Breaking Bad is not based on a true story, though there is a real-life Walter White who has a similar life story to that of the fictional character.
Breaking Bad is regarded as one of the greatest television series in television history, and it has maintained this title in the nine years since it concluded its five-season run between 2008 and 2013 on AMC. As a result, it is still one of the most streamed watches.
Its premise is, “A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.”
The unconventional series is not based on a true story, despite the fact that there is a real-life Walter White out there.
Is Breaking Bad worth watching?
If you are a fan of suspense dramas with a crime and espionage angle, Breaking Bad will definitely be worth a watch for you.
However, the reason that the show has become such a game-changer in television and the reason it is worth watching, is because of how its creator, Vince Gilligan, imagined the protagonist’s character arc.
Walter White is an antihero protagonist, but instead of attempting to redeem himself in the series, it is written in such a way that his character declines further and further into his evil ways, which was purposefully done to make him an unlikeable but compelling character to watch.
Breaking Bad: Is it based on a true story?
One of the recurring questions from the public about Breaking Bad is whether the premise of the series was inspired by real-life events or an existing person.
Though the general consensus was the latter, Vince Gilligan has made it clear in numerous interviews that it is not.
Instead, after working on X-Files, it was believed that Gilligan endeavoured to challenge the conventions at the time by creating a protagonist whose journey in the series becomes progressively more villainous instead of more redemptive and likeable.
In light of this, the story goes that one day while joking around with fellow writer and friend, Thomas Schnauz, the two joked about starting to sell meth from out of a RV.
The joke came about as Gilligan was going through an “unemployment” period at the time. Gilligan used this as the premise on which to build what eventually became the show that is Breaking Bad.
Gilligan also shared that his inspiration for the series was personal, stating:
“I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I was – when I came up with the idea for “Breaking Bad,” I was about to turn 40 years old. And, perhaps, I was thinking in terms of, you know, an impending midlife crisis. And to that end, I think Walter White, at least in the early seasons of “Breaking Bad,” is a man who’s suffering from, perhaps, the world’s worst midlife crisis.”
Who is the real Walter White?
Ironically, after the debut of Breaking Bad in 2008, there was a revelation the following year of the real-life Walter White. An actual person with the same name as the series protagonist and a life that was almost parallel to the series story.
This Walter White is from Alabama, and he was touted to have the best meth in the county, as he had been operational as a meth dealer then for over 10 years.
But in 2014, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for dealing in meth. Before that, he had already spent some time in jail due to how deeply entrenched he was in the meth business.
Real-life Walter White’s documentary
In 2017, following the conclusion of Breaking Bad in 2013, Vince returned to the story by profiling the real-life Walter White, who shares a similar life story to that of the fictional protagonist of the series.
Aptly titled The Real Walter White, the documentary’s premise about the real-life Walter is shared in part as, “In this documentary, Walter tells us the secret behind his product, how he stacked up thousands of dollars per day, and why his partner is now serving two life sentences.”
The documentary is widely available and it is free to watch here.
What does Walter White think about Breaking Bad?
Considering that the real Walter White has earned mainstream attention due to being the namesake of the fictional character that shares a similar story with the actual existing person, it is a surprise that the real-life Walter White has not shared his thoughts on the series publicly.
Or maybe, it is not a surprise, as the story just happens to share parallels with his life and if he were asked to comment on the series, this would only further the suspicions that the series was inspired by his life story, which is not the case.