It’s hard to believe it’s been a little over three years since Breaking Bad, one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed TV shows in recent memory, came to its close. Headlined by Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman — both of whom rightfully won Emmys for their respective roles — the show followed cancer-stricken science teacher Walter as he started raising money by distributing drugs to ensure his family would be financially stable when he died. However, the drug business started to change him in ways he could have never have imagined. We watched for five seasons and 62 episodes as Walter’s life, in a transformation akin to mild-mannered Mr. Chips turning into Tony Montana, slowly unraveled with numerous dark twists laced in what appeared to be realistic scientific facts. The tight storytelling kept us on the edge of our seats every week, but as well-choreographed and illustrated as that story was, it was never perfect.
Of course, no story in any medium is ever flawless — these plot lines are, after all, crafted by imperfect humans. In the case of Breaking Bad, even its entire staff of writers on board couldn’t possibly keep in mind every single tiny detail across 62 episodes. But as true fans of the show, don’t we carry the responsibility of calling out the writers for the times when their storytelling occasionally turned clumsy? And besides, when we point out such flaws, it doesn’t mean we’re ruining our many fond memories of the show. Perhaps, we’re even enhancing those good memories, giving us a little bit something to chuckle about when we re-watch out favorite episodes.
Here are 15 of the worst plot holes you probably missed in the fantastic series that was Breaking Bad:
15. Hydrofluoric Acid Wouldn’t Burn Through A Bathtub
One of the first stark and mesmerizing images from the show came during the second episode of Season 1 when hydrofluoric acid burnt through the bathtub and down through the ceiling, causing the remains of the late Emilio Koyama to come crashing down. This certainly made for a striking visual to close out the episode. However, Walter’s claim that hydrofluoric acid burns through everything except plastic isn’t actually true. As the always trusty and reliable folks at Mythbusters would prove, hydrofluoric acid can’t burn through a bathtub. In fact, hydrofluoric acid doesn’t seem to be nearly as destructive in real life as the show made it out to be. In Mythbusters, when tested against wood, linoleum, and silver, the acid did little to no damage. In fact, when the show’s hosts upped the ante and filled up an entire tub with sulfuric acid, they still weren’t even able to produce a dent — except for the one in Breaking Bad‘s plot.
14. DEA Doesn’t Pay For Hank’s Therapy
When a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer is injured in the line of duty, one would correctly expect that the agency wouldn’t hesitate to pay for the officer’s medical expenses. Actually, that’s the reasonable expectation for all officers injured as they’re carrying out their responsibilities. However, that’s not what happened in the case of Hank, who was shot in Season 3 after crossing paths with a Mexican cartel. Instead, the show’s writers had Hank’s brother-in-law, Walter, pay for Hank’s physical therapy expenses. However, it seems that the twist in realism wasn’t merely a case of sloppiness on the part of the show’s writers; it appears to have been accommodated to add tension to the show’s narrative by having Walt pay out of his pocket to soothe his guilt. Perhaps the writers should’ve also thought up a reason why the DEA refused to foot Hank’s medical bills? Like by portraying the DEA officers as being really cheap? Hmm…
13. Osama Bin Laden Assassination Reference
Occasionally, the timeline of Breaking Bad got just a little bit wonky. One such example is the 2012 episode “Gliding Over All,” which supposedly takes place in 2010. In this installment of the show, Todd Alquist’s uncle mentions that executing ten prison murders as being more difficult than the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The problem? Bin Laden wasn’t killed until 2011, and therefore, his death couldn’t have possibly been mentioned in the show’s timeline at the point that it was. Unless, of course, Todd’s uncle was a psychic of some sort — and he wasn’t. Series creator Vince Gilligan actually admitted that he and his team goofed up on this one, which is kind of admirable. When writers admit their errors instead of backpedaling on them and making excuses, it’s actually something to commend.
12. Liters vs Grams
Speaking of Hank getting shot, there’s a terminology mistake concerning his medical concerns that wasn’t apparent to the show’s viewers, except probably those in the EMT field. In the eighth episode of Season 3, as Hank is approached by two EMTs and two doctors, one orders and asks, “Let’s get him two grams of oxygen. What’s his hemoglobin?” The terminology is all out of whack on this one. Most workers in the medical field would know that a doctor would administer two liters, not two grams, of oxygen to a patient in this scenario. And while yes, a gram of oxygen is only slightly less than a liter, the difference is enough such that administering only two grams of oxygen to a patient who is struggling to breathe just won’t do the trick.
11. Red Phosphorus
One doesn’t have to look far into Breaking Bad‘s episodes to find a scientific blooper by the show’s writers. In fact, one takes place as early as the show’s pilot. Halfway through the episode, there is a scene where Walter, trying to make a daring escape in his van, is threatened by a couple of gangsters. He is then shown to “ingeniously” toss some red phosphorus into some hot water, thus supposedly producing poisonous phosphine gas to thwart his pursuers. The problem, however, is that red phosphorus wouldn’t really produce such a reaction when combined with hot water. The only way red phosphorus can produce phosphine gas is by combining it with hydrogen.
10. Whatever Happened to Huell?
Call it a plot hole or a loose end, but whatever it is, it has prevented us from knowing for sure whatever happened to Huell. In Season 5, Hank and Gomez take Huell to a safe house and specifically tell him not to leave or contact the outside world until they return. However, they get killed, obviously making it impossible for them to get back to the safe house. So where does that leave Huell? We actually never find out since the final shot involving him is of him still waiting in the safe house. Since the show ended, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has admitted that he regrets not having given Huell a proper fate. Gilligan even joked that Huell is still waiting at the safe house to this day. Speaking more seriously, however, Gilligan explained that it was likely that after Hank and Gomez got killed and Huell noticed their lengthy absence, he would’ve likely found a way to notify the DEA HQ. Within hours, he would’ve then been rescued, questioned, and then let go. In short, we can sleep well at night knowing that Huell probably ended up being just fine.
9. Walt’s Glasses
A TV show is more than likely to run into a few continuity errors along the way and when the issues are small (especially in a show as incredible as Breaking Bad) we’re more than happy to cut the creators some slack. But when glaring continuity issues arise, we really can’t help but draw attention to them. Such was the case in Season 5, Episode 13, ending with Walter being handcuffed in the back of an SUV as a lively shootout takes place. In fact, the firefight is so severe that his glasses fall off. That’s understandable, of course. However, when the action resumes in a succeeding episode, Walter is wearing his glasses once again. How could he have put them back on if he was still handcuffed? Could the van have bounced around so much during the encounter that Walter’s glasses bounced back up onto his face?
8. Paul Schuler’s Suicide
The second episode of Season 5 begins morbidly with Madrigal Electromotive GmbH executive Peter Schuler committing suicide via a portable defibrillator. Certainly a dramatic end for his character; however, he really shouldn’t have been able to use the machine in that manner. A defibrillator is normally used to analyze the electrical rhythm of the heart and only delivers a shock when the heart rhythm indicates ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. What this means is that unless Mr. Schuler had some ECG electrodes attached to his head (which, he didn’t), his heartbeat would not have been detected by the device. And since he would have had a normal heartbeat, and the device only shocks when it detects an irregular heartbeat, this should have been a failed suicide attempt. Or at least it would have been if this were real life.
7. Walter’s Mustache
Perhaps the most iconic additions to the overall look of Walter White are his shiny bald head and his mustache. But anyone who knows a little bit about cancer would be able to tell you that Walter shouldn’t have been able to grow that mustache. No, it’s not because the mustache is out of style or makes him look like a deranged lunatic. It’s really because his cancer treatment shouldn’t have allowed him to maintain his mustache for so long. In fact, Walter does lose all of his hair up top near the end of Season 1, just as a cancer patient going through chemotherapy would, but strangely, his facial hair remains intact for all five seasons. Realistically, his mustache should’ve fallen out just like the hair on his head did, making his face as follicle-free as his crown. Maybe those responsible for designing Walter White’s look decided that scientific reality could be compromised for the sake of maintaining the character’s convincingly edgy appearance?
6. Walter’s Pants
In the pilot episode, the very first image that opens the show was Walter White’s pants flying through the air and landing right in front of an RV. However, while this made for an amazing visual, the way it was shot defied the laws of physics. Despite the RV racing forward and the pants initially flying in the air in the opposite direction, when the pants land, they conveniently find their way in front of the RV. Maybe one could argue that the pants changed trajectory after the RV hit a bump? But that would’ve had to be a pretty enormous bump to cause the pants to fly forward. Even stranger is the fact that later in the episode, we see those same pants flying backwards.
5. Jesse’s Perfect Shiny Teeth
Some may call this nitpicking, but it really is unrealistic for Jesse Pinkman to have been able to maintain his shiny, perfect teeth — the kind of bright white teeth you’d only see come out of a Hollywood smile. Consider this: those pearly whites remained pearly and white throughout the six years that the show was on the air, but as it has been pointed out by several viewers, it doesn’t make too much sense for Jesse’s teeth to be so perfect. First, he has his teeth kicked in several times throughout the show. Plus, the amount of meth he would’ve smoked in that time should’ve at least resulted in a few imperfections on Jesse’s pearly whites. But miraculously, Pinkman’s teeth remain picture perfect right up until he rides into the sunset in the finale. Even Vince Gilligan has admitted in an interview that he wished he had shown some rot on the teeth of this meth-using character.
4. Walt’s Watch
It’s not at all surprising when a show’s diehard fans take notice of the smallest details and point them out whenever such details reveal continuity problems. Case in point: during flashbacks in the final episodes of Breaking Bad, Walter’s watch frequently appeared and disappeared on his wrist. Few noticed this, but those diehard fans who did were very vocal about it. As a response, Vince Gilligan wrote for Walter to leave his watch at the gas station in the final flashback for the final episode, Felina — a mere continuity fix he admitted to have employed. Nevertheless, that admission hasn’t stopped the show’s fans from debating about the symbolism behind Walter’s seemingly meaningful action. But that’s okay; fans have the right to take ownership of their favorite shows, even if in this case, the creator seems to have already definitively settled the issue.
3. The Pizza
The situation with Walter’s watch wasn’t the only time in the show’s history when the writers felt the need to rectify the seemingly tiniest issues via fixes in later episodes. It also happened in connection to Walter’s famous pizza-tossing scene. In the second episode of Season 3, Walt tossed an entire pizza on top of his roof out of anger. Some fans then proceeded to call this scene out as BS because of the fact that ordered pizzas are delivered sliced, and in the scene, the slices should’ve scattered across the roof instead of landing as one whole round pizza. Well, to ease fans’ fury, in a later episode, writers had Skinny Pete and Badger order a pizza from the same pizza place that Walter got his from. In passing, Pete mentioned that the place didn’t cut their pizzas into slices in order to save time and money. Whether or not the fix was a believable one is a whole other issue though.
2. Meth Doesn’t Cause Hallucinations
In one of the funniest, trippiest scenes in the show’s history, during Episode 4 of Season 1, Jesse gets high off meth and cooks up a paranoid hallucination of two scary-looking bikers approaching his home. This causes him to bolt out of his house, even when those bikers were really just Jehovah’s witnesses on bicycles. Well, as humorous as this scene was, it really wasn’t very accurate considering that meth, not being a hallucinogen, can’t possibly make one hallucinate. Some defenders of the show have argued, however, that meth can make someone hallucinate if it is taken while suffering from sleep deprivation. But even that’s not really a plausible explanation as Jesse was well-rested when he got high.
1. “Pure” Meth Can’t Turn Blue
The very foundation of Walt’s success as a drug kingpin is the product known as “Blue Sky.” Not only does it cause a high as unique as how product looks, but as Walter White himself claimed, it also happens to be an extremely pure substance consisting of 99% pure crystal meth. Well, supposedly. In real life, pure meth is actually transparent and it wouldn’t be blue if it were truly pure. Well, it could be argued that White got his facts wrong in this case, but as a skilled chemist, that’s really highly unlikely. The best we can probably do is just suspend our disbelief. But when the plot so crucially rests on the fact that Blue Sky is the top, purest product of its kind on the market, it’s honestly a hard inconsistency to simply ignore.
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