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Series / Better Call Saul

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"You're the kind of lawyer guilty people hire."
Betsy Kettleman

Better Call Saul is an American courtroom drama television series from AMC which premiered in February 2015. A prequel to Breaking Bad, it centers on the past of Ambulance Chaser and notorious mob lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). The show's sixth and final season premiered in April 2022.

Before he was Saul Goodman, he was Jimmy McGill, 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 girlfriend 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 from his days as con artist "Slippin' Jimmy" back in Cicero, Illinois - and more interested in becoming someone much worse.

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 lawful pursuits, where his professionalism and specialized skillset 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.

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

Better Call Saul provides examples of:

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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Lalo manages to take a man's leg clean off with a single axe swing.
  • 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 for Nothing: Many plans, gambits and motivations end up dismantled or leading to nowhere, usually as a result of the characters never anticipating whatever happens next. Hard Work Hardly Works, the philosophy that Jimmy and Kim eventually believe, may sometimes play a role in this. When looking at nearly every character's fate in Breaking Bad this entire series is an examination of the trope.
  • 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.
  • The American Dream: Very, very much a cynical portrayal, given the show's recurring theme of Hard Work Hardly Works. Specifically it presents The American Dream as something which may once have been attainable but which is now dead. The show's wealthy and successful lawyers are all of an older generation and began practicing law at a time when that profession practically guaranteed a decent income and a comfortable life. For the generation of Jimmy, Kim and DA Bill Oakley, who all studied for the Bar much later, things are turning out to be much more of a struggle. The only exception is Howard Hamlin, whose success came from being born into wealth and privilege rather than hard work. Celebrity fan Barack Obama even described the show as an "examination of the dark side of The American Dream".
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: HHM trademarking a color, "Hamlindigo blue", is not unheard of. Target for example has trademarked their specific tone of red, which cannot be used for advertising purposes by any company bar Target.
  • Amicable Exes: Kim and Jimmy in season 1. While it is never stated explicity, it is very strongly implied that they were previously in a relationship and still have strong feelings for one another:
    • In "Uno" Jimmy takes a cigarette from Kim's lips and takes a couple of drags on it before replacing it. They are clearly both comfortable with this level of intimacy, and without words this scene establishes Kim and Jimmy as more than Just Friends.
    • They share numerous tender moments throught the season, such as Jimmy giving Kim a pedicure in "Alpine Shepherd Boy". He has no idea how to paint nails and makes a mess of it but Kim really doesn't mind.
    • They are also unusually protective of one another. This is Lampshaded by Howard in "Pimento", when Kim complains about HHM's refusal to hire Jimmy as an attorney:
      Howard Hamlin: "The partners have made a decision and the why is not your concern."
      Kim Wexler: "I think it is my concern."
      Howard Hamlin: "And why is that?"
      Kim Wexler: "Because he's my friend. And the way I see it, you're not treating him fairly."
      Howard Hamlin "Did your friend send you in here to say that?"
    • In "RICO" a flashback shows Jimmy opening his bar exam results with Kim. When they learn he has passed Kim is overjoyed and kisses him. This appears to confirm that they were indeed an item during their time working in the mailroom.
  • 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.
  • Animal Metaphor: In "Chicanery" Jimmy buys a goldfish to use as a cover for his visits to Dr Caldera. In later episodes the goldfish often appears in the foreground of shots, usually when Jimmy is planning criminal activity, and it serves to indicate that Jimmy is up to no good.
  • Animal Motifs: Lalo compares Jimmy to a cockroach, calling him "La Cucaracha". He means this as a compliment, expressing his confidence in Jimmy's survival instincts.
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call:
    • Jimmy makes a call to the Kettlemans in "Nacho" to warn them of Nacho's designs on their (stolen) money. Unfortunately, it leads to the Kettlemans high-tailing it to the New Mexico hills with their kids. And the money.
    • Part of Mike's gambit to have Tuco arrested is to call the police on a payphone, anonymously report about an "old man" being attacked by some gangster, then approach and provoke Tuco into attacking him. He times it just right so that the police are on their way just before Tuco takes the first swings.
    • After Mike learns that a Good Samaritan was killed by Hector due to his actions and gets the intel he needs, he scours the desert to find the body. Once he does, he calls the police on a payphone to report it, claiming that he found it while he was illegally hunting for arrowheads in the area.
  • 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: While there are a lot of deaths in this show, major character deaths are a lot fewer.
    • In season 1, Troy Hoffman, Carl Fenske, and Marco Pasternak.
    • In season 2, the good samaritan and Ximenez Lacerda.
    • In season 3, Chuck McGill
    • In season 4, Arturo Colon, Fred Whalen at Travel Wire, and Werner Ziegler
    • In season 5, everyone at Lalo's compound, bar Lalo.
    • In season 6, Nacho Varga.
    • A Flashback at the start of the season 2 finale shows the death of Chuck and Jimmy's mother. While she is already known to have passed, this is part of a theme: so far every season finale has begun with a flashback and featured at least one character death.
  • 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 – Animal Care: Averted. When Jimmy acquires a cheap goldfish in a plastic bag purely as a cover to visit Dr Caldera, he is chastised and told it needs an adequately large tank with a bubbler- and Jimmy actually goes out and buys these items. In "Bad Choice Road" he then pleads with Lalo not to tap on the side of the tank because "It upsets the fish".
  • 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.
  • Artistic Title: The first five seasons feature ten unique title sequences- there is one per episode, and they are used in the same order for each season. Rather than featuring the characters, settings, and events of Better Call Saul, they are all snapshots of Saul Goodman's working life as it was in Breaking Bad. With their deliberate bad quality, tacky graphic effects and garish oversaturated colours they are also reminiscent of Saul Goodman's late night TV commercials from Breaking Bad.
  • 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.
    • Ignacio "Nacho" Varga starts out as one of Tuco's henchmen, after having nothing more than a brief mention in a throw-away line from Saul in his titular Breaking Bad episode. After a handful of appearances in Season 1, he then got more and more screen time and development in Season 2. 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' 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' 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," after merely being another name Saul gives from the same dialogue that mentioned Nacho. While he only appears for a few scenes in the last two episodes of Season 4, it sets him up to be the main antagonist for Gus and Mike in Season 5, later draggin Jimmy and Kim into the game as well.
    • 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' 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 and being excessively crass and vulgar, so they trick him into paying for an entire bottle of expensive tequila. Poor, poor thing.
    • Dale, the engineer conned by Kim and Jimmy in "Bali Ha'i". Immediately before he enters the bar and offers to buy Kim a drink, a shot from Kim's POV shows him kissing his wife goodbye. This tells us that Dale is a sleazebag who deserves what's coming to him.
    • 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.
  • Awful Wedded Life:
    • Season 6 introduces Howard's wife Cheryl. During a session with his therapist in "Hit and Run", it becomes apparent that they have been having problems with their marriage for some time. In "Axe and Grind" it is revealed that not only are they no longer sharing a bedroom, Howard is now sleeping in a guest room in an entirely separate wing of the house. When we see them interact the conversation confirms that they are Dead Sparks as they discuss whether it is appropriate for them to continue turning up to social functions as a couple. When Howard hands her a coffee featuring some latte art he has carefully designed to look like a peace sign, Cheryl unceremonously dumps it into her travel mug.
    • Chuck McGill and wife Rebecca Bois also seemed to have been pretty distant before their divorce. Rebecca doesn't laugh at Chuck's jokes (despite laughing at Jimmy's) and when they attempt a reconciliation Chuck still doesn't feel able to confide in her about his electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The billboard stunt in season 1 episode 4. 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, so 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 gain him more publicity.
    • 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 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.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Dr. Caldera, in addition to playing middleman for criminals.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • Gus Fring tells a comatose Hector a story about how, growing up poor, he snared a coati that was eating the fruit from a tree he cultivated, and despite it having a broken leg that would have made killing it more merciful, kept it alive- just as he has decided to keep Hector alive and suffering rather than killing him.
    • In "Bad Choice Road" Lalo torments Kim and Jimmy's poor goldfish by tapping on the side of her tank. When Jimmy pleads with him "You shouldn't do that, it upsets the fish" he defiantly does it again.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The season 1-5 premieres all begin with a Deliberately Monochrome Cold Open showing Jimmy's life in exile as "Gene Takavic". The season 6 premiere appears to begin in the same fashion, with a sequence of monochrome neckties falling away from the camera. They are then joined by some more ties with a small splash of colour, then a series of increasingly colourful ties before it becomes apparent that we are not in Omaha, but in Saul's abandoned- and very colourful- home in Albuquerque.
  • Bathroom Search Excuse: A favoured tactic of Jimmy's, usually in combination with Too Much Information:
    • In "RICO" he is refused entry to Sandpiper Crossing and lies about having Irritable Bowel Syndrome so they will let him use the bathroom- where he uses the toilet paper to write a demand letter.
    • In "Wine and Roses" he pretends to have diverticulitis and asks to use the toilets- which happen to be in the locker room, where he plants a bag of suspicious-looking white powder in Howard's locker.
  • 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.
    • In his role as a security consultant for Madrigal Electromotive, Mike steals another worker's badge, walks right into the building, has multiple conversations with other employees, and takes advantage of every security weakness he can find. Once he's done, he takes the supervisors to task over everything that he was able to get away with:
      "I waltz through security with someone else's ID. Nobody gives me a second look. When the rightful owner shows up, there's no facility-wide badge check. I find access doors left unlocked or propped open, passwords written on post-it notes. Warehouse workers are using pen and paper instead of electronic inventory devices, which leaves you wide open to pilfering. You got duplicate routing numbers on cargo, surveillance-camera blind spots on the north and the east side of the floor, inventory documents that are going into the trash instead of being shredded, not to mention loading equipment being driven at unsafe speeds and crews disregarding safety protocols."
    • Mike also pretends to be an Albuquerque police detective to smuggle a particular piece of evidence into the station tying a rival gangster to a murder. He badgers an intern to get the documents to the right desk, but never actually identifies himself. It helps that he used to be an actual cop in another state before he moved to New Mexico.
  • 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. This part of Jimmy's character is Lampshaded in the key art for season 4.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Nacho Varga shoots himself rather than let the Cartel do it. This is partly to avoid being tortured to death, but also to deny them the satisfaction of killing him, hence Hector Salamanca's frustration as he futilely pumps bullets into Nacho's dead body.
  • Big Bad: For Season 1, it appears to be Howard Hamlin, who seems to be blocking Jimmy's career, as well taking advantage of Chuck by keeping him on the payroll so the firm can benefit from his reputation while avoiding the expense of buying Chuck out. It turns out that the real antagonist is Chuck McGill who has been secretly sabotaging Jimmy's career and avoiding a .
  • 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.
    • The opening of season 6 is set just after Saul flees to Omaha, and gives us a tour of Saul's house as his possessions are being cleared out. It is expensively and opulently furnished, but boy, it ain't classy.
    • Howard Hamlin's house is so big and fancy it has two separate wings. Where he and wife Cheryl are living two separate lives.
  • 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.
  • Bookends:
    • 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.
  • The Boxing Episode: Howard and Saul spar in "Black and Blue".
  • Briar Patching:
    • While attempting to negotiate a refund for his malpractice insurance in "Expenses", Jimmy learns HHM use the same provider. He then makes an accidentally-on-purpose reveal about Chuck concealing his mental illness from them. When the clerk begins writing a note he begs her to stop writing and forget everything he just said- which has the effect of making her take his words even more seriously, just as he intended.
    • In season 6, Jimmy approaches the Kettlemans with a proposal to sue Howard Hamlin for representing them while in the grip of a serious cocaine addiction. They accept his proposal but tell him they're going to take it to a more respectable lawyer. Jimmy pleads with them not to... ensuring that this vicious and entirely false rumour gets spread among all of Howard's peers.
  • 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' 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 "Sabrosito" Kim and Jimmy arrange for Mike to repair Chuck's door in place of the joiner he hired so that he can obtain photographic evidence of Chuck's mental illness. Mike uses the noise of an electric drill to mask the sound of his camera's flash.
    • 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. This trope is arguably deconstructed over the course of the series, as no matter which brother is which they both end up sinking to deplorable lengths to try to break the other and it does nothing but further destroy both men.
  • 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 Davis & 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.
    • In "Carrot and Stick" Jimmy mutters to himself "Wolves and sheep..." and when Kim replies "Huh" he dismisses this with "Nothing". This is a call-back to "Inflatable", where we see a grifter advise a young Jimmy that "There are wolves and sheep in this world, kid", except this time Jimmy seems to consider himself a sheep and Kim a wolf.
  • 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" and Season 5 into account. What at first seems like Saul simply fearing for his life turns into Jimmy thinking Tuco and Lalo's men have decided to finally kill him. Especially after he says that whatever they think he did, Ignacio a.k.a. Nacho was the real one to blame for whatever Lalo has out for him, 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.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Both Kim and Jimmy are prone to lighting up when stressed. This is despite the fact that the Saul of Breaking Bad is never seen smoking at all.
  • Closed Circle: The construction crew building Gus 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The Kettlemans. Betsy in particular. Jimmy even uses this trope to describe her.
      Jimmy: All right, can we all just parachute down from Cloudcuckooland?!
    • 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: In general characters on the side of the law tend to wear cool colours while lawbreakers wear warm colours. Kim, Chuck and Howard are most commonly seen in blue, while Nacho, Lalo, Gus and Hector tend to go for shades of red and yellow. As a character who flits between both sides of the law, Jimmy's choices of outfit reflect his shifts in morality. In the first season he is most often seen in neutral shades of brown, while working at Davis and Main he tends to wear more conservative suits in shades of blue, and he wears warmer colours while pulling scams. As time passes and he develops the Saul Goodman persona his outfits become more colourful, he is often seen wearing clashing mixtures of warm and cool colours. The show's color palette is summed up in one handy image here.
    • 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' clothes, etc), and also associated with caution.
    • Green is used to show Jimmy in con mode, when the Saul persona is running things at full speed, whether Jimmy is using the name or or not.
  • Color Wash: As with Breaking Bad, a yellow filter is used for scenes set in Mexico.
  • 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.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: In a Flash Forward we see Saul Goodman's lavish mansion, which includes an actual golden toilet.
  • Consummate Liar: This being a show about lawyers, there are plenty. Pretty much all of the lawyer characters qualify, but especially Jimmy, who is a prodigiously-skilled bullshitter even by the standards of lawyers and conmen.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Saul admitted to Walter (disguised as Badger's uncle) that he was "a fellow potato eater" with the last name of McGill, with "Saul Goodman" as a professional name. The first season hammers it in how this story is all about Jimmy McGill, with "Saul" as an alias being a twinkle in "Slippin' Jimmy's" eye.
    • In a flashback in "RICO", Jimmy proudly presents his results from the Bar, thanks to his online education from the University of American Samoa, whose diploma had been skeptically gleamed at by Skyler.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: A favoured tactic of Mike:
    • In "Five-O" Jimmy deliberately spills coffee on a police officer to distract him as Mike steals his notebook.
    • In "Gloves Off" Mike deliberately drives into and damages Tuco's parked car in order goad its owner into assaulting him in front of police. It works.
  • 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 Staged Pedestrian Accident.
  • Cool Car: Several examples, including Nacho's 1973 AMC Javelin AMX, Lalo's 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Howard's vintage Jaguar XJ8 (in classic British racing green, naturally). They often appear in stark contrast with Jimmy's battered Suzuki Esteem.
    • Among the lawyer characters German cars are used to denote high social and professional status. DA Bill Oakley is impressed at Davis & Main issuing Jimmy with a German-made company car (a 2003 Mercedes-Benz C 240) and in season 5 Everett Acker resents Mesa Verde's lawyers offering him a paltry settlement after having the nerve to show up at his home in their expensive German imports:
      Everett Acker (to Kim): "You're just like all the rest of 'em, comin' out here in your fancy suit, bringin' your minions with you, drivin' them black, shiny German cars."
  • 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.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mike in most situations which call for it. This often puts him in contrast with Jimmy, Pryce and others who are forced to rely on his grit and experience.
  • 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.
    • "Chicanery" is devoted to the tension between Jimmy and Chuck with the hearing on whether Jimmy is allowed to practice law, culminating in Chuck's hate sink, motive rant testimony. Neither Mike or Nacho make an appearance, the former's lack of presence is noticeable, as Mike was in every prior episode.
    • 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.
  • Death Seeker:
    • In "The Guy For This" Mike, still traumatised by having to kill his friend Werner Ziegler, gets drunk at a bar and taunts a gang of would-be muggers before painfully injuring one of them. In "Namaste" he gets drunk again and walks along the same stretch of road despite knowing the gang may be lying in wait to exact revenge. This time when they do appear he offers little resistance as they start to beat him up, and he loses consciousness before waking at an unfamiliar location with his injuries neatly bandaged. Mike later learns that Gus was having him tailed and intervened to save him from his self-destructuve behaviour.
    • In "Bagman" Jimmy asks Mike some ominous questions about what is spurring him on to survive. As Mike talks about wanting to provide for his family, Jimmy becomes more and more hopeless and at one point lies down, seemingly to await the sweet release of death.
  • 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 Jimmy's life.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Chuck can handle his divorce from Rebecca and his falling out with Jimmy. For a while he even gets a handle on his electromagnetic hypersensitivity, making small but positive steps to overcome it. Losing his livelihood however pushes him over the edge. His enforced retirement from HHM causes him to relapse and lose all hope of curing his condition, driving him to suicide
  • Destroy the Security Camera: When Werner escapes the warehouse he and his workers are required to stay in, Mike finds a laser pointer on the ground outside, and deduces Werner used it to fry several security cameras to cover his tracks.
  • Devil in Plain Sight:
    • How Chuck sees Jimmy. Naturally his attempts to expose him fall on deaf ears, most notably in "Chicanery" when his courtroom rant about Jimmy just makes him look crazy.
    • Howard initially gives Jimmy the benefit of the doubt but comes to see him this way after the events of season 5. He also struggles to exppose Jimmy's true nature to Kim:
      Kim Wexler: "Howard, I know Jimmy, and you're wrong."
      Howard Hamlin: "You know who really knew Jimmy? *beat* Chuck."
  • 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:
    • Probably easier to list characters who don't fall into this trope. Jimmy, Mike, Gus, Hector, Domingo, Tuco, The Cousins, No-doze, Gonzo, Hank, Gomez, Victor, Tyrus, Lydia, Schuler ... All doomed to death or a ruined life.
    • 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.
    • Anybody named Salamanca 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.
      • Possibly subverted with Lalo. Gus attempts to assassinate Lalo in the season 5 finale, and likely (mistakenly) believes it was successful.
  • 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.
    • Nacho's father is aware that Nacho used to run with the Salamanca's, but he seems to think that Nacho has left that life behind. Nacho in turn goes to some lengths to keep his continued criminal activities a secret from his father, and even works a day job in his autobody shop. His father is crushed when he learns that Nacho is involved with the Salamanca's again.
  • 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.
    • Nacho chooses this over a staged death, deciding to defiantly die by his own terms.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn:
    • In "Bad Choice Road" Jimmy speaks with Lalo after delivering his $7 million in bail money and securing his release. Lalo can see he is badly sunburned from his ordeal in the desert and, with a grin, tells him "You did good!" while slapping him on the back.
    • Later that episode Jimmy insists on attending court despite obviously being traumatised by his misadventure in the desert. He suffers a rare defeat in what seemed like an easily winnable case- and at the hands of DA Bill Oakley, who goes on to taunt him for "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". Jimmy's severe sunburn hardly makes for a veneer of dignity.
  • 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 and fifth season. The fact that he drives an AMC instead of a GM car can possibly symbolize that he is not really on the Salamancas' side.
    • The newer blood in the cartel, including the Cousins and Gus' crew, drive in much more modern and sleeker GM SUVs like Cadillac Escallades, Chevy Suburbans, and GMC Denalis.
    • Jimmy doesn't own a Ford, and his choice of car is a mystery to Lalo:
      Lalo Salamanca: What do you drive?
      Jimmy McGill: An Esteem.
      Lalo Salamanca: A what?
      Jimmy McGill: A Suzuki Esteem. [Beat] It's an import.
    • After his Esteem is wrecked in a gunfight, Jimmy rents a Ford Taurus for himself and Kim to drive. Kim isn't impressed, and persuades him to swap it for his iconic Cadillac Sedan de Ville because the Cadillac is a much flashier car more befitting the image of Saul's office as a "cathedral of justice".
      Kim Wexler: So, Saul Goodman drives a brown Ford Taurus?
      Jimmy McGill: Detroit calls that taupe, I believe.
      Kim Wexler: Don't you think Saul Goodman would drive something with a little more... flair?
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Part of Jimmy's plan to get sacked from Davis and Main.
  • 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.
  • Evil Is Petty: In "Sabrosito" Jimmy is ordered to pay Chuck damages of $321 to cover the cost of repairing his door. Chuck insists on adding $2.98 for the cost of the cassette tape Jimmy also damaged.
  • Exact Words: Howard presents the decision not to recruit Jimmy as "The partners have decided." Chuck being one of those partners ruling against Jimmy (and so is Howard.)
  • Evil Lawyer Joke:
    • In the cold open of "Rebecca" Jimmy goes to dinner with Chuck and his then-wife Rebecca. He informs them that he's heard "maybe a hundred" lawyer since starting work at HHM, and proceeds to reel off a string of them. Chuck is embarrassed at his brother's behaviour but this quickly fades to anger when he sees Rebecca actually finds it charming- and then she even joins in with a lawyer joke of her own:
    Rebecca Bois: What do lawyers and sperm have in common? 1 in 3 million...
    Rebecca Bois and Jimmy McGill: ...have a chance of becoming a human being!
    • In "Breathe" Jimmy attends a job interview and skims over the small matter of his disbarment. He uses a lawyer joke to convince the interviewer reading his resume that he quit the law over moral concerns:
    Mr. Neff: Says here you were a lawyer up until not that long ago. What changed?
    Jimmy McGill: Well, you know why God made snakes before he made lawyers? He needed the practice.
  • Evolving Credits: The quality of the video in the title sequence degrades noticeably as the seasons go on, with the video developing scratches and other artifacts like those seen on degrading VHS tapes; by Season 6, there's no colour left and they're even interrupted by test patterns and bluescreens. This is a nod to Gene Takavic watching his collection of Saul Goodman TV commercials on VHS, and the quality degrading with repeated viewings, just as the memories of his Glory Days are also fading (as well as a parallel for the moral degradation of the characters in 2004).
  • 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".
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: In "JMM" Jimmy turns down Howard's job offer in spectacular fashion... or so he thinks. Once he's done with his "LIGHTNING BOLTS SHOOT FROM MY FINGERTIPS!" rant he just looks like he wants the floor of the courthouse to swallow him up.
  • Fake Nationality: In-Universe. The Irish Jimmy McGill accuses a golf club of denying him membership because of his new Jewish name.
    Saul Goodman: Five thousand years, and it never ends!
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Jimmy goes through a lot of them: HHM's mail room after his arrest, working in a cell phone store during his 12-month suspension, and managing a Cinnabon as "Gene".
  • 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' 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.
  • Fat and Skinny: Jimmy is thin, almost emaciated, while his brother Chuck is corpulent, reflecting how high or low on the hog each has been living for most of his life.
  • Finger Gun:
  • Fingore: In "Mijo" Tuco threatens to cut Jimmy's fingers off with wire cutters.
  • 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.
  • Five-Finger Discount:
    • In "Wiedersehn" Kristy Esposito tells the scholarship panel at HHM that her experience of being convicted for shoplifting is actually what sparked her interest in the law. Unfortunately it is also what ultimately prevents her from being offered the scholarship.
    • The flashback at the start of "Axe and Grind" reveals that Kim, of all people, once attempted to shoplift as a teenager. She is caught by the store's owner, but is let go with a warning.
  • 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.
  • Flatline: In "Klick", Chuck and Jimmy's mother calls out for Jimmy just before her electrocardiogram flatlines. This confirms "Jimmy" as her last words, and further adds to Chuck's resentment at his perceived Parental Favoritism of Jimmy.
  • 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: Played With. In their early years, Jimmy was the foolish sibling, living off small-time scams rather than getting a real job, before getting into serious legal trouble and having to call his more responsible older brother to bail him out. Later in life Jimmy is the responsible sibling when Chuck develops electromagnetic hypersensitivity and becomes dependent on him for his day-to-day care.
  • Footsie Under the Table:
    • Kim and Jimmy under the HHM boardroom table in "Cobbler".
    • Jimmy tries this again in "Amarillo" while he is trying to convince the board that he did not solicit clients. Kim realises that Jimmy is lying- and lets him know by angrily pulling her foot away.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When berating the skaters for their attempt to pull a Staged Pedestrian Accident 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.
    • Near the start of "Bagman" Jimmy notices a spot of dirt on his shoe and decides to rinse it off using his Davis & Main water bottle. The second that precious clean drinking water hits the New Mexico desert sand you know he's going to regret wasting it.
    • In "Marco", Marco asks Jimmy why he isn't more tanned: "I mean, 10 years in the desert, you should look like Anthony Quinn in Lawrence of Arabia". Jimmy explains: "Hey, I’m Irish, ok? I spend my time staying out of the sun.", Sure enough, in "Bagman", the episode which pays homage to Lawrence of Arabia, Jimmy and Mike return from two days in the desert with horrific sunburn.
    • The episode title "Breathe" spoils the final scene with Gus suffocating Arturo with a plastic bag.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: The opening titles are styled in the mould of Saul Goodman's cheesy late-night commercials, which is why the show's theme tune ("Better Call Saul" by Little Barrie) cuts off at an awkward moment. It also cuts off just before the lyrics begin.
    Kill communication
    Steppin' off the grid
    Just to let me know
    So maybe cut my ties...
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Applies to the four main lawyer characters.
    • Sanguine: Jimmy/Saul.
    • Choleric: Chuck.
    • Melancholic: Howard.
    • Phlegmatic: Kim.
  • 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.
    • In "Breathe", as Jimmy is scouring the job section of the local newspaper, an ad for Beneke Fabricators can also be seen.
  • 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.
  • Funny Flashback Haircut: Jimmy has a dumb looking mullet in the flashback where he is locked up because he defecated through a sunroof.
  • Games of the Elderly: Jimmy works (and excels) in a retirement home, where his main duty is calling bingo.
  • 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.
    • Jimmy brings up Judge Papadoumian by Season 4's "Winner," who he later describes by Breaking Bad as hating harassment of elders and Saul's fashion sense. We potentially see what they look like during one of the webisodes.
  • 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.
    • It is hinted that HHM is something of a gilded cage for Howard. In "Fifi" he admits to Kim that he had actually wanted to start his own firm but joined HHM at his father's insistence. Given that he isn't a skilled litigator and his talents lie more in client development it is also possible that his father pressured him to study law and follow in his footsteps rather than pursue his own interests.
      • Howard's home life is another example. He lives in a Big Fancy House where he is trapped in a loveless marriage to a woman who refuses to attend therapy or discuss getting a divorce.
  • 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In "Something Stupid" Kim brings Jimmy to a social event at Schweikart & Cokely. Jimmy takes a look around Kim's office, noting all the Mesa Verde statuettes before walking across the soft carpet and counting his paces to get a rough idea of the dimensions- and how much bigger it is than any office he can afford. Back at the party, he gets into a conversation with Rich Schweikart, suggesting a company retreat and then loudly holding court as he describes hiring a party bus, chartering a private jet and taking the employees to Aspen for a skiing trip. While the other S&C employees are transfixed and entertained by his little performance, it is all done with barely-suppressed rage and envy, and Kim is clearly mortified. Cut to Kim and Jimmy sharing a very awkard car journey home in total silence.
  • 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.)
  • Guttural Growler: Bob Odenkirk's famously scratchy vocals are worked into the plot on a couple of occasions:
    • Jimmy attempts to warn the Kettlemans of impending danger but can't let them know he's the one giving the tip; realising his voice would be extremely recognisable he attempts to use a makeshift voice changer, which fails horribly.
    • Jimmy is at a party singing karaoke but his singing skills are awful, he gets Chuck to join him and is completely outclassed as a result.
    • "Gene" tries to arrange a second pickup from Ed Galbraith and is recognised over the phone as a returning customer instantly, which would have cost him double his original fee if he decided to go through with it.

  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: In both directions:
    • In "Nacho" a flashback shows both Jimmy and Chuck with considerably more hair.
    • The flash-forwards that begin each season show us that in his new life as "Gene", Jimmy has significantly less hair.
  • 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.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In "Wine and Roses" Jimmy is up to no good in a country club locker room when Howard and Clifford Main walk in and he suddenly has to hide. There is no suitable hiding place, so he takes all his clothes off and throws a towel over his head. He is taking advantage of the tendency for men to avert their eyes from other men's bodies in a locker room situation- and the ploy works.
  • 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 more importantly (as noted by LegalEagle), the actions Jimmy's facing disbarment over happen to be actions that Kim benefitted from. 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, this comes 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 attorneys.note  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.
  • Hookers and Blow: Saul and Kim attempt to frame Howard as a cokehead who frequents prostitutes.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: In "Chicanery" Kim cross-examines Howard at Jimmy's bar hearing. When asked why HHM refused to hire Jimmy he claims there was a risk of his hiring looking like nepotism. As Kim is talking to Howard Hamlin of Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill she finds this hypocrisy pretty easy to expose.
  • Hypocritical Humour: "Piñata": Jimmy mocking Howard's receding hairline is more than a little rich.
  • 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".
    • The episode titles for the first half of Series 6 all follow the convention of "____ and _____" ("Wine and Roses", "Carrot and Stick", "Rock and Hard Place", etc.)
  • 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.
    Rebecca Bois: "Jimmy, he's still your brother."
    Jimmy McGill: "Not anymore, he's not."
  • 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.
  • Improvised Bandage: When Mike arrives in Albuqerque he stops by an empty ladies' restroom in the train station and obtains a maxi pad, using it to stanch a bullet wound in his shoulder.
  • 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.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Two of them are in this series, so far:
    • "Coushatta" seems like a Filler or Breather Episode, but it's actually important to the series since it reveals what all of Gus Fring's plans for Nacho have been building up to and it reveals Lalo Salamanca showing up to take control of the gang, plus notably, Kim Wexler's Face–Heel Turn (on a sliding scale of evil, not that evil yet, but still, a grifter).
    • The Kettleman subplot in season 1 may have seemed like filler at first to establish the kinds of clients Jimmy takes on. But it has major payoff in season 5, as Nacho's dealings with Jimmy during that period lead Lalo to hire Jimmy to be his attorney, which ends up dragging him into the conflict between Lalo and Gus.
  • 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.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Jimmy to Kim. He is worried that she just sees him as her bit of rough, someone she can have fun with but not someone she'd ever make a long-term commitment to. He has a tendency to bring up property whenever he's feeling especially needy, suggesting they rent an office or buy a home together as a little test of her commitment. In "Wiedersehen" he is visibly upset when Kim tells him to "stop going on about that stupid office!", not realising that to him a shared office represents something more than just bricks and mortar:
    "I'm good to live with, to sleep with, but God forbid you should have an office with me... You get bored with your life, so you come roll around in the dirt, have some fun with Slippin' Jimmy, then back up."
    • Played With:They eventually get married, and it was Kim who popped the question.
      ♫“I know I stand in line
      Until you think you have the time
      To spend an evening with me
      And if we go someplace to dance
      I know that there's a chance
      You won't be leaving with me..."♫
  • 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:
    • "Saul Goodman" of course.
    • 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".
    • The model of Jimmy's car, the Suzuki Esteem, was chosen because it was an ironic name for a man who gets no respect and has very little self-esteem.
  • 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.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jimmy reflecting on the events leading up to "Something Unforgivable":
    Jimmy McGill:"Kim... am I bad for you?"
    • Played With: Kim's response suggests that, by this point, Jimmy may not be bad enough for her.
  • 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.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: While Jimmy is still nowhere near as cynical as the Saul of Breaking Bad, we definitely see the scales falling from his eyes. In flashbacks we see how excited Jimmy was to pass the Bar exam, and how much he was looking forward to making it as a lawyer and winning Chuck's respect. After years of hard work his brother still thinks he's a scumbag, and he finds himself living in the boiler room of a nail salon, wondering if Hard Work Hardly Works.
  • 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.
    • In "Winner" Jimmy sits on the board of HHM's scholarship committee. One hopeful, Kristy Esposito, is turned down because of a shoplifting conviction, and Jimmy fails to convince the board that she made a youthful mistake and deserves a second chance, mainly because her situation is all too familiar to him.
  • 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.
    • Chuck's determination to keep Mesa Verde with HHM instead of Kim is unsympathetic (given that she found the client in the first place) and clearly part of a campaign against Jimmy. That said, he's entirely correct that trying to retain a major client is the only logical thing for someone in his position to do. Moreover, his methods consist solely of giving a completely honest and convincing sales pitch. He acknowledges and praises Kim's abilities, while very reasonably pointing out her limitations as a relatively young lawyer without the resources of a firm behind her. And later seasons prove him to be entirely correct, as practical realities make it impossible for Kim to meet the needs of Mesa Verde on her own.
    • 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.
  • Karaoke Bonding Scene: "Winner" begins with a flashback to Jimmy's admission to the New Mexico State Bar, followed by celebrations at a karaoke bar. Jimmy spots Chuck, then recently separated from his wife, sitting alone and looking depressed. Just as Chuck tries to make an early exit, Jimmy begins a terrible rendition of The Winner Takes It All and manages to drag Chuck on stage to duet with him. Chuck comes out of his shell and eventually snatches the microphone for an actually pretty great solo performance of the song. Later we see the brothers at Chuck's house, laughing and singing.
    • Subverted in that while it seems to have brought the brothers a little closer, Chuck does not answer Jimmy's only-half-joking suggestion that he make him a name partner at HHM because he decided long ago that he will never employ Jimmy as an attorney.
  • 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.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Gustavo Fring, again. The stakes and body count of the series increase significantly with his arrival in Season 3.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Dr. Caldera is a veterinarian who has underworld connections. 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.
  • Late Spin-Off Transplant: Gus Fring joined the cast during the third season.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Gus' 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 Jimmy, 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.
  • Loser Protagonist: As this show covers the rise and fall of Saul Goodman, minus the brief period of success in between, we mainly see the protagonist in his loser days. This is Lampshaded by Jimmy when he admits one major reason for changing his name:
    "Jimmy McGill the lawyer is always gonna be Chuck McGill's loser brother."
  • 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.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Although Kim and Jimmy genuinely care for each other, the driving force behind their marriage is to protect them both legally, as she can't be forced to testify against him if they're married.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Kim and Jimmy's relationship is a subtle example, with Jimmy being the more emotional and flamboyant and Kim being the more stoic and practical. In addition, Jimmy is usually the one who prepares dinner, while Kim is the one who plays golf.
    • In the words of Kim herself:
      "I'm very much more the stereotypical 'man' as far as the relationship roles. Jimmy is more emotional, more reactive, wants to talk everything out, and thinks everything is personal and Kim's very project-oriented. Very just, 'Slow it down, here's the problem, here's the solution' kind of thing."- Rhea Seehorn
  • 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.
  • Mirror Monologue: In Jimmy's very first appearance he is in the courthouse bathroom, nervously rehearsing his clients' defence in front of a mirror. The unglamorous setting and his nervousness serve to inform the audience that Jimmy has a long way to go before becoming the successful and breezily confident Saul Goodman.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Played With in "Namaste" where one covers most of Kim but absolutely none of Jimmy. For Kim this is also a case of Toplessness from the Back.
  • Modesty Towel:
    • In "Bagman" Jimmy uses a towel to preserve his modesty. Well, some of it.
    • Played With in "Wine and Roses": Jimmy infiltrates a country club of which Howard is a member in order to plant a bag of fake cocaine in his locker. When Kim sends a text to warn him that Howard and Clifford Main are returning from the golf course, he has nowhere to hide... except under a too-small towel, so he quickly undresses and throws the towel over his head. Fortunately Howard doesn't recognise his voice. Or his ass.
  • Mondegreen Gag: 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; however, they represent the future rather than the past.
  • 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 Staged Pedestrian Accident 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.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Namaste":
    Howard Hamlin: "Am I allowed to call you "Jimmy"?"
    Jimmy McGill: "Uh, Saul Goodman is my professional name, but my friends still call me Jimmy. You can, too."
  • 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).
    • Kristy Esposito, the student who is denied a scholarship from HHM over her past as a shoplifter, is named after Giancarlo Esposito, who plays Gus Fring.
    • The very colorful shirts Jimmy looks over is a reference to a page pulled down from, 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:
    • Jimmy starts off as a way more caring lawyer than he is in Breaking Bad, but he becomes less nice as the Seasons progress.
    • 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.
  • Non-Action Guy: Jimmy couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, and often has to rely on his wits to get out of hairy situations. In "Bagman" we also see he is terrified of guns and even struggles to use one in a desperate self-defence situation.
  • 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.
  • No "Police" Option: Attempted to be exploited by Nacho, who robs people that he knows are criminals and thus they won't go to the police because if they do they will have their own misdeeds exposed in the ensuing investigation. The fact that it's "attempted" is because he then steals from Daniel Warmolt, a crook who is so stupid that he does exactly what Nacho didn't wanted and does call the police, placing the two of them (and many other crooks) in trouble.
  • 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.
  • Not Wanting Kids Is Weird: The show has been praised by feminists for its complete aversion of this trope. While Kim and Jimmy do discuss plans for their future together (with Jimmy in particular craving commitment) they express no interest in starting a family, and despite being in their 30s and 40s respectively, no-one mentions biological clocks or comments on their childfree status.
  • 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.
  • Old Shame: An In-Universe example in "Cobbler". Jimmy is checking out his newly-delivered company car, feeling the quality and really savouring the moment. Until he notices it has a sunroof...
  • 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' 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".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Jimmy is very emotional and not afraid to show it. When he lays on a bit of the Tranquil Fury you know he's really angry.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Mike has to go to a veterinarian with criminal connections to get his bullet wound sewn up. Dr. Caldera lampshades this, saying that he can't provide a sling but can wrap a cone around Mike's head. Later, Nacho has to do the same.
  • 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.
  • Outlaw Couple: Jimmy and Kim's relationship has shades of this.
  • 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.
  • Parking Problems: A Running Gag is Saul clashing with Mike Ehrmantraut, the parking attendant at the courthouse, due to failing to collect the required number of parking validation stickers to have his parking fee waived. At one point, he reaches through the window of the booth to lift the barrier arm when Mike won't let him out without payment, causing him to be briefly barred from the car park. In another episode, he blocks the exit lane in protest and picks a fight with Mike, causing him to be arrested for assault.
  • 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.
  • Phoney Call: In "Marco" Jimmy and Marco pull their "Kennedy Half-Dollar" scam on an unsuspecting bar patron. In order to convince their mark that the coin is valuable Marco has loud conversation with a "coin dealer" on the bar's telephone. Their poor mark isn't close enough to hear that he has actually called the speaking clock.
  • 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.
  • Plausible Deniability: In "Five-O", before Mike executes his plan to murder the two corrupt cops, he tells the bartender that he's leaving for Albuquerque the next day to establish that he was already planning on going there.
  • 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.
    • A minor one in "Bingo": During a call with Kim, Jimmy refers to the Kettleman case as "The 25th Hour starring Ned and Maude Flanders". 25th Hour wasn't released until December of 2002 and this episode took place during the summer of that year so there is no way Jimmy or Kim could have seen that movie at that time. However, with Jimmy and Kim both being avid movie watchers, there's a possibility they were aware of the film's premise from trailers or other media.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: Jimmy's school where he got his degree, the University of American Somoa, has one. It fits his personality well. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam."translation 
  • 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.

  • 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.
    • In "Wiedersehen", Jimmy and Kim give one to each other after Jimmy is told that his suspension from practicing law will be extended — Kim for Jimmy's ungratefulness for all the times she has helped bail him out of trouble, and Jimmy for the way Kim uses his "Slippin' Jimmy" schemes for cheap thrills.
    • In "Wexler v. Goodman", Kim rips into Jimmy for going back on his word and showing the blackmail video/commercial during the meeting with Mesa Verde, calling him out for making her the "sucker" in his ploy. Subverted in that Kim, rather than ending their relationship as it's implied she's about to do, instead suggests that they get married.
  • 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:
    • Howard Hamlin is set up as the season one antagonist, but it turns out that Chuck is the one who's actually blocking Jimmy's career.
    • 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.
    • In the season 4 episode "Winner" we meet Kristy Esposito, a student who is interviewed for the HHM scholarship. She is ultimately rejected because of a shoplifting conviction. The one committee member who casts a vote in her favour is Jimmy, who sees her as someone being unfairly penalised for having made one mistake in their youth- in short, he sees a lot of himself in her. Her rejection is a painful reminder that to some he will always be seen as a lowlife and refused a second chance no matter how hard he works.
  • 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).
    • How does Saul manage to disarm a belligerent old man like Mr. Acker so that he can convince him to pursue legal action against Mesa Verde? By showing him an incredibly obscene photo. And it works.
      Saul: Sir, if you would just, just — please, just take a look at my proposal? Okay? Because I think you'll find it persuasive.
      Acker: I don't want it!
      Saul: Just LOOK at it, sir. Just look. What do you see?
      [Acker looks down at the "proposal", then at Saul again with horrified disbelief, then back at the picture]
      Acker: [Voice breaking, in shock] A man...
      [Saul nods, encouragingly]
      Acker: ...F-fuckin' a horse.
      Saul: Sir, I HATE Mesa Verde. I HATE them. Looking down at us from their glass tower — they think they can shit on whoever they want, and we just have to smile and say 'thank you'? Look, picture me as the man, and Mesa Verde as the horse. I'm the guy who'll do whatever it TAKES to stick it to them.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Throughout season 1 it is strongly implied that Kim and Jimmy were previously romantically involved- and that they may still have feelings for one another. In the season 2 opener "Switch" they kiss and then sleep together, but Kim refuses to lend Jimmy her toothbrush despite Jimmy's protest that "our germs have already intermingled". In "Nailed" a close-up shot reveals a second toothbrush has appeared in Kim's bathroom, telling us that Jimmy has moved in with her.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Back in Breaking Bad, Walt and Jesse kidnapped Saul to the desert to intimidate him into compliance. Saul assumed it was a cartel hit, causing him to panickingly reassure how he'd always been a "friend of the cartel" and that "Ignacio" is the one they should really be after. He's immediately relieved after he clarifies the two weren't sent by a "Lalo", and none if it is ever brought up again. With the introduction of Ignacio "Nacho" Varga in this show's second episode, and Eduardo "Lalo" Salamanca's arrival in Season 4, the series seems to be building up to what happened and just why Saul was so terrified.
  • 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.
  • "Rise and Fall" Gangster Arc:
    • The show essentially charts the rise and fall of Saul Goodman as we see him in Breaking Bad—a successful mob lawyer, criminal-for-hire and local celebrity. The struggling Jimmy McGill is Saul on the rise, and the paranoid and depressed Gene Takavic is Saul after the fall.
    • We also get this for Mike, showing how he went from a cop working the beat at Philadelphia to Gus' righthand enforcer in Albuquerque. We already see his "fall" in Breaking Bad, so it's a matter of seeing where he came from and why he went down his path.
    • By Season 3 onwards, we start getting this for Nacho. He goes from accompanying the leader of the Salamancas' Albuquerque branch with his own pettier agenda to getting promoted by Don Eladio on Lalo's recommendation, all under Gus' manipulations as a double agent while trying to get himself out of the game.
  • 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.
    • Jimmy and Kim have one in the season 5 finale while laying low at a hotel to hide from Lalo.
  • 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 himself.
  • Sad Clown: With complicated baggage from his family history, inner turmoil stirring the more the series progresses from one traumatic event to another, and his desire to keep pushing forward while snarking his way through, Jimmy is very much this.
  • 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. And no matter what situation Jimmy finds himself in, we know he'll live long enough to become Saul (and later, "Gene Takavic").
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Jimmy sees the money that the Kettlemans are accused of stealing, they try to bribe him to not mention it to anybody. Jimmy repeatedly insists that he cannot accept a bribe, but is willing to accept a retainer for his legal services. The Kettlemans still do not hire Jimmy, and he does eventually accept the bribe money, but then he goes to his office and calculates out how much he would have actually charged them for his work as a lawyer, spending only the money that he "earned".
  • 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.
  • Sequel Escalation: Downplayed. After six seasons, Better Call Saul will end with 63 episodes, exactly one more than its predecessor.
  • Serenade Your Lover: For part of season 2 Jimmy moves out of Kim's apartment in Albuquerque and into his Davis & Main corporate apartment in Santa Fe. He serenades her daily by calling her landline and singing to her answerphone- the episode "Bali Ha'i" is named after one of his song choices. His singing is dreadful but Kim finds his attempts endearing.
  • 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 picky habits over expired food 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.
  • Signature Shot: Most (if not all) episodes include at least one shot of a character's face reflected in a mirror or another shiny surface. This device is even used for Jimmy's Establishing Character Moment, a Mirror Monologue in the very first episode.
  • 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 Staged Pedestrian Accident 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.
  • Snarking Thanks: Howard's response to Kim when she visits his office to argue that HHM is being unfair to Jimmy in "Pimento":
    Howard: Want to know what I believe? I believe that you're way out of your depth in this matter. So the next time that you want to come in here and tell me what I'm doing wrong, you are welcome to keep it to yourself. Because I don't care.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Numerous examples from the cold opens:
    • "Mabel": The Deliberately Monochrome flashforward to Jimmy's life as "Gene" is soundtracked with Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra. While this clearly refers to an ingredient of Cinnabons, the lyrics about living a carefree life are wildly at odds with the portrayal of Gene becoming so stressed he collapses.
    • "Bagman": The cold open shows The Cousins delivering Lalo's bail money to a garage where two Salamanca associates and frantically scrubbing a car's upholstery of blood stains. This scene is soundtracked with the upbeat love ballad Dejame Quererte ("Let Me Love You") by César Castro And His Group.
    • "Axe and Grind": A Dreamer's Holiday by Perry Como at first appears a good fit for Howard's racks of Hamlindigo Blue suits, knitted ties and and expensive cufflinks. As the scene goes on however we see Howard is getting dressed for work in a sparsely-furnished guest bedroom, into which he has hurriedly moved his personal belongings following the breakdown of his marriage. This is another example of a song about carefree living playing over the actions of a very stressed and lonely man.
  • 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.
    • The season 6 key art features a monochrome image of Gene putting on a bright red suit jacket.
  • Spinoff Babies: The animated prequel series, Slippin' Jimmy, follows the adventures of Jimmy and Marco as childhood best friends and precocious con artists in Cicero.
  • Spousal Privilege: The reason Kim marries Jimmy in "JMM".
  • Staged Pedestrian Accident:
    • 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.
  • Stalker Shot:
    • As one of Gus' top men, Victor is tasked to track and follow certain people to keep tabs on them:
      • In Season 4 "Smoke", Nacho goes to a bridge to dispose of the pills that caused Hector to have his stroke. When Nacho thinks he's safe, the camera cuts to show a different view of the bridge and the camera zooms out to reveal Victor sitting in his car watching Nacho from a distance and it's revealed he has a tracker installed on Nacho's truck so he's able to follow his movements.
      • In Season 5 "Bad Choice Road", after Lalo is done visiting Hector at the retirement home and he gets into the car with Nacho in the parking lot, as they depart, the camera cuts to Victor, who is parked several spots away from them, tracking their movements with the tracker that's installed in Nacho's car, again.
    • In Season 4 "Winner", Lalo is on a hilltop overlooking Gus' chicken farm to watches the activities going on through binoculars and jots down detailed notes. When he notices Gus and his men getting into cars to hunt down Werner after he escaped, Lalo decides to follow them to sees what's going on. Mike goes to a money transfer office to find clues on Werner's whereabout, and once he figures out where he might be, the camera switches to a Binocular Shot where Lalo is watching Mike through his car. Lalo was originally following Gus, but he changed his target to Mike to see what task Gus has him doing.
    • In Season 5 "Bagman", the Twins are grabbing $7 million at a Cartel stash house to pay for Lalo's bail and to meet with Saul to deliver him the money. As they leave in their car, the camera zooms out to reveal one of the workers at the stash house was observing the Twins and he makes a phone call to someone to inform them about the Twins' next move.
  • 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 yet again, 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:
    • A young Jimmy literally did this while working at his father's shop in Cicero. Chuck tells Kim that Jimmy stole thousands of dollars from the cash register, which he believes eventually drove their father out of business and possibly shortened his life. Several episodes later, we see Jimmy as a child doing this for the first time, his Start of Darkness.
      • Jimmy is guilty of a bit of petty theft while working at Davis and Main, and later he shamelessly furnishes his office with a Davis and Main-branded mug full of all the Davis and Main-branded pens he stole while working there.
    • Craig Kettleman embezzles $1.6 million from the County Treasury while working there. Later he and his wife Betsy start their own tax services business and are found to be creaming off a portion of their clients' tax rebates for themselves.
    • Daniel "Pryce" Wormald works in IT for a pharmaceutic firm and can't resist helping himself to some of their products, which he sells to drug dealers for profit.
    • Mike snuck money from criminals he'd busted back in Philadelphia, which he says was the norm for his peers.
  • Stealing from Thieves:
    • Subverted in the episode "Bingo", where Jimmy and Mike only take the Kettlemans' embezzled money to force them to take a plea deal for stealing it in the first place. Jimmy regrets not invoking this trope later on, though:
      Jimmy: Help me out here. Did I dream it, or did I have $1,600,000 on my desk in cash? When I close my eyes, I can still see it. It's burned into my retinas like I was staring into the sun. No one on God's green earth knew we had it. We could have split it 50-50. We could have gone home with $800,000 each! Tax-free!
    • Played straight with Nacho Varga, who outright prefers to rob other criminals because they can't go to the police. When he learns about the Kettlemans' embezzlement money, he plans to steal it from them, knowing they'll take the fall for it, and is only thwarted from doing so by Jimmy warning them. He does the same thing later when Daniel Wormald carelessly leaves his vehicle registration (which includes his real name and home address) out in the open during a drug deal, breaking into his home and robbing him of all the cash he's made selling drugs.
  • Stealth Pun:
  • Stepford Smiler: Jimmy in reaction to Chuck's death. After initially suffering a Heroic BSoD, Jimmy becomes more upbeat and energetic than usual and behaves in a completely casual manner to any reference to the subject. This is shown to be a case of Obviously Not Fine when he behaves erratically and self-sabotages at a job interview. He manages to repress his grieving right up until the season finale, when HHM's rejection of a troubled-but-promising internship candidate, followed by the Esteem failing to start, finally sets off a fit of Inelegant Blubbering.
  • 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 Staged Pedestrian Accident 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. It culminates into them getting the police sent to the neighborhood where the Salamancas sell meth (due to their baggie getting stuck in the drainpipe 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. The junkies themselves are arrested 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?", a compilation of tacky greenscreened "testimonies" from subpar acting, accompanied by poor fonts and cheap effects.
    • Played with in Bagman with the Cousins. Their scenes are shot using techniques which are common when split-screen doubling is used: favoring their backs, having a foreground object take up the middle of the frame to hide the matte line, building symmetrical sets so they can just mirror half of the image. This is all done is spite of the fact that the Cousins are played by two different actors (who are real life brothers). This is paid off in the scene where they're loading duffle bags with money, it looks like a symmetrical set is being used with mirroring, but one of the cousins drops a stack of bills and has to bend over to pick it up, breaking the illusion.
  • 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.
  • Sunroof Shenanigans: The "Chicago Sunroof", the entire reason why Jimmy ended up in Albuquerque.
  • Super OCD: While a lot of Gus' 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 surprise of the witness and the annoyance of both the prosecutor and the judge.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In the Season 3 finale, Chuck — who's been doing good with his condition since it being revealed at the hearing — relapses hard after being pushed out of his firm and having pushed away Jimmy. Even with the epiphany that the condition was all in his head, it can be hard to dump behaviors and habits that have been with you for years, especially after something as stressful as losing your job and having a falling out with a family member.
  • 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.
  • Tears of Fear: In "Bagman", Jimmy finds himself in the middle of a shootout. As he is cowering behind his car he realises how totally out of his depth he is and begins literally weeping with fear.
  • 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.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Invoked by Jimmy during his first visit to Dr Caldera with a very sick goldfish:
    Dr. Caldera: "Jesus, what are you doing, man? There's barely any oxygen in that bag! You're suffocating her!"
    Jimmy: "Her?"
    Dr. Caldera: Yeah, just because you don't see swinging dicks doesn't mean you can't tell a boy fish from a girl fish.
    Jimmy: "Oh yes, now I can see the lipstick."
  • Therapy Is for the Weak:
    • Jimmy would rather bottle up his emotions instead of talking about how his brother's betrayal of his feelings are eating at him in "Marco". Throughout Season 4, he refuses to go to a therapist after his brother's suicide stirs with every clash they went through in Season 3, despite showing clear signs of benefitting from having a professional to talk to. He tries his best to make himself too busy to seek any sort of counselling, and when he sees how battered Howard looks from confronting his own guilt, Jimmy shuts the idea of therapy down for good.
    • Chuck is far too prideful and stubborn to even consider the chances of his EHS being a delusion. He instead requests alternative ways to treat his supposed illness up until it's shown to not be real in front of an entire court. Jimmy also enables this, first by supplying him with everything for a non-electrical lifestyle, then by getting his mind off it with legal work from his practice.
  • There Are No Therapists: Zig-Zagged across the series. Everyone responds to their trauma in different ways, despite being advised to seek professional help for their mental health.
    • Jimmy has inner turmoil from seeing his father getting constantly tricked by grifters, helping shape his worldview and developing his resentment for their business despite the love he has for him. Chuck compares Jimmy's urge to cut corners to that of an alcoholic. On top of that, the knowledge of Chuck being vehemently against his career as a lawyer and harboring hatred for him for so many years leaves him shaken. Kim tells him he shouldn't bottle his emotions, but he ignores this only to blow up during a game of Bingo he's hosting.
      • When Chuck commits suicide following both their ongoing feud in Season 3, the complicated feelings Jimmy has towards his brother combines the fact that Chuck never believed he could change and made sure his parting words were to tell Jimmy that he never mattered to him. Jimmy responds to the fact that his sabotage of Chuck's insurance was the breaking point that led to his own brother's suicide by shutting himself off from the world, throwing Howard's guilt back onto him, and trying to take his mind off everything by keeping himself busy. Rather than seek counseling at Kim's suggestion, he lets the idea of embracing who he is linger on with Chuck's last speech to him, fueling his eventual transformation into Saul Goodman to cope.
      • Season 5 makes things much worse for Jimmy's mental state; Once he's made the change to Saul Goodman professionally, he has to haul bail money across the desert after nearly dying to a squad of hired cartel thugs. When he gets back, he shows clear signs of PTSD, yet refuses talking to Kim about it and wants to get back to lawyering immediately.
    • Chuck develops a delusion that he has "Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity", which is actually substituting a manifestation of "something deeper" according to his doctor. Said doctor requests that Chuck be committed to get psychiatric treatment or even institutionalized to address it, and both he and Jimmy refuse, with the former being sure his condition is real while the latter tries to get him back on his feet by keeping him busy. Howard and the partners also refuse committing him, since it would be a PR disaster, while his peers are willing to take him at his word thanks to his reputation.
      • It's heavily implied throughout the show that Chuck's belief in "EHS" is his refusal to believe Jimmy being a lawyer is a good thing while knowing of his past, combined with the thought of being The Un Favourite to his parents and their friends. His "condition" only gets worse the more Jimmy cuts corners. He's too stubborn to admit how jealous he is of Jimmy with the cover of impeding his career being in everyone's best interest, including Jimmy's. This is best shown in his breakdown on the stand in "Chicanery".
      • Eventually, he contacts his doctor again to try to overcome his delusion in Season 3, yet doesn't think to address the cause of it. Once he's cut ties with HHM, lost his career to an early retirement, and Jimmy comes back to make amends one last time, Chuck lashes out and says the worst possible thing he can think of to hurt his brother. He quickly regrets it, but refuses to admit his feelings, instead relapsing into his supposed "EHS" until he burns himself alive in his own home to stop the pain.
    • Howard takes Chuck's death especially hard, since he forced Chuck out of the firm out of his own pocket and forced his retirement shortly before his self-immolation. He knew Chuck was getting better until the spiked insurance caused issues, so he was confronted with the knowledge that Chuck knew what he was doing by causing the house fire, and concluded it to be his fault all along. Unlike Jimmy, he elects to see a therapist twice a week, and despite the rocky process, both he and the firm recover in a healthy manner.
    • In Season 5, after brief glimpses of her backstory, Kim is revealed to have been the child of an alcoholic mother and had a rough childhood as they moved from place to place. This puts many of her actions into new light as she exhibits many issues stemming from such an upbringing, including seeking thrills, refusing to be protected, and standing by others whenever she feels obligated to. It ultimately culminates into her decision to support Jimmy as Saul Goodman in Lalo's face and a desire to tank Sandpiper to get back at Howard, disgusted at the thought of being told how "it was for [her] own good". By the end of the season, she even refuses Howard's suggestion to get Jimmy help.
    • Mike entered alcoholism following the death of his son Matty, and when he figured out who killed him and why, he sobered up and got his revenge. He also regrets getting the Good Samaritan killed by Hector thanks to his sabotage, with Gus noting Mike's efforts as him trying to make things right as best as he can. As he and Stacy go through grief counseling, Mike refuses to open up and buries himself in work for Gus' operations or to oust a liar within the group. His role as a Consummate Professional becomes something of a coping mechanism for him, and he hits his lowest point with his killing of Werner Ziegler. Being deep into criminal activity, he most likely feels as though there isn't anyone he can divulge his feelings towards, and Stacy tells him to "get back to [him]self" since she can feel something wrong with him.
  • Thermometer Gag: In "Axe and Grind" Jimmy agrees to be experimented on by Dr Caldera as part of his and Kim's plot to destroy Howard's reputation. When Caldera gets out a thermometer of the kind usually used on animals Jimmy looks alarmed and asks if it has been sterilised. Caldera assures him that the thermometer is brand new, and that as a human patient he only needs to put it under his armpit.
  • Thirsty Desert: So much so in "Bagman" that Saul resorts to drinking his own urine.
  • 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 Staged Pedestrian Accident 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' 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".
      • "Something Unforgivable", said by Kim in reference to her plan to ruin Howard's career.
    • Season 6
      • "Wine and Roses", an abbreviated title of the song that plays in the opening Flash Forward.
      • "Carrot and Stick", Saul and Kim's respective methods of dealing with the Kettlemans.
      • "Rock and Hard Place", obviously refers to the position Nacho has been put into between Gus and the Salamancas. It also refers to Jimmy having to choose between becoming a cartel lawyer or ratting on his dangerous clients.
  • 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.
    • Kim also seems to be something of an enabler to Jimmy. She may not want to encourage his immoral behavior, but she isn't exactly helping him by jumping into bed with him every time they pull off a scam together. By the end of season 5, the shoe's on the other foot and Kim is the one trying to rope Jimmy into ruining Howard's career, with Jimmy concerned that she may be going too far.
  • 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.
  • Tragedy: This being a prequel we know how things will end for Jimmy, and that it won't be pretty. It is the story of a Doomed Protagonist who learns that Being Good Sucks and embarks on a Protagonist Journey to Villain which follows a "Rise and Fall" Gangster Arc as his Fatal Flaw brings about his brother's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. And the Rest. This show probably ticks even more of the boxes than its parent show.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Many of the misfortunes suffered by Jimmy and those close to him are entirely attributable to his recklessly impulsive behaviour. The course of his life would also have been drastically different if only he hadn't got drunk one fateful night in Cicero:
    Jimmy McGill: "One little Chicago sunroof and suddenly I’m Charles Manson?! And that’s where it all went off the rails! I’ve been paying for it ever since. THAT’S WHY I’M HERE!"
  • Tragic Keepsake: The season 6 opening reveals that Saul kept the Zafiro Añejo bottle stopper- and that he left it behind when he fled to Omaha.
  • 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.
  • Tranquil Fury: Jimmy may be loud, flamboyant and emotional but he still has his moments:
    • In "Pimento", after Chuck admits that he has been blocking Jimmy's appointment to HHM, Jimmy calmly replies:
      "I got you a twenty-pound bag of ice and some bacon and some eggs and a couple of those steaks that you like, some fuel canisters, enough for three or four days. After that, you're on your own. I am done."
    • In "Sunk Costs", while waiting for the police to show up after Chuck reported Jimmy for breaking into his home:
      "Here's what's gonna happen. One day you're gonna get sick, again. And one of your employees is gonna find you, curled up in that space blanket. Take you to the hospital. Hook you up to those machines that beep and whirr and hurt. And this time it will be too much, and you will die there. Alone."
  • 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.
  • Trauma Button:
    • In "Mijo" Tuco forces Jimmy to watch and listen as he breaks the skateboarders' legs. Later he is in a restaurant, where diners snapping breadsticks trigger the memory of breaking bones, causing him to be violently ill.
    • In "Bagman" Jimmy's shirt gets spattered with blood when the man who was about to shoot him is shot by Mike first. In "Bad Choice Road" Kim makes a traumatised Jimmy some breakfast. The juicer gets clogged and orange juice backfires onto Kim's clothing, reminding Jimmy of the incident in the desert and triggering a PTSD flashback.
    • In "50% off" Kaylee keeps asking Mike what Matty was like as a policeman, and if he was a good one. This reminder that Matty was one of the few non-corrupt cops on the force, and that this is what ultimately led to his death, clearly traumatises Mike before he loses his temper in an uncharacteristic outburst at Kaylee.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Lalo while posing as a suave American businessman named Ben in "Black and Blue".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Through seasons 2 through 4, 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. But then they only have one intersect in season 4 as Jimmy tries and fails to recruit Mike to steal a valuable Hummel figurine. Their storylines finally come back together in season 5 as Jimmy gets roped into Lalo's conflict with Gus.
  • 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.
  • Unit Confusion: In the episode Cobbler, Jimmy makes futile attempts to insert a king-size coffee mug in the console of brand-new Mercedes, expressing "Must be Metric system". Justified, since Mercedes-Benz is a German car and made with Metric measures.
  • 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.
  • Villain Song: "Better Call Saul", written and performed by Junior Brown, with lyrics by Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan. It was produced as a promo for the first series, and the song showcases Saul Goodman's skills at helping the obviously guilty evade justice:
    Saul, Saul, you better call Saul
    He'll fight for your rights when your back's to the wall
    Stick it to the man, justice for all
    You better call Saul
    Better call Saul
  • 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.
    • "Rock and Hard Place": Nacho dies, and does so on his own terms.
  • 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.
    • Kim and Jimmy's rooftop argument in "Wiedersehen":
      Jimmy McGill: "There you go, kick a man when he's down."
      Kim Wexler: "Jimmy, you are always down."
    • 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 Could Possibly Go Wrong?:
    • In "Switch" Pryce turns up for a drug deal in a car that screams "drug dealer". He then tells Mike he won't be paying him to come to the meet because "You don't really do anything" before setting off to meet Nacho alone...
    • In "Bagman" Jimmy sets out for his desert rendezvous in a car which often fails to start, wearing a suit and tie and loafers, and with just one small bottle of drinking water, some of which he decides to use to clean his shoe. And that's before we even consider the possibility of his $7 million cargo and all of the dangerous people who could possibly be after it...
  • What Does She See in Him?: Several characters wonder aloud what a straight-laced, hard-working, beautiful woman like Kim sees in a lowlife like Jimmy. Kevin Wachtell tells her "You could do a whole lot better" while Lalo thinks Jimmy is punching above his weight and is clearly impressed. The truth is that Jimmy and Kim have much more in common that people realise, and while Kim could have her pick of any of the wealthy but charmless older men who offer to buy her drinks at Forque, she'd much rather call her Lovable Rogue to help her pull a scam on them instead.
  • What Have I Become?: Seemingly how Saul feels when he sees the family of the victim his cartel defendant murdered in "JMM".
  • White-Collar Crime: The Kettlemans with their rumbled attempt to embezzle $1.6 million of county funds, and Daniel "Pryce" Wormald selling stolen pharmaceuticals on the black market. While in both cases the perpetrators have stolen from an employer, they all struggle to accept that their actions were criminal:
    Mike Ehrmantraut: "The lesson is, if you're gonna be a criminal, do your homework."
    Pryce: "Wait, I-I'm not a bad guy, I don..."
    Mike Ehrmantraut: "I didn't say you're a bad guy, I said that you're a criminal."
    Pryce: "What's the difference?"
    Mike Ehrmantraut: "I've known good criminals and bad cops. Bad priests. Honorable thieves. You can be on one side of the law or the other, but if you make a deal with somebody, you keep your word. You can go home today with your money and never do this again, but you took something that wasn't yours and you sold it for a profit. You're now a criminal; good one, bad one- that's up to you."
  • Witless Protection Program: Season 4 features a fascinating, almost complete inversion of this trope. It involves the construction of a meth superlab using foreign contractors. The contractors are carefully vetted and hired by Mike, who supervises them in a secure location while they do the work (living in a warehouse almost like a government safe house). The contractors all have cover stories and don't know where they are geographically. When one naively exposes the operation to possible discovery by both the DEA and a rival cartel, Mike is forced to execute him and is shown to be greatly upset by it.
  • 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 Did the Right Thing: When the German engineers are leaving New Mexico, Kai tells Mike that he did the right thing killing Werner, as he was a security risk. Mike responds by punching him, as he liked Werner and feels guilt over his death.
  • 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 Know I'm Black, Right?: Jimmy invokes this after the manager of a country club refuses his membership application. Having just introduced himself as "Saul Goodman", he tries to claim he's a victim of antisemitic discrimination and invokes Godwin's Law: "I know you were Just Following Orders". When Kevin Wachtell overhears and calls him "money-grubbing" he takes offence, accusing him of invoking the Greedy Jew trope. Wachtell isn't fazed:
    "You're 'bout as Jewish as my Aunt Fanny."
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The flashforward which opens "Axe and Grind" shows a nervous teenage Kim Wexler sitting in the back room of a department store where she has just been caught attempting to shoplift a necklace and a pair of earrings. The manager brings in Kim's mother, who apologises profusely and puts on a big display of being disappointed in her daughter. The manager accepts the apology and decides not to press charges, letting Kim go with a warning. As they leave the store, Kim's frowning mother suddenly breaks into a smirk, before telling Kim "I didn't know you had it in you" and appearing to actually be proud of her daughter. She then presents Kim with the jewellery she attempted to steal, having swiped it from the office herself. Kim looks more guilty and ashamed at her mother's reaction than she did at getting caught.


Chuck McGill

Chuck sets his house on fire with no one else around but him inside.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DyingAlone

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