TV Character of the Week: Saul Goodman

In the ADD-addled world that is the 21st century, television shows are defined by their characters. It's not enough to keep the narrative momentum of a series churning forward, superfans want their worlds filled with rich, fully realized characters. Every week, the staff here at Blursto will take time out to identify a show that has gone the extra mile and created a secondary character that's as entertaining as any lead. We begin with the one, the only, Saul Goodman.

Character Profile: Saul Goodman

Actor: Bob Odenkirk

Show: Breaking Bad

Occupation: Lawyer, occasional Money Launderer


"Better Call Saul" (More of a slogan, really-- but certainly worth mentioning).

"As to your dead guy, occupational hazard. Drug dealer getting shot? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's been known to happen."

"Look, let's start with some tough love, all right? Ready for this? Here it goes: You two suck at peddling meth. Period."

"Just promise me you're not going to hang yourself in the closet, OK??"

"Did you not plan for this contingency? I mean the Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button. I?m just saying."

One of the great things about Breaking Bad is that it took major steps over the course of the second, third and fourth seasons to branch out and develop the secondary characters, making Walt and Jesse's "Oh SHIT" moments all the more important. Even more impressive is how likable just about all of them are (Ted Beneke excluded--that guy has no redeeming qualities).

At the top of the list is Saul Goodman.

After first getting tangled with Heisenberg and his associates in season two, Saul has become Walt's lawyer, advisor and confidant. In addition, he's also provided the show with some much needed comic relief.

With a show as intense as Breaking Bad (especially the last few seasons), Saul has become a welcome break. Honestly, the quotes above don't do him justice: you could pretty much put anything he says up there.

It helps that he's played by Bob Odenkirk, one of the creators of Mr. Show (the seminal television series/birth of modern alternative comedy) and titan of the comedy world. He's appeared on other series (How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, about a million other shows) but this role skews a bit further on the dramatic actor scale. [1]

While Odenkirk isn't an Oscar winning actor (he's stated in interviews that he had to "up his game" when first arriving on set with Cranston and the rest of the cast), he's a perfect fit for Saul: quick-witted, opinionated, loud and charismatic.

It doesn't just stop at comedy. Over the course of the series, Saul has become a pretty damn important piece of the puzzle. He has connections with almost every other character (Hank Schrader being the most notable exception), and often serves as a wayfarer of information from one sect to the other.

Equally adept at playing off of Walt's paranoid ramblings or Skylar's idiotic decision-making, Saul is always there with a helpful bit of advice and a great line to boot.

And sure, he may have made a commercial that blatantly plays on the tragedy of a fictional airplane crash, but he does it with a smile. That's gotta count for something, right?


[1] While HE doesn't have the most dramatic role per se, Breaking Bad is a helluva lot more dramatic than HIMYM.

-Matthew Ludtke


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