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The Better Call Saul And Breaking Bad Timeline Explained

"Breaking Bad" became one of the most successful shows in history following its debut in 2008. Critically acclaimed and loved by fans, it was one of the series that helped cement the Golden Age of Television. Featuring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the two leads, it tells the story of a high school chemistry teacher becoming a drug kingpin following a lung cancer diagnosis. The world created by Vince Gilligan has now expanded to include a sequel movie in the form of "El Camino" and a prequel series called "Better Call Saul."

With so many episodes to watch across both series and a movie, understanding the timeline of the "Breaking Bad" universe can get a little tricky. This is especially true considering that "Better Call Saul" takes place before the original show and features many of the same characters as younger versions of themselves. Thankfully, the creators behind the fictional world have always been very diligent when it comes to dates and when events take place, so it's possible to create an accurate timeline of everything that has happened.

With Season 6 of "Better Call Saul" due to air this year, it will bring a conclusion to the overall story, linking together the prequel with "Breaking Bad." While we don't know what will happen in the upcoming season, here's a look at the full timeline of the franchise so far.

Events start in the 1980s

Although both "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" take place much later than this, the 1980s set up some important events that take place later. One of the most important things that happens during this time is the establishment of the law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. At this time, it is known simply as Hamlin & McGill after Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) and George M. Hamlin. George's son Howard (Patrick Fabian) has not yet become a partner in the Albuquerque company.

Meanwhile, in the 1980s, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) establishes Gray Matter Technologies with his friend and colleague Elliott Schwartz (Adam Godley). The two worked together in college and set up the company after completing their thesis. The pair are later joined by Gretchen (Jessica Hecht), who Walter dates for a time. Her family's wealth leads to Walter feeling inferior, and he breaks off the relationship and sells his share in Gray Matter Technologies for just $5,000. The company goes on to become a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and the anti-hero still holds a grudge against Elliot and Gretchen.

Around the same time, Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Max Arciniega (James Martinez) approach the Cartel about forming a potential partnership. Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) has Max killed by Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) after being angered by the two up-and-coming drug dealers giving meth to his men as a way of manipulating Eladio into meeting them. This moment was defining for Gus, who vows to avenge his murdered friend by any means necessary.

Jimmy goes straight and Jesse first meets Walt

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), later known as Saul Goodman, starts the 1990s by running a series of scams with his friend Marco Pasternak (Mel Rodriguez). The two con men operate in Cicero, but Jimmy is arrested and later bailed by his brother Chuck McGill after facing possible jail time. And there's a catch: Jimmy has to agree to move to Albuquerque and get a job at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill.

Jimmy leaves for New Mexico with Chuck and begins working in the mail-room of the law firm. For most of this time, he is a model employee and manages to stay out of trouble. In 1997, Jimmy passes the bar after studying in his spare time and applies for a position at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Chuck blocks this, and Jimmy leaves to pursue a career as a lawyer on his own.

Between 1998 and 2002, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) attends J. P. Wynne High School. He is a rather uninterested student and draws the ire of Walter White after he fails his chemistry class. Exactly how well the two knew each other is unclear, yet viewers discover that Walter tried to motivate him to apply himself and do better while at school.

Mike leaves the police and Chuck takes a sabbatical

Not long before the start of "Better Call Saul," Matt Ehrmantraut is murdered by corrupt police officers. He had shown a reluctance to take dirty money and only accepted the cash after speaking to his father, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), a dirty cop himself. Fearing he would turn them in, Matt's fellow officers killed him in an ambush.

This prompts a furious response from Mike, who quits the Philadelphia Police Department and kills the two men responsible for murdering his son. He immediately leaves for Albuquerque to be close to his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Eventually, Mike gets treatment for a shoulder injury and starts working as a parking lot attendant at the Albuquerque courthouse.

By 2001, Chuck McGill begins experiencing a purportedly unknown electromagnetic hypersensitivity condition. This seemingly starts after he and his wife split up and divorce, leading some to believe it may be a psychological condition rather than a physical one. Soon afterward, Chuck takes an extended sabbatical from Hamli, Hamlin & McGill so he can avoid all electronics, living in a home he has gutted of wiring and devices.

Better Call Saul begins

The 1st season of "Better Call Saul" begins in May 2002, with Jimmy McGill attempting to represent the Kettlemans when Craig Kettleman (Jeremy Shamos) is accused of embezzlement. The lawyer is tired of being a public defender and wants to start more lucrative work. His schemes eventually lead to him meeting Nacho Vargo (Michael Mando) and Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), thrusting the character into the criminal underworld for the first time.

Jimmy ultimately discovers that Craig Kettleman did embezzle millions of dollars and takes $30,000 to keep quiet. Around this time, he also meets Mike Ehrmantraut and begins speaking to him regularly, especially when it becomes clear that Mike is useful as a fixer and private investigator. After eventually managing to convince the Kettlemans to accept a plea deal, he returns their money and begins to specialize in elder law.

During this time, he discovers that Sandpiper Crossing is overcharging its residents and starts canvassing for a class action lawsuit. The campaign is successful, and on the strength of it, he is offered a position with Davis & Main. However, he doesn't last long in the safe and cushy environment and chooses to get himself fired. Elsewhere, to help Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) get an important bank client, he breaks into Chuck McGill's house and changes paperwork.

At the same time, Mike begins working with Nacho to try and get rid of Tuco, which brings Hector Salamanca into the fold. Eventually, it becomes obvious that it would benefit everyone if Hector is killed, but Mike is stopped by a mysterious figure when he is about to shoot him with a sniper rifle.

Gustavo Fring enters the fray

In the 3rd season of "Breaking Bad," Gustavo Fring makes his first appearance. The fast-food owner is actually a huge drug distributor and is planning on becoming the leading force north of the border. It's revealed he is the one who stopped Mike from killing Hector, as he has his own plans for the Cartel member. Seeing exactly how useful Mike can be, Gus offers to hire him full-time. Meanwhile, Nacho poisons Hector, and he suffers a serious stroke, losing the ability to talk and move freely.

Jimmy, who is now operating on his own once again, is taken to court by Chuck. The older brother wants to punish Jimmy for his crimes and manages to get him suspended as a lawyer by the bar association. During the trial, Jimmy proves that Chuck's illness is not real and causes a deterioration in his condition. Chuck kills himself at the end of Season 3 by burning down his house with a gas lantern.

Jimmy goes bad and Gus gets serious

Gus begins his efforts to take over the drug business north of the border. With Werner Ziegler, he begins constructing a secret meth lab in an attempt to control the drug trade. He also pays for a doctor to keep Hector alive, although he goes with the option that will ensure that the Cartel leader won't recover and will stay in his current condition.

Working with Mike, Gus forces Nacho to act as a double agent against the Salamancas and to get information on Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) when he arrives in Albuquerque to oversee his family's business. Mike and Gus agree to remove Lalo from the equation so they can continue unchallenged and neutralize the Salamancas permanently.

On the other hand, Jimmy strikes out on his own once again and changes his name to Saul Goodman. After getting his law license back, he begins focusing on working directly with criminals and is soon recruited by Lalo to represent Krazy-8 (Maximino Arciniega) and work directly with the Salamancas. He later has to help get Lalo out of jail when he is arrested and travels to the border to get his $7 million bail money. Ambushed by unknown assailants, Jimmy is almost killed until Mike saves his life, and the two make it back to Albuquerque safely. Season 5 ends in 2004 with Kim convincing Jimmy that they need to take down Howard Hamlin.

Walter White starts cooking meth

"Breaking Bad" is set in 2008, with the show starting as Walter White is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 50. This prompts the high school chemistry teacher to go on a ride-along with his brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). Here he sees Jesse Pinkman, as well as an opportunity to partner up with his former student to cook meth in the hopes of paying his medical bills and providing for his family. He approaches Jesse, and despite some suspicion from the petty criminal, they both agree to work together and combine their talents.

While things don't exactly go smoothly at first, Walter and Jesse do manage to successfully sell meth and soon begin cooking in an old RV out in the desert. The cancer-stricken teacher is forced to kill Krazy-8, marking the first time in the series that he takes a life. The pair also run into Tuco Salamanca and enter a partnership with him to distribute the drugs. As the relationship worsens, they eventually end up meeting Hector Salamanca and are set to be killed by Tuco. However, Hank arrives and unknowingly saves the two rookie cooks and kills Tuco in a shootout.

Walter and Jesse start to expand

With Tuco Salamanca no longer a problem, Walter and Jesse have an opportunity to expand and take over the role of distributors. Jesse teams up with Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones) to start selling the meth themselves, and they see a good amount of success, bringing in far more money than they ever did previously. Jesse even develops a reputation for being a cold-blooded killer, making it easier for his gang to collect money from dealers. Yet changes in their personal circumstances make things more difficult for them to continue cooking meth.

Skyler (Anna Gunn) becomes increasingly suspicious of Walter and what he is doing in his spare time. She is tipped off by Hank that her husband has a second phone and suspects he may be having an affair. Eventually, she discovers that he has been lying about getting money from his former business partners to pay for his medical bills and seeing his mother. Conversely, Jesse enters a relationship with Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter), and they start using drugs regularly.

In need of a way to launder their money, Walter and Jesse go to Saul Goodman. He is able to help them get Badger a lighter sentence when he is arrested and comes up with a plan to make their extra income seem legitimate. After some discussion, he puts them into contact with Gustavo Fring, and the kingpin agrees to buy a shipment of meth at short notice after showing some initial reservation.

Gus hires Walter and Jesse

Skyler leaves Walter, prompting him to try and quit the drug business in an attempt to fix his marriage. Gus is able to convince him to work directly for him, giving Walter a private underground lab to work in. Jesse joins Walter a few weeks later, and the pair continue to cook meth on an industrial scale. Despite some initial success, the relationship between Gus, Walter, and Jesse soon falls apart. A series of decisions leads Gus to try and cut them out of his business, but they kill their potential replacement, saving them for at least a little while.

In a moment of triumph, Gus finally succeeds in getting his revenge on the Cartel. Taking Mike south of the border, he poisons the leading members of the gang — including Don Eladio — effectively removing all competition in the meth trade. When he returns to Albuquerque, Gus fires Walt and warns him to stay away from Jesse. Realizing that his life is in danger, Walter tries to leave town with his family but doesn't have enough money to pay for everyone. Ultimately, he resolves to kill Gus as a way of removing the threat.

A new empire is born and falls

Using Gus' hatred of Hector Salamanca against him, Walter assassinates Gus using a bomb strapped to the old Cartel member's wheelchair. Along with Jesse and Mike, Walter takes over what is left of the meth business and becomes incredibly successful, as there is no longer any competition. They discover Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser) and Gus' involvement with Madrigal, the company he's using to supply the vital ingredient for his meth production. After Walter has Mike and all of his men killed to protect himself, he works with Lydia to expand his operations to Europe.

Even though Walter's business is thriving, Hank discovers that he is the elusive Heisenberg and starts working to take him down. Ultimately, Hank and Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are killed in a shootout with the neo-Nazi group that Walter is working with. The group takes Jesse hostage and forces him to continue making meth for them in captivity. To avoid being arrested, Walter flees to New Hampshire under a new identity for six months. With his death imminent from his returning cancer, Walter goes back to Albuquerque and kills Lydia and the Nazis, freeing Jesse before he succumbs to his wounds as police arrive at the scene.

The continuing story in El Camino

Before "El Camino," the last time viewers see Jesse is when he's speeding away from the Nazi compound as police close in. The movie begins almost immediately after this, with Jesse escaping to Skinny Pete's house. With the help of Badger and Skinny Pete, he manages to safely avoid the police, and he heads to Todd Alquist's (Jesse Plemons) old apartment to try and scrape together enough money to purchase a new identity from Ed Galbraith (Robert Forster).

He finds himself $1,800 short of the necessary amount, and Ed is unwilling to do the deal without full payment. Getting the cash together proves difficult, and Jesse is forced to kill Neil Kandy and one of his associates to get the rest of the money. Jesse goes back to Ed and chooses to start a new life in Alaska. He is transported to his new home and gives Ed a letter for Brock Cantillo (Ian Posada) to say goodbye before experiencing a flashback of Jane Margolis when she was alive. As of writing, this is the last anyone sees of Jesse in the world of "Breaking Bad."

Jimmy's new life

As part of the "Better Call Saul" series, each season features a flash-forward, showing Jimmy in the present day living under his new identity of Gene Takovic. Located in Omaha, he works as a Cinnabon manager and is constantly nervous about his former life being uncovered or someone recognizing him. Still, the lawyer clearly still feels very attached to Saul Goodman, watching old commercials on VHS.

Jimmy's secret identity seems to work perfectly, and his new Social Security number even holds up when he's taken to hospital after a suspected heart attack. However, a cab driver recognizes him and later confronts him at the mall, confirming that he knows he is really Saul Goodman. Jimmy calls Ed Galbraith to arrange another pickup and then changes his mind, saying that he will deal with the issue himself.

The plot against Lalo and Nacho's last stand

Gus' plot to neutralize Lalo culminates in a daring late night raid on the charming psychopath's Mexican compound. Nacho sets a fire in the kitchen of the hacienda as a distraction, then opens the back gate to a squad of armed mercenaries and takes off into the night. The mercenaries gun down nearly everyone in the compound, but Lalo, thanks to his wiles and an El Chapo-like secret tunnel under his bathroom, amazingly escapes. Taking advantage of the fact that everyone thinks he's dead, Lalo sets forth to prove once and for all that the Chicken Man is working against the cartel.

Nacho, meanwhile, becomes the most wanted man on either side of the border, as the Salamancas hunt him for betraying Lalo, and Gus cannot have him captured and interrogated. Mike arranges for him to be smuggled back stateside, but Nacho understands that he's between a rock and a hard place. He gets Mike's word that his father (Juan Carlos Cantu) won't be retaliated against, and allows himself to be turned over to the Salamancas. Rather than be tortured to death, however, Nacho takes matters into his own hands and shoots himself in the head.

Worlds Collide

Kim's plan to take down Howard has two goals: To force a settlement in the Sandpiper Retirement Home lawsuit, which would give Jimmy a hefty windfall thanks to his finders fee, and to punish Howard for his presumption, thinking he knows what's best for either Jimmy or Kim. What follows is an intricate, coordinated plan across summer 2004 to make it appear as if Howard is a drug addict, using planted bags of powder, disguises, stolen cars, and staged photographs. Their plan works all too well, ruining Howard's reputation with colleagues like Clifford Main (Ed Begley, Jr.) and sending him into an emotional tailspin.

Lalo Salamanca has spent the weeks since the raid on his compound traveling the world in secret to expose Gus Fring. He knows that Gus made use of a German engineering team the year before to build something underneath an industrial laundromat outside of town. He knows that Nacho betrayed him on Fring's orders, and he suspects that Jimmy, who was introduced to him by Nacho, knows more than he let on when the last spoke. The legal world and the cartel world mostly existed separate from each other on "Better Call Saul," but in the Season 6 episode "Plan and Execution," these worlds collide, as both Howard and Lalo arrive at Jimmy and Kim's condo seeking answers. Lalo has no patience for Howard's side of things, however, and shoots him within seconds.

The deaths of Lalo and Jimmy McGill

Lalo sends a traumatized Kim on a mission: Drive to Gus Fring's house, ring the doorbell, and gun down whoever answers. This is, of course, a suicide mission whose intent is to distract Gus and his men so Lalo can get inside the laundromat and see what exactly is going on. Gus, with his sixth sense for traps and danger, anticipates Lalo's plan and heads to the laundromat himself, only for Lalo to get the drop on him. At gunpoint he forces Gus to take him into the under-construction super lab, where Gus is able to kill the lights and reach a gun he had hidden away. The two men fire at each other in the dark, but only Gus' bullet finds its mark; Lalo dies with a smile on his face.

That same night, Mike and his crew remove Howard's body and clean up Jimmy's condo as if the killing never even happened; Howard and Lalo are buried together underneath the super lab floor, never to be found again. And while Jimmy is more than willing to compartmentalize Howard's death and their complicity in it, Kim is unable to do so. She submits her resignation from the New Mexico Bar Association and leaves Jimmy. The harm that they cause others when they are together is too great; it can't be justified by their love for each other. As Kim packs boxes, the episode "Fun and Games" ends with a devastating flash-forward to 2005, one year later, when we see that without her, Jimmy has fully embraced the amoral, decadent lifestyle of Saul Goodman.

Jeff and Marion

Jimmy handles Jeff the cab driver (played by Pat Healy in Season 6) the only way he knows how to — with a good old-fashioned con job. Using Jeff's elderly mother Marion (Carol Burnett) as leverage, Jimmy makes Jeff a proposition, a one-time introduction to the Saul Goodman-style criminal life via a heist of luxury goods from the department store at the mall where "Gene Takovic" works. The heist goes off (nearly) without a hitch, and the success gives Jimmy a rush he hasn't felt in months since leaving Albuquerque. What was meant to be a one-time thing becomes a miniature crimewave, as Jimmy, Jeff, and Jeff's buddy Buddy run identity theft scams on unsuspecting wealthy single men.

Everything is going well for weeks, until a scam gone wrong lands Jeff in jail. Jimmy arranges for Marion to post his bail, but when he arrives to take her to the courthouse, she confronts him with some videos she found online with her brand new laptop: Saul Goodman commercials. "I typed in 'con man' and 'Albuquerque' and up you popped, big as day," she says. Jimmy advances on her with her telephone cord in his hands, but decides to run instead as Marion uses her Life Alert bracelet to contact the police.

Kim makes a new life in Florida

After divorcing Jimmy and leaving New Mexico in 2005, Kim spends the next several years building a purposely bland, no-opinion kind of life in central Florida, complete with a mind-numbing office job at a sprinkler supply company, a white-bread boyfriend who dreams of going on "The Amazing Race" with her (not knowing that she is already running for her life), and a formless length of dark brown hair. When Walter White's drug empire finally collapses and makes national news in early 2010, Kim reaches out to Francesca (Tina Parker), Saul's former receptionist, to make sure she's all right and Jimmy is still alive. When Jimmy finds out about this in November 2010, he takes it as a sign to reach out to Kim himself.

That phone call does not go well. Kim, though glad he is alive, still wants nothing to do with Jimmy and thinks he should confess everything and turn himself in. When he petulantly counters that maybe she should be the one to confess, Kim does exactly that, traveling back to Albuquerque with a notarized confession of the events that led up to Howard's death in 2004. She delivers one copy to the Bernalillo district attorney's office and the other to Howard's widow Cheryl (Sandrine Holt), but the problem is that there isn't any physical evidence to back up her confession, and anyone other than Jimmy who could corroborate her story is now dead. Nevertheless, the act of confession seems to awaken something in Kim, and when she returns to Florida she begins volunteering at a local free legal aid office.

The Trial of Saul Goodman

After fleeing Marion's home, Omaha police find Jimmy hiding in a dumpster. Facing a life sentence plus 190 years for his many crimes as a member of the Heisenberg empire, Jimmy channels Saul Goodman one last time, acting as his own attorney and claiming that his work for Walter White was made under duress, as he feared for his life if he ever stopped working. The possibility of a hung jury or mistrial prompts the lead prosecutor to pitch a plea deal in which Jimmy would serve less than eight years at a minimum security prison.

At the hearing to finalize the plea deal, however, Jimmy has one last trick up his sleeve. Inspired by Kim's willingness to confess to Howard's murder and bear the consequences, he does likewise, admitting to the court his culpability in Walt's criminal activities, as well as Howard's murder and Chuck's suicide. That eight year sentence becomes 86 instead, at "the Alcatraz of the Rockies" instead of a cushy white collar resort, but prison life seems to suit Jimmy just fine. He bakes bread in the prison cafeteria as if he were back at Cinnabon, and he has the respect of his fellow inmates and guards, who all call him Saul. One day Kim visits, pretending to be his lawyer, and the two share a forbidden cigarette, one last time, just as they did in the first episode of the series.