‘Breaking Bad’ Has So Much Color Symbolism, From Walter White’s Name to Sky Blue Meth

The brilliance of Breaking Bad was so much deeper than some fans realize.

One of the reasons critics call the AMC drama one of the greatest of all time is because of all the thought put into it. This intentional storytelling goes deeper than just the writing — which was also exceptional. It’s also about the unseen heroes deciding on music, setting, and color.

Fans must look closely to see all the color symbolism on Breaking Bad, but once noticed, it’s impossible to unsee. From turning Walter White from an innocent chemistry teacher into a villain to having Marie Schrader obsessed with purple, there’s just so much color in the series.

Walter White’s character is steeped in color symbolism

Walter White
Walter White | Ursula Coyote/AMC

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Deeper truths about Walter White begin with his name. Showrunner Vince Gilligan said he came up with the main character’s name on purpose. The series creator said, “white is the color of vanilla, of blandness.” He intentionally used alliteration so viewers would remember it anyway.

All along Gilligan sought to turn Walt “from Mr. Chips into Scarface” and as he did, color played a huge role.

He told GQ, “For instance in the pilot, it was intentional that Walt start off very beige and khaki-ish, very milquetoast, and he would progress through that one hour of television to green and thus show his process of evolution as a character.”

Marie Schrader doesn’t go through the same color evolution as Walt

Marie Schrader
Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) | Ursula Coyote/AMC

While Walt turns from one person into another, Hank’s wife Marie stays stubbornly the same. Fans have had frequent discussions about why Marie is so enamored by purple, using it in all her décor and wearing purple all the time. It was actress Betsy Brandt who suggested Marie choose a color and stick with it.

“Honestly, it’s just something I suggested in the pilot I think because we all had a color and mine was purple, and I said, ‘I think Marie is just one of those people who doesn’t do anything half-assed, whether it’s right or wrong,’” Brandt said during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“If purple is her color, then it is all about purple. And they just ran with that in a huge way, which I loved. You know she’s quirky even before you get into the show. Have you ever met an adult who’s just really obsessed with a color?”

After that, Marie’s purple compulsion became a well-known facet of her character.

Jesse Pinkman doesn’t find a mentor in Walt

Walter White and Jesse
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman | Ursula Coyote/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

It’s easy to overlook that Walter White isn’t the only one with a colorful name. Jesse Pinkman is named after a color as well, and one that’s associated with youth to underscore just how young he is during the events of Breaking Bad. Walt starts as a mentor figure to Jesse but eventually becomes the source of all his strife, StyleCaster reported.

Fans have also pointed out that Mr. White and Mr. Pink(man) may be a reference to the movie Reservoir Dogs. They noticed that pink also signifies danger, like the black and white scenes where the only colorized item is the pink teddy bear from the plane crash.

Blue is an essential part of ‘Breaking Bad’

piles of money
Piles of money from Breaking Bad | AMC

Probably the most important hue in Breaking Bad is blue. The most obvious instance of this is the blue sky meth that Walt and Jesse make, signifying its purity and therefore its value. But the blue symbolism goes even deeper than that.

In “Gliding Over All,” the blue colors overtake the characters when Skyler says to Walt, “Take a drive with me.” Both characters are wearing blue and sitting in the glow of the blue pool. The hallway walls are blue as Skyler gets pulled metaphorically into Walt’s blue world and shows him all the money he’s made.

And the final song that plays in the series, “Baby Blue” by Badfinger, proves just how much Walt loved his blue life and blue meth. He had previously admitted it wasn’t about providing for his family anymore — it was because he liked it.