Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad: The Significance Of The Show’s Episode Count

Breaking Bad included hidden symbolism in even the smallest of details surrounding the series, and the same goes for the show's episode count.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan incorporated hidden symbolism in even the smallest of details surrounding the series, and the same goes for the total episode count. After struggling to sell the show to a network, AMC took a shot on the story that centered on a high school teacher named Walter White who turned into a meth cook following a cancer diagnosis. The series debuted in 2008, running five seasons before coming to a conclusion in 2013. After the end of the critically acclaimed series, Gilligan expanded the franchise with the prequel, Better Call Saul, and sequel film, El Camino.

Themes, motifs, and symbolism were a trio of aspects that made Breaking Bad truly unforgettable. Gilligan was a master at using the most ordinary of objects, turning them into highly significant pieces of the puzzle. Examples include the pink teddy bear, a housefly, and the outfits of various characters. In addition, the show made calculated decisions when it came to the Breaking Bad title, opening credits sequence, and song choices. Even Walt’s alias name, Heisenberg, played off of the central character’s arc.

RELATED: Breaking Bad: Why Skyler & Walt Jr. Didn’t Return For El Camino

Across five seasons, Breaking Bad clocked in a total of 62 episodes. Out of all of the seasons, Breaking Bad season 1 was the shortest, coming in at just seven episodes. The following three seasons each had 13 episodes before the fifth and final season expanded to 16 episodes, which was split into two parts. The number 62 might not seem significant, but when looking at the Periodic Table, the 62nd element is Samarium. Though Samarium, known under the symbol of Sm, isn’t the most recognizable chemical element, it had a connection to Walt’s cancer diagnosis. This might be a coincidence, but considering Gilligan’s advanced level of symbolism, that seems unlikely.

Samarium Connects To Walt’s Cancer Diagnosis

breaking bad season 4 crawl space

At the beginning of Breaking Bad, Walt was diagnosed with an inoperable form of lung cancer, which only gave him roughly two years to live. With the grim prognosis, he was forced to take desperate measures when it came to finding a way to provide financially for his family long after he was gone. By cooking meth with Jesse Pinkman, Walt was able to make loads of money that not only secured income for his loved ones but also paid for his cancer treatments. Samarium happens to be a component in a drug known as Quadramet, which is used to kill cancer cells in people like Walt who were suffering from forms of lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Considering the specific rare element and the importance of treatment in connection to Walt’s fate, it’s possible Gilligan planned for the series to end on episode 62 since it held extra meaning.

Throughout Breaking Bad, Walt himself served as a personal form of cancer among his family and friends. He destroyed the wellbeing of others and remained unstoppable for much of the series. Despite the attempts of others trying to help Walt get out of the trouble he caused, he refused their efforts as if cancer was refusing treatment. Though Walt was dying from the return of the disease by the show’s end, it was a gunshot wound that truly killed him. That was after he ravaged the lives of those around him by trying to make up for it through financial means.

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