Breaking Bad is without a doubt one of the most critically acclaimed and praised TV shows of all time. The acting, music, themes, and setting are all top notch. But one part of the show that doesn’t often get enough respect by the critics or fans is its spectacular use of foreshadowing.
Sometimes they will foreshadow something from later in the episode or sometimes wait a few seasons before the big reveal. Either way, read on and see seven of the best moments of foreshadowing in Breaking Bad that you may have missed.
Warning: Article contains SPOILERS.
8. Gale’s Tea Kettle
In the season three finale “Full Measure,” Gale Boetticher’s death is telegraphed moments before it actually happens. Prior to Jesse turning up at Gale’s apartment and shooting him dead, Gale points a laser thermometer on his boiling kettle, somewhat like a laser pointer on a sniper rifle. In the season four premiere after the police have arrived and started collecting evidence, we see the same kettle with a bullet hole in the exact same spot where Gale pointed the laser.
In the season four episode titled “Hermanos,” we get a glimpse of how Gus Fring got into the meth manufacturing and selling business. The flashback follows a backstory that features him and his Los Pollos Hermanos business partner, Max. After offending a big time kingpin, Max is killed as Gus is held to the ground and forced to watch his friend die. Sound familiar? Well it should, because in a season five episode, Walt suffers an eerily similar fate as he is handcuffed and lying on the ground and has to watch his brother-in-law Hank be executed. The two also share a very similar grimace in these moments of sorrow and agony.
6. Badger’s Star Trek Episode
Now this is one that I’m guessing a lot of people missed as it was said in passing very early on in the series. Essentially, Badger’s idea for an episode was to have a pie eating contest in which Spock, Kirk, and Chekov compete. Kirk is the first one out, which leaves Spock and Chekov to battle, and Chekov cheats to win. In this example, Hank=Kirk, Walt=Spock and Chekov=Jack. As in the imaginary script, Hank is the first to “bow out” in a surprising loss to Walt and Jack as he is the “good guy.” This leaves Jack and Walt. Most people think Jack will win because he is willing to pillage and kill to win, but in the end, Walt uses his superior wit and ingenuity to win the battle. This might be abstract for some to see, but it was very creative writing by the writing team.
5. Finale License Plate
This one was very small and could have easily been missed by some people, but it held some big importance for two of the main characters in this show. In the series finale, the camera pans down a car with New Hampshire plates and the plate has a motto that is titled “Live Free or Die.” That is without a doubt a foreshadow alluding to the ending of the series and the fates of our two main characters. In the end Jesse lives free as he escapes the Neo-Nazi compound in a car, while Walt eventually succumbs to a gunshot wound and dies and thus ends the series.
4. Jane’s Death
In retrospect, the scene of Jane’s death was actually foreshadowed a number of separate times throughout the series that could have easily been missed. One time is when Jesse tried to make Jane breakfast in bed, she got up and he said “you weren’t meant to get up” and she asked, “ever?” Another moment is when, soon after Holly is born, Walt and Marie put her to bed and make sure to lay her on her side in case she “decides to do a little spit up.” And finally, in a post-foreshadowing flashback, Jane tells Jesse that he’s so sweet that she thinks she “threw up in her mouth a little bit.”
3. Getting Out of Trouble with a Robot
This is another one that waits multiple seasons for the payoff to occur and for the viewer to realize the foreshadowing, or they might have missed it altogether. In season two, while Jesse and Walt are in a tricky situation, Jesse brings up the idea of building a robot to get them out of the situation and tries to convince Walt to build it. Well, in the series finale, Walt finally took Jesse’s advice and built the trunk mounted machine gun that helped to defeat the neo-Nazis. So, as it turned out, Jesse’s idea way back in season two may have just saved his life in the finale.
2. Song at the Beginning of the Finale
This is more brilliant foreshadowing by the Breaking Bad writers, as the song that is played at the beginning of the series finale essentially lays out what will happen during the finale. The song that is playing is called “El Paso” by Marty Robbins, and the lyrics that appeared during the scene were:
I saddled up and away I did go/
Riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me/
Tonight nothing’s worse than this pain in my heart.
These lyrics basically lay out what happens to Walt as he leaves his secluded cabin to go to the neo-Nazi compound and is eventually killed. The rest of the song actually has a ton of symbolism and lyrics that relate to the show, so it is fairly clear that they used this song for a reason.
1. The “Face Off”
And the biggest instance of foreshadowing in breaking bad comes in season two. Throughout season two, a floating pink teddy bear can be seen multiple times as a recurring part of a series of flashbacks. The bear has a couple of interesting features, as it is missing an eye and half of its face is burned. Flash forward to season four where Walt finally devised a plan that killed Gus Fring, his face was eerily similar to the bear as he was missing an eye and one side of his face was badly burned. It is quite weird that something seen as so harmless and innocent as a teddy bear essentially foreshadowed one of the more grisly scenes in Breaking Bad history.