Breaking Bad vs. Better Call Saul: Which is Better?


Breaking Bad has long been hailed as one of the greatest television dramas to ever air. It was met with critical acclaim and a persistently loyal fanbase. It was so popular, in fact, that a prequel surrounding one of the fan-favorite characters, Saul Goodman, almost immediately went into production after Breaking Bad ended in 2013. Vince Gilligan, the creator and show-runner, returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico once more — this time in 2002, six years before the events of Breaking Bad — to tell the story of how our beloved corrupt lawyer came to be. This is Better Call Saul.

Breaking Bad has remained in the highest quality ranks of television for many reasons:

Perhaps most importantly, it details incredibly complex characters and character development. Walter White is often considered one of the greatest characters in television history, and his transformation from a mild-mannered teacher to a ruthless drug lord is deeply compelling. The same is true for other characters on the show, particularly Jesse Pinkman, who also undergoes a significant evolution.

It stays consistent with its writing and storytelling: the show is renowned for its narrative structure, tense plotlines, and intricate storytelling, with every action having a consequence, and every detail being paid off at some point.

Outstanding performances: the performances in the show, especially by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, have been highly praised. Cranston won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series four times for the role, while Paul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series three times.

So how does Better Call Saul compare?

Better Call Saul follows Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) before he becomes Saul Goodman. The prequel sees the return of many beloved characters, including Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). has been similarly nominated at the Emmys, but hasn’t clinched the big awards nearly as much as the stars of Breaking Bad. Over its six-season run, it was nominated for 48 Emmys and won none of them, though they have won a couple of Critics Choice Awards.

Even though it may not have won some of the top awards at major ceremonies, Better Call Saul is widely regarded as one of the best shows on television for its acting, writing, and overall production quality. The award nominations it has received attest to its high standard and critical success. Critics often laud the series for its complex storytelling, nuanced character development, and its ability to stand on its own, separate from Breaking Bad. It’s appreciated for its slower pace, which allows the series to dive deeply into its characters and their transformations.

Better Call Saul consistently achieved high scores on review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, indicating its generally favorable reviews among critics. Many critics and fans believe that Better Call Saul maintains, and in some aspects even surpasses, the high standards set by Breaking Bad. The series is also seen as more light-hearted with dark humor, compared to the generally darker tone of Breaking Bad.

Still, Breaking Bad has left a significant imprint on popular culture that Better Call Saul may not ever be able to rise to. Perhaps this is simply its cross to bear as a spin-off, even if it is praised for its ability to stand independently from its source material. Many fans of the show remained hopeful that fan favorite characters like Jesse Pinkman would somehow make appearances in the prequel, which seems to imply Better Call Saul may not be as independent as it thinks for some fans. Jesse and Walt do eventually make cameos in the final season, much to the excitement of long-time fans.

Phrases from Breaking Bad have entered the cultural lexicon — “Say my name… Heisenberg.” and “Yeah! Science!” spring to mind — and its themes have been the subject of much discussion and academic study. The show has also influenced other television productions with its success in telling a dark, serialized story.

Breaking Bad also maintained a high rating on review aggregating websites. On Rotten Tomatoes, all five seasons hold an approval rating of 97% or higher. On IMDb the series has a rating of 9.5/10, making it one of the highest-rated television shows on the site.

Overall, Breaking Bad is often recognized as a high point in what some have termed the “Golden Age of Television.” Its focus on character development and complex moral themes coupled with its superb acting and high production quality have earned it a spot among the greatest television series.

Breaking Bad aired at the perfect time for it to completely explode in popularity. While Better Call Saul is treasured by many fans, it has never quite reached the immense pop culture reaction that Breaking Bad heralded. Nevertheless, some fans still prefer Better Call Saul for its focus on character development and the exploration of Saul Goodman’s backstory, especially as it provides so much depth to an already extremely popular character. Others prefer the high-stakes, tension-driven narrative of Breaking Bad and the originality of its story. After all, Breaking Bad is an incredibly tough act to follow, even with the original creator at the helm of the prequel.

Both tv shows have received critical acclaim and have dedicated fan bases. If you’re trying to decide which to watch, you might consider what kind of storytelling and characters you’re most interested in.