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The Rocky Reference You Missed In Breaking Bad

Who doesn't love a good pop culture reference in a piece of fiction? When a series takes place in their version of the real world, it offers the characters a chance to relate to the viewers with a reference to a film or TV show we all know. On "The Sopranos," it was often "The Godfather," while "Lost" included "Back to the Future" allusions, among many others. On "Mad Men," they attempted to create an ad after the success of "Bye Bye Birdie."

"Breaking Bad," in addition to being one of the most acclaimed shows of all time, is heavily grounded in our reality. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) gets dealt a bad hand after being diagnosed with lung cancer. As a chemistry teacher with a wife and young son at home, his descent into making meth might seem over the top, but it's actually plausible. The show's use of chemistry has also been impressively accurate. Because the show's dark premise is not too hard to believe, it's much more fun when the writers can bring in some levity with a pop culture reference viewers will understand.

And who else could deliver a line about Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) face than the criminal lawyer who, throughout the show, has referenced everything from The Beatles to D.B. Cooper?

Saul compares Jesse's bruised face to Rocky's

In the seventh episode of Season 3, "One Minute," Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), marches up to Jesse's house. Jesse stands at the front door, thinking Hank is coming to question him about a drug bust, but Hank doesn't stop moving toward him. Instead, Walter's enraged brother-in-law gives Jesse a beatdown, repeatedly punching him in the face and yelling at him, demanding to know how Jesse obtained his cell phone number and wife's name. In the previous episode, "Sunset", to get Hank away from finding out about the meth lab in the RV, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and his secretary placed a phone call telling Hank his wife was in the hospital after a serious car accident. 

As Jesse rests in his hospital bed, Saul can't help but show Jesse his phone with a picture of Jesse's bruised up face. He smiles and says. "Hey, Adrian! Rocky called, he wants his face back."

Rocky has become so ubiquitous in our culture that viewers will immediately get the reference to Sylvester Stallone's most notable franchise. It's easy to see a resemblance to the underdog boxer's mangled face after his initial match with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). The writers must be big fans of "Rocky;" during a later episode from Season 4, Hank and Walt drive to stalk drug kingpin, Gus Fring, and Hank sings ”Eye of the Tiger,” featured in several "Rocky" films. At this point, the only thing missing from "Breaking Bad" is a dog named Butkus.