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Seinfeld Featured More Breaking Bad Stars Than You Probably Think

"Seinfeld" is famously a show that purports to be about "nothing," a look at the annoyances of daily modern life through the eyes of an observational stand-up comic (Jerry Seinfeld) and his circle of fussy, quirky, self-absorbed friends. "Breaking Bad" is very much a show about something — Walter White, an Albuquerque high school chemistry teacher, uses his smarts to become a maker and distributor of methamphetamine, bringing about his own downfall while also making enough money to provide for his family should his cancer diagnosis take his life. 

There's a surprising amount of actor overlap between these two tonally opposite shows, one a laugh-track–laden network sitcom, the other a dark and tragic basic cable drama, which premiered nearly two decades apart. Here are all the performers who appeared on an episode of "Seinfeld" early in their careers, well before they popped up in a more prominent role on "Breaking Bad," or its spinoff prequel, "Better Call Saul."

Bryan Cranston

Following a big break with showy roles on daytime soap operas like "Loving" and "One Life to Live," Bryan Cranston toiled away in series TV, appearing on dozens of sitcoms and dramas before he landed a career-shifting part of unsettling Dr. Tim Whatley on "Seinfeld." Cranston would appear on five "Seinfeld" episodes, portraying one of the show's most notorious recurring characters, a dentist who converts to Judaism, an act that Jerry is convinced he undertook solely so he could freely tell his patients off-color jokes about Jewish people (and whom Jerry thinks accosts him when he's knocked out for a dental procedure).

Cranston proved himself to be a dynamic comic actor on "Seinfeld," and even more so with seven seasons on Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" as Hal, a wildly oversensitive and perpetually nervous suburban husband and father of five. Then he turned off the wackiness completely to take on the complex and very serious role of Walter White on "Breaking Bad." Cranston brought nuance to the slowly developing and descending character, taking him on a journey from mild-mannered science teacher to desperate drug chemist to ruthless meth kingpin, all while facing death and trying to leave behind a legacy and financial comfort for his family. Cranston won the Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Award four times for "Breaking Bad."

Anna Gunn

In only her third credited TV role, Anna Gunn appeared on the 1993 "Seinfeld" episode "The Glasses" as Amy, a member of the club of characters who date Jerry for a very finite period of time before the relationship implodes over an annoyance or slight. In this case, the romance ends when George tells Jerry he saw Amy kissing Jerry's cousin, Jeffrey. In actuality, George, not wearing his glasses at the time, actually saw a police officer kissing a horse.

Aside from her notable turn on "Seinfeld," Gunn is best known for her dramatic TV work. She co-starred on the corrupt cop drama "Shades of Blue," the detective show "Gracepoint," and the harrowing 19th century period piece "Deadwood." Then came "Breaking Bad," where she played Skyler White, wife of teacher-turned-drug boss Walter White, the beneficiary of his good intentions and the sufferer of the tremendous fallout from his criminal activities. In 2013 and 2014, Gunn won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the Emmy Awards for her role as the complicated Skyler White.

Bob Odenkirk

In the 1996 episode "The Abstinence," Elaine couples up with a guy named Ben, fulfilling her long-held wish to be with a doctor. Only Ben is sort of a doctor — he's gone through med school but failed the licensing test three times. She still proudly parades Ben around as her doctor boyfriend, particularly to frenemy Sue Ellen Mischke at Monk's Diner, but he embarrasses everyone when he doesn't feel comfortable or qualified to help a collapsed employee. Elaine helps him study for the exam and he passes, only to rudely dump her.

As a writer and actor on the Emmy-winning "The Ben Stiller Show" and a star and co-creator of HBO's "Mr. Show with Bob and David," Bob Odenkirk helped craft '90s sketch comedy. In addition to acting, writing, and directing numerous comedy projects in the decade after his "Seinfeld" appearance, Odenkirk joined the cast of "Breaking Bad" when it was already in progress. He played sleazy, bus-bench-advertising, strip-mall attorney Saul Goodman, who helps out Walt and Jesse with their various drug-related legal woes. The character proved so popular that Odenkirk headlined a spinoff, "Better Call Saul," which charts the rise and development of Saul Goodman, who starts out as a hard-luck, lightly educated ne'er-do-well named Jimmy McGill. Odenkirk has been nominated for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Drama Series four times for his work on "Better Call Saul."

Larry Hankin

Veteran character actor Larry Hankin is often cast as weirdos and oddballs, likely on account of his hangdog expression and subtle, quiet performing style. In addition to playing the recurring role of prickly neighbor Mr. Heckles on "Friends," Hankin is probably best known for his 1993 work on "Seinfeld" as Tom Pepper, an actor who plays a character based on Kramer on "Jerry," George and Jerry's "Seinfeld"-esque show-within-a-show that gets a pilot order. He runs afoul of the gang: George accuses him of theft, and Kramer is annoyed that he won't take instruction on how to properly play him.

Hankin shows up a few times on "Breaking Bad" just when Walt and Jesse need him the most to help them evade capture and prosecution for their law-skirting, drug-making endeavors. Hankin played Old Joe, a creepy, nearly silent owner of a salvage yard who is kind enough to destroy and hide Walt and Jesse's RV and mobile meth lab when the DEA is closing in on them. Old Joe also provides a giant and powerful magnet to the guys when they need to erase drug lord Gus Fring's computer. Old Joe was so instrumental to the "Breaking Bad" universe that Hankin portrayed the character once more in the sequel movie "El Camino."

Jessica Hecht

Jessica Hecht was all over NBC's mega-successful "Must See TV" lineup in the 1990s. Before landing the recurring role of Susan, the new wife of Ross's ex-wife Carol on "Friends," and a spot in the regular cast of "The Single Guy," Hecht's second-ever screen credit was a two-episode 1994 stint on "Seinfeld" as Lindsay. Her character dates George Costanza and is witness to two examples of his strange, self-defeating behavior: In their book club meeting covering "Breakfast at Tiffany's," George doesn't bother to read the book, and the relationship ends after Lindsay's mother catches George eating a chocolate eclair he fishes out of a garbage can.

On "Breaking Bad," Hecht played Gretchen, an important and haunting figure from Walter White's past. Once Walt's college lab partner and romantic partner, he dumped her after meeting her wealthy family gave him an inferiority complex. He wound up selling his share of the company they developed, Gray Matter, to his former best friend Elliot, who married Gretchen — and they became fabulously wealthy. After his transformation into a master criminal, Walt extorts and threatens a terrified Gretchen (and Elliot) into setting up a trust fund for his children.

Mark Harelik

Milos is just one of the many people whose lives Jerry or his friends casually ruined on "Seinfeld." In the 1997 episode "The Comeback," Jerry patronizes a tennis shop and gets talked into buying an expensive racket by Milos, an aggressive salesman. Jerry discovers that Milos is, ironically and shamefully, a horrible tennis player, and to keep his secret and job safe, orders his disillusioned wife to offer herself up to Jerry. Mark Harelik played the angry and desperate Milos.

In the third season of "Breaking Bad," DEA agent Hank Schrader just might expose Walt and Jesse's entire operation, only to be hindered when he's nearly killed in a shootout with cartel representatives. Hank's recovery is slow, painful, and unpromising. At an Albuquerque hospital, a doctor tells Hank's wife, Marie, and sister-in-law, Skyler, that his nerve function is coming back, but that he likely won't ever be back to 100 percent. That doctor was portrayed by Mark Harelik.

Nigel Gibbs

Nigel Gibbs has worked in television and film since the 1980s, with well over 100 credits to his name. One of those roles came on the 1995 "Seinfeld" episode "The Doorman," in which he was credited as "Tenant #2." When Jerry agrees to briefly sub in for Elaine's boss's doorman and then bails on the job when it takes too much time out of his day, the lobby's couch gets swiped. In the aftermath, Tenant #2 wonders aloud what all the other building occupants are thinking: "Where's the doorman? How come someone wasn't watching the door?"

Gibbs' role on "Breaking Bad" was much more significant than his one-line job on "Seinfeld." In four episodes of the AMC drama, Gibbs played Detective Tim Roberts of the Albuquerque Police Department. He looks into the fleeting disappearance of Walter White (as a favor for Hank Schrader, Walt's brother-in-law and a DEA cohort) and returns a couple of seasons later to investigate the murder of Gale Boetticher and its connection to the blue meth in distribution. Gibbs reprised the role in a Season Five "Better Call Saul" episode, with Roberts uncovering a crime connected to drug cartel associate Lalo Salamanca.

Myra Turley

Myra Turley has an extensive acting resume, consisting primarily of dozens of one-shot roles on TV shows dating back to the mid-1980s. She played a small but pivotal and historical part on "Seinfeld." In the show's heavily viewed but polarizing final episode "The Finale," Jerry and the gang are sent to prison for callously flouting "Good Samaritan" laws, a culmination and comeuppance for their nasty, self-centered behavior confirmed through numerous character witnesses from the sitcom's history that testify to the group's hilarious horribleness. In the climax of the episode, Turley portrayed the jury foreman in the court case that seals the protagonists' fate.

In "Face Off," the Season Four "Breaking Bad" finale episode, Turley played a character listed as Caregiver, essentially a nurse and caretaker in the Casa Tranquila home, assisting the villainous and mute Hector Salamanca in his various tasks. After an odd visit with Walter White in his room, Hector summons the Caregiver and spells out to her the message "Need DEA."

Sergio Kato

The relatable rituals of going to see a movie in a theater with friends — buying tickets, dealing with crowds, waiting in line, choosing the right film, negotiating with ushers — provided ample material for the minutiae-obsessed "Seinfeld." The 1993 episode "The Movie" is among several where Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer take in a film or at least try to, failing to easily meet up at the right time at the right place to see a hot new flick called "Checkmate." Sergio Kato, a stuntman and star of many popular action and martial arts movies in his native Brazil, makes a brief, uncredited appearance.

Fifteen years later, Kato made another short and uncredited appearance in another acclaimed American television series. In the pilot episode of "Breaking Bad," Kato showed up as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent (and colleague of Walter White's brother-in-law, Hank Schrader) known only as "Tom."

Molly Hagan

While she's acted on well over 100 shows, major '90s TV-heads would probably most recognize Molly Hagan from her role as Angel, a.k.a. the personified emotion of sensitivity, on the early Fox cult classic "Herman's Head." During her run on that series, Hagan also popped up as a nun on the 1993 "Seinfeld" episode "The Conversion." When George cynically converts to the Latvian Orthodox church in order to date an adherent, he encounters Sister Roberta, who winds up temporarily leaving the church to be with Kramer because of his kavorka, or raw animal magnetism, which makes him irresistible to women.

In the 2017 "Better Call Saul" episode "Sunken Costs," lawyer Jimmy McGill finds himself on the other side of the law, defending himself in court after he's arrested for breaking into his brother's house to steal a tape in which he incriminates himself. Hagan plays Judge Lindsay Arch, who, although displeased with the idea of Jimmy acting as his own defense attorney, accepts his not guilty plea and bond payment.

Carol Mansell

Carol Mansell, a sitcom mainstay and scene-stealer since the 1980s (when she starred as the ghost of a 1920s flapper on the syndicated sitcom "Down to Earth"), has appeared on many shows, including "Family Ties," "227," "Home Improvement," and "Murphy Brown." She eventually landed a role in two of the most memorable episodes of "Seinfeld." In the 1992 installment "The Bubble Boy," Mansell played Mrs. Sanger, mother of the titular angry, immunocompromised teenager forced to live inside a plastic enclosure. Mansell reprised the role in an uncredited cameo in the "The Pilot," which concerned Jerry and George's attempt to make a TV show out of their lives.

Mansell appeared as an innocent named Rose in two Season Three episodes of "Better Call Saul," during the plot arc in which Jimmy McGill goes after the Sandpiper Crossing retirement home chain for exploiting and overcharging its elderly residents. In order to get more people to his side, Jimmy manipulates Rose and her friends, playing them off one another and then encouraging their reconciliation as part of his master plan.

John Posey

Primarily a Los Angeles-based touring stage actor, John Posey landed a string of brief TV roles in the early 1990s, including one as Dr. Fein on the 1991 "Seinfeld" episode "The Heart Attack." After George is hospitalized for chest pains suffered during lunch, the ER doctor played by Posey informs him that while his heart is just fine, what he actually needs is a tonsillectomy, as the tonsils he'd had removed in childhood have somehow grown back.

Years later, Posey played another distinguished professional figure on "Better Call Saul. In the sixth season of the "Breaking Bad" prequel, Posey portrayed Judge Rand Casimiro, an Albuquerque jurist assigned to mediate in the ongoing Sandpiper Crossing class-action lawsuit. Attorney Howard Hamlin of the Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill firm wrongly thinks he recognizes Casimiro as a shadowy character from a private investigator's incriminating photos.

Tim DeZarn

Well into a prolific career in which he carved out a niche playing toughs, criminals, and imposing authority figures on an episode or two of many major '80s and '90s crime dramas, actor Tim DeZarn acted on the era's biggest sitcom, "Seinfeld," in 1996. On the installment "The Shower Head," DeZarn portrayed a shady character selling illegal, luxurious, powerful shower heads out of his van to Newman and Kramer, who are desperately unhappy with their water-saving low-flow devices.

DeZarn appeared as a shopkeeper named Mr. Harkness on the 2020 "Better Call Saul" installment "Namaste." In a courtroom scene, in which Jimmy McGill represents a client charged with robbing a grocery store, Mr. Harkness swears from the witness stand that the man sitting by Jimmy is the man who committed the crime. However, he's innocent, as the accused is a patsy in a humiliating bait-and-switch scheme perpetuated by Jimmy to secure a mistrial, humiliating Mr. Harkness in the process.