Which series should viewers watch first, Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul? Both shows were created by Vince Gilligan and exist in the same universe, although they take place during different time periods. A handful of fan-favorite characters are notably featured within both crime dramas.
Breaking Bad premiered in 2008 and ran for five seasons before concluding in September 2013. The series primarily focused on Walter White, a chemistry teacher who transformed into a ruthless meth kingpin after his cancer diagnosis. Eventually, he and his partner, Jesse Pinkman, sought out legal aide from Saul Goodman. Saul got involved in Walt's dangerous endeavors more than he hoped, eventually ending up in witness protection. Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman then became the focus of the spinoff, Better Call Saul, a prequel to Breaking Bad.
Better Call Saul premiered in February 2015, taking place six years prior to the events of Breaking Bad, and still currently airs on AMC. Saul was a con artist still called Jimmy McGill when the spinoff began, but was working hard to get his life on track in the hopes of becoming a partner in his older brother's law firm. The series also provided insight into how Jimmy gets involved with Breaking Bad characters such as Mike Ehrmantraut, Gus Fring, Hector Salamanca, and Huell Babineaux. Based on the in-universe timeline, it may seem obvious to watch Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad but that isn't necessarily the case. Each show compliments the other but Breaking Bad is the perfect introduction to the criminal world that Gilligan created.
Despite the fact that Better Call Saul takes place earlier in the overall timeline, Breaking Bad should be watched first. Above all, Walter White is the center of the Alberquerque drug dramas, with his connection to the other characters still the nucleus of shared universe. Even though Better Call Saul is moving down its own path, it still feels like it's heading towards a major event - Jimmy's becoming the man when he first met Walt.
Saul wasn't introduced until Breaking Bad season 2 but quickly became a main cast member. Understanding Saul's role in Breaking Bad makes his arc in Better Call Saul much more fascinating as it deepens the layers of the character, especially as the prequel has flashforwards to him after the parent show's ending. Being able to compare and contrast the two versions of Saul is one thing, but knowing how he turns out down the line makes his earlier life even more interesting.
Better Call Saul season 5 is set to release in 2020. The critically-acclaimed series has the ability to stand on its own. but it's nevertheless thrilling when every time a Breaking Bad character appears on the spinoff; the backstories of character like Mike and Gus add more complexities to these already intriguing figures. Anytime Better Call Saul can fill in blanks left in Breaking Bad, it feels like a special moment for the viewer. Those references of plot points don't hit the same notes with audiences who are unfamiliar with Breaking Bad.