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The Biggest Thing Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan Learned From The X-Files' Chris Carter

Walter White Breaking Bad Finale

We all have to start somewhere in our professional lives, and even someone with a track record as strong as Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan had to learn from someone. When looking for creative mentorship early in his career, it appears that Gilligan found it in the form of The X-Files' Chris Carter during his time as a writer on the paranormal series. Gilligan recently spoke out about his development as a TV producer and credited Carter with showing him how to become completely involved in his shows, saying:

The man who created The X-Files taught me so many things but if I had to boil it down to one lesson he taught me, it'd be to expect greatness from all my writers. When I got there in 1995 I was a lowly staff writer but Chris expected me to be a producer even though I didn't have those credits. He expected me to fly to the set in Vancouver and oversee that the episode was true to the script. He expected me to be there for the music supervision meeting. He was teaching me to be a producer and now I do the same thing with my writers. A lot of showrunners only want the writers in the writing room, they're not allowed to be on set or in the editing room, which if you can only be in one other room as a writer, you want to be in the editing room. I was so spoiled on The X-Files, Chris imparted to me that it was important to engage everyone on every episode and aspect of the show.

It's no secret that Vince Gilligan takes a very hands-on approach to his work on his shows. In fact, over the course of the last decade, Gilligan's name has arguably become inextricable from his work on projects like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul -- joining the ranks of legendary TV producers and showrunners like Dick Wolf, Greg Berlanti, and Shonda Rhimes. His series exhibit a level of quality that we don't often see in modern television, and by his admission, that seems to be because Chris Carter taught him to involve himself in the fundamental steps of a show's evolution -- from development all the way through production and post-production.

Knowing how Vince Gilligan feels about his upbringing as a creative, his comments to Vice also help us understand why Breaking Bad arguably has one of the most consistent runs of any TV show in the last decade. From there, and with three stellar seasons of Better Call Saul in the can, it looks like Vince Gilligan continues to take the well-learned lessons from his days on The X-Files and put them to good use. Jimmy McGill's descent into criminality will continue when the show returns next year, so I think it's safe to say that there's plenty to get excited about. Who knows, maybe this means the next Vince Gilligan is someone from the Better Call Saul writers room that he has similarly molded into a showrunner?

It also sounds like Gilligan plans to take those lessons outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico as well. The Breaking Bad showrunner is currently developing a project for HBO centering on infamous cult leader Jim Jones based on Tim Reiterman's book Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Given Gilligan's success in his own right, as well as the lessons learned during his time on The X-Files, we have a feeling that this could represent the perfect combination of his experience and inherent skills as a storyteller.

For now, make sure to take a look at our summer TV premiere guide, as well as our fall TV premiere guide, to keep yourself up to date on all of the major small screen debuts of the next few months!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.