‘Breaking Bad’ Never Would Have Happened If Vince Gilligan Knew ‘Weeds’ Already Existed

It’s a terrifying concept to think about. Yes, Breaking Bad is hailed as one of the greatest shows of all time, or at least one of the top five alongside other iconic dramas including The Wire and The Sopranos. But it turns out showrunner Vince Gilligan almost gave up on his idea before it ever got off the ground.

Why would Gilligan decide not to explore the process of good-guy chemistry teacher Walter White transforming into drug kingpin Heisenberg? It has to do with another show about a seemingly average-looking drug dealer: Weeds.

Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad | Mark Davis/Getty Images

Vince Gilligan thought he had an original idea with ‘Breaking Bad’

Anyone who’s seen the show Weeds knows that it’s about as different from Breaking Bad as it is from Sesame Street. Still, at heart the two concepts are similar: an average suburbanite starts making money by selling drugs. And creator Vince Gilligan insists that if he had known Weeds was already in the works, he wouldn’t have pitched Breaking Bad at all.

“I could feel the blood drain from my face,” Gilligan wrote of the moment when he found out about Weeds. “I turned to [co-producer of Sony Television] Zack [Van Amburg] and Jamie [Erlicht]. ‘Did you know about Weeds?’ ‘Oh, yeah,’ they said. ‘Great show. But your thing is completely different. She deals pot and your guy deals crystal meth. Apples and oranges.’”

Gilligan said he wouldn’t have made ‘Breaking Bad’ if he knew about ‘Weeds’

In the end, Weeds and Breaking Bad were nothing alike and probably didn’t even have overlapping fans. Still, Gilligan claims he would have been too worried about their similarities to go forward with his idea if he’d known about it.

“If I had known of ‘Weeds’ weeks or even days prior to that meeting, it’s likely I wouldn’t have had the will to go on,” Gilligan wrote. “I would have said to myself (and I’ve said this a lot), ‘Damn! All the good ideas are already taken!’”

Knowing that, both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fans are relieved that Gilligan wasn’t keeping up with industry news. Because imagining a world without these two critically acclaimed shows is truly scary.

‘Breaking Bad’ will always be popular

It’s been years since Breaking Bad concluded, but fans still can’t get enough of the beloved series. Why are people so obsessed with the show?

There’s not just one reason. For one thing, the story of Walter White embracing his inner dark side and gradually allowing his quest for power to consume him is fascinating to fans. It’s not a straight path from good to evil — instead, it’s full of twists and turns that are ultimately unpredictable.

Plus, the dynamic between Walter White and his business partner and former student Jesse Pinkman is just as compelling. In the beginning, Walt stands in as a type of father figure for Jesse. But eventually, Jesse chooses to do the right thing as Walt just goes further off the moral path.

Fans are so glad ‘Breaking Bad’ happened

Breaking Bad was so many things at once — informative, surprising, dramatic, exciting, and even funny. The show was full of subtle clues and Easter eggs that fans loved discovering. Overall, it was a show that kept you guessing until the last moment.

Weeds was a great show in its own right. But if its existence had meant we never got to meet the iconic Breaking Bad characters, that would be a true television tragedy.