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Vince Gilligan Pitched Breaking Bad To Three Different Networks Before AMC Saved It

Vince Gilligan permanently changed the television landscape with his groundbreaking crime drama "Breaking Bad." The series follows the drastic transformation of a suppressed, cancer-riddled chemistry teacher to a volatile crime boss who makes and distributes pure-grade crystal methamphetamine. Despite its unconventional story, "Breaking Bad" quickly became a cultural phenomenon and Emmy juggernaut, which makes Gilligan's revelations of its earlier failures even more bewildering. 

AMC's commitment to distinctive dramas makes "Breaking Bad" a perfect fit for the network. With preexisting and riveting series like "Mad Men," Gilligan's explosive and addictive show helped AMC attract even more eyeballs. This paved the way for the ever-expanding "The Walking Dead" franchise, making AMC a solid network with plenty of hits. After the conclusion of "Breaking Bad," the franchise even continued through the enthralling prequel spin-off "Better Call Saul," starring Bob Odenkirk as the shifty lawyer Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman. 

It's hard to imagine "Breaking Bad" ever being rejected by networks after seeing what a major success it became, even after being on the verge of cancellation on the regular. The unbelievable performances by Bryan Cranston as Walter White/Heisenberg and Aaron Paul as Walt's former student Jesse Pinkman are simply unmissable, especially when accompanied by such captivating storytelling. Thankfully, AMC saw something special in "Breaking Bad" and saved it from failure, even after three networks passed on the jaw-dropping series. 

TNT, HBO, and FX all said no to Breaking Bad and Gilligan

Though "Breaking Bad" eventually aired on AMC, Vince Gilligan revealed the unfortunate experiences he had pitching it to other networks in an extensive video interview with Emmy TV Legends. He mentioned TNT, HBO, and FX in the mix, while even singling out the worst and best of the bunch. 

Gilligan emphasized that the worst thing a potential producer can do is leave them hanging in the dark without an answer. He applauded TNT for giving them a quick no because of the glaring methamphetamine storyline. "I get to 'The End,' [the two executives] look at each other and they say, 'Oh god, I wish we could buy this.' Then they said, 'If we bought this, we'd be fired ... We cannot put this on TNT, it's meth, it can't be meth, it's reprehensible," he recalled. Gilligan went on to say they even asked if Walt could be a counterfeiter instead, which was an easy no and consequential pass on the series.

HBO was awarded the title of the worst by Gilligan, who felt the executives were not only uninterested in the show, but also in him as a living person. The network never even gave him an answer, though he admitted that Showtime turned it down for its similarities to "Weeds," which also featured a drug-dealing parent. 

Interestingly enough, Gilligan highlighted the network that did buy "Breaking Bad," but had to eventually move on. He said FX bought the script but graciously let AMC take over when they became interested, gifting the world the standout drama. "God bless them, that...when AMC came calling, [FX was] big enough to allow AMC to purchase the script for 'Breaking Bad' ... that behavior's kind of rare in the business," Gilligan said.