This is a map of the relationships inside Breaking Bad.

It's deceptively simple. Because while a simple dotted line connects characters, like Walt to Hank...

...you realize that the plot narrative (Hank chasing down the criminal he doesn't know to be Walt) takes Hank through many circles before discovering the answer right in front of him.

Incidentally, each character's circle is dictated by how often they appeared on the show.

It's surprising that Walt and Jesse are the only two largest circles, meaning even major supporting characters appeared on less episodes.

These supporting characters seem to define the challenge of various seasons--like the henchmen of that year's big bad.

Poor Skyler and Walt Jr sit at the bottom of the visual, radiating out from Walt with the insignificance of any other character.

An Awesome Map Of All The Characters In "Breaking Bad"

Have you had enough Breaking Bad infographics yet? Neither have we.

Breaking Bad was an amazing show. But just as amazing may be its meta show, a legacy of data visualizations it will leave behind. From analysis of its wardrobe colors, to Walt’s evolving facial hair, to straight-up counts and classifications of people killed, Breaking Bad has formed an entire subculture of data geeks analyzing its narrative mastery through quantifiable information.

And the latest geek in the Breaking Bad graphic mix is Andy Bergmann, who you may know for his incredible take on the NBA. “Yep, it's a character map,” he tells us over email, “but I wasn't really interested in documenting every meeting and conversation that ever took place on the show. A lot of network diagrams apply that level of detail and result in beautifully complex spiderwebs of line work, but they're frequently very difficult to follow.”

On the other hand, Bergmann’s map is deceptively simple. It’s a collection of circles, connected by dotted lines. There is neither a title up top nor legend at the bottom.

“I wanted it to be a bit abstract,” Bergmann explains. “If I stuck this up on the wall you wouldn't know exactly what it was from a distance.”

But as you come closer, you’ll recognize a few icons--a camper, chickens, and a suburban home. Then you’ll see the names--Walt, Jesse, Skyler. And within a few moments, you’ll realize, these are all of the characters of Breaking Bad, all those dotted lines represent their relationships, and the size of each circle represents how many episodes its character was in.

At that point, you can appreciate the nuance. Just by following the lines, you realize, say, how important Saul and Mike were in connecting Walt and Jesse to the underworld. But there’s an even more impressive visual scheme at play: Trace Walt to Hank, and then follow the path clockwise through Hank’s attempts to find Walt’s alter ego Heisenberg. Hank would deal with the Mexican cartel, Pollos Hermanos, and eventually a small army of ex-cons to find his way back to his own family, the simple science-teacher-gone-meth-god. In this sense, Bergmann’s layout really is deceptively simple. Because when you look closer, you’ll see it’s not just a chart, but a true data visualization: A navigable map through Breaking Bad’s epic blur of domestic and criminal life.

See more here.

Add New Comment

11 Comments

  • janie

    and you forgot about how Skyler used Saul to get Ted to pay his taxes. Other guys were involved in that too.

  • Paul Slaff

    Zzz. this map misses many links in the name of formalism.

    Jesse + Walt contacted Saul together due to Badger's arrest. But drawing that link would have been messy.

    form trumping function.

  • playr2

    This misses out on the connection between Walt and Donald (Jane's father). Although they only had a short interaction, it led to Walt "causing" Jane's death and the whole airplane crash. As well it was an important connection because of how these things weighed on the Walt and Jesse. I mean, seriously, Walt and Jesse even have a whole discussion about the odds of Walt's encounter with Donald.

  • Charles

    At that point, you can appreciate the nuance. Just by following the lines, you realize, say, how important Saul and Mike were in connecting Walt and Jesse to the underworld. But there’s an even more impressive visual scheme at play: Trace Walt to Hank, and then follow the path clockwise through Hank’s attempts to find Walt’s alter ego Heisenberg. Hank would deal with the Mexican cartel, Pollos Hermanos, and eventually a small army of ex-cons to find his way back to his own family, the simple science-teacher-gone-meth-god. In this sense, Bergmann’s layout really is deceptively simple. Because when you look closer, you’ll see it’s not just a chart, but a true data visualization: A navigable map throughBreaking Bad’s epic blur of domestic and criminal life.

  • Charles

    But as you come closer, you’ll recognize a few icons--a camper, chickens, and a suburban home. Then you’ll see the names--Walt, Jesse, Skyler. And within a few moments, you’ll realize, these are all of the characters of Breaking Bad, all those dotted lines represent their relationships, and the size of each circle represents how many episodes its character was in.

  • Charles

    On the other hand, Bergmann’s map is deceptively simple. It’s a collection of circles, connected by dotted lines. There is neither a title up top nor legend at the bottom.

  • Charles

    “I wanted it to be a bit abstract,” Bergmann explains. “If I stuck this up on the wall you wouldn't know exactly what it was from a distance.”