters who try to scam him what kind of payment they were expecting from someone with a car like his.
    "The only way that entire car is worth $500 bucks is if there's a $300 hooker sittin' in it!"
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Kim gets a thrill out of participating in Jimmy's cons, which is one of the reasons she sticks with him.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • A defining trope, as the show is about Jimmy's slide into becoming the crooked attorney known as Saul Goodman. The show reveals that it comes from a combination of bitterness for not getting the respect he believes he deserves and a recurring habit of cutting ethical corners.
    • Kim proves she's no saint when she is willing to expend a couple of junior associates' time and orchestrate a massive threat of a fictitious media circus to get the assistant district attorney to agree to a better plea bargain for Huell.
  • Anti-Villain: Chuck McGill is a law-abiding lawyer who thinks it's dangerous for his con-man brother Jimmy (also a lawyer) to have a law degree. History says he's right, as Jimmy goes on to become the sleazebag Saul Goodman. However, Chuck's continual efforts to undermine Jimmy (who genuinely cares for him) throughout the series make him just as petty and vindictive as the murderers and drug dealers the show has.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • In season 1, Troy Hoffman, Carl Fenske, Marco Pasternak
    • In season 2, the good samaritan and Ximenez Lacerda
    • In season 3, Chuck McGill
    • In season 4, Arturo Colon, and Werner Ziegler
  • Arc Symbol: Lanterns in Season 3. The whole season has left subtle clues foreshadowing Chuck's suicide, often by making the gas lantern take center stage:
    • "Witness": The lantern is prominently seen as Chuck and his private investigator wait inside the house for Jimmy to steal the confession tape, and Jimmy threatens to burn the house down when grilling Chuck on the location of a possible second tape.
    • "Sabrosito": Mike is hired by Jimmy and Kim to take photos of Chuck's house to present to Rebecca. One of these photos is of the lantern sitting atop a bunch of newspapers, which Jimmy takes special note of when they meet at the diner to make the exchange.
    • "Chicanery": Jimmy presents the photo during his bar hearing.
    • "Lantern": The childhood flashback at the beginning of the episode, where the camera zooms in on a lantern as Chuck reads to Jimmy. And all the lantern symbolism comes to fruition at the end of the episode when Chuck, broken and defeated, deliberately kicks over the lantern, burning down his house and killing himself.
  • Arc Words: "Dot your 'I's and cross your 'T's." An expression meaning to spare no detail and make no mistakes.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Although set and filmed in Albuquerque, this is prone to happen:
    • Jimmy's search for the Kettleman family in "Nacho" begins with him hiking into the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque, and he finds them on the Rio Grande floodplain in the westnote . This would've required walking several thousand vertical feet down and across several miles of city neighborhoods and commercial districts.
    • What is depicted as the courthouse parking lot where Mike's "troll"-booth under the bridge is located at, is not actually for a courthouse. That's actually the Albuquerque Convention Center.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Mike Ehrmantraut tends to avoid this trope, but there have been a couple notable instances where he stored loaded rifles in his moving car pointing directly at the drivers' seat. Most of the time, however, he has the sense to point them to the side — which is about as safely as one could transport an illegal firearm.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • This show focuses on Jimmy, Mike, and later Gus, all of whom were members of the main cast in Breaking Bad that were not introduced in Season 1 of that show.
    • Stacey Ehrmantraut, Kaylee's mother and Mike's daughter-in-law, has a significantly more prominent role in this show after only appearing once in Breaking Bad, where she was only seen from a distance and played by an unknown actress.
    • Nacho Varga starts out as one of Tuco's henchmen, but then got more and more screen time and development as the series progressed. He gets a lot more screen time in Season 2 compared to Season 1. By Season 3, he fully becomes a part of the main cast, and develops his own subplot as he tries to get out from under Hector's thumb, only to then get caught in the middle of Gus's war with the Salamancas.
    • In Season 2, Kim becomes a more definitive tritagonist, with subplots revolving around her in addition to the ones revolving around Jimmy and Mike.
    • Krazy-8 only lasted about three episodes into Breaking Bad. As a Salamanca associate, he's had a much larger presence here in Better Call Saul, especially in season 5 where we see how he becomes a snitch for the DEA.
    • Gus's first two onscreen appearances are as one-scene wonders, but in "Sabrosito" he is officially established as a member of the main cast.
    • Lalo is introduced at the end of "Coushatta," and while he only appears for a few scenes in the last two episodes, it sets him up to be the main antagonist for Gus and Mike in season 5.
    • The Salamanca gang become a larger threat and presence than they were in Breaking Bad. Hector is Mike's antagonist for season 2, and Gus's and Nacho's antagonist for season 3. There's a brief lull in their activities in season 4 after Gus forces the Cousins to return south for massacring the Espinozas, until late in the season when Lalo comes along, and in season 5, becomes the first time a Salamanca got main credits billing.
  • Assassin Outclassin': In season 5, Lalo kills all of the assassins sent by Fring to kill him using his wits and a secret escape tunnel.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Ken Wins, an abrasive and arrogant financial worker. In "Switch", Kim and Jimmy overhear him talking loudly on his phone, so they trick him into paying for an entire bottle of expensive tequila. Poor, poor thing.
    • In "Coushatta," Kim's reasons for pulling the whole sham show of support for Huell to force ADA Ericsen to agree to a lenient plea deal seems motivated by Ericsen's willingness to give Huell a disproportionate sentence for his crime.
  • Awful Truth: The primary twist of Season One is that Chuck is the one who has been actively sabotaging Jimmy's attempt to become a lawyer.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The billboard stunt. Jimmy buys a billboard ad that plagiarizes the HHM branding. The court issues a cease-and-desist order to make him take it down. Jimmy then tries and fails to convince the local news stations to document the billboard taken down; instead he hires a freelancing TV team. The worker who takes down the ad (actually a hired stooge) "accidentally" falls and then Jimmy plays hero in front of the camera. The HHM staff see through the façade instantly but know that taking any further action against Jimmy would be akin to the Streisand Effect.
    • Mike pretends to get drunk and makes a vague accusation to the two cops who killed his son, then stumbles his way home. He is counting on the fact that the two cops would pick him up in their squad car (which he had broken into earlier and hid a spare gun) and take him to a secluded spot where they can kill him (or rather, where he can kill them).
    • Mike's gambit to throw Tuco in jail, which involves acting like a doddering old fool and not showing any fear after "accidentally" swiping Tuco's car in a parking lot
    • At the close of season two, Chuck seemingly retires and pretends to fall even deeper into his electromagnetic sensitivity delusion, hoping Jimmy's desire to look out for him and care for him will lead him to give a taped confession. It works.
    • The follow-up at the start of season 3 features Chuck using the taped confession to manipulate both Ernesto and his brother (almost) flawlessly. He knows the confession isn't likely to go anywhere in court, and knows he can't use it to get Mesa Verde back, but he also knows his brother would seek to get the tape if he knew it existed. All he needs is for Ernesto to "accidentally" hear the tape, tell his friend Jimmy what he heard, and wait for Jimmy to break in with witnesses to see it. The "almost" part stems from his failure to recognize that Jimmy had no interest in "sneaking in under cover of night" to get the tape. Jimmy is so angry he just kicks the door down and confronts Chuck directly.
    • Jimmy gets to turn the tables just a few episodes later when Chuck testifies during Jimmy's hearing before the bar association. Jimmy presses Chuck's Berserk Buttons — namely his ex-wife Rebecca and his Pride over the issue of his mental illness — until Chuck loses it and launches into an unhinged Motive Rant that inadvertently lends credence to Jimmy's claims that his brother has it out for him. So Jimmy ends up getting hit with a one year suspension of his law license rather than the disbarment that Chuck had been seeking.
    • Jimmy bests a trio of muggers by fleeing from them and running into a dead-end alley, counting on the fact that they will chase him into the alley. He's positioned two armed confederates to confront the muggers from behind once they arrive.
    • After Hector's smuggling method is ruined by Mike and Gus, Hector forces Gus to smuggle his crew's drugs as well. Gus planned this all along, and the success of his Los Pollos Hermanos smuggling methods leads the cartel to forbid all other methods of shipping drugs into the United States, severely weakening Hector's role in the cartel.
  • Batter Up!: Jimmy has two of his goons intimidate a trio of muggers by knocking down pinatas with baseball bats and threatening to do the same to the muggers.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When shooting his "Gimme Jimmy" commercial throughout a few late season 2 episodes, Jimmy is shown using this trope to engage in guerilla-style filming. This includes passing off an elderly masturbator as a phony World War II vet to scam their way onto an air force base and get footage of the guy standing in front of the "Fifi" B-29 Bomber, or shooting on a school playground and claiming to be filming a documentary about Rupert Holmes of "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" fame.
  • Being Good Sucks:
    • This hits Jimmy hard at the end of "Bingo," when he has to give up the money he invested in a new office in order to force the Kettlemans into taking the plea deal and save Kim from The Corn Field.
    • Jimmy gets hit again in "Lantern" when he has to admit to his fraud and sacrifice his payday from the Sandpiper settlement to let Irene reconcile with her friends.
  • Beneath the Mask: Jimmy McGill is a struggling professional trying desperately to make ends meet and find his place in the world. It is very clear that he is under massive amounts of stress and battles daily to keep his cool in the face of financial hardship, daily struggles, and an uncertain future. A far cry away from the confident 'Saul Goodman' persona that in Breaking Bad will define him as a litigator.
  • Big Bad: For Season 1, it appears to be Howard Hamlin, but is actually Chuck McGill who has been secretly sabotaging Jimmy's career.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: In seasons 2 and 3 Chuck shares the role of Big Bad with Hector Salamanca who is a powerful drug lord with connections to the Cartel, and a major enemy in Mike and later Nacho. In Season 3, Gus is also thrown into the mix, but like in Breaking Bad he is not anyone's antagonist yet. In Season 4, Jimmy's plotline has No Antagonist since he is suffering from grief but Gus takes over as the villain of Nacho's storyline. Late in Season 4, and in Season 5, Lalo becomes the Big Bad of every character's plotline between Mike, Jimmy, Nacho, Gus and even Kim.
  • Big Fancy House: Saul give Kim a tour of one, in an effort to rebuild her confidence in their relationship after he begins practicing under the name Saul Goodman.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Quite possibly just a Lucky Translation, but the word "Pimento" means "dark place" in Finnish. It's most common usage, "pitää pimennossa", translates into "To keep (someone) in the dark", which is exactly what Chuck's been doing.
  • Binge Montage: Played with in "Marco". It's a classic binge sequence, but instead of drinking or drugs, Jimmy and Marco are pulling various scams.
    • In "50% Off", two junkies learn of Saul's promotional offer and take it as a free ride to go on a meth-addled, multi-day crime spree through the Land of Enchantment.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Season 3 as a whole marks a transition point since it's the first season with Gus and also the last season with Chuck as a main character.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Towards the end of the first season, it is revealed that Chuck has been pretending to be a supportive big brother to Jimmy while secretly harboring disgust for him and undermining his attempts to build a legal practice.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Jimmy's three clients in the public defender case in the beginning broke into a morgue and had sex with a severed head.
    • Jimmy's back and forth with Tuco on deciding a punishment for the skateboarders who insulted his grandma.
    • To give an alibi for the secret hiding space Daniel has in his house, Jimmy shoos him out of the interrogation room, then spins a bogus story to the cops about Daniel keeping a private stash of videos of himself sitting in a pie while crying.
    • There's something to say about Mike's bonding, "make-work" project with Kaylee, where she unknowingly helps him build a spike strip to ambush one of Hector's trucks.
    • Jimmy goes into Los Pollos Hermanos and proves to be the most incompetent spy ever, easily tipping off Gus to Mike's presence.
    • Jimmy and Kim's lengthy scam to con ADA Ericsen into a no-prison time plea bargain for Huell, which involves faking letters of support from Huell's hometown and making up stories of Huell saving fictitious churchgoers from a fictitious fire at a fictitious church that doesn't exist.
    • Saul's method of extorting a settlement out of Kevin Wachtell is to blackmail him with a series of smear commercials, using "testimonials" overlaying manipulated footage from an actual Mesa Verde ad.
  • Blindfolded Trip:
    • Because no one can know about his secret basement under the laundromat, Gus doesn't recruit local labor. Instead, he works through Lydia to pick up outside contractors from Madrigal who do off-the-books illegal digging projects. And just to be on the safe side, Gus has even more measures placed to ensure that anyone who fails the job interview knows minimal details about the project. To elaborate, the candidate flies into Denver, Colorado, where they are directed to a car in the parking lot with a prepaid parking ticket, keys hidden in the wheel well, and a burner phone in the cupholder. The candidate is then guided by Mike over the phone to drive to a dropoff point on the side of a windy road in the Rocky Mountains near Idaho Springs. Once there, the candidate is to don a black hood from the trunk. After which, Mike and a driver show up, bundle the candidate into a van, and drive him hundreds of miles to the lab. They then do an analysis of the site and determine both the time and labor required, while Gus is discreetly observing him from the shadows. The candidate never sees Gus, instead only seeing Mike. If Gus rejects the candidate, he calls Mike to tell him as much, then the rejectee is re-bagged, put back in the van, and dumped back on the Colorado road where he left the car with a return plane ticket in their pocket.
    • Werner's crew are sorta subjected to this. No one can know of their existence, so Gus has bought a giant warehouse on the outskirts of Albuquerque in which there are two two-bedroom houses (a single bedroom for Werner, and three doubles shared among his six subordinates). Every evening, Mike and another driver pick them up in a laundry truck that's backed up to a loading dock, and they are driven in the truck to the laundromat, where they then do their work. Then repeat the process in the reverse to go back to their living quarters.
  • Book-Ends:
    • In the first season, Jimmy's first and last scenes in the HHM parking garage feature the same dented trash can.
    • In Jimmy's first scene in the first season (after the Cold Open), he's in the bathroom practicing his speech for the jury. In his last scene of the first season, he's practicing introducing himself to a partner from Davis & Main.
    • Season 3 begins with Mike obsessively taking apart his car trying to find the hidden tracker, and ends with Chuck obsessively taking apart his house trying to find the hidden source of electrical current. It also begins with Chuck telling Jimmy that he was the one who read The Adventures of Mabel to him as a kid, and ends with a flashback showing Chuck doing just that.
  • Brick Joke: In "Granite State", as he was preparing to go into hiding, Saul cracked the best he could hope for under his new identity would be managing a Cinnabon in Omaha. That's precisely what he's wound up doing.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Mike raised his son, Matty, as a scrupulously honest cop in Philadelphia. When Matty's corrupt partner tried to bring him into something shady, Matty originally refused, and only went along with it when Mike reveals that he himself had been corrupt when he was on the force.
    • Jimmy idolizes Chuck both as a towering figure of the law and as the big brother who rescued him from prison and helped him turn his life around. The revelation that Chuck never respected him in turn, and was actually the one to block and sabotage all of Jimmy's attempts to join HHM and build his own law practice, is enough to get Jimmy to walk out on Chuck and give up all illusions to himself that he will ever be a "proper" lawyer.
    • Howard looks up to Chuck as his old friend and mentor, and repeatedly urges him to abandon his vendetta against Jimmy. Howard then gets a taste of just how vindictive Chuck can be when Howard encourages Chuck to retire and he responds by moving to sue his own law firm into insolvency. Howard puts himself into debt to buy Chuck out and essentially fire him.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Jimmy's whole character. He will fall under some hard times and fall in with some bad people, but between this show and Breaking Bad, he's shown to be a very effective attorney.
    Jimmy: I just talked you down from a death sentence to six months probation. I'm the best lawyer ever...
  • Burner Phones: With his law license suspended in Season 4, Jimmy takes a job at a mobile phone store, then realizes he can make a lot of money selling cheap prepaid cell phones to criminals and drug users for a markup. This sends him further and further into the criminal underworld, making dozens of criminal connections.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ken Wins, who will have his car blown up in Breaking Bad and gets conned by Jimmy and Kim into paying for a very expensive bottle of tequila.
  • Cabin Fever: A genuine concern for the German construction crew building Gus's meth lab, who live for months on site and are not permitted to go outside for fear they will learn where they are. Werner gets hit hard by this, to the point that he escapes the compound to go see his wife, and forcing Gus to order his death after he is tricked into divulging details of the construction to Werner.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In "Wiedersehen," Tyrus drives a semi truck over some metal plates at the exact same moment Werner's crew is blasting rock underground.
  • Cain and Abel: Jimmy and Chuck's relationship and rivalry is an underlying the theme for the first three seasons. There are scenes alternating genuine concern for each other with scenes where one tries to sabotage the other. It's up to you to figure out which brother is which.
  • Call-Back:
    • The dented trash can that Jimmy kicked in "Uno" is shown in "Marco."
    • Jimmy makes a reference to wanting a cocobolo desk to Kim when considering buying a fancy new office in Season 1. Come Season 2, he asks if he can have his desk at David & Maine replaced with a cocobolo desk.
    • When Jimmy is trying to prove to Tuco that he really is a lawyer and not a federal agent, he tells Tuco to ask him anything about law, then after a second adds, "Just not contract law." In season 2, Jimmy nearly voids his contract with Davis and Main by resigning after less than a year, which would have caused them to take back the substantial bonus he was paid when he signed with them. He's only saved by his aide, Omar, pointing this out. Later, when Jimmy finally forces Cliff Main to fire him without cause, which would allow Jimmy to keep his bonus, Cliff angrily tells Jimmy that he's aware of what Jimmy was trying to do and snarks that Jimmy must have brushed up on his contract law.
  • Call-Forward: A given, since this is a prequel series. In fact, it has so many call forwards that it has its own page.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Chuck, in "Nailed," outlines with (unknowingly) 100% accuracy how Jimmy doctored the Mesa Verde files, ostensibly trying to turn Kim against Jimmy. Kim knows that Chuck's right about the forgery, but he has produced no hard evidence to back it up other than his personal knowledge of things Jimmy did in the past, so to a normal person who doesn't know Jimmy, it just looks like Chuck is putting the blame for his mistakes on Jimmy.
      • This comes to bite Chuck during his breakdown under cross-examination in "Chicanery," when he again attacks Jimmy in court over the Mesa Verde files, as well as the billboard incident, the Chicago Sunroof, and his theft from their dad's store. Except this is an angry Motive Rant taking place right after Jimmy has proven Chuck's EHS is a delusion, so all of Chuck's claims make him come across as an unhinged paranoiac who thinks his brother is out to get him, which lends credence to Jimmy's (false) version of events and destroys Chuck's credibility as a witness and standing in the community as a lawyer.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Since Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are part of the same timeline, some paradoxes are the result of references to works here that feature someone who only shows up in Breaking Bad.
    • In "Amarillo," when screening a preview run of his (unauthorized) Davis & Main commercial for Kim, Jimmy sets up the scene by claiming that they're watching Murder, She Wrote, a show that has seen guest stars like Bryan Cranston (Walter White), Michael McKean (Chuck McGill), Patrick Fabian (Howard Hamlin), Raymond Cruz (Tuco Salamanca), Dennis Boutsikaris (Rick Schweikert), and Miriam Colon (Tuco's abuelita).
    • In "Rebecca," when seeing Mike's injuries at the booth, Jimmy comments, "I get it. First rule of Fight Club?" A bit part in Fight Club was played by Michael Shamus Wiles (Hank Schrader's boss ASAC George Merkert).
    • In "Lantern," Kim and Francesca visit a Blockbuster to rent DVDs while Kim is recovering from her car accident. Among the movies visible on the racks are Beverly Hills Ninja and A Knight's Tale. Ninja stars the late Chris Farley, Bob Odenkirk's collaborator at Second City and Saturday Night Live, while Tale co-stars Laura Fraser, who plays Lydia.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • In Breaking Bad, Skyler skeptically looking over Saul's degree from the University of American Samoa is Played for Laughs. Here, Chuck viciously throws it in Jimmy's face because it's implied to be a shady diploma mill, and he doesn't even remotely consider Jimmy to be a peer in law.
    • Saul's freak-out during Jesse and Walt's plan to scare him in Saul's introductory episode, "Better Call Saul", once you take the events of "Mijo" into account. What at first seems like Saul simply fearing for his life turns into Jimmy thinking Tuco's men have decided to finally kill him. Especially after he says that whatever they think he did, Ignacio aka. Nacho was the real one to blame. He also mentions Lalo, who he takes on as a client in season 5.
      Saul: Oh, thank God! Oh, Christ! Oh, I thought... [hyperventilating] What can I do for you, gentlemen?
    • Speaking of that episode, we have a line that takes on a whole other meaning thanks to this show:
    • In Breaking Bad, the Cousins' botched attempt on Hank ends with Marco dead and Leonel with his legs amputated. Mike is sent by Gus to the hospital to finish off Leonel. The revelation that the Cousins were used to threaten Mike's granddaughter makes Mike's killing of Leonel a lot more personal than Breaking Bad would suggest.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul has a first season that heavily uses Black Comedy. But the tone of the show becomes darker as season 2 progresses. After Gus is introduced, episodes have about the same feel as the later seasons of Breaking Bad.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the very first episode, it is shown that, after having left Albuquerque at the end of Breaking Bad, Jimmy have kept a copy of his Saul Goodman's commercials in an old shoebox that he hides in his Omaha home. The camera briefly shows that the box contains other items, including a band-aid box and some photos. The shoebox or its known content make an appeareance at least once in each season of the show. Bob Odenkirk and the writers of the show have confirmed that they are significant for the story.
    • In the same episode, Chuck refuses to cash out his share of his law firm because doing so would end up having it liquidated. Much later, Chuck weaponizes that very weakness of the firm against Howard.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • In the season 4 finale, when Lalo is busy combing the Travel Wire footage to find out where Mike is going to look for Werner, a customer walks up to the front door, where the sign is flipped to "CLOSED". Lalo points to the sign repeatedly to shoo the customer away. Half a season later, in "Wexler v. Goodman," Mike tracks down said customer, Lili Simmons, and jogs her memory about what she saw as part of a gambit to get Lalo arrested.

  • Chiaroscuro: Chuck has a psychosomatic allergy to electromagnetic fields, so he doesn't use any electricity in his house, and the only illumination comes from gas lamps and the sun through the windows. This results in every scene in Chuck's house having very Chiaroscuro shadowy lighting.
  • Chronic Villainy: Maybe better called 'chronic con artistry', but even when Jimmy is trying to keep on the straight and narrow, he simply can't stop himself from breaking the rules and using ethically questionable behavior to advance his goals as an attorney. This holds true even when doing so threatens to destroy everything he's worked for, and even when he stands to gain little to nothing for his trouble.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • "Uno" ends with Jimmy being dragged into Tuco's grandmother's house at gunpoint by the man himself.
    • "Nacho" ends with Jimmy discovering the Kettleman's tent and, when trying to get them to come with him back to their house, a tug-of-war over a bag reveals the embezzled money.
    • "Alpine Shepherd Boy" ends with Mike's past catching up with him alongside a large number of cops.
    • "Nailed" ends with Chuck passing out and hitting his head on a counter.
    • "Klick" ends with Chuck revealing that he recorded Jimmy's entire forgery confession.
    • "Witness" ends with Jimmy falling for Chuck's Batman Gambit and putting himself on the hook for breaking into Chuck's house.
    • "Chicanery" ends with Chuck being provoked by Jimmy on cross-examination into blowing up on the stand with a Motive Rant that effectively discredits his testimony.
    • "Fall" ends with an overworked Kim falling asleep at the wheel and crashing her car.
    • "Lantern" ends with Nacho's plot against Hector seemingly succeeding and Chuck committing suicide.
    • "Breathe" ends with Gus abruptly killing Arturo, then blackmailing Nacho into working for him by revealing he's figured out Nacho's role in Hector's stroke.
  • Closed Circle: The construction crew building Fring's underground meth lab is not allowed to leave the site and their indoor accommodations, lest they learn where they are and one day tip someone off.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
    • The Kettlemans. Betsy in particular. Jimmy even uses this trope to describe her.
      Jimmy: All right, can we all just parachute down from Cloud Cuckooland?!
    • Jimmy's clients after he performs the billboard stunt. First, he gets a guy who wants to secede from the country, who tries to pay Jimmy in his own money. Then he gets the guy with "Tony the Toilet Buddy."
    • Daniel Wormald, to a lesser extent. He's an IT guy at a pharmaceutical company, who also is a baseball card collector and a drug dealer.
  • Color Motif: The combined palette of red and yellow is very common across people associated with the drug trade, such as the paint jobs on Daniel Wormald's Hot Wheels on steroids and Jimmy's Suzuki Esteem, or the logo of Los Pollos Hermanos. It continues on a trend from Breaking Bad where yellow was primarily associated with meth (Walt and Jesse's lab coats, Gus's clothes, etc), and also associated with caution.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jimmy, when trying to push Tuco away from inflicting Disproportionate Retribution on the two skaters, quotes the Code of Hammurabi, specifically the "Eye for an Eye" line. Tuco, being Tuco, misinterprets this as Jimmy saying he should cut out their eyes.
  • Competence Porn: Mike Ehrmantraut is very good at what he does, in stark contrast to most of the other criminals in the series.
  • Confess in Confidence: Kim takes a dollar from Jimmy so that they have confidentiality when she learns about Chuck's tape, a trick Jimmy will later use with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Grandma Salamanca owns a very similar-looking car to Mrs. Kettleman, and happens to be driving along the same stretch of road at just the moment the two skaters are planning to scam Mrs. Kettleman with a flopsy.
  • Correspondence Course: Just as was implied in Breaking Bad, this show confirms that Saul's law degree was from a correspondence course. Chuck dismisses him as "not a real lawyer" for this reason.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Gus Fring runs a drug smuggling operation using Los Pollos Hermanos as a front, with Lydia Rodarte-Quayle and Madrigal Electromotive providing additional backing for resources. Although Gus is a rare Benevolent Boss version to his employees.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: What drives Mike to stop taking half-measures is being told by Nacho that Hector's crew killed a witness who stumbled upon his truck heist, leading Mike to realize that he should have killed the driver. So after Gus subtly suggests that he hit another one of Hector's trucks, Mike carries out a plan that not only cripples Hector's operation, but also avoids innocent bloodshed.
  • Crooked Contractor: Mike poses as a door repairman so he can collect photos of Chuck's unsafe living conditions. However, he assures Jimmy he also did a perfectly adequate job repairing the door.
  • Crossing the Desert: Mike and Saul in "Bagman".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Pimento", Mike easily disarms a potential bodyguard and knocks him out with a hit to the throat, looting him of all his guns afterwards and throwing them into a trash can.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "Five-O" is exclusively about Mike and why he left Philadelphia for Albuquerque. Jimmy only appears in one long scene.
    • "Bali H'ai" gives a lot more focus to Mike and Kim.
    • The first half of "Sabrosito" focuses exclusively on Gus and Hector. Jimmy doesn't appear until more than halfway through the episode, and it ties in with the threads of the first half thanks to his time in the episode starting with him and Kim hiring Mike to go into Chuck's house posing as a repairman to take photos.
    • "Winner" sees Mike's half of the story revolve around his manhunt for Werner.
  • Dead Man Honking: Happens non-fatally in "Nailed". Mike lays down an improvised spike strip made from a garden hose to ambush one of Hector Salamanca's couriers. When the courier's truck hits the strip, he loses control and swerves off the road into a ditch, with the suddenness of the stop causing him to hit his head on the steering wheel and sound the horn.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Of the typical Amoral Attorney or Hitman with a Heart. The show establishes that for a person like Jimmy or Mike, the process of becoming a sleazy ambulance chaser or a professional hitman is long and full of painful leaps and sacrifices.
    • It also deconstructs Cain and Abel. Jimmy McGill (the future "Saul Goodman") and his older brother Chuck McGill are two brothers who alternate between showing genuine concern for each other and attempting to sabotage each other. Because Jimmy is the protagonist, initially it seems like Chuck is supposed to be the "bad brother" and The Resenter, but over the course of the series it becomes clear that both McGills are quite prone to petty jealousy, underhanded schemes, and their criticisms of each other are not unfounded. In the end, it's Chuck who dies in a house fire that he himself started, with the implication that his last fight with his brother caused a relapse of Chuck's mental illness.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The opening of the first episode of each season is portrayed in black and white to distinguish it as being in the future (after the events of Breaking Bad. The lack of color also conveys the unhappy state of Saul's life.
  • Dirty Cop: Mike reveals that everyone in his old precinct was a dirty cop. Including himself, since he knew not going along with what everyone else is doing meant you'd be killed just in case you were thinking of squealing on everyone. He managed to convince his son to go along with things too, breaking a pedestal in the process. Unfortunately his son hesitated just a little bit too much before accepting some dirty money and was "shot by a junkie" during a drug bust.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • For his commercial shoot with Fifi the B-29 bomber, Jimmy recruits Fudge Talbot, an elderly client who he defended for public masturbation, and passes him off as a World War II vet, allowing him and his camera crew to get around the fact they don't have a shooting permit.
    • Hector deliberately flicks a water cup in "Something Stupid" so that he can leer at the nurse when she bends over to pick up the cup. Thanks to video cameras recording him at all hours, Gus sees this as evidence that Hector is cognizant enough to be taken off Dr. Bruckner's care.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tuco has several ideas for punishing the skateboarders who insulted his grandmother, most of which involve torture, murder, or chopping limbs off. Jimmy has to talk him into just breaking one of their legs each.
  • Distant Prologue: The first episodes of each season start with a flashforward to after the end of Breaking Bad, with Saul in his new identity as lowly Cinnabon manager "Gene," living a pretty dull and miserable life.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • No matter how much Jimmy tries to do the right thing and be a decent man, we know that by Breaking Bad he'll be a thoroughly Amoral Attorney who will jump at the chance to work with drug dealers. In fact, the tension of the show lies in trying to find out when, how and why Jimmy loses his way.
    • Jimmy's brother Chuck and girlfriend/partner Kim aren't around by the time Walt meets Saul, suggesting something bad happens to both of them. Chuck commits suicide at the end of Season 3. It remains to be seen how Kim leaves Jimmy's life and how cleanly she will escape.
    • Lalo is clearly doomed to be dead before Breaking Bad season 4, since Gus says to Hector in BrBa 4x11 that the Salamanca blood line will die with him.
  • Don't Tell Mama:
    • Tuco keeps his criminal activities secret from his grandmother (sending her upstairs before he beats the skateboarders unconscious, or hiding his gun behind his back when she comes down while he's interrogating Jimmy). However, she continually reminds Tuco to use club soda to clean the blood stain on her rug that Tuco claims is salsa. Anyone who knows a thing about club soda will tell you that it does nothing for salsa stains, but it's very effective at removing blood stains. This means either she is aware of his criminal activities but pretends not to be, or her carpet gets "salsa" stains so often she really does think that's how you clean them up.
    • Likewise, Nacho's father is aware of his son's ventures with the cartel, and doesn't really mind them until Nacho's criminal activities risk affecting his business. This becomes clear in season 3 when Hector begins making plans to use the Vargas' upholstery shop as a front, which is what prompts Nacho to arrange for him to have a stroke.
  • Downer Beginning: The show begins with a black-and-white flash forward that shows what's become of Saul after Breaking Bad. Each season picks up on the storyline as Saul begins to suspect that his past is catching up to him.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Saul lays out his plans to tailor his renewed legal practice to the lowlifes he used to sell burner phones to, and even plans to offer 50% off for non-violent offenses. When Kim questions what this sort of practice will say about him as a person, Saul assumes she is implying the 50% off deal makes him look desperate and sees no issues with the rest of the plan as a whole.
  • Driven to Suicide: Chuck, in the Season 3 finale, lights his house on fire while still inside.
  • Elder Abuse:
    • A major story arc in the first season is Jimmy's investigation of Sandpiper Crossing's fleecing its elderly residents through deceptive billing practices. He ultimately launches a class action lawsuit on their behalf for $20 million.
    • Jimmy turns around and engages in some elder abuse of his own two seasons later, when he pressures Irene into settling the Sandpiper lawsuit by turning her friends against her. He feels bad afterwards and conspires to reverse the scheme and repair Irene's friendships by confessing on a hot mike, even though this means the settlement will be reversed and he won't get a payday as soon as he needs it.
  • Elevator Failure: Engineered by Saul to get some one on one time with the assistant D.A. and power through his backlog of clients.
  • Embarrassing Cover-Up: The cops see Daniel's burgled house and flashy Hummer and correctly deduce that he's a drug dealer, but Jimmy covers it up with a very ridiculous explanation; the money and burglary came from a disgruntled patron who paid Daniel to make fetish videos of him sitting in pie while crying.
  • Engineered Public Confession: At the end of Season 2, Chuck tricks Jimmy into confessing to tampering the Mesa Verde documents by pretending to quit HHM over shame about his error with Mesa Verde, then recording Jimmy's admission that he was responsible.
    • To counter this at his disciplinary hearing, Jimmy goads Chuck into a Motive Rant.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
    • Tuco seems more annoyed by the skaters calling his grandmother a "biznatch" than he is about Jimmy trying to scam her. He also takes tremendous care to protect her from even knowing about his criminal activities (although, as noted elsewhere, it is implied that she does know about what he really does for a living).
    • Nacho takes offense when he thinks Mike is threatening his family. He also loves his father enough to try to kill Hector Salamanca to protect him.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: The Salamancas really value their antique General Motors cars. Hector drives a 1960 Chevrolet Impala, Tuco drives a 1970 Pontiac Tempest, Arturo drives a 1969 Oldsmobile 442, and Lalo drives a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
    • Played straight than subverted with Nacho, who drives a 1992 Chevrolet Express work van in the earlier seasons but then is seen driving an AMC AMX in the fourth season.
    • The newer blood in the cartel, including the Cousins and Gus's crew, drive in much more modern and sleeker GM SUVs like Cadillac Escallades, Chevy Suburbans, and GMC Denalis.
  • Evil Feels Good:
    • Kim really enjoys participating in Jimmy's schemes, which puts her at war with her conscience but keeps her sticking around Jimmy even at his lowest points.
    • Mike is put in a good enough mood from robbing one of Hector's trucks of $250,000 that he buys a round of drinks at a bar and is even flirty with a waitress. Though it's short lived when he learns that a bystander got killed by Hector as a result of his actions.
  • Exact Words: "The partners have decided." Chuck being one of those partners ruling against Jimmy.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Jimmy makes sure that the skaters memorize the make, color and license plate number of Betsy Kettleman's car. They still screw up and mistake a very similar-looking car for hers (they don't even memorize the shade of brown). That's minor. What's most egregious is that the Spanish-speaking little old lady who got out of the car should have raised the red flag that they'd got the wrong person. 'Cause there's no way on Earth that this woman's name is "Betsy Kettleman".
  • False Confession: Jimmy claims his taped confession is this, even though it isn't.
  • False Flag Operation:
    • In "Something Beautiful," Gus has Tyrus and Victor stage a highway robbery to make Arturo's death look like the work of a Salamanca rival, retroactively pin Mike's truck robbery on this rival, and cover up Nacho's defection by shooting him nonfatally.
    • In "JMM," Lalo calls Nacho from jail and directs him to torch one of Gus's restaurants. Since Nacho is now a double agent for Gus, Gus finds out about this, and decides to let Lalo think he's got the upper hand by allowing Nacho to carry out the attack. But since Gus wants to mitigate his losses, he selects the Los Pollos Hermanos in Los Lunas rather than the one in Albuquerque where he keeps his office, and personally goes along to rig an improvised bomb to destroy the restaurant.
  • The Fixer: Invoked, since this is a Prequel focusing on Protagonist Journey to Villain for both Jimmy McGill and Mike Ehrmantraut, although they take The Slow Path to do this.
  • Flashback Effects: Flashbacks have bluish tint with a high contrast filter applied to distinguish them from events in the present day.
  • Flash Forward:
    • "Sunk Costs" begins with a seemingly throwaway Cold Open showing a Los Pollos Hermanos truck driving towards the U.S.-Mexico border. The end of the episode reveals that this scene is set a few years in the future, possibly overlapping with Breaking Bad, showing that Mike's gambit helped Gus edge out Hector from the drug market.
    • The teaser for "Quite a Ride" is essentially a prequel for Breaking Bad's "Granite State", showing Jimmy/Saul ransacking his office before he contacts Ed the Vacuum Repair Guy.
  • Flopsy:
    • Jimmy earned the nickname "Slippin' Jimmy" for his expertise at this racket. He goes back to his old ways in Season 3 to extort two music store owners who are refusing to pay him, through the use of strategically placed drumsticks on the floor.
    • The two skaters try to pull this scam on Jimmy. He then hires them to pull it on the wife of a potential big client so Jimmy can come to the rescue. They end up accidentally pulling it on Tuco Salamanca's grandmother, who drives a very similar looking car, and this ends badly for them.
  • Foil: Howard Hamlin for Jimmy. He's confident and successful in the ways Jimmy isn't.
  • A Fool for a Client: Jimmy decides to represent himself, despite being warned against it and knowing full well about the reputation doing so has. In this case at least he is a lawyer, and has done criminal cases, but even so. Downplayed as he teams up with Kim.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jimmy and Chuck, respectively. Jimmy is working his tail off to rise above his crooked past, though. And Chuck is secretly undermining Jimmy's struggle, believing him unworthy of practicing law, and angered by the shortcuts Jimmy has taken along the way.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When berating the skaters for their attempt to pull a Flopsy on him, he gives them "a 9.6 for technique, and a 0.0 for choice of victim." After all, as we later learn, "Slippin' Jimmy" knows a thing or two about the proper way to pull this off...and it also foreshadows an even poorer choice of victim later in the episode: Tuco Salamanca's grandmother, for whom they get a 9.6 for technique and -6.0 for choice of victim...
    • In "Pimento," when Hamlin harshly tells Kim that the "partners have decided" in not hiring Jimmy. Note the use of "partners," as in the plural sense, which foreshadows the revelation of Chuck's involvement in denying Jimmy a job.
    • As far back as the first episode, Chuck tries to convince Jimmy to accept Howard Hamlin's notion of changing his business cards so as to de-emphasize the name McGill, and Jimmy flat out asks "Whose side are you on?" In "Pimento", he finds out.
    • After Jimmy's meeting with the Kettlemans, he holds out a business card to Craig, but it is quickly snatched up by Mrs. Kettleman. Her offering the bribe to Jimmy instead of her husband doing it will force them to take Jimmy's plea bargain.
    • Marco's occasional coughing and pounding his heart in "Marco" foreshadow his heart attack and death at the end of the episode. The Green Ribbon cab company is an allusion to green ribbons showing respect for patients, worn in the 18th century.
    • The first letter of each episode title in season 2 form the anagram "FRINGS BACK", foreshadowing the introduction of Gus Fring to the show in Season 3.
    • Numerous hints pointing to Chuck's suicide are scattered throughout Season 3:
      • "Mabel" is a reference to The Adventures of Mabel, a book that Chuck read to Jimmy when they were children. The book was written by Harry Thurston Peck, who, like Chuck, committed suicide following professional disgrace.
      • At the beginning of "Witness," the gas lantern is placed in the foreground. During the climax, Jimmy threatens to burn Chuck's house to the ground when he confronts him about the confession tape.
      • At the beginning of "Sunk Costs", Jimmy tells Chuck that he will alienate everyone in his life and die alone. Chuck does indeed die alone after cutting off ties with Jimmy, estranging himself from Howard, and getting kicked out of HHM.
      • In "Sabrosito", Jimmy specifically notes Mike's photo of "a gas lantern sitting on a stack of friggin' Financial Times," and goes on to enter it as evidence during the trial in "Chicanery".
      • Finally, the Cold Open of "Lantern" all but spells it out for us as the camera zooms in on the gas lantern while Chuck is reading The Adventures of Mabel to Jimmy in their childhood flashback.
    • In a deleted scene from "Sabrosito", Victor meets up with Gus behind Los Pollos Hermanos to inform him about Mike turning down the money, while Gus is in the midst of taking out the trash. Shortly before Victor gets out of his car, you can see a box cutter in Gus' back pocket much like the one Gus will cut Victor's throat with.
    • The episode title "Breathe" spoils the final scene with Gus suffocating Arturo with a plastic bag.
  • Forgot the Disability: Chuck is convinced that he has developed a painful sensitivity to all electronics and anything that uses or conducts electricity, which has turned him from one of the most prestigious and influential lawyers in the state to a rather pitiful shut-in. Although Chuck's symptoms are psychosomatic, at times he has gone into a catatonic state reminiscent of locked in syndrome. On a few occasions however, Chuck has been so distracted by other things that he has failed to react at those same external stimuli and situations that otherwise cause him so much grief. In the end, his problem is exposed as psychosomatic (which he had denied) when Jimmy surreptitiously has a battery planted in his pocket, yet Chuck doesn't react to it until it's revealed.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: By Season 4, the show has four main storylines: Jimmy, Kim, and their individual storylines that are tied together by their relationship, as well as a separate storyline for the cartel that's further divided into subplots for Gus, Mike, Nacho, and the remaining elements of Hector's organization.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you're wondering where Jimmy hired the billboard worker for his stunt, he briefly appears in the courthouse lobby during a timelapse shot in the "Mijo" montage of Jimmy's public defender work.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Caldera the vet, who is able to get his hands on a tracking device for Mike and serves as the Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy role that Jimmy serves in Breaking Bad.
  • Funny Answering Machine:
    • The Kettlemans have a joint message with all of them speaking. "Hello! You’ve reached Team Kettleman! Please leave a message for Craig, Betsy, Warren and Jo Jo AFTER THE BEEP!"
    • In season 1, Jimmy tries to class up his solo law practice by imitating a female English secretary on his answering machine message. In Season 2, he records another version of the message, but erases it and does one as himself in his normal voice.
  • The Ghost:
    • Howard's father, George Hamlin. He's a partner, but only his son is ever seen. He seems to take no part in the firm's activities, and Howard's conversation with Kim in "Fifi" implies that the elder Hamlin is deceased. We only learn his first name in season 4 when Howard is reading Chuck's obituary to Jimmy to get his final approval before running it in the newspaper.
    • Though his death was a major part of "Five-O", Mike's late son Matt never showed up on camera.
  • Gilded Cage:
    • The man who was once the most infamous criminal lawyer in Albuquerque and acquired a bit of celebrity and a load of money in that life is now an anonymous Cinnabon manager with a nice house in Flyover Country, and can never again hope to achieve anywhere near the same level of fame or fortune.
    • Jimmy also feels this way about Davis & Main, which is welcoming and comfortable, and yet at the same time has elements that cause Jimmy discomfort, like the annoyingly small cupholder in his company car, or even the corporate apartment he stays in.
  • Glory Days:
    • The Framing Device of the series is a post-Breaking Bad Saul, hiding out as the manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha and spending his nights watching tapes of his old commercials and morosely reminiscing about his time as a lawyer. The scenes are Deliberately Monochrome, but the reflections of his advertisements are given a Splash of Color.
    • Jimmy also has some fond memories of his time in Cicero, which is most evident when he tells Cal and Lars about "Slippin' Jimmy." However, this changes after a brief return to his old ways. He realizes through Marco that he was right to leave when he did.
    • Chuck was once a successful lawyer and a named partner in a major law firm. An EMS allergy has crippled his ability to function outside his home, and now he lives as a recluse in a dark and cold house.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Jimmy's scheme to get Chuck in trouble with HHM's insurance company goes too well. The episode causes Howard to essentially fire Chuck, which leads Chuck to relapse into his mental illness, which leads to Chuck's suicide, which Jimmy did not want or expect. Realizing this puts Jimmy into Stepford Smiler mode going into Season 4.
    • Jimmy's plan to turn the retirement home against Irene then manipulate her into settling succeeds, but he is unable to repair the damage he has done to Irene's friendships.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Downplayed with the last Rolex scam in "Marco": it was going just fine until Marco's health screwed everything up, leading to Kevin running off with the wallet and Marco dying.
  • Good Is Boring: Part of the contrast between Chuck and Jimmy, and implied to be a big part of Chuck's resentment toward Jimmy. Chuck's always been hard-working, ethical, and meticulously follows the rules, which has made him successful but boring. Jimmy's always been a scammer and a cheat, but he's funny, entertaining and good with people. Chuck cares a lot more about doing the right thing, but Jimmy's the one people like to be around.
  • Go-to Alias: Before Jimmy adopted it as his full professional name, "Saul Goodman" was Jimmy's fall-back alias; he used it when he was a conman, then later when selling his advertising time, and then on his business cards as a burner phone salesman.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Tuco, who is mostly doing his own thing while Mike and Jimmy interact with Nacho. For the fourth season, Chuck takes this role posthumously, as he dies at the end of the third season but Jimmy spends the season with his suspension which Chuck caused and the grief with his suicide.
  • Gun Porn: Lawson's exposition on the rifles he's offering to Mike when Mike contemplates using one to snipe Tuco. (And hinting at a little more of his backstory.)

    H-P 
  • Hard Work Fallacy: Zig-zagged. One of the themes of the show is that hard work and playing by the rules often completely fail to improve your situation, while ethical flexibility and outright crimes often do. However, this is often just the perception of the characters.
    • Jimmy worked hard to become an attorney but doesn't get the respect he deserves and resorts to cutting corners to get ahead. However, he does have several opportunities to simply put his head down and work hard to achieve success, but he's unwilling to do so. Jimmy's situation is further complicated in that he will always have to live under his more succesful brother Chuck's shadow. He adopts the Saul Goodman alias largely for this reason.
    • Kim finds herself attracted to this mentality. She started out working in HHM's mailroom, went to law school (apparently while still working), became a lawyer, and worked very hard to rise to the top. But she's repeatedly found her career derailed by forces beyond her control. Over the seasons, she's found real success by working hard, but keeps getting drawn back into Jimmy's habit of cutting corners to get even more.
  • Hard-Work Montage: "Mijo" has a variation (complete with Adventurous Irish Violins!) of Jimmy's daily life of litigation. He needs that $700 per client to pay his and his brothers' bills.
  • Heaven Above: In the episode "Wiedersehen," Jimmy insults Kim for acting like she's better than him by telling her to go back to her "office in the sky," implying its more perfect and godly up in the heavens than wherever Jimmy is in life.
  • History Repeats: The cast of this show go through similar arcs to the Breaking Bad cast.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • If Chuck hadn't gone through with his scheme to attempt to force Jimmy into disbarment over the Mesa Verde confession — heck, if Chuck took Howard's advice and didn't testify at Jimmy's disbarment hearing at all — he wouldn't have given Jimmy an opening to make himself implode and Chuck might have succeeded in ending Jimmy's career.
    • HHM concealed Chuck's condition from their clients for years, happy to cash in on the prestige that his name brought them while keeping him quietly tucked away. The firm's reputation takes a huge hit when Chuck's issues are finally revealed in his public humiliation at Jimmy's disbarment hearing.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • The Philadelphia detectives who talk to Mike in "Five-O" describe Matt as working in a "precinct". For the purposes of policing, Philadelphia is broken up into "districts", not "precincts". Outside of the NYPD, the word "precinct" is rarely, if ever, used by either police officers or civilians.
    • It's what Jimmy himself practices, often committing ethically questionable (bribing a bus driver to stop so he can solicit passengers, for instance) or outright illegal acts (forging documents to gaslight Chuck; Squat Cobbler) to advance his lawyer goals. Unsurprisingly, he gets called out a lot.
    • Jimmy's hearing before the Bar in "Chicanery". As an adversarial hearing, both sides have rights to a fair hearing, so in real life, there is no way they could provide all the accommodations for Chuck with nothing said at all about Kim objecting to having the hearings in the dark and everyone being forced to turn over watches and phones. No sane judge would even entertain Chuck's requests absent a motion by Chuck's side to grant them, and an independent physical and mental exam required before granting them. It doesn't matter if everyone on that panel owed their careers to Chuck, they're on the panel because they've proven themselves to be objective jurists with a firm grasp of the law, so they're not going to subject a defendant to all of these accommodations unless Chuck could prove (backed by the testimony of an independent doctor) it was medically necessary. Justified in that Kim and Jimmy's plan was to discredit Chuck in court so they accepted the accommodations and without any parties objecting there was no reason to consider the hearing unfair.
    • Also from the Bar hearing, there is a big conflict of interest for Kim to be Jimmy's attorney of record since they're sleeping together and sharing office space. It continues to be a problem when they both represent opposite sides in the Everett Acker dispute, without telling anyone they're involved (living together, having sex and then even married).
    • There are a number of problems with Chuck going in to work at HHM in season 2. Namely, in knowingly putting a mentally ill lawyer on casework (although it can be argued that as far as HHM knows his illness is physical and in their interest to believe it), they are deceiving their clients. Chuck's illness isn't physical, it's mental, and it makes him a malpractice liability: if a client catches wind of Chuck's illness, then every client that HHM has allowed Chuck to work for subsequent to the onset of his mental illness would have grounds to make a class action case against HHM for malpractice, breach of contract, and a slew of other ethical violations. Every lawyer with knowledge of Chuck's impairment (and there was a conference room of them who had to turn over their cell phones and cut the power to the building whenever he came by) would be subject to disciplinary proceedings, with Howard being lucky if he got off with his license being suspended at minimum. Lawyers have an ethical and moral obligation to inform their state's Bar Association about an attorney who is obviously impaired. Chuck may be "brilliant" per se, but it is highly unlikely that his illness, and all the limitations and delusions that come with it, does not compromise his ability to practice and render competent legal counsel.
      • This is lampshaded by Howard early in season 3, as he points out that while Jimmy is at fault for forging the Mesa Verde papers, it shouldn't have happened in the first place since HHM locks those documents in safer places to avoid these kind of problems.
      • Ultimately, season 3 sees this come crashing down when Jimmy tips off the insurance company about Chuck's mental illness. Between that and Chuck's testimony at the Bar hearing becoming public knowledge, Howard is left having to wine-and-dine HHM clients left and right as damage control. And the insurance provider punishes HHM for the deception by doubling the malpractice premiums on all of their practicing attorneysnote . Howard's patience with Chuck is already growing thin thanks to Chuck prioritizing his vendetta against Jimmy over the firm's future, and that, plus the aforementioned things, proves to be the straw that breaks the camel's back between them. And in "Pinata", when Jimmy goes to Howard to get a check for the measly $5,000 Chuck left for him in his will, he sees that Howard's had to lay off quite a number of staff due to the number of clients that abandoned them (plus the strains of paying out to Chuck's estate).
      • At Howard's mild suggestion that Chuck consider retiring, Chuck decides to fire back a lawsuit against HHM for breach of contract. This lawsuit would be doomed to fail right out of the gate, as New Mexico is a state where "firing for cause" exists, and gross misconduct or negligence that directly harms a business's bottom line is enough justification, which Howard could demonstrate by the damage control he's been having to do with the firm's clients. Not to mention no client looking for lawyers specializing in banking regulations would want to hire a lawyer who sued their own firm. The fact Chuck jumped straight to suing the firm, rather than do something reasonable like negotiate a plan for paying out his severance in regular installments, is something that just further cements Howard's decision that Chuck's judgment is too compromised for him to continue working at HHM.
    • In "The Guy for This", Krazy-8 and Saul work out a deal with Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez, allowing Krazy-8 his freedom in exchange for information that leads to arrests and the location of half a million dollars of Gus Fring's money. During this negotiation, however, there is no US Attorney in the room. The DEA agents have no authority to offer what they claim to offer in their deal without the prosecutor's presence and consent.
    • In "Namaste," Saul swaps a defendant on the stand with a lookalike to injure the credibility of a witness. Although this sort of switch is doable, doing so without informing the judge beforehand should've gotten him held in contempt of court and fined.
  • Hope Spot:
    • At the end of season one, Jimmy has a small but reputable practice, a reputation as a savior to the elderly, a job offer with a partnership opportunity from another firm where he'll be working on his own high-profile case, and is finally ahead of Chuck's sabotage. But the events of the first season have taken too much of a toll, and Jimmy leaves the case with the intention of making money by playing to his strength as a conman. Which, of course is the only way it could go. Kinda subverted, as he does take the job offer from Davis & Main, but this only prolongs the inevitable.
    • After Chuck is confronted with proof that his EHS condition is in his head, he makes a sincere attempt to overcome his delusion, to the point where he restores the power to his house and goes to the grocery store unattended. However, being forced into retirement by Howard and confronted by Jimmy (who ruined his reputation and, in Chuck's mind, got away with it) causes his EHS delusion to come back with the vengeance. After tearing apart his walls and trashing his electronic appliances, Chuck decides to end it all by kicking over a gas lantern and letting the house catch fire with him inside.
  • Hypochondria: Chuck suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a psychosomatic illness where being near any electromagnetic fields causes someone pain. In season 1, a doctor turns on an electric medical device without Chuck's knowledge to determine that the illness is just in his head. In season 3, Jimmy proves it at his disbarment hearing by slipping a battery into Chuck's pocket without Chuck suffering any ill effects. After this, Chuck begins to consider whether he's ruined his life for nothing. He finally admits he's mentally ill and begins treatment for it, but it doesn't last.
  • Humble Pie: After six episodes of false starts, Jimmy finally delivers the Kettlemans the justice that entitled people like them so goddamn deserve.
  • Humiliation Conga: Daniel Wormald has his money, pills and baseball cards stolen by Nacho, and his efforts to get the cards back invites the suspicion of the police. In order to get his cards back, he has to give up his brand new car (which Nacho gleefully says he's selling to a chop shop), and to get the police off his back he has to make a humiliating fetish video where he sits in pies while crying.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • All but one of the titles of the first season episodes end in the letter "o." The only exception is "Alpine Shepherd Boy", which was originally titled "Jell-O" until Kraft Foods threatened legal action. There's also the first episode of season 2, "Switch".
    • Taking the first letter of each episode title from Season 2 will form an anagram of the phrase "Fring's Back". Word of God confirmed that this was intentional. Gus did not appear on-camera, although associates the man works for show up, and it's implied that he was the one who left that "DON'T" note on Mike's car. Gus isn't properly brought back until the second episode of season 3.
    • The episode titles of the last three episodes of season 3 telegraph the build-up to Chuck's suicide: "Slip", "Fall", and "Lantern".
  • I Have No Son!: At the end of "Pimento", after Chuck finishes his rant about how he doesn't consider Jimmy to be an actual lawyer, Jimmy leaves his house, saying he no longer wants anything to do with him. This feeling deepens further in Season 3 when Jimmy humiliates Chuck by using his mental illness in court and shows no remorse for it. By the time Breaking Bad starts, he never even brings up Chuck in a conversation and never even tries to allude to him, though that may be due to a mix of this and lingering guilt about Chuck's suicide.
  • Implausible Deniability: Jimmy tries to come up with a plausible explanation that the Kettlemans can give to the cops to explain why it seemed like they were kidnapped but quickly realizes that anything they say will sound like a lie. However, since no laws were actually broken, it does not really matter if their excuse is believable.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Marco coughs and thumps his chest in the beginning of "Marco." While waiting in an alley, he does it again. Surely enough, he's had a fatal heart attack by the time we see him next.
  • Inherently Funny Words:
    • The law offices of Schweikart & Cokely.
    • Jimmy wants a cocobolo desk for no reason other than he likes saying the word "cocobolo".
  • Innocent Innuendo: Jimmy is hired by an inventor who invented "Tony the Toilet Buddy," a toilet that is intended to encourage kids as they poop. When Jimmy comes to observe it, he and the audience can't help but observe that the recorded messages sound more like phrases of sexual pleasure.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Kettlemans attempts to justify the money they stole. Apparently Craig earned it by working overtime. It's so absurd it sounds like it came straight out of an Onion article.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted when Mike kills Officer Fenske in "Five-O": while Hoffman gets hit once in the head and is killed instantly, Fenske gets hit twice in the chest but this doesn't stop him from drawing his gun to fire back at Mike, successfully hitting Mike in the shoulder. Mike fires another round that hits Fenske in the neck. But Fenske still isn't dead. He manages to crawl away for a few feet while bleeding from the neck. It's only once Mike shoots him in the head at point-blank range that Fenske is finished off for good.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Nacho tells Jimmy that he rips off criminals because his victims can't report the theft to the police without having to admit to their original theft; in other words, they have no legal recourse for having their stolen property stolen from them. So naturally, when Mike takes the Kettlemans' embezzled money from its hiding place under the bathroom sink and sends it to the district attorney, and Betsy subsequently threatens to have Jimmy arrested, Jimmy echoes Nacho's threats to him by telling them that as criminals, they have no legal recourse for property stolen from them.
    • In the season two premiere, Kim implores Jimmy to continue being a lawyer because, after all, he put in all that time and hard work in law school. Jimmy explains to her that it's the "fallacy of sunk costs" to keep moving in a given direction regardless of consequence simply because you've committed to it. Which means Kim knows exactly what it means in this exchange in season 3, when she's insisting on helping him fight Chuck at the bar hearing
      Jimmy: Why are you helping me?
      Kim: Let's call it...the fallacy of sunk costs.
  • Ironic Name: Ken Wins. Between being conned into paying for a lot of very expensive tequila and getting his car blown up by a chemistry teacher, he really needs to change that license plate to "Ken Loses".
  • It Has Been an Honor: Marco's last words to Jimmy. He says their week of pulling scams like old times was the best he's had. Apparently, the feeling's mutual, as Jimmy's memory of Marco spurs him to abandon a more legitimate opportunity.
  • It Kind of Looks Like a Face: Saul manufactures a visage of Jesus on a fence to stall the demolition of a client's home.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Attempted on Jimmy by Tuco in "Mijo". Nacho has to remind his boss that Jimmy will say anything with wire clippers on his fingers.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life:
    • Chuck takes his neighbor's newspaper off her driveway (leaving $5 as payment) and gets the cops called on him. They show up, and from the way he's acting, plus their observation of camping fuel and cut electric lines, conclude he's a junkie. They end up tasering Chuck, and he winds up hospitalized.
    • We learn in "Marco" that the "Chicago Sunroof" incident that landed Jimmy in jail consisted of him getting drunk and defecating through the sunroof of his rival's car. Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the guy's kids were in the back seat, and ended up charged with indecent exposure and sexual assault.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While our sympathies lie with Jimmy, causing Chuck's attacks on him to seem cruel, he's correct in his assessments of Jimmy's lack of ability to use the law ethically.
    • Jimmy got his degree from a shady correspondence school and then failed the Bar Exam twice before finally passing. Chuck has little reason to hire Jimmy except nepotism, and Jimmy is being pretty unfair to expect such a handout.
    • In season two the audience and Jimmy are mad that Chuck convinced Mesa Verde to stay with HHM instead of going with Kim. But he understandably does not want his firm to lose a major client and gave nothing more than an honest sales pitch that did not bash Kim in any way. Kim even acknowledges that she convinced Mesa Verde to go with HHM because of their resources, and while disappointed, she understands their decision. Jimmy breaks the law and sabotages Mesa Verde to get back at Chuck.
    • Jimmy is handed a perfect opportunity at Davis & Main to go straight and practice law ethically, but chooses to throw it away, preferring to use his shady, cut-corners tactics. There's no reason to suspect that he wouldn't have done the same thing if handed a job at HHM.
    • Even Jimmy occasionally has his moments, especially when it comes to dealing with people like the Kettlemans (like insisting they come clean with the authorities rather than try to fight the charges).
    • While Jimmy committed a felony and really should be disbarred after that, he is right that his brother's hard-on to catch him is unhealthy, as Chuck was sent to the hospital twice because he tried to discover Jimmy's secrets. Jimmy is a criminal but not one worth dying over.
    Jimmy: I thought you would finally accept it as a mistake and move on but no! Wishful thinking!
    • Chuck's last words with Jimmy in "Lantern" that it was pointless for Jimmy to try to make amends, or to express remorse, and that Jimmy would continue to go through life with a sort of "Midas Touch In Reverse", destroying people and things with whom he came in contact, turns out to be 100% correct, as we see in Breaking Bad. The problem is that Jimmy's motivation to help people hinges on Chuck being proud of him as a brother, making it a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Jimmy is true to form: if he gets you into trouble, he tries his damnedest to get you out. And, if he cares about you, he'll fight for you. In his own way, and even if you don't agree. This actually earns him a larger cut than he expected in "Something Beautiful" after the Hummel heist, and Ira sees it as honor amongst thieves that Jimmy chose to rescue him from being caught in Mr. Neff's office rather than hang him out to dry.
    • Howard Hamlin is introduced as a jerk, but is sometimes gracious towards Jimmy and Kim even despite their past disagreements, and occasionally goes out of his way to help Jimmy and others.
  • Just Train Wrong: In "Five-O", Mike is shown arriving in Albuquerque on a New Mexico Rail Runner commuter train. It's anachronistic as the episode is set in the summer of 2002, and the New Mexico Rail Runner didn't begin service until 2006. Also, Mike wouldn't be arriving on the Rail Runner if he'd just come from Philadelphia. He'd be on Amtrak's Southwest Chief, the passenger train that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles and goes through Albuquerque.
  • Kick the Dog: In Season 3, Jimmy starts brusquely dismissing all suggestions to help or pity Chuck and deliberately tries to sabotage his legal career in vengeance. He also pulls a cruel confidence trick on his Sandpiper Crossing clients in order to profit from an early settlement, but he feels pangs of guilt for this and voluntarily undoes the scheme.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Dr. Caldera is a veterinarian who has underworld connectiosn. He helps Mike find criminal work, and also introduces Jimmy to Huell.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: An infamous Netflix trailer for the fourth season, which would automatically play when the site was visited, revealed Chuck's death in under five seconds.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Gus's story about the coaiti in "Piñata" is perhaps the most typical example, but this trope is used to great effect throughout most of the series.
  • Leit Motif: The riff from "Smoke on the water" is hummed or played many times by Saul, often before or after he pulls off an especially dicey con.
  • Lighter and Softer: The tone of the show is lighter than Breaking Bad, and the stakes are lower. Jimmy is struggling to build a legal practice and occasionally uses shady tactics to achieve his goals. This is in contrast to Walter White getting diagnosed with terminal cancer and building a murderous meth empire. That said, dark elements like the Salamancas and the drug cartels are still there, especially so from season 2 onwards.
  • Loose Lips: In season 4, the German construction crew that Gus has hired to build the underground lab isn't permitted to know where they are for security reasons. That said, a French engineer that Gus had looked at prior to hiring Werner got rejected because he couldn't help but run his mouth about past jobs. And Werner has a slip-up when he drunkenly divulges details about the project to some patrons at a bar while Mike is distracted by another issue. Mike lets him off with a warning, only for Werner to break out of the compound and leave to see his wife. When Mike catches up to him with the intention of bringing him back in, he's unintentionally divulging details about the project to Lalo. At this point, Gus decides that Werner needs to be killed. So Werner is killed, while the rest of the German crew are sent home.
  • The Lost Lenore: Male examples-Mike's son Matt died in a shoot out who turns out to have been done by his Dirty Cop partner and Anita's husband went on a walk only to never come back. Both attend a grief counseling group that seems to be targeted at people that lost their partners.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The show is about the Breaking Bad series regulars who weren't introduced in that show's first season, and what happened in their lives before they crossed paths with Walt.
  • Medication Tampering: We find out how Hector Salamanca wound up in that wheelchair: his abused henchman Nacho switches out his heart medication with regular, unhelpful ibuprofen.
  • Mondegreen: In-universe. An early chat with a mark before the Heel–Face Turn to a lawyer suggests Jimmy's later name "Saul Goodman" (of which he jokes to the crook that's his name) came from "It's all good, man!".
  • Monochrome Past: The sequences that start off each season, showing Saul Goodman as "Gene" in the depths of his despair, are in actual monochrome.
  • Morality Chain:
    • Chuck, Jimmy's brother, is an ethical lawyer and it is clear that his influence kept Jimmy from fully turning into an unethical Amoral Attorney. Sadly Chuck's stubbornness and the resulting bills are slowly turning him into a Broken Pedestal. The pedestal is fully shattered come "Pimento".
    • Kim Wexler tries to help Jimmy make positive life choices.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • The skaters try to pull a flopsy on Jimmy, not realizing that he is a former conman and would see right through their scam. Jimmy and the skaters then try to pull the same trick on Betsy Kettleman but end up accidentally targeting Tuco Salamanca's grandma.
    • Hector Salamanca honestly believes Mike is just a random old man he has to threaten to lighten Tuco's sentence. Mike goes on to steal a quarter million dollars from him, reveals Hector's supply line to the D.E.A. to give Gus an edge, attempts to assassinate Hector with a sniper rifle, and participates in Nacho's plot to cripple Hector, all as payback for threatening his granddaughter. Not to mention the Salamanca family members Mike will go on to kill personally in Breaking Bad.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Betsy Kettleman is named after Betsy Brandt (Marie Schrader in Breaking Bad).
    • The company that runs the courthouse parking lot that Mike works at, SMQ Parking, is named for the initials of Steven Michael Quezada (Steve Gomez).
    • The very colorful shirts Jimmy looks over is a reference to a page pulled down from bettercallsaul.com, his presumed family brand McGill & McGill's.
  • Nature Vs Nurture: It's subtle but fundamental to the McGill brother's conflict: Chuck wholeheartedly believes that Jimmy will never overcome his nature as a conman while Jimmy has made genuine attempts at going legit.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Invoked by Jimmy during the second reinstatement hearing, during his phony speech about Chuck's final letter to him.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Clifford Main, Jimmy's boss at Davis & Main, could hardly be a nicer guy.
    • Howard when he's not being Chuck's puppet. He's even willing to personally mortgage himself so the employees don't lose their jobs when he forcibly retires Chuck at the end of season 3.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Chuck McGill's undermining of Jimmy's attempts to become an honest lawyer is what turns Jimmy into Saul Goodman.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • We repeatedly see Jimmy having friendly, first-name basis relationships with low-level workers: custodians, mailroom workers, courthouse clerks, etc. There's a practical aspect to this (it's not uncommon for him to need favors from these people), but it also seems to be an innate part of his nature. Chuck on the other hand is really taxing on assistants like Ernesto and can come out as condescending when he tries to be polite toward others like Dr. Cruz and Howard.
    • After Hector takes Los Pollos Hermanos hostage in an attempt to intimidate Gus, Gus makes it up to his traumatized employees by offering them counseling and compensating for a lost day of wages.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Somewhat of a recurring theme in Jimmy's life.
    • While returning the entire sum stolen by Craig Kettleman - including the bribe given to him by Betsy for his silence - means giving up the new, professional-looking office he was planning to rent, and sending Kim, whom he wanted to join him as a partner at this office, right back into Howard Hamlin's good graces.
    • Talking Tuco down from killing the skaters to breaking one leg apiece and being met with not only anger but the ensuing personal trauma and guilt.
    • Calling the Kettlemans to warn them of danger which sent them on an ill-advised impromptu camping trip disguised as a kidnapping, which netted Jimmy a handsome bribe which he desperately needed but would later be forced to return, as well as the contempt of Nacho Varga. To make matters worse, the Kettlemans still refused to hire him.
    • When Jimmy gets into Elder Law, he uncovers a massive case of fraud on his elderly clients. When he takes it to Chuck, Chuck convinces him to hand it over to his firm and then works to make sure that Jimmy won't get hired on anyway despite how much he proved himself. All because Chuck doesn't believe Jimmy's ever changed (or ever will change) from his "Slippin' Jimmy" days.
    • Jimmy's father was a Nice Guy who liked to help people in trouble but was extremely naive about it. This made him a target of various grifters who took advantage of his charitable nature. Jimmy witnessed it all but was helpless to do anything about it. His concern for his father turned into resentment and Jimmy started Stealing from the Till.
    • Ernesto is probably Jimmy's only real friend at HHM — meaning Chuck sees him as a useful pawn against Jimmy. He uses Ernesto's Nice Guy nature to tip off Jimmy about the Mesa Verde tape's existence and lure him into committing the break-in. Then, because Ernesto has served his purpose in the scheme, Chuck unceremoniously fires him.
  • Noodle Incident: Something happened to Chuck which caused him to develop his 'allergy' to electromagnetism about two years ago, but the details are vague. One hint we get is that Jimmy thinks it's connected to his own behavior, getting worse when he suspects Jimmy of wrongdoing, though Chuck insists this is not the case.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: It was almost a foregone conclusion since he doesn't appear in Breaking Bad, but Chuck's suicide hugely alters the dynamic of the show at the end of Season 3.
  • Nothing Personal: Like Chuck, Howard refuses to accept Jimmy as a partner in their firm, but unlike Chuck, that's simply because he doesn't feel Jimmy would make a good addition to their business. But he still recognises Jimmy as a good lawyer in his own right. Jimmy doesn't begrudge him for this. At least not until Howard starts punching down on Kim with Chuck's blessing.
  • Not Hyperbole: Among one of the teaser ads for Season 2, Jimmy is at a stop with a left (bright) and right (dark). Jimmy screws both and the camera pans to find a cliff in that direction. According the directors in a post-interview, who were asked what direction they want the series they want to go on (after joking that they really had no idea what to do with the series and were just doing things to see if it works), they remarked that they want the series to go off a cliff.
  • Off the Wagon: Although he has been seen drinking socially without issues throughout the series, it seems killing Werner has driven Mike back to alcoholism. Played With in that it was never clear if his previous troubles with alcoholism were legitimate or merely a ruse to catch Hoffman and Fenske off-guard.
  • Oh, Crap!: Chuck's face at the end of "RICO" when he realizes that while he was distracted reading some papers, he had just spent the last minute or so outside and didn't feel a thing.
  • Old Master: Mike may be retired and working as a parking lot attendant, but he shows his Cop-Fu is still much stronger than a couple of younger cops hoped it was.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Played with as Jimmy has yet to specialize so he takes small and diverse jobs, from elder to defense and even patent law (until it turns out to be a creepy speaking toilet). Being a big law firm, HHM has lawyers specialized in criminal law and others for different fields like contract and banking law.
    • Kim herself takes up public defender work when she begins to feel unsatisfied with her work for Mesa Verde.
  • The Oner: The episode "Fifi" begins with a complex tracking shot as a Regalo Helado truck passes through a border checkpoint, lasting 4:15. It has three disguised cuts.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers:
    • A Discussed Trope in "Uno". When the county treasurer Craig Kettleman is implicated for embezzling $1.6 million, Jimmy explains that what gets innocent people wrongly convicted is not understanding what makes you look guilty in the first place: it's the arrest, not your decision to not lawyer up. He points out that the cops themselves often invoke this trope, to encourage people not to have a lawyer present during questioning. Without an attorney it's fairly easy for the police to twist what you said and get you convicted.
    • Makes a more subtle second appearance in "Five-O", when Mike is questioned by police about the deaths of his deceased son's partners. They do their best to convince him he doesn't need legal counsel because he isn't under arrest, and seem disappointed that as a fellow police officer he isn't willing to cooperate with them by answering questions informally. Mike isn't fooled, and only replies with one word no matter what they say: "Lawyer." To take it a step further, he is guilty of the crime they're questioning him for: the revenge-murder of the two corrupt cops who set up his son Matthew to get killed.
    • In "Cobbler", Daniel Wormald, a nerdish IT worker turned drug dealer who's been ripped off by Nacho, calls the cops to complain about his baseball card collection being stolen, but the cops quickly suspect that he's a drug dealer and start investigating him under the guise of investigating the burglary. Jimmy figures this out and Mike hires Jimmy to be Daniel's attorney. The cops are openly suspicious that a man who called the cops has an attorney present during questioning. Jimmy ultimately has to come up with an outlandish justification for why the dealer is so protective of his privacy to throw the cops off the trail. The cops are so stunned by the story (and the videos Jimmy forces Daniel to make) that they have no choice but to accept it.
    • Lalo secures Saul as a lawyer to get Krazy-8 out of custody and negotiate a deal for the DEA to disrupt Gus's drop sites, and later takes on Saul as his attorney after Mike nudges the police to arrest him for Fred Whalen's murder.
  • One Last Job: After a wild week in Chicago with his old buddy Marco, Jimmy is eager to get home to his clients, when Marco asks if they can do one more Rolex scam. Marco suffers a heart attack during the scam and dies.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Averted. There are two Marcos: Jimmy's con artist pal Marco Pasternak, and Marco Salamanca, one of the two Cousins. Both show up in the show, although Pasternak has died by the time the Cousins enter the plot.
    • There are also Brian Archuleta, a co-worker at Davis & Main, and Hugo Archuleta, a janitor working at Walter White's school. No mention if there's a relation.
    • In addition, in the flash-forward which opens the pilot, we see Jimmy working at a Cinnabon having assumed the name "Gene." In the cold-open of the episode "RICO," we see a flashback to Jimmy working in the mailroom at HHM, and one of the employees to whom he delivers mail is named Gene. Possibly justified in that Jimmy could have used the name as a tribute to him.
    • And as with Breaking Bad, there's Dr. Barry Goodman and Jimmy's alias "Saul Goodman".
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Mike goes to a veterinarian to get his bullet wound sewn up.
  • Out-Gambitted: In "Switch," Jimmy and Kim pull a magnificent ploy against Ken Wins, by posing as two second-generation Central European immigrants trying to invest their non-existent uncle's inheritance money. They use the fake names they gave him to sign the papers he brought out, and immediately left the scene before he caught on. And for what, exactly? It's all so he can pay for their expensive bottle of Zafiro Añejo tequila.
  • Out of Focus: After the Season 4 premiere which is centered around Chuck's death and the immediate aftermath of it, Howard Hamlin has very minimal involvement throughout the rest of the season. His appearances only consist of short scenes scattered across four episodes. He has a minor subplot of suffering from insomnia and struggling to keep HMM running as its reputation has diminished but it doesn't receive very much screen-time.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Played with. Huell uses this technique to plant a battery on Chuck before Jimmy's bar hearing.
  • Pet the Dog: For such a smarmy douche, Howard Hamlin has his moments.
    • After Jimmy finds out that it was Chuck, not Howard, who stonewalled his career at HHM, Howard becomes much more friendly to Jimmy. He and Kim also put in a good word for Jimmy at Davis & Main.
    • Howard does it again in the second season to Kim. After punishing Kim for Jimmy's screw-up and ultimately driving her out of the firm, Howard reacts to her decision with grace, casually waves off her remaining debt to the firm, and compliments her.
    • After Chuck threatens to sue HHM, knowing full well that the suit against his own firm would render it insolvent, Howard buys out Chuck's share using money from his own funds (and putting himself into debt in the process) in order to protect the firm and the people working there. He also gives Chuck a well-deserved "Reason You Suck" Speech criticizing how he put his vendetta against Jimmy above HHM's best interests.
    • He does it more than once in "Smoke", urging Jimmy not to look at Chuck's body in the coroner's van, and calling Jimmy to have him approve the obituary HHM plans to print before Chuck's funeral. He also confesses to Jimmy and Kim about the role he thinks he played in Chuck's suicide, but Jimmy throws it back in his face and Kim accuses him of passive-aggressively pushing guilt onto Jimmy.
  • Phony Degree: Jimmy got his law degree from correspondence courses from The University of American Samoa. Jimmy insists that the school is actually accredited, but it's strongly implied that the school is just a shady diploma mill with rock-bottom standards. Chuck reveals that he feels Jimmy's degree has no legitimacy, and it's a major reason for him undermining Jimmy's legal career.
  • Placebo Effect: Chuck suffers from the exact opposite: Nocebo Effect. Chuck has electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which studies (and the occasional In-Universe spotlight) have never shown to be anything more than in the subject's head.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • A lot of people in Albuquerque wouldn't have been killed in Breaking Bad if Chuck just told Jimmy there was no place for him in HHM the first time Jimmy asked him about it.
    • Chuck's situation wasn't really clarified enough to HHM. Howard sending Ernesto to Chuck implies that had they known the severe extent of it, they would have intervened to help out.
    • Jimmy not getting authorization to run his TV ad from the Davis & Main partners, even though he had plenty of opportunity to do so. This bites him in the ass when the partners find out and are furious, and gets him very close to being terminated (the partners vote 2 to 1 in favor of terminating Jimmy, but Cliff votes to spare him with the understanding that Jimmy will be under closer scrutiny).
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Like his portrayal in Breaking Bad, Jimmy makes a lot of pop culture references in his everyday dialogue.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Mike's son Matty, whose death was a driving element in the plot of "Five-O", never showed up on-camera.
    • Jimmy and Chuck's father, whose death Chuck blames, at least in part, on Jimmy's behavior.
  • Precision F-Strike: In Piñata, Howard to Jimmy, in response to Jimmy's The Reason You Suck speech.
  • Present-Day Past/Anachronism Stew:
    • The first episode takes place in 2002, but in the scene where the skaters are following what they think is their target car, you can see a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK and a third generation Toyota Prius on the road, these vehicles were not available until 2007 and 2009 respectively. Understandably, it's not too uncommon to see other background cars of late 2000s and 2010s makes and models. But, seeing as the general design of cars hasn't changed much since the time the show is set, only a few people will notice.
    • Jimmy's Suzuki Esteem is treated as a beat-up old clunker. In 2002, that car would have been five years old at most. Incidentally, it'd only be about two years older than the Cadillac sedan that Jimmy drives in Breaking Bad, which is a 1999 model.
    • There are a couple of stock timelapse shots of Chicago during the montage of scams in "Marco." In one of them, you can see the Trump International Hotel and Tower, the construction of which did not begin until 2005, three years after the scene is supposedly meant to take place.
    • Tuco's gun is a "Raging Judge", which wasn't made until 2010.
    • In "Chicanery", a bag of Wonderful Pistachios can be seen in the vending machine outside of the courtroom. The brand was known as Paramount Farms at the time.
    • The New Mexico Rail Runner didn't begin operation until 2006, making Mike's arrival to Albuquerque via that train in 2002 anachronistic (not to mention he should be arriving on Amtrak's Southwest Chief, given he's coming straight from Pennsylvania).
    • In Season 5 Episode 8, a robber is armed with a MP 7 A 1 sub machine gun, which would not be commercially available in 2004 even if the Mexican black market would somehow procure the model. It has not finished development yet.
  • Properly Paranoid: Chuck immediately suspects that Jimmy sabotaged his Mesa Verde paperwork. He's right.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Jimmy's path and descent to becoming Saul mirrors how Walter White descended to becoming Heisenberg; how a man who's had aspirations to do good becomes rotten in the process.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In season 3, Jimmy may have avoided disbarment from the disciplinary hearing, but that doesn't stop him from being suspended from law practice for one year, cutting off his main source of income. On the other hand, even though Chuck managed to get Jimmy (temporarily) out of the law, his mental illness has been publicly outed and his reputation is ruined as a result of the hearing. And he never recovers it.

    R-Z 
  • Real Vehicle Reveal: After Jimmy loses the "sex with a severed head" case in the pilot, he is seen walking across the courthouse parking lot towards a white 1999 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, the car he will drive in Breaking Bad...only for the camera to pan as Jimmy gets into his actual car, in the space next to the Cadillac: a beat-up yellow 1997 Suzuki Esteem.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • When Nacho threatens Jimmy for ratting him out to the Kettlemans, Jimmy strikes back by flooding him with all the textbook mistakes he's made.
    • Chuck to Jimmy at the end of "Pimento."
      Chuck McGill: You're not a real lawyer! "University of American Samoa," for Christ's sake? An online course? What a joke. I worked my ass off to get where I am, and you take these shortcuts and you think suddenly you're my peer? You do what I do because you're funny and you can make people laugh? I committed my life to this! You don't slide into it like a cheap pair of slippers and then reap all the rewards!
      Jimmy McGill: I thought you were proud of me.
      Chuck McGill: I was. When you straightened out and got a job in the mailroom, I was very proud.
      Jimmy McGill: So that's it then, right? Keep old Jimmy down in the mailroom. He's not good enough to be a lawyer.
      Chuck McGill: I know you. I know what you were, what you are. People don't change. You're "Slippin' Jimmy." And "Slippin' Jimmy" I can handle just fine but "Slippin' Jimmy" with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun. The law is sacred! If you abuse that power, people get hurt. This is not a game. You have to know on some level, I know you know I'm right. You know I'm right!
    • In "Nailed," Kim tells Chuck that he's always looked down on Jimmy and now blames him for his own failure. Subverted, as both she and the audience know that Chuck's accusations that prompted the speech are actually 100% true. But that it was Chuck's prior prejudices against Jimmy that caused him to become Slippin' Jimmy are also true.
    • In "Lantern," Howard points out to Chuck how he has put his personal grudges above the well-being of the firm he founded, which has led him to threaten a breach-of-contract lawsuit that the firm can't afford at the mere suggestion that he retire.
    • In "Breathe," Kim lets loose on Howard when she learns that Chuck pretty much short-changed Jimmy in his will. She specifically attacks Howard for having self-serving ulterior motives for telling Jimmy about his theory that Chuck killed himself, and for expecting Jimmy to sift through the charred ruins of the house where his brother died.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Kim avoids this by the skin of her teeth when the Kettlemans fire her, being sent by Howard to the East Wing, or what Jimmy calls "the cornfield." She gets assigned later to document review after viewing the ad that Jimmy had had aired without authorization.
  • Red Herring: Kai's abrasive personality will lead many viewers to see him as a liability to the meth lab construction crew, but in reality the liability is Werner.
  • Redemption Rejection: Jimmy learns at the end of Season 1 that Chuck, not Howard, kept him out of HHM. However, Jimmy then gets another offer to possibly become partner at a prestigious firm Chuck has no control over. But because of Chuck's disrespect and his time working with Marco again, Jimmy decides he doesn't want to be reformed after all.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: The main plot of Season 1, as eventually revealed in "Pimento". Jimmy puts his "Slippin' Jimmy" past behind him, starts a new specialty in elder law, and winds up uncovering a massive fraud/racketeering case. It should have been his ticket to a great career as a lawyer, but Chuck doesn't respect him and can't forget his "Slippin' Jimmy" past, so he torpedoes Jimmy's career by refusing to let HHM hire him.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Jimmy's use of the "Squat Cobbler" defense to throw police suspicion off of Daniel Wormald works because the story is so ridiculous that the police believe that there's no way Jimmy could make it up. It also helps that Jimmy even bullies Daniel into making an actual Squat Cobbler video to satisfy the cops.
    • Kim's scam involving a phony show of support and the threat of a fictitious media circus in "Coushatta" to get the assistant district attorney to plea bargain Huell to time served with probation (when she'd been seeking a multi-year sentence).
  • Retired Badass: Mike is a retired cop with decades of experience. His comments about military rifles in "Gloves Off" also heavily imply that he's a Vietnam veteran. This history goes a long way to explaining his unflappable badass tendencies.
  • The Reveal:
    • Howard wasn't the one keeping Jimmy out of HHM all those years. It was Chuck.
    • Jimmy's rant in "Marco" reveals what a "Chicago sunroof" is: shitting though the sunroof of a car, preferably when there aren't children sitting in the backseat.
    • Chuck folding back a space blanket to reveal a tape recorder, which he has used to tape Jimmy's confession to the Mesa Verde address swap.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better:
    • Within the cartel, Tuco and Hector's truck driver use revolvers as their primary guns. Tuco uses a Taurus Raging Judge M513, while the truck driver sports a Llama Comanche.
    • Though Mike does occasionally use semi-automatics (like when Hector's men break into his house), his primary sidearm is a Smith & Wesson Model 629 Performance Center.
  • Romantic Candlelit Dinner: In a flashback at the start of "Chicanery," Chuck sets up a romantic candlelit dinner with his ex-wife, claiming that the electricity went out so he decided to make an event of it. In reality, he hadn't been using electricity for some time due to a psychosomatic illness, but didn't want her to find out. This in spite of Jimmy's attempt to convince him to just tell the truth.
  • Roofhopping: Done by Nacho to retrieve a drug cache in a building that is actively being raided by the police, much to Lalo's amusement.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Jimmy's large, garish thermos does not fit into his practical, luxury Davis & Main car. He eventually leaves the company, calling himself a "square peg" and saying that the company wasn't a "good fit" for him.
    • In "The Guy for This," Kim is clearly uncomfortable with Jimmy's placement of a beer bottle on the narrow rail of their third-floor balcony, symbolizing her discomfort with his unethical approach to law. Later, after Kim does the right thing for a stubborn client and is rebuffed and insulted anyway, she lobs beer bottles off the balcony, and Jimmy gleefully joins her.
  • Rules Lawyer: Doesn't matter what excuse you make, you're not getting past Mike's booth unless you've got the right amount of cash or validation stickers.
    • After getting a job at Madrigal to launder his illegal money, Mike applies his same details-oriented work ethic there.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jimmy having problems with Mike being such a strict enforcer of the parking validation rules at the courthouse.
    • The show continues the Breaking Bad tradition of people with personalized license plates being assholes, this time with Daniel Wormald's garish Hummer H2 baring a "PLAYUH" plate and Howard changing his license plate to "NAMAST3" after accepting Chuck's suicide.
    • Almost every precision F strike is either directed at Howard Hamlin or said by Howard Hamlin.
  • Saved by Canon:
    • Gus, Mike, Tuco and Hector all die during Breaking Bad, but since they show up here, we know they'll survive this show.
    • As tense as Chuck's scheme to get Jimmy disbarred can seem, we know Jimmy will still be practicing law by the end of the series.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
  • Second Episode Introduction:
    • Nacho makes his introduction in "Mijo," the second episode of season 1.
    • Gus makes his introduction in "Witness," the second episode season 3.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot:
    • In "Switch," Jimmy ropes Kim into conning KEN WINS. After conning him, they slip out, giggle over their conquest, and kiss. Cut to commercial break. We come back and it's clear that they did the deed at Kim's apartment.
    • The same thing happens in "Coushatta" after the ADA caves to Kim's plea offer for Huell. Jimmy follows Kim into the stairwell to ask how it's turned out. She answers by dropping her briefcase, shoving Jimmy against a wall, and kissing him. Next scene is them in bed, limbs tangled together, Jimmy doing his "Southern pastor" voice.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Of the frustrated variety. Jimmy stocks Chuck up with a few days' worth of supplies before confronting him, and leaves him to care for himself after confirming Chuck's hand in secretly preventing him from getting ahead.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Hank and Gomez engage in these in both of their season 5 appearances, debating about Marie's purchasing habits when coming to interview Krazy-8 in jail, and having a similar dispute about the origins of the word 'culvert'.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: It's debatable whether Chuck's criticisms of Jimmy's lack of ethics have driven Jimmy into becoming an unethical attorney. Jimmy seems to want to do right by his brother and is crushed when Chuck says that he'll always be Slippin' Jimmy, but we also see that Jimmy returns to his shady ways even when handed the perfect opportunity to go straight.
  • Shoot the Builder: Gus ends up having his lab architect killed. Downplayed, since Gus had no plans to kill him from the beginning and only did so once Werner showed he could not be trusted (first by speaking a little too freely while drunk at a bar, and then by actively sneaking out to rendezvous with his wife).
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Mike convinced his son, Matty, not to go to internal affairs (in fear of having him killed by other cops) and to just take the bribe from his corrupt partners. They killed Matty anyway since his initial reluctance made them fear he would rat them out.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shown Their Work: During "Marco," Jimmy tells Marco that he plans on catching a Cubs game and getting a hot dog at Henry's. That's an actual Cicero area establishment, Henry’s Hot Dogs of Cicero on Ogden Avenue.
  • Significant Anagram: If you rearrange the first letter of the title of every episode in Season 2, the result could be welcome news to Breaking Bad fans, as well as a hint towards the identity of the person who leaves Mike a note warning him against killing Hector Salamanca in the Season 2 finale. Fring's back.
  • A Simple Plan:
    • Jimmy's plan to get hired as the Kettlemans' lawyer seems simple and foolproof. The skaters will pull a flopsy on Mrs. Kettleman and Jimmy will 'just happen' to be driving by and able to come to her rescue. She will be grateful to Jimmy and impressed by his skill as a lawyer and will then tell her husband to hire Jimmy to represent him in his embezzlement case. Unfortunately, the skaters Failed a Spot Check and targeted the wrong car, which just happened to belong to Tuco Salamanca's grandma.
    • Jimmy ratting out Chuck to HHM's insurer was probably just a petty, spur-of-the-moment decision simply meant to get back at Chuck over his suspension. But it's this decision that gradually snowballs and leads to Chuck's relapse and suicide.
    • A drive down to the border to pick up the bail money for Lalo should be the simplest milk run conceivable, right? That is, until he's ambushed by another gang on the way back, is only saved from certain death by Mike, and then they have to spend two days hiking their way back to civilization.
  • Splash of Color: In the opening Deliberately Monochrome flashforward, the reflection of the TV playing Saul's commercials in his glasses is the only color.
  • Spousal Privilege: The reason Kim marries Jimmy in "JMM".
  • Start of Darkness:
    • The show shows how the upstart, aspiring attorney Jimmy McGill becomes the fully crooked Amoral Attorney Saul Goodman. Ironically, the show starts just as Jimmy has turned his life around and gone straight after years of living as a conman and facing sex offender charges.
    • A flashback episode shows the exact moment when Jimmy first began to go off the moral path: he watches his father get duped by an obvious con artist, who tells Jimmy that everyone is either a wolf or a sheep. Jimmy visually resolves to be a wolf and steals cash from his father's register for the first time.
    • The show also shows Mike's rise from parking lot attendant to Gus Fring's lead enforcer. The show starts by the time he's already retired from a career as a dirty cop with a history of vigilantism.
    • Beginning in Season 3, the show explores how Francesca goes from a perky ex-DMV clerk to the jaded receptionist/accomplice we see in Breaking Bad.
  • Stealing from the Till:
    • Mr. Kettleman is accused of embezzling more that $1.5 million from the city during his time as city treasurer.
    • Mike back in Philadelphia.
    • Chuck tells Kim that Jimmy stole thousands of dollars from their father's cash register, which eventually drove him out of business and probably shortened his life. Several episodes later, we see Jimmy as a child doing this for the first time, his Start of Darkness.
  • Stealth Pun:
  • Stepford Smiler: It's kept mysterious about whether Jimmy becomes this about Chuck's death. After his initial Heroic BSoD reaction, Jimmy turns becomes more upbeat and energetic than usual and behaves in a completely casual manner to any reference to the subject. When Howard lays a giant guilt trip on him, Jimmy doesn't bat an eyelash and pushes it back on Howard. All of this visibly unsettles Kim, and she tries several times to get him to open up about it. However, whenever it appears as though he's finally confronting his feelings, he reveals that he's just faking. It's unclear whether Jimmy really is hiding from his sadness or if he's completely given up caring.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In season 4, Kim is shown borrowing one of Jimmy's neckties to dress up one of her public defender clients in court. Just like Jimmy was shown doing with his public defender clients in the montage in "Mijo". This is Truth in Television, as public defender's offices and even major law firms often do clothing drives to ensure that defendants always can dress up and look presentable (so as to avoid drawing any unfair bias from the judge and jury).
  • Stupid Crooks: The first season is rife with them, with only marginal improvements in later seasons.
    • Jimmy's public defender clients in "Uno" broke into a mortuary, cut off the head off a corpse and then had sex with it. On top of it, they made a video of the whole event. The prosecutor only needs to play the tape as his closing statement to get them sent to jail.
    • The second-rate skater hustlers of stupid also count; they're first introduced trying a Flopsy scam on Jimmy, despite Jimmy's shitty car obviously indicating that he has no money. Even with Jimmy's coaching, they're terrible: First, they target the wrong car because they don't bother to look too closely to make sure they struck the correct vehicle (such as not memorizing the specific shade of color). Then they call Tuco's grandmother a "bizznatch." Were it not for Jimmy's negotiating skills, their fate would have been bullets to the head, Columbian neckties, and burial in a shallow grave.
    • The Kettlemans stage their own kidnapping and flee into the woods near their home. They clearly had no plan beyond that and things could have gone very tragic if Jimmy did not find them. Furthermore, they did an awful job covering up the fact that they embezzled the money with tactics such as writing government checks to themselves to falsely claim it. Jimmy later lampshades this to Mike and tells him that he thought that criminals would be smarter than that.
    • When Nacho threatens him, Jimmy responds by pointing to all the elementary mistakes Nacho made, like using his own van in staking out the Kettlemans' house, getting spotted by a neighbor, and failing to clean the blood (from the skaters) out of the back of his van which gave the cops the probable cause to arrest him and start to dig into his activities. He essentially framed himself for a crime he has not yet committed. Season 2, though, establishes that Nacho's stupidity on the Kettleman matter is the result of trying to apply the principles of his cartel dealings to crime in white-collar suburbia. Indeed, it takes Nacho a bit to grasp that not everyone in his organization has the same ability to look at the bigger picture as he does and too many of his mooks are stupid enough to make impulsive decisions that end up incriminating them.
    • Daniel Wormald uses his drug-dealing money to buy himself a brand new Hummer H2. When Mike refuses to get in such a suspiciously flashy vehicle, Daniel stupidly decides he no longer needs Mike's protection. Nacho immediately takes advantage of Mike's absence by sneaking a glance at Daniel's driver's license, so that he can learn his address and burglarize his house. If that weren't stupid enough, Daniel even goes so far as to report his stolen baseball cards to the police, who instantly deduce that he's a drug dealer.
    • Jimmy's reasoning for going from being the cellphone guy to the Albuquerque low-lifes to lawyer as Saul Goodman is that he figures they'll need representation when their stupid antics land them in the back of a patrol car.
    • Season 5 is kickstarted by a pair of junkies who take Saul's "50% off" pitch the wrong way, and the two twerps go on a multi-day crime spree. Which culminates in them getting the police sent to the neighborhood where the Salamancas sell cocaine (due to their baggie getting stuck in the storm drain the dealer uses to send the units down, and the two of them making a scene trying to get it out), resulting in Krazy-8 getting arrested when he's caught trying to remove the drugs. Then the junkies themselves are arested only a few days later.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Jimmy's commercials, full of cheap editing effects, corny promises and melodramatic delivery, are quite comical, but it's still easy to see why their dynamism and hard-sell tactics are better at getting the attention of viewers.
    • Davis & Main's commercials, meanwhile, are awful in the exact opposite way from Jimmy's: they consist of nothing but flat, dull narration over plain white text on an amorphous blue swirly background. The partners are so protective of their urbane image that they keep it as safe and conservative as possible. Their ads aren't even targeted correctly; Jimmy catches one late at night, well after its target audience are asleep.
    • The show's title cards use strange color patterns, a poor Chroma Key filter, a shaky handheld camera and cheesy computer effects to capture Jimmy's unsavory and low-rent character. Also, the soundtrack cuts off prematurely. From Season 2 onwards, the cards flicker between color and black-and-white and show the type of picture disruption seen on deteriorating VHS tapes, symbolizing the shift in Jimmy's path. By season 5, the title cards start to corrupt to show flashes of the next episode's title card.
    • "What is Mesa Verde Hiding?"
  • Suddenly Speaking: Played with for Hector Salamanca. In present-day scenes in Breaking Bad, he couldn't speak on account of his stroke and could only communicate by ringing his bell, and in flashback scenes in that show, he only ever spoke Spanish. So Hector's interactions with Mike in season 2, and Gus and Nacho in season 3, are the first times we've heard him speak in English in any form.
  • Super OCD: While a lot of Gus's Control Freak tendencies are explained by his genuine interest to provide the best fast food he can, he also displays these tendencies during situations they really don't matter in, and where they could even hint at his involvement.
  • Surprise Car Crash: Happens to an overworked Kim when she falls asleep at the wheel.
  • Surprise Witness:
    • At his disciplinary hearing, Jimmy names Huell as a surprise witness. Played with in that Jimmy did write his name in the list of witnesses, he just didn't tell anyone what Huell would be testifying to. Huell planted a battery on Jimmy's electro-sensitive brother Chuck for almost an hour and Chuck felt nothing, proving that Chuck's sickness is mental despite what he claims and cause him to blow his whole case against Jimmy in a rant.
    • In "Namaste", Saul reveals a lookalike of the defendant has been at his side the whole time, with the actual defendant in the back of the courtroom much to the annoyance of both the witness and the judge.
  • Suspicious Spending: After a few deals, Daniel Wormald goes and spends his drug money on a gigantic Hummer with a flame paint job and spinning rims. Naturally, when his house is burglarized by Nacho, the cops take one look at the thing and swiftly deduce that he's engaged in illegal activities.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Mike really was involved in the deaths of those two fellow police officers, just as the Philadelphia cops suspects he might be. In fact, he's the one who killed them. Considering they were a couple of sleazeball corrupt cops who murdered his son on the mere suspicion he didn't have their backs, and would have murdered Mike too once they learned for certain he knew, your sympathies are naturally entirely with Mike.
  • Take a Third Option: Chuck refuses to retire after his breakdown at Jimmy's hearing, knowing that they'll have to let him stay since the only other option would be dissolve the firm since they don't have the cash to buy him out. Howard takes a third option and puts up most of the buyout money from his own funds, essentially forcing Chuck out.
  • Tempting Fate: Howard tries to dissuade Chuck from testifying at Jimmy's hearing before the bar association, reasoning that the case is strong enough with his eyewitness testimony to support it and that HHM's reputation is on the line. Chuck dismisses him and says that some things are more important. Thanks to Jimmy's elaborate Batman Gambit, Chuck's testimony ends in disaster for himself and HHM.
    • Within that example is an even sharper one. On the stand, Chuck calls out Jimmy's (apparent) strategy of bringing his ex-wife into town to see his condition revealed and rattle him. He specifically says that Jimmy's hoping it will make him break down and "confess like a murderer on an episode of Perry Mason", and that he won't fall for it. Then Jimmy reveals the battery in Chuck's pocket.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Jimmy goes through a short sequence meeting potential clients, including a rich nutjob who wants to secede from the country and found the Sovereign Sandia Republic, a suburban dad who wants to patent a talking toilet that spouts creepy innuendos, and an old lady who wants to write a will divvying up her tacky Hummel figurines. (The last one, at least, provides useful work, starting Jimmy on a career path in elder law.)
  • The Slow Path: Because this is a Prequel, it shows how slowly the Protagonist Journey to Villain is for Jimmy, Kim and Mike.
  • Thirsty Desert: So much so in "Bagman" that Saul resorts to drinking his own urine.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Within Gus's organization, Victor and Tyrus do a lot of things together. Though they also do some duties separately. Victor is Gus's driver, while Tyrus tends to be the one who gives orders to Gus's muscle men.
  • Title Drop: Each episode's title is spoken by different characters at least once in that episode, or alluded to in some form.
    • In season 1, it's done in spoken form. This is especially true for Episode 5, having both the titles of "Jello" (the original title before copyright issues with Kraft forced them to change it) and "Alpine Shepherd Boy" mentioned in it.
    • Season 2:
      • "Switch" refers to the light switch in Jimmy's new D&M office.
      • "Cobbler" refers to the "Squat Cobbler" lie Jimmy spins to the police about Daniel's secret stash. Nacho's last name, Varga, also means Cobbler in Hungarian.
      • "Amarillo" refers to the opening sequence of Jimmy bribing a bus driver so he can solicit clients.
      • "Gloves Off" refers to both the nature of Jimmy's confrontation with Chuck, and to Mike's setup of Tuco.
      • "Rebecca" refers to Chuck's ex-wife, the name shown in the sheet music in "Cobbler".
      • "Bali Hai" has Jimmy serenade Kim over the phone with the song.
      • "Inflatable" is named in reference to Jimmy spotting a wacky wavy arm inflatable tube man, and taking inspiration from it to get himself fired from Davis & Main.
      • "Fifi" is named for its usage of that particular B-29 for a commercial shoot.
      • "Nailed" refers to Chuck's integrity being thrown into question by Jimmy's forgery and Mike using nails as spike strip.
      • "Klick" is a unit of measurement, equating to a shooting distance of just under 1,100 yards. The episode also ends with a very significant "click" sound from Chuck's tape recorder.
    • Season 3:
      • "Mabel" refers to The Adventures of Mabel, a book that Jimmy and Chuck read together as children.
      • "Witness" refers to Howard and a private investigator being present when Jimmy breaks into Chuck's house to threaten Chuck and destroy the tape recorder.
      • "Sunk Costs" refers to Kim invoking the sunk cost fallacy.
      • "Sabrosito" refers to the bobblehead Hector presents to Don Eladio in the opening flashback.
      • "Chicanery" refers to Jimmy's elaborate Batman Gambit which causes Chuck to have a meltdown on the witness stand.
      • "Off Brand" refers to Jimmy being forced to promote himself as a commercial filmmaker instead of a lawyer as a result of his one-year suspension.
      • "Expenses" refers to Jimmy's difficulty finding money to meet his half of the expenses for the office space he shares with Kim.
      • "Slip" refers to the Flopsy that Jimmy pulls on two music store owners who refuse to pay him.
      • "Fall" can alternately refer to Jimmy's moral fall by scamming his Sandpiper Crossing clients, Chuck's professional fall by being pressured to leave HHM, and Kim's physical fall by having her car accident.
      • "Lantern" refers to the gas lantern Chuck uses to commit suicide.
    • Season 4
      • "Smoke" refers to that which lingers from Chuck's house after his suicide.
      • "Breathe" refers to the way by which Gus kills Arturo at the end, by hogtying him with zip ties and suffocating him with a plastic bag, to intimidate Nacho.
      • "Something Beautiful": Jimmy using the phrase when trying to entice Mike into his Hummel heist.
      • "Talk": Mike attends talk therapy, while Jimmy starts his career of selling drop phones to criminals.
      • "Quite a Ride": Gus has Mike subject architects being recruited for his secret meth lab to a very long ride in the back of a van while blindfolded. The title is also said word-for-word by Saul in the opening flash forward before he calls Ed the Disappearer.
      • "Pinata": Jimmy gets back at the teens who mugged him by having Huell and Man Mountain tie them up like pinatas.
      • "Something Stupid": The episode shares a title with the song that accompanies the opening montage.
      • "Coushatta": Huell's hometown, where Jimmy goes to mail letters as part of Kim's scheme to strongarm ADA Ericsen into agreeing to a probation plea deal for Huell
      • "Wiedersehen": Lalo reconnects with Hector for the first time in ages and Werner flees from the secured housing for the superlab. It's also painted on the rock that Werner's construction crew are blasting to make room for their elevator shaft.
      • "Winner": Jimmy gets his law license reinstated through totally manipulating the reinstatement panel and even Kim. He sings "The Winner Takes It All" in the opening flashback and later invokes the song when talking to the girl who was rejected by H.H.M. because of her criminal record.
    • Season 5
      • "Magic Man" is what Saul claims Huell calls him, despite being asked not to.
      • "50% Off" refers to Saul's offer for a discount on the legal retainer for non-violent felonies, and becomes a battle cry for the two lowlifes in the opening montage.
      • "The Guy For This", what Lalo calls Saul when he is sizing him up for the set up they're planning.
      • "Namaste" is the new vanity license plate on Howard Hamlin's car.
      • "Dedicado a Max", what the plaque reads on the fountain in the center of Gus's memorial village South of the border.
      • "Wexler V Goodman" refers to Saul turning the tables on Kim during discussions with Mesa Verde.
      • "JMM" refers to the monogrammed bag Kim gave Saul, and the discussion Saul has with Lalo about what the initials mean.
      • "Bagman", how Kim disdainfully refers to Saul's role in Lalo's scheme.
      • "Bad Choice Road", Saul's bastardization of the talk Mike gave him after their experience in "Bagman".
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Starting in Season 2, it becomes increasingly apparent to Kim that loyalty to Jimmy means gradually becoming more and more complicit in his con games and his war with Chuck, usually to the detriment of the person involved. It's also a Deconstructed Trope, since Jimmy generally doesn't realize he's having this effect on others and isn't actively trying to talk his friends into getting involved in his schemes... most of the time, anyway. It could be argued he wakes up something in Kim, who has a past she's not very inclined to discuss much with others.
  • Tracking Device: Upon realizing that Mike is starting to get mixed up in cartel business, Gus arranges for Mike's cars to be bugged in hopes of drawing him out.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The previews for Season 3 featured Gus Fring heavily, even though he hadn't officially appeared in the show. It's implied that Fring left the note on Mike's car reading "Don't" in the final episode of Season 2.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Jimmy's skateboarding scam is one long line. First, the skateboarders target the wrong car. A car that's driven by Tuco's grandmother. Which gets them in trouble with Tuco. Which ends with the skateboarders getting their legs broken and Jimmy being traumatized.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Especially in season 2, Mike's and Jimmy's plot lines are almost completely detached and only make a few interactions (Jimmy twice interacting with Mike at the booth, and Mike later hiring Jimmy to provide his amended statement regarding his altercation with Tuco). There's a bit more interaction in season 3, where Mike and Jimmy use each other for various jobs on a quid pro quo - where Jimmy goes into Los Pollos Hermanos to do some spying for Mike, and in exchange, Mike agrees to infiltrate Chuck's house posing as a repairman to get some photographs showing off Chuck's living conditions.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Mr Arsenal underestimates the Old Master Mike and directly challenges him. Mike disarms him and beats him up.
  • The Un-Favourite: Chuck and Jimmy's dad always liked Jimmy better. Even though Jimmy was irresponsible (and secretly stole from their father), he's much more personable than Chuck. On their mother's deathbed, it was Jimmy that she called for. Chuck has clearly developed a complex about this, as evidenced in the flashback where he gets irritated by how charmed his wife is by Jimmy's jokes.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Matt Ehrmantraut, Mike's son, was an honest cop in a precinct full of dirty cops. As a result he was "killed in the line of duty by an unknown shooter". Hearing the story Jimmy immediately realizes what really happened.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Nacho, in "Hero." What does he do after being gotten out of jail by Jimmy? Threatens him for ratting him out, of course. Jimmy, having had enough, points out that Nacho isn't as smart as he thinks.
    • Cal and Lars, the skaters, for whom Jimmy stuck out his neck to save their lives from Tuco.
    • Zig-zagged by Chuck. Throughout the first season, especially by the end, Chuck seems to take Jimmy's devoted care of him for granted. In the second season, however, Chuck does take a moment to sincerely thank Jimmy and say that he would do the same for Jimmy in spite of all their baggage if their positions were reversed. However, Chuck falls back hard on being an ingrate by using and firing Ernesto and then turning on Howard, his own partner.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Jimmy getting back at Chuck by tipping off the insurance company about his brother's mental illness starts the series of events which end in Chuck's suicide. Jimmy goes through fluctuating feelings of guilt, depression and denial when he realizes this at the start of Season 4.
  • Villainy-Free Villain:
    • Howard Hamlin is an uptight Jerkass, but still an honest lawyer who is in opposition to Jimmy. It's eventually revealed that he was merely following Chuck's orders and doesn't have much personally against Jimmy.
    • Chuck pulls a Face–Heel Turn in "Pimento." While he is guilty of lying to and manipulating his brother, he feels that he's upholding the sanctity of the legal system. However, he loses the "villainy free" part of the trope as he becomes more obsessed with upstaging and disgracing Jimmy.
  • Violin Scam: Both the coin scam and the fake Rolex scam that Jimmy and Marco pull involve pressuring someone into paying real money for an item that is actually worthless.
  • Walking Spoiler:
    • It's hard to talk about the first two episodes without mentioning Tuco's involvement in them.
    • Similarly, we have Marco's role in the show, especially in "Marco".
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Averted in the case of Chuck's confessional tape of Jimmy. As Howard points out, even if it were admissible in court, Jimmy could easily call on expert witnesses to cast doubt on its authenticity.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Pimento": It turns out that Chuck has been secretly undermining Jimmy the whole time. He's disgusted by Jimmy's attempt to be a lawyer and thinks that he's nothing but a scumbag.
    • "Nailed:" Chuck's integrity is thrown into question by Jimmy's forgery of his Mesa Verde documents. He ends up having an EMS attack in a copy center when trying to find evidence of it. Mike pulls off a heist on one of Hector's trucks and later learns that an innocent bystander was killed by Hector for stumbling upon the driver.
    • "Lantern:" Nacho's plan to give Hector a heart attack works, only for Gus to notice. Jimmy leaves on his mic in a plan to confess to driving Irene away from her friends, setting the path for him to become Saul. Finally, Chuck kills himself after being dismissed from HHM, burning his house down.
    • "Breathe:" It doesn't take long for Gus to figure out Nacho's role, and once he has the proof, he kills Arturo in front of Nacho and uses this knowledge to blackmail Nacho into working for him.
    • "Winner:" Jimmy makes a compassionate speech about Chuck to the bar association, convincing them to reinstate his law license. Immediately afterwards, he admits to Kim that he didn't mean a word of it and intends to no longer practice under his own name, signifying his final transformation into Saul Goodman.
  • Wham Line:
    • In "RICO", Chuck states the amount of money he and Jimmy want from the shady nursing home and raises the stakes for a (what was until then) a rather low-stakes sub-plot.
      Chuck: $20 million.
    • In "Pimento", Chuck changes the entire tone of his person in a single cruel insult that confirms all of his brother's worst suspicions.
      Jimmy: It was always you, right? Right back to when I passed the bar and tried to join the firm. You didn't want me. Speak up. Tell me why. It's the least you can do for me now. I am your brother; we're supposed to look out for each other. Why were you working against me, Chuck?
      Chuck: You're not a real lawyer.
    • In "Winner", After Jimmy gets reinstated and announces that he's not going to practice law under the name McGill, Kim asks what he's doing. He turns around quips, "S'all good, man!" This signifies that his permanent turn into Saul Goodman has arrived.
    • Mike's line to Werner Ziegler:
      Mike: Werner, nothing you can say or do will make anyone trust you again.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The end of the first episode, "Uno," has Jimmy check on the house entered by his skateboard flunkies, only for someone to pull a gun on him and demand he come inside. Tuco Salamanca peeks out afterward.
    • "RICO" has Chuck casually going outside while looking over some papers. And yes, he intentionally did this.
    • At the end of "Klick," we find out that Chuck was hiding a tape recorder from Jimmy. After Jimmy confessed to committing forgery.
  • What Have I Become?: Seemingly how Saul feels when he sees the family of the victim his cartel defendant murdered in "JMM".
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: In "Mijo" when Jimmy drops off the skaters to the emergency room after their legs were broken by Tuco. Despite managing to talk Tuco out of killing them, Lars still calls him the "worst lawyer ever".
    Jimmy: I talked you down from a life sentence to a six month probation. I'm the best lawyer ever!
  • You Have to Believe Me!: For all of Chuck's skill in strategy, this is his main Genre Blind move, as seen when he freaked out about the numbers Jimmy swapped and when he lost it at the disbarment hearing.
  • You Have to Have Jews: Jimmy's in-universe justification for eventually using "Saul Goodman" as his trade name — he believes that people (or at least criminals) will be more likely to hire a Jewish lawyer. It's established in "Hero" that it's also an alias he used while working con games with Marco. Thus, "Saul Goodman" becomes to Jimmy McGill what "Heisenberg" will become to Walter White.

 
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Ethics Training: Civility

Kim Wexler demonstrates how to do a silent beat.

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