Which characters have appeared in the most episodes of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul? Debuting in 2008 with modest expectations, Breaking Bad went on to become perhaps the most critically successful TV series of all time, largely thanks to a vivid cast of fascinating characters. Originally introduced as a comic foil, Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman fast became a key element in the Breaking Bad formula and went on to star in his own spinoff venture, Better Call Saul.
Despite being set many years prior to the events of Breaking Bad, a host of familiar faces have appeared on Better Call Saul, from fan-pleasing cameos to members of the main cast. Consequently, viewers now have a far deeper knowledge regarding some of the more popular supporting figures in Breaking Bad, expanding the mythology of the series considerably. But how far do these welcome character returns affect the franchise's overall episode count? Have Better Call Saul's main players overtaken the likes of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman?
The combined episode count, including the couple of voice-only appearances, for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul reads:
- Bob Odenkirk - Saul Goodman/James McGill - 76 episodes (BB = 36, BCS = 40)
- Jonathan Banks - Mike Ehrmantraut - 63 episodes (BB = 25, BCS = 38)
- Bryan Cranston - Walter White - 62 episodes
- =Aaron Paul - Jesse Pinkman - 62 episodes
- =Anna Gunn - Skyler White - 62 episodes
- RJ Mitte - Walt Jr. - 53 episodes
- Dean Norris - Hank Schrader - 51 episodes
- =Betsy Brandt - Marie Schrader - 51 episodes
- Giancarlo Esposito - Gus Fring - 42 episodes (BB = 25, BCS = 17)
- Rhea Seehorn - Kim Wexler - 39 episodes
The figures above certainly yield some interesting results. As the only actor to have a starring role for the majority of both shows, Odenkirk now has the highest episode count of any character within the Breaking Bad franchise. This perhaps won't come as much of a revelation, but Jonathan Banks sneaking ahead of Cranston and Paul certainly does. If measured in terms of minutes on screen, it's highly unlikely that Banks would rank so highly on this list, but Mike's dependable, solid presence through both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul gives him a more prominent role that viewers may expect.
The same can't be said of Odenkirk, who, even rearranged in order of screen time, would likely top this ranking. Theoretically, this means that viewers of both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul should have a more intimate knowledge of the lovable crooked lawyer than they do of Walt and Jesse. Some might even be more heavily invested in Saul's misadventures than the exploits of the blue meth duo, simply because they've followed the character over a longer period.
These views are debatable and will no doubt differ from one fan to the next, however, the franchise's future could drastically alter the look of these rankings. On one hand, Better Call Saul is expected to run until season 6, pushing Odenkirk, Banks, Esposito and Seehorn much further up the table. However, it's also possible that more familiar faces could appear in future seasons, with Hank and Jesse two of the prime candidates to feature, and this could help maintain the status quo. It'll be fascinating to revisit each character's final episode count when all is said and done within the world of Breaking Bad.
Better Call Saul season 5 premieres in 2020 on AMC and Netflix.