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5 top shows like Breaking Bad

A still of Walter White and Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad (Image via IMDb)
A still of Walter White and Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad (Image via IMDb)
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Breaking Bad is a neo-Western crime-drama television series set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The story revolves around Walter White (Bryan Cranston), who is an underpaid and overqualified high school chemistry teacher. His cancer diagnosis, personal struggles and baggage from the past catch up to him as he 'breaks bad’ by turning to a life of crime with his partner and former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). The show aired on AMC from 2008 to 2013 and is touted as one of the best written shows of all time.

Breaking Bad is one of the best shows of all time and I don't care what anybody has to say about it

Fans of can't get enough of the show and the writers have done a good job at expanding the franchise. After Breaking Bad concluded in 2013, a spin-off show was created based on a fan-favourite character within the universe - Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). Better Call Saul premiered in 2015 and follows the origin story of scam artist turned crooked criminal lawyer Saul, who helped Walter White and Jesse Pinkman out of trouble with his dodgy tricks.

Better Call Saul (Seasons 1 and 6 respectively) (Images via IMDb)
Better Call Saul (Seasons 1 and 6 respectively) (Images via IMDb)

The show is a prequel to the events that led up to Saul's first meeting with Walter and Jesse, long before they became dangerous crystal meth drug lords. In 2019, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, expanded on Jesse Pinkman's story, which followed his journey after the events in the series finale of Breaking Bad. Right before the end of the film, the show's central character Walter White made an appearance.

The duo reunited again in episode 11 of the final season of Better Call Saul titled, Breaking Bad, as the timelines of the worlds collide. The episode was dropped on August 1, 2022.

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The final episode of season six is set to be released on August 15, 2022. With this serving as the last season of the show, fans are upset that the Breaking Bad universe is wrapping up. Once you're done watching the show, you should definitely consider checking out some of the other titles we’ve listed below that are similar to the Breaking Bad franchise in their own unique ways.


Fargo and 4 other Breaking Bad-esque shows you should consider watching

1) Narcos

A still from Narcos (Image via IMDb)
A still from Narcos (Image via IMDb)

Narcos is an American crime-drama series that premiered on Netflix in 2015. The show is set in 1980s Colombia and is based on the real-life story of the drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar. The series focuses on his billion-dollar cocaine empire, run-ins with other drug lords, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

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A controlling and unrelenting Pablo Escobar, played by Wagner Moura, is seen ruthlessly killing people off as they get in the way of business and passionately hating his enemies. The actor has done more than a convincing job playing the complexities of the world's most powerful drug trafficker from the 80s and 90s.

Walter White a.k.a Heisenberg from Breaking Bad and Pablo Escobar from Narcos have very different origin stories, backgrounds and separate timelines. But a parallel can be drawn between their rise and fall as drug kingpins. Both are protagonists as well as antagonists of their respective storylines.

If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, you should definitely add this gritty crime-drama to your watchlist.


2) Fargo

Fargo Poster / Still of Martin Freeman from the show (Images via IMDb)
Fargo Poster / Still of Martin Freeman from the show (Images via IMDb)

If you’re a fan of the morally gray characters in the twisted worlds of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, crime-dramedy series, Fargo might be up your alley. The show premiered on FX in 2014 and is inspired by the 1996 film of the same name, which was written and directed by the Coen brothers.

The story takes place in the same universe, following an anthology format, with each season set in different years and towns. The ensemble cast also switches up along with the story, with minor overlaps here and there. Actors like Chris Rock and Martin Freeman have starred in the series.

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The show follows small towns across Midwest America that are ridden with crime and punishment. The show has four seasons so far and has been renewed for a fifth season. Each season deals with a variety of themes and plots like corruption, gnarly murder cases, and dangerous mob bosses.

This gritty series runs at a steady and slow pace, reminiscent of older crime-dramas with intricate twists and turns. The witty humor, cinematic styling and complex characters make for a gripping viewing experience.


3) The Sopranos

The Sopranos poster / A still of Tony Soprano (Images via HBO and IMDb)
The Sopranos poster / A still of Tony Soprano (Images via HBO and IMDb)

The Sopranos is an American crime drama series that premiered on HBO in 1999. The show follows the story of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), an Italian mob leader based in New Jersey. The storyline explores his struggles to balance his family and criminal life. The audience gets first-hand accounts of struggle with his nefarious double life through his therapy sessions with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The series features Tony's family members, mafia friends and rivals.

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The show concluded in 2007 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV series of all time. Creator of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan agrees as he once publicly stated the impact The Sopranos had on the ideation behind his neo-Western crime drama. Walter White's persona mirrors Tony Soprano's as he struggles to keep up with his double life. There's a poetic symmetry of sorts between the two shows. The Sopranos is the perfect series to watch if you love the Breaking Bad franchise.


4) Ozark

A still of Marty and Wendy Byrde (played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) in Ozark (Image via IMDb)
A still of Marty and Wendy Byrde (played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) in Ozark (Image via IMDb)

Ozark is an American crime-drama series that was created for Netflix. The first season premiered in 2017 and the fourth and final season was released as a two-part series on January 21, 2022 and April 29, 2022. The show follows Marty Byrde, played by Jason Bateman, and his family as they shift from Chicago to a summer resort in the Ozarks. Marty is a financial planner and gets caught up with dangerous Mexican drug lords after his money-laundering scheme goes wrong and is constantly on the move. The fate of his fractured family hangs in the balance as the dire situation forces them to reconnect.

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Ozark and Breaking Bad both follow the same basic premise – an ordinary professional(s) nobody joins a life of crime for financial and familial reasons. Soon, their motivations distort and their crimes are carried out solely for their profit. The protagonists lose their humanity and sense of sense to their respective crime worlds.

Ozark's dark and brooding narrative makes for a thrilling watch with suspenseful action and unpredictable twists. It is an ideal companion show to iconic crime-dramas like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.


5) The Wire

The Wire (Image via HBO)
The Wire (Image via HBO)

The Wire is a crime-drama television series created and written by author and former police reporter David Simon. The series premiered on HBO in 2002 and concluded with five seasons in 2008. The show is set in Baltimore and follows the story of Detective James McNulty, played by Dominic West, as his team investigate crimes and tries their best to navigate the bridge that exists between the drug kingpins and the city's law enforcement agencies.

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The show's creator, David Simon, has stated that the show is more than a crime-drama:

“It’s really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed."

At the time, The Wire was commended for its refreshingly accurate exploration of society and politics, and realistic portrayal of city life. The Wire is steadily paced and not as extravagant as the saga that is Breaking Bad. But The Wire’s immersive storyline gets deep into the very real and gritty world of drug dealers and their encounters with law enforcement agencies that chase them down. The show acts almost like the realistic flip-side of Breaking Bad's universe.


Don't forget to catch these titles after watching the series finale of Better Call Saul.


Edited by Somava
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