- "I want to do the color timing for each of these episodes where you sit with the colorist and make sure that the color of each individual scene is just the way you want it."
- ―Vince Gilligan, IndieWire interview, July 2012
Colors are a recurring theme in Breaking Bad. The clothing colors that characters wear represent various themes and their relationships to each other in each scene.
Below is a summary of the colors worn by the Breaking Bad characters and the colors' symbolism.
The symbolism of colors was taken up in Better Call Saul, sometimes also called 'Ice and Fire' theory : blue for the good guys, red for the bad guys.
The Color Wheel
The relationships between the central Breaking Bad characters are analogous to the relationships between colors on the red, yellow, and blue painter's color wheel. For example, the color for Walter's alter ego, Heisenberg, which is often green, is created by mixing the colors of his two closest partners, Skyler, who often wears blue, and Jesse, who often wears yellow. Further, Heisenberg is opposed by Hank, who often wears shades of orange, ranging from red to brown, which is located on the opposite side of the color wheel from green. Marie, being the sister of Skyler and wife of Hank, is represented by purple, which sits between blue and red colors on the color wheel.
While Walter's signature product is sky blue in color, the meth made in the show technically should be yellow. The characters' relationships to the drug is represented by their colors' locations relative to yellow on the color wheel. Marie is farthest from the meth drug trade, being neither a user, cook, hired hand, nor narcotics officer, and is represented by purple which is opposite yellow on the color wheel. The characters that are closet to the drug, principally the cooks Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Gale Boetticher, all wear yellow jumpsuits in the meth lab and frequently wear yellow in other scenes of the show. Gustavo Fring, while not a meth cook, wears a yellow shirt when working at his fast-food chicken restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos. Skyler White and Hank Schrader, and their colors, represent two end-member relationships to the drug trade and Walter White. Skyler's blue represents loyalty and peace, while Schrader's red represents violence and anger. Partners who are loyal to Walter White receive money (represented by green, a mixture of blue and yellow), while those who oppose him are met with violence (represented by orange, a mixture of red and yellow).
Symbolism: Greed, money, growth, envy
Secondary color: Formed by blue + yellow
- Walter White wears nothing but a green cooking apron and white underwear when he goes cooking in the RV with Jesse in the first episode ("Pilot").
- Holly White is named for the evergreen holly plant.
- Skyler paints Hollys bedroom a dark green in season one
- The surgeons wore green in the operating room where Walter White has his lung cancer surgery. ("ABQ")
- The maiden name of Skyler and Marie is Lambert, which means "bright land."
- The sweat lodge robe that Jesse and other guests wear is green. ("ABQ")
- Skyler wears green ("Sunset") after finding Walter's bag of money in the closet of Holly's bedroom, where he had been sleeping just before he signed the divorce papers and moved out ("Más").
- Skyler wears green at the hospital after Hank was shot when she offers to help pay for Hank's medical bills with Walter's "gambling" earnings. ("I See You")
- Walter White wears a bright green shirt when he plants the bomb in the nursing home that kills Gus Fring, after which he says to Skyler, "I won." ("Face Off")
- Walter White's car is a pale green Pontiac Aztek until he replaces it with a black Chrysler 300 that he buys for his 51st birthday.
- The letters and numbers on the Golden Moth Chemical label "00892B" are HTML color code for green.
Symbolism: Loyalty, power, sadness, purity, water, sky, coldness
Blue is a primary color on the RYB color wheel.
- Walter White's signature meth formula produces blue crystals known as Blue Sky.
- Walter and Skyler White both wear dark blue to the birthday party for Elliott Schwartz. ("Gray Matter")
- Skyler wears blue while sitting with Walter at his chemotherapy sessons. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Jesse Pinkman wears a dark blue shirt during his interrogation about Tuco Salamanca. ("Bit by a Dead Bee")
- Jane Margolis is wearing blue denim when she dies in her sleep and is buried in a dark blue dress chosen by her father. ("ABQ")
- Walter and Skyler White wear blue shirts and dark blue pants to the storage facility where Skyler stored a huge pile of cash. ("Gliding Over All")
- Sky blue is the color of the ribbons worn by multiple characters in memory of the Wayfarer 515 plane crash.
- Both Walter White and Victor, who are eager to show their loyalty to Gustavo, wear blue in the superlab soon after the murder of Gale Boetticher. ("Box Cutter")
- Lydia wears a dark blue shirt when she tries to convince Mike, Walter, and Jesse that she did not put GPS trackers on the Madrigal methylamine containers. ("Dead Freight")
- Jesse wears a large blue sweatshirt when he first meets Jane Margolis' father and, soon after, complains to Jane for acting like she barely knew him in front of her dad. ("Over")
- Walter Jr. wears a dark blue shirt when he visits Walter, who has been badly beaten up, and promises not to tell Skyler about the fight. ("Salud")
- Todd Alquist wears dark blue when working as Walter's assistant in the mobile meth lab. ("Gliding Over All")
- The color of the Vamonos Pest lettering on the mobile meth lab cases is blue, instead of the usual green and yellow that is found in the business logo. ("Gliding Over All")
- Lydia wears a bright blue coat when she meets Declan in the desert to discuss the poor quality of the meth from his lab. ("Buried")
- Huell and Kuby are wearing blue shirts when they go to the storage facility to collect Walter's money. Huell suggests that they run off to Mexico with the money, but Kuby reminds Huell of Walter's hit on Mike's guys in prison as a reason not to cross Walter. ("Buried")
- The flashlights equipped by the Albuquerque Police who discover Walter White's corpse within the lab of the nazis illuminate Walt and color him blue in his death. ("Felina")
Symbolism: Methamphetamine, optimism, pleasure, caution, cowardice, fear, pseudo-toughness
Yellow is a primary color on the RYB color wheel.
- Walter White wears a yellow shirt when he confronts teenagers who are making fun of his son in a clothing store. ("Pilot")
- The color of the bag that Walter was going to suffocate Krazy 8 with was yellow. ("The Cat's in the Bag")
- Walter wears a pale yellow shirt when he kills Domingo Gallardo "Krazy 8" Molina, who is wearing a yellow fleece jacket, in Jesse's basement. ("...and the Bag's in the River")
- The chemotherapy chemicals at Walter's cancer treatment center are yellow. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Jesse wears a large yellow coat while selling meth on the street. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Walter is wearing a yellow shirt when he informs Skyler and the family that he's taking some time off from teaching to focus on his cancer treatment. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez wear yellow shirts while interrogating Jesse Pinkman about Tuco Salamanca. ("Bit by a Dead Bee")
- Jesse is wearing a large yellow hoodie when he meets with his parents at their lawyer's office and they kick him out of his former aunt's house. ("Down")
- Jesse Pinkman's sheets were yellow in scenes with his girlfriend Jane Margolis. ("4 Days Out")
- Yellow was the color of the protective jumpsuits worn by Walter, Jesse, and Gail in Gustavo Fring's underground meth lab.
- The staff at Los Pollos Hermanos wear yellow polo shirts and red chef's aprons. ("Mandala")
- Gale Boetticher is wearing a yellow shirt over a blue t-shirt when Jesse Pinkman shoots him. ("Full Measure")
- Walter White wears a yellow shirt while Mike's people in prison are being killed to protect Walter's new meth empire. ("Gliding Over All")
- Marie wears a yellow shirt to the family gathering at which Hank discovers Walter's copy of Leaves of Grass in the bathroom. ("Gliding Over All")
- The license plate number of the van Walter White uses to transport his money out to the desert "D4DD31" is HTML code for a shade of yellow. ("Buried")
- The name "Heisenberg" is spray painted in yellow on the living room wall of the abandoned White residence. ("Blood Money")
Symbolism: Earth, humility, stability, strength
Composite color: Formed by red + yellow + black
- Hank Schrader wears a brown shirt in his first scene when he is bragging about life in the DEA and showing off his gun to Walter White Jr. ("Pilot")
- Jesse's brother wears brown while they interact when Jesse briefly lives back home with his parents ("Cancer Man")
- The interior walls and furniture in the White residence living room are brown. ("Grilled")
Symbolism: Luxury, royalty, protection, safety, not involved with the meth trade (purple is the polar opposite of yellow after all), and most importantly, self-deception.
Vince Gilligan in an interview with Vulture said, “Well, Marie would say purple is the color of royalty", meaning it isnt.
Secondary color: Formed by red + blue
- Marie wears purple almost exclusively throughout the show with the exceptions of her white hospital lab coat, and occasionally yellow or black.
- Jesse Pinkman's mother is wearing purple when she walks into his bedroom and kicks him out of his former aunt's house. ("Down")
- The gifts Hank Schrader gets for Marie right before the confrontations with The Cousins are all purple (flowers, flower wrap, gift bag and gift wrappings). ("One Minute")
- Walter White wears a purple shirt in the hospital waiting room soon after Hank was shot by The Cousins. ("I See You")
- While Hank is at home recuperating from being shot by The Cousins, the sheets on his bed are purple.
- Donald Margolis. Jane's protective dad, is wearing a light purple shirt when he first meets Jesse on the porch of his duplex. ("Over")
- Marie is wearing a purple hoodie and yellow t-shirt when she suggests to Skyler that she take the kids home to repair the family. ("Gliding Over All")
- Hank wears purple as does Gomez in the DEA office. ("Confessions")
Symbolism: Humor, action, fire, violence
Secondary color: Formed by red + yellow
- Hank Schrader wears an orange shirt when he visits Skyler to ask her to return Marie's phone calls. ("Seven Thirty-Seven")
- Hank wears an orange shirt when he rallies his staff at the DEA to help find Tuco Salamanca and later when he kills Tuco in the desert. ("Grilled")
- Walter White doesn't like orange juice. ("Grilled")
- Gustavo Fring puts on an orange jacket and pants in order to protect his clothes when he kills Victor with a box cutter. ("Box Cutter")
- Walter Jr. is wearing an orange jacket when he arrives at Walter's apartment and discovers that his father was beaten up in a fight. ("Salud")
- Oranges are spilled onto the floor (a visual homage to a scene in "The Godfather") when Ted Beneke trips on his rug and is knocked unconscious as he attempts to flee Huell and Kuby. ("Crawl Space")
- When Walter greets his next door neighbor Carol she drops a bag of groceries and spills oranges, shocked at seeing him reappear at his abandoned and vandalized home. ("Blood Money")
- Badger is wearing a large orange hoodie while explaining a made-up Star Trek episode about beaming Chekov's guts into space. ("Blood Money")
- Hank wears an orange shirt to the Indian reservation in To'hajiilee. (Tohajiilee)
Symbolism: Naiveté, youth, tragedy
Composite color: Red + white
- Pinkman is Jesse's last name.
- Skyler White wears a bright pink dress at her baby shower. ("A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal")
- A partially charred Pink Teddy Bear from the Wayfarer 515 plane crash landed in Walter White's swimming pool. ("ABQ")
- After Jane Margolis' death, her father, Donald, goes to her apt. to find clothes for her funeral. Her bedspread is entirely pink, and we see a mural painted by Jane of a girl who resembles her, with her eyes closed floating between planets in the cosmos. In the corner of the mural is the pink teddy that appears in season 2 teasers foreshadowing the plane crash over ABQ.
Also noteworthy in this scene, Donald Margolis is on the phone and says that there are no yellow clothes, only gray and black. He finally selects a blue dress with long sleeves for her. In the mural the girl is adorned in a gray cloud-like dress, the background mostly blue and gray with some yellow)
- Walter White wears pink in the same shade as the Pink Teddy Bear when he meets with doctors for a follow-up appointment after his cancer surgery and later that afternoon while sitting next to his pool at the time of the Wayfarer 515 crash. ("ABQ")
- Skyler wore a long pink dress in the flashback to her and Walter's first view of their home before they bought it and while she was pregnant with Walt Jr. ("Full Measure")
- The Pink Teddy Bear first shows up in the teaser of Episode 2.4. ("Down")
- Kaylee Ehrmantraut, Mike's granddaughter, wears pink when he's looking after her in the park. ("Caballo Sin Nombre")
Symbolism: Blood, murder, aggression, violence, experience, criminality.
Red is a primary color on the RYB color wheel.
- Jesse wears a red jacket and hat when he disposes of Emilio's body in his bathtub using hydrochloric acid.
- Hank Schrader wears a red shirt when he visits Walter White about finding a gas mask that belongs Walter's high school chemistry lab.
- Jesse wears red when talking to his brother and offering advice. During the same episode, Walt causes Ken's car to catch fire. ("Cancer Man")
- Jesse Pinkman wears a red t-shirt and cap on his first visit to see Tuco, who beats him up severely, sending Jesse to the hospital. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Walter White wears a bright red button shirt over a darker red t-shirt in the iconic "I am the Danger" scene in which he tells Skyler, "I am the one who knocks." ("Cornered")
- The floor of Gustavo Fring's underground meth lab is painted red.
- Jesse wears a red shirt with black pants the night of Jane Margolis' death ("Phoenix"), when he shoots Gale Boetticher ("Full Measure"), and again when he shoots his way out of the Juárez drug Cartel's hacienda in Mexico ("Salud").
- At Madrigal headquarters, Peter Schuler take off his shirt and [red] tie before he kills himself in a bathroom with a Red door, counter, toilet and toilet paper dispenser. ("Madrigal")
- Hank Schrader wears a long-sleeved red shirt when he confronts Walter ("Blood Money") and Skyler White ("Buried"), who both wear beige, about Walter's real identity as Heisenberg.
- Lydia Rodarte-Quayle wears Christian Louboutin shoes which feature a red sole, tarnished by the desert sands when she is blindly being guided by Todd Alquist to avoid seeing dead bodies. ("Buried")
- Lydia is drinking from a red cup when she is poisoned by Walt with the ricin. ("Felina")
- The keyless entry remote that Walt uses to fire the machine gun that kills Jack's gang is red. ("Felina")
Symbolism: Death, darkness, evil, power, secrecy, deception
Black is formed by the absence or absorption of all colors of visible light. In the painter's wheel, it is formed by mixing equal parts blue, red, and yellow.
- Schwartz is the last name of Eliot and Gretchen, Walter White's former business partners. Schwarz is German for black.
- The mormons that leave Jesse a pamphlet on his front door while he's hallucinating are wearing black pants.
- Walter White wears a black jacket and pants with a gray t-shirt when he visits Tuco and tricks him by bringing explosive fulminated mercury disguised as meth. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Tomás Cantillo is wearing a black hoodie when he pretends to playfully ride his black bike in circles around Combo and then shoots Combo in the back multiple times. ("Mandala")
- Jane is wearing black when she decides to stay at Jesse's apartment, leading to her relapse and death.
- Skyler White is wearing a black dress when she knocks a can of pens off her desk to lure Ted Beneke into her office. ("Over")
- Hank wears all black while he hunts down Jesse's RV ("Sunset").
- Walter wears a black shirt and pants when he lies to Jesse about the disappearance of Mike Ehrmantraut. ("Gliding Over All")
- Walter is dressed in all black when he meets with Lydia to get the names of Mike's men. After Lydia gives him the names and leaves, Walter picks up his hat to reveal the vile of ricin, suggesting that he was planning to kill Lydia with it. ("Gliding Over All")
- Marie, who almost exclusively wears purple, wears black in the two episodes prior to Hank's death.
Symbolism: Depression, illness, guilt, mourning, revenge, regret
Composite color: Formed by black + white
- Gray Matter was the name of the company formed by Walter White and Eliot and Gretchen Schwartz, as a play on their last names.
- Jesse wears gray when confronted by his parents over a joint that was found in the house ("Cancer Man")
- Jesse wears all gray after Jane's death as he calls her voicemail to hear her voice. ("I.F.T.")
- Walter is wearing a gray shirt when he calls Skyler at work to apologize for causing a scene with Hank and Walter Jr. at his party the night before. ("Over")
- The Cousins, Leonel and Marco Salamanca, wear silver gray suits with black shirts while they hunt down Walter White and, later, Hank Schrader. ("Sunset")
- Hector "Tio" Salamanca wears a silver gray suit when he shoots Max Arciniega by surprise from behind. ("Hermanos")
- Gustavo Fring wears a silver gray suit and black shirt when he kills the Juárez Cartel by poisoning them. ("Salud")
- Walter Jr. wore a gray shirt and gray pants with a black hoodie in the final episode. ("Felina")
Symbolism: Innocence, light
White is formed by the reflection or transmission of all colors of visible light. On a painter's canvas, white is the absence of color.
- White is the last name of Walter White and his family.
- Marie wears a white lab coat for her job as a radiologist. ("Seven Thirty-Seven")
- Jane's last name, Margolis, in Hebrew for pearl (Margalith), which is often white but may also be black.
- Combo is wearing white when he is shot in the back by a kid on a bike. ("Mandala")
BeigeWorn by: Walter White, Skyler White
Symbolism: Not quite innocent, a little bit dirty, rich, neutral, not a threat
Composite color: Formed by white + some yellow + possibly some red
- Most of the guests are wearing beige at Elliot Schwartz's birthday party. ("Gray Matter")
- Skyler White is wearing a long pale beige sweater when she is almost arrested for the theft of the tiara that Marie gave for her baby shower. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- Walter and Skyler White wear beige at the car wash after Walter has given up his meth business. ("Blood Money")
- Walter White wears beige when he confronts Hank about planting a GPS device on his car. ("Buried")
Symbolism: Conflicted emotions, mixed feelings, confusion, multiple meanings
- Walter White Jr. often wears striped shirts with multiple colors.
- Hank Schrader wears a red shirt with a black jacket and pants when he visits Walter White, who is wearing beige, in his chemistry classroom about a gas mask belonging to the school that was found in the desert. ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'")
- When Tuco first tries Blue Sky, he says to Walter and Jesse, "Blue, yellow, pink. Whatever, man, just keep bringing me that." ("Seven Thirty-Seven")
- The colors of Jesse's duplex are yellow and red. ("Over")
- The stripes on Jesse's RV are yellow, orange, and red.
- The tarps used by Vamonos Pest, which is used as a cover for Walter's mobile meth lab business, are green and yellow. ("Hazard Pay")
- The colors in the logo of A1A Car Wash, run by Skyler White, are blue and white.
- Saul Goodman wears a beige suit over a pink shirt and purple tie when he visits Skyler White to tell her that Ted Beneke used part of the money she gave him to buy a luxury car. (salud)
- Walter White's master bathroom has yellow and purple walls. ("Gliding Over All")
- The curtains in the White household are striped horizontally with yellow, brown, and sky blue. ("Blood Money")
- Walter White wears a beige, brown, and sky blue robe soon after Hank inspects his chemistry lab for missing lab equipment ("Crazy Handful of Nothin'") and again when he finds Hank's GPS tracker on his car ("Blood Money").
- Jesse Pinkman sits in a gray papasan in front of a swirling blue and green screensaver on the widescreen TV just before he decides to take the $5 million that Walter gave him to Saul Goodman. The colors symbolize his depression and thoughts about money and loyalty. ("Blood Money")
- Saul Goodman wears a green shirt and orange and blue striped tie when Jesse Pinkman drops off $5 million in "blood money" that he wants to be given away. ("Blood Money")
Worn by: Walter White
Symbolism: Nakedness, transparency, having nothing to hide
- In the opening scene of the first episode ("Pilot") Walter White is naked, except for a pair of white underwear and a gas mask, and erratically driving an RV through the desert. He soon pulls the RV to the side of the road and records a confession to his family on a video camera because he thinks he is about to be arrested or killed.
- After escaping from his kidnapper Tuco, Walter White walks naked through a grocery store and pretends not to remember where he's been after he was missing for a few days. ("Bit by a Dead Bee")
- The windshield of Walter White's Pontiac Aztek is broken three separate times in incidents that are a direct or indirect result of his drug activities.
- Vince Gilligan's name is yellow in the opening credits to Breaking Bad.
- Vince Gilligan has been quoted as saying that the last episode ("Felina") will be "polarizing."
- Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan on colour theory, the hardest scene to write and the looming finale