7 shows for Breaking Bad fans

Although the character trope of “Byronic the Hero” has its roots in British literature in the early 1800s, this trope is still an important base in today’s entertainment industry. We continue to be interested in protagonists who are so complex that it can be difficult to determine whether they are good or bad. Our continued cultural interest in this trope highlights our contemporary sense of morality, where instead of categorizing individuals as purely good or evil, we tend to perceive most people as a mixture of both.

In addition to moral complexity, some other characteristics are common in byronic heroes. They are typically intelligent, arrogant, emotionally tortured, ruthless, self-destructive and manipulative men. The term “Byronic hero” is based on Lord Byron, a morally loose and complex English poet from the Romantic era. Examples of byronic heroes from literature and film include: Heathcliff from stormy heights, Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, The Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, the narrator from Kampklub, and Edward from Twilight.


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Byronic heroes are sometimes criticized for the danger of glorifying problematic characters. If the audience admires the flawed character, we may begin to believe that their immoral actions are acceptable or even imitate them in real life. This is a legitimate danger, but it is also possible that byronic heroes embody a variety of ideas about the mercury (not inherent) nature of morality and can offer ideas on how to become a better human being.

Breaking Bad offers one of the best contemporary examples of an urban hero – Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the loving father and chemistry teacher who, when he finds out he has deadly cancer, starts making meth to ensure financial security for his family when he dies. But the longer he is drawn into the drug trade, the more violent his actions become. If you’re looking for similarly complex protagonists that you can not decide whether you love or hate, here are some other shows you can watch.


Image via HBO

Barry is a drama on HBO Max that stars Bill Hader as a veteran who, after completing his tours, realizes that he has no salable skills other than killing people. Barry’s sketchy father figure, Fuches (Stephen Root), hires him as a professional assassin. In the pilot, during a trip to Los Angeles to eliminate a target, Barry accidentally ends up performing a scene in an acting class. He quickly decides he wants to quit being a hired killer to pursue his true passion for acting. Unfortunately, his colleagues will not let him leave his job so easily.

Not wanting to reveal his past to his new friends, girlfriend and acting teacher / father figure (Henry Winkler), Barry lies about almost every aspect of his life. He also continues to kill people, though sometimes just to avoid being caught for past crimes. Nevertheless, it is clear that Barry desperately wants to separate from his past and embrace a new life as a theatrical genius and a good girlfriend.

Barry is a horrible actor, except when he is able to channel the emotions associated with his previous actions as a killer. In those cases, a bit of brilliance shines through and reaps praise from its teacher. The show gives the idea that even if someone did something immoral in the past, it does not mean that they can not use what they have learned from that experience to create something better. This does not mean that we must intentionally commit sins, but given that we can not change our past, we might as well seize the opportunity to learn and grow from our moral shortcomings instead of just trying to push them out. of our minds, which Barry tries to do in the beginning.

Bojack rider

Bojack Horseman And The Cast of

Bojack rider, an animated Netflix series that follows a washed-out, alcoholic, female celebrity (voiced by Will Arnett), who starred in a popular sitcom in the 90s. Bojack, who also happens to be an anthropomorphic horse, is often lazy, irresponsible, dishonest, and self-serving, making him quite intolerable. However, he is also intelligent, funny and has a good heart. The show humanizes him by showing viewers his sad backstory (a common strategy used to soften characters who might otherwise be seen as bad people).

Most importantly, Bojack actually heals to some degree during the course of the show. However, his journey towards healing is not linear, and he slips away many times (like Barry). Bojack must constantly commit to getting better instead of just making a one-time decision. To get better, he needs to be honest with himself and others about the true extent of his past evil behavior. He needs to process the bad parts of himself before he can fully become a better version.


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IN Lucifer, Tom Ellis stars as the literal Devil. He decides to take a vacation from ruling Hell and comes to Earth to run a nightclub in Los Angeles (where he gets into a lot of other antics). Although he is the religious embodiment of evil, Lucifer is a byronic hero instead of a villain because he becomes more humane and less evil as the show continues. The more time he spends on Earth, the “softer” and more morally complex he becomes. He still breaks rules, but he also develops love for people and starts doing everything to help them. He loses his cold edge and refrains (sometimes) from doing evil things just for fun. Even the demon bartenders complain that Lucifer just isn’t the unholy creature he used to be.

This show suggests that even the Devil himself is morally fluid, capable of growing and changing rather than destined to be 100% evil forever. The fact that his change in moral character arises as a result of his change in the environment (being on Earth instead of Hell) suggests that humans are in part shaped by our surroundings and are not inherently good or evil.


Penn Badgley in you
Picture via Netflix

In the Netflix series You, Penn Badgley stars like Joe, a stalker who kills “for love”. Based on the novels of Caroline Kepnes, told in Joe’s compelling voice, follows the series’ events from Joe’s perspective. He is clearly a creep, but viewers still have empathy with him because he is smart, bookish, child-friendly and committed to his relationships (though in his own twisted ways). Joe is certainly problematic, but he is also relatable because of his intelligence, humor, and the fact that he commits a lot of good deeds to partially balance the evil deeds.

You warns of a disturbing truth: Being smart does not always protect people from getting bad. Smart people can conjure up intelligent, even humorous reasons for evil behavior. You suggests that in order to live a moral life, it is not enough just to be wise. It is also necessary to direct your own thinking in morally acceptable directions.

Rather call Saul

Image via AMC

Another spinoff prequel Breaking Bad, Rather call Saul follows Walter White’s filthy lawyer back when he went by his real name – Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). As the show begins, Jimmy works in a mailroom while getting his law degree as he tries to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Chuck and his girlfriend Kim, who both work at a fancy law firm. But no matter how hard Jimmy tries to be a professional, upright lawyer, most people (especially Chuck) see him as an underrated joker and refuse to take him seriously. Over time, Jimmy begins to see himself as others see him – as “that kind of lawyer guilty people hire. “

The show follows Jimmy’s tragic fall in Saul. He qualifies as an urban hero because, despite his heart of gold, he commits various atrocities that break clear moral codes. His actions, apparently intended to help those he loves, ultimately put them (or himself) in danger. Jimmy’s anger at being put in a box and held back by his brother pushes him beyond rationality and beyond the edge into morally questionable territory. Rather call Saul explains Saul’s evil by elaborating on his sad backstory. However, this show also clearly indicates that there is a certain degree of choice in terms of how evil people ultimately allow themselves to be. Jimmy / Saul is partly created by his environment, but he also chooses to react badly in that environment.

Peaky Blinders


The Netflix series Peaky Blinders follows Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a gang leader in 1919 Birmingham, England. Tommy commits numerous crimes and other immoral acts. However, he is also a loving brother, nephew, husband, father and friend. The driving force behind his gang activity is to create the best possible life for himself and his family, but he is already too far wrapped up in destructive patterns of behavior to achieve his goals without causing tragedy.

Tommy wants to be good, but he’s reluctant to stop being a gang leader and keeping secrets from people. Instead of making big changes in his life to easily get what he really wants, he tries to find what he wants while clinging to a lifestyle where he will never be able to achieve his goals. Tommy’s deterministic ideas about who he “is” prevent him for the time being from becoming the happier, morally better version of himself that he could be. Peaky Blinders suggests that true moral growth and change requires a more fluid sense of self-identity.

Rick and Morty

Image via Adult Swim

Rick (pronounced by the show’s co-creator, Justin Roiland) is a semi-evil, ingenious scientist who takes his grandson, Morty (also Roiland), on adventures that are not suitable for middle school children through time, space and other dimensions. When Rick does something so horrible that it shocks Morty, Rick’s response is to reveal how massive and complicated the universe is, often to show how indifferent (or inevitable) his breach of morality was. Although Rick seems cold and indifferent, he has cosmic knowledge that others do not, and he uses it to save lives. Granted, he also uses that knowledge for self-serving and / or stupid purposes, such as turning himself into a pickle to avoid going to family therapy.

Rick and Morty suggests that there is more than we know about morality and that even the most knowledgeable people can still be wrong. However, Rick and Morty both learn more about how to be good to each other, suggesting that a relational view of morality is useful and that discussion with others leads to deeper knowledge.

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