‘Breaking Bad’: What Does That Phrase Actually Mean?


This is the first part of a weeklong series of Breaking Bad-related stories, all leading up to the series finale airing this Sunday. Tomorrow: Breaking Bad Unseen: What You May Have Missed

Here’s a question that’s been hovering in the Breaking Bad fandom for years, but now worth revisiting as the series’ finale is almost upon us: What does it actually mean to break bad?

Show creator Vince Gilligan has said (as in the video above) that he had thought it was a commonly used phrase when he decided to use it as a title, not knowing that the expression was a Southern regionalism from the area in Virginia from which he hails. It means “to raise hell,” he says, as in “I was out the other night at the bar…and I really broke bad.”

(MORE: ‘Ozymandias’: What Does That Breaking Bad Episode Title Mean?)

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