10 Breaking Bad Defining Moments

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Posted on: September 22nd, 2013

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The end is nigh for The Greatest Show on Television. We’re a mere two episodes away from finding out whether Vince Gilligan has crafted a great TV show or a perfect TV show. It all hinges on the ending.

Breaking Bad is a tricky show to define. The old ‘Mr Chips into Scarface’ cliché just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. The show has gone through so many twists and turns and genre leaps that it’s impossible to point to one moment and say “this is Breaking Bad”. One moment, the show is a family drama. Then it’s harrowingly violent. Then a scene wanders in straight from a sitcom. As a result, it’s impossible to predict what direction an episode, or even a scene, will go in. That’s how it manages to blind-side us all so easily.


So here are the show’s ten most defining moment, ten scenes that encapsulate an aspect of what the show is, or which defined the direction it was going in. Full spoilers for up to and including series 5b follow – you have been warned. (Seriously, even the photos are spoilers. Don’t read unless you’re up to date!)


10. Better Call Saul


Breaking Bad - Better Call Saul



If you’ve never seen Breaking Bad before, you probably wouldn’t guess that it was a funny show. You just don’t expect shows about meth and cancer to be a laugh a minute. And, well, while the laughs certainly don’t come that frequently, Breaking Bad can be a hilarious show. A perfectly crafted example of this is the episode Better Call Saul, introducing Walt’s shady, soon-to-be-spun-off lawyer Saul Goodman.


The episode is an absolute riot, from the odd DJ Qualls guest appearance in the cold opening to Walt and Jesse’s spectacularly inept attempts to intimidate Saul, all culminating in a sting operation of pure farce. Bob Odenkirk nails the criminal lawyer, but it’s Bryan Cranston’s flawless comic timing and constant look of disbelief when things are going wrong that really sells the humour of Breaking Bad.


9. “I am the one who knocks”


Breaking Bad - I am the one who knocks



This is Walt’s first Scarface moment. Sure, he’s done bad things before. He committed his first murder in episode one. But this is the moment where we realise that it’s getting to him. Human life just doesn’t mean that much to him anymore, unless it’s his family or Jesse. He’s just ordered the execution of the (semi) innocent Gale to save his own life, and instead of feeling guilty about it, he lets the power go to his head, and scares the shit out of Skyler – and the audience – in the process. This is the moment you realise that Walt is not the hero of this show.


Walt has many an excellent speech in this show (they account for most of his Emmys) but it’s hard to top the original and the best: “I am not in danger – I AM THE DANGER!”

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Author Info

I'm a script writer and film maker who also writes for @starburst_mag and @badhaven. Occassionally I sleep, too.

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  • Ray Butler

    A strange thing I noticed about the episode Hank finds out Walt is Heisenberg; as the family is enjoying the cook out, on numerous occasions they make innocent comments that could be interpreted as ominous or “meth empire” related.
    (spoilers) It is obvious how destructive Walt is, but all the innocent people broken in his wake is kinda offset by all the bad guys he takes down; beginning with Emilio, Crazy 8, Tuco and crew, but the presence of Walt makes it possible for Fring to take out a huge chunk of the Cartel, then of course Fring and his crew go down. But people may not realise it, but Mike and his crew are bad guys also and Walt purges the world of them.

  • Kyle

    Walt let Jane die because she was trying to extort money from him and knew too much. Walt protected his interests first, then Jesse’s.

  • Gerardo Mora

    Liked your article, thanks.