Breaking Bad
Genre Serial dramaCrimeBlack comedy
Created by Vince Gilligan
Starring Bryan CranstonAnna GunnAaron PaulDean NorrisBetsy BrandtRJ MitteBob OdenkirkGiancarlo EspositoJonathan Banks
Opening theme "Breaking Bad Theme" by Dave Porter
Composer(s) Dave Porter
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English Spanish
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 35 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Vince GilliganMark JohnsonMichelle MacLaren
Location(s) Albuquerque, New Mexico
Running time 47 minutes
Original channel AMC
Original run January 20, 2008 (2008-01-20) – present


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Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad is an American television drama series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The series is broadcast in the United States and Canada on the cable channel AMC, and is a production of Sony Pictures Television. It premiered on January 20, 2008. The series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on July 17, 2011.Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the aim of securing his family's financial future before he dies.Breaking Bad has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its writing and cinematography as well as for Cranston's and Paul's performances. It has won six Emmy Awards—including three consecutive wins for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Cranston—in addition to numerous other awards and nominations.


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The series is set and filmed in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The network originally ordered nine episodes for the first season (including the pilot), but the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike limited the production to seven episodes.

Lead actor Bryan Cranston stated in an interview: "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." Writer and creator Vince Gilligan defines the term as "to raise hell".

Breaking Bad reportedly costs $3 million per episode to produce, higher than the average cost for a basic cable program.

Series creator Vince Gilligan has indicated that he intends to conclude Breaking Bad with the fifth season.


Along with series creator Vince Gilligan the show's other executive producer is Mark Johnson. Michelle MacLaren initially joined the crew as an episodic director for the second season and rose to the position of executive producer for the fourth season. Melissa Bernstein and Sam Catlin are co-executive producers for the show.

John Shiban was a writer for the second season and a consulting producer for the third season but then left the crew. Writers George Mastras and Peter Gould began working on the series as story editors for the first season and became supervising producers for the fourth season. Thomas Schnauz joined the crew as a writer and co-producer for the third season and was also promoted to supervising producer for the fourth season.

Karen Moore was the series on set producer for the first two seasons. She left the crew after the second season and was replaced by Stewart A. Lyons. Star Bryan Cranston has become increasingly involved behind the camera as the series has progressed. He began directing episodes as of the second season and became a producer for the fourth season.

Chemical elements in the credits

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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). The credits at the beginning of the show usually continue this, with cast and crew members' names usually including one chemical element symbol if appropriate. Most of these are actual elements, but one exception was Ch in the name Michael, which does not stand for any chemical element.

The opening credits also feature the formula (C10H15N) for methamphetamine.

The number 149.24 (the molecular mass of the methamphetamine molecule) is also repeated in the introduction.

Cast and characters

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Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), Vince Gilligan (creator) and Bryan Cranston (Walter White) with producers of Breaking Bad.

Main cast

  • Bryan Cranston as Walter White
  • Anna Gunn as Skyler White
  • Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
  • Dean Norris as Hank Schrader
  • Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader
  • RJ Mitte as Walter White, Jr.
  • Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo "Gus" Fring
  • Jonathan Banks as Mike


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Season one

The first season was originally intended to be nine episodes, but due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike only seven episodes were filmed. The first season premiered on January 20, 2008, and concluded on March 9, 2008.

A struggling high school chemistry teacher, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), is diagnosed with incurable, advanced (stage IIIA) lung cancer. On a ride along with his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), Walter sees a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), fleeing the scene of a meth lab. He later contacts Jesse and devises a scheme to become partners in an attempt to combine their skills to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Walter says he wants to provide financial stability for his pregnant wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and disabled son, and to pay for his expensive cancer treatment. During Walter and Jesse's first days of selling Albuquerque's finest meth, they encounter a series of problems with local drug dealers.

On February 17, 2009, AMC and Sony teamed up to offer original Minisodes of Breaking Bad that take place both before season one and between seasons one and two. The short videos include a vignette where Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Badger (Matt Jones) attempt to break into a house; a peek at Valentine's Day between Marie (Betsy Brandt) and her husband Hank (Dean Norris); a moment between Hank and Walt on Hank's wedding day; Marie's video diary; and a music video from Jesse's (Aaron Paul) garage band TwaüghtHammër. These episodes were made available on the Minisode's home Crackle and AMC's site. Other minisodes include an original cartoon called "Team S.C.I.E.N.C.E", narrated by Aaron Paul, about the comic book characters created by Jesse, along with several infomercials hosted by Bob Odenkirk and meant as companion pieces to the fictional Saul Goodman character's website.

Season two

On May 7, 2008, AMC announced that Breaking Bad was renewed for a second, 13-episode season. Production began in July 2008 and the season premiered on March 8, 2009 and concluded on May 31, 2009.

Walter continues to find himself facing insurmountable medical bills from his cancer treatment. Despite having several bad experiences while producing meth with Jesse, Walter agrees to rejoin his partner. The two begin producing meth but run into multiple problems. Jesse's friend Badger (Matt L. Jones) is arrested while selling meth in a sting operation. Walter hires a lawyer, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), to help Badger. Later, Combo, another one of Jesse's friends and distributors, is killed by a rival gang for selling meth on their territory. Saul suggests the two find a new distribution model. He finds Walter and Jesse a new business partner, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), who is willing to pay $1.2 million for 38 pounds of meth. The two drive a recreational vehicle into the desert and produce the meth in four days. Upon returning to Albuquerque, Walter hastily delivers his product to Gus, but misses his daughter's birth. Skyler confronts Walter about his frequent absences and excuses. She begins to piece together his secret life, and demands the two separate.

Season three

On April 2, 2009, AMC announced that Breaking Bad was renewed for a third, 13-episode season. It premiered on March 21, 2010, and concluded on June 13, 2010.

Walter wishes to reunite his family, but Skyler is still suspicious of Walter's second life. Walter believes he can mend the tension between them by confessing to her that he has been producing meth. Skyler is appalled by the confession and demands a formal divorce. Meanwhile, Gus offers to pay Walter three million dollars for three months of his service. He even offers to provide Walter with a state-of-the-art production facility and a brilliant lab assistant, Gale (David Costabile). Jesse is continuing to produce meth and sell meth by himself. Hank is working with the DEA to investigate Jesse and is slowly gathering evidence to make an arrest. Jesse threatens to report Walter to the police if he is arrested unless Walter gives him Gale's position at the lab. Gus begins to lose trust in Walter and asks Gale to take over the lab. He orders his henchmen to kill Walter and Jesse. Sensing betrayal, Walter asks Jesse to kill Gale in order to become the organization's only chemist.

Season four

On June 14, 2010, AMC announced that Breaking Bad was renewed for a fourth, 13-episode season. Production began in January 2011 and the season premiere aired on July 17, 2011. Originally, mini episodes of four minutes in length were to be produced before the premiere of the fourth season, but these did not come to fruition.


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Breaking Bad has received critical acclaim in addition to numerous awards and nominations, including six Emmy Awards and Bryan Cranston winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row.

Awards and nominations

The series has received awards recognition from a variety of sources. The show has won 16 industry awards and been nominated for a further 40.

Critical reception
David Segal of The New York Times praised the show as "satisfying and complex: a revolutionary take on the serial drama."Alan Sepinwall of HitFix remarked that the third season belonged "in the pantheon of all-time great years for a TV drama."Newsweek called the program "TV's finest hour." Richard Woodward of The Huffington Post referred to the series as "ultra-dark and gripping."James Poniewozik of Time named Breaking Bad the top show on his "Top 10 TV Series of 2010" list. Todd VanDerWerff of HitFix admired the show for being "better than almost any series on right now at ramping up tension in almost completely organic ways." Linda Stasi of the New York Post stated "the acting is as good as you'll see on TV."Time said the series "has the elements of success." Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly rated season one a "B+". Novelist Stephen King also praised the series as "the best scripted show on TV" in his "Pop of King" column in Entertainment Weekly.National Review commentator Jonah Goldberg has referred to the program as "the best show on TV" (emphasis in original) and to the character White as "a mensch at sea." Author and contributor Chuck Klosterman named Breaking Bad the "best TV show of the past 10 years," edging out Mad Men, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter admired the show as "unquestionably one of the greatest dramas in TV history."Slant Magazine contributor Sarah Holcomb detailed the show as "a complete work, one thought out long in advance and unfolding in its own time. This is one of the rarest finds on television."

On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season scored 74/100, the second season scored 85/100, the third season scored 89/100 and the fourth season currently scores 96/100, receiving the status of "universal acclaim."

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 and becoming the most-watched episode of the series.

Online promotion

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Promotion for season four included an interactive role-playing comic, in which the user acts as Jesse Pinkman as he tries to recover his savings, which he had entrusted to a local money launderer who has disappeared along with the money; the game also features the characters of Badger and Saul Goodman. Season three promotion also included an interactive role-playing comic designed by Nicholas Fortugno called "The Interrogation", located on AMC's Breaking Bad website; in the game, users play Walter White's brother-in-law, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Hank Schrader, as he interrogates a suspect in a murder and gun-running scheme. Also released prior to season three was the Breaking Bad Criminal Aptitude Test, a personality quiz that compared the user to various criminal character types featured in the series. Season three promotion also featured an elaborate website devoted to Bob Odenkirk's character Saul Goodman. The site includes legal advice, fashion tips and customer testimonials. For season two, there was a viral marketing campaign in which users could experience meeting Walt from a first-person perspective. A charity website was set up for Walter White in season two by Walter Jr. The website's fictional donation button links to the National Cancer Coalition. 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.

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