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The 32 Most Memorable Bryan Cranston Roles

With a career spanning over four decades and more than a few iconic characters, Bryan Cranston has become a household name thanks to his incredible acting talent — not to mention a certain drug-fueled crime drama. The Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner brings a lot to the table when it comes to his roles, rarely missing the mark on a performance.

With his recently announced cameo in the sixth season of the "Breaking Bad" prequel series "Better Call Saul," we figured it was a good time to take a look back at some of Cranston's most memorable roles over his long career. In no particular order, we'll be including everything from his earliest sitcom appearances to some of his lesser-known and unexpected projects. And even though this is a collection of Cranston performances that are impossible to forget, there might just wind up being one or two that surprise you.

Walter White (Breaking Bad)

We'll get this one out of the way right off the bat — unless you've been living under a rock since 2008, it should come as absolutely no surprise to see "Breaking Bad" on this list. Easily Cranston's most memorable role to date and undoubtedly the highlight of his career, Cranston took a serious departure from his typical fare (he had previously been best known for his comedic role on the hit show "Malcolm in the Middle") by bringing the character of Walter White to life. The story of a well-meaning husband and father with a terminal illness and his subsequent fall from grace, slowly transforming into a monstrous drug lord, has gone on to become one of the most celebrated television series of the last decade, if not of all time.

With appearances ranging from the "Breaking Bad" film "El Camino" to numerous gags on shows like "The Simpsons" and "Robot Chicken," it can't be overstated just how iconic the character of Walter White is to modern pop culture. It's hard to imagine the role being better cast, as Cranston's performance was instrumental in making his tragic character as compelling as it was. And for an actor who got his start in goofy sitcoms, it's incredible to see how much Cranston has grown over the course of his career.

Titanium Rex (Supermansion)

Being the leader of a superhero team is hard enough as it is, but when you're about 100 years old and feeling every bit of it, it gets even tougher. One of the only animated features on our list, and from the creators of the Adult Swim favorite "Robot Chicken," this stop-motion comedy series would stay on the air for three seasons, putting Cranston front and center with a lead role. The head of the so-called League of Freedom, a collection of superheroes with at times dubious morals and even worse mouths, Titanium Rex frequently struggles to keep the gang together.

First emerging from a society deep within the Earth's core on a mission to conquer the surface, Rex ultimately abandoned his mission and used his superhuman powers for good. When he's not fighting crime and the effects of aging, Rex finds himself sleeping with anyone and everyone, creating more than a few enemies in the process.

Vince Lonigan (Sneaky Pete)

Even though he would only appear as a supporting character in a small number of episodes, Cranston would be doing a lot more behind the scenes of the 2015 crime drama "Sneaky Pete," co-creating it alongside David Shore. The similarities between this series and "Breaking Bad" are immediately apparent, with the premise centered around Marius Josipović, an ex-con freshly released from prison who's forced to hide out to avoid being slaughtered by the vicious gangster Vince Lonigan over a huge unpaid debt. To do this, he takes on the identity of his cellmate Pete Murphy, who's long been estranged from his family and has been unknowingly giving Josipović crucial information about them over the years, allowing Josipović to stealthily take Pete's place in the family.

Cranston plays Lonigan, a cunning and ruthless former cop who now runs a highly lucrative gambling den in New York City. Easily one of Cranston's best performances to date, there's enough elements to this complex character to make him a genuinely fearsome antagonist. With the police in his pocket and a willingness to kill, it's a shame we never saw him in the role again after the end of Season 1.

Tim Whatley (Seinfeld)

While the four leads were the unshakeable foundation of what made "Seinfeld" so great, the show's wide array of supporting characters were equally important in for making it the decade-dominating comedy sensation that it was. Despite only appearing in a handful of episodes, Cranston gave a hilarious performance as Tim Whatley, Jerry's full-time dentist and Elaine's part-time boyfriend.

The heart of "Seinfeld's" comedy is its exploration of various social faux pas, and Whatley's escapades are no exception. A fairly egotistical guy who never squanders an opportunity to demean others, Whatley throws backhanded remarks at Jerry on the regular — or at least, that's how Jerry sees the situation. And while the long list of grievances starts small enough, things escalate when Whatley puts Jerry through a grueling dental procedure during one of his visits. The truth of what may or may not have happened when Jerry was passed out while getting a tooth filling is better left unsaid.

Hammond Druthers (How I Met Your Mother)

Consisting of a wide array of characters and spanning an incredible nine seasons, the 2005 comedy series "How I Met Your Mother" was a cultural phenomenon for the near-decade it was on the air. The show is told through flashbacks, retelling how series lead and narrator Ted met the mother of his two children. And while such a story could probably have been effectively told over dinner, we don't reach the conclusion for more than 200 episodes. We're not complaining though, as "How I Met Your Mother" packed in enough gags and guest star cameos to keep fans entertained for years, all culminating in a complicated and risky finale.

Speaking of those cameos, Cranston played Hammond Druthers, Ted's narcissistic and demeaning boss at an architectural firm. While his part was somewhat brief relative to the scope of the series — he initially appeared in just two Season 2 episodes — longtime fans of "How I Met Your Mother" were rewarded with Druthers making one last appearance in the final season, albeit during a flashback sequence.

Lucifer (Fallen)

Cranston has played some pretty evil characters over his long career, but his role in the 2007 miniseries "Fallen" might just take the cake, considering he plays Lucifer himself. Based on a series of young adult novels of the same name, "Fallen" tells the story of Aaron Corbett, a young man who begins to develop unexplainable powers. He soon discovers he's the child of a human and angel and must defend himself against angels sent to purge him.

After quickly adapting to his new normal, which includes redeeming fallen angels and dodging the occasional angel attack, he's forced to confront his greatest foe yet. Revealed to be Aaron's father, as well as the mastermind of the ongoing struggle between God and the fallen angels, Lucifer is up to his old tricks again as he attempts to persuade Aaron to use his powers to free him from the underworld and complete his conquest against God. Following Aaron's refusal, the two do battle one final time, with all the terribly dated effects you'd expect from a mid-2000s budget show from ABC Family.

Uncle Russell (Raising Miranda)

One of the earlier entries in Cranston's career, "Raising Miranda" follows the framework for your standard comedy show, with a dad who finds himself suddenly forced to be the sole caretaker for his teenage daughter. A surprisingly short-lived series, this one only stayed on the air for nine episodes in the late '80s. And while it may not have been nearly as much of a hit as some of the other entries on our list, it was an early look at some of Cranston's acting chops, decades before he would star in his greatest works.

Forced into single fatherhood after being suddenly dumped by his wife, Donald Marshack is forced to rely on anyone and everyone when it comes to helping out with his moody daughter, even his eccentric brother-in-law, Russell. Squatting in a van outside Marshack's home and permanently jobless, all the qualities that would later go into Cranston's portrayal of Hal Wilkerson are on display here, with his wacky and juvenile approaching to family life being his most defining attributes.

Curt Sincic (The Louie Show)

Created by and starring the late comedian Louie Anderson, "The Louie Show" saw Cranston take on one of the first supporting character roles of his career. Not to be confused with the other comedy series of a similar name, this mid-90s sitcom was another short-lived entry, only airing for a total of six episodes before its hasty cancellation.

Set in Duluth, Minnesota, the handful of episodes we did get saw Anderson as the head of a group of friends while doubling as their psychotherapist, helping each of them deal with their problems in comedic fashion. Cranston played Curt Sincic, Louie's closest friend and the complete inverse of Anderson's energetic and oddball mannerisms. Curt was also a detective in the Duluth police department and often confided in Anderson about his relationship issues with his wife. Although just a brief footnote in Cranston's impressive career, it would help lay the groundwork for some of his most iconic roles years later.

Jack O'Donnell (Argo)

In late 1979, a group of armed militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took a number of hostages. Now known as the Iran hostage crisis, the standoff lasted well over a year and would result in heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. that lasted long after the lengthy crisis. As the event unfolded, a group of six American diplomats took refuge in a Canadian diplomat's home. From there, the CIA worked in tandem with the Canadian government to launch an unconventional plan for their escape, which the 2012 film "Argo" is loosely based on.

The "best worst plan," as the film puts it, is to fake the production of a sci-fi movie titled "Argo" in Tehran. From there, they'll forge documents for the six hostages and covertly extract them from the country. Overseeing the operation is CIA chief Jack O'Donnell, played by Cranston, who helps orchestrate the mission. Before that, though, he has to present the case to his skeptic superiors if he wants the operation greenlit at all. Cranston is in peak post-Breaking Bad form as an intense authority figure, working alongside star and director Ben Affleck as CIA operative Tony Mendez.

Hal Wilkerson (Malcolm in the Middle)

Which only slightly family-friendly character would Bryan Cranston portray just a few years before his career apex in 2008? If you don't know the answer to this question, you likely didn't turn on your TV for a few years in the early 2000s. "Malcolm in the Middle" quickly became a household favorite after its early 2000 debut, spinning the family sitcom genre on its head and delivering a healthy jolt of hilarious sarcasm to its viewers on a weekly basis.

Middle child Malcom already has it rough dealing with his hot-headed older brother Reese and chaotic younger brother Dewey, and things don't get any better when it comes to his two parents. Cranston became a fan favorite for portraying Malcolm's father, Hal Wilkerson. Taking Cranston's comedic roots to the next level, Hal's dopey and absent-minded personality proved, time and time again, to make him the lovable idiot of the series across its seven seasons. Who could have suspected that shortly after this hilariously irreverent comedy would draw to a close in 2006, family man Hal would go on to become one of the biggest meth kingpins in the country?

Shannon (Drive)

It's not too common that Cranston gets a lead role in his projects, especially when it comes to films. Despite that, though, he never fails to give an incredible performance, even as a supporting character. The 2011 crime drama "Drive" would prove most memorable for seeing Ryan Gosling take the lead as an unnamed protagonist, balancing his daytime career as a stuntman with a side gig as a criminal getaway driver. A favorite upon release, the film's gritty violence and artistic action has made it an enduring favorite, especially among fans of Gosling's filmography. His performance isn't the only one that hits the mark, though, with Cranston playing an important part in the unfolding story.

Cranston's character, Shannon, runs an auto shop which doubles as a front for his shady business dealings. A longtime friend of the driver, Shannon doesn't balk after a heist goes wrong and the two have to figure out how to hide a sudden illicit fortune, even going so far as to cover for the driver when confronted by the money's true owners. Unfortunately, while his bravery is commendable, it winds up costing him his life in a grisly way.

Chief (Isle of Dogs)

On the verge of being typecast after "Malcolm in the Middle," Cranston has gone on to prove that he's more than capable of tackling any role a director can throw at him. And thanks to his lead performance in the 2018 animated adventure film "Isle of Dogs," you can add a scruffy stop-motion dog to the growing list. One of the best films directed by Wes Anderson so far, "Isle of Dogs" has a distinct style, and while Anderson films typically make heavy usage of striking visuals and uniquely whimsical comedy, this one strikes a somber tone at times, both with its powerful score and its bleak setting.

In the near future, Japan has exiled all its dogs to a remote island to combat an outbreak of canine flu. After a young pilot's dog is sent to the island, he mounts a rescue mission, finding unlikely help in a pack of stray dogs. Their leader, Chief, voiced by Cranston, guides him through the isle as they encounter other members of the scrappy society, all while inching closer to a deeper conspiracy at play.

Lyndon B. Johnson (All the Way)

Set during one of the most politically charged and internationally tense periods of American history, the 2016 historical drama "All the Way" puts Cranston front and center as 36th U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Sworn into the presidency immediately following John F. Kennedy's tragic assassination, Johnson wastes no time doing what he can to advance and ultimately pass the Civil Rights Act before political infighting threatens to tear it apart. Johnson works alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on accomplishing their shared goals, hoping to make as few concessions as possible so that the bill is still recognizable by the time it's passed.

With the political quagmire at home dominating much of the film, it's easy to forget that the country's overseas relations were becoming more complex by the day, with the situation in Vietnam dramatically escalating. As "All the Way" concludes with President Johnson's reelection in 1964, it leaves the knowledge of the coming war looming in the background.

Sal Nealon (Last Flag Flying)

Bryan Cranston stars as Sal Nealon alongside Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne in this 2017 drama, which delves into the effects of war long after the battle is over. The three leads portray a group of Vietnam veterans who reunite years after their service to carry out the unenviable task of burying one of the men's sons, a member of the Marine Corps recently killed in Iraq. Despite the grim premise, there's a fair bit of comic relief throughout the film, even though it can feel a bit out of place at times.

With one of the men becoming a religious preacher in his later life and another wracked with grief over his loss, Cranston's place in the group is as the hard-drinking ruffian who tells it like it is. He frequently butts heads with Fishburne's Richard Mueller, accusing him of becoming a bore in his old age, and Mueller in turn thinking Nealon too juvenile. And while the trio find it hard to get along at first, especially as a result of being plagued by their own troubled pasts, they find it in themselves to help each other through their darkest hours by film's end.

Joe Brody (Godzilla)

Devout fans of the legendary Japanese "Godzilla" franchise likely still adore the 1954 classic, with its impressive miniatures and iconic rubber suit, but while the 2014 film and subsequent sequels are a far cry from the original in both scope and tone, fans still appreciate the first entry in the revival series for everything it got right.

While the film undoubtedly delivers on its signature catastrophic kaiju clashes, Cranston's role in the entry left many viewers wanting more. Following his wife's death, Joe Brody becomes increasingly consumed by his work, trying to uncover the truth as penance for her tragic demise. His casting in the film was heavily advertised, with Cranston even voicing much of the dialogue in the film's trailer, leaving us sorely disappointed when Brody is killed off early in the film. Despite this, his performance set the tone for the reboot in a profound way, and his character's death directly affected the subsequent events of the franchise. It's still a shame, though, that we didn't get to see more of Cranston.

Dalton Trumbo (Trumbo)

While Cranston typically finds himself as a supporting character in films, the 2015 drama "Trumbo" saw him take center stage. A period piece set during the second Red Scare, Cranston portrays the real life figure of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter and avid member of the Communist Party of the USA. His controversial political beliefs land him in hot water both with the U.S. government and his fellow Hollywood moguls, leading to him becoming ostracized by the community and ultimately imprisoned for nearly a year.

Coming off of his career highlight in "Breaking Bad" and firmly establishing himself as an actor capable of taking on more serious roles, Cranston's does a great work here portraying an often overlooked page in American history. Trumbo's struggle to reestablish himself in Hollywood following his release from prison, as well as the steps he has to take so as not to become a repeat offender, all culminate in a thoroughly enjoyable film. Even though "Trumbo" didn't do huge numbers at the box office, it's worth checking out for fans of American history, as well as Cranston's more sophisticated performances.

Howard Wakefield (Wakefield)

One of the most compelling character dramas in Cranston's filmography, "Wakefield" tells the story of successful lawyer Howard Wakefield, who works day in andday out, is stuck in an unhappy marriage, and overall is at his wit's end with life. One night after a particularly lengthy commute home, and after chasing a raccoon up into the attic of his garage, he finds himself perfectly situated to watch his family without their knowledge from a window.

After spending one night in the attic, Wakefield finds himself filled with morbid curiosity for how his family will react to his sudden disappearance in the coming days. Things only escalate from there, as he finds satisfaction in leaving his old life behind while still being privy to its details. Growing increasingly unkempt with the passing days, he scavenges through garbage to stay alive while reflecting on the life he had built and has now left behind, with the widening divide between him and his former family all coming to a surprising conclusion. Despite sounding like the framework for a horror movie about a creep who lives in the walls, this one is instead a somber and introspective character piece, with some dark comedy thrown in the mix.

Robert Mazur (The Infiltrator)

2016 proved to be a busy year for Bryan Cranston, with a number of his most memorable films seeing release. And if you can't tell by now, one of the most common characters for him to play is one who blurs the line between good and evil. While this biographical crime thriller does differ from his typical fare by portraying Cranston as a special agent working with U.S. Customs to try and bring down Pablo Escobar's drug empire, he's forced to skirt the line between right and wrong when going undercover to infiltrate the criminal enterprise.

Even though it had a weak opening at the box office and a relatively cliche plot, those who did see this historical flick agree Cranston's performance was the strongest aspect of the film. In a 2016 review, Peter Sobczynski wrote that "What does work in 'The Infiltrator' is the impressive lead performance by Bryan Cranston as Mazur. It's a tricky character to pull off because for large chunks of the film, he is essentially delivering two performances at the same time ... and for the film to have any chance of working, he has to be completely believable in both roles."

Mack (The One and Only Ivan)

"The One and Only Ivan" might be Cranston's most kid-friendly entry on our list. Based on a book of the same name, this 2020 Disney release tells the story of a talking gorilla named Ivan and his gaggle of animal friends as he explores his past life and concocts an escape plan from his enclosure.

While the majority of the characters are talking animals, Cranston plays Mack, the main human in the film and the ringmaster of the Big Top Mall, where the animals live. He's desperate to keep the circus act afloat after its profits start dwindling, bringing an elephant into the exhibit to try to attract attention again. And while things are looking up for his business after the star of the show begins to paint for the crowd, protestors demanding Ivan be freed quickly force Mack's hands, giving him no other option but to close up shop.

Jim Gordon (Batman: Year One)

Batman has had almost too many interpretations to count over the years. From his numerous appearances in comics, video games, TV shows, and films, he's long been one of DC's most popular heroes, and undeniably one of the most iconic. While Cranston doesn't voice the caped crusader himself in the 2011 animated adaptation of the legendary Frank Miller story "Batman: Year One," he does portray one of his staunchest allies, Jim Gordon. As the name suggests, however, this film takes a look at the moody city of Gotham and its inhabitants some time before they would settle into the roles we know them best for, meaning Gordon hasn't quite made commissioner yet.

Cranston does a good job depicting the no-nonsense Jim Gordon. Disillusioned by the rampant crime and corruption plaguing Gotham, Gordon feels he has something to prove, making it his mission to clean up the city. He even takes things a step too far, ordered to catch Batman himself by Commissioner Gillian Loeb and trying to connect the dots and uncover Batman's true identity as Bruce Wayne.

Detective Lankford (The Lincoln Lawyer)

Starring Matthew McConaughy as defense attorney Mickey Haller, the 2011 legal drama "The Lincoln Lawyer" would see Cranston take on a small but important role. After a prostitute turns up violently beaten to death and a wealthy California man is the main suspect, Haller agrees to take his case. After noticing some disturbing similarities between this new crime and the actions of a client he had previously defended, now serving life in prison after being pleading guilty to murder on Haller's suggestion, he begins to question his own judgement.

Things ramp up when his current client flat out admits his guilt, thus confirming Haller's suspicions that he made a mistake years ago. Even worse, his investigator soon turns up dead as well, with Cranston's Detective Lankford complicating things by implicating Haller as the main suspect, as the gun used in the crime matches one that went missing from Haller's home. If Haller wants to clear his own name and bring the true perp to justice, he has to use every trick up his sleeve to make things right.

Mr. Dearden (Detachment)

Critics and audiences remain mixed on how well Tony Kaye's "Detachment" was executed, which was no easy feat given its intense material. Starring Adrien Brody, the film shows his day-to-day life as a substitute teacher, getting a glimpse into the fractured lives of both the faculty and students and forcing him to re-examine his own troubled past. Cranston plays Mr. Dearden, husband to the school's principal, who's own career and life is in shambles.

Even though Cranston had a relatively minor part in the 2011 drama, he had some pretty complicated feelings when it came to both the film itself and the time he spent working with its director. When asked what he thought of his experience with Kaye, Cranston said: "I don't believe that I'll be working with him again. I didn't not get along with him on a personal level. But I just honor the writing. I really think that writing is the most important element there is. It is the springboard. It is where everything starts. And if you don't honor that — which I didn't feel it was — then where are you?"

Topo (Cold Comes the Night)

His time on "Breaking Bad" reshaped Cranston's career, as he suddenly found himself cast in roles portraying him as a ruthless criminal. And while some were able to capture a similar essence to "Breaking Bad," others missed the mark by a mile. Fans and critics more or less agree that the 2013 crime thriller "Cold Comes the Night" is firmly in the latter category thanks to its plot, which is convoluted and a bit nonsensical to say the least. It's not all bad though, as Cranston's performance managed to shine through with his portrayal of Topo, a blind man who happens to be both a mob courier and a remorseless killer.

Topo's trail of destruction begins almost as soon as the film does, when his business partner's date with a prostitute ends in a pool of blood and two dead bodies. From there, the bundle of money he was transporting is confiscated, forcing him to take two hostages to be his eyes as he goes on a mission to retrieve it. We won't spoil the ending, but rest assured — there's quite a bit more bloodshed from there.

Philip Lacasse (The Upside)

Far removed from his later roles as a cold and calculating man on the wrong side of the law, "The Upside" puts Cranston in the role of Philip Lacasse, a quadriplegic in need of a caregiver. He soon befriends Kevin Hart's Dell Scott, a man with a broken family who's on the verge of violating his parole and persuades Lacasse to give him the job. Through Scott's employment, the two forge a friendship, delving deeper into Scott's troubled past and casting light on Lacasse's own traumatic backstory.

A feel-good movie, "The Upside" delivers on the moments you might expect from a story like this, both good and bad. Critics didn't like this one too much, and the plot does feel a bit standard at times, but audiences couldn't get enough. Both Hart and Cranston succeed in their performances — though Cranston took some heat for playing a disabled character — making it worth watching if you're looking for a lighthearted film with a bit of comedy and a bit of drama.

Vilos Cohaagen (Total Recall)

The 1990 sci-fi/action film "Total Recall" has become an enduring favorite since its release, and for good reason — between its brutal deaths, imaginative worldbuilding, and a killer performance by everyone's favorite former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, what's not to love? Unfortunately, while it managed to deliver on some truly exciting action sequences, the 2012 remake lacked everything that made the original so memorable.

After the surface of the earth has been largely decimated by warfare, the only two habitable regions on the planet are the United Federation of Britain and the continent of Australia, now known just as "The Colony." At the head of the United Federation of Britain is Cranston's character, Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen, a despotic warmongerer who's concocting a scheme to invade the colony and unite what's left of the world under his tyrannical rule. The only one capable of stopping him is Douglas Quaid, a laborer whose trip to the Rekall memory implantation company spurs him into action, all while he's forced to question what's real and what's fake.

Colonel William Mortamus (Red Tails)

Showcasing a part of American history that's often ignored, "Red Tails" is a dramatic retelling of the real-life history behind the formation and subsequent missions of the Tuskegee Airmen, who fought during the second World War. Consisting almost entirely of African American pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen predictably faced an uphill battle on a daily basis, against both the enemy in the air and their commanding officers on the ground. While his time on screen was relatively brief, Cranston depicted one such officer, Colonel Mortamus.

Following the airmen's successful downing of a number of enemy fighters, they meet with some top members of the Army Air Corps. Mortamus, hard to impress and unable to see past some of his deep seated prejudices, dismisses their accomplishments by stating that no matter how many fighters they down, it will never change what he thinks of the group. Considering Cranston's long history of playing some pretty heinous villains, it says a lot that Mortamus is up there with some of the worst.

Peter (Seeing Other People)

If you've already seen the raunchy 2004 comedy "Seeing Other People," it's probably not hard to understand its R rating. At an engagement party just a few months before their wedding day, couple Ed and Alice come to a mutual agreement that they'd like to fool around for a while during the time they have left before the big day. And this may be predictable, but things go terribly awry for the both of them from there.

"Seeing Other People" would prove to be one of the more adult-oriented early Cranston roles — he was primarily starring in sitcoms at the time. His character, Peter, is Alice's brother-in-law and a bit of an idiot. Often finding himself the target of jokes and derision from his wife, who herself is having an affair, he becomes one of many casual partners with whom the soon-to-be married couple find themselves involved.

Ned Fleming (Why Him?)

Another R-rated romantic comedy from Cranston's filmography, "Why Him?" sees the beloved actor take on the more typical comedy role of the love interest's hard-to-please father. In this case, Ned Fleming's skepticism isn't without reason, as his daughter Stephanie managed to set her sights on Laird Mayhew (James Franco), an atypical boyfriend who doesn't hesitate to display his juvenile behavior time and time again. After being blindsided by Ned's refusal to give Laird his blessing for Stephanie's hand in marriage, Laird makes it his mission to change Ned's mind.

Despite a few ill-advised attempts, including the wealthy Laird outright buying the unprofitable printing company that Ned owns — to which Ned responds by punching Laird in the face — the two are ultimately able to square away their differences. It's only after Ned capitulates that Stephanie reveals she isn't even all that excited to get married yet, anyway.

Michael Desiato (Your Honor)

Premiering in late December 2020, "Your Honor" has become the latest in a short list of television programs to put Cranston front and center. While it's received mixed reviews so far, with a second season on the way, it still might be worth giving a try if you haven't already.

You might assume his role as Michael Desiato, a straight-and-narrow judge working in New Orleans, would finally be the one to give us a Cranston who operates on the right side of the law. And after his son's recklessness tragically leads to the death of another young man, things certainly seem that way — but as Desiato learns what really happened during the incident, he becomes fully committed to obscuring the truth from everyone else. The deeper he goes, though, the further entangled he becomes in his own web of lies, with far-reaching consequences for everyone involved.

Sheriff (In Dubious Battle)

Based on the John Steinbeck novel of the same name, the film adaptation of "In Dubious Battle" proved to be both a catastrophic box office flop and underwhelmingly rated by critics. To make matters worse, the 2016 drama also failed to resonate with audiences despite its compelling story. And while it was far from his best work to date, Cranston still proved that he never fails to at least give a solid performance, no matter the material he's working with.

Wracked by the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, a small California labor town is on the precipice of civil unrest after workers' wages are slashed. While he has a small part in the story, especially compared to the rest of the star-studded cast, Cranston plays the town's sheriff, who escalates the situation by involving the National Guard after the workers begin to unionize.

Colonel Powell (John Carter)

Sure, this 2012 Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation is a bit divisive, with critics and audiences not quite sure how they felt about both the visuals and the story. But while it's a sci-fi epic on the surface level, its overall message and theme is much more in line with a typical Western, which just so happens to be where Cranston shines.

With the majority of the film taking place on the far-flung and conflict-riddled planet of Mars, Cranston's character is much more grounded, keeping his feet firmly on Earth. Colonel Powell of the U.S. Cavalry finds himself pursuing John Carter and trying to enlist his help to fight off Apache tribes operating in Arizona. After the duo have a skirmish with the tribes, they seek refuge in a cave and are suddenly attacked by a shape-shifting alien called a Thern, whose death inadvertently activates a portal to Mars, leaving Powell abandoned in the cave as Carter goes off on his unexpected mission.

Patrick Crump (The X-Files)

Despite only appearing in a single episode of the legendary 1990s sci-fi mystery series starring everyone's favorite alien-wrangling FBI duo, Cranston's performance here would serve as the ultimate foreshadowing for some of the career highlights. His first major role outside of sitcoms, his true acting range was shown via the character of Patrick Crump, appearing in the Season 6 episode "Drive." After being apprehended during a high-speed chase, Cranston is arrested for kidnapping his wife, who's taken into police custody seconds before suffering a grisly and unexplainable death. During the subsequent investigation by the agents, Mulder is taken hostage by Crump, who puts a gun to Mulder's head and forces him to drive nonstop to try to relieve a growing pain in his ear — and to avoid befalling the same fate as his wife.

In an incredible bit of trivia, this episode was co-produced by Vince Gilligan, who would go on to create "Breaking Bad" a decade later. Gilligan has even said that Cranston's performance in "Drive" was what sold him on casting Cranston as Walter White despite the studio trying to pitch other actors for the role. Without this one-off episode of "The X-Files," one of the most iconic television series of the last decade would have looked very different.