Technically, everyone in Better Call Saul is supposed to look younger than they do in Breaking Bad. But everyone is older and wrinklier. It doesn't seem like they've focused on making up their appearances. The same goes with El Camino.

Why is this neglected? It doesn't make me feel like I am watching a prequel.

  • Better question would be, why would they be...
    – Mithoron
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 18:41
  • 1
    The writing for this was so good, you didn’t have time to pay attention to the fact that they didn’t look like the characters they were portraying.
    – cmp
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 7:53
  • @cmp clearly people did notice. These shows spend a lot of time with close-ups of faces. I feel they get away with it in BCS way better than the huge discon-Todd-unity in EC.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 14:30
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    Simple. While the second crew was completing the meth lab, Gus got himself and Mike memberships for the hot springs at Jemez, so they could debrief in a more relaxed setting. The minerals worked their magic so well that by the time it was done, both men looked 12 or 13 years younger. Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 14:55
  • The worst were the scenes going back to the early 1990s when Kim would've been in her mid 20s and Saul in early 30s.
    – user97401
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 4:49

4 Answers 4


I'd go for "willing suspension of disbelief".

They definitely made Jimmy/Saul look younger for the flashback scenes when he's running con-tricks as Slippin' Jimmy, and they distincly aged him for the flash-forward scenes as Gene Takovic.

I think we're just supposed to accept that without several million dollars'-worth of CGI in each episode, the actors are going to look older. Breaking Bad was first released in 2008, 12 years ago.

  • 4
    Hollywood has been making people look decades older or younger without CGI for decades. Simple make-up and so on seems able to buy a decade either way... think about how much Walt and Jesse's appearance changes in just a series or two of BB. Think how young Gus looked in flash-backs to BCS era in BB. So I think they just decided not to as you say, on the basis few people are going to chain-watch it all.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 14:27

Besides what Tetsujin points out about willing suspension of disbelief, it also seems like de-aging is what they were going for with some of the hairstyles. Here's Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad:

Saul Goodman, as seen in Breaking Bad

And here's 5-10 year older Bob Odenkirk playing his younger self in Better Call Saul:

Jimmy McGill, as seen in Better Call Saul

Pretty successful, in my opinion! My guess is that they went with this method instead of using makeup or CGI for everyone because of the sheer expense, even if it meant they couldn't do it with characters with less hair, like Mike or Gus:

Mike Ehrmantraut as seen in Better Call Saul (left), and Breaking Bad (right)

Finally, the show doesn't take place that much earlier than Breaking Bad. BCS takes place in the early-to-mid 2000s, while Breaking Bad takes place in the late 2000s-early 2010s. This gives it some wiggle room for plausibility.

  • 2
    Honestly, it can fit the plot that Mike felt the need to get fitter to do the job Gus offered.
    – nomen
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 16:36
  • 1
    Jimmy McGill was IMO thoroughly successful deaging. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 3:21

I've rewatched some clips and I propose this:

We see Gene Takovic being trapped by doors closing on him in the trash compartment. (How's that for a metaphor?) And after he waited on the floor, we see him leaving, but also a scratching on the wall:

SG was here

That moment, between when he sat on the floor, is what we see in Better Call Saul. He is reminiscing on what led him where he is now and the man he was. That's why he has the Saul age through series (with that haircut) and people he meet for the first time are the age he last remembers them.

Proof of theory: When we see Jimmy McGill showing his brother Chuck he passed bar exam, they are not younger. Chuck has the same gray hair and same haircut as when Jimmy sees him for the last time. Also Jimmy looks exactly the same (with haircut) apart from clothes for a much younger, more frivolous person. Clothes that are in, for me, a clear contrast with ambulance-chaser haircut.

Semiproof of theory: If this is in Saul's memory, how does he know about things that happened without his presence? Because he was told about them by participants. That's why people complain that BCS Mike is a much better/smarter person who shouldn't be shot in BB. But this is how Mike described himself to Saul. In BCS Mike is this almost superhuman comic book detective. It's because it's his stories and in such everyone like to paint themselves better, smarter, with all the coolness and strategy all laid out before acting on them.

Another semiproof: There is a scene when Jimmy is sitting outside Chuck house who scolds him. This is the same position he sits in that trash room. But during that scolding Jimmy is becoming Saul. And until one point it was Saul who was playing Gene. But when he stands up back again, he might stand up as Gene. "SG WAS here".

  • Gene sure envisions the struggle between Gus and Lalo in a lot of detail! Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 14:54

As the prequel was just before the original series they don't have many changes with respect to age, but the way they are brought is more important.

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