The Evolution of Crime Dramas: A Look at “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos”

The Evolution of Crime Dramas: A Look at “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos”


Crime dramas have always been a staple of television entertainment. From classics like “The Sopranos” to modern hits like “Mindhunter,” the genre has proven its lasting appeal. However, two series have particularly redefined this category: “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos.” Let’s dive into how these shows have set new standards for storytelling, character development, and realism in crime dramas.

Setting the Stage: Crime Dramas Before “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos”

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand the landscape of crime dramas prior to the entrance of these giants. Earlier shows often focused on police procedurals or detective stories. Shows like “Law & Order” typified the genre with a “case of the week” format. Though compelling, these series often lacked the layered storytelling and character arcs that modern audiences crave.

The “Breaking Bad” Revolution: Storytelling and Moral Ambiguity

When Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad” hit the screens in 2008, it was a game-changer. The show explored the life of Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine manufacturer.

Character Arcs That Stick

One of the standout aspects of “Breaking Bad” is the compelling character arcs. Walter White’s journey from a timid teacher to a drug lord has been praised as one of the greatest character developments in television history.

Moral Ambiguity

Breaking Bad doesn’t give you clear heroes or villains. The ambiguity in characters’ moral stances is a key feature that added layers of complexity to the storytelling.

Links to Dive Deeper

“Narcos” and Realism: How True Events Impact Narrative

“Narcos,” which premiered in 2015, took a different route by focusing on the real-life story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The show garnered attention for its commitment to realism and accuracy.

Grounded in Reality

One of the standout features is how “Narcos” stays true to real-life events, right down to the utilization of archival footage. This adds an extra layer of credibility and engagement to the series.

The Power of a Global Perspective

“Narcos” doesn’t just focus on the drug dealers; it gives a well-rounded view, including the law enforcement side and even the political implications involved in drug trade.

Links to Dive Deeper in Drug Related Crime Dramas

Comparing the Two: What Sets Them Apart?

While both series belong to the crime drama genre, their approach to storytelling, character development, and realism varies greatly.

“Breaking Bad” vs. “Narcos”: A Storytelling Perspective of Crime Dramas

“Breaking Bad” relies heavily on character development and intricate plotting, while “Narcos” leans more towards a biographical narrative.

Moral Questions: Who Does it Better?

Both shows bring the viewer to confront moral issues, albeit in different ways. “Breaking Bad” does it through its characters, and “Narcos” through its real-world implications.

Links to Comparative Studies


Both “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos” have revolutionized the crime drama genre in their own unique ways. “Breaking Bad” set a new standard for character development and moral complexity, while “Narcos” has brought an unprecedented level of realism to the table. Each has its merits, and together, they offer viewers a comprehensive look at what modern crime dramas can achieve.

Further Reading

There you have it! A deep dive into the groundbreaking impacts of “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos” on the crime drama genre. Whether you’re a fan of character arcs or you prefer your stories steeped in real-world complexity, these shows have something for everyone.

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