For those unfamiliar with the series, Breaking Bad was an American television series about a very brilliant chemist and high school teacher named Walt who made the questionable decision to produce and sell crystal meth. He did so because he developed lung cancer, and he did what he did in order to pay for the cancer treatment he needed as well as provide his family with money to live on after his death.
Things naturally got complicated as a result of his criminal activities, and the show was so popular that there is currently a spin-off focusing on what was a more-or-less minor (although very well liked) character on the show.
The first episode of Breaking Bad aired on the 20th of January in 2008, which means that the hit crime drama is now over ten years old. In recognition, we have decided to share with you several facts about the show that you probably didn’t know.
1. Bogdan was actually a chemistry genius in real life
Breaking Bad had a number of memorable supporting characters. One of the most recognizable was Bogdan Wolynetz, who owned a car wash at which Walt worked and would later purchase in order to launder money. If you watched the show, you’ll remember him as the guy with the eyebrows.
Interestingly enough, Bogdan’s portrayer—Marius Stan—was actually a chemist before he decided to get into the acting game. His role on Breaking Bad was actually his first major acting role.
Just to be clear: Marius Stan was a chemist; he did not—as far as we know—manufacture or sell drugs.
He was a great character, though. Here’s hoping he shows up on Breaking Bad’s spinoff Better Call Saul.
2. Walter White’s underwear was sold for about ten thousand dollars
In the pilot of Breaking Bad, actor Bryan Cranston—who portrayed protagonist Walter White—wore a pair of “tighty whities”. It was apparently a character choice made by the actor, and it was quite the iconic scene.
A fan actually paid $9,900 for that pair of underwear.
Other props and such from the show actually sold for even more money. For example, a book that was pivotal to the show’s story sold for over $65,000. A bell rung by a drug dealer went for almost $20,000. The auction at which these items sold raised almost a million dollars, which just goes to show how popular Breaking Bad really was—and continues to be.
3. Wendy the Prostitute was extremely convincing, to the point she was almost picked up
Wendy was a minor character in Breaking Bad, but she also played a pretty critical part in the show’s overall story. Long story short: Wendy was a prostitute who sold her body for drugs, and she was associated with one of the show’s major characters.
The makeup department did such a good job making up actress Julia Minesci that she was actually mistaken for a real prostitute while filming scenes for one of Breaking Bad’s episodes. A van pulled up, and the actress thought it was all part of a scene. It was not. The show’s worried producers called the actress away.
4. HBO rejected the series
As most of us know, Breaking Bad was extremely popular; critics and viewers both absolutely adored the series. Despite having first aired 10 years ago, it is still being watched thanks to Netflix and other streaming services. Also, as mentioned above, there is a spin-off/prequel currently being produced, and it has been very well received.
The channel HBO actually passed on Breaking Bad, which likely still irritates the network that produced The Wire as well as The Sopranos. Neither HBO, nor the channel TNT, really saw the show’s potential. There were concerns about the ambiguous morals being portrayed, which totally makes sense considering the show was about a drug dealer.
The show was aired on the channel AMC, which is also the channel that also airs the spinoff.
5. Real-life dealers of crystal meth have died their “product” blue
For those unfamiliar with the series, protagonist Walter White dealt crystal meth that was blue for chemistry-related reasons that aren’t worth getting into here. It made sense in the context of the story, and that’s all you need to know about that.
Allegedly, the show’s chemistry was pretty solid regarding the process of making crystal meth, but the color of the blue meth was more or less dramatic license. The meth wouldn’t have been blue in real life. That did not stop actual drug dealers from dying their meth blue in order to take advantage of the show’s immense popularity.
6. Hector was supposed to be the main villain of the piece
The character of Hector—who by the way is appearing in the spinoff/prequel—was supposed to be the main villain of Breaking Bad. Those who have watched the show know that things didn’t exactly turn out that way. Why not?
Gus Fring ended up being the show’s major bad guy (at least the most memorable one), and that’s because Gus’ actor—Giancarlo Esposito—was so brilliant in his role. Gus was only supposed to appear in a few episodes, but everyone was so impressed by his performance that he was made a semi-permanent character. The actor even negotiated a bigger part for himself—and then ended up a character in the spin-off Better Call Saul.
Weirdly enough, Hector ended up helping Walt take out his enemy Gus in the finale of season four, becoming a pseudo-ally of the morally questionable protagonist.
7. Felina was the most watched episode of the series
The episode called Felina was the series finale of Breaking Bad. It was also the most watched episode of the show, which is sort of surprising if you know how television works. Most shows end a little too long after they’re worn out their welcome, after all.
We don’t want to spoil anything in case you’re one of those four people who haven’t binge watched Breaking Bad, but it revolves around Walt’s actions after being outed as one of the biggest drug dealers ever. He also has to fight neo-Nazis and avenge the death of a close family member, and he is remarkably successful.
It was actually watched by six times as many people as watched season one (on average) due to word-of-mouth as well as being accessible via Netflix.
The title of the episode—Felina—is actually pretty significant. Fe, Li, and Na are actually chemical symbols, and they refer to iron, lithium, and sodium. In other words: blood, meth, and tears.
Without spoiling anything, there’s a lot of blood and tears in that finale—not to mention a lot of meth.
The title might also refer to a song called El Paso by Marty Robbins, which is about a person named Felina and a cowboy who undertakes a journey similar to Walt’s.
8. The final season’s premiere was dedicated to a fan
The episode called “Blood Money” was the premiere of Breaking Bad’s final season, and it was dedicated to Kevin Cordasco. He wasn’t a member of the cast or crew—he was just a huge fan of the crime drama. Kevin had been battling brain cancer for several years and even met series star Bryan Cranston via a family friend. Cranston actually arranged it so that Kevin could meet several members of the cast.
Kevin was also given the possibility of knowing how the series would end; he refused that knowledge, fearing that he would be unable to keep the secret.
Kevin sadly did not live to see the finale of Breaking Bad, but Kevin actually had a direct and major impact on the ending of the show. When the show’s creator—Vince Gilligan—asked Kevin which characters he would like to see more of, Kevin mentioned the Schwartz couple, who had once been business partners with Walter White before he ended up peddling meth.
They end up appearing in the series finale to be intimidated by Walter White and his associates.
9. The episode viewed by the least number of people introduced the focal character in its popular spin-off
For those unfamiliar with Better Call Saul, the show tells the story of Jimmy McGill (AKA Saul Goodman) in the years prior to his becoming a lawyer for Breaking Bad’s protagonist Walter White. There have been three seasons of the show so far, and a fourth is being made. The show is different in tone to Breaking Bad in a lot of ways, but has been received very well by viewers and critics alike. It also stars Jonathan Banks, who portrayed Mike on Breaking Bad.
Saul Goodman, portrayed by Bob Odenkirk, helped the meth Walter White get away with a lot of criminal activity. The episode that introduced him on Breaking Bad received the show’s lowest ratings. That is not terribly surprising, really, as the episode occurred in the middle of a season. Still, the fact an episode that introduced a fan-favorite character was so lowly rated is a bit of a surprise.
Only about one million people watched the episode in question.
10. Saul Goodman’s name sounds like s’all good man
We just talked about Saul Goodman, the shady lawyer who helped the meth dealer protagonist of Breaking Bad do naughty things in his pursuit of wealth and power. Saul Goodman sounds like s’all good man—which is probably what you want your lawyer to say if you’re in legal trouble.
As we’ve already mentioned, Saul Goodman isn’t the real name of the lawyer—his real name is Jimmy McGill, and we’re watching him transition from the reasonably nice Jimmy to the morally questionable Saul on the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.
11. Bryan Cranston got a Breaking Bad tattoo
Robin, the wife of Bryan Cranston, wasn’t exactly thrilled when the show’s star got a tattoo commemorating his time on Breaking Bad. There was a drunken emotional celebration after shooting ended, and a crew member who was also a tattoo artist gave Cranston a tattoo on his ring finger.
Cranston’s wife has described him as not a “tattoo guy”.
12. Walter White could have been played by John Cusack
While it is difficult to picture anyone other than Bryan Cranston portraying the character of Walter White, other actors were considered. After all, before Breaking Bad, Cranston was best known for playing a dad on a sitcom; therefore, AMC was understandably concerned about his ability to play a drug dealer.
Both Matthew Broderick and John Cusack were considered for the part of Walter White; they were even sent scripts of the pilot.
Aaron Paul almost didn’t get the part of Jesse; the actor was considered too good looking to portray a drug addict.
13. The meth on the show is actually candy
For obvious reasons, the crystal meth you see on Breaking Bad is not the actual drug; using it as a prop would probably be illegal. Instead, the show used rock candy.
When characters were seen smoking the “meth” they had to be careful not to inhale; inhaling sugar can actually be quite dangerous.
14. Basically every character on the show could have died
Aaron Paul played Jesse—Walt’s partner in crime, more or less—for all five seasons of Breaking Bad. He was definitely one of the shows more popular characters. As we’ve already mentioned, the actor almost didn’t get cast because he was considered too good looking to play a drug addict—which probably explains why Jesse was one of the more popular characters on the show.
Writers actually intended to kill Jesse off at the end of season one, which definitely would have made Breaking Bad a much different show.
Creator Vince Gilligan has admitted that no character on the show—with the exception of Walt—was safe from the Grim Reaper. Even Walt’s baby daughter could have been killed off.
15. Jesse and Walter Jr. never met
Jesse and Walter Jr. were two of the most important characters in the Breaking Bad universe. Jesse was Walter’s on-and-off partner in crime, while Walter Jr. was the son of the drug-dealing protagonist. Jesse and Walt were also very close at various points throughout the show’s multi-year run, and Walt only started manufacturing crystal meth in order to provide for his family; however, somehow Jesse never met Walter Jr. The two actors never shared a scene.
Happy 10th birthday Breaking Bad!