Posted: Nov 04 2014
by: Neal Haworth

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10 Interesting Facts About Breaking Bad

#1) Jessie Was Supposed To Die In Season One

It's hard to imagine Breaking Bad without the high-school-dropout turned meth kingpin Jessie Pinkman (played by actor Aaron Paul), but that's exactly what producer Vince Gilligan had in mind during the early stages of the show's writing.

In the Felina Podcast, Gilligan reveals that Gilligan said he originally planned to kill off Jessie at the end of season one. A crazed drug lord (Tuco?) was going to kidnap and kill Jessie, which would prompt Walt to kidnap and torture the drug lord. Here's the real kicker, though: Walt was going to kidnap the drug lord in revenge, which would lead to the death of Walt Jr. Of course, this never happened, and both Jessie and Walt Jr. survived the full five seasons.

#2) They Hired a Chemistry Professor

To ensure the chemical equations and science behind the show was accurate, Breaking Bad producers hired University of Oklahoma organic chemistry professor Donna Nelson to check the scrips and dialog. Nelson added an invaluable new dynamic to the show, improving its scientific/chemical accuracy. While most viewers probably ignore these things, Gilligan wanted to create a show with a high level of scientific accuracy.

“[Because] Walter White was talking to his students, I was able to dumb down certain moments of description and dialogue in the early episodes which held me until we had some help from some honest-to-God chemists," said Gilligan. “ Nelson vets our scripts to make sure our chemistry dialogue is accurate and up to date. We also have a chemist with the Drug Enforcement Administration based out of Dallas who has just been hugely helpful to us."

#3) Toys 'R' Us Sold Breaking Bad Action Figures

Toys 'R' Us, one of the nation's largest toy retailers, recently released, and then removed, a line of Breaking Bad dolls, including a plastic Heisenberg figurine that's equipped with a bag of blue meth and a sack of cash. It should come as no surprise that this caused some controversy. Florida mom Susan Meyers started a petition to pull the BB dolls on Change.org, which generated over 9,000 signatures. Due to the widespread media publicity, Toys 'R' Us pulled the dolls, while releasing this short statement regarding their decision to sell them in the first place: “Let's just say, the action figures have taken an 'indefinite sabbatical.”

When Bryan Cranston heard the news, he responded by tweeting “‘Florida mom petitions against Toys ‘R Us over Breaking Bad action figures.’ I’m so mad, I’m burning my Florida Mom action figure in protest.” Daniel Picket, a loyal Breaking Bad fan, started his own petition to keep the dolls on shelves. By Wednesday, his petition had received over 4,000 signatures.

Note: third-party vendors on Amazon.com still carry the Breaking Bad dolls, but you can expect to pay a premium price since they are no longer for sale in Toys 'R' Us stores.

#4) Heisenberg's Iconic Porkpie Toppper: The True Story

Walt's iconic Porkpie toppper was more than just a typical hat; it was symbolic of his transformation from the high-school chemistry teacher and husband/father Water White to the no-holds-bar meth kingpin Heisenberg. Whenever Walt went to grab his hat, you could see and feel this transformation take place. Producers would even change the music during some of these scenes to help convey this transformation to the audience.

But there's a more conventional reason why Cranston wore this hat. In an interview, the former Malcom In The Middle star said the New Mexico sun was simply too hot for his newly shaved head, so he asked producers if he could wear a hat. Gilligan and the team decided to weave the Porkpie topper hat into Heisenberg's persona, protecting Carnston's head while adding a key element to the BB atmosphere.

#5) Spinoffs In The Works

While there's no plans to create a sixth season of Breaking Bad, which would be difficult considering how season five ended, there are several spinoffs and adaptations in the works. Sony Entertainment confirmed last year that it was planning to produce a Spanish remake of BB, titled Metastasis. The show will revolve around the same characters, with Diego Trujillo as Walter White, Roberto Urbina as Jesse Pinkman, Cielo Blano as Skyler White, and Arango as Hank Schrader. Being that Metastasis is set in Columbia, however, it's safe to assume there will be some major differences between it and the original Breaking Bad.

Another spinoff that loyal Breaking Bad fans are eagerly anticipating is Better Call Saul, which is based on the show's comedic yet lovable crooked lawyer, Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk). The show will take place six years before the events in Breaking Bad, although producers note that some BB events will be explored. “I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He'll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun—I would like that,” said Gilligan during a 2012 interview. Better Call Saul is scheduled to air February 2015 on AMC.

#6) Gus Fring

Gus Fring is arguably one of the most iconic villains in TV history, which was apparent during the episode “Box Cutter,” where he killed his henchman with box cutter. But producers originally intended for Gus Fring to appear in just a few episodes. Giancarlo Esposito, the brilliant actor whom played Gus Fring, asked Gilligan for more roles in Breaking Bad. Gilligan and Giancarlo Esposito came to an agreement for 11 episodes in season 3, laying the roots for a legendary battle between Gus and Walt. Even after Giancarlo's 11 episodes were up, though, producers kept him on the show throughout season 4.

#7) Hidden Meanings In The Episode Titles

The intro to each of season 2's episodes featured scenes depicting a charred piny teddy bear and what appears to be hazmat teams. This prompted viewers to speculate on what exactly was going to happen at the end of the season. Was Walt going to blow up his house during a meth cook with Jessie? Or maybe the water heater Walt kept talking about would finally explode? These were just a few possible outcomes based on the short yet ominous intro scenes.

Spoiler Alert* if you take note of the episode titles in season 2, you can identify what the intro scenes are all about. Episode 201 is titled “Seven Thirty-Seven,” episode 204 is titled “Down,” episode 2010 is titled “Over,” and episode 2013 is titled “ABQ.” Put them all together and you'll get “Seven Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ,” which is exactly what happened during the season 2 finale.

#8) Pizza on The Roof

In the episode “Caballo sin Nombre,” which originally aired on March 28, 2010, Walt tosses a pizza up into the air with enough accuracy for it to land on the roof on his home. This subtle element of humor mixed into the dark, dynamic atmosphere of Breaking Bad is something that loyal fans appreciate. Surprisingly, though, it took Cranston just a single attempt to land the gigantic pizza on the roof. Producers assumed it would take several shots, but Cranston's true pizza-throwing skills were revealed in this episode.

On a related note, the actual owner of the house (in real life) told a New York Times reporter that a die-hard BB fan recreated this scene by tossing a pizza on her house. While she was annoyed at first, she later came to appreciate the fiasco for the loyalty it conveys among BB fans.

#9) Help From The Walking Dead

When Gus Fring is finally brought down in a fiery explosion orchestrated by Walter White, the Los Pollos Hermanos owner steps out from the door of a nursery home to reveal a half-missing face. After fixing his tie – an OCD-like mannerism that's common with Gus – he falls to the floor. This grotesque yet incredibly realistic scene was conceived by the special effects team from The Walking Dead.

In an interview with reporters, Gilligan said the team combined a shot of Gus' face with a three-dimensional sculpture of Esposito's head. Once the two melded together on the screen, they could alter it to create the impression of a severe explosion injury.

#10) Santa Fe Southern Railway

Filming a scene involving a real-life train isn't cheap, nor is it easy. For the episode “Dead Freight,” however, producers were able to nab a deal with the Santa Fe Southern Railway, shooting the crucial train robbery scene at a fraction of the projected cost. The real-life Santa Fe Southern Railway operated as a tourist train for many years, taking tourists through the beautiful rural landscape of New Mexico. Due to financial difficulties, however, it was forced to close its doors in 2013. The train was initially built during the early-to-mid 1800s, transporting goods from coast-to-coast. It was later turned into a tourist attraction before being used in the filming of Breaking Bad.

 

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