Should I watch Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad?

Now that Better Call Saul has come to an end, there has never been a more perfect time to binge the entire series. But there’s one question that seems to be on many people’s minds: *How* should I watch Better Call Saul? And should I watch it before Breaking Bad?

And we’re not talking about where to watch or how to stream, we’re talking about how the Breaking Bad prequel’s timeline lines up with the flagship show and what’s the easiest or perhaps most enjoyable way to consume both series. Don’t worry: we have options for those starting out, as well as those curious about watching the Breaking Bad series in chronological order from start to finish.

Can you watch Better Call Saul before Breaking Bad?

Better Call Saul season 6

(Image credit: AMC)

Though the series takes place years before the events of Breaking Bad, it begins with a look into Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman’s life at the end of the flagship series and makes frequent cuts to these scenes (shown in black and white as not to confuse the viewer).

Considering that it quite literally picks up where Breaking Bad ends, and then rewinds to how Jimmy even became a seedy lawyer in the first place, it’s definitely possible (and recommended) to watch all of Breaking Bad first. This creates a pretty cool contrast between the Saul who gets involved with Walt and Jesse and the Jimmy we meet in season 1.

Can I watch Better Call Saul without watching Breaking Bad?

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad

(Image credit: AMC)

A common misconception when the spinoff began was that the show was made for Breaking Bad fans and only Breaking Bad fans. In reality, Better Call Saul functions as its own entity – even though it contains many of the same characters. The average person can sit down and watch the show without any knowledge of who Walter White even is. 

Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould do a pretty great job of setting up Jimmy’s backstory and putting an emphasis on the characters who are important to him and have a direct impact on his life – while also incorporating Breaking Bad favorites like Mike, The Twins, and ‘Chicken Man’ Gustavo Fring. But if you’re not familiar with the latter, it really doesn’t matter. 

It does get a little confusing with the final season, as the show functions as its own thing up until halfway through season 6. There, Saul finally meets Walt and Jesse and things fast forward to the aftermath of Walt’s destructive crimes as an epilogue to the Breaking Bad universe. So, yes, you can watch the vast majority of the show without any prior knowledge of Breaking Bad, but the final act will spoil Breaking Bad and, ultimately, won’t feel quite as satisfying.

How to watch Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul in chronological order

While some have proposed watching them at the same time – the same way you would watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, for example – this really doesn’t work. Why? The shows operate on two different timelines which don’t match up until the very last episodes. 

Here’s our recommendation on how to watch both series:

  • Better Call Saul season 1
  • Better Call Saul season 2
  • Better Call Saul season 3
  • Better Call Saul season 4
  • Better Call Saul season 5
  • Better Call Saul season 6, up to episode 9
  • Breaking Bad seasons 1-5
  • El Camino (the Breaking Bad movie)
  • Better Call Saul season 6, episodes 10-13

To be fair, while El Camino is a “Breaking Bad movie,” it’s a standalone film that explains what happened to Jesse during the last season of Breaking Bad – or, at least, the events that take place before the speed-up of the final episode. It can be watched before or after Saul, just as long as you finish it after Breaking Bad (or risk spoiling the entire series).

If you do want to make yourself a little crazy and watch the shows in a chronological order that matches up references and nods and flashbacks between both shows, we recommend doing this after you’ve watched Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad in a somewhat normal way – whether you follow our guide or watch each separately. 

A Reddit user by the name of milestogo71 compiled the complete chronology (opens in new tab) in one neat – albeit spoiler-heavy – post. It might take you a thousand years, but it’s definitely a fun way for the super fan to watch.

For more, here’s how Better Call Saul avoided TV’s history of disappointing finales – and made Breaking Bad even better. For what to stream next, check out our list of the best new TV shows coming your way in 2022 and beyond.

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