A Year in the Life of Walter White: A Breaking Bad Timeline

A Year in the Life of Walter White: Breaking Bad Timeline

 

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With the final season coming out in less than a week, anticipation for what will come in Breaking Bad is growing every day.  With how amazing the show is, it is actually a very difficult one to follow the timeline.  Some episodes take place over the course of a few weeks, sometimes there are two episodes for one day.  Because of this, it becomes very challenging to place exactly where Walt is in his life.

This was actually so difficult for me that I had not realized only one year was passing until the fifth season when Walt had his 51st birthday.  After realizing so much could happen in just 12 months, I decided to plot everything that happened and do my best to see how much time has passed since the last event. Above is my attempt to plot the Breaking Bad chronology.

Luckily some of this very time consuming rewatching and plotting on a calendar has already been done.  Ray Rahman of Vulture.com plotted the first 3 seasons episode by episode, explaining just about how much time has passed.  The original article can be found HERE, but what he had written is pasted below.  I decided to extend this until season 5 episode 4 in order to get to a full year since the first episode.

Now, you may wonder why I only went to season 5 episode 4 and not finish the entire season.  This is because it becomes very difficult to figure out how much time has passed in the last few episodes.  When Walt is dealing to the Czech Republic and building his mass fortune, months could be, and are likely passing.  Because of this, sticking from his 50th birthday and ending on his 51st seems to be the most logical timeline.

Please let me know of any errors you see or discrepancies you may have with what I made in the comment section.  I realize a lot of this can be tweaked a bit depending on how many days you believe have passed since previous episodes in what chronological fashion.  You can see my (and Ray Rahman’s) analysis here:

“Pilot,” Season 1, Episode 1 (3 weeks)
The story gets started at precisely 5:02 a.m. of everyman Walt’s 50th birthday and ends three weeks later, where we catch up with the pantsless, post-first-kill Walt we ran into in the episode’s cold open.

“Cat’s in the Bag … ” Season 1, Episode 2 (3 weeks, 2 days)
After a glimpse of Walt and Jesse’s cleanup of that first kill, we go through the next two days of Walt’s life, during which we see him distractedly teaching the same class in two different shirts and dealing with Krazy 8.

” … And the Bag’s in the River,” Season 1, Episode 3 (3 weeks, 3 days)
As the elliptical titles suggest, things pick up in this episode right where they were left off in the previous one — Krazy 8′s last day on Earth; the next day, a substitute fills in for Walt while he contemplates what he’ll tell Skyler about that night.

“Cancer Man,” Season 1, Episode 4 (4 weeks)
An entire weekend passes, as do at least two school days and one visit to the oncologist.

“Gray Matter,” Season 1, Episode 5 (4 weeks, 6 days)
Another weekend passes, during which Walt and Skyler go to Ramen-loving college chum Elliot’s birthday party; Walt says the party occurred “the other day” toward the episode’s end, just before meeting Jesse.

“Crazy Handful of Nothin’,” Season 1, Episode 6 (6 weeks, 3 days)
Things are getting in full swing: medical tests, three-day time lapses, cooking, law-enforcing in-laws, Tuco, hair loss, and, finally, Walt’s head-shaving transition into Heisenberg.

“A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal,” Season 1, Episode 7 (7 weeks, 3 days)
The season ends with a slew of events (baby shower, oncology visit, moonlit chemical thefts, junkyard meetings with Tuco) that should logically take about a week’s worth of time.

“Seven Thirty-Seven,” Season 2, Episode 1 (8 weeks, 3 days)
Hank watches the security footage of Walt and Jesse’s meth-ingredient heist and helps us (if not his brother-in-law) out by mentioning that it occurred about ten days ago; Tuco kidnaps Walt and Jesse the next day.

“Grilled,” Season 2, Episode 2 (8 weeks, 4 days)
The same sun that, uh, grilled Tuco at the episode’s start is still up by the time he dies.

“Bit by a Dead Bee,” Season 2, Episode 3 (9 weeks)
Hank interrogates Jesse and reveals that Tuco’s death was Sunday and that it’s now Tuesday — one day before the dementia-faking Walt returns home to Skyler, who asks about his second cell phone.

“Down,” Season 2, Episode 4 (9 weeks, 6 days)
Thank goodness for exposition: Jesse’s parents kick him out of his house while, elsewhere on the same day, Walt refers to the second-cell-phone talk as having occurred “the other night”; then, toward the end, Jesse whines to his mom about having been kicked out “the other day.”

“Breakage,” Season 2, Episode 5 (11 weeks, 4 days)
Time speeds up like a methhead as Walt finishes his first stage of chemo with his oncologist and a time-lapse montage zooms through four days of drug dealing, all capped by Walt giving Jesse a gun to use when taking care of business.

“Peekaboo,” Season 2, Episode 6 (11 weeks, 5 days)
Jesse begins executing his interpretation of taking care of business by going after the methheads that stole from skinny Pete, giving the impression we’re hot on the heels of the last episode.

“Negro y Azul,” Season 2, Episode 7 (11 weeks, 6 day)
Walt visits Jesse, who’s sleeping off his morbid TCB sesh, which seems to have happened the day before. Jesse hops in bed with landlady Jane at the episode’s end.

“Better Call Saul,” Season 2, Episode 8 (12 weeks, 2 days)
We jump right back in to catch some of Jesse and Jane’s charming pillow talk. But time waits for no man — least of all for Saul, whose mettle is established to us over a number of days.

“4 Days Out,” Season 2, Episode 9 (13 weeks, 2 days)
Walt and Jesse cook through a long weekend before realizing they’re trapped ina bottle episode the desert.

“Over,” Season 2, Episode 10 (14 weeks, 1 day)
Walt, fresh from his escape from the desert, takes a day off from work; then, soon enough, we’re at a weekend get-together; and, finally, Skyler’s at work, flirting with the boss.

“Mandala,” Season 2, Episode 11 (15 weeks, 3 days)
Walt and Jesse go to Los Pollos Hermanos to find Gus, whom we saw Saul recommend to them about “a week ago”; then, two days later, Walt gets an important-looking text.

“Phoenix,” Season 2, Episode 12 (19 weeks, 6 days)
We pick up where we left off, in week fifteen, with Walt rushing to meet his new baby. The school week resumes shortly thereafter, and the last thing we see is Walt letting Jane die. Based on the information in the next two episodes — that the plane crashes only a month after Jane’s death, but the baby is also 7 weeks old by then — we have to assume almost four weeks pass before Jane dies, but this doesn’t seem true in the episode. It’s likely there is some continuity problem here.

“ABQ,” Season 2, Episode 13 (22 weeks, 6 days)
Skyler helpfully tells the oncologist that the baby’s 7 weeks old now; finally, Walt’s household is damaged by both marital separation and debris from a plane crash.

“No Mas,” Season 3, Episode 1 (23 weeks, 1 days)
Newscasts surrounding the plane crash establish that Jane died about a month ago. Then we jump ahead when Skyler mentions “last week’s” plane crash.

“Caballo Sin Nombre,” Season 3, Episode 2 (24 weeks, 4 days)
Walt’s transitional living situation makes it pretty easy to mark how many nights pass.

“I.F.T.,” Season 3, Episode 3 (25 weeks)
Walt once again spends much of his time trying to find a place to sleep every night.

“Green Light,” Season 3, Episode 4 (25 weeks, 5 days)
A couple of awkward days of school pass, which ends with Walt getting fired.

“Mas,” Season 3, Episode 5 (26 weeks, 3 days)
Walt takes a few days before eventually accepting Gus’s million-dollar job offer and parting ways with Jesse.

“Sunset,” Season 3, Episode 6 (26 weeks, 5 days)
Walt spends an entire day cooking with his new BFF Gale before he and Jesse meet with Gus at, yep, sunset.

“One Minute,” Season 3, Episode 7 (27 weeks)
The titular minute that ends the episode was preceded by two days’ worth of Walt visiting Jesse in the hospital and working with Gale in the lab.

“I See You,” Season 3, Episode 8 (27 weeks, 1 day)
A still-healing Jesse visits Walt’s swanky new lab, bringing up his feeling toward that “sunset” from “a couple of days ago”; the episode ends the next night, with Hank in the hospital.

“Kafkaesque,” Season 3, Episode 9 (28 weeks, 2 days)
Hank’s hospital visitors kindly tell us about a week has passed.

“Fly,” Season 3, Episode 10 (28 weeks, 3 days)
Walt and Jesse spend a day in the lab getting contemplative (about a fly) for another bottle episode.

“Abiquiu,” Season 3, Episode 11 (29 weeks, 5 days)
Walt and Sklyer have a number of long overnight talks. Hanks hospital visits, and Gus’s dinner date with Walt all happen over a number of an approximate work week.

“Half Measures,” Season 3, Episode 12 (30 weeks, 5 days)
Wendy gives a string of blow jobs over a time-lapsed montage, the first of many; later, on the episode’s last night, Walt starts murdering people for Jesse.

“Full Measure,” Season 3, Episode 13 (31 weeks)
Walt spends what might be Gale’s last days cooking with him; the cliff-hanging episode ends with Jesse’s gun in Gale’s face.

“Box Cutter,” Season 4, Episode 1 (31 weeks 1 day)
Episode takes place over one day, beginning right where we left off, Jesse gun in hand.  Gus kills Victor

“Thirty-Eight Snub,” Season 4, Episode 2 (33 weeks 4 days)
You are left to assume a week or so have passed since the last episode ended.  Walt buys a gun and a couple days later Mike beats up Walt.  Roughly 1 weeks passes since last episode

“Open House,” Season 4, Episode 3 (33 weeks 6 days)
Begins day after last episode.  One day passes and Hank gets Gales files.   Walt also buys the carwash.

“Bullet Points,” Season 4, Episode 4 (35 weeks 3 days)
No bruises on Walt’s face so you assume it is a week later.  Next day Walt comes clean about gambling and Hank shows Walt Gale’s file.  Couple of days past and Jesse goes with Mike for the first time.

“Shotgun,” Season 4, Episode 5 (35 weeks 4 days)
Starts same day.  Jesse gone all day.  Walt tells Hank in the evening that he doesn’t think Gale is his “genius”.

“Cornered,” Season 4, Episode 6 (35 weeks 6 days)
Starts next day.  One more day passes and in the evening we hear Gus tell Jesse he “sees things in people”.

“Problem Dog,” Season 4, Episode 7 (38 weeks)
Starts a couple of days later.  Couple days pass and Walt gives the ricin to Jesse.  Later in the episode we are led to believe one week has passed since Walt gave Jesse the ricin due to Walt arguing with Jesse over how long it has been.

“Hermanos,” Season 4, Episode 8 (42 weeks)
Starts a couple of days later.  Gus is questioned.  Roughly 2-3 weeks pass during this episode due to the amount of money Skyler hides and because when Jesse and Saul are talking it seems like he has been doing weekly deliveries to Andrea a couple of times.  Then Hank has Walt put the tail on Gus’ car.

“Bug,” Season 4, Episode 9 (43 weeks)
Roughly 3 days since the bugging of Gus’ car since he has gone back and forth to work 3 times, so this means this episode starts 2 days after the previous.  Two days later Jesse visits Gus’ house.  The next day Jesse and Walt fight.

“Salud,” Season 4, Episode 10 (43 weeks 1 day)
Starts day after last episode.  Jesse goes to Mexico and Gus kills the cartel.  All happens in one day.

“Crawl Space,” Season 4, Episode 11 (43 weeks 4 days)
Starts next day.  Roughly 2 more days pass and Gus threatens to kill Walt and his entire family.

“End Times,” Season 4, Episode 12 (43 weeks 5 days)
Same day as previous episode.  Brock is poisoned.  That night Jesse threatens to kill Walt.  Next day Walt fails at killing Gus.

“Face Off,” Season 4, Episode 13 (43 weeks 5 days)
Starts and ends in same day as previous episode.  Walt kills Gus and burns down lab.

“Live Free or Die,” Season 5, Episode 1 (46 weeks)
Starts with the same day, but you are led to assume some time has passed since Hank walks around the lab with a cane.  Roughly one week passes and Mike, Jesse, and Walt decide to use the magnet on Gus’ laptop.

“Madrigal,” Season 5, Episode 2 (47 weeks)
You assume a couple of days have passed and Mike is interrogated by Hank.

“Hazard Pay,” Season 5, Episode 3 (50 weeks)
2-3 weeks pass from last episode.  This is a bit difficult to tell, but I am going off of previous time frames, when Walt’s birthday is, and how long it would take to have Mike change his mind and work with Walt.  Mike, Jesse and Walt team up and work with Vamanos Pest Control.

“Fifty-One,” Season 5, Episode 4 (52 weeks) [Title Corrected]
A week or two later and we are at Walt’s 51st birthday.

Author: Sean Aranda

18 Comments

  1. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 12, 2013    

    That is one of the best timelines I've ever seen. Guaranteed that Walt is either going to use the ricin or Rambo gun to go after the other two partners of the gray matter company he was bought out of. He made a point of letting Jesse know that he's bitter by telling him that he checks the stock option weekly. Doesn't make sense for him to go after either Hank and the police or the group that Lydia is working with. Also, he doesn't want to kill Jesse, but he might have to before it is all over. Somehow I see a flashback style chat where Walt tells Hank that he got him interested by taking on the initial bust for his 50th birthday.

  2. August 12, 2013    

    He uses the ricin to kill in secret, but based on 8/11/13 episode it certainly looks like Walt has been found out given the house being abandoned and Heisenberg being spay painted on the wall inside. No need to be sneaky now. I think he's going to use it on himself.

  3. Doug Hernan's Gravatar Doug Hernan
    August 13, 2013    

    Great job on the timeline! In Season 5, Episode 8 ("Gliding Over All"), Marie approaches Skyler about taking the kids back, reminding her that it has "been almost three months" since she & Hank took them in on Walt's 51st birthday (Sea. 5, Ep. 4 – "Fifty One"). The "Leaves of Grass" discovery seems to happen within a week or so of that conversation. That would suggest an 8-to-9 month gap between Hank and Walt's garage confrontation (Sea. 5, Ep. 9 – "Blood Money") and the flash-forward scenes, which take place on Walt's 52nd birthday.

  4. August 13, 2013    

    Great analysis. I did notice the 3 month comment when re-watching the final episode on Sunday. I think I will just make another "Year in the Life of Walter White" 51-52 after this season is over. I am wondering if his 52nd birthday will be the final day of the show…

  5. August 13, 2013    

    Thanks for the compliment! My personal view is that a Hamlet style ending will happen, I don't see many characters making it out alive!

  6. September 2, 2013    

    ERRORS:

    “Phoenix,” Season 2, Episode 12 (19 weeks, 6 days).
    We pick up where we left off, in week fifteen, with Walt rushing to meet his new baby. The school week resumes shortly thereafter, and the last thing we see is Walt letting Jane die. Based on the information in the next two episodes — that the plane crashes only a month after Jane’s death, but the baby is also 7 weeks old by then — we have to assume almost four weeks pass before Jane dies, but this doesn’t seem true in the episode. It’s likely there is some continuity problem here.

    The day after Walt meets the baby, Jesse wakes up to see the drugs missing. He freaks out, calls Walt, and discovers later that day what happened by listening to the voicemails. Later that day (Walt is wearing the same shirt) Hank and Marie bring Los Pollos over for dinner. The following day Jesse shows up in Walt's classroom to confront him about letting him think he screwed up for the "whole day" and to ask how much money they got from the deal and what his cut was. Later that day Walt is at home when Skyler brings Walter Jr's SaveWalterWhite.com website to his attention. The following day, Walter goes to see Saul about how to launder the money that he can't use, and mentions his son's website. Saul says the website is the solution. Next scene is Jesse complaining to Jane about Mr. White owing him "480" while shooting up, I would guess it's the same day he spoke with Walt in the classroom because it's fresh in his mind and he's pissed off about it. However the previous Saul scene was the day after the classroom confrontation. So those to scenes could be out of order, or Jesse talked to Jane about it the day after. The next day, Jane wakes up to her dad calling her about not showing up to the meeting. She runs out the front door to find dear ol' dad standing out front. Dad tell her she has to go to rehab now, however Jane begs to give her a day. We all know that day never comes, as she chokes on her own vomit as Walt watches that night. Thus, Jane dies five days after Holly was born.

    Furthermore, as mentioned in the conversation with the doctors about scheduling Walt's surgery… baby was due in a little over two weeks, surgery would be scheduled for four weeks out so he'd be up and around for the birth of his child. Baby came a few days to a week early, therefor surgery was 2 – 2.5 weeks after Holly was born, and 1 – 1.5 weeks after Jane's death. The post opt being 4.5 – 5 weeks later when Holly was now 7 weeks. The plane crash was that day. Putting it 6 weeks and 2 days after Jane's death.

  7. September 2, 2013    

    Also….

    Walt's birthday is September 7, 1959.

    Jane's birthday is April 4th, 1982.

    Jane's dad mentions to Walt the same night that she dies that she will be 27 next month, meaning that she died in March 2009. Putting her death 6 months after the show began, a minimum of 25 weeks.

  8. September 3, 2013    

    Thanks for the input! I decided not to include dates because the show actually gets a bit tricky there. While I knew about Jane possibly dying in March 2009, but that would completely mess up Walt's birthday. If walt was born in September 1959, be would turn 50 in September 2009, not 2008 as he actually did. The first season definitely took place in 2008 though (scene from Pilot): http://i.imgur.com/o93iiBO.jpg I have a feeling that the Sept 1959 birthday was just a guess by a fan, since there is no evidence of that at all. In fact, I would guess his birthday to be in October, and in 1958, in order for this to make sense, putting us closer to the 20 week mark

    I figured they didn't have all of those kinks figured out yet since they didn't know what network would pick them up. As per your description of Phoenix, the description I provided was from the Vulture article i describe. If you check out the timeline though, you will see that what you wrote is pretty much followed. I have Holly being born roughly 1-2 weeks before Jane's death, and then the surgery I have at about 3 weeks after the baby is born, and about 1.5 weeks from Jane's death. I also have the plane crash at just about 7 weeks from Holly's birth, as they described. But as reporters say, the plane crash happened about 4 weeks after Jane's death and her dad's return to work.

    Thanks again for the input, this show is difficult to get a chronological grasp on. Your guess/time framing could be just as right and as good as ours!

  9. Mike O'Connor's Gravatar Mike O'Connor
    September 4, 2013    

    The last episode you have is incorrect, it should be "Fifty-One".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Breaking_Bad_episodes#Season_5_.282012.E2.80.9313.29

    Just wanted you to know. Thanks for compiling this!

  10. September 4, 2013    

    Thanks! That was a brain fart. Will correct now.

  11. Andrew Steverman's Gravatar Andrew Steverman
    September 10, 2013    

    Problem: it takes 9 months to make a baby. Your timeline doesn't accurately portray this

  12. Andrew Steverman's Gravatar Andrew Steverman
    September 10, 2013    

    Not just your timeline but the breaking bad timeline in general. It just doesn't make sense that in 2 seasons you have 9 months but only 3 months for the remaining 3 seasons. : (

  13. September 11, 2013    

    If you rewatch the first season, you will see that Skyler is showing from the first scene you see her. You are led to believe she is 3-5 months pregnant when the series begins

  14. September 11, 2013    

    If you rewatch the first season, you will see Skyler is pregnant from the first scene you see her. You are led to believe she is 4-6 months pregnant from the first episode onward. Therefore Holly being born 3-4 months after the first episode should be about right.
    I have looked very hard for problems in the show's timing, but it is proving to be pretty damn thought out.

  15. September 18, 2013    

    Nope it's only been a month in between Walt quiting and when hank finds the book and like a week after that is when hank and Walt face off not months

  16. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    September 23, 2013    

    This season has been crazy! It's going to be difficult to put a 2 year timeline up because of all of the month long jumps and montages that have taken place. All I know is that we were both right with our analysis. I thought I was wrong these past few episodes because Gretchen and Elliot still didn't make an appearance since season 2. I thought that Walt would just get Lydia with the ricin and go after Todd, Jack and his crew in a blaze of glory with the machine gun.

    After this past episode, I would like to make a couple of predictions for the finale. The ricin somehow gets delivered to both Gretchen and Elliot without them ever seeing Walt. Walt is somehow going to ambush the gang and take them out. Then he is going to turn himself in, give the rest of the money up because he knows he can't give any of it to his family to get them out of trouble. He's going to rat on Mandrigal and Lydia and die in jail. The only rhetorical question I have is what happens to Jesse. I almost see him getting away without getting killed. He's been at death's door so many times, it would only make sense that he gets out of it alive somehow. There's got to be one last encounter with Walt where he tells Jesse to rat him out.

  17. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    September 23, 2013    

    And he still has the lottery ticket so he will give the coordinates to the police so they can find Hank and Gomey's bodies which are now in that exact location.

  18. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    September 23, 2013    

    But, for my own rebuttal, they have been showing Lydia using that particular sweetener and tea so many times, it makes you think that will be the way that Walt gets Lydia with the ricin. I'm still opting for the show to throw a curve ball and not be that predictable.

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