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Better Call Saul Showrunner Explains Why The Show Could Not Exist As A Standalone Series

Since its inception, AMC's "Better Call Saul" has been a show defined by past, present, and future storylines — with characters and major plot points from "Breaking Bad" often seeping their way into the prequel series or cropping up for the very first time. And for many people, "Better Call Saul" has managed to surpass its parent program in the all-time TV rankings, to the point where some believe it could firmly stand on its own two creative feet without "Breaking Bad" even needing to exist.

"One of the reasons why I think I'm ready to say Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad is because not only does it exist on its own as a truly elite show, it also significantly elevates and strengthens BB in retrospect...and it does so in ways you'd never anticipate," wrote reporter Pete Blackburn on Twitter.

While many fans may agree with this sentiment, showrunner Peter Gould would be the first person to tell viewers that it's time to pump the "Better Call Saul" brakes. According to him, it's downright absurd to think "Better Call Saul" would be a great show on its own without "Breaking Bad" existing. And here's why.

Splitting up the story between Jimmy and Mike would be impossible, Gould says

According to Peter Gould, "Better Call Saul" writers would have never been able to do any of the things that fans love most about the show had "Breaking Bad" not laid the creative groundwork first. This is especially the case for Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike Ehrmantraut's (Jonathan Banks) storylines throughout the series, which were told separately most of the time — to some fans' dismay.

"We would never get away with what we've done," Gould told "The Watch" podcast in a July 2022 interview. "People compare the two shows," he said. "Breaking Bad could exist without Better Call Saul, easily. But Better Call Saul could never exist in a world without Breaking Bad. We would never get away with splitting the story the way we do with Jimmy and Mike." Gould noted how some fans could have probably run with a "Better Call Saul" series that was rooted in its own mythology, but he believes the show wouldn't have resonated with viewers nearly as much. "The audience might buy into it, it's just a hard thing to explain," Gould said of the "Better Call Saul" premise and series trajectory. Co-creator Vince Gilligan seems to agree. 

"Just from watching this show, you can tell that it's a finite story," he told Den of Geek in 2017. "And we know that even further from the fact that this show has to butt up against the beginning of Breaking Bad. So there is a finite nature here." Gilligan has previously said that if there's any possibility for a standalone Saul Goodman series to exist and chart its own creative path — away from "Breaking Bad" — it's in the show's black-and-white scenes that take place after the "Breaking Bad" story ends. "While I think that there is a definite end in sight for the pre-Breaking Bad story, there still seems like there could be a lot in the post-Breaking Bad world," Gilligan told Den of Geek. "I'm kind of fascinated by that...What could come out of that? No promises, but it seems to me that there's a little more opportunity for scope there than there even was in Breaking Bad."