When Breaking Bad first bowed in January of 2008, TV viewers were already cool with bad guys. Tony Soprano had died (or did he?) six months prior; Don Draper, the lead chauvinist of Mad Men, was born a month later. Still, the murderous mobster and the lying ad wizard had nothing on the high school chemistry teacher who, over five seasons, would turn into a tyrannical drug lord. Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, aka Heisenberg, was a far more disturbing anti-hero than Tony or Don because he could be us: a no-name, never-was schnook who too willingly put his life — and those around him — in danger, all so he could finally be a success.
What else made Breaking Bad stand out? The Sopranos and Mad Men didn’t tell their stories the way Breaking Bad did. Breaking Bad was essentially The Godfather — the story of one allegedly good man’s corruption — Stretch-Armstronged out to 62 episodes. Each week the tale moved another inch forward. Or, if you will, took another step deeper into the abyss. Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, used to pitch the show as Mr. Chips becoming Scarface. But Walter White was never Mr. Chips; he wasn’t even a good chemistry teacher. Like much of America, he was a Scarface waiting for a chance to get out.
Breaking Bad was a tight show, with almost no fat. That said, below we’ve collected what we believe to be the 10 episodes that stand out more than the rest.