Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul Bucked A Terrible TV Trend With Their Final Seasons

A TV show's final season is rarely its very best, but Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul managed to pull that off with their endings.


  •  Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul both defied expectations with their final seasons, delivering satisfying conclusions that were well-received by fans and critics alike.
  •  The final seasons of both shows were arguably the best of their respective series, with standout episodes that showcased intense action and contemplative storytelling.
  •  These shows succeeded where others failed by providing tragic and unpredictable payoffs, while also choosing the right time to end their stories, avoiding the pitfalls of dragging out a series past its prime.

It’s rare that the final season of a TV show is its very best, but Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul managed to buck that trend with final seasons that rank among the shows’ best outings. Breaking Bad revolutionized the previously status quo-driven intentions of TV storytelling with a focus on its lead character’s change. Across five seasons, Walter White transformed from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher into a ruthless drug lord. Its spin-off chronicled a similar change as well-meaning attorney Jimmy McGill transformed into *criminal* lawyer Saul Goodman. Both of these shows concluded their stories perfectly in their final seasons.

Most TV spin-offs don’t come close to recapturing the magic of the original series, but it’s a testament to Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s genius that Better Call Saul managed to live up to Breaking Bad. In some ways, Better Call Saul is an even greater series. One thing that both shows have in common is that they culminated in the perfect ending. In a world full of disappointing finales like Quantum LeapGossip GirlPretty Little Liars, and Two and a Half Men, the flawless finales of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are even more impressive.

Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul Both Had Good Final Seasons

Jesse crying while driving in Breaking Bad

Most TV shows either end on a polarizing finale episode, like The Sopranos or Dexter, or their final season is poorly received across the board, like Game of Thrones. The series finale of Lost solved the show’s long-running mysteries in a way that disappointed a lot of critics. The series finale of Ozark gave a fan-favorite character an unceremonious demise. How I Met Your Mother controversially killed off the titular mother so the show could end in the most predictable way possible as Ted ended up with Robin. It’s nearly impossible to satisfy a global fan base with the ending of a beloved TV show.

Both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul managed to buck the trend of disappointing TV endings as they delivered conclusions that were well-received by both fans and critics. Breaking Bad’s final season brought the saga of Walter White to an appropriately heartbreaking conclusion. Better Call Saul’s final season provided the long-awaited answer to the mystery of what happened to Kim during Breaking Bad, and what happened to Jimmy after Breaking Bad, in a touchingly bittersweet way. In both cases, the antihero got what they deserved (death in Walt’s case and life imprisonment in Jimmy’s case) and the story felt truly complete.

The Final Seasons Of Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul Were The Best Outings

Bob Odenkirk as James McGill in prison in the Better Call Saul finale

Not only were Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s final seasons well-received; they were arguably the best seasons of their respective shows overall. The explosive climax of Breaking Bad – season 5, episode 14, “Ozymandias” – has all the action that Breaking Bad fans had waited years for, and it’s since been recognized as one of the greatest episodes of television ever produced. The big Howard twist in Better Call Saul’s final season is one of the most shocking moments in TV history, and set the stage for the season’s harrowing second half. Neither of these shows’ endings relied too much on action; they had action, but their finales were more contemplative.

Why Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul Succeeded Where Other Shows Failed

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad's series finale.

Whether or not a TV show has a satisfying ending depends on how well the final season handles its payoffs. In Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, those payoffs were both suitably tragic and totally unpredictable. Hank found out about Walt’s double life in a wholly unexpected way – flicking through some reading material while he sat on the toilet in the Whites’ bathroom – and the family collapsed spectacularly in the episodes that followed. Jimmy and Kim’s pranking finally went too far, so she left him, erasing the last shred of his soul and pushing him further into his cold-hearted Saul Goodman persona.

A lot of TV shows falter in their final season because they waited too long to end the series. When SeinfeldThe Office, and The Walking Dead finally ended, they were long past the right time to end the story, so they had no chance of providing as perfect an ending as Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. But those shows chose the right time to end. After Walt reached the peak of his power at the end of Breaking Bad season 4, season 5 brought that empire crumbling down. After Jimmy went full Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul season 5, season 6 reconciled his many alter egos.

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