Breaking Bad vs. Malcolm in the Middle: A Visual Analysis

In which we find strange parallels in Bryan Cranston's portrayals of Walt and Hal

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Everett Collection; Ursula Coyote/AMC

There once was a time when the name Bryan Cranston didn’t bring to mind a modern portrait of ruthless, brilliant, money-hungry evil.  For seven seasons, he was simply Hal, the hapless and clumsy father and loving husband from Malcolm in the Middle, who wanted nothing more than to be appreciated for the work he did (and keep his kids from burning down the house).  Hal will always be a contender for best dad on television.

A study of Hal and Breaking Bad‘s Walter White reveals that, in addition to a few Jack Lemmon-like gesticulations, the blatant disregard for rules, and a general air of perpetual panic, the two characters seem to have a great deal in common.

Here, we have compiled a few moments in which Hal gives us hints of Cranston’s future role, or — if you prefer, moments in which Walt lets loose his inner Hal. The only question is: after all this, aside from the drugs and the murders, can we really say they are all that different? The evidence is here, you decide:

Hal and Walt are both secret smokers…

BB-MITM - smoke

They understand the value of a good pair of tighty-whities…

BB-MITM - underwear

They are men of science…

BB-MITM - science

They know how to make good use of a parking lot…

BB-MITM - parking lot

They fail to respect the integrity of household electronics…

BB-MITM - electronics

They know that cash is king…

BB-MITM - money

They understand the duality of human nature…

BB-MITM - tally

They’re both “In the empire business”

BB-MITM - empire