It’s tough to find anyone who wouldn’t rank Breaking Bad as one of the best television shows in the new millennium, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of flaws and mistakes. The thing is, when the show was good, it was so good that fans willingly overlooked its blemishes. In hindsight, however, after multiple viewings and plenty of time to digest everything, we can look at the show objectively and weigh the good against the bad. Now, obviously, the show still comes out looking amazing in the end, but with so many issues, can we really describe it as the best ever? Sure, some still will, and we won’t say they’re wrong. But we do have to ask the question. We would be doing the show a disservice if we didn’t address the major flaws in the show. Some are pretty alarming and need to be treated as such.
As with any show, fans become so loyal and dedicated that they tend to turn blind eyes to anything critical. We all do it. We defend the errors, saying, it’s a television show. Suspend your disbelief. OK. But the problem here is that we don’t take that same approach with the shows we don’t like. If we’re going to be fair, we should view Breaking Bad with the same critical lens that we view every other show with. We shouldn’t condemn one show for something while willfully ignoring it in another simply because we can. Just because we point out and acknowledge flaws, doesn’t mean we still don’t love the show. We’re just big enough to admit that Breaking Bad isn’t the perfect creation we would like to think it is. Here are 15 Breaking Bad Flaws That Make You Question How Good It Was.
15. Questionable Science
For a show that is so grounded in science, you would think that they would get more science-y things right or, at least, less things wrong. We see plenty of questionable science throughout, which is half-expected in a fictional show, but still, let’s go through them. We see Walt improvising with science a few times. One time, he throws phosphorous into water to create a poisonous phosphine gas. This is cool and it works to take out the gangsters, but it’s not accurate. Red phosphorous, the powder he uses, reacts with hydrogen in the way they showed on-screen but not water. Then there’s the hydrofluoric acid that Mythbusters proved wouldn’t eat through a bathtub and wouldn’t eat through bone. It also would never be found in a high school, especially if this crap is eating through bones. What kind of school is this? There are others, but we can tell you’re already getting defensive.
14. The Most Amazing Meth
First of all, the whole blue meth thing is all out of whack. The purer the meth, the clearer it is. Science-minded critics have said, if anything, the meth would be yellowish. It’s not as crazy hard to cook as they make it seem either. They also got the effect of meth all wrong, in some cases. In one episode, Jesse hallucinates that some bikers with machetes are coming to kill him, but meth doesn’t induce hallucinations because it’s not a hallucinogen. The main issue the guys have with creating meth is finding methylamine in bulk. They have to steal it in large quantities, which makes a great plot point, but on the scale they’re at, it would be unnecessary. Here’s what one expert said would work much easier: “Chemically speaking, methylamine is just ammonia with one hydrogen atom swapped out for a methyl group—a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. Without getting into too much detail, an easy way to achieve this swap is to “bubble” ammonia (a gas) through methanol (a liquid) that’s been laced with a dehydrating agent like Silica gel. You could probably buy these chemicals at Home Depot and CVS. Silica gel packets are often packaged with new shoes and electronics to keep them dry.”
13. The Poisonings
We’ll talk a little more about ricin later on as well, but the types of poisoning in Breaking Bad were a bit silly at times. For one, we learn that ricin is this extremely dangerous stuff. Walt handles it like it’s a ticking time bomb late in the show, but, early on, he’s throwing it onto Tuco’s burrito all willy nilly with his bare hands like its table salt. We’re then led to believe that Walt had that little kid eat the poisonous berries from the Lily of the Valley plant in his backyard. But those berries are supposed to be extremely bitter, so how did Walt get him to digest them without tasting it and refusing to eat more? Then there’s the ricin in the stevia packet for Lydia. How did Walt get the ricin into that packet of stevia? You would think that Lydia, this creature of habit so reliant on stevia, would recognize a doctored package. She even played with it for a few minutes before using it. This was a substantial stretch.
12. The Mysterious Neighbor
When Walt suspects that there are some baddies in his house, he calls his neighbor and tells them to check if he left the stove on. He confirms that the neighbor “still” has a spare set of keys. Brilliant plan! Or is it? Skylar had just changed the locks. How does the neighbor “still” have a key? Also, wouldn’t the neighbor have noticed all the bomb stuff on the table? Or wouldn’t the henchmen that the neighbor scared off have recognized all the bomb materials and maybe warned their boss that there’s a good chance he’s about to be blowed up?
11. The Ricin Cigarette
In Season Two, Breaking Bad fans were introduced to the ricin cigarette. For three seasons, theories were thrown about, predictions were made, we all sat with bated breath to see when this Chekov’s gun would finally be used. Just in case people forgot about it, it was reintroduced several times. We kept thinking it would come into play, teased with its use, but then it was put away for later once more. Then, in season five, it was used to kill Lydia, a character that felt rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We knew barely anything about Lydia and her impact on the show was pretty minor, all things considered. We all thought the ricin would be huge. It just felt like the writers never could come up with a better way to use it.
10. Jane’s Tattoos
Just silliness. Jane Margolis was Jesse’s annoying girlfriend for a time. She claimed to be a tattoo artist but she had no tattoos, none. When asked about this, she says it’s because she’s afraid of commitment. Well, no wonder you’re struggling. Who is going to want to get a tattoo from someone who hates tattoos because clearly that’s what’s going on here. Tattoos are permanence. They’re loved around the world largely because of that. Wanting to symbolize this character’s fear of commitment is one thing, but making her a tattoo artist felt unrealistic and too hip for school. Sure, un-tattooed tattoo artists exist, but they aren’t taken seriously in the industry. There have been one or two famous artists who didn’t have any ink but eventually they all cave because it’s a way of demonstrating your belief in the practice.
9. The Damn Baby
Did you remember that Walt and Skylar had a baby in the house? You would be forgiven if you forgot because it was the fakest baby ever, even worse than American Sniper. If you’re a parent or have ever seen a baby or have ever watched a show in which a baby is present, you know how they are. They cry and stuff. Apparently, no one on the set of Breaking Bad had ever seen a real-life baby because the one in the show was an alien. It didn’t cry and it never needed anything. Many parents of newborns couldn’t find enough time to watch an episode of Breaking Bad, meanwhile Walt is hatching complex schemes and staying out all hours of the day and his baby is just chilling.
8. Losing the Moral Center
From the very beginning of the show, we watched as Walt became an evil version of himself. The anti-hero that people love so much. But, for an anti-hero to really stand out, we needed a moral center, a true hero to show themselves. At first, we supposed it might be Skylar, but she turned out to be one of the most selfish characters on television and one that many people despised. There was Jesse, who was almost as despicable as Walt, if only more conscious of it. He couldn’t be it. The one who was designed to play this role of hero was Hank, Walt’s brother-in-law. Over time, Hank became an obvious choice and one who was well-suited for the part. Then, in the third-last episode, “Ozymandius,” one of the best television episodes ever, Walt becomes responsible for killing the hero. We finally see Walt become the true villain. It’s an incredible moment that was then undercut almost instantly. Once Hank was gone, we were left with no moral center in the show. It was a gaping hole that the writers felt compelled to fill, maybe too early. They then forced Walt back into the good guy role with only a couple of episodes left, leaving some critics feeling his repentance was all too quick and rather unjustified.
One of the biggest criticisms that Breaking Bad got early on was for how similar the premise was to Weeds. Now, true fans will be able to point out a slew of differences, and, after a couple of seasons, the shows became very, very different, but the basic ideas were similar. The shows’ observations were vastly different, but, on the surface it looked fishy. Some critics have lumped Breaking Bad in with a bunch of other shows as well, calling them all Sopranos copycats. This is done because of the anti-hero driven character study. We will admit that the similarities are striking in many respects, Gilligan himself even said that if he knew Weeds was a thing, he wouldn’t have pitched Breaking Bad. Still, the only thing that should take away from Breaking Bad, if anything at all, is that the show isn’t necessarily the most original thing on television, but originality is overrated.
6. Useless Flash-Forwards
Breaking Bad was caught in a strange place in regards to their use of flash-forwards. Using images from the future runs the risk of revealing too much or not enough. One of the big complaints that many fans had of Breaking Bad‘s flash-forwards is that they ended up being kind of meaningless. Most of them seemed like they were used only to show off really beautiful images and shots but served little to no purpose for the plot. We will write more about the teddy bear later, which ended up being pretty meaningless overall. There was the guys finding Tuco’s grill in the river, which was not significant at all. Then, in season five, there were several flash forwards that showed off Walt’s fall from grace before it happened. These shots just never ended up meaning much either. They didn’t mislead us, or even confuse us. They simply ruined the surprise of the fall and built up the importance of certain scenes that ended up being fairly inconsequential.
5. Finding the Spot
In the final season, the great climax is the fateful meeting between Walt and Hank. But how does this all work out? When Hank and company track Walt to his money buried in the desert, they have no realistic endgame. First, they don’t have a court order or a warrant to get his location from the phone company, they don’t know where he is, and they don’t have a GPS on his car, so how did they find him? We know the search isn’t above board, first of all, because the cops don’t know where Hank and Gomez’s bodies are, so Hank and Gomez were being sneaky. Also, those flip phones they’re using likely don’t have GPS in order to triangulate the position, and even if they did, the police should have known where Hank’s body was. We also know that Jesse didn’t know the location because, once they got there, he’s surprised that he knew it all along. Just seems strange is all.
4. There’s Only One Bathroom
Often in television shows, we see something counterintuitive or illogical simply to ensure that a plot point is hit. We have no problem calling these out, but, when it comes to our beloved treasures, like Breaking Bad, we ignore or defend them. So, Hank comes into the White house to use their bathroom. Strangely he uses the bathroom in the master bedroom and uncovers some secrets that end up giving Walt away. The justification for this convenient bathroom use is that Hank doesn’t want to stink up the hallway. But wait, why then does Walt ask Skylar to use the bathroom in the bedroom after he’s kicked out? When she denies him, he pees in the sink. This means that there’s only one bathroom in the house and it’s in the master bedroom. That means that, if Walt Jr. wakes up in the middle of the night to make a stinky, he has walk into his parent’s room. Worst house design ever.
3. The Greatest Coincidence of All
Whenever a show has something hilariously convenient, fans are quick to attack the writers for being lazy or lacking creativity, yet, for whatever reason, Breaking Bad got a pass from many for the damn plane crash and the teddy bear. Season Two started with this teddy bear in the pool. Something major had happened and we couldn’t wait to find out what it was. What trouble did Walt get himself into? Well, the payoff was not worth the wait. Not at all. In the end, we’re supposed to accept that Walt letting Jane die set off a butterfly effect, causing her dad to be sad, which caused him to crash a plane and kill over 150 people. The kicker? This plane crash happened over the top of Walt’s house. WTF? Seriously? What are the chances? The show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, said the bear symbolized “all the terrible grief that Walt has wrought upon his loved ones” but then went on to say that “[I’m] not sure I can tell you with 100% certainty of what the symbolism is.” Sounds about right.
2. Parked Machine Gun Car
The final plan that Walt hatches is incredibly intelligent. The way it all works itself out makes us feel dumber because we will never have such a good plan, but don’t be too hard on yourself. When you really think about it, the plan working the way it does is impossibly fortunate. Walt sets up this remote activated machine gun in his trunk. It will spray bullets when triggered. That part is acceptable. But how did Walt know that he would be able to park where he did? There are two sets of cars parked in parking spots and neither would work. Luckily, the guy telling Walt where to go tells him to park “straight in” at the clubhouse. Even this is strange as no other cars are parked there but whatever. Walt then disobeys and randomly parks sideways. Luckily, the guy doesn’t give a damn. This works perfect for Walt, but it would have been nice to know he had a backup plan. If the guy told him to park where the other cars were, Walt’s gun mechanism would have just ruined a bunch of innocent cars and nothing else.
1. The Total Reversal
The most beautiful thing about Breaking Bad was the daring concept, that of “turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.” Few shows ever take a man who seems so good and determined to do good by his family and show a devolution into an antihero. As a fan of the show, you watch and you’re forced to choose how you feel about Walt. You decide if your initial feelings about him are strong enough to withstand all the bad things he does. By the end, almost everyone has given Walt up as a lost soul. He lost himself to the man he was becoming throughout. It’s such an amazing and deliberate transition that we don’t mind losing our only “good” character, though some say that Jesse filled that void (hogwash). This was so refreshing for TV fans and this slow devolution into Scarface was justified enough that we accepted it and we learned to love it. Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, Walt gives it all up. He suddenly decides that he’s gone far enough and attempts to redeem himself. We can argue about whether he is redeemed, but the message here is simple. It’s a lot harder for a good man to go bad than a bad man to go good. We just don’t know if we buy that.