Breaking Bad – Writing Characters into Corners

This video essay breaks down how the Breaking Bad writing team create tension, using stakes, problem solving and consequences. Breaking Bad has some of the tightest writing ever to be produced on television, so if you want to learn how it works and why it’s so engrossing then watching this video to the end.


0:00 Introduction
2:53 Season One
4:44 Season Three
8:53 Season Four

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38 Responses

  1. lol K says:

    I don't like how you started describing my life from 1:161:31

  2. Mur says:

    6:58 when you have nails for breakfast without any milk

  3. MaximusNV says:

    11: 53 – no

  4. Joshua Gentry |-/ says:

    I watched Breaking Bad for the first time when el Camino came out, and bro its been 2 years and i still can't get over how great the show is especially on your first watch

  5. Skyline Yo says:

    Fucking great video

  6. MichaelChiklisCares says:

    The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, the best shows of early 2000 and mid 2010's.

  7. Salman Mohamed says:

    This is one of the best video essays I've ever seen

  8. Tundra says:

    Looks like a thumbnail to a cold ones episode

  9. DueRag95 says:

    Better written show? Better Call saul is better or on par I'd say

  10. Marilyn Manord says:

    Breaking Bad is a once in a lifetime show. It won’t happen again….

  11. Vir Animus says:

    The answer to your question is no.

  12. Jeremiah Brown says:

    Another time where I was really in awe of how well the stakes were raised was in Madmen seasons 1-3

    When Pete threatens to give up Don's true identity in Season 1, when Duck is trying to force Don to come with him without negotiation while selling the company, and when the company is being sold for the second time in season 3, S3E13 of Madmen is my absolute favorite episode of Madmen because everything comes together beautifully, when Don is forced to get a contract for his client causes a domino effect and makes it even harder for him to escape getting sold and brought along, but in the end, him burt roger and lane figure their way out and start a new company, bringing the entire gang back together, bringing Joan back and rapping up the season in a magnificent way. I've only seen the show once so there are probably some more fine details that I didn't see, but it still had me with my jaw dropped the entire time.

  13. Mateu Hernandez says:

    Got has got beginning seasons with pretty big consequences, characters either get smar or get dead

  14. Straight-Up Podcast says:

    Mr.Robot I feel has the firmest grasp of stakes ever

  15. Miguel Turk says:

    I love Breaking Bad, but I gotta give the credit for best writing to The Sopranos

  16. RingoAlFahker says:

    This seriously is the best show ever made just logically think about any other show that actually has a good finale and consistently good episodes 5 seasons in a row even the most boring episode about the fly has so much actually going on

  17. Jon Mann says:

    You should write about the character development in Vikings. I would love to see your analysis of the relationships between Ragnar and his different enemies/ allies

  18. Ty Willinganz says:

    The Shield was equally good at ratcheting the stakes with every decision and creating unintended consequences that slowly closly the trap on Vic Mackey

  19. Pitz woodworks says:

    It is the best written show I have ever seen.

  20. BlazingOwnager says:

    When I'm watching The Walking Dead or the late seasons of Game of Thrones: "Why the hell can I write a better story than this?"

    Breaking Bad / BCS's writing team is one of the rare times today I am in awe of writing talent.

  21. Ashutosh Tripathi says:

    of course there's a better show, it's called better call saul

  22. ReMattch says:

    Great unintentional video essay on why Crawl Space is lowkey the best Breaking Bad episode.

  23. Miquel Nosàs says:

    In that's why Breaking Bad is the best TV series ever.

  24. Aditya Singh says:

    excellent analysis!

  25. Munashe Mhungu says:


  26. Whydidsheleaveme123? says:

    Your analysis of the stakes was spot on! I’m curious what you think about their other show, better call Saul?

  27. BLATE96 says:

    Can you please do a analysis video on BoJack horseman. There’s so much to unpack in one show from perception that actions have consequences, change is hard, past trauma, depression, meaning of life. Etc. I really love the content!

  28. Cliff Bushin says:

    If Walt is dying from cancer, he has no reason to fear going to jail. He will be dead in a few months anyway. He also has no reason to fear Gus killing him. If Gus or Crazy 8 doesn´t kill him, he will be dying from his terminal cancer anyway. A better solution that would have ended the show sooner and let Gale take over.

  29. channel5980 says:

    Probably the best written series in history. Every second that I spend watching it or other people's analysis on it, I realize more and more how absolutely brilliant it is.

  30. Marcus Gooding says:

    Great video man

  31. ZH says:

    I'd say Peaky Blinders has the same writing style and close to the same level of quality for it. They have issues, resolve those issues, and then new issues arrive because of the way they resolved the earlier ones. Seasons 3 and 4 are the best examples of this (spoilers ahead!)

    The Peaky Blinders don't much care for the Italians, but one of the girls is dating Angel Changretta. The Peaky Blinders burnt down Angel's bar the night before Tommy and Grace's wedding so he wouldn't be able to attend with Lizzie. Vicente Changretta, Angel's father, goes to speak to the Peaky Blinders about this. Because of their successes in the previous two seasons, the Shelby brothers are very arrogant, and they end up threatening Angel. Vicente then threatens to kill John, which prompts him to go and attack Angel, badly cutting up his face. To try to get revenge, Vicente has a man shoot Tommy Shelby, but hits his wife instead. In retaliation for this, Angel is killed and the Peaky Blinders track down Vicente and his wife, one of their old teachers, as they're trying to run to America. John and Arthur take Vicente but defy Tommy's orders to kill Mrs. Changretta because they can't bring themselves to kill their teacher. They then kill Vicente. Then in season 4, Vicente's other son, Luca, who runs the mafia in New York, goes over to Britain to get revenge. This leads to John's death and numerous other events as season 4 goes on.

  32. powerfist80 says:

    Airtight content.

  33. Ian Pedersen says:

    They fact that people are still analyzing the genius of this show speaks volumes

  34. Kanye Swag says:

    Great show, great video. Keep up the good shizz hamie

  35. Space lover says:

    Jessie's fault

  36. Всеволод Рычков says:

    I really disliked how direct and predictable the show felt. I do realize that there were many people working on the script, but most of the time it felt contrived to me. I would call it "air-tight" if the same important events were compressed in fewer seasons, episodes, and hours.

  37. originaozz says:

    Woahhh this breakdown made me realized that BB might just have the tightest writing ever. Many shows can construct the web of actions & consequences, but in a seasonal arc or two. Most will falter the longer they run. Consistency might just be the biggest challenge in the writing process.

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