This is the article who knocks! So look no further for your Breaking Bad trivia fix; we've got what you need, baby... Go on; take a taste. It's 99% pure!
1) Vince Gilligan described Walt's character arc as going from 'Mr. Chips' to 'Scarface.'
As told by CNN:
"When creator Vince Gilligan first pitched the show, he described it as 'a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface.'"
For those who don't know, Goodbye, Mr. Chips was a 1934 novel about a conventional schoolteacher at a British boys' school...and Scarface was the 1983 tour de force motion picture featuring Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a ruthless cocaine kingpin from Cuba who made it big in Miami by murdering anyone who got in his way.
Thus, to transform the "hero" of Walter White from one extreme to the other, Breaking Bad had to tread very lightly and very slowly, in order to build and maintain sympathy for the "protagonist" as long as possible. And it worked! Even after Walter had clearly turned into a pretty much evil, egotistical drug lord every bit as bad as those he'd replaced, the audience still cheered for him.
This was a feat which would have been impossible to accomplish in the span of a two-hour movie, but it worked because the show carefully, painstakingly transformed him over the course of six seasons.
(Then again, Scarface himself began his movie as a bad guy and stayed a bad guy throughout...)
2) Say hello to more 'Scarface' homages...they're everywhere!
Speaking of Scarface, most of you know Vince Gilligan was heavily influenced by Brian DePalma's 1983 drug lord epic Scarface. In fact, you might recognize actor Mark Margolis (who played the crippled, bell-dinging Hector Salamanca) as the soulless assassin Alberto the Shadow in that earlier film.
This wasn't the only homage to Scarface; indeed there was a scene in which Walt and Walt Jr. were watching the movie as Skylar walks in...startled, by the look on her face to see how much her own husband was becoming similar to the machine gun-toting gangster on the living room TV.
For more famous fiction antagonists, check out "The Terrifying Optimism of Villains"
Scarface on Amazon Video
In the spring of 1980, the port at Mariel Harbor was opened, and thousands set sail for the United States. They came in search of the American Dream. One of them found it on the sun-washed avenues of Miami wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest dreams. He was Tony Montana. The world will remember him by another name, Scarface.
If you're a true Breaking Bad fan, do yourself a favor and watch or re-watch this movie! The Walts love it; so will you!
3) Aaron Paul never took acting lessons.
4) Original Heisenberg hats are as hard to find a 99% pure meth.
You want a genuine Heisenberg, you'll have to pay the eBay scalpers nearly $400...up from the manufacturer's price of $150.
Breaking Bad: Season 1 on Amazon Video
5) Walt's Heisenberg hat is in the Smithsonian.
That's right, the infamous yet slightly silly-looking pork pie became such a cultural icon that the Smithsonian National Museum of American History now houses it as an artifact. During the formal induction ceremony, Bryan Cranston donned the black hat one more time...pissing off the museum curators in the process!
6) Bryan Cranston was thinking of his own daughter in the Jane death scene.
Bit of a spoiler if you're planning to read Cranston's new autobiography, A Life in Parts.
But yes, during the scene in which Walter White stood by and watched as Jane Margolis, Pinkman's drug-addled girlfriend, choked to death on her own vomit, actor Cranston unexpectedly envisioned the face of his own daughter over that of actress Krysten Ritter...causing him to have an extremely emotional reaction which shocked everyone on set--including him!
7) Bryan Cranston has a new book out! A Life in Parts
Not trivia per se, but this is an interesting read. And do I skip the non-Breaking Bad parts? Of course not, how dare you accuse me! I would never, NEVER skip entire chapters of this man, this actor's autobiography. I don't read this book for me, you understand. I read this book for all of you, in fact EVERYTHING I do, I do for you! Nothing for me; all for you...
Oh, and here's a blurb:
A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.
Most of you won't be buying this book for a rundown of Cranston's bit role in the TV sitcom Seinfeld...but it's in there. Yep, in case you forgot, Cranston played Seinfeld's annoying (and sometimes creepy) dentist, Tim Whatley...
8) Bryan Cranston played Tim Whatley the "Jewish" dentist on Seinfeld.
Oh, what the heck; here's a YouTube clip of Cranston on Seinfeld! You're welcome! Did you forget about this guy? If so, do yourself a favor and go binge watch some Seinfeld! Whatley is nearly as mercurial a chap as Walter himself! At one point the creepy dentist even converts to Judaism--just so he can tell Jewish jokes and not get criticized!
9) Pinkman's teeth should've looked worse.
Vince Gilligan stated he wanted to make Jesse Pinkman's meth-mouth worse looking since meth smoke does destroy a user's tooth enamel over time...but actor Aaron Paul was too good looking; they didn't want to mess with the star's appeal and pearly whites! But I guess they made up for it by making Wendy's teeth that much uglier!
10) Walt Jr. actor RJ Mitte really does have cerebral palsy.
Breaking Bad: Season 2 on Amazon Video
11) No, Gus Fring wasn't gay...or was he?
During the seasons when Gustavo Fring was playing the heavy, many viewers spread the rumor that the character was homosexual. The subject of Fring's sexual preferences never came up during the show, however actor Giancarlo Esposito has stated that the character was a married family man. That said, writer and show runner Vince Gilligan did hint that perhaps Fring and his henchman Max may've been lovers...but this was probably just the director having fun and adding to the rumor mill. Here's his actual quote to EW:
"I personally think Max was more than just a friend to Gus. I think they probably were lovers."
12) Danny Trejo (Tortuga) is an actual ex-convict.
"An East L.A. drug dealer and thief, Trejo did sentences in the state’s harshest prisons, becoming a boxing legend while on the inside. Following a successful drug rehabilitation program, he lent his newfound enlightenment to many counseling programs, one of which was Cocaine Anonymous."
13) Walter White was a real person.
14) Yo, snag a copy of Pinkman's Cap'n Cooks website.
15) Breaking Bad increased curiosity and abuse of meth...?
According to one Stafford Professor Ellis Cashmore:
"Although the show does not go out to glamorise the drug, its very inclusion promotes interest in that substance.
"The fact it is a central premise to almost the entire series would serve to boost this interest for people who perhaps had not encountered it before."
So did the show make the drug more popular, or was the show popular because the drug was already so common? Which came first--the meth or the series?
16) Walter White is considered one of TV's greatest villains.
17) Wendy the hooker was solicited in real life.
Who didn't love Wendy, the root beer-lovin', BJ-in-a-car-givin' street prostitute? Certainly Pinkman did, before he stepped up his game and hooked up with Jane. But actress Julia Minesci was so convincing that she was once solicited for sex by an actual john during an on-location shoot. Even worse, Minesci didn't realize that the person wasn't part of the cast; she'd filmed with so many actors driving up to her that day, she thought he was just another one...until the crew came and advised her to get rid of the guy! Gross!!
18) MythBusters dissolved a pig in acid.
The MythBusters worked their magic to test one of Breaking Bad's theories--that a dead body could be "gotten rid of" by dissolving it in hydrofluoric acid. In fact, the duo upped the ante by using a stronger version of Walt's formula: 6 gallons total of sulfuric acid, plus some "special sauce," which they would not reveal for fear of the recipe actually being used by criminals!
Oh, and they didn't dunk a human corpse in the acid; they used a headless pig carcass instead.
19) Breaking Bad broke into badly drawn comics.
20) AMC made Breaking Bad online comics, too.
21) Walter's Coffee: a real, Breaking Bad-inspired coffee chain!
Started in Istanbul of all places, Walter's Coffee Roastery is clearly a franchise inspired by the Breaking Bad series, though it does take pains not to infringe too directly upon the show's trademarks. After all, aren't their a lot of Walters out there, who are into chemistry and hazmat suits? Suuure...
But hey, they don't reference the show anywhere in the cafe or on their website. We know, we've visited the Turkish cafe to make sure...and it's pretty dang awesome!
22) The RV was a set prop.
Of course the show used a real Fleetwood Bounder RV for scenes involving driving (which Aaron Paul stated he hated)...but otherwise, the RV "Methabago" was just another set built in a studio warehouse.
23) Some geeks took the time to fact check Badger's Star Trek script
I love "geeks" because I am one. If I weren't I wouldn't have written this article. But come on! One of you guys actually went out of your way to fact check the fictional script of a fictional character? Yes, you did. When Badger (high in the episode) told Skinny Pete his ideas for a Star Trek script involving a pie eating contest...wherein lay the problem, because Pete referenced tulaberries and said they were from Voyager. In fact, they were first introduced on Deep Space Nine...as somebody astutely pointed out, drawing nearly 7,500 comments on Reddit!
For more sci-fi trivia, check out "5 Science Fiction Heroes Who Hate Science"
24) Skylar hate confused the writers...and the actress herself.
People don't like Skylar White. And neither Vince Gilligan nor Anna Gunn quite understood why. Exact same thing happened in the Godfather films; the viewers root for Michael Corleone, never for his wife Kay. Is it hate of women in general? Skylar's sister Marie Schrader (played by Betsy Brandt) is also not a popular character in the show, nor are three of the other main female characters: Jane, Lydia, and to a lesser extent Wendy.
The issue has been dissected and analyzed and yet, in the end, I think the bottom line is: no matter what her good or bad qualities are, Skylar White's just not a likable or charismatic character...and Walt, bad as he becomes, is always charismatic.
So the audience, sympathizing as they do with Walt no matter what he does, must, therefore, oppose Skylar at every turn. They are Yin and Yang, black and...White.
Walt says that everything he does, he does for the family. Actually it's Skylar who does everything for the family (except the affair; that was for her). But who is "the family?" It's Walt, Walt Jr. (who, though likable, isn't nearly as cool as Walter's prodigal son Jesse Pinkman), Skyler herself, and baby Holly...who is little more than a stage prop and an emotional McGuffin to use as needed.
25) Holly's 21st birthday was almost filmed.
Vince Gilligan and the other Breaking Bad writers discussed the possibility of a flash forward scene to baby Holly White's 21st birthday, the day she gets her inheritance of blood money. Obviously this cool concept never made it out of the writers' room, but we can imagine what it would've been like...her watching a video of her father speaking, perhaps, explaining how much he loved her, how everything he did, he did for her, yada yada...
Breaking Bad: Season 3 on Amazon Video
26) The image of the floating teddy bear eye came before the concept of the airplane collision.
Writers are a weird bunch, and sometimes a striking visual image will get stuck in their craw... Unable to shake it, they'll do the unthinkable--they'll write it into a story, and try to come up with the reason for its appearance later! That's exactly what happened with Vince Gilligan and company. The floating teddy bear eye in the swimming pool had worked its way on screen long before they ever had a clue how it had gotten there. It was a classic McGuffin--but they hadn't figured out what to do with it.
Luckily they were able to work backwards and retrofit the story to make sense. Ahh, a midair airplane collision!!--caused because of an air traffic controller's error, an air traffic controller grieving over the death of his young daughter (Jane), a death watched and allowed by none other than Walter White...whose swimming pool debris from the aircraft crash landed in. Debris which included one loose (and macabre) plastic teddy bear eye.
27) Heisenberg was a way for the writer to live vicariously.
Writer Vince Gilligan stated flat out:
"...I am fascinated by people who have the ability to do things I think are impossible."
I think we can all relate to this. When later-season Walt is pushed, he slips readily into Heisenberg mode--and he pushes back. Hard. When he feels an impulse, like, say, blow up a brand new Dodge Challenger or short circuit some a-hole's car battery while said a-hole is getting gas--he doesn't hesitate. He acts, boldly and without remorse.
Hell, he does what he does gleefully! Because the cancer unleashed him, gave him an excuse to behave however he wanted...it gave him the reason he was waiting for all of his life to finally "break bad."
28) Yes, the "breaking bad" expression has a meaning...
What does "breaking bad" even mean? It's a valid question, because even though it does sound cool (alliteration rocks, eh "Walter White?"), the writers didn't just randomly pick two words with the same first letter.
It's an existing expression. Most Internet sources about the phrase point back to a Time article, which itself first references Urban Dictionary (not a valid source, since the meanings listed there probably came from users' imaginations or from their own interpretations of the expression, not from legitimate historical records research). But it does go on to list a link to a 1919 New York Times article which uses the phrase. So in this instance, "breaking bad" simply means "to go bad."
But, since that 1919 author put the phrase in quotes, it suggests it was an existing expression, one they'd picked up from someone else!
In any case, what matters is how Jesse Pinkman used it when he stated his old chemistry teacher had decided to "break bad." Here, it indicates that Mr. White was once a man on a straight path--a "good" path, but he "broke" from that line.
Thus Walter White took a detour from the path of righteousness he'd once traveled on, instead opting to break with tradition, to break with conformity, to break with his former life and his very own personality...to "break on through to the other side," as the Doors put it.
But alas, now I am breaking up myself! On to the next trivia nugget!!
29) Tuco died because he got another job.
"Break On Through" by The Doors
Breaking Bad: Season 4 on Amazon Video
30) Gale Boetticher was made to be the anti-Pinkman.
When creating a new character to play as Walt's new meth-cooking assistant, the writers specifically engineered Gale Boetticher to be the exact opposite of Jesse Pinkman, in nearly every way. Jesse was a drug-abused sex fiend; Gale was a refined bachelor-geek. Jesse loved hip-hop and hard music; Gale listened to 1930's Italian composers. Jesse was a high school chemistry failure; Gale was nearly as well-educated as White himself, perhaps moreso in some areas, despite his hero worship of White.
31) Breaking Bad became a binge-watching phenomenon.
To binge watch means to watch 2 or 3 episodes of a show back-to-back, or in a row...that's at a minimum. Extreme bingers watch more.
And thanks to the miracle of Netflix, fans could stream episode after episode of Breaking Bad without even touching their remote controls. Recognizing this trend, AMC developed a Breaking Bad Binge Companion to help viewers interact even more with the addictive show. In fact, a 2014 study showed that Breaking Bad is the most binge-watched show in television history...
Per show creator Vince Gilligan:
"I am grateful as hell for binge-watching. I am grateful that AMC and Sony took a gamble on us in the first place to put us on the air. But I'm just as grateful for an entirely different company that I have no stake in whatsoever: Netflix. I don't think you'd be sitting here interviewing me if it weren't for Netflix. In its third season, Breaking Bad got this amazing nitrous-oxide boost of energy and general public awareness because of Netflix."
Breaking Bad: Season 5 on Amazon Video
32) The Cousins were inspired by 'The Terminator.'
Marco & Leonel Salamanca, aka "the Cousins," were silent through most of the series because they were inspired by the stoic but deadly approach of The Terminator. Men of few words, the Cousins' eerie quiet made them all the more memorable...too bad they didn't have at least one good line, like "I'll be back."
You can read an interview with Daniel and Luis Moncada at AMC. Here's a sample:
Q: Luis, was it weird, having been silent for so long, to start talking in Episode 6?
LM: It did feel kind of weird. I was thinking my voice is not going to match the kind of badass that I am — I hope my voice matches this badass killer.
Breaking Bad: Season 6 on Amazon Video
33) Are you the next Walter White?
Take AMC's Criminal Aptitude Quiz to see if you have the same personality traits as your favorite meth-making mastermind! You might be surprised at what a duplicitous scumbag you really are deep down... Whether that is good news or bad news depends on your point of view!
34) How much money did Walter White make in Breaking Bad?
Forbes and Money magazines both did thorough breakdowns of how much fat cash Heisenberg must've raked in through his illicit meth-peddling...on the upper end of the scale, Money pegged his net at around $96 million but figured it was probably closer to a mere $80 mil.
35) Heisenberg and Heisenberg - the Similarities
The Week discussed the similarities between Walter White's character and the actual, real life physicist and teacher Werner Heisenberg, who fathered the Uncertainty Principle (and snagged a Nobel somewhere along the way, too)...in essence, his uncertainty concept posits that:
"...we cannot know the present with enough precision in order to predict the future with certainty."
Clear as mud, huh? Just like White's morale core...uncertain, unpredictable...and downright terrifying.
Bonus Trivia: Speaking of fat paydays, Bryan Cranston's Breaking Bad salary was not too shabby.
Cranston himself pulled a decent $225,000 per episode. Aaron Paul didn't do too bad, either--$150,000. Not Jerry Seinfeld levels, but a decent wage as far as television actors go. Then again, taking a look at modern star salaries (Sofia Vergara from Modern Family clears $500,000 per show), maybe the boys got robbed.
Extra Bonus Trivia: Walter White had a real fan-run funeral in Albuquerque
Yes, Walter White had a real funeral in New Mexico, run by fans.
I'll just let the video speak for itself...
I am the writer.
Matt Cates is a recent binge-watching fan of Breaking Bad. And he looks fabulous in the pork pie (not the original; but he picked this one up at The Natty Dresser in Albany, Oregon. If you're in the area, check out the resident haberdasher Mr. Hult (or one of their pleasant haberdasherettes).