Breaking Bad, the story of terminally ill high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin Walter White and his youthful suburban business partner and frenemy Jesse Pinkman, arrived on television in 2013 and the medium was never the same. It's rightly regarded as one of the great television shows of all time, right alongside The Sopranos, The Twilight Zone, and Seinfeld, in lists compiled by critics and fans. Today we look at 10 things you never knew about Breaking Bad.
The future hit was a hard pass for most networks.
Hindsight is always 20/20, right? Certainly, the networks that said "No" to Breaking Bad came to regret it, as the AMC smash racked up ratings and collected awards. The networks that passed, for different reasons, include HBO, Showtime, TNT, and FX.
Breaking Bad isn't a how-to guide for crystal meth.
Thanks to some sage advice from the DEA and other consultants who assisted, producers made certain that the science in Breaking Bad was never perfect. The show has even helped people kick illegal drugs. In New Mexico, high addiction rates are battled in part by the Breaking Addiction scholarship, which trades on the show's immense popularity and offers a shot at 12 weeks of free rehab treatment.
AMC wanted Matthew Broderick or John Cusack as Walter White.
A former executive for the network once told The Hollywood Reporter about AMC's reluctance to cast the dad from Malcolm in the Middle as the lead. They originally pushed for more established names like Matthew Broderick and John Cusack.
For an acclaimed drama there were a lot of comedians.
Creator, Head Writer, and Executive Producer Vince Gilligan once remarked, "If you can do comedy you can do drama. It doesn't necessarily flow the other way." Much like his old gig, The X-Files, which gave him his big break after he submitted a script for Season 2, Breaking Bad often cast comedians in dramatic roles. Bryan Cranston himself was once a fledgling comic, well before his role in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. Bob Odenkirk, star of the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, is the accomplished co-creator of Mr. Show. Breaking Bad also featured familiar standup faces like Bill Burr, Lavell Crawford, Steven Michael Quezada, and Javier Grajeda.
Speaking of the X-Files...
Bryan Cranston first tried his hand at some Vince Gilligan dialog in an episode of The X-Files called Drive, which was written by his future Breaking Bad boss.
The Walking Dead connection.
There's a fan theory circulating online that supposes AMC's Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead exist in a shared universe, with Walter's blue meth noted as one crossover clue, and the idea that Gus Fring may have been the world's first walker. Whatever one chooses to believe about this, there is at least one very definitive connection between the two shows. The makeup and prosthetics used for the shocking death of Giancarlo Esposito's character were made by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, the award-winning duo behind the gore of The Walking Dead.
There's a Seinfeld connection, too.
There isn't much evidence to suggest that Breaking Bad and NBC's Seinfeld exist in the same universe, but there's plenty of crossover when it comes to the casts. A handful of future Breaking Bad stars made appearances on Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's beloved "show about nothing": Anna Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Jessica Hecht, and Walter White himself, Bryan Cranston, as the infamous re-gifting dentist Tom.
There's even a Miami Vice connection.
Giancarlo Esposito made a handful of guest appearances on Miami Vice, the hit '80s cop show that starred Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas as two smooth fashion plate detectives. Esposito told the Toronto Sun that he took a cue from another of the show's stars, Edward James Olmos, in his approach to chicken restaurateur and drug cartel affiliate Gus Fring, as opposed to the often showier performances from Miami Vice's two heartthrob leads. "Eddie did very little and he was very convincing," he explained. "I wanted Gus to be in that mode."
Walt's lottery code really does lead somewhere.
The coordinates hidden in a lottery ticket by Walter White may not lead to barrels full of drug money, but they definitely went somewhere in real life. Following the proverbial blue meth bricked road will lead to New Mexico's Q Albuquerque Studios, site of scenes in a slew of Hollywood productions, including Marvel's The Avengers, Logan, AMC's Preacher, and of course, both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.
There are a perfect number of episodes.
The number of episodes contained in Breaking Bad's five seasons was no accident. There are 62 episodes of Breaking Bad. The 62nd element on the periodic table is Samarium, used to treat a number of different cancers, like the one Walt suffered.