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Chuck And Howard Almost Had Very Different Storylines In Better Call Saul

One of the reasons "Breaking Bad" and its spin-off prequel "Better Call Saul" were such successful television dramas is that even the most despicable characters had reasons for the terrible things they did. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) claimed to be manufacturing meth for the sake of his family after his death, but really he wanted to satisfy his pride. Similarly, grifter Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) transformed into criminal lawyer "Saul Goodman" because, despite his legal talent, his brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) undermined him.

Series co-creator Vince Gilligan pointed out to Deadline how "Better Call Saul" and "Breaking Bad" are "the story of one particular character's devolution from good to bad," but "Saul" is much more of a tragedy than the latter show. Walter White was secretly always the criminal "Heisenberg," but McGill at least had good intentions before he's led down a darker path.

Jimmy McGill's trajectory in life is permanently changed by his relationships with Chuck and Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), Chuck's partner in their law firm. But Gilligan has said these characters were originally very different.

Originally, Chuck was a supportive older brother to Jimmy

When Vince Gilligan was asked by The New Yorker about the characters on "Better Call Saul" that have changed the most, he immediately cited Chuck McGill and Howard Hamlin.

Gilligan, who co-created the show with Peter Gould, explained, "Peter and I and the writers were convinced that Howard Hamlin was going to be the bad guy." Meanwhile, Chuck would be a "Mycroft Holmes kind of character" who would support Jimmy.

However, with more time and the casting of Fabian and McKean as Hamlin and Chuck, respectively, the writers began to shift the roles around. Gilligan thought it would subvert expectations if Hamlin, a handsome and entitled man, "is not as bad as he appears." The staff also noticed "there was an edge to the way Michael McKean was playing Chuck McGill" and decided to add more moral ambiguity to Chuck's character (via The New Yorker). 

These changes were obviously a huge success that only added more depth to "Better Call Saul." Chuck's relationship with Jimmy felt like a modern Cain and Abel story, while Hamlin's fate in Season 6 only added more tragedy to the poignant story of Jimmy McGill.