17 surprising things you never knew about 'Breaking Bad'

breaking bad
"Breaking Bad" first aired in 2008.AMC
  • AMC's "Breaking Bad" was originally supposed to be set in California, not New Mexico.

  • Major networks, like FX and HBO, passed on the show.

  • Jesse Pinkman was originally set to be killed off during season one.

The show wasn't originally supposed to be filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but there were financial incentives to do so.

Albuquerque new mexico
The show was supposed to be filmed in California, not Albuquerque (pictured).turtix/Shutterstock

In a 2010 interview with Slant magazine, the show's creator Vince Gilligan said he had originally planned for "Breaking Bad" to be set in Riverside, California.

But Sony approached him with the idea of moving it to New Mexico due to financial incentives.

"They said New Mexico has a tax rebate for film and television production, and it's a pretty substantial one," Gilligan recalled.

He said they chose to film the show there "for strictly financial reasons."

"We wanted our limited production budget to go that much farther," he added.

"Breaking Bad" ended up helping Albuquerque become quite famous — and it boosted the city's economy and tourism business.

Breaking Bad Los Pollos Hermanos
The city has plenty of places that still serve "Breaking Bad"-inspired dishes.AMC/"Breaking Bad"

It wasn't just the show that saw benefits from choosing New Mexico as the shooting location. The city itself saw dividends that are paying out to this day.

The show's now-famous shooting locations also continue to be a major draw for tourists from all over the world, and local business owners are taking advantage of the "Breaking Bad" hype.

Some local spots have treats inspired by the show, and a home used as a shooting location for the show has been turned into a "Breaking Bad"-themed Airbnb. Local souvenir shops sell "blue meth" bath salts, "Breaking Bad" T-shirts, and much more.

There's even a website dedicated to listing every single known filming location in Albuquerque, making it easy for travelers to plan their "Breaking Bad" sightseeing trips.

Top sites include Walter White's house, Saul's office, and a restaurant that served as the set for villain Gustavo Fring's Los Pollos Hermanos.

The real-life owners of the house that Walter White lived in on the show are not happy about how popular the show made their home.

breaking bad walter white house
The house belongs to real people — it's not part of a set.AMC

The filming location for Walter White's house in "Breaking Bad" became a tourism must-see in Albuquerque. But for the occupants, the sensation around their home became so frustrating they ended up building a fence around it.

In 2017, the homeowner's daughter Joanne Quintana told KOB4 News in Albuquerque that the number of visitors to her home was ridiculous and that she lost count of how many people would come to take a photo each week.

She also said that tourists would do things like take rocks from her landscaping, get demanding about their photos, and even toss pizzas on the roof just like Walter White did in the now-iconic moment from the show.

Quintana said she had a 6-foot-tall wrought-iron fence installed in 2017, but told KOB4 that during construction she still had fans climbing the fence to get their photo.

That said, the house is someone's actual home — not a movie set — so you'll want to skip it if you choose to visit "Breaking Bad" filming locations.

The iconic shot of Walter White tossing the pizza on the roof of his house was shot in one take and was only possible because the pizza was unsliced.

breaking bad pizza
Bryan Cranston had been allotted hours to get the shot right, but he didn't need them.AMC

On the second season of "Breaking Bad," Walter White famously throws a pizza onto the roof of his home.

In a 2012 interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Cranston said the production team had set aside hours to get the shot, which he ended up completing in one take.

When fans saw an unsliced pizza swirl into the air to land perfectly on the roof they were a little confused, wondering what pizza place sells unsliced pizza.

But, in a 2017 Reddit AMA, Gilligan explained that he and the production team knew eagle-eyed fans would catch this, so they added a scene to explain the situation.

You might remember the scene, which takes place in Jesse's apartment. Badger and Skinny Pete show up with a pile of unsliced pizzas and Badger tells Jesse they're unsliced because "that's the gimmick … they don't cut the pizza, and they pass the savings on to you."

No, you can't learn how to make meth from watching the show.

breaking bad chemistry meth
For a lot of reasons, you shouldn't try any of the science from the show at home.AMC screencap

Walt and Jesse are shown throughout the series making methamphetamine in great detail. However, viewers could not learn how to make meth just by watching the show.

In a 2011 interview with NPR, organic chemist and science advisor to the show, Donna Nelson, said key elements to the meth-making process were eliminated from "Breaking Bad" to keep people from attempting it at home.

"That was actually one of the concerns of a lot of people, but Vince Gilligan has been very clever," Nelson said. "If you just simply followed the one synthesis as it's presented, you wouldn't come out with methamphetamine."


Another one of the show's most memorable, science-based scenes that isn't accurate is the bathtub scene.

bathtub scene
The method Jesse and Walter used on the show won't liquefy a body in real life.AMC

On season one, Walt and Jesse use hydrofluoric acid to dissolve a body in a bathtub. In addition to the body, the acid eats through the tub and ceiling, leading to a massive, disgusting, gloopy mess crashing down onto the first floor.

"Mythbusters" tested this method on pig flesh in 2013 and determined that although hydrofluoric acid did help break down the tissue, it didn't liquify it as thoroughly as was shown in the episode.

The "Mythbusters" team also proved that the acid couldn't even make a dent in the bathtub or drywall material.

Bryan Cranston was not the first choice for the role of Walter White. In fact, casting him took some convincing by the show's creator and writer.

john cusack
John Cusack was once offered the role.Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

At the show's inception, the role of Walter White was initially offered to actors Matthew Broderick and John Cusack.

Both passed on the role, much to the dismay of executives at AMC and Sony Pictures Television who couldn't get past Cranston's history of comedic roles (he'd previously been known for roles like the dopey father on the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle") to see him as the show's antihero.

Gilligan had pushed for casting Cranston because he remembered the actor's performance on "The X-Files." The role was very different from Cranston's typical comedic stints and the actor's performance left a positive impression on Gilligan.

"We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him," Gilligan said about the "X-Files" role. "Bryan nailed it."

So, Gilligan showed executives the tapes of Cranston's performance on the 1990s series and the rest was history.

Networks like HBO, Showtime, and FX all passed on "Breaking Bad."

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AMC ended up taking the show.Ursula Coyote/AMC

Before the multi-Emmy-award-winning series found a home on AMC, it was passed on by some of the biggest networks.

Reportedly, FX was afraid the show was too similar to other series it had which featured male anti-heroes. And, Showtime execs supposedly said the concept sounded a lot like their show "Weeds," about a woman who secretly grows and sells marijuana.

In 2011, Gilligan also recalled his pitch meeting with HBO as one of "the worst" he ever experienced.

"The woman we're pitching to could not have been less interested — not even in my story, but about whether I actually lived or died," he said. "My agents could never even get her on the phone afterward to even say no."

Crew members from AMC's "The Walking Dead" helped "Breaking Bad" with some gnarly special effects.

breaking bad season three gus fring
Gustavo “Gus” Fring met a very gruesome death.AMC

During the character Gus Fring's final scene, the makeup department and special-effects team had a huge responsibility to create a realistic-looking, half-blown-off face for actor Giancarlo Esposito.

To do this, the "Breaking Bad" crew had some help from another hit AMC show, "The Walking Dead."

In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, Gilligan said of Fring's death scene, "We did have great help from the prosthetic effects folks at 'The Walking Dead' ... it's a combination of great makeup and great visual effects. And it took months to do."



"Breaking Bad" producers apparently passed on having a Marvel cameo in their series.

nick fury
Nick Fury didn't make it onto "Breaking Bad."Disney/Marvel Studios

One crossover that never happened was a special appearance by Nick Fury.

While filming an "Avengers" film in New Mexico, Samuel L. Jackson said he had dreams of doing a cameo appearance as his Marvel character. His pitch was a casual walk-on role where Nick Fury enters Los Pollos Hermanos in costume, orders food, and leaves.

"I just wanted to order a three-piece and really freak people out," Jackson told IndieWire in 2012. "Then people would be going, 'Wow, was that him?'"

He said the producers of "Breaking Bad" weren't interested.

Walter Jr.'s website SaveWalterWhite.com is real and now links to the AMC website.

save walter white
The site has tons of text, too.http://www.savewalterwhite.com/

Walter Jr.'s website SaveWalterWhite.com is real and it even features photos from the show.

During the show's first season Walter White's son, Walt Jr., creates a fundraising website called SaveWalterWhite.com to help pay for his dad's cancer treatment.

Walter Sr. ends up using the website as a way to launder the money he makes from selling meth by making consistent, anonymous donations to himself.

The website, which is run by AMC, is actually a real site and is still up and running. Fans of the show on Reddit say that the site has been active since the night the episode aired.

The "Click Here to Donate" button featured on the site currently links directly to the "Breaking Bad" page on AMC's own website.

Jesse Pinkman was originally set to be killed off during the first season.

jesse pinkman breaking bad
Jesse Pinkman changed the course of the series.Ursula Coyote / AMC

Although Pinkman ultimately remained on the entirety of the series, the reports that the show's writers' strike of 2007 to 2008 saved him are not entirely true.

There's a common story that Gilligan had planned to kill off Aaron Paul's character Jesse Pinkman on episode nine of the show's first season, but that the writers' strike caused the show to only run for seven episodes.

As a result, Gilligan is said to have had time to reconsider killing off Jesse and ultimately keep him on the show. But, Gilligan said that isn't the case.

"The writers' strike, in a sense, didn't save him," he said on a panel in 2011. He said that by episode two, he, the producers, and the directors all knew Paul was a great actor to work with and that it "would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse."

Aaron Paul said he was actually injured while filming one of the show's fight scenes.

tuco jesse
Aaron Paul said the injury occurred during the scene where Jessie fights Tuco.AMC

In a 2013 Reddit AMA, Paul shared that he was knocked unconscious with a concussion and sent to the hospital as a result of a fight scene gone wrong.

"Raymond Cruz who played Tuco gave me a concussion," Paul wrote in the AMA. "Tuco takes Jesse and he throws him through the screen door outside, and if you watch it back you'll notice that my head gets caught inside the wooden screen door and it flips me around and lands me on my stomach … "

"Raymond just thought I was acting so he continued and kicked me in the side and picked me up over his shoulder and threw me against the house but, in reality, I was pretty much unconscious," he wrote.

Cranston said the hardest scene to film was when Walter White watches Jane die.

jane death breaking bad
The scene was a heartbreaking one for viewers to watch, too.AMC

Cranston told IndieWire in 2018 that the season-two scene where Walt purposely watches Jesse's girlfriend, Jane, die even though he could save her was the hardest moment for him to film.

He said he pictured actor Krysten Ritter who played Jane as his own daughter and couldn't control his emotions after the scene was cut.

"In a split second [Krysten's] face lost all characteristics, and out of that came the face of my real daughter choking to death," Cranston said.

Once the director cut he recalled, "I'm a weeping mess. Fortunately, you have your family around you, and I went to Anna Gunn [who played Skyler white] and she held me."

There's a reason Skyler's sister, Marie, wears so much purple.

breaking bad marie
Purple is the color of royalty, per Gilligan.AMC

Skyler's sister, Marie Schrader, wears and owns a lot of purple items — and the show's creator Gilligan told Vulture in 2011 that her color obsession is no accident.

"Well, Marie would say purple is the color of royalty," he explained. Gilligan also said the show oftentimes used color to portray certain energies and even predict certain fates.

"Color is important on 'Breaking Bad;' we always try to think in terms of it. We always try to think of the color that a character is dressed in, in the sense that it represents on some level their state of mind," he told the publication.

For example, Gilligan told Vulture that Walter White's last name is the color white because it "is the color of vanilla, of blandness."

Cranston has a permanent reminder of the show on his body.

bryan cranston breaking bad tattoo
It's a very small tattoo.E!

On the final day of filming "Breaking Bad," Cranston got a tattoo of the show's iconic Br/Ba logo.

"We were having a couple of drinks at a bar and they brought in a tattoo artist and we thought, 'Why not? This is the time to do it,'" he told E!.

The tattoo is located on the inside his right ring finger.


Aaron Paul also has some memories from the show, including a faux severed head and license plate.

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Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on "Breaking Bad."AMC

During a 2016 interview with Seth Meyers, Paul said he took "everything [he] could" from the set of "Breaking Bad."

One of the items is the faux severed head of Gus Fring, which Paul said he keeps in his media room.

In a 2013 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor also said he "took Jesse Pinkman's license plate from his first car" and that he has an iconic Heisenberg hat.

This story was originally published on September 16, 2019, and most recently updated on Janiuary 19, 2024.

Read the original article on Business Insider