The Breaking Bad season 4 premiere episode featured an X-Files Easter egg that went unnoticed by a large percentage of viewers. The X-Files originally ran from 1993 until 2002 before being revived for two additional seasons beginning in 2016. In that time, the sci-fi series created by Chris Carter also spawned two feature films. Here’s how Breaking Bad paid tribute to the beloved series with a clever detail.
Before developing Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan served as a writer and producer on The X-Files. The project served as Gilligan’s breakout gig and went on to co-create the X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen. The spinoff didn’t make it past one season but it gave Gilligan the opportunity to cook up an original story that would grow into Breaking Bad. The AMC series was influenced by many elements seen in Gilligan’s first big project. In fact, many cast members featured in The X-Files made their way onto Breaking Bad including it’s two main figures, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
Gilligan included many nods to The X-Files throughout Breaking Bad but one of the most interesting came in the season 4 episode, “Box Cutter.” Walter White (Cranston) has figured out that Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) intended to replace him with Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) in the meth superlab. To thwart that plan, Walt sent Jesse Pinkman (Paul) to kill Gale. The episode focused on the moments following Gale’s murder at the hands of Jesse. After Jesse shot Gale in the head, the man’s neighbor called the police to report the murder. The scene made a point to show the clock in Gale’s apartment which read 10:13 pm. This may seem like a pointless detail to some but fans of The X-Files might recognize the importance of that number.
The number 1013 frequently appeared during The X-Files‘ run. The corresponding date, October 13, was used for Fox Mulder’s birthday as well as the release date for The X-Files movie in 1998. The date also popped up for important moments during various storylines. The number itself was used by a number of officers as a police code. The use of 1013, however, was no coincidence.
The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, has a production company named Ten Thirteen Productions. The company is named after his birthday which happens to be October 13, just like David Duchovny’s character. By using 10:13 in the scene featuring Gale’s murder, Gilligan was paying homage to his old boss while also throwing a nod to the project that opened many doors for his career. If Gilligan didn’t excel during his time on The X-Files, Breaking Bad probably wouldn’t have existed.