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Trivia / Breaking Bad

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WARNING: Only spoilers for Seasons 4 and 5 will be walter whited out.

  • Acting in the Dark: Bryan Cranston did not get the script for the finale of Season 4 until the preceding episodes had all been shot. He did not know that Walter's argument to Jesse about Gus' responsibility for Brock's poisoning had been based on a lie — and so Walt's performance in the penultimate episode was more convincing than usual.
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Walt's physical appearance; his hair, moustache and being slightly overweight were all Bryan Cranston's suggestions.
    • Saul's comb over was the first thing Bob Odenkirk suggested when he was invited to play the character.
    • Marie's profession (X-ray technician) was suggested by Betsy Brandt, because she wanted her to look respectable in a Labcoat of Science and Medicine but not actually be a doctor.
    • Jesse shaving his head in the beginning of season 4 was Aaron Paul's idea.
    • Vince Gilligan actually asked Giancarlo Esposito what he personally believed Gus would do as he was dying, so Gus straightening his tie just before he falls over dead was entirely his idea.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • In a commentary, Laura Fraser points out that the little girl who plays Lydia's daughter has the same birthday and is the exact same age as her own real-life daughter.
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    • Skyler White shares a birthday with her actress Anna Gunn, although she's two years younger than the actress.
  • Artist Disillusionment: Vince Gilligan has openly criticised people that throw pizzas on the house which was used for filming the White family, saying that a retired couple have lived there for some forty-odd years and don't deserve to be rudely harassed.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • "Jesus Christ, Marie" was not actually said word-for-word in the show for a fairly long time, but fans kept mistaking it for an actual quote. Averted in the final season when Hank finally said "Jesus Christ, Marie" verbatim.
    • "Yeah, science, bitch!" has gotten similar treatment due to its becoming a meme of its own, but the actual line was, "Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!" Presumably, the line was just suffixed with Jesse's immortalized love for the word "bitch". That said, in the joke ending where it turned out to be All Just a Dream of Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, he does say that Jessie would often be like "Yo, b-word! Yeah, science, b-word."
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  • California Doubling: Averted. The show was filmed almost entirely in the Albuquerque metro area. However, they turn around and approach the trope from the other end, because scenes set in Mexico are usually filmed in New Mexico with a yellow filter slapped over the camera lens. The show was originally set in Riverside, east of Los Angeles, and was scheduled to shoot there before the company received a generous tax break from the city of Albuquerque. The production team eventually decided to change the setting to Albuquerque because the scenery was so distinctive. That said, it's still played straight in both Breaking Bad and its prequel spinoff Better Call Saul, where Albuquerque also doubles for Houston, Philadelphia, Hanover Germany, and suburban Chicago.
  • Career Resurrection: For Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks.
    • In the years since Mr. Show, Odenkirk's acting career had taken a bit of a back seat to his career as the producer of shows like Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Tom Goes To The Mayor. Now as the series winds down his acting profile has been raised considerably and he got to be the star of the spinoff Better Call Saul, a new sketch comedy show and supporting roles in FX's Fargo miniseries, the James Ponsoldt film The Spectacular Now, and the Alexander Payne film Nebraska.
    • Jonathan Banks was previously well known for costarring in the TV series Wiseguy in the 80s and had mostly done low-profile parts since. His role as Mike netted him an Emmy nomination and opened the door for a series of parts in high-profile movies, as well as a season-long guest arc on Community. His performance here led to him reprising Mike and getting promoted to secondary protagonist in Better Call Saul.
  • The Cast Showoff: Skinny Pete's actor Charles Baker is actually a very skilled pianist, which he demonstrates in one episode.
  • Character-Specific Pages:
  • Colbert Bump:
    • The series might not show Albuquerque in the best light, but the place to pass through on the way to Santa Fe (and where Bugs Bunny keeps making a wrong turn) has reaped a substantial tourist benefit from the show's popularity. The Visitor's Bureau has a page dedicated to all the related tourist information. Albuquerque natives, for their part, enjoy the increased recognition (making about $1 million in tourist money per episode), but are dismayed that it comes with being automatically associated with the drug trade.
    • The Candy Lady, the Albuquerque sweet-maker who produces the blue-dyed rock sugar that is used to represent Walt's product in the show is also making a mint selling bags of it, especially after Bryan Cranston gave some to David Letterman on his show.
    • Generally speaking, any song that was featured on the show got a rise in popularity. The biggest one is 'Baby Blue' by 'Badfinger,' used in the final scene of the final episode. After the show, online streaming of the song increased by 9000%.
  • Creator Backlash: Incredibly minor examples: Jonathan Banks personally believes that Mike leaving Kaylee behind to escape from the police and not reacting when Todd guns down Drew Sharpe were out of character for him, but he never protested on set out of respect for the writers.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • Vince Gilligan claimed that "Ozymandias" was the "best episode (they'd) ever done". Virtually all television critics and viewers agreed immediately upon its airing- it holds a perfect 10 score on IMDb, and many now call it one of the greatest hours in television history- some say it's the greatest.
    • Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston's favorite episodes were "Phoenix" and "Felina", the series finale.
  • The Danza:
    • Steven Michael Quezada as Steven Gomez.
    • James "Jimmy" Kilkelly is played by Jimmy Daniels.
    • Emilio Koyama shares the same surname as his actor, John Koyama.
    • Teacher Carmen Molina is played by Carmen Serano.
    • Christopher King as Chris Mara
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Inverted at first with RJ Mitte who was 15 years old playing 16 year old Walt Jr. in Season 1. Eventually played straight as the series progressed due to the show taking place over the course of two years and airing over the course of five years.
    • Skinny Pete is in his late 20s in season 5b, while Charles Baker was in his early 40s. Played with since Skinny Pete is a meth addict and so despite Charles Baker being visually decades older it doesn’t raise questions.
  • Defictionalization:
    • Vince Gilligan was asked, "Is there really such a thing as Blue crystal meth?" He responded, "There is now."
    • is an actual website. The donation button at the bottom of the page once linked to the National Cancer Coalition's website where visitors could donate to them, but the link was replaced with one to the official Breaking Bad website after the NCC was named one of the worst charities in America.
  • Directed by Cast Member: As if being the best actor on TV wasn't enough, Bryan Cranston also directed the Season 2, 3 and 5B premieres.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.) has mild cerebral palsy in real life. Walt Jr. was conceived from the start as having it, and Mitte had to learn to walk with crutches and speak less clearly to portray the level of affectation that the show's creator had in mind.
  • Dueling Shows: Vince Gilligan has said that if he'd known about Weeds (dark comedy about a middle-class suburban parent who gets into drug dealing to solve a financial crisis, tries to keep it a secret from her family and quickly gets out of her depth), he'd probably have given up trying to make a series with such a similar premise.
  • DVD Commentary: They jump back and forth between being incredibly amusing and informative as all the cast and crew riff on each other giving anecdotes, and awkward congrats sessions. In particular, creator Vince Gilligan is such a nice man that he pretty much makes sure to congratulate everyone for everything.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Bryan Cranston lost some weight and shaved his head to play Walter. To portray Walt Jr., RJ Mitte quit taking physical therapy for his cerebral palsy so that it would regress enough to convincingly play the part of someone who needed crutches to walk and had slurred speech.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • The scene where Walt finally shaves his head and goes to eat breakfast with Skyler and Walt Jr. Anna Gunn and RJ Mitte were seeing Bryan Cranston's shaved look for the first time, so their reactions are genuine.
    • The scene with Don Margolis freaking out over Jane's dead body caused John de Lancie to actually freak out mentally and think that one of his kids had died.
      • Related: according to his memoir, while filming the scene where Jane dies Bryan Cranston suddenly had a vivid image of his then-teenage daughter dying instead, leading to real tears in the take that was used. He was so distraught afterwards that Anna Gunn had to hug him for a while to calm him down. Cranston has said several times that it was the hardest scene he ever shot on the show.
    • Bryan Cranston was led to believe that Gus poisoned Brock and not Walt in order to make his argument to Jesse that he didn't do it more believable.
  • Executive Meddling: Multiple positive examples.
    • Walt was initially supposed to murder Jane rather than letting her die; either by injecting a second dose of heroin or deliberately pushing her onto her back to make her choke to death. Executives (and most fans) believed that the change was for the better, as it was far too abrupt a change in character so early on.
    • The show was initially set in Riverside, California but the studio wanted it to be filmed in Albuquerque for tax reasons, so the writers just changed the setting to Albuquerque rather than have to do Reverse California Doubling. This ended up working fabulously for the show's narrative.
  • Fake American:
    • Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. On the DVD Commentary, the other actors describe her as "very Scottish" and compliment her accent.
    • Walt's former friend Elliot Schwartz is played by English Adam Godley with a flawless accent.
    • Gus's ex-associate Declan is played by Portuguese-Canadian Louis Ferreira.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • African-American and Italian (Neapolitan) Giancarlo Esposito note  as Chilean-immigrant-to-the-US Gus Fring.
    • Luis and Daniel Moncada (Honduran immigrants to the US) play the Salamanca cousins.
    • Benicio Fuentes is played by the English Carlo Rota.
    • Hector is Mexican, but Mark Margolis is an American Jew of European descent. In the flashback scenes where Margolis is speaking Spanish, it's pretty obvious he's not a native speaker.
      • Neither is Giancarlo Esposito. Gus's partner Max was played by American actor James Martínez, who, by contrast, has excellent Spanish and does quite a convincing Chilean accent (at least to non-Chileans).
    • While Eladio Vuente's nationality is never stated in either Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, he's one of the founding members of the Juárez Cartel so it is safe to asume he's either Mexican or Mexican-American. Steven Bauer is Cuban-American.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • It is bizarrely popular on IMDb's message board for posters to call Hank, "Honk" for no discernible reason.
    • Todd is also referred to as "Meth Damon" or "Ricky Hitler", among few other interesting nicknames.
    • "Skysenberg" became more popular as Skyler sided with Walt in Season 5B.
    • Leonel and Marco are known as the "Chigurh Twins".
  • Fatal Method Acting: Almost could have happened to Aaron Paul. During "A Handful of Nothing", he requested to say his lines at a different spot and the cast allowed it. As he stood in his new spot, the tarp of the RV was blown off by a gust of wind, causing the boulder holding it down to fall off and land on where Aaron previously stood just a few seconds ago.
  • I Am Not Spock: Skyler White is the role Anna Gunn is (at least in 2013) best known for. In fact, every single member of the main cast can easily claim their roles on the show as their best-known (except for maybe Jesse Plemons who might still be better known from Friday Night Lights, Fargo, or Black Mirror: USS Callister).
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Done in Season 2 to conceal Betsy Brandt's pregnancy
  • I Knew It!:
    • Most fans expected Walt to die in the finale. And a great number of them expected him to die by something other than his cancer.
    • Many fans also correctly predicted that the ricin cigarette would be used in the finale. And many guessed that its most likely target would be Lydia.
  • Inspiration for the Work: The concept emerged as Vince Gilligan talked with his fellow writer Thomas Schnauz regarding their current unemployment and joked that the solution was for them to put a "meth lab in the back of an RV and [drive] around the country cooking meth and making money".
  • Life Imitates Art:
  • Meme Acknowledgement: The shows's official Twitter account acknowledged a popular musical remix using various clips from the show by placeboing.
  • Method Acting:
    • Giancarlo Esposito practiced yoga techniques to achieve Gus' trademark calm demeanor and behavior.
    • Bryan Cranston was taught to make meth by the show's DEA advisors.
    • In the DVD extras, all the actors talk about their characters in the third person except for Bryan Cranston, who refers to Walt's thoughts and actions as "I'm thinking that..." and "I'm going to...".
    • Apparently, Bryan Cranston was so into character that he would insult and curse at Christopher Cousins, who played Ted Beneke, when they were off screen.
  • Name's the Same:
    • Walter White was the name of an ATC controller involved in the crash of Aeromexico Flight 498 when that plane collided with a Piper Cherokee in midair and subsequently crashed into a suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles. Probably coincidental, but eerie considering that the show's Walter White is also involved in exactly the same thing happening on the show, indirectly.
    • A real-life meth cook named Walter White was arrested in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after the show had already been running for a few seasons. While such an event normally would only have made the local news, the popularity of the show brought the amusing coincidence into the public eye. It's worth noting that the real-life 'Walt' was far more blue-collar and had a much smaller operation than the Walt in Breaking Bad.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: A positive example. While filming one scene, the baby who was playing Walt's daughter Holly started crying for her mother (who was standing just off-camera). In context — Walt had gone on the run after a vicious fight with Skyler and had kidnapped the baby as he left, and the script called for him to spend a few moments with her before deciding to give her back — it worked brilliantly, and a bit of reactive improvisation from Bryan Cranston allowed them to Throw It In!.
  • One-Take Wonder: The famous "pizza tossing" scene, where Walt angrily throws a pizza on the roof of his house, was shot in one take. The crew tried to reshoot it, but Bryan Cranston never managed to have the pizza land on the roof again after the first take.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Louis was originally played by Kyle Swimmer, but was replaced in his later appearances by Caleb Landry Jones.
    • Holly White was played by three different actresses over the course of the series.
  • Playing Against Type: Jere Burns is known for characters who attract adjectives like "sleazy", "manipulative", and "psychotic". Despite Breaking Bad being likely the darkest show he's ever done with a host of terrifying villains, he actually plays a good (if troubled) character in it: the gentle, non-judgmental Group Leader.
    • Before his appearance as Saul Goodman, Bob Odenkirk was primarily known for his work as an actor and writer in sketch comedy on shows like Mr. Show and SNL (he wrote the famous Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker sketch).
  • Playing with Character Type:
    • As noted above, Bryan Cranston was best known for his role as the archetypal Bumbling Dad Hal in Malcolm in the Middle before being cast as Walter White. The fact that Walt's personality and situation seem outwardly similar to Hal's at the beginning of the series makes his gradual slide into villainy all the more shocking.
    • Danny Trejo's character Tortuga is one of Juan Bolsa's runners for the Juarez Cartel, meaning he's presumably a ruthlessly violent man who's not to be trifled with... and also a vain, hedonistic blowhard who's dangerously overconfident in his own abilities. None of his scenes feature him doing anything close to truly menacing; he orders around DEA operatives to help buy him products off SkyMall, tries to intimidate Hank by leaning on his reputation, insults the bartender and his fellow drinkers at a cantina, and finally suffers a humiliating and gruesome fate, only realizing the obvious — that Bolsa knows he's a rat — far too late.
    • One could be forgiven at first for thinking that Todd Alquist was just Jesse Plemons playing a criminal version of Landry. He's extremely friendly and even a little dorky. Then comes the train heist where he unexpectedly and unhesitatingly executes Drew Sharp, and he only proceeds to get creepier from there.
  • Quote Source: This series provides the page quote for:
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Leonel and Marco Salamanca are played by real-life brothers Daniel and Luis Moncada.
    • Jessica Hecht, who plays Gretchen Schwartz, is married in real life to recurring Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul director Adam Bernstein.
    • "No Mas" has bit part characters played by Bryan Cranston's real life wife and daughter.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • Similar to how Back to the Future turned the obscure and worthless DeLorean into one of the most iconic cars of its era, Breaking Bad has created a new wave of interest and enthusiasm for the Pontiac Aztek due to its association with the Walter White character; it has gone from being probably the biggest Butt-Monkey in the automotive world for its ugly design, to somewhat of a Cool Car, due to it being "Heisenberg's Ride". An Aztek used in filming of the series, which was wrecked and completely undrivable, sold for $7,500 on eBay after the series ended. Prior to Breaking Bad, it would have been a miracle to get that much money for a serviceable Aztek.
    • And of course we have what is most likely the most disturbing example of this trope:
      Stephen Colbert: Is there actually blue crystal meth? Did you make that up or is there actually blue crystal meth out there?
      Vince Gilligan: There is now.
    • Since the show, there has also been an influx of ricin-related criminal cases.
    • On a more positive note, the show has increased interest in the study of chemistry.
  • Referenced by...:
    • World War II: In the second part of the "Nazis on Crystal Meth" specials host Indy Neidell refers to Doctor Fritz Hauschild as the Walter White of Nazi Germany, née Walther Weiss
    • House Flipper has a recreation of Walt's house as one of the purchasable houses, called The Huckster's House. Naturally, there is a pizza on the roof.
  • Sleeper Hit: For the first five years of its run, Breaking Bad's ratings were mediocre at best, despite critical adoration from the beginning. Excellent word of mouth, in addition to social media and streaming through services such as Netflix, turned it into a massive hit just in time for its final eight episodes, ending with one of the most watched series finales in the history of cable television.
  • Star-Making Role:
  • Stunt Double: Only twice over the show's run were stunt doubles necessary.
    • In "Fly", Walt's fall from the ledge onto the vat and floor was done by a stunt double. To make it seem as though Bryan Cranston took the fall himself, the crew used the shot of the double falling to show Cranston where to lie on the floor, with the shots merged so it's impossible to notice any difference.
    • In "Crawl Space", that is not Christopher Cousins that slams into the cupboard. Ted's trip and fall were done by him, but the slide and slam were done by a double instead. Cousins has said that he was willing to do the whole stunt himself, but concerns from a recent spinal surgery made the crew decide to be better safe than sorry and have a double do it instead.
  • Throw It In!: In a late scene of "Ozymandias", Walt leaves his family and takes Holly with him. However, when Holly repeatedly says "mama", he realizes his family has no attachment to him anymore and returns Holly. This wasn't scripted; Walt was supposed to just stare at Holly before deciding that he had to return her. Luckily the mother of Holly's actress was standing nearby, prompting the girl to cry for "Mama" repeatedly. Bryan Cranston worked with it, creating a far more powerful scene.
  • Tom Hanks Syndrome: While Bryan Cranston was not an exclusively comedic actor before the series, by far his most famous role was as the Bumbling Dad on Malcolm in the Middle. To put it mildly, Walter will be quite a departure for his fans from that show. Now that Breaking Bad is his best known role by an even bigger gap than before, his work has been largely dramatic. Apparently Cranston had specifically taken the role because it was so different from both Hal and every other bumbling dad role he'd been offered around the time. Read that how you will.
  • Typecasting: Dean Norris is no stranger to law enforcement. He played an LAPD Detective in Lethal Weapon 2 and a SWAT member in The Negotiator. He played a D.C. police officer and before that, a SWAT captain. He was a U.S. Marshal in season 2, episode 22 of The X-Files (Vince Gilligan's first credit on that show was the very next episode).
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Just from the sheer amount of flip phones present in this show, this was perhaps inevitable, but there are several specific examples throughout the series that really show how much times have changed:
    • Jesse's MySpace ripoff in Season 1 is even goofier now than it was at the time thanks to how much of a joke MySpace has become online.
    • With how expensive cell phones are now, having a second phone would be a lot more suspicious than Hank and Skyler treat it.
    • The most blatant example: in the age of smartphones, Hank most likely would've never realized that Walt was Heisenberg - he would have sat on the toilet, pulled out his phone, and messed around with it until he was done, not look through the books Walt has in the bathroom.
    • With cannabis being decriminalized in New Mexico as of 2019, Skylar's disbelief at Walt smoking weed early in the series (reminding him that he has a brother-in-law working for the DEA) may seem quaint.
  • Vindicated by Reruns/Viral Marketing: The show is being held as a huge example of the impact internet streaming can have on a show. While it became a massive critical success very quickly, it always struggled in the ratings until its last eight episodes. The show took five years to go from under a million to 2 million viewers, only to jump to 10 million and become an internet phenomenon by its final episode a year later, thanks to excellent word of mouth and Netflix, seeing the show go out in a blaze of glory, both critically and commercially.
  • What Could Have Been: Has its own page.
  • The Wiki Rule: A Wiki about the show can be found here.
  • Word of God:
    • Vince Gilligan provided an explanation (during ComicCon 2013) as to what took place when Walter had Brock poisoned off screen.
      Vince Gilligan: That’s an excellent question and my writers and I would always tell the stories to ourselves of the evil juice box man… who somehow… Our best guess is… I can tell you that the way we worked it out in our timeline he had just enough time to do it but it would have been very tricky indeed and it was improbable perhaps but not impossible. That he could have got in over once he got that idea you know spinning the pistol by the pool and waiting to die essentially, looking at that lily of the valley, contemplating the idea at that point… Uh I think at that point what he did is he kind of crushed some of the stuff up, put it in a juice box or something and then somehow snuck into, being a guy who’s a teacher, he knows his way around a school, probably got into Brock’s nursery school and swapped it out. This is kind of the inner story for how it happened for the writers and I, but it would have been tricky timing. He was a very motivated individual at that point; he had to save his family, that’s my best guess on how it actually happened.
    • Gilligan has also revealed what happened to Jesse after he was saved from being a slave to the Nazis. He managed to get clean and start a wood shop. Since Vince Gilligan is a major believer of karma, he seems to think that Jesse needed this after all he went through over the course of two years.
    • Walt saving Jesse in "Felina". It's confirmed that Walt was planning to kill Jesse but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants:
    • Every season with the exception of the second, which Vince Gilligan has said was very stressful. Notably, the Cold Open of "Live Free Or Die" was written without them knowing what the M60 would be used for.
    • "Face Off" feels a lot like a Series Fauxnale with the deaths of Gus and Hector, and the ambiguity of whether Walt will stay in the meth trade because the writers were unsure of whether or not they were going to be renewed for another season.
    • The lead-up to the grand finale was only possible because the writer received a letter from a dying fan asking if Gretchen and Elliot would be coming back. Prior to this the writers had no idea how to get Walt from being in hiding to the final showdown, and had completely forgotten about the Grey Matter arc. If not for that letter things would have played out very differently.
    • Especially noticeable in the finale is Walt taking off the watch Jesse gave him and leaving it behind for literally no reason except that he hadn't been wearing it in the season premiere's flashforwards.
      • With the above example of Wordof God, one theory to explain the watch discrepancy suggests that Walt took it off due to his original plan to kill Jesse in the finale.
  • Written-In Infirmity: RJ Mitte has Cerebral Palsy as does Walt Jr. However, Mitte's palsy is far less severe so he had to alter his speech and learn to walk with crutches.


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