The following contains spoilers for Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, and El Camino.
The nice thing about Vince Gilligan’s Albuquerque universe in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is how neat and orderly it all is. Gilligan and his Bad and Saul writers (including Saul showrunner Peter Gould) take an engineer’s approach to crafting their series. When characters are presented with problems, the show makes sure they go about solving them in as realistic and detailed a way as possible.
That appreciation for realism and detail carries over into Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s approach to time. There are very few “circa” dates” or “I don’t know, around Christmas, 2004?” dates on either show’s calendar. Breaking Bad established a starting date in its very first episode and then the writers take great care to make sure that everything that happens after (or before) sticks to a realistic timeline.
The end result of this attention to detail is a shockingly thorough and complete timeline for both shows (and for the Breaking Bad movie, El Camino). Let’s break down everything that happens in the Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad/El Camino universe. One note before we begin: the Breaking Bad Fandom Wiki is a marvelous resource for delving into the full chronology of each show. We’ve used that as a jumping off point to present you this narrative timeline of events.
Important Pre-Better Call Saul Events
September 7, 1958 – Walter White is born.
1980 – The law firm that would eventually become Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill is founded in Albuquerque.
c. 1980s – Gray Matter Technologies is founded by Walter White, Elliot Schwartz, and Gretchen Schwartz. Walt will eventually sell his 1/3 share.
1985 – Howard Hamlin joins HHM. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle. Walter White worked on their team.
1989 – Hector kills Gus’s partner Max Arciniega.
C. 1992 – Marco and Slippin’ Jimmy run their schemes in Chicago.
C. 1997 – Jimmy passes the bar but doesn’t get a position at HHM.
1998 – 2002 – Jesse attends J.P. Wynne High School where he takes at least one chemistry class with Walter White.
January, 2001 – Chuck takes a sabbatical from HHM due to his illness.
September, 2001 – Matt Ehrmantraut is murdered by his corrupt fellow police officers.
March 2002 – Mike kills his son’s murderers.
Better Call Saul Era
Better Call Saul Season 1
May 13, 2002 – June 30, 2002
In May of 2002, underpaid public defender Jimmy McGill tries to get hired as accused embezzler Craig Kettleman’s legal representation. Not only does the Kettleman family turn him down, but Jimmy finds himself thrust into the criminal underworld for the first time where he comes across Nacho Varga and Tuco Salamanca.
In June, Jimmy is able to prove that the Kettlemans did indeed embezzle that money and gets $30,000 in hush money for his trouble. This brings him into contact with Mike Ehrmantraut. Meanwhile, Chuck McGill begins to struggle more with his electromagnetic sensitivity disorder.
By late June, Jimmy is working more closely with his elderly clients on their estates. While pursuing that work, he discovers that elderly care facility, Sandpiper Crossing has been massively overcharging their guests. He reluctantly hands the case over to HHM and heads back to Cicero to pull more low-level cons with his old friend Marco. After Marco dies, Jimmy returns to Albuquerque and tells Mike that he plans to no longer hold himself back.
Better Call Saul Season 2
July 18, 2002 – September 21, 2002
After having one perfect day of low-level criminal shenanigans with Kim, Jimmy accepts a job with Davis & Main based on the strength of his Sandpiper work. Meanwhile Mike deals with the extremely annoying client Daniel, who rats to the police after his baseball cards are stolen (despite being involved in a vast criminal conspiracy himself). Mike is forced to enlist Jimmy’s legal help.
In August, Jimmy’s relationship with Davis & Main begins to sour after he runs an unprofessional commercial without their permission. Mike and Nacho enact a plan to get the volatile Tuco sent to prison for beating Mike up. Hector Salamanca enters the story to strong-arm Mike into altering his story and get Tuco’s prison time reduced. Jimmy gets himself fired from Davis & Main so that he can keep his signing bonus.
In September, Kim tries to get a job as big bank Mesa Verde’s outside legal counsel. HHM and Chuck swoop in at the last minute to take it out from under her. She and Jimmy (separately) set up shop in an old dentist’s office. Jimmy then sabotages Chuck’s paperwork for Mesa Verde, which loses the account for HHM.
Mike tries to kill Hector Salamanca via sniper rifle but is distracted by the sound of his car horn. Someone has left a branch against the steering wheel with the note “Don’t” attached.
Better Call Saul Season 3
September 21, 2002 – March 22, 2003
In September, Mike finds out that it is Los Pollos Hermanos owner (and renowned drug kingpin) Gus Fring who left the note. They come to an understanding that Mike can continue to try to get Hector imprisoned but cannot kill him. Gus tries to hire Mike full time but he says he’ll only consider it. Chuck has a recording of Jimmy confessing to sabotaging him. When Jimmy breaks into Chuck’s home to destroy it, Howard and Chuck catch him in the act.
The classic episode “Chicanery” picks up in February, 2003 where Chuck takes Jimmy to court over his treachery. Chuck is able to get Jimmy suspended by the bar association for a year but in the process it’s revealed that his electromagnetic sensitivity is all in his head.
In March of 2003, Nacho successfully sabotages Hector Salamanca by replacing his nitroglycerin pills with fakes. Hector then suffers a stroke. Chuck, despondent over what his life has become, commits suicide by kicking over a lantern in his paper-filled home.
Better Call Saul Season 4
March 23, 2003 – March 22, 2004
Jimmy attempts a Hummel figurine racket while Mike gets added to the Madrigal Electromotive payroll. Gus hires a doctor to keep Hector alive but only just barely. Gus also takes Nacho into his service as an unwilling double agent. Jimmy begins to sell burner phones to criminals. Kim joins up with Schweikart & Cokely to lessen her Mesa Verde obligations.
The timeline jumps forward 9 months in “Something Stupid” to January of 2004. Kim and Jimmy have drifted apart but get closer than ever when Jimmy needs Kim’s help getting Huell Babineaux out of some legal trouble. Lalo Salamanca arrives in Albuquerque to take over the operations of the Salamanca clan.
In late March and early April, Jimmy successfully gets his law license back and decides to begin practicing as Saul Goodman. Mike is forced to kill the genial German architect named Werner after he escapes from the compound he was building for Gus.
Better Call Saul Season 5
April 1, 2004 – June 18, 2004
Jimmy McGill fittingly begins his full time career as representation to street-level criminals on April 1, 2004. A week into said career he gets more than he bargained for when Nacho takes him to see Lalo Salamanca to serve as Krazy-8’s attorney. It’s in this role that Jimmy meets Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez for the first time on April 8.
Meanwhile, Mike is spiraling after having to kill Werner. In late April, Mike recovers from a vicious beating somewhere south of the border. Gus allows him to convalesce and get his life together and then Mike joins Gus’s operation full time. They begin work on trying to get Lalo Salamanca off the board.
By mid-June Lalo is in prison and Jimmy has successfully got him a $7 million bail. Jimmy has to head off into the desert to retrieve that $7 million and encounters a couple of issues to say the least. The season ends a few days later with Jimmy and Kim plotting to take down Howard and Lalo surviving an assassination attempt.
Breaking Bad Era
Breaking Bad Season 1
September 7, 2008 – October 31, 2008
Breaking Bad’s pilot episode takes place over the span of three weeks and they are a busy three weeks. Chemistry teacher Walter White discovers he has lung cancer and decides to begin cooking meth to provide for his family once he’s gone. By September 28, Walt and Jesse have begun working on their second batch in an RV out in the desert. By late October, Walt and Jesse have come into contact with Tuco Salamanca.
Breaking Bad Season 2
October 31, 2008 – February 17, 2009
Breaking Bad season 2’s timeline jumps around a bit thanks to the flashforward of a plane crash that opens several episodes throughout the season. In early November, Walt and Jesse meet the terrifying Hector Salamanca and Hank Schrader dispatches Tuco. Jesse and Walt find some success in the meth game and begin a modest expansion. This necessitates the need to bring in criminal lawyer Saul Goodman in December. Jesse begins a relationship with his landlord Jane, which proves to be a destructive one as they both begin abusing drugs, leading to Jane’s death in January. By season’s end, Walt has come into contact with Gus Fring and Skyler White realizes that Walt is up to something nefarious.
Breaking Bad Season 3
February 18, 2009 – April 16, 2009
Walt tries to leave the meth game behind to repair his relationship with Skyler in early February. By the time March 11 rolls around, Gus has convinced Walter to enter into his services, mass-producing meth. Hank has a run-in with a still despondent Jesse in mid-March, and beats him up, sending Jesse to the hospital. When Jesse recovers in late March, he joins Walt at the superlab. Due to Jesse’s addiction issues and Walt’s consistent insubordinations up to and including killing a couple of drug dealers, Gus is at his wit’s end with the duo. On April 16, 2009, Walt and Jesse save their lives the only way they know how. They kill fellow meth expert Gale Boetticher to make themselves essential to Gus.
Breaking Bad Season 4
April 15, 2009 – July 14, 2009
April finds Walter and Jesse uneasily continuing their relationship with Gus, and knowing that he is itching for a reason to kill them. While Walt buys a snubnosed revolver, Sklyer begins the process of purchasing the car wash that Walt used to work out to launder their money.
In May, Mike begins to take Jesse with him on collections. Walt and Jesse begin a plan to poison Gus with ricin. Speaking of poison, Gus poisons Don Eladio in July and kills all his men. An ascendant Gus then uses the opportunity to relieve Walt of his services. Walt tries to have his family “disappear” but doesn’t have enough funds to do so. The only option left is to kill Gus. So that’s what Walt and Jesse do (in spectacular fashion) on July 14.
Breaking Bad Season 5A
July 15, 2009 – March 3, 2010
Breaking Bad’s final season opens with a flashforward a year in the future. We know it’s Walt’s 52nd birthday thanks to the bacon arranged on his plate (which is of course, Breaking Bad’s favorite time-keeping mechanism). Back in July of 2009, Walt and Jesse are finally in the empire business. They erase any trace of their association with Gus Fring and enlist Madrigal Electromotive’s Lydia Rodarte-Quayle to expand their reach.
Walt is given yet another out in September to sell off their meth enterprise to Declan. Instead, in early October, Walt kills Mike and then kills all of Mike’s men in prison. The midseason finale flashes forward at least three months and possibly more to show Walt’s business thriving. The only issue is that one fateful copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass reveals to Hank that Walter White is Heisenberg.
Breaking Bad Season 5B
March 3, 2010 – September 7, 2010
The second half of the final season begins in March with Walt’s cancer returning and Hank setting out to take his brother-in-law down. Thus begins a thrilling cat and mouse game that culminates with a trip to the To’hajiilee desert where Hank and Gomez are killed by Jack Welker. “Ozymandias,” one of the greatest episodes in TV history, follows.
The events of these eight episodes are confined mostly to just over a week in March 2010. The penultimate episode “Granite State” and the finale, “Felina,” eventually take things to September, 2010 to fullfill that initially promised time jump. Walt, of course, returns to ABQ to settle some scores, rescue Jesse, and die on his own terms.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
September 7, 2010 – September 13, 2010
The events of El Camino begin right after the Breaking Bad finale on September 7 and carry through the next five days. Jesse spends September 7 and 8 at Skinny Pete’s house. He then takes off for Todd’s apartment on September 9. There he encounters Neil Kandy and Casey and the trio split up the money they find there into three shares.
That same day Jesse enlists the help of the vacuum man to disappear but finds that he is short $1,800. On September 10, Jesse has his final confrontation with Neil Kandy. He is able to pay for his extraction and three days later begins a new life in Alaska.
Better Call Saul Flash-Forwards
February, 2015 – ???
Prior to the premiere of Better Call Saul season 5, Bob Odenkirk spoke with Den of Geek about how his Gene Takovic flash-forwards in the show may end up being the final word chronologically for the Breaking Bad universe.
“That could be the furthest it goes on the timeline, the whole story,” Odenkirk said. “On the other hand, you never know. I don’t know if Gene is the last iteration of the character either, because if he were to come out from hiding, I don’t think he can keep that name. So we’ll see what happens.”
As things stand now, Gene is indeed the last word on the Breaking Bad universe. We know that things pick up in February of 2015 (five years after Walter White’s death) due to a visible 150th anniversary of Omaha, Nebraska sticker in the first season. 2015 is also when the first season was shot. Through five seasons of Better Call Saul, there have been five scenes in Omaha, Nebraska circa 2015.
In season 1, Gene goes to work as a Cinnabon manager at the mall and comes home to watch old Saul Goodman commercials on a VHS. In season 2, Gene gets locked outside in the trash room of the mall but is afraid to contact anyone to help. In season 3, Gene tells a mall thief to call a lawyer rather than talk to the cops, then collapses from a seeming heart attack. In season 4, we discover that the heart attack was just stress. Gene then experiences more paranoia and stress when it seems as though his Social Security number won’t hold up at the hospital. It does, but he panics in a taxi cab on the way home because the driver seems to recognize him. In season 5, that same taxi driver arrives at the mall and confirms that he knows Gene is Saul Goodman. Gene calls the vacuum repairman, Ed, again prepared to start a new life once more. But he thinks better of it and hangs up.