When Breaking Bad first aired on AMC in 2008, it immediately became a cultural phenomenon. While Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) were the star characters, many fans agree Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) made a lasting impression.
The wise-cracking dirty lawyer became so popular he even got his own show, Better Call Saul. However, Breaking Bad was where Saul started to show the audience his true brilliance and his tendency to get in trouble. Here are five moments Saul Goodman was an absolute genius and five when he wasn't.
10 Genius: Saul Turns the Tables On His Kidnappers
In the first episode when his character is introduced, "Better Call Saul," the fast-talking lawyer takes on Badger's case with the intention to strike a deal with the DEA. Things go awry when Jesse and Walt kidnap him in an attempt to scare him out of making a deal, but the tables turn when Saul recognizes Walter's cough. To escape death at their hands, he tells them to put a dollar in his pocket so that he is officially their lawyer, giving them the attorney-client privilege.
9 Stupid: Helping Skyler's Tax-Evading Boss
In one of the more unpopular episodes, Skyler has an affair with her boss Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). She finds out he's been involved in less than savory business practices and owes the IRS a lot of money. She enlists the help of Saul and takes more than $600,000 from Walter's drug money to loan to Ted.
When it comes out in "Live Free or Die," Saul tries to walk away, but Walter threatens him. Considering he knows how Walter treats his enemies and that his wife had an affair with the man he just gave the money to, it wasn't his smartest move.
8 Genius: Introducing Walt and Jesse to Big Distribution
When Walt and Jesse run into problems distributing their products in large quantities, Saul sets up a meeting with a high-level mover who can help them. It's a moment that proves Saul Goodman isn't only a clever lawyer, but also a savvy businessman.
He knows how to keep his clients in business so that his practice stays in business. With the amount of product Walter and Jesse have to move, Saul knows it has the potential to become a steady, large income for both parties involved.
7 Stupid: Helping Walter Poison Brock
Walter asks Saul to have his henchman lift the ricin from Jesse's pocket. Saul didn't know he helped Walter poison Brock, the son of the woman Jesse had been involved with, but he should have known the former high school chemistry teacher was up to no good by this point in the series.
His involvement in that scheme comes back to bite him when Jesse learns the truth and beats Saul Goodman to a pulp. It's a moment when the audience finally sees the lawyer lose control of a situation he thought he had handled.
6 Genius: Fall Guy Jimmy
Saul introduces Jesse and Walter to Jimmy, a professional fall guy. Every time a client needs a scapegoat, Jimmy offers his services for a fee. Saul's connection to Jimmy shows he understands how to turn any skillset into a business venture.
It's also another moment where Saul showcases his ability to leverage a network of criminals. He knows the law, he knows how business works and most importantly, he understands people. Without his innate ability to work people, Saul would never make a dime.
5 Stupid: Dirty Pick Up Line
The first time Saul meets Skyler after she enters the picture of Walt's ventures, he attempts to charm her with the line, "Walt’s taste in women is like his taste in lawyers, the best, with just the right amount of dirty." She is not impressed by his supposed silver tongue. Throughout the show, Saul proves he is not a lady's man, and, in fact, women are usually disgusted by him. With Skyler as part of the scheme now, he should know better than to insult Walter's wife.
4 Genius: Zombie Computers
When Walter needs a way to spend his drug money for his cancer treatment without suspicion, Saul has a brilliant solution: zombies. He gives them a detailed plan for hiring a computer hacker to hijack servers from around the U.S. and Canada undetected to give small donations to the Walter White Cancer Fund.
The money, of course, is coming from the stash of Walter's own nefarious dealings. Saul understands that a sudden show of wealth would look suspicious, but no one would ever suspect the kindness of strangers helping out a man with cancer.
3 Stupid: Laser Tag
When Walter and Skyler are looking for a legitimate business venture to launder their money, Saul's immediate suggestion is a laser tag place. His reasoning: "scientists love lasers." It's an eye-rolling moment where the lawyer shows even his genius has its limits.
Sky and Walt know that their sudden interest in a laser tag business would look strange, making for a poor choice in money laundering, but buying the car wash business where Walter used to work sounds more plausible, as it is a business he is familiar with.
2 Genius: Saul Teaches Jesse About Money Laundering
Early on in the series, Saul tells Jesse, "If they can get Capone, they can get you." Al Capone was famously taken down by the IRS for tax evasion, so Saul understands that the devil is in the details.
He shows Jesse that buying a real business like a nail salon is a necessary cover for cleaning his drug money. When the drug money gets mixed with revenue from the business, then it gets taxed like everything else, and no one will suspect illegal activity.
1 Stupid: Taking on Walter White as His Client
Though it seems like a lucrative and promising partnership at first, Walter's business eventually leads to Saul Goodman's demise. Considering how he first took Jesse and Walter on as clients, out in the desert negotiating his death, it was clear the relationship between attorney and client was never going to be easy.
It also should have clued in Saul on how far Walter was willing to go to maintain his new criminal lifestyle. Taking on Walt and keeping him as a client showed that Saul's greed overpowered his brains.