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"Saul Goodman is like a cockroach - even after the apocalypse hits, he's going to find a way to survive."
Vince Gilligan
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Jimmy McGill in his office, while in his Saul Goodman persona

As both himself and in his Saul Goodman persona, Jimmy McGill is a highly intelligent, cunning, manipulative person who is a dedicated criminal lawyer and also a complete conman at heart. He is overall a person who will resort to whatever measures to achieve his own goals or protect his client's interests.

Law career as Jimmy McGill[]

"Look, I’m a lawyer, not a criminal."
―Jimmy McGill to Nacho Varga[src]
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Jimmy in his early years as a lawyer, before becoming Saul

Better Call Saul overall charts Jimmy's transformation from a struggling defence attorney into a dedicated and effective criminal lawyer. Jimmy is introduced as a struggling attorney, often forced to defend clients in loser cases and overall barely makes ends meets, and to make matters worse, his highly successful lawyer brother Chuck, is mentally ill and Jimmy takes it upon himself to care for his brother. Despite this, when he first introduced Jimmy is nowhere near the person he will eventually become and is a kind and caring person who desperately wants to be successful and put his lawyer skills to good measure. He has good relations with most of the people he knows notably Kim and Chuck, and with the exception of Howard Hamlin whom he despises.

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Jimmy with his older brother, Chuck. The relationship between the two brothers was one of the primary catalysts for Jimmy's transformation into a criminal lawyer.

In spite of this, it is gradually revealed that Jimmy is truly more conman than a lawyer, and throughout the series, it is shown that Jimmy has been a crook from an early age, in which he stole from his kind father's corner store, eventually resulting in its bankruptcy and his father's death and engaged in multiple con games in order to steal money from unsuspecting victims. It was only after being arrested for defecating through a sunroof and facing serious charges that Jimmy gave up his life as the master conman "Slippin Jimmy" and moved with his brother to Albuquerque. Jimmy has never expressed any signs of remorse for his con artist past, nor the damage he inflicted on others, notably his father and overall enjoys the thrill of tricking people and furthering his own interests. Jimmy's relationship with his older brother Chuck was one of the primary catalysts for his transformation into a criminal lawyer. Chuck was shown to despise his brother for his manipulative and delinquent ways, and took every opportunity to sabotage him in order to prevent him from becoming a successful lawyer, as he knew that Jimmy would always be a conman and resort to unethical measures to get his way. However, Chuck's attempts would only fuel the fire and would push Jimmy closer and closer to his true criminal nature.

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Jimmy in action during a trial in court.

Throughout Better Call Saul, Jimmy eventually transforms from a struggling attorney focused on doing the "right" things into a master manipulator and reverts back to his conman persona. He is shown to be willing to resort to whatever measures necessary in order to gain clients and to ensure that his clients, who are complete criminals, avoid arrest such as manipulating police, fabricating evidence and even stealing from his clients for blackmail purposes. Despite this, Jimmy still uses his manipulation skills for good as seen when he saved two of his comrades from being murdered by Tuco Salamanca by talking him down to breaking their legs instead and also sabotaging his brother Chuck's files in order for Kim to get her clients back. Regardless however, Jimmy is vain, arrogant and selfish. He is completely focused on his own interests and is willing to ruin people's lives in the pursuit of his interests. For example, he turned an old woman's friends against her just in order for her to settle on a large case and receive his cut. Mostly, he proves his brother's mental illness in court in order to get off easy following being arrested and charged as a result of Chuck's actions, even through he was truly guilty in the manner. Jimmy is also spiteful as well as seen when he deliberately revealed his brother's mental illness to an insurance company for revenge for his actions, and this would eventually be the one of the primary catalysts leading to his brother's tragic suicide. Following Chuck's suicide, Jimmy seemed unmotivated, being borderline annoyed by all the people expressing their condolences at Chuck's funeral, and was completely dismissive of Howard's theory (which unbeknownst to him is the truth) that Chuck committed suicide once he was forced out of HHM.

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Jimmy and Kim arguing on the rooftop.

Despite this, Jimmy felt enough remorse to repair his mistake with his client by purposefully exposing his actions in a way that repaired the woman's friendships and presumably destroyed all of his own credibility with his clients in the process. However by the fourth season of Better Call Saul, Jimmy is shown to be even more cruel and non-caring as he shows barely any remorse for his older brother's tragic suicide, despite the fact that he is partly responsible and happily allows Howard to feel all the guilt over the situation; in a way following his brother's advice to no longer feel remorse for his actions and embrace who he is. Jimmy is shown to be willing to resort to even more extreme measures to get his way such as threatening three teenage thieves with death if they interfere with his drop phone service and feigning remorse for his brother's death simply to get reinstated as a lawyer and gleefully mocking the panel afterwards to Kim.

After being caught following his months on the run and faced with the harm that he's caused, Jimmy embraces being James McGill once again, shedding forever both his Saul Goodman and Gene Takavic personas. As Jimmy McGill, he owns up to his crimes, even though it turns a seven year prison sentence into an eighty-six year one, effectively condemning Jimmy to spend the rest of his life in prison. Jimmy also finally shows remorse for what he did to Chuck and for causing his suicide, the guilt of which Jimmy had previously ignored and buried.

Law career as Saul Goodman[]

"I can’t go back to being Jimmy McGill. Jimmy McGill the lawyer is always gonna be Chuck McGill’s loser brother. I’m done with that. That name is burned."
―Jimmy telling Kim why he wants to practice law under the name Saul Goodman.[src]
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Jimmy beginning to embrace his Saul Goodman persona

By Season 5 of Better Call Saul, Jimmy begins to fully embrace his new identity as "Saul Goodman", an alias he initially used while performing scams alongside Marco Pasternak, and later makes use of as the alternate identity for the high-energy pitchman in television ads he produced with his film crew, and when he began a business reselling prepaid cell phones on the street. Jimmy finally decides to practice law under this name, not wanting to be seen as Chuck's "loser brother" and believing the name McGill was burned to him. As Saul, Jimmy begins performing illicit schemes to get his way without a second thought and scamming others along the way, notably by his defense of Everett Acker against Mesa Verde. He is also shown to have grown somewhat cruel and sadistic, as seen by him gleefully harassing Howard for offering him a job at HHM by destroying his car and humiliating him by sending prostitutes to his lunch. He has shown to have also become more arrogant, as seen by his outburst at Howard after he confronts him for his harassment, claiming a job at HHM is too small and meaningless for him, since he is a god as Saul Goodman. Conversely, Jimmy's involvement with Lalo Salamanca shows that he is still capable of fear for his own life and the lives of those he cares about (namely Kim), and even helps to kill a gang member while stranded in the desert with Mike in order to ensure he makes it back to Kim and to deliver Lalo's bail money to protect her.

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Jimmy talking to some clients.

Despite his newfound shady nature as Saul Goodman, glimpses of Jimmy McGill can still be seen, exemplified by his genuine disgust for having to defend Lalo Salamanca for his brutal murder of the innocent Fred Whalen and his remorse for Fred's loved ones present in the courtroom. Overall, this is evidence of an internal struggle within him. Even though he refuses to admit it, it is also readily apparent that Jimmy is internally torn up over his brother's suicide, which Howard is able to recognize, and is thus the primary reason for which Jimmy chooses to harass Howard, who has finally moved on from Chuck's death while Jimmy hasn't. Regardless, Jimmy openly blames solely Howard for Chuck's death despite his own involvement, showing that he is unwilling to confront his own guilt.

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Jimmy being shocked at Kim's plan to scheme against Howard.

Jimmy has repeatedly shown worry for Kim, as seen by his reaction to some of her decisions that have likely been influenced by his own behavior, such as quitting her job at Schweikart and Cokely and her confidently conspiring to embark on a warpath against Howard for insulting them both by destroying his legal career to obtain their share of the Sandpiper Crossing settlement. Despite his hatred of Howard and the likelihood they can pull such as scam off, Jimmy advocates against it out of concern for both Howard and Kim, and is shown to be visibly shocked that Kim is dead serious about doing it, a similar occurrence to his own behavior at the end of Season 4.

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Jimmy sitting on a sofa in the aftermath of both Howard's death and Kim leaving him.

In Season 6, although he is an active participant in the plot to ruin Howard's reputation, Jimmy is shown to be the more hesitant of the two despite the fact that his criminal connections provide most of their props to carry the plan out. Nevertheless, Jimmy goes through with it and succeeds in forcing a settlement of the Sandpiper case, utterly humiliating Howard in the process. Although Howard figured out early that Jimmy and Kim were behind the elaborate plot, other people who know Jimmy, such as Clifford Main and Richard Schweikart (who are both aware of Jimmy's less-than-honest lifestyle and cons), can't believe that he would do such thing and truly believe that Howard simply is a drug addict or, at the very least, delusional. When Howard confronted Jimmy and Kim over their plot, Jimmy, despite having no remorse for the scam, claimed that Howard would still "land on his feet", and was angry when Howard called the pair sociopaths, exemplifying his ignorance over his true nature. Jimmy and Kim were nevertheless horrified when Howard was murdered by Lalo shortly afterwards, and after Jimmy collapses sideways on the ground (after being tied up in his chair by Lalo), he begins crying in shock and grief upon facing Howard’s corpse.

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Jimmy roughly in 2005, practicing as Saul after getting lost in the character, eventually completely embracing the persona.

Despite the traumatic events following Lalo's return and Howard's death, Jimmy kept practicing as Saul Goodman and was confident both him and Kim could move on from that unfortunate event. However, Jimmy's hopes would not come into fruition, as Kim decided to resign from her career as an attorney and leave Jimmy for good, saying that they were both bad for each other and hurt people around them. While arguing that Howard's death wasn't their fault and that it was Lalo who killed him, Jimmy found out that Kim knew Lalo was alive after being told so by Mike, and deliberately didn't tell him. After Kim left, Jimmy kept practicing as Saul for the next four years, eventually getting lost in the character, practicing as a criminal lawyer from dawn to dusk. By Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill has been completely overtaken by the Saul Goodman persona. He is shown to be a complete criminal lawyer who maintains extensive connections within the criminal underworld, and serves as a go-between connecting drug distributors, evidence removers, impersonators, and other criminals-for-hire. Despite his flamboyant appearance and mannerisms — punctuated by his outrageous low-budget TV commercials — Saul is a highly competent lawyer who is able to solve problems and find loopholes in order to protect his clients.

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Saul holding a boiling flask.

He is also not without integrity as he is shown to honor the ethical concerns of his profession, particularly the attorney–client privilege, and is reluctant to be associated with violence or murder unless absolutely necessary. He has served as an adviser for Walter, Jesse, Mike, and even for Skyler, whom he also helped acquire a car wash in order to launder Walter's drug money. With a sleazy manner that is sometimes bordering on comical, he might seem disreputable to police and certain other lawyers. Despite his fantastically shady appearance, Saul is indeed a highly competent extra-legal operator, adept at sniffing out legal loopholes and able to negotiate cherry deals on the behalf of his clients.

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Saul talking to one of his most notable clients, Walter White. After Walt's criminal activities were revealed to the public, Saul abandoned his law career and went into hiding.

Saul is shown to have an extremely poor moral compass and is more than willing to destroy lives in order to help his clients, as seen when he blackmailed Jesse's parents Diane and Adam to sell their property to Jesse at half price by threatening to disclose the meth lab that had been in the basement, and even murder does not faze him as he suggested numerous times to Walt to permanently remove a threat, notably Jesse and his brother-in-law Hank Schrader.

However, Saul's ethical limits are glimpsed when he tried to cut ties with Walt after learning that Walt had been using him to send a young boy to the hospital. Saul is somewhat of a coward as well as he was intimidated numerous times by his primary client, Walt, and likely feared death if he did not follow Walt's orders. Ultimately, allowing Walt to control him and helping him with his criminal activities would lead to Saul having to abandon his beloved life as a criminal lawyer and flee to Nebraska to live in hiding.

After being caught, Jimmy slips from "Gene Takavic" back into his old Saul Goodman persona to escape serious jail time, wearing a flashy suit once again and deftly negotiating a potential life plus 190 years sentence down to just seven years. However, when faced with Marie Schrader and the impact that his crimes have had on others, particularly Kim, he throws away both Saul Goodman and Gene forever to become Jimmy McGill again and to own up to his crimes, even though it essentially means spending the rest of his life in prison.

Fugitive life as Gene Takavic[]

"You're kidding me! Absolutely kidding me! (...) Do you know how much time, how much effort I put into finding the perfect mark?! I have to weed through all these saps who have wives and families at home! Find somebody who's alone, with money! And what—So you can just wimp out?! (...) So a guy with cancer can't be an asshole? Believe me! I speak from experience! (...) Do you know how many of the suckers we've ripped off had sob stories?! Every single one of them! Besides, it'll be months before they even realize they've been taken! This guy will already be dead! So please get back in your truck, go back to the house, and finish the job!"
―Gene's rant to Buddy over not going through with scamming a mark due to their illness, showing Gene's transformation from a scared Cinnabon manager to a dirty, unapologetic criminal.[src]
Gene Takavic

Gene Takavic working at a Cinnabon in Omaha.

After abandoning his life in New Mexico and becoming a cinnabon manager in Omaha, Nebraska under the alias Gene Takavic, he is initially shown to be a shell of the man he once was, living in complete fear of being exposed and arrested for his many crimes. He is also initially shown to be highly paranoid, once becoming so frightened by anything that could expose him that he suffers a panic attack that sends Gene to the hospital.

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Gene telling a shoplifter to "get a lawyer".

Despite the necessity of keeping a low profile, there's still a lot inside of Gene that craves some of his old life back, as shown when he marked "S.G. was here" on a wall or when he shouted to a shoplifter to get a lawyer. He is also shown to be devastated over the loss of his former life as a criminal lawyer, often watching old videos of his Saul Goodman commercials and weeping throughout them. After being recognized by Jeff, Gene panicked to the point that he called Ed Galbraith to give him a new identity again, but decided at the last minute to fix it himself rather than going through with the extraction, indicating that he has retained some of his old self and has finally had enough of running and living in fear. In order to deal with the danger of Jeff, Gene reverts back into his old "Slippin' Jimmy" persona once again, conning Jeff's mother Marion and helping Jeff get into the criminal lifestyle which he recognizes is what Jeff truly desires. Gene is shown to greatly enjoy the chance to employ his old talents as a con artist again while setting it up so that Jeff can't expose him without causing "mutually assured destruction" due to the number of crimes that he had committed. After this event and being energized by the con's success, Gene seems to be reinvigorated in his day to day life again, working at the Cinnabon with greater enthusiasm. Gene briefly checks out the sort of flamboyant outfit that he would've worn as Saul before putting it back, suggesting that Gene has decided to hang up his past for good and move on from being Saul Goodman and truly embrace his new life as Gene Takavic, though still holding on to memories of his past life as a con man.

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Gene's true identity as Saul being exposed by Marion.

However, Gene's plans for a new life free of crime are interrupted by the revelation that all of his assets have been seized by the government, leaving him with only what he brought with him to Nebraska. As a result, Gene falls back into being "Slippin' Jimmy" full time to make money with the help of Jeff and Buddy, successfully orchestrating a scam against multiple people over a long period of time, with Gene becoming a dirty, unapologetic criminal who has nothing to lose. Although Gene is shown to be sympathetic to Mr. Lingk, one of his victims who is dying of cancer, he insists upon proceeding with the scam even when Buddy and Jeff hesitate, and goes so far as to fire Buddy from the scam and personally break into the man's house to rob him. When Lingk later wakes up, Gene goes so far as to even contemplate bludgeoning Lingk with an urn containing his dog's ashes to knock him out, before the man passes out again.

Gene is later shown to panic when he realizes Marion has figured out his true identity as Saul, menacingly approaching her in a panicked rage with a cord and threatening her. When she did not give in to Gene's threatening attitude and informed the authorities of Gene's true identity as Saul moments afterwards, a scared Jimmy abandoned his life as Gene and trying to go on the run once again. Ultimately, Jimmy's attempt to "fix it himself" would lead to Marion discovering his true identity, causing Jimmy having to abandon his life as Gene and face justice for his actions. In addition, Gene's threatening actions towards Marion show just how much he has changed since his time as Jimmy McGill who, despite being a crook, cared deeply about the elderly and even destroyed his own reputation with his clients to make what he did to Irene Landry right. However, the fact that Marion's fear and, more specifically, her stating that she had trusted him caused Gene to hesitate suggests that he may have been reminded of the man he once was by Marion's reaction and saw he had gone too far.

Brief return to the Saul persona and becoming Jimmy again[]

"I wasn't there when the meth was cooked. I wasn't there when it was sold. I didn't witness any of the murders, but I damn well knew it was happening. I was more than a willing participant, I was indispensable. I kept Walter White out of jail, I laundered his money, I lied for him, I conspired with him and I made millions! If he hadn't walked into my office that day, Walter White would've been dead or behind bars within a month. And Agent Schrader and Agent Gomez and a whole lot of other people would still be alive. Fact is, Walter White couldn't have done it without me."
―Saul's confession about his criminal activities.[src]
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Saul admitting his pivotal role in Walt's Drug Empire to the court during his sentencing trial.

After being caught, Jimmy sheds his Gene persona to become Saul Goodman once again as he faces the authorities over his various crimes before then shedding both Saul and Gene for good to become Jimmy McGill permanently. He is finally shown to be resourceful about the deaths of Chuck and Howard, referring to Chuck's death as a crime. Referring to Kim, Jimmy said that she had more guts than him in the wake of Howard's death as she moved away from Albuquerque to start anew, but said it was him who ran away. In jail, he calls Bill Oakley and asks him to serve as his advisory counsel. The Government then offers Saul a "take-it-or-leave-it" deal of 30 years in jail, but Saul then narrates a version of events that places him as a victim and unwilling associate of Walter White's meth empire ever since he was kidnapped by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, intimidating the prosecution by declaring that he needs to convince only a single juror to avoid a Guilty verdict. He's able to improve his deal to just 7 years in a prison of his choice in North Carolina, which he tries to reduce even more by trading information about the death of Howard, upon which he is informed that Kim had already confessed to what actually happened to Howard a month prior.

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Jimmy and Kim looking at each other one last time.

While being extradited to Albuquerque, Saul asks Oakley to tell the Government that he has even more information about Howard's death. While in court, Saul starts his testimony by narrating the same kidnapping story, but then admits to doing business with Heisenberg of his own free will and for his gain, confessing in front of everybody to all his crimes and his indispensable role in Walter White's drug empire as well as his role in Chuck's ousting from HHM and ultimate suicide, all the while accepting that he doesn't really have any more information on Howard and had lied so Kim could come and see him admit to everything. Saul then declares that he is James McGill, finally leaving behind his alternate persona.


Jimmy is sent to prison in Colorado, his sentence now at 86 years. However, he is well respected and revered by his fellow inmates because of his history as Saul.

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