Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki
This article is about the TV series. For the Better Call Saul episode, see Breaking Bad (episode).
For the first episode of the series, see Pilot.
For the first volume of the original score, see Breaking Bad: Original Score From The Television Series, Vol. 1.
For the second volume of the original score, see Breaking Bad: Original Score From The Television Series, Vol. 2.
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Breaking Bad is an American neo-Western crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show aired on AMC from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013, consisting of five seasons for a total of 62 episodes. It was set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), an underpaid, overqualified, and dispirited high school chemistry teacher who is struggling with a recent diagnosis of stage-three lung cancer. Walter turns to a life of crime, partnering with his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), by producing and distributing crystal meth to secure his family's financial future before he dies, while navigating the dangers of the criminal underworld. According to Gilligan, the title is a Southern colloquialism meaning "to raise hell".

Among the show's co-stars are Anna Gunn and RJ Mitte as Walter's wife Skyler and son Walter Jr., and Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris as Skyler's sister Marie Schrader and her husband Hank, a DEA agent. Others include Bob Odenkirk as Walter's and Jesse's sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, Jonathan Banks as private investigator and fixer Mike Ehrmantraut, and Giancarlo Esposito as drug kingpin Gustavo Fring. The final season introduces Jesse Plemons as the criminally ambitious Todd Alquist, and Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, a cunning business executive secretly managing Walter's global meth sales for her company.

Breaking Bad's first season received generally positive reviews, while the rest of its run received unanimous critical acclaim. Since its conclusion, the show has been lauded by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time. It had fair viewership in its first three seasons, but the fourth and fifth seasons saw a moderate rise in viewership when it was made available on Netflix just before the fourth season premiere. Viewership increased more drastically upon the premiere of the second half of the fifth season in 2013. By the time that the series finale aired, it was among the most-watched cable shows on American television. The show received numerous awards, including 16 Primetime Emmy Awards, eight Satellite Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Peabody Awards, two Critics' Choice Awards, and four Television Critics Association Awards. Cranston won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series four times, while Aaron Paul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series three times; Anna Gunn won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series twice. In 2013, Breaking Bad entered the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed TV show of all-time.

A prequel centring on Saul debuted in February 2015 under the title Better Call Saul. It delves into the lives of the Alberquerque underworld before Walter White, with several of the shows' supporting cast reprising their roles. A Netflix sequel movie, El Camino, was released in October 2019 and wrapped up Jesse's story, serving as the finale of the entire Breaking Bad universe.



Vince Gilligan, who had spent years writing the series The X-Files, expressed interest in creating a series in which the protagonist of the story became the antagonist. Gilligan has stated numerous times that his goal was to turn the protagonist, Walter White from Mr. Chips into Scarface. The concept of the RV emerged as Gilligan talked with his fellow writer Thomas Schnauz regarding their unemployment.

Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston on the set of "Pilot" in 2007

Gilligan has stated that it was difficult to develop a story for Walter White because the character was very dark. Gilligan later said that the idea of Walter's character intrigued him so much that he "didn't really give much thought on how well it would sell", stating that the premise made him want to give up because it was "such an odd, dark story" that could have difficulties being pitched to studios. During the course of the series, as time progressed, Gilligan and the writing staff made Walt increasingly unsympathetic.

The series is set and filmed in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico. The AMC network, on which the series premiered January 20, 2008, originally ordered nine episodes for the first season (including the pilot), but the Writers Guild of America strike limited the production to seven episodes. The original versions of the script were to be set in Riverside, California, but Albuquerque, New Mexico was chosen due to the financial situations at the time. Breaking Bad was shot on 35 mm film, to achieve HBO's famous cinematic appearance. This, along with stunts, locations and of course, actors, reportedly $3 million per episode. This meant that Breaking Bad cost approximately $195 million to produce across 5 seasons.

In July 2011, Gilligan indicated that he intended the series to finish with the fifth season. Negotiations began regarding the final season, and AMC proposed a shortened fifth season to cut costs, but producers declined. Sony then approached other networks to pick up the show if a deal could not be made with AMC, but on August 14, 2011, AMC renewed the series for 16 episodes.

Lead actor Bryan Cranston stated in an interview that: "The term 'breaking bad' is a southern colloquialism and it means when someone who has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow, when they've gone wrong. And that could be for that day or for a lifetime."


"You're going to see that underlying humanity, even when he's making the most devious, terrible decisions, and you need someone who has that humanity – deep down, bedrock humanity – so you say, watching this show, 'All right, I'll go for this ride. I don't like what he's doing, but I understand, and I'll go with it for as far as it goes.' If you don't have a guy who gives you that, despite the greatest acting chops in the world, the show is not going to succeed. "
―Vince Gilligan, about Bryan Cranston

Audition Tape - Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul's audition tape

Gilligan casted Bryan Cranston for the role of Walter White because of the fact that he had worked with him in a sixth season episode of The X-Files. Cranston played a man with a terminal illness who took the X-Files protagonist Fox Mulder hostage. AMC network executives were originally hesitant about the casting choice, knowing Cranston only from his role of Hal from Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, but were soon convinced after Gilligan showed them the X-Files episode.

Gilligan originally intended for Aaron Paul's character, Jesse Pinkman, to be killed off by the end of the first season of the series. The concept was that after Pinkman had been killed off, that this would be a plot device to plague the main protagonist with guilt. However, by the second episode of the first season, Gilligan was so impressed with Paul's performance that he recognized it would be a "colossal mistake" to kill off the character.

Cranston and Gilligan filming "Pilot"

Scientific Accuracy

Scripts and dialogue regarding the scientific subjects of the series were provided by the professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, Donna Nelson. Nelson also illustrated the chemical structures and wrote chemical equations which were used as props. According to Gilligan, Nelson approached the production crew and stated her interest in the show, offering her assistance regarding the subject of chemistry. She also offered assistance on electrical engineering, and physics. Gilligan accepted the offer to maintain the scientific accuracy on the scripts. Before a script was published, Gilligan would allow Nelson to proofread it and check it for any scientifical errors or add descriptions and dialogues to it. Gilligan states that he was able to "dumb down certain moments of dialogue" regarding chemistry when Walter White speaks to his students. The production crew also had assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration based out of Dallas.

Chemical Elements in the Credits

The credits feature symbols of chemical elements from the Periodic Table in green (for example, the symbols Br and Ba for bromine and barium in Breaking Bad and the symbol Cr for chromium in Created by Vince Gilligan). The credits at the beginning of the show usually continue this, with cast members' names usually including one chemical element symbol if appropriate.

The opening credits also feature the formula C10H15N which is repeated several times in each frame that it appears. This is the molecular formula for methamphetamine. It indicates that each molecule contains 10 carbon atoms, 15 hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom.

The number 149.24 is also repeated in the introduction, which is the molecular mass of the methamphetamine compound.

Of interesting note is the fact that until the second part of season 5, the electron configuration of barium (Ba), which is 2-8-18-18-8-2, and chromium (Cr), which is 2-8-13-1, were both incorrectly listed as 2-8-18-7, being erroneously copied from that of bromine (Br).


See the list of all episodes from all five seasons.

Episode Titles

The title of the episode "Dead Freight" carried multiple meanings.

Read more about episode titles at Breaking Bad Episode Title Meanings.

Breaking Bad's episode titles typically relate to the events of the episode, a quote from another source, or a common expression. For example, the episode title "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal" is taken from the movie Fargo, and also reflects how Walt is trying to impose his will on the drug business and hopes not to resort to violence.

The episode names of the first, fourth, tenth, and thirteenth episodes of Season 2 form a sentence which reveals an event that takes place in the season finale (737-Down-Over-ABQ). These episodes all include a mysterious opening teaser in black and white, featuring a scorched pink teddy bear floating in a pool. Several episode titles are also in Spanish, a reference to Hispanic culture in New Mexico as well as the influence of Mexican drug cartels in the story.

Viral Promotion


Another Satisfied Client of Saul Goodman Wendy -- Better Call Saul Webisode

One viral ad for Saul Goodman's character.

An online customizable video was used to promote season one. Users would receive a webcam message from Walt urging them to live their life to the fullest, at the end of which he would score their name from a list. The promotion is no longer live. A viral marketing campaign has also been produced for season two, users can experience meeting Walt from a first-person perspective. The promotion is no longer available. The charity website set up for Walter White in Season 2 by Walter Jr is available at Promotion for season three includes an elaborate website devoted to Bob Odenkirk's character "Saul Goodman". The site includes legal advice, fashion tips, customer testimonials and more. It is located at


Cranston and Paul with their 2010 Emmy awards

Breaking Bad has received critical acclaim in addition to numerous awards and nominations, including seven Emmy Awards. Bryan Cranston won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row. Aaron Paul won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2010 and 2012, and Anna Gunn won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2013. Vince Gilligan and the rest of the producing staff finally nabbed the prestigious Outstanding Drama Series award in 2013 for the first half of Season 5.


The first season averaged 1.2 million viewers. The second season premiere was watched by 1.7 million viewers, up 41.6% from the previous season.

The third season premiere was the highest rated episode in the series' history at that time; having been watched by 2 million viewers, with an additional 1.1 million viewers with the repeat airings later the same night, increasing 40% from the second season premiere. The rest of the third season episodes averaged between 1.2 and 1.8 million viewers.

The fourth season premiere received 2.6 million viewers, increasing 32% from the third season premiere. The fifth season premiere received 2.9 million viewers, ranking it as the most-watched premiere of the series. Viewership jumped 102% for the midseason premiere when 5.9 million people tuned in for "Blood Money". The third-to-final episode "Ozymandias," also referred to by Vince Gilligan as "the best episode we ever had had or ever will have"[1] was watched by 6.4 million viewers.[2] The penultimate episode "Granite State" continued the trend and was watched by 6.58 million viewers. The series finale "Felina" blew away the previous episode's record and was watched by 10.3 million viewers when it aired on September 29, 2013. [3]

See also