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WARNING: Only spoilers for Seasons 4 and 5 will be Walter Whited out.


  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression are serious conditions and needs treatment by psychiatric professionals. Nearly ALL the main characters suffer from both at various points in the story, and all choose to try toughing it out on their own, which only leads to their mental conditions deteriorating further. For instance, Hank suffers PTSD from killing Tuco, but rather than getting help, he accepts a hazardous reassignment and gets traumatized even further.
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    • In dangerous situations, it's best to quit while you're ahead. Early on, Walt calculates the exact amount he needs to make in order to ensure his family will survive without him, but as Jesse points out in season 5, Walt crosses that amount very early on yet refuses to simply get out - and when he does get out, it's because he's made so much money that it's literally impractical for him to keep going. If he had gotten out of the business as soon as he could rather than let his pride dictate his actions, he wouldn't have lost everything he ever loved and died alone.
    • If you have a family member involved in crime, kick them out and report them to the authorities immediately, since associating with them is only putting yourself and a loved one in danger. Skyler goes along with Walt's schemes despite knowing they're wrong. Not only does Skyler lose a family member and her reputation once shit hits the fan, she nearly gets railroaded by the feds. Junior cutting his father out of his life means he is in a much better position.
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    • It doesn't matter how "nice" a criminal is. A criminal is someone who cares only about their power and wealth. For all his good points, Gus is a vengeful druglord who Walt shouldn't have associated with. Even Walt loses sight of his nominally noble goals in the quest for money and power.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: See here.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: AMC was very doubtful that the show would amount to anything. Even its creator, Vince Gilligan, didn't know if it would work. One executive described the idea of a high school chemistry teacher turning meth dealer, "the single worst idea for a television show [he'd] heard in [his] whole life". While it got mediocre ratings for most of its run, they eventually exploded at the end, and it remained critically acclaimed for its entire run, climaxing with almost universal adoration with its final episodes. Nevermind that it's also spawned tons of merchandise and a successful spinoff.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
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    • The Cartel for Gus.
    • Inverted with Hector and Walt, neither one of which were seen as a major (direct) threat, but wound up costing Gus his life.
    • The Neo-Nazis who kidnap and enslave Jesse were viewed like this for being less compelling than Gus.

  • Award Snub: Frequently the cause of this to other shows, especially at the Emmy Awards, where if Bryan Cranston was nominated for Best Actor, you can bet he'd win it (in particular, Friday Night Lights fans were very grateful for the two year gap between seasons three and four, which allowed Kyle Chandler to win for that show's last season).
    • Despite this, there are many who would argue that Cranston deserved to win for his season 4 and 5A (especially the former).
    • Dean Norris surprisingly did not receive even a single Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series during the show's entire run.
  • Awesome Ego: Walt. Gus, too, although he's a slightly more restrained version than Walt.
  • Badass Decay: Walt goes through one in "Ozymandias", and keeps falling until the end of "Granite State": His drug empire collapses, the truth comes out, and he flees to New Hampshire where his cancer leaves him so weak that even he realizes that death is imminent. Thankfully, he leaps out of the decay heap when he manages to kill the entire Neo-Nazi gang with an M60 sentry and Lydia with well-placed ricin in her tea.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Walt definitely qualifies. On one hand, there are the people who see him as a badass anti-hero who does terrible things for the sake of his family, and believe that he really does care for them. On the other hand are the people who also view his increasingly crueler actions as a byproduct of his ego swelling to a dangerous degree, and believe that he's become just as bad, if not worse, than Gus and the Cartel. Even some members of the cast have sharply divided opinions on the character. It has become so bad that by the end of 5B, the base has nearly shattered completely by people who do and don't want him to succeed.
    • Skyler might be one of the biggest base breaking characters in all of television. Especially in Seasons 4 and 5. She's either a Jerkass Woobie who takes a lot of abuse to protect her family, or a hypocritical Villain Tritagonist with no right to take the moral high ground when she argues with Walt.
    • Though not quite as polarizing as Walt or Skyler, Jesse also qualifies for this status. One half of the fandom believes that he's the biggest Woobie in the entire show, and that he deserves a happy ending, whilst the other half believe that he's nearly as bad as Walt and believe that he should share whatever fate befalls Walt. The divide grew even bigger as of Season 5B. Is he a noble soul trying to find redemption by helping Hank catch Walt, or is he a whiny bitch and a rat who keeps blaming Walt for everything bad that happens to him because he can't take responsibility for his own actions? Or a man pushed to the edge by trauma seeking vengeance? And is said revenge justified or petty? You decide!
      • Some see Jesse as an incompetent idiot that needs people like Walt and Gus to keep him in line before he self-destructs and ends up in jail due to being impulsive and reckless with his criminal behavior. Others defend Jesse by pointing out a reason he tends to act so impulsive is because of the emotional abuse and manipulation he suffers from people like Walt and Gus, and if they didn't treat Jesse like an incompetent idiot he probably wouldn't lash out as much as he does.
    • Jane. Either you like her and find her relationship with Jesse sweet as she was one of the few who made Jesse feel genuinely happy or you hate her after she made Jesse do heroin and blackmailed Walter to give them Jesse's drug money (which most likely would have been used to buy more heroin).
    • Hank has also joined the list as of Season 5B, for reasons similar to Jesse. Some believe that his quest to take down Walt is a justified one. Others believe that his obsessiveness and desire to best Heisenberg has made him barely any better than Walt, and is driven more by ego rather than an actual desire to do good.
  • Better on DVD: Has been hailed by many as arguably the ultimate example. Watching the show on DVD or Netflix lets you enjoy the show without the horrible feeling fans got at the end of each episode when they had to wait another week to see what happened next, in addition to spotting all of the Foreshadowing and symbolism. In fact, Vince Gilligan himself gives Netflix, and binge watching in general, major credit for seeing the show's massive jump in viewers in its final year.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "Negro Y Azul" starts with a weird narcocorrido song about adventures of Heisenberg. It serves to show how far Walt's product and reputation have spread and foreshadow the influence the cartels will have in later seasons, but it's still right out of left field and very jarring to open an episode with a musical number.
  • Broken Base:
    • Over "Fly". Much of the fandom seems to think that it's either the best or the worst episode of the show. It's either a brilliant character study, or a pointless filler episode. Most people are at least in agreement that it doesn't really advance the plot of the show very much, unlike just about every other episode.
    • The plane crash at the end of Season 2 is either a Contrived Coincidence that's a Cliffhanger Copout after all the vague flash forwards and build up or it's a great metaphor for how Walt's actions have consequences he can't imagine. Specifically, viewers are sharply divided over whether it is appropriate to blame Walter for the plane crash.
    • While the second half of season 5 is almost universally loved and the first half is still well liked there is a disagreement between those that believe the plot line of the first 8 episodes was rushed and could have filled a full 13 episode season and those who like those episodes specifically because of the faster pacing.
    • While it was critically acclaimed by most fans and critics, the ending caused a divide of its own. Some people feel that it was a satisfying finale that wrapped up all the remaining loose ends and gave the audience what it wanted. Others felt that it didn't stay true to the darker, more tragic themes of the final seasons, especially in how Walt (a Base-Breaking Character if there ever was one) suddenly became The Atoner for little adequately explained reason and that it ended things too neatly.
    • There are also some who feel that the finale focused too much on Walter and does not feature the other main characters enough. Jesse in particular only appears in a short role.
  • Catharsis Factor:
  • Character Perception Evolution: Skyler White was a major Base-Breaking Character for a good while thanks to her opposition towards Walter's participation in the meth trade and her role in his eventual downfall. "Fuck Skyler" was a popular fan catchphrase during the show's run, and the sentiment stuck around for nearly a decade after its conclusion. However, when the publicity towards El Camino and the final season of the prequel series Better Call Saul brought renewed attention to Breaking Bad, people started criticizing Walter's fanbase as running off a very generous Draco in Leather Pants interpretation of him, and in turn, Skyler was widely reevaluated as being a victim of Walter's actions. Consequently, while she still remains divisive, she has a much bigger number of supporters compared to in 2013.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Vince Gilligan admitted that the third season was written from episode to episode instead of being planned out. For some fans, it's noticeable by how the plot moves at a strange pace and how some characters ended up as mere Red Herrings, but it isn't as jarring as other shows that fell under this effect, and the season still received critical acclaim. This is ironic considering Gilligan was an executive producer and writer for The X-Files, The Trope Namer
  • Designated Villain: Jesse’s parents are shown as cold and uncaring people who are more concerned about how his actions affect them. However as anyone who’s been through the horror of having an addict in their family will tell you there comes a point where you have to just let them go and make it clear that either they get serious about getting clean or they have to stay away. Every time we see them we hear things like “we can’t go through this again.” Or Jesse saying “not another intervention.” Indicating that they did try very hard to get him clean in the past. When we first meet them they reluctantly give him a chance to stay with them until they think he brought a joint into their house, which is not an unreasonable conclusion.
  • Discredited Meme: Walt throwing a pizza on the roof, which inspired fans to imitate it at the actual house. The Real Life owners of the house and Vince Gilligan have had to ask that people stop throwing pizzas on their house.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Some fans still considers Walter as a hero who does everything for his family even when his actions say otherwise and he himself confesses in the finale that he has been making drugs because he enjoyed it and was good at it. Vince Gilligan himself lampshaded this, saying in a 2022 interview that the more time passes since the show's conclusion, the more he doesn't understand why Walt was ever considered a sympathetic character or why some fans don't realize that Walt brought most of his misfortune down on himself.
    • Skyler mostly got the Ron the Death Eater treatment during the original run of the show, but over the years she's Rescued from the Scrappy Heap with old viewers starting to sympathize with her... and to make up for the infamous hate she (and her actress) used to recieve, now many fans see her as a saintly woman who suffers from an abusive husband and blatantly ignore her obvious flaws like her hypocrisy and greed.
    • Jesse also gets a good deal of Draco in Leather Pants from people — apparently, realizing that you're a bad guy but continuing to cook meth and doing bad things that aren't as bad as the other criminals you work with makes you a good person. Actually discussed in-episode: when Jesse wants out of the operation with his cut of the money, Walt points out that it's still drug money he'd be taking and asks why he would want it if he's "so pure, with such emotional depth". To Jesse’s credit though, after he gets the money he actually takes what Walt said at face value and he tries to rid himself of it. Peter Gould confessed in the "Gloves Off" podcast that this tendency crossed over to the writer's room, as they liked Jesse so much they were mentally absolving him of everything he did.
    • Even Gus gets this treatment to some extent, with some fans seeing him as a Broken Bird who was driven to evil by the Cartel's murdering his business partner, who is also loosely implied to have been his lover, ignoring the fact that he was shown to already be a meth dealer even before this happened, and is implied to have had a dark past of some kind in Chile (though the latter one's never actually elaborated on, probably contributing to Gus being seen this way). Even after revealing that he had sociopathic tendencies as a child (torturing an animal to death for eating his fruit), people still defend him and blame all his faults on the Cartel. Some fans even blame Walt for ruining their business relationship, even though Gus basically forced him into it and was clearly planning on getting rid of him as soon as he became unable to work. They also seem to forget that Gus started their feud by having a child murdered and not understanding Walt's decision to save Jesse when he tried avenging that child.
    • A few people see Todd in Leather Pants despite his Lack of Empathy while doing murders or break-ins.
    • Many fans like to forget that Mike technically is a villain. Some downplays his villainy and others even goes as far to say that he doesn’t even count as a villain at all, despite the fact that he is a cold-blooded murderer working for a drug lord and has no problems with killing people if he is paid for it, which makes it hard to argue for why he actually would be any less villainous than any other characters.
    • Many try to paint Saul as a victim who only did terrible things because he was afraid of Walt, ignoring that he tried to convince Walt to come back to cooking when he had quit and repeatedly suggested Walt kill people so he could save himself from going to prison. This tendency got more pronounced after Better Call Saul detailed how "Saul" is a mask for a very traumatised, self-loathing man, so people will forget all the sleaze and cowardice.
    • While Hank isn't evil, many fans like to ignore his flaws such as his hypocritical behavior, like when he thought Hugo the janitor was a scumbag for smoking weed but was perfectly fine smoking illegal cuban cigars. His poor treatment of Marie in season 4 is often forgotten, ignored, or justified due to his mental state. This is especially true in season 5 where he tries force Skyler into a confession and shows no concern over Jesse's possible death. Regardless of his methods, it's questionable whether we should side with him in his investigation as his primary motive seems to be spite against Walt. While Walt should be punished for his actions, it doesn't seem like any lives would be improved by Hank catching him after he retired. By going solo in his quest to bring down Walt, then later roping in Gomez but not involving the DEA, he got Gomez and himself killed. He was aware of whom Walt had killed and that he must still have allies, yet took Gomez into a deadly situation without arranging any backup, entirely because he personally wanted to take Walt down. He is also shown taking advantage of his power to bully Wendy the prostitute for no other reason than he can. He’s also an unrepentant casual racist. All the way back in the pilot, his mean spirited mocking of Walt and disdain for his life is part of what pushed Walt into Heisenberg in the first place. Despite all of this, most Breaking Bad fans will tell you that Hank's some kind of saint.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Tuco, for being so terrifyingly insane and hammy it loops back around to entertainingly awesome. His return in Better Call Saul was met with open arms.
    • The Cousins, both for their intimidating presence, professionalism, and stone-cold badassery in most, if not all of their scenes.
    • Badger and Skinny Pete, no doubt due to their comical nature. Their scenes in El Camino have only increased their popularity.
    • Huell, Saul's ineffectual, pointy-headed bodyguard, especially when he's paired with Kuby.
    • Gomez, for his unwavering loyalty to Hank as well as their Vitriolic Best Buds partnership.
    • Old Joe from "Sunset", for having a surprisingly in-depth knowledge of the law (specifically the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution) and calling Hank out for not following proper protocol.
  • Escapist Character: Walter White is an interesting version. He's a lower middle-class teacher who gets crapped on in every possible way, including getting cancer...and he completely manages to turn his life around by living a double life as a badass drug dealer, getting wealthy, and commanding the respect of hardened criminals. A lot of people can identify with his initial hardships, and so we root for him when he starts kicking ass. As the show goes on, this makes it all the more disturbing when he gradually loses touch with his humanity, his family dissolves, and he begins indiscriminately killing anyone who gets in his way—becoming a Villain Protagonist. Because we're encouraged to identify with him in the beginning, his downfall carries the implication that we could go bad just as easily as him if given the chance. Interestingly, Walt's Escapist Character status ends up working as something of a Secret Test of Character for the audience. As Walt gradually begins committing more heinous acts over the course of the series, there will inevitably come a point when the audience stops fantasizing about being him and starts seeing him as the villain—probably when he finally does something that the viewer would never do. By pinpointing his Moral Event Horizon, we also end up learning how far we would really go if we were put in his shoes and forced to make life-or-death decisions to survive in the criminal underworld.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Would be an understatement for fans of this show. Literally every aspect has been analysed by the fandom for some sort of meaning, from the RV to everyone's fashion choices to coffee mugs to the fact that Walt wears white briefs. One reddit user decided to take this up to eleven by trying to find tongue-in-cheek symbolism for every item in the restaurant scene from "Confessions".
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Walter White, a.k.a the notorious "Heisenberg", goes from being Mr. Chips to Scarface. While he may have an ego at the size of Jupiter, he nevertheless proves his brilliance multiple times over the course of the show. Not only is he a master chemist, but also a surprisingly skilled engineer and strategist and uses his wits to comes up with all sorts of plans and traps that are crazy enough to work. Even at the time of his downfall, he doesn’t quite give up as he tries to make up for the mistakes he made as best as he can and eliminates the remaining bad guys before he dies.
    • Mike Ehrmantraut is a former beat cop who uses his skills from police training to survive in the criminal underworld. He is shown to be a very skilled detective, gunman and tactician. The high light of this arguably goes to the scene when he takes out an entire hit-squad on his own.
    • Marco and Leonel Salamanca are mute hitmen who reach the trope for their intimidating, precise and professional nature.
    • Gustavo Fring, a Magnificent Bastard, is a brilliant and sophisticated mobster who is basically the ideal drug lord personified. He has almost single-handedly built up a drug empire and took out the entire Juarez Cartel, whom murdered his partner. He is the man Walt wishes he was.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle may be a Dirty Coward of the highest order, but that doesn't stop many fans from finding her attractive, due to being played by the lovely Laura Fraser.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With fans of The Sopranos and especially The Wire, as all three shows are considered to be candidates for greatest (crime drama) show of all time.
    • Also, to a lesser extent (and perhaps not surprisingly) Game of Thrones. Before the latter's final season, both were very popular mainstream shows, highly acclaimed by both viewers and critics, and both had a solid 9.5/10 rating on IMDb (also the only two shows that have over one million votes on the site at the time). So it was argued for a time which one would take the place as the "best show ever", or atleast the better one out of the two. Since the last four seasons of Game of Thrones dropped in quality, especially the finale, opinions have shifted to the latter.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • It is bizarrely popular on IMDb's message board for posters to call Hank, "Honk" for no discernible reason.
    • Todd is referred to as "Meth Damon", due to Jesse Plemons' startling resemblance to Matt Damon.
    • "Skysenberg" became more popular as Skyler sided with Walt in Season 5B.
    • Leonel and Marco are known as the "Chigurh Twins".
    • "Finger" and "Kid Named Finger" for Mike, representing the Kid Named Finger meme.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content:
    • Vince Gilligan has described an unfilmed scene from the finale where Walt has an encounter with a former student. Many people wish the scene had remained and think it could have been one of the better Heartwarming Moments in a fairly grim episode.
    • Both Word of God and fandom consider the scene where Saul finds Walt after he's been kicked out to be one of the few deleted scenes still canon, and blend it in with the one in his office. Not just because it's the only easily retconned reference to Kim (he mentions three failed marriages) in the show, but his manic desperation and literally picking up clothes for the guy is both hilarious and pitiful. It's like an early peek of actual Jimmy McGill.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Saul. Nobody in real life would hire him if they saw his clownish taste in clothing. It is lampshaded by Hank in season 5.
  • Fountain of Memes: Jesse. Both Walt and Skyler qualify to a lesser extent.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With fans of The Irishman, due to having plots involving organized crime and corruption as well as the shared presence of Jesse Plemons. The fact that El Camino was released a month before The Irishman certainly helps.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Heisenberg. If you paid attention in chemistry, this would bring to mind the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. If you studied German history, Walt's similarities to Werner Heisenberg are incredible. Especially in Season 5, where Walt works with a group of Nazis.
    • Episode 14 of Season 5 is titled "Ozymandias", after the Shelley poem. It's very fitting.
    • The air disaster in "ABQ" has some similarities to the 1986 Cerritos disaster, when an Aeromexico jet and a private plane collided over the skies near Los Angeles International Airport. The air traffic controller monitoring the two flights was named Walter White. The sole difference is that 15 people in houses were killed when Aeromexico Flight 498 slammed into a residential neighborhood.
    • In many later episodes, Walt is frequently compared to the American poet Walt Whitman. If you know a little bit about Whitman, it's even funnier to watch Gretchen rubbing Walt's bald head and commenting "You've got a good-shaped head!" Whitman was a notable advocate for phrenology, a pseudoscience which holds that the shape of a person's skull is indicative of their mental aptitude.
  • Genre Turning Point: Breaking Bad, in addition to leading the trend towards Darker and Edgier direction on American television in the 2000s and '10s, also left its mark in terms of Character Development (such as the longest, most complex Face–Heel Turn in modern TV) and impact on crime dramas set in modern times. It eschewed the classic Mafia tropes and Vice City setting that had dominated the genre since the early days of Hollywood, instead taking place in rural New Mexico and focusing on a crude, gritty, macabre storyline where Mexican cartels, corrupt corporations, and white supremacist biker gangs are in charge of the drug market. Its influence led to a wave of crime shows and movies set in the small-town American heartland rather than the big city, such as Sons of Anarchy, Queen of the South, and Ozark.
  • Growing the Beard: Many people agree that while it was tightly plotted, compelling and contained an incendiary performance from Bryan Cranston, Season 1 suffered from having its run truncated by the Writers' Strike. Season 2 picked up at exactly the point Season 1 left off and went on to exceed all viewer expectations, not only developing Walt and Jesse as characters, but giving ostensibly ancillary characters (from Hank, Skyler and even Tuco) an unexpected depth. Walter himself, started as a mildly complex character in the first season, but the second season began adding a massive amount of depth and layers that eventually made him one of the most complex characters ever put on television. Add to this the addition of Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut and Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo "Gus" Fring. The pace of the show markedly picks up from the beginning of season 2, with every episode feeling like an 'end of season cliffhanger'. While season 1 was great, season 2 onwards was as addictive as, well... crystal meth. From there, it never looked back, eventually ending with one of the most critically acclaimed final seasons in TV history.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "Over", Jesse tries to surprise Jane by cooking breakfast while she sleeps in. She gets up before he finishes, however, which causes Jesse to say "You weren't supposed to get up." Jane jokingly asks "What, ever?" A few episodes later, Jane dies in her sleep.
    • Skyler warning Jesse to stay away from Walt in "The Cat's in the Bag" was a comedic scene, though rewatching the series, her telling him to stay away or else he'll be "one sorry individual" is a lot less funny considering most of Jesse's pains are a direct result of Walt's actions.
    • Several events in this show become this after watching Better Call Saul:
      • In general, when watching Better Call Saul, it's hard watching scenes with multiple characters from this show since the audience is left knowing what exactly will happen to them once Walter White enters their lives.
      • Also, just try watching any scenes with Saul the same way knowing full well about his efforts to be a legitimate lawyer, and the self-sabotage as well as sabotage from Chuck that led to him becoming the Amoral Attorney we see here - especially when it's made clear that the main reason the "Saul Goodman" persona even exists is because of Jimmy's own blistering self-hatred.
      • All the scenes with Mike and his granddaughter became rather harder to watch after Better Call Saul revealed exactly why he's so devoted to her: For one thing, her mother isn't his daughter, but rather, his daughter-in-law and late son's wife.
      • In "Abiquiu" , Skyler skeptically looks over Saul's degree from the University of American Samoa, which is Played for Laughs, a way of emphasizing what a tacky and fraudulent lawyer Saul is. Knowing the struggle, the heartache, and the eventual betrayal related to that degree from Better Call Saul will undoubtedly make that scene much less funny on future viewings.
      • Similarly, we have Saul's Freak Out during Jesse and Walt's plan to scare him in his introductory episode, once you take the ordeal he went through involving the skateboarding twins and Tuco in the Better Call Saul episode "Mijo" into account. What at first seemed like Saul simply fearing for his life is actually Saul thinking Tuco or Lalo have decided to finally kill him, especially after he says that whatever they think he did, Ignacio (Nacho Varga) was the real one to blame.
        Saul: Oh, thank God! Oh, Christ! Oh, I thought... [hyperventilating] What can I do for you, gentlemen?
      • Saul's fear of Lalo becomes a lot less funny after "Plan & Execution" where it's revealed that not only did he not know Lalo was alive until he showed up in his apartment, but within minutes of getting there he executed Howard Hamlin right before him. There's also "Point and Shoot", where he's held hostage by Lalo, and begs the same line that he hasn't done anything before a gag is shoved in his mouth.
      • In "Madrigal", Hank offhandedly points out while interrogating Mike that the Philadelphia PD told him that Mike's tenure as a cop with them ended under, ahem, dramatic circumstances. Mike says "Not particularly," to which Hank agrees as he's more interested in probing Mike for any evidence of off-the-books work he performed for Gus. It's a bit harder to hear that line from Hank when you know that he's talking about the death of Mike's son Matthew.
      • The end of Gus and Hector's rivalry gets an extra sour note with the reveal in Better Call Saul that Gus saved Hector's life during the stroke that paralyzed him...then interfered in his hospital treatment, simply because he wanted Hector to suffer Gus' own revenge. Suddenly, the face Hector makes right before blowing himself and Gus up makes an awful lot of sense.
      • In "Sunset" Saul has Francesca call Hank and pose as a member of hospital staff, telling him Marie has been seriously injured in a car crash. Saul looks uncharacteristically guilty afterward as if he feels his actions have crossed a line. This seems more understandable after watching the Better Call Saul episode "Fall", where we learn that the love of his life almost died in a car crash.
      • In "I.F.T.", Saul handles the purchase of Jesse's house with his trademark charm and sarcasm, right up until their lawyer says that his offer is a "joke", at which point his tone gets significantly angrier and he takes almost sadistic glee in not just shortchanging them for the house but rubbing the other lawyer's nose in his failure. After hearing Chuck's rant on the stand from "Chicanery", where he referred to the idea of Jimmy being a lawyer as a "sick joke", it's no wonder that such phrasing would affect him so severely.
      • In the same episode, he's notably uneasy when Walter complains about losing his whole family, still acting like a pig but uncomfortable and having to sit in his car for a minute before calling Mike, calling to mind Jimmy sobbing in his car during "Winner" after finally beginning to grieve his brother's suicide.
      • All of the scenes in the laundromat Superlab, even the funny ones like in "Fly", take on a whole extra layer of disturbing when you know that they're standing overtop Lalo Salamanca and Howard Hamlin's corpses. Additionally, after seeing the sheer amount of blood, sweat, money, tears, and corpses that were required to build that Superlab, Walt burning it down after killing Gus goes from being an awesome moment to a brutal kick in the teeth.
      • In "Confessions", Walt brings Saul out into the desert for his talk with Jesse, leading to Saul standing off to the side clearly scared for his life while the two talk. After seeing the multiple traumatic events Jimmy endured in the desert, including Tuco almost murdering him in "Mijo" and having to be bait for a sniper in "Bagman", it's no wonder he's so terrified: he's clearly having traumatic flashbacks.
      • Saul’s frequent Murder Is the Best Solution references become more disturbing when he and Kim indirectly got Howard Hamlin killed, he was tied down and ended up lying besides the man’s corpse, and it broke him and Kim up, the final straw to make him Saul in the first place.
      • Even Saul’s “greatest lawyer” mug gets made tragic, as everybody including him knew that Kim was a better lawyer than he was, and he gets said mug as soon as she quits the law.
      • Knowing that Saul got attached to Walt because he reminded him of Chuck note , and eventually realised he’d recreated his broken childhood relationship with his brother, makes that dynamic extremely uncomfortable rather than just funny. Especially this line in "Problem Dog":
      Saul: I've been working magic here. I could at least get an "attaboy".
      • Saul deadpan repeating a line Mike constantly heard from abused wives ("deep down he really loves me") gets worse after learning emotionally abusive older brother Chuck really fucked him up, and one of the reasons why Mike hates Saul is because he knows Jimmy is trying to prove Chuck right by being his worst self.
      • Mike threatening to break Saul's legs and leave him in a whole in the desert becomes even worse with two key revelations: first, Mike and Saul have actually known each other even longer than Mike has known Gus and Jimmy genuinely considered themselves friends at one point, and that Mike is not only aware of Jimmy's trauma related to the desert, but was present for one of the worst trauma he endured there in "Bagman", so he's deliberately touching his PTSD to make him talk.
    • "Blood Money": Badger's Star Trek script (which ends with Chekov getting brutally killed by a freak accident) loses all of its humor after his actor in the J. J. Abrams films, Anton Yelchin's brutal death in a freak accident involving his car in 2016.
    • A fan who got the chance to watch the finale with the cast was later found to have been operating an underground synthetic marijuana distribution scheme.
    • The second season features Jane Margolis's father, an air traffic controller, suffering from depression, showing up to work obviously unfit, and he causes a mid-air collision with numerous fatalities. In 2015, the clinically depressed pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately crashed his plane into the side of a mountain in France, killing 150 people — although the Breaking Bad incident was an accident caused by a depressed air traffic controller, whereas the latter was intentionally done by a pilot.
      • There also exists some eerie similarities between Wayfarer 515 and the chain of events in January 2020 that led up to the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. What happened in that case was that President Donald Trump (Walter White) first caused the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani (Jane Margolis), who was a very important personnel to Iran’s military (Donald Margolis), thus devastating them greatly. Yet, the latter party tried to do right by continuing their duties of protecting the sky. But in the process, they committed a fatal error, inadvertently downing a civilian aircraft, killing all on board. The main differences however being that UIA 752 was shot down due to the Iranian military misidentifying the airliner as a hostile US Force aircraft, whilst Wayfarer 515 collided in midair due to Donald Margolis’ failure to deal with Jane’s loss. Yet, disturbingly similar, both aircraft were Boeing 737s and the 167 occupants aboard both the Wayfarer and the other aircraft matched the exact number of the 167 passengers aboard UIA 752.
    • Jesse's comparisons between Walt and the Nazis (including, but not limited to, his angrily shouting "Well, Heil Hitler, bitch!" in "...And the Bag's in the River") become quite frightening on two levels. First, Walt's pseudonym of "Heisenberg" is the same name as Werner Karl Heisenberg, a Nazi scientist; something Hank picks up on. Second, late in the series, Walt starts to work with actual neo-Nazis, going so far as to arrange for them to assassinate Jesse.
    • Early on in the series, Walt Jr. creates the website "Save Walter White" to raise some extra money for Walt's medical bills. More people are increasingly turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and others to get extra money for their expensive healthcare costs.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Mike's protective relationship with Jesse becomes much more moving after learning his backstory in Better Call Saul. His son Matty was killed after Mike advised him to compromise his morality, his trying to do right by Nacho failed when the man killed himself, and he seems to view Jesse as a third chance to save a person who can still be saved.
    • Better Call Saul also reveals that Mike killing the surviving Salamanca cousin wasn't just a job for Gus, but payback for them threatening to kill his granddaughter.
    • Saul is still sleazy to Skyler, but after Better Call Saul’s “Fun and Games” where all Jimmy hears is that he’s ruined Kim, it’s clear how much his sympathy for her comes from how she reminds him of a kinder, more sensible Kim.
    • Minor example, as it’s still mixed with pragmatism, Gus randomly bringing up "the lawyer" in terms of the Salamancas during "Green Light", and him/Mike deciding to not tell him, becomes a Pet the Dog moment, as they both know what Jimmy went through with Lalo, and they don't need a Freak Out.
    • Saul in "Granite State" telling Walt to face the music because Skyler will be screwed if he doesn't, is all the better with Jimmy McGill learning that Kim confessed about Howard, and blew up a plea deal to show both her and himself that he could still be a good man, getting a long sentence but her and his identity back. Also after spending so much time trying to replace Chuck and thinking he should grovel to a degrading older man, he does what Word of God says he should have done ages ago with his brother and walks away instead of staying where he's told.
    • While it makes the "send him to Belize?" references worse because he's recreated his brotherly dynamic with Walt and needs approval, the BCS episode of "Breaking Bad" had Saul acknowledge his past self as a Mirror Character to Jesse, joking about it but also getting Walt to stop fighting with him, which makes those times of his trying to help and defend the kid later on that much nicer.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Some viewers want to believe that Lydia and Walt survived "Felina", reasoning that Lydia was given fair warning of her poisoning and Walt was found by the police seconds after collapsing, giving them both time to be treated. However, Word of God says (and El Camino confirms) that both are dead. And the chances of their survival were very low in the first place. In fact, the script makes it clear that Walt died.
  • He Really Can Act: Bryan Cranston (previously best known for playing Bumbling Dad Hal) has proven his ability to effectively act and convey emotion dramatically in this show, winning him four Emmy awards as a result, tying him for the record for that category.
    • In the first season, Jesse and his actor, Aaron Paul, received a bit of a mixed reception with many feeling that it was going to go the route of the cliche stoner gangster-wannabe. Aaron Paul blew that prediction out of the water in season two, and continued to turn in progressively more impressive and jaw-dropping performances as the show went on, eventually winning three Emmy awards, breaking the category's record (at least among purely dramatic performances). Some even believe that his performance rivals or exceeds Bryan Cranston's.
    • Likewise, Skyler was seen as little more than the typical nagging wife by at least one review for Season 1. Fast forward a few seasons, and Anna Gunn becomes the only member of the main cast to win an Emmy besides Cranston and Paul (thanks in large part to Season 5A's "Fifty-One"), winning a second for the final eight episodes.
    • Even the guest actors on this show aren't immune to this. Mark Margolis (Hector Salamanca) had a large career consisting of bit parts before this show. Then came Hector, where he managed to make an entire character using nothing but facial expressions and physical acting, with only two scenes where he actually spoke at all, and he's widely considered one of the most iconic supporting characters in the show. In fact, with nothing but his face, Margolis actually got an Emmy nomination for his work.
    • Walt Jr/Flynn was frequently criticized early on for being a Flat Character whose only purposes were to eat breakfast and love his dad. Then came "Ozymandias" and "Granite State" when he was made into more than a Plot Device and RJ Mitte got a chance to show what he's capable of when he's given material to work with. He did not disappoint - Flynn tackling his father and calling the cops, as well as his epic yet tear jerking "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him when he rejects the drug money, are considered two of the highlights of Season 5B.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Aaron Paul's next major TV role was as Eddie Lane in The Path. Eddie, a convert to the Meyerist cult, still has a relatively ambiguous backstory with hints to illegal activity and drugs. That, combined with the fact that Eddie is portrayed to be at least 10 years older than Jesse Pinkman (older than Aaron Paul, who played far younger than his actual age with Jesse) has yielded several theories that "Eddie Lane" is the new identity assumed by fugitive Jesse.
    • Aaron Paul previously auditioned for Malcolm in the Middle as one of Hal's children. The What Could Have Been fan works basically write themselves with that one.
    • On August 16th, 2012, the Tuscaloosa County, Alabama Sheriff's Office announced its new Most Wanted Fugitive as a meth cook named Walter Eddie White. This sort of crime would ordinarily be local news had it not been for the coincidence of the schmuck's name. Ironically, the Walter Eddie White's blue collar operation was a lot less sophisticated than the show's Walter White.
    • Another real meth cook named Walter Jack White, was arrested in Montana for possession and firearms charges. In contrast to the fictinal Walter White's son being an uninvolved innocent, this Walter White's son was very much involved in the business, even shooting his dad in a dispute over a debt.
    • In "A-No-Rough-Stuff-Type-Deal", Hank and Walt have a discussion about the arbitrary nature of narcotics prohibition. Hank makes a joke on the basis of cannabis being illegal. Except, New Mexico decriminalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2007, a year before the show first went on the air.
    • A few years after Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul would play another stoner burnout beanie-lover who share a first name with Jesse’s Nazi captor. Dammit Todd!
    • Fans of Friday Night Lights get to see Landry killing Epyck.
    • Jesse drives away at top speed in a car at the end of "Felina." Guess what Aaron Paul's next major role was in? Need for Speed. May also double as an Actor Allusion, and triples as a pun in that Breaking Bad is about a different kind of speed.
    • In the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine, Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris have brief, unrelated appearances where Cranston plays an obnoxious businessman while Norris plays a cop.
    • In 1999, Aaron Paul was in a Corn Pops commercial where his parents are trying to talk to him about acting responsibly and being a functioning member of society, but he's too distracted by a drug-like obsession with the cereal to listen. It plays oddly like an in-canon prequel to the show.
    • After this show, Anna Gunn starred in Gracepoint, a remake of the British series Broadchurch. The fun comes from the fact that in the original series, her character discovers her husband is a murderer, which is not the case in the remake (though he's still a horrible person).
    • During "Over", Jesse shows off several superhero ideas he had drawn as a kid, and asks Jane if she would ever want superpowers. One heated argument later, and she later draws a picture of herself as a superhero that she self-deprecatingly calls "Apology Girl". Come late 2014, and Krysten Ritter would end up being cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the title role of Jessica Jones for their Netflix lineup.
    • In "Fly", Jesse gets annoyed at Walt for calling the titular insect in their lab a "contamination" he tells Walt he thought it was something more serious like an Ebola virus. Walt finds Jesse's example to be absurd and asks "what would a West African virus be doing in [the] lab?" There actually was a minor Ebola outbreak in the United States in 2014; very few people were affected but it got a lot of media coverage and generated a lot of fear and paranoia.
    • Gus Fring operates his meth network using his fast food chicken restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos as a front. In August 2015, two people in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were arrested for operating a meth lab out of a Taco Bell.
    • Los Pollos Hermanos smuggles drugs inside marked buckets of fry batter. While it's not fry batter, some smugglers have been caught trying to use nacho cheese to the same effect.
    • Tortuga, played by Danny Trejo, meets his end when he's decapitated with a machete. Come 2010...
      • Though it's worth noting that the original Machete concept was popularized by a fake trailer in the 2007 film Grindhouse, although was originally conceptualized in the 90s, which lead to writer-director Robert Rodriguez putting the character in Spy Kids first. In that sense, it amounts to more of a Shout-Out.
    • In "I See You", Walt Jr. reveals that Hank gave him a book about the agents who caught Pablo Escobar, everyone knows about Escobar but not the agents who helped bring him down. Come 2015, Narcos would air on Netflix (the same service responsible for greatly raising BB's profile).
    • The scene in "Cancer Man" with Ken Wins, the asshole stock guy who got his car blown up by Walt, gets funnier knowing about the time that Jimmy and Kim Wexler tricked him into paying for an entire bottle of very expensive tequila.
    • Badger's actor, Matt Jones, would go on to voice Wedge in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, who is part of the same group as another character named Jessie. Doubly funny since Jesse's actor, Aaron Paul, would also go on to play a Final Fantasy character.
    • After Walt shaves his head, Walt Jr. claims that he looks like Lex Luthor. In Harley Quinn (2019), Lex Luthor is voiced by Gustavo's actor, Giancarlo Esposito
    • At one point we get a flashback to Walt and Gretchen discussing the chemical composition of the human body. Their numbers do not equal 100%, leading to them wondering what they're missing.
    • Gus Fring is heavily implied to have a high ranking military officer in Augusto Pinochet's regime and is called "Gran Generalissimo" by Hector Salamanca. In Far Cry 6, Esposito plays a Caribbean military dictator.
    • Black Comedy, but Walt constantly using Saul as a free venting machine becomes funny once you realise at this point Jimmy/Saul has refused to go to therapy, not dealt with a single issue in his life and became someone else to try and cope with his Trauma Conga Line.
  • Ho Yay:
    • A very strong case could be made for Walt and Jesse, whose attachment to one another is described in-show as a case of a surrogate father-son bond, but is frequently portrayed as more akin to a Destructive Romance, complete with Walter feeling threatened by Jesse's love life. It even gets lampshaded towards the end of the show when Jesse sardonically comments that Walter must be in love with him after another character comments on their apparent closeness.
    • Even though they didn't get much screen time together, the closeness between Max and Gus, lampshaded by the comments Hector throws their way, could definitely count as well. Led to many "Is Gus Gay?" questions being asked.note 
    • Victor seems to take Gale's death harder than is normal for simple business associates in a dangerous business. It helps that Gale is portrayed as Ambiguously Gay to begin with, with some of his behavior towards Walt suggesting a possible crush on him.
    • While one-sided, Walt is only really interested in Saul in terms of how he can use the guy, but Saul will chase after and whore himself out for Walt whenever he thinks money is sliding out of his grip, or he might not get the headpat he's after.
  • It Was His Sled: Due to being one of the show's Signature Scenes, it has become well known that Gus dies in an explosion that blows off half of his face. Even the merchandise treats the scene as a Late-Arrival Spoiler.
  • Informed Wrongness: Jesse’s parents evicting him from the house made perfect sense since Jesse WAS running a Meth Lab in the basement and had he been arrested the DEA would’ve been able to seize the house and possibly many other of the family’s assets.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Both Jesse and Walt qualify. Interestingly, while Walt begins as a regular woobie and Jesse the jerkass variety, they've switched places by season 3. By "Ozymandias", Walt has become this again after being forced to leave his family and let everyone think he did a lot of awful things of which he's innocent, as part of his plan to get Skyler off the hook.
    • Hank, whose private pain is concealed by a willfully ignorant and obnoxious public personality.
    • Marie approaches this territory in season 4 when she has to deal with an almost-crippled Hank, who is deeply bitter about his predicament and takes it out on Marie. By "Ozymandias", Marie has become a full Woobie.
    • Skyler as of Season 5, as Walt's sociopathic tendencies begin to seep into their home life. In Season 3, it's hard not to feel bad for her when Walt Jr. hates her guts for kicking out Walt... and she can't fight back because that would involve explaining Walt's new life in the drug trade.
    • Gus, Season 4's Big Bad. His plan to set up a business arrangement with the local drug lord backfired terribly, leading to his best friend and possible lover being shot in the head right in front of him. He was then held down and forced to stare into his eyes as he bled out, all while being reminded that "you did this to him." Twenty years down the line, he's far from the most innocent of souls, but it's clear that the pain is still tremendous.
    • Thanks to heavy Cerebus Retcon, Saul Goodman went from Plucky Comic Relief who ended up having a Villainous Breakdown, to Jimmy McGill trying desperately to not be himself while faced with constant reminders (Skyler as a more sensible version of Kim for one) of his old life, and both recognises Jesse being abused but wants that for himself because Walt reminds him of Chuck. All that said, he's still awful, with being a misogynistic and racist sex pest, trying to throw Jesse under the bus, suggesting murder every five minutes and went into bed willingly with Walt because money, distraction and he couldn't deal with PTSD in any kind of adult way.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: In a show featuring Walter White (drug manufacture with intent to distribute, theft, arson, multiple homicides in first and second degrees), Gustavo Fring (narcotics distribution, kidnapping, assault, multiple homicides in first and second degrees), and Jack Welker (multiple homicides including deaths of federal agents, drug manufacture and terroristic threats), the most hated characters in the show are:
    • Walt's wife Skyler. Her list of crimes? Disagreeing with Walt, being "difficult," smoking three times while pregnant, and sleeping with another man while divorcing Walt. Yes, she does get worse as time goes on, to the point of advising Walt to kill Jesse in Season 5, but she's still not even nearly as bad as others. That said, nowadays she's seen in a much more sympathetic light than before, though Skyler haters still exist.
    • Ted Beneke. His list of crimes? Avoiding paying his taxes, fucking Skyler, maybe blackmailing Skyler, and being an idiot. While there are Skyler fans out there, there is not a single person in the Breaking Bad fandom who even remotely likes Ted, with everyone admitting he's an idiot.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Walter pulling a gun on the cops in Episode One. Like you're really going to have your protagonist commit Suicide by Cop in the first episode of the show.
  • Love to Hate:
    • Tuco Salamanca. So horrifyingly Ax-Crazy and so incredibly proud of that fact that he very quickly stole the show in every scene he was in and his return in Better Call Saul was met with open arms.
    • Gus. He's so brutal and terrifying that he doubles as one of the most compelling characters on the show.
    • Hector Salamanca. One of the most ruthless villains on the show is also considered one it’s most iconic characters, since all he has is his facial expressions and his bell and delivered some very memorable moments with that. He also proved to be a very effective villain in Better Call Saul.
    • Todd and his uncle, Jack. They're both so off that it's hard not to want to see more of them and try to figure out the puzzles that are their brains.
    • Skyler, to a lesser extent, for those who see her as an Anti-Hero rather than The Scrappy.
    • Walt, to those who don't strap him in leather pants.
  • Magnificent Bastard: See here.
  • Memetic Badass: Badger and Skinny Pete, the two best hitmen west of Mississippi.Context (spoilers for the finale) 
  • Memetic Loser: Of all the characters in the show, Walt Jr is often made fun the most by the fanbase, due to contributing little to the story and for barely getting any focus in contrast to the rest of the family. Even after "Ozymandias" gave him some much-needed character development, he's often stereotyped as being a "Well Done, Son" Guy for Walter who does nothing but eat breakfast.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page, bitch!
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • There's a very vocal part of the fandom that still fails to get the memo about Walt becoming a borderline monster who seriously damages both his family and others around him through his criminal activities, fawning over everything he does and says. The fact that this was occurring in the first few seasons is frustrating, but ultimately unsurprising at worst, and sometimes understandable. The fact that this has continued into season 5 is insane. By relation, it's also not surprising that the characters with the biggest Hatedoms are the ones who most vocally oppose Walt, most infamously Skyler. On the flipside, however, even many of Walt's most abhorrent actions can be simultaneously impressive in a Refuge in Audacity/Manipulative Bastard sense if nothing else, thus explaining where the dissonance emerges from.
    • There's also a lot of casual viewers who use the series as a shining example of the poor state of US healthcare, ignoring that, while the plot was kicked off by Walter being diagnosed with lung cancer and initially being unable to pay for it, the situation is a lot more complicated than that and downplays a lot of Walt's very real flaws and failings. First of all, Walt purposefully lives below his abilities and gave up a lucrative job because of one-sided animosity towards Gretchen and Elliot that kickstarted by feeling judged by her rich family while they were together. He also turns down a six-figure job and their offer to pay for everything out of pride not even half a dozen episodes into the series. As the series progresses, it also becomes clearer that Walt used the cancer diagnosis as an excuse to act on all the impulses to feel powerful and leave an impact that he'd long kept hidden. He also says outright near the end of the series that he cooked meth because he liked it and refuses to give it up long after he makes the initial money he estimated he needed to pay for everything at the beginning. If money really was the issue, the show would have ended a lot sooner. At its core, this is a story of hubris and pride and not one of anything remotely political.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Walt himself spends the entire series gradually tip-toeing over the line, but he finally leaps over it in "Face-Off" when he non-lethally poisons Brock, a young child, in order to manipulate Jesse over to his side and kill Gus. It's not only one of his most heinous acts, but it's the one that goes on to haunt him the most over time. Another moment is Walter standing by and watching Jane slowly choke to death in her sleep in "Phoenix", the first death he is connected to that is decidedly not self-defensive.
    • Skyler's shot at this trope could be considered agreeing to help launder Walt's drug money, which some fans feel ruin any claim she has to a moral high ground, or convincing Walt to order Jesse's death.
    • Jesse's relationship with this trope is interesting as he feels like he crosses it after he kills Gale. In truth the situation was mostly beyond his control, but afterwards he becomes so disgusted with himself that decides to go all-in on being evil and attempts to peddle meth to his addiction support group. Ultimately he finds he can't go through with something so heartless, and confesses it to them in tears.
    • Gus crosses it when he takes Walt out in the desert and tells him he intends to have Hank killed, and if Walt interferes, Gus will kill his wife, son, and infant daughter.
    • Unassuming Todd crosses this pretty hardcore at the end of his second appearance when he kills a child witness without batting an eye. He stays past the horizon once he kills Andrea in "Granite State" to punish Jesse.
      • Of course, little is known about Todd's background, but he was already an established criminal (albeit a petty one) when he was introduced, and was chummy with his Nazi uncle. Todd could have been as cold-blooded as he was because he was used to it.
    • If Jack didn't already cross it by executing Hank, then he definitely did by having Andrea murdered in front of Jesse and threatening to kill Brock too if he stops cooking meth for Todd.
    • Hector Salamanca crossed this years ago, killing Gus' business partner and sadistically forcing Gus to watch his dead body bleed out as Don Eladio taunted him.
  • Narm:
    • Tuco himself. Much like Trevor Philips, some viewers noted that his erratic, Ax-Crazy demeanor is so over-the-top and cartoonish, they were unable to take the character seriously.
    • To those who find Jesse's wangsty attitude too insufferable, many of his scenes where he cries/whines certainly qualify.
    • When Walter yells/raises his voice, it earns some snickers due to the snarl he uses when yelling.
    • Some of the Spanish segments (with Gus especially) have received some criticism from native speakers for not sounding authentic, rather sounding awkward and clunky to anyone who has an ear for the language.
    • At the climax of Season 4, Gus walking out from Hector's room with half his face blown up and calmly stopping to straight his tie before collapsing on the ground feels downright cartoonish instead of awesome or terrifying, especially considering that the series gradually adopted a more serious, grounded tone in the later seasons.
    • The scene where Walt collapses to the ground in tears after the death of Hank has been so overused by memes that some people can no longer take it seriously when they watch it again in context.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Hector’s Death Glare to Gus looks goofy and overexaggerated when taken on its own but its very effective in context, considering how much facial paralysis we’ve seen him working through throughout the show.
    • savewalterwhite.com, the Defictionalized website that Flynn runs. The website is unprofessional as all hell: comic sans everywhere, low quality .jpg images, a gaudy green-yellow-white color scheme, and an unnecessary "number of webpage visits" counter at the bottom. But the amateurness feels kind of reflective of late-10s web design and the teenage Flynn, while the ramble-y style of writing the page is charmingly human and designed to make Flynn feel empathetic for what he's going through.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: One recurring element of the show is that recognizable character actors keep showing up and all end up having some significance to the plot for either an episode or two, or go on to become major characters. Many examples but some of the most notable:
    • Dale Dickey is one of the customers buying from Skinny Pete in “Breakage”. Sure enough she and her partner rob him and Jesse has to go to try to get the money back in the next episode “Peekaboo”.
    • Danny Trejo shows up in “Negro Y Azul” and ends up with his severed head on a tortoise with a bomb in it.
    • Walt and Jesse are going to meet a super-mysterious drug dealer to handle their bulk amount of meth at a fast food restaurant. The manager asks them if they're doing well. The manager is Giancarlo Esposito, who at the time was not hugely famous, but recognizable. Sure enough, the manager - Gustavo Fring - is the dealer.
    • DJ Qualls shows up in the opening scene of “Better Call Saul” and asks Badger if he’s selling. This is played with somewhat though in that Badger immediately assumes he’s a cop, but sells to him anyway. Sure enough he arrests Badger and that leads Walter and Jesse to Saul.
    • Larry Hankin shows up in “Sunset”. His amazing knowledge of the search warrants saves both Walter and Jesse.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • The bloody mess of Emilio's partially-dissolved body falling through the ceiling.
    • Hector Salamanca suffering a particularly nasty gastrointestinal episode during a police questioning, leaking diarrhea all over the floor.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Contrary to Memetic Mutation, Walt Jr. does more in the show than eat breakfast. He demands other characters cook it too, and that's it.
    • There is considerably more to Jesse's character than him saying "bitch" a lot. He doesn't even say it that often on the show (especially later on), but it has grown into Jesse's most popular characteristic to the public eye.
    • For fans who dislike Skyler, she fucked Ted.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Junkyard Joe, the crooked owner of the junkyard where Walt wants to dispose of the RV. When Hank gets mixed up in the action, Joe stalls him long enough with some pretty extensive knowledge of law.
    • The weapons dealer in "One Minute".
    • Peter Schuler, Gus' contact in the fast food industry.
    • Becky, the Whites' neighbor whom Walt uses to unknowingly lure out the mooks in "Face Off".
    • Trent, the waiter who tries to serve the White and the Schraders during an extremely heated discussion regarding Walt's crimes.
    • Robert Forster as the vacuum cleaner repairman and identity eraser in "Granite State".
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • In-Universe: Gale for Jesse, briefly. Ultimately subverted in that Walt really likes Gale and probably relates to him better than Jesse, but decides he has to take Jesse back to keep him under control. As such, to get rid of him, Walter treats him like this.
    • Todd, for Jesse, mostly for being a dumber, more shallow, and downright sociopathic version of him. Walt may also feel this way about Todd in-universe, since he seems disappointed to be working with Todd after Jesse quits, even though their quality didn't drop and Todd tried his hardest to help Walt. He ended up getting rescued in Season 5B as detailed below.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Skyler gradually underwent this over the course of the show, partially due to backlash against the contingent of fans who hated her so ferociously during the early seasons. It's no coincidence that as Walt falls deeper into the Heisenberg persona, Skyler's opposition to his behavior becomes more and more sympathetic. And when push comes to shove she chooses Walt and protecting her family from the truth, over just handing him over to Hank. Even though the decision means destroying her relationship with her own sister, possibly forever.
    • Hank began as Walt's obnoxious DEA brother-in law, which inevitably grated on people. Starting in Season 2, after he shoots Tuco and slowly starts to have a nervous breakdown, he became a fan favorite due to actually displaying some competency and Hidden Depths.
    • Marie got rescued, arguably, in season 4, when she shows her genuine love for Hank and tries everything to improve his situation and only gets coldness and distance. Then it happened for real in season 5 when she finds out the whole truth, and slaps Skyler and even tries to take Holly out of the house. And then follows up by telling Walt point-blank that he should just kill himself if he really wants this to end well for everyone.
    • Possibly Todd in Season 5B, when Character Development turned him from just a Replacement Scrappy for Jesse into an incredibly compelling, disturbing individual with a personality beyond "opposite of Jesse".
    • Some of the people who began to dislike Jesse after he sided with Hank in order to try and bring Walt down began to sympathize with him again once he was turned into a slave for Jack's gang, and was forced to watch Andrea get murdered.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Thanks in part to the Draco in Leather Pants / Misaimed Fandom surrounding Walter White, the most "hated" characters tends to be the ones who most vocally oppose Walt's actions.
    • Skyler was this initially to the majority of fans early on. The bit where she cheated on Walt with Ted only served to add fuel to the fire. Of course, it didn't help that she was in the rather thankless position of being in opposition to Walt's erratic behavior and suspicious actions. Even though the audience knew she had every right to be wary, given he was off cooking meth, her husband initially had sympathetic motives. However, as Walt's motivation drifted from desperately wanting to provide for his family to feeding his own massive ego and greed, she began gathering greater sympathy.
    • The Schraders didn't fare much better either — Hank is disliked for his boisterous, politically incorrect behavior while Marie was disliked for being a gossipy know-it-all. Hank in particular is seen by Walt fans as a villain who is even more evil than Walt, when he was actually a Hero Antagonist cop trying to stop Walt/Heisenberg in the final season, and even Hank's most questionable actions (often justified by the situation, such as beating up Jesse) are nothing compared to Walt's. They even claim that Walt's Start of Darkness was Hank's fault because he was an asshole to him, only because Hank was teasing Walt in the pilot, but it was pretty clear when it came to down to it Hank respected Walt as part of his family; from his point of view, any teasing was just attempts at friendly banter (albeit somewhat insensitive).
    • Even Walt Jr. was not immune, with a lot of his detractors claiming him to be an whiny, ungrateful "retard" whose only saving grace was that he liked his father more than his mother. Which resulted in his calling the cops on Walt in "Ozymandias" being seen as his Moral Event Horizon to the hatedom. Then he gets further hate when he (known at this point in the story as Flynn) rejects Walt's gift of $100,000 and wishes him dead, with his detractors seeing him as stupid and selfish for rejecting money his family desparately needs and for speaking to his father like that. This is despite the fact that Walt committed numerous atrocities to get that money in the first place, and that Flynn has every reason to hate Walt seeing how his meth cooking ruined his family's lives and led to the death of Hank. Then in the next episode it's shown that Skyler would not have wanted the money anyway if it came from Walt and supported Flynn's decision to turn down the money.
    • Eliott and Gretchen are seen by some as con artists who stole from Walt, when by all apparent accounts the truth is that Walt willingly sold his shares of Grey Matter and then grew bitter once it became successful because of his Never My Fault personality. Throughout most of their appearances both are generally nothing but incredibly sympathetic about Walt's diagnosis and tried to help him, with Gretchen only coming to change her opinion after Walt's duplicitous nature and personality shifts have already made themselves known.
    • Walt himself. While he gets plenty Draco in Leather Pants treatment it is clear that Walt didn't start out evil which many fans claim he did, people even demonize him for killing Emilio and Krazy-8 even though Emilio was trying to kill him at the time of his death and he was deeply conflicted over what to do with Krazy-8. Even as he gets more ruthless he does still care about his family and Jesse, he also felt remorse for killing Mike and becomes The Atoner in the last episode, but many fans act like he's far worse than Don Eladio and the Salamancas with no redeeming features.
  • Salvaged Story: In Felina, Walt leaves Jesse's gifted watch on a pay phone for seemingly no reason, something that seems done only in favor of continuity since he didn't have it in the Flash Forward of Breaking Bad S5 E1: "Live Free or Die" Live Free or Die, as noted under Ass Pull. This got salvaged in Better Call Saul's Saul Gone: when asked about what he would go back and change in his life, Walt has a Meaningful Look at his watch, implying that it's a reminder of something he regrets doing to Jesse, recontextualizing the discarding of Jesse's watch into something more clearly symbolic.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Skyler White gets it the most due to her nosy and often rude behavior. In a show filled with murderers, drug dealers, corrupt cops and CRIMINAL lawyers, her Moral Event Horizon is cheating on Walt and smoking whilst pregnant. However most of the hate against her stems from her constantly opposing and arguing with her Draco in Leather Pants of a husband. Indeed, her murderous meth dealer of a husband is praised as one of the best characters ever, as fans are willing to ignore or embrace all his evil deeds because he's a "badass", while his wife is bashed and hated for being a "bitch". Her hypocrisy in constantly high-roading Walt but being willing to go to dark places herself on occasion and general Never My Fault attitude probably don't help matters either.
    • Marie is about as (un)popular as Skyler with the fans. She never shuts up, and what she says is usually irrelevant and self-centered. Eventually Hank and Skyler were Rescued from the Scrappy Heap for some fans, Marie never was until the final season. In fact, one of Skyler's most popular moments was channeling the audience and yelling "SHUT UP, MARIE!”
  • Seasonal Rot: A minor example. It's widely agreed that Season 4 is better than Season 5A because of its tense pacing and strong continuity (Season 4 centers on the development and climax of Gus Fring and The Cartel's story arcs which had been focal points over the previous two seasons, compared to the more slow-paced and less intense Season 5A). Most fans agree that Season 5B is the show Growing the Beard again and the best part of the whole series, but there are still a handful of fans who prefer Season 4.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • Lots of them near the end of every season. Especially in the final eight episodes of the series, and even more so in "Ozymandias" and "Felina".
    • Bob Odenkirk's sudden reveal that the upcoming film had already been filmed, in complete secrecy. Somehow no-one had leaked this fact to anyone before Bob mentioned it.
  • Signature Scene:
    • "I AM the Danger"/"I am the one who knocks", possibly the most quoted scene in TV history and easily of the entire series. "Say My Name" comes close.
    • Gus' death scene is considered one of the most iconic death scenes in pop culture history.
    • Walt fighting Skyler and Jr. in "Ozymandias". The entire show builds up to this moment and it is so intense that it's often treated as the climax of the show even though there are two and a half episodes left after this scene.
      • For that matter. Hank's death is easily the most recognizable scene of the show due to memes of Walt's reactions, but that barely robs the scene of its power as the end of a fan-favourite character and an emotionally crippling blow to Walt and the audience.
    • The final showdown between Walt and the Aryans, ending with Walt killing all of them, freeing Jesse, telling Lydia she's going to die, and then peacefully dying in the meth lab.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Before the FX program, it was as if Fargo had its own tv show.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Devastatingly subverted. Many fans were sure the shootout wouldn't have been made into a cliffhanger if Hank and Gomez both got killed. But this show does go there.
    • Played Straight just before. Oh, Hank arrests Walt! But there are 3 more episodes... Wait is that Walt's backup?
  • Squick:
    • When Hector is brought in to talk to Hank and Gomez, he instead chooses to shit himself in order to spite them. It's hilarious and awesome, yes, but it quickly becomes this instead when some of it makes it to the floor.
    • Near the end of "Box Cutter", Walt cleans the barrel containing Victor's remains, currently melting in acid. Walt stops cleaning for a moment when he notices the murky outline of Victor's head detaching itself from his body, and sinking to the bottom of the barrel. Yuck.
    • The disintegrated corpse falling through the floor in "The Cat's in the Bag...".
    • Gus' burnt face is reminiscent of Two-Face when he dies.
    • The heroin injections in Season 2 by Jesse and Jane. Brrr...
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • In "Hazard Pay", when Marie was constantly talking and nitpicking about the car wash workers, Skyler finally said what most fans wanted to say to Marie way back in season one: to shut up, repeatedly and boisterously. Sure, Skyler snapped because of Walt's actions bearing her down, and anyone could've triggered that reaction, but she couldn't have let out her frustrations on a more fitting character.
    • Marie's What the Hell, Hero? speech to Skyler in "Buried".
    • Skyler kicking Lydia out of the car wash.
    • For those that still hate her, Walt gives one to Skyler during his subtle Taking the Heat speech in "Ozymandias" where he basically voices all the complaints people have towards her since the beginning of the series, namely her bitchiness and nagging. On the other hand, Walt's speech could be interpreted as a subversion, since he intentionally painted himself in a horrible light to deflect any and all blame from Skyler. Some fans even theorized the speech was Vince Gilligan's Take That! to the sexist fans who endlessly attack Skyler, no matter what she has done throughout the series.
    • Walt telling Jesse the truth of Jane's death, for fans who consider Jesse a rat.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • A number of viewers confused the school janitor (Hugo) that Walter got fired with the shopkeep that Spooge killed...a little research shows they are not the same character. That's a shame, because if it had been Hugo, Spooge's "victimless crime" line would have had much more impact.
    • Season 5 had this in spades...case in point, Declan. He is (seemingly) a Benevolent Boss who takes a more relaxed, matter-of-fact approach to the drug business, yet retains a professional demeanor and is quite savvy. His character arc could have proved an interesting Foil to both Gus' (who plays The Stoic and is rather ruthless) and Walt's (who is more emotionally turbulent and arguably more ruthless). Unfortunately, he doesn't show up until Season 5. Then he dies.
    • Lydia is a surprisingly colorful character, mixing Femme Fatale with Adorkable nervousness and an Ambiguous Disorder. She probably would be more liked had she had more time to develop.
    • Huell and Kuby. Delightfully passive and humorous characters. Every time they open their mouths, they make it count. They hardly get any screen time together, unfortunately. Apart, Huell is pretty much The Quiet One, while Kuby is passed over for drama's sake. Their best lines are as a pair.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Mike has a granddaughter, Kaylee. Mike mentors Jesse. Jesse loves kids, having a strong Big Brother Instinct. It would have been cool to see the two develop a bond, especially after Mike's death.
    • Gus' mysterious past. First, the DEA is unable to find any information about his past in Chile. Second, in the flashback when the cartel kills his business partner, Don Eladio specifically says that Gus is only alive because "I know who you are." Considering how Gus is in no way a kingpin at this point, this implies something significant about his past. Creator Vince Gilligan has said that he deliberately left Gus' background mysterious, likening it to the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
    • Surprisingly, Jesse and Walter Jr. never share a scene together during the series. Given that Walter Jr. is Walter's son and Jesse could be seen as Heisenberg's son, it surely would have been interesting for the two to meet.
    • A frequently noted missed opportunity is that Walter White never interacted with his customers. If he did, Walter would have to confront the real life consequences that comes with supplying a highly damaging & addictive substance to vulnerable individuals for his benefit.
  • Too Cool to Live:
    • Tortuga. A wise-cracking, rather helpful informant to the DEA and played by Danny Trejo. A decapitated-head-on-turtle bomb was a bit of a downer note for his subplot.
    • The Cousins, Mike Ehrmantraut, Gus Fring, and Hank Schrader all count.
    • And so do Todd Alquist, Jack Welker and Walter White, in the finale.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Vince Gilligan, the series' creator, is already firmly convinced that he will never be able to follow it up.
    • This came up in the show itself. While the last two episodes, "Granite State" and "Felina", are widely considered superb in their own right and an excellent ending to the show, they also had the misfortune of following up "Ozymandias" which has been almost universally praised as both the best episode of the series, and one of the best episodes of television ever broadcast. Some critics and fans feel that the final two episodes suffered a bit, for no other reason than being forced to follow the near perfect "Ozymandias".
      • To accommodate for this, some fans like to classify "Ozymandias" as the climax of the show and the final two episodes as its epilogue.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Subverted with Ted Beneke's financial troubles. At first, the subplot only seems to exist for the sake of giving Skyler more screen time, but it ends up tying hugely into Walt's A-plot near the end of Season 4.
  • 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.

    • At one point, Walt delays Hank from finding the laundry superlab by pretending to misunderstand his verbal directions. Many cars now come with GPS inside them, and if Walt's car didn't then his cell phone definitely would, which is a lot harder to intentionally misunderstand.
    • 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, Skyler's disbelief at Walt smoking weed early in the series (reminding him that he has a brother-in-law working for the DEA), as well as Walt and Hank's discussion about legalizing certain drugs, may seem quaint.
    • The TV sets in the series really date it to just after the digital change over. Not only are CR Ts still common, but the flat screens are rather bulky compared to modern ones, with silvery finishes and prominent speakers. Similarly, most of the security cameras are boxy analog image dissectors, the sort meant to hook to a vcr. The unreliability of these systems is even a plot point occasionally.
    • CDs are still common as are hifi stack style stereos. Jesse’s is even given a lot of focus in one episode. Neither of these have vanished entirely, but these days sound systems are all about streaming music and being as invisible as possible if people with them at all. Listening to music via smart phones is now the norm.
    • The show takes place in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. Jesse's parents console themselves that probably couldn't have realistically sold Jesse's house for half their asking price, because of the poor housing market. Prospective home owners in the 2020s would water at the mouth at the idea of real estate being cheap. Walt is also able to explain a few purchases with his drug money as getting great deals from motivated sellers, such as the car wash and his own luxury car. Very plausible back when people were caught with inventory the general public couldn't afford, but a similar situation hasn't been seen since.
    • Season 5 Episode 1 revolves around Walt, Jesse, and Mike trying to destroy data off a laptop with a giant magnet. This would make no sense a few years later because mechanical hard drives have been almost entirely replaced by solid state drives, especially in laptops, meaning that the magnet would have no effect on the actual data.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Jesse's parents. Turning their backs on Jesse makes them very hard for the audience to like. Then taking the house from him when he's already down is a serious gut punch to him and the audience resulting in a certain level of satisfaction from both Jesse and the audience when he has Saul coerce them into selling it to him for way below market value. However there are a lot of clues that they did devote a lot of their life to trying to help him. For instance Jesse rolls his eyes when they meet to evict him from the house and says “god, not another intervention.” And Mr. Pinkman states that they can’t go through this again. Oftentimes families of addicts are told that as tough as it is you need to let them make their own choice to get clean. Compare this to Donald Margolis who watches his addict daughter like a hawk, goes to meetings with her her, etc. The result is that she dies, he’s devastated and makes a critical error as an Air Traffic Controller, and attempts suicide.
  • Values Dissonance: To an extent. Vince Gilligan has talked in the past about the difficulty that the studio had marketing the show outside of the US, since its entire premise rests on a detailed understanding of the US Healthcare system. In most other countries, where healthcare is subsidized by the government, Walter White turning to crime to support his family after his cancer diagnosis makes absolutely no sense in a country where he could just call a doctor and ensure that the government compensates for his family after he's gone. In the United States, however, where the healthcare industry is run for profit by private companies with little to no government regulation or interference and where medical expenses are the #1 leading cause of bankruptcy, having to turn to crime to protect your family from entering a financial black hole after medical treatment is an entirely sympathetic and rational fear. Thankfully, many (if not most) non-Americans are aware of the US healthcare system’s problems, so the series still became quite popular. Hell, it even spawned a few memes around the potential Anti-Climax ending ("Breaking Bad: Canada Edition") that mocks the US healthcare system for making a outlandish premise plausible.
  • Viewer Pronunciation Confusion: Several episode titles are in Spanish or Navajo such as "Negro Y Azul", "Abiquiu" and "To'hajiilee", making the pronunciation non-obvious for many viewers.
  • Viewers in Mourning: Right after Season 5 ended, fans of Breaking Bad put an obituary for Walter White in Albuquerque Journal, which costed $166 with tax.
  • Wangst:
    • Skyler at times.
    • Granted, it's not like he doesn't have good reason, but Jesse cries a lot throughout the show. The neo-Nazis even lampshade this while watching his confession tape to Hank at the end of season 5. See this picture for more information.
    • Amusingly enough, Skyler seems to accuse Marie of engaging in this early on in Season 2 (see: her rant to Hank).
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: While Word of God has stated that the show is a story of how "Mr. Chips became Scarface," the original driving force behind Walt's meth manufacturing, to help pay for his medical bills, has prompted pro-single payer health care advocates in the US to use the show to highlight the issue of health care costs in the United States, as well as the War on Drugs. Even the creator has claimed that the show could not be set anywhere else but the United Statesnote .
    • This completely ignores the fact that Walt didn't go into meth cooking to pay for medical bills. He did it (according to him) to leave more money for his family after he died. The show never said that Walt was uninsured (and indeed, as a public school teacher he would have a gold-plated plan), rather he didn't get treatment (at first) because his doctors told him that his cancer was inoperable, and he didn't want to suffer through chemotherapy. When he did start his treatments, he did it because his family insisted, not because he finally had the money.
    • On the other hand, the fact that Walt wanted to cook meth to leave his family money for once he passed away does fit with the United States' laissez-faire approach to poverty and welfare.
  • The Woobie:
    • Jesse. Apparently, Walt thinks of Jesse as being a Woobie. According to Bryan Cranston on Inside Episode 12, in Walt's mind if something were to happen to Jesse, it would be like stabbing a puppy with a pitchfork. Rather extensive thoughts on Jesse's woobiehood, for those with time and interest.
    • Don Margolis. His wife is gone; his daughter Jane relapses back on drugs despite his best efforts to help her stay clean after over a year, and then she winds up dead from an overdose the morning before she would have gone to rehab. After the Wayfarer 515 disaster, he's vilified across town to the point that he tries to kill himself.
    • Walt Jr. The kid really loved his dad and once he finds out he was Heisenberg, not only is he crushed and angered, but within less than a day he intercedes into a knife fight between his parents and calls the cops on Walt, forcing him to abandon his family forever.
    • Marie Schrader becomes this in "Ozymandias": She had just heard that Hank had taken Walt into custody, giving her her first real Hope Spot in ages, only to learn shortly afterwards that Walt has escaped and Hank has been killed, possibly by Walt under her assumptions.
    • Skyler also becomes this in "Ozymandias" with the abduction of Holly.
    • Andrea. When we first meet her, Jesse is trying to get her back on meth during their Narcotics Anonymous support meeting. Fortunately, Jesse has a soft spot for kids and immediately backs off, making it clear that she's a young single mom desperately trying to get her life together and raise her son properly. Then she's shot dead by Todd for something she had nothing to do with.
    • Brock. He was poisoned by Walt as part of his plan to get Jesse on his side and not Gus', and then his mother was shot dead right outside his house. Despite Andrea being a caring mother, the odds were already stacked against him. With the implications coming from the Fridge Horror of his situation, his odds of being murdered or going to prison are far greater than graduating high school.
    • Gale. His only wrongdoing is making meth, he's genuinely enthusiastic about his work, working with Walt, and is pretty amicable and affable. He's shafted by Walt twice, one which costs him his job, one which costs him his life.


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