By now, you’ve heard Breaking Bad’s famous what-if stories: Jesse (Aaron Paul) was going to die at the end of season 1! Tuco’s story (and life) ended earlier than planned because actor Raymond Cruz was contractually obligated to The Closer! The show was originally set in Riverside, California! But what are some other intriguing scenarios that didn’t made it out of the writers’ room? As the AMC crime drama heads toward its finale on Sept. 29, EW asked series creator Vince Gilligan, co-executive producer Peter Gould and executive story editor Gennifer Hutchison to give up the goods on some Bad ideas that we never saw.
Marie shoots the delivery guy
PLOT Convinced there is a bad man lurking around her house, Marie (Betsy Brandt) opens fire on a UPS guy by mistake. (Yes, the gun would be purple.) The idea stemmed from Brandt’s desire to shoot someone on the show. “We loved it, we didn’t know what it meant, we didn’t know where it would go,” says Gilligan. “When Betsy reads this, she’s going to be upset with me: ‘Why didn’t I get to do that?’ ”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED It felt a little too broad and silly. And as Hutchison notes, “Hank would have to get her out of it and that definitely pushed it.”
Walt takes on a high school “bully”
PLOT Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) comes home with a black eye, leading Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler (Anna Gunn) to think he’s being bullied by a classmate. For revenge, Walt plants pot in the student’s locker, only to find out that Walt Jr. was the one bullying the kid, who fought back.
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “The stakes weren’t high enough,” says Hutchison. In addition, “we were better served by keeping Walter Jr. a little pure. It’s been really useful for us dramatically,” says Gould.
Heisenberg opens a pharmacy
PLOT Walt switches to either bootleg pharmaceuticals—Viagra, anyone?—or meth sold in capsules marked with a special logo. (There was also talk of having him make plastic explosives.)
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “Ultimately it was like, the show’s about meth. The blue meth is so iconic,” says Hutchison, who adds: “It’s not really hard to get a prescription for a lot of these drugs.”
Jesse calls in fired-up expert archer Badger
PLOT The cops impound Jesse’s car, which contains evidence tying Jesse and Walt to cartel leader Tuco (Raymond Cruz). Solution? “Jesse recruits Badger [Matt Jones], who has a crossbow,” says Gould. “Walt and Jesse construct a flaming arrow, which Badger shoots into the police impound and destroys Jesse’s car.”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “In the end, we had other things to do,” says Gould, who, in a reference to a similar season 5 scene, adds: “I like the magnet [idea] better. It’s more scientific.”
Hank and Walt shoot some guns and see some buns
PLOT Hank (Dean Norris) takes Walt (Bryan Cranston) to a desert shooting range that features scantily clad women as instructors. “The idea was that it would be fun to have Walt pretending he didn’t know what he was doing while dealing with the guy who can’t find him out,” says Hutchison.
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “Ultimately you had to go a long way to not get an awful lot, and believe me, we tried – over and over again,” chuckles Gould, who adds: “We found other ways for male bonding between Walt and Hank.”
Walt goes to prison in South America
PLOT Walt journeys to South America to meet with a drug lord who is running his business from prison. “Walt would go into the pit of ultimate darkness in this hellish prison where one guy lies like a king,” says Gould. “He would negotiate with the guy and they would come to some sort of agreement that would squeeze out Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED The writers were more interested in seeing Walt go after Gus in the manner that you saw onscreen. Plus, says Gould: “A middle-aged suburban guy? How is he going to connect with all these international dealers? We never quite made the leap, although we loved the image.” A germ of this idea would later be used in the plot involving Mexican drug cartel boss Don Eladio (Steven Bauer).
Breaking Bad heads back to frontier times<
PLOT In a series of flashbacks that takes place about 100 years ago – and would feel somewhat structurally similar to season 2’s floating-eyeball pool scenes – we follow the tale of a New Mexico cowboy. “It was going to have all these weird tangential relationships with a different cast scattered throughout the season in these three- to four-minute teasers, and it would all somehow in the end come together in the main story,” says Gould. “Walt would have a showdown at the same spot where this other character had died at the end of those.”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED The writers could never quite crack the story, and “it never felt knitted together with the main story,” says Gould, who adds that it probably would have taken away too much screen time from Walt & Co.
The bloody mystery box
PLOT Actually, it’s not so much of a plot as it is just a mesmerizing image: Walt is in a rowboat and he drops a box that’s dripping blood overboard. It was discussed as a potential flash-forward scene for season 4.
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “We never figured out where it would go,” says Gould. What might have been in the box? “At one point, we did talk about Walt having to bring a piece of Gus to prove that he’s been killed,” he says. “It probably was Gus’ head.”
The back-breaking drug lord
PLOT In one of Gilligan’s early ideas, a drug kingpin (nicknamed Keyser Söze) has one of his henchmen escorted behind, say, a Home Depot. And then things get ugly. “He takes a chisel and says, ‘Pick a number between 1 and whatever,’ and that’s the vertebrae that he chooses to bang the chisel in and paralyze the guy,” says Hutchison. “We loved this idea. It was so gross.”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED According to Gould, it was back-burnered when the writers’ strike shortened the first season to seven episodes. And then when Kesyer Söze eventually became the character of Gus, the writers wondered if they needed to include such a graphic scene, or if his dispassionate and creepy demeanor was simply scary enough as is. In the end, viewers would experience the sudden and shocking violence of that chisel moment in season 4’s “Box Cutter,” when Gus coldly slits the throat of underling Victor (Jeremiah Bitsul).
Skyler and Marie hit the road
PLOT In season 1, the writers were going to send Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) on a road trip to visit their father. “We always [saw] Kris Kristofferson playing this guy, and he was this lying, bastard, artist dude,” says Gould. “It gave you this insight into Skyler and Marie, and insight into why Skyler picked a guy who was so steady and straightforward to be married to. And as this episode went on, she realizes she’s possibly married to a liar also.”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED The plot veered too far astray from our main story. “It just wasn’t the show,” adds Hutchison. “It didn’t fit with the tone.”
Jesse visits Jane’s dad
PLOT A guilt-ridden Jesse goes to the hospital to visit Jane’s air traffic controller father Donald (John de Lancie), who tried to commit suicide in the wake of the drug overdose death of Jane (Krysten Ritter) and the subsequent fatal plane collision that happened on his watch.
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “We were trying to find a way to get that character back in, but Jesse’s story-line trajectory just didn’t allow for it because he very quickly went off in a different direction,” says Hutchison.
The “shake and bake”
PLOT Junkies were getting desperate for their drugs during a period when Walt wasn’t manufacturing, so Badger (Matt Jones) or Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) decide to do a “shake and bake.” We’ll let Hutchison take it from here: “You put all the ingredients into a two-liter soda bottle and then you put it on the back of your bike and ride around. The movement of the bike shakes it and causes the chemical reaction. But it’s really dangerous because it can explode. The idea was that would happen and they would be horribly injured.”
WHY IT WAS REJECTED “It’s Badger and Skinny Pete!” she exclaims. “We can’t burn them horribly! That’s terrible!”