Better Call Saul Vs. Breaking Bad: Which Is The Better Overall Series

Walter White and Saul Goodman in their shows.
(Image credit: AMC)

Better Call Saul. Breaking Bad. What do these two shows have in common? 

Easy, they’re both awesome. 

Speaking on a real note, both of them were created by Vince Gilligan (with Peter Gould stepping in as co-creator for Better Call Saul), and both critics and audiences would largely agree that the two shows are certainly some of the best TV series of the 21st century so far. But with them both taking place in the same universe and both completely done now, the question remains: which show is the better one?

Today, I’m going to go over both shows and analyze which is the better out of the two, from its setting to its characters to everything else.

As you might expect, this article contains major spoilers from both series. 

Bryan Cranston as Walter Whit on Breaking Bad

(Image credit: AMC)

The Main Stories 

Breaking Bad’s Plot

A chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer takes it upon himself to start up a meth business with a former student in order to save up money for his family after his inevitable death. However, things start to turn upside down as his operation expands. 

Better Call Saul’s Plot

Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) is trying to practice law in a world where everything and everyone is against him, even his own family. So in order to do so, he does everything in his power to somehow make it, even turning to the corrupt side of the law. 

Which Show’s Plot Is Better?

This is a tough one. Both shows have great stories to tell in regards to their main characters and both make a heavy case as to who should win this. But I have to give this point to Breaking Bad. There is just something about Walt’s story that does it for me. He was so normal in Season 1. All he wanted to do was provide for his family and his teacher’s salary surely wasn’t going to cut it. 

Watching this man change from the simple family guy he was to a brutal meth lord who would literally attempt to harm children in order to get what he wants is a story that is hard to beat. And while the corruption of Jimmy’s (Saul) morals over six seasons is interesting, nothing can quite beat Breaking Bad in plot. 

Winner: Breaking Bad. 

Los Pollos Hermanos in Breaking Bad.

(Image credit: AMC)

Use Of Settings

Breaking Bad’s Setting

For the most part, Breaking Bad takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Walter White and his family live. 

Better Call Saul’s Settings

Again, for the most part, the main location for Better Call Saul is Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where Jimmy (eventually Saul) gets his start as an attorney). 

Which Show’s Setting Is Better? 

I know, I know, the setting probably shouldn’t even be included in this because both shows mainly take place in not only the same state, but the same city. And many of the places that we see in Breaking Bad show up in Better Call Saul. But for this one, I’m giving a win to Breaking Bad for one reason only. 

It’s literally because we saw these amazing places in Breaking Bad that we ended up seeing them again in Better Call Saul. Fans were curious how a meth lab was located under a washing facility, and Better Call Saul answered that and more. Fans wanted to see more of Los Pollos Hermanos and we got a heck ton more with Gus (played by Giancarlo Esposito). It’s because we were already established with these settings from Breaking Bad that we got to see them more in the prequel, which is why I’m giving that point to BB. 

Winner: Breaking Bad. 

Saul and Kim shocked by Lalo in Better Call Saul

(Image credit: AMC)

The Characters 

Breaking Bad’s Characters: 

A chemistry teacher turned meth maker named Walt and his former-student-turned-partner, Jesse. Walt’s wife, Skyler and his son, Walt Jr. His brother in law, Hank, and his sister in law, Marie. Saul Goodman, Walt’s crooked lawyer, and several villains. 

Better Call Saul’s Characters: 

The return of Saul Goodman, known previously as Jimmy McGill. His close friend turned lover, Kim Wexler (played by Rhea Seahorn). His brother, Chuck, and Chuck’s co-worker, Howard Hamlin. Mike Ehrmantraut comes back, as well as Gus. 

Which Show’s Characters Are Better? 

I don’t even need to think about this: Better Call Saul wins by a longshot. 

While we do get some overlap with characters who were featured in Breaking Bad, like Walt and Jesse showing up in the final season as guests or Mike becoming a main character, the new characters in Better Call Saul truly shine.  

While I do like the characters of Breaking Bad, the main character focus is on Walt and Jesse. Like for example, while they're an important part of the show, I wasn't the biggest fan of Walt Jr. or Skyler. Even a part of me wasn’t that big on Hank either, and it’s because we don’t really get to see into their personal stories play out nearly as much as we do with the characters in BCS. 

In the prequel series, we get to know more of the characters and understand their reasoning and who they are, why they do the things that they do, which makes certain deaths that much more impactful. Also, getting the chance to look into the lives of Mike and Gus prior to BB was something that anyone could enjoy. 

Winner: Better Call Saul.

Bob Odenkirk on Better Call Saul

(Image credit: AMC)

Usage Of Themes 

The Themes of Breaking Bad:

Pride and anger can take someone down and destroy them from the inside out. Walt’s need to provide for his family translates into something powerful and dangerous, and something that ultimately kills him in the end. 

The Themes of Better Call Saul:

People can change, but sometimes, it’s never enough and slipping back into familiar habits is easier. Jimmy believes he can be a good lawyer, but after finding out how much money he can make as a criminal lawyer, and the potential it might have if he bends the law, he decides to skew deeper down that rabbit hole. 

Which Show Had The Better Themes?

Better Call Saul also wins this one. I do love the exploration of anger and pride and how Walt’s change really affected him and truly turned him into a vile man. I also appreciate the way Jesse gets his freedom at the end, while Walt gets his demise. But Better Call Saul expresses its themes in such a way where I connect with them on a personal level. 

Jimmy did want to do good at the beginning of the series but no one ever really gave him a chance at first. But when he is given a chance, no one wants to do things his way so he starts moving in the criminal direction. Even Kim wasn’t enough to stabilize him because she ended up going along with his schemes, which showed the power of corruption. It was her decision to leave in the Better Call Saul ending, which makes her theme of restarting and moving on that much more powerful, while Saul gets his appropriate ending. 

Winner: Better Call Saul

Hank in Breaking Bad.

(Image credit: AMC)

Effectiveness Of Character Deaths 

Some of the character deaths of Breaking Bad:

Hank, Gus Fring, Tuco and Hector Salamanca, Jane, Mike, Walt...

Some of the character deaths of Better Call Saul:

Howard Hamlin, Chuck McGill, Nacho, Lalo Salamanca...

Which had the better, more impactful deaths?

This was hard. Both shows have such impactful deaths that change characters and the story completely, but I have to say, I need to give the edge out to Breaking Bad just a little bit. 

While Better Call Saul certainly had some shocking deaths that changed characters, like Howard Hamlin’s death and the way it affected Kim, or Chuck’s death and the way it affected Jimmy, I don’t think the deaths in Breaking Bad can be compared. They had such huge butterfly effects attached to them that it not only impacted characters, but the whole plot. 

I mean, think about Jane’s death. Her father literally couldn’t focus on his job as an air traffic controller and caused two planes to crash into each other in the air, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Mike’s death made Walt even worse of a human in Season 5 of the show and soured his character even more. 

Also, Gus and Hector’s shared death was just epic in all ways imaginable, and a poetic conclusion to their feud that was better explained in BCS. 

Winner: Breaking Bad 

Walter and Jesse in Breaking Bad.

(Image credit: AMC)

Which Is The Better Series?

With a 3-2 win, I have to confidently give it to Breaking Bad.

Both shows are truly fantastic. The Breaking Bad cast is wonderful, as is the Better Call Saul cast. The stories are masterful lessons in the art of television. The cinematography is stunning. But Breaking Bad set the standard for how good a television show can be and while Better Call Saul certainly lived up to those standards, nothing can quite beat the original. 

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go and re-watch the show for the millionth time now. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!