In movies and television, foreshadowing is a hidden detail that hints at what’s to come down the line before it happens. The most famous use of foreshadowing of all time is the use of oranges in The Godfather Series, as whenever the fruit appears, it usually means the character in the same shot is going to get whacked.
Well, foreshadowing is Breaking Bad’s MO, as it always gets creative when it comes to hiding what’s going to happen in plain sight. Whether it’s a mural on a wall, a license plate, or a child’s teddy bear with half of its face cut off, the groundbreaking show is riddled with them, and there’s quite a lot of oranges too.
In what is one of the unluckiest injuries in the whole of the series, Ted Beneke was bedridden with a severe neck injury after tripping over a rug in his house. About 40 minutes earlier in the same episode, fans see Beneke lightly trip over his rug, but it’s such a light trip that neither he nor the audience thinks anything of it, and it could have even been a genuine mistake by the actor. It’s only when he suffers the injury at the end of the episode when it all adds up.
But to anyone who saw the oranges in the background, it was a dead giveaway. Not only did the rug foreshadow Ted’s unfortunate end, but the name of his company told audiences his dirty tricks before it was spoon-fed to them. The name of his company is Beneke Fabricators, which is a subtle hint that the businessman was cooking the books the whole time.
The Tea Kettle
With Jesse murdering Gale in “Full Measure” being one of the best plot twists in the series, it of course didn’t come without a ton of foreshadowing. Not long before Jesse bangs on the scientist’s door, Gale uses a laser thermometer to check a boiling kettle.
The resemblance between the laser thermometer and a sniper rifle is uncanny. And it doesn’t end there, as it picks right up a year later in season four. When the police are investigating the scene, the kettle has a bullet hole in the same place the thermometer was pointed at.
The Licence Plate
As the very finale might just be the best last episode of a series ever made, as it ties up every loose end possible, series creator Vince Gilligan was even able to include a few Easter eggs and elements of foreshadowing, the best of which comes at the very beginning.
Walter has a car with a New Hampshire license plate with the state’s motto, “live free or die.” The motto could actually be read in a few different ways, as Walter isn’t able to live free and ends up dying. But it could also represent the two main characters, as Walt dies, but as Jesse escapes the neo-nazi compound, he lives free.
In the very first episode of the series, when watching himself on the news at a party, both Hank and Gomez randomly stick out their tongues for a split second. This was a foreshadow of their murders five seasons later, as they were theoretically sticking out their tongues to resemble corpses.
If this piece of foreshadowing was intentional, it really goes to show how Gilligan really had a clear and concise plan from the very beginning that somehow didn’t get derailed or sidetracked. Whether it was intentional or not is up for debate, but why would those two specific characters, the only two characters in the shot who die in the final season, have their tongues sticking out in the first place?
The Helicopter Move
Badger is one of the best recurring characters of the show, as whenever he’s on-screen, audiences will be treated to some stoner-tirade about Star Trek or some other pop-culture riddled rant. The first time the character is ever introduced, he is found spinning a sign in a helicopter motion on the side of the road.
Later in the episode, when he and Jesse fallout during a meth cook, Badger lifts up Jesse and spins him around in the exact same Helicopter motion as he did with the sign.
Jane Staring Death In The Face
It’s easy to forget that Walter was still in his role as a chemistry teacher at the school in season two, as all of the hijinks in the RV vastly overshadowed it. But in one of the rare events when he isn’t cooking meth, Walt is back at the school teaching a bunch of kids about the periodic table. And behind Walter is a mural of a woman with black hair, who happens to look a lot like Jane, and a skull.
Jane is literally staring death in the face, which would predict the character’s fate. However, even though she was one of the actors people forget was in the series, Krysten Ritter did reprise her role as Jane for a flashback scene in the spin-off movie, El Camino.
The Pink Teddy Bear
The excitement of the show is one of the reasons Breaking Bad is better than other similar series, and many of season two’s soft openings before the title card had fans at the edge of their seats, as it was alluding to a huge massacre.
Among the shots of body parts littered throughout the suburbs was a pink teddy bear, but that teddy bear had half of its face burnt off and one of its eyes missing. This piece of foreshadowing wouldn’t pay off until two full seasons later, as at the end of season four, half of Gus Fring’s face is completely blown away in an explosion.
“That Terminator S***”
In another brilliant piece of foreshadowing that relates to the most ultimate bad-guy death in TV history, the murder of Gustavo Fring, one phrase that is uttered by Jesse hints at how Fring’s appearance changed when he was killed.
When a sniper starts picking off Fring’s men during a meeting, Fring spots the sniper and walks closer to it with his arms wide open, almost challenging the sniper to shoot him. After that, Jesse asks what “that Terminator s***” was all about, and in the classic sci-fi movie, the iconic shot is of the Terminator with half of his face ripped off.
Breaking Bad has gotten a lot of miles out of license plates, as the New Hampshire license plate isn’t the only one that has been used as a way of foreshadowing what would happen episodes later.
Before Saul was cruising around in the crappy Suzuki Esteem in Better Call Saul, the prequel spin-off that’s arguably as good as Breaking Bad, he had a classy Cadillac DeVille with the custom plate, “LWYR UP.” When Walt and Jesse are having a chat leaning against the trunk of the Cadillac, the way Walt stands covers up the L, which makes the plate read, “WYR UP.” And that’s exactly what Jesse does later on.
Building A Robot
Being another piece of foreshadowing that could very easily have been unintentional, it doesn’t make it any less great. When Jesse and Walt are stuck in the desert with very little food or water after the RV’s battery dies, it’s looking like it might be the end of the road for them.
The best piece of advice Jesse gives to help them get out of the situation is to build a robot. Walt uses that advice in the very last episode, as he literally builds a robotic machine gun to slaughter the neo-nazis and save Jesse, and the trunk attack remains one of Walt’s best schemes.