Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV LEGEND: One of the classic members of the Breaking Bad franchise was only created because a scheduling conflict didn’t allow one of the other characters on the show to do a particular scene.
One of the most famous legends out there, so famous that I’ve avoided using it here (since they talk about it ALL the time, it seems) is that Jesse Pinkman, practically the co-lead of the Breaking Bad TV series, was going to be killed off at the end of Season 1, but the writers liked Aaron Paul’s portrayal of the character so much that they changed their minds and kept him.
However, interesting serendipity was ALSO responsible for the creation of one of the most famous members of the show’s awesome cast (okay, actually, now that I think about it, scheduling was sort of behind the creation of another notable character – maybe I’ll feature the other one here in the future).
Early on in the series, Walter White (Bryan Cranston, who also only got the role after two former 1980s teen stars turned down the project) was forced to get a lawyer to represent one of the guys that he had selling drugs for him. He just grabbed a lawyer from the phone book, but as it turned out, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) became an important conduit into the world of the drug cartels that would drastically expand Walter’s drug business in the future…
Saul became a major part of the series, offering legal advice to Walter and Jesse, giving them the in to the cartel (as I noted before) and, perhaps most importantly, working as much-needed comic relief on the series.
One of the plots in the second season involved Jesse getting a new girlfriend, Jane (played by future Jessica Jones actress, Krysten Ritter). Jane convinced Jesse to basically blackmail Walter, while the two sat home and did a lot of drugs together. Walter eventually came to see them, planning on finally dealing with them, when he saw them passed out in Jesse’s bed and Jane began to vomit in her mouth. She was on her back, so she was choking. All Walter had to do was turn her over on her side, but he instead decided to just let her die.
The next episode (when Walter pretended that he was never there, of course), they had to make sure to clean up the crime scene, to remove all of the drug evidence. The original intent was for Saul to handle this, in all of his aplomb. However, Bob Odenkirk, who was not yet a regular cast member on the series, had a scheduling conflict (he had committed to appear on How I Met Your Mother) and thus could not be in the episode (even though he had initially loosely committed to four episodes of Breaking Bad).
Thus, the show’s writers invented a new character, a “fixer” who worked for Saul named Mike, playing by veteran character actor Jonathan Banks…
Mike was awesome in the episode and the writers soon found themselves using Mike more and more until HE was a regular cast member on the series, as well. Many years (and many Emmy nominations for Banks) since, he and Saul just finished up six seasons of the Breaking Bad prequel TV series, Better Call Saul.
And it’s all because Bob Odenkirk couldn’t make it to an episode! Imagine a world without Mike on Breaking Bad!
The legend is…
Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.