X

10 Shows Like 'Breaking Bad' to Watch Next

In honor of 'Breaking Bad's' anniversary, binge these antihero dramas.

Annie Lyons
screen-shot-2023-01-18-at-3-16-55-pm.png

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

AMC

Fifteen years ago, Breaking Bad introduced viewers to a high school chemistry teacher who would become one of television's most memorable antiheroes: Bryan Cranston's Walter White. 

Created by Vince Gilligan, the AMC crime drama follows Walter's transformation into a ruthless drug kingpin. After being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, he partners with his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to begin producing methamphetamine, in hopes of financially providing for his family before his death. As Walter descends into the local criminal underworld and rises in power, the series examines complex themes about morality and consequences. 

Often regarded by critics as one of the greatest television shows of all time and a staple of the prestige TV era, Breaking Bad has a Metascore of 87. The series premiered in 2008 to mostly positive reviews but rose in critical acclaim with each subsequent season; its fifth and final season has the near-perfect Metascore of 99. Breaking Bad earned 16 Emmy Awards out of a total 58 nominations, including four wins for Cranston and three for Paul in their respective acting categories. 

The show's success also led to a sequel movie, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Metascore: 72), and a spin-off series Better Call Saul, which serves as both a prequel and a sequel to the original show and centers around the moral decline of Walter's lawyer, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Co-created by Gilligan and Breaking Bad writer Peter Gould, Better Call Saul also became the rare spin-off series to achieve similar levels of acclaim as its predecessor and has a Metascore of 86. 

If you're looking for a new show after your latest rewatch of Breaking Bad and have already seen Better Call Saul too, Metacritic has a list of more critically acclaimed crime dramas to add to your watchlist. Many of the entries in this list also feature antiheroes, focus on the drug trade, and examine complex moral dilemmas. 

Here, Metacritic highlights 10 shows like Breaking Bad to watch next, ranked by Metascore. 


the-sopranos-hbo.png

James Gandolfini in 'The Sopranos'

HBO

The Sopranos

Metascore: 94
Best for: Fans of crime dramas that center on antiheroes
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 6

If you're looking to explore the complex mindset of another memorable antihero, Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) might be your man. Gilligan once even said, "Without Tony Soprano, there would be no Walter White." Widely regarded as one of the greatest dramas of all time, The Sopranos examines themes related to the American dream, existentialism, and whether people can change as Tony tries to balance his job's violent demands with his family life. Suffering from panic attacks, he also begins meeting on/off with a psychiatrist. The Sopranos earned 21 Emmy Awards out of a total of 111 nominations, which included nominations for Outstanding Drama Series for each of its six seasons.

"The show is as darkly gleeful as ever, shrewdly and even elegantly put together and, in a way that perhaps no other TV drama series has ever been, troublingly seductive and irresistible." — Tom Shales, Washington Post


the-wire-hbo.png

Michael K. Williams in 'The Wire'

HBO

The Wire

Metascore: 91
Best for: Fans of crime dramas with a dedication to realism
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 5

Hailed for its writing, performances, and realistic portrayals of social issues, The Wire is another crime drama that has been often praised by critics as one of the greatest shows of all time. Created by former police reporter David Simon, the Baltimore-set show examines the characters on both sides of the law, gradually increasing in scope to paint a complex portrait of the institutions that define the city. Season 1 introduces the police department and the leaders of a prominent drug-dealing gang, while subsequent seasons tackle the city port, local government, public schools, and the media. The show received two Emmy Award nominations, both for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. 

"Those along for the ride since the beginning have rightly come to savor this as one of TV's premier hours — a meticulously written, superbly acted program that demands undivided attention." — Brian Lowry, Variety


the-shield-fx.png

Michael Chiklis in 'The Shield'

FX

The Shield

Metascore: 89
Best for: Fans of crime dramas with antiheros and unconventional police procedurals 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 7

Similar to Breaking Bad, this crime drama explores moral corruption through the eyes of an antihero — only, in The Shield's case, its protagonist works on the other side of the law. Michael Chiklis stars as Detective Vic Mackey, a corrupt and brutal cop who leads an experimental division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Vic frequently commits crimes, which he justifies as a means to an end, leaving Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) to wrestle between putting a stop to the unit and his own ambitions to one day become mayor. The Shield received six Emmy Award nominations, with Chiklis's performance earning the show's only win.

"Foul-mouthed, violent and potentially depressing with its unvarnished characters, The Shield also shocks your heart with pounding action and tickles your brain by presenting a cops-and-robbers world where almost everyone is at least morally ambiguous, at worst corrupt." — Jonathan Storm, Philadelphia Inquirer


barry-hbo.png

Bill Hader in 'Barry'

HBO

Barry

Metascore: 88
Best for: Fans of crime thrillers and shows that mix tragedy and comedy
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 3 (so far)

Barry revolves around a mentally unstable but exceptionally lethal hitman who wants to go straight but struggles to leave behind his bloody past and patterns of behavior. Created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, who also stars as the titular character, the show follows Barry after he decides to enroll in an acting class taught by the self-obsessed Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler). The show gradually gets darker in tone and incorporates action setpieces, existential themes, and a satirical take on the entertainment business into its dark comedy. So far, Barry has won nine Emmy Awards out of a total 44 nominations so far, which includes three consecutive nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series.

"The darkness gets darker, yet Barry is sticking to its comedic intent and half-hour format. This is remarkable, given that it plays as intensely and satisfyingly as Breaking Bad once did." — Hank Stuever, Washington Post


deadwood-hbo.png

Timothy Olyphant in 'Deadwood'

HBO

Deadwood

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of Westerns and shows about power struggles
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 3 and a movie

Fans of Breaking Bad's modern day Western feel might also enjoy this outlaw-centric period drama created by David Milch. Starting in 1876, Deadwood explores the power struggles in the lawless titular gold-mining outpost. The show takes ample inspiration from history, combining fiction with real-life people and events, and features a large ensemble cast that includes Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, and Molly Parker. Like Breaking Bad, the show has a sequel film, Deadwood: The Movie (Metascore: 86), which picks up 10 years after the events of the final season. Deadwood earned eight Emmy Awards out of a total 28 nominations, which includes a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. 

"It also showcases Milch's taste for complexity when it comes to both the criminal mind and the lawman's motivations." — Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe


fargo-fx.png

The cast of 'Fargo'

FX

Fargo

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of dark comedies and crime thrillers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 4 (so far) 

Created by Noah Hawley, Fargo takes inspiration from the 1996 film of the same title by the Coen brothers for its atmosphere, style, idiosyncratic characters, and dark, sometimes absurd humor. The anthology show explores different locations and time settings, with each season focusing on a different story with primarily new characters and cast members. Season 1 stars Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo, a hitman whose encounter with mild-mannered insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) sets off a chain of murders in a rural Minnesota town. Fargo has received 22 Emmy Award nominations to date, earning two wins (for Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Directing). 

"The writing in each scene, from extended banter to declarative sentence, is utterly masterful." — Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter


mr-robot-usa.png

Rami Malek in 'Mr. Robot'

USA

Mr. Robot

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of twist-filled thrillers that delve into their main character's psyche
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 4

Created by Sam Esmail, this twist-filled techno-thriller stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a brilliant but antisocial cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker. One day, Elliot is recruited to join an underground hacking group that's striving to take down corporate America, helmed by an enigmatic man known only as Mr. Robot (Christan Slater). However, though Elliot resonates personally with the group's mission, he soon faces a unique moral dilemma when he is tasked with dismantling the very firm that he works for. The reality-bending show received 14 Emmy Award nominations, with Malek taking home one of its three total trophies.

"Sam Esmail's weirdly mesmerizing cyberthriller continues to pull off an audacious feat of boldly original, eerily relevant and daringly surreal storytelling, reminiscent of the visionary cinema of the 1970s." — Matt Roush, TV Guide Magazine


narcos-101-00211r

The cast of 'Narcos'

Netflix

Narcos

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of crime dramas that explore the workings of drug cartels
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 3

Covering the late 1970s through the 1990s, this gritty crime drama examines the rise of the cocaine trade in Colombia from multiple perspectives, focusing both on cartel members and the law enforcement officials trying to take them down. Seasons 1 and 2 center around drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (played by Wagner Moura) and two real-life DEA agents (played by Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal), while Season 3 focuses on the DEA's efforts to stop another cartel's ascension. Some of the cast members also reprised their roles in the spinoff series Narcos: Mexico(Metascore: 80), which explores the development of the illegal drug trade in Mexico. Narcos received three Emmy Award nominations.

"It's built on sharp writing and equally sharp acting, as any good series needs to be." — Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times


sons-of-anarchy-fx.png

Charlie Hunnam in 'Sons of Anarchy'

FX

Sons of Anarchy

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of crime dramas centered around a character's descent into darkness 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons:

For those who appreciate how Breaking Bad often feels Shakespearan in its storytelling, this modern Western-tinged crime drama is loosely inspired by Hamlet. Set in a small California town, Sons of Anarchy follows Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the son of a founding member of an outlaw motorcycle club that's involved in the illegal arms business. After his father's death, Jax must grapple with his role in the organization and the growing tension between his desire to become a law-abiding man and escalating levels of violence. Sons of Anarchy earned five Emmy Award nominations. 

"It's grindhouse and art house, and it carries itself as if it doesn't give a damn what you think of it. And its infuriating push-pull quality is still fascinating." — Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture


ozark-netflix

Jason Bateman in 'Ozark'

Netflix

Ozark

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of gritty and twist-filled crime dramas with antiheroes
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 4

Much like Breaking Bad, Ozark follows a seeming everyman who gets embroiled in the criminal underworld. Only, in financial adviser Marty Byrde's (Jason Bateman) case, his criminal activity quickly becomes a family affair. After a money-laundering scheme for a Mexican drug cartel goes wrong, Marty persuades his boss to let him make amends by setting up a bigger operation in Missouri's remote Lake of the Ozarks region, abruptly relocating his family in the process. The crime drama won four Emmy Awards out of a total 45 nominations. For her performance as local criminal Ruth Langmore, Julia Garner earned particular praise, taking home the prize for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category three times.

"It's not as good as all-time classics like The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad, but it shares the same enquiring nature: intelligently examining the psychology, sociology and economics that fuel crime." — David James, We Got This Covered