What does "breaking bad" actually mean, and in which context has the creator used the term for the title of the TV series Breaking Bad (2008-2013).

  • 3
    Downvoters - apart from the fact the answer is probably Googleable [which is true for 90% of SE questions & in itself should not be reason to downvote], I see no reason to not ask about a little-known phrase from a small region of what to most people is a foreign country.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 30, 2016 at 15:00
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    It has to show research effort, and grammar is very important. This doesn't show any research effort, nor does it show an initial push as to their own thoughts behind the meaning.
    – cmp
    Dec 30, 2016 at 15:52
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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/174891/… Dec 30, 2016 at 18:31
  • It isn't merely googlable, it's explained in the opening paragraph of the Breaking Bad wiki page.
    – BCdotWEB
    Dec 30, 2016 at 18:32
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    Ah, OK - I don't have the rep on here to see deleted answers yet, so didn't spot that one. My main point was really that I'd watched all 8 seasons before I actually got round to googling what it's supposed to mean, because I'd never heard the phrase before, & that being googleable doesn't make a question 'bad' per se.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 30, 2016 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


Breaking bad is a slang phrase meaning to defy authority or to challenge conventions.

Source Urban Dictionary

I have just started watching initial 4-5 episodes and story starts with protagonist starting to work illegally.

Its basically about chemistry teacher who is very simple guy but he is came to know that he has cancer. He is only support for his family and he also have one son who is young and differently able.

So, this fellow comes across one of his old student and starts creating Meth.

You can say its his story of defing authority or law, in other words, Watler is breaking bad.

Lead actor Bryan Cranston stated in an interview that: "The term 'breaking bad' is a southern colloquialism and it means when someone who has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow, when they've gone wrong. And that could be for that day or for a lifetime."

[Source: http://breakingbad.wikia.com/wiki/Breaking_Bad]

Showcreaters intially thought that this is very common term as mentioned in this article:-

Show creator Vince Gilligan has said 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.”

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