Breaking Bad 

Better Call Saul: Every Theory On Why Howard Isn’t In Breaking Bad

The smarmy Howard Hamlin is one of Better Call Saul's lead characters, but isn't referenced at all in Breaking Bad. Here's every theory as to why.

Where does Howard go once Better Call Saul ends and Breaking Bad begins? Premiering in 2015, Better Call Saul serves as a prequel/sequel to Vince Gilligan’s seminal Breaking Bad and delves into the backstories of Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman and Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut. However, Better Call Saul also introduces an entirely new group of characters, every bit of colorful and fascinating as the cast of Breaking Bad. These newbies include Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler and Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin, neither of which are seen or spoken of whatsoever in Breaking Bad.

With each passing season, Better Call Saul has closed in on the timeline of its predecessor, and as the sixth and final run approaches, Better Call Saul season 6 looks set to take Jimmy and Mike right to the edge of their Breaking Bad stories, setting the board for the emergence of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Before then, Better Call Saul has a series of unresolved points to address, including the fates of Kim and Howard. Why doesn’t Jimmy, or any other character, mention this duo in Breaking Bad?

RELATED: Breaking Bad: Everything We Know About Gus Fring Before Better Call Saul

Kim’s absence is the most obvious disconnect between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, but Howard’s fate also sits near the top of Better Call Saul season 6’s to-do list. Given how intertwined Jimmy and Howard are in the prequel series, there must be an in-story explanation for why Jimmy stops mentioning the golden-haired legal eagle when Walter White walks through his door. Here is every theory pertaining to Breaking Bad‘s distinct lack of Howard Hamlin.

Howard’s Reputation Is Ruined By Jimmy & Kim

Howard Hamlin fires Chuck on the phone in Better Call Saul

The most obvious end for Howard Hamlin was teased at the very end of Better Call Saul season 5 – Jimmy and Kim conspire to ruin their old friend’s career. As much as Better Call Saul has been about the gradual moral decline of Jimmy McGill, the prequel has subtly charted the fall of Kim Wexler too, and this arc kicked into an entirely new gear with season 5’s finale. Ever since the early days of Better Call Saul, Kim has been unable to resist joining in with Jimmy’s cons, from tricking businessmen in bars to the famous Huell Babineaux scam, and Jimmy has delighted in bonding with Kim over their illicit exploits. But as Jimmy became involved with the cartel, he tried desperately to keep Kim from harm – until harm came knocking in the form of Lalo Salamanca. Against expectations, Kim’s brush with gang crime stoked a fire within her, and in Better Call Saul‘s season 5 finale, she suggests ruining Howard Hamlin’s reputation to speed up the Sandpiper case and earn themselves a hefty payday. While Kim talks excitedly, even Jimmy is uncomfortable at the suggestion.

Kim and Jimmy’s plan to ruin Howard will transpire in Better Call Saul‘s final season, and if their track record is anything to by go, the devilish duo will succeed. Jimmy’s ruthlessness and charisma combined with Kim’s intelligence and experience is a deadly combination that the blinkered Howard would struggle to counter. For all his courtroom acumen, Howard has never been an expert at reading people, Kim and Jimmy especially. If his legal reputation were ruined and Howard was forced to quit or sell HHM, this would satisfactorily explain why he doesn’t appear in Breaking Bad. Without a law firm, Howard would have no bearing on Jimmy McGill’s future. He’d more likely retreat into a corner and weep gently for the rest of his days.

Howard Goes To Jail Because Of Jimmy & Kim

Better Call Saul Season 5 Ending Kim

Jimmy possesses an uncanny ability to talk his way into (and usually back out of) trouble, and since the Howard scam could be the very final McGill con in Better Call Saul, this habit is unlikely to change. So while Jimmy and Kim might set out to ruin Howard’s reputation, embarrass him and ride off into the sunset with their Sandpiper cash, their plot could easily edge too far and result in Howard heading directly to jail without passing Go or collecting $200. There’s a very fine balance between framing Howard for something bad enough to ruin his career, but not creating a situation that might land him behind bars, and in Kim’s enthusiasm to bring Howard down, that line could be crossed, accidentally or otherwise. If Jimmy and Kim’s plan inadvertently landed Howard in jail, the smarmy lawyer’s absence in Breaking Bad would be accounted for, but might also explain why Jimmy and Kim are no longer together. If one of the pair is willing to send Howard down and the other isn’t, a irreconcilable wedge could be driven between husband and wife. After all, Howard is an innocent (if incredibly annoying) man.

RELATED: Better Call Saul: Where Breaking Bad’s Walt & Jesse Are During The Prequel

Howard Dies In Better Call Saul Season 6

Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin in Better Call Saul

The Better Call Saul Howard Hamlin theories get gradually darker – could the character be killed off in season 6, instead of just ruined professionally or sent to jail? Better Call Saul has largely comprised two separate narratives – Jimmy’s legal shenanigans, and Mike’s evolving business relationship with the cartel. After a few minor dalliances in previous seasons, Better Call Saul season 5 finally intertwined those two stories, bringing Kim Wexler into the mob fold via the dangerous Lalo Salamanca. It’s widely expected that Better Call Saul‘s final season will bring the spin-off’s two stories even closer together, and this means the squeaky-clean Howard could potentially become embroiled in the murky world of the cartel.

Better Call Saul season 5 ends with Jimmy under the false impression that Lalo has been “taken care of.” Inevitably, Jimmy and Kim will begin their plan to take down Howard in season 6, only to receive the nasty surprise that Lalo is both alive and well, and on the warpath against those who wronged him. Faced with two considerable mountains to climb, Jimmy might unwisely decide to kill two birds with one stone and ruin Howard Hamlin by implicating HHM with the cartel. If Howard’s “connection” to the cartel became known, he would lose his business and suffer a more severe blow to his reputation than being visited by prostitutes during a lunch meeting. At the same time, using Howard as a human shield could take the Salamanca heat off Jimmy and Kim. Naturally, this plan could only end badly, and Howard’s inexperience dealing with hardened criminals could earn him a one-way trunk trip to the Albuquerque desert. As with the jail theory, causing Howard’s death might then create an insurmountable rift in Jimmy and Kim’s relationship.

In an even more sinister turn of events, Howard might take his own life in Better Call Saul season 6. Howard’s legal profession is his life, and if the Wexler/McGill tandem deprives him of that, Howard would be in an even darker place than he was after Chuck’s death, potentially leading to a suicide attempt. This would, of course, act as a parallel to Chuck. Jimmy marred his brother’s reputation in court, and Chuck later set fire to his own house. As Jimmy and Kim set their sights on Howard, history could repeat itself, forcing Jimmy to finally deal with the pent-up emotions and guilt around Chuck’s demise.

Howard Is Forced To Flee Albuquerque In Better Call Saul Season 6

Thanks to a wonderful acting performance, the Howard Hamlin character is gloriously unlikable in Better Call Saul. From his sanitized corporate smile to his personalized “Namaste” registration plate, the audience can’t help but despise Patrick Fabian’s character, and cheer every time Jimmy or Kim get one over on the annoyingly insincere HHM boss. Even in Better Call Saul‘s latest season, Howard is painted as a pathetic figure, and there’s a dark satisfaction when Jimmy hurls bowling bowls onto his luxury car. Consequently, sending Howard to jail or killing him off might not evoke the intended emotions of sadness and sympathy. Viewers should feel sorry for Howard, but after five seasons of watching him belittle and frustrate Better Call Saul‘s protagonist, would a dark conclusion to Howard’s story land as intended with fans?

RELATED: Better Call Saul: Who Did Lalo Salamanca Kill? Fred Whalen Explained

With this in mind, Howard’s final scene in Better Call Saul could be running away, tail firmly between his legs. After being humiliated by Jimmy and Kim’s plan, the eternally proud Howard may be unable to face the residents of Albuquerque a second longer, skipping town for a fresh start. It would be an incredibly “Howard” ending to bid farewell to Jimmy and Kim by revealing he knew they were behind his downfall all along, but refused to snitch. Howard rides off into the distance with the moral high ground and his dignity (mostly) intact. Alternatively, Howard could be forced to leave Albuquerque after Jimmy involves him with the cartel, fleeing for his life rather than walking away with his pride. Leaving town before the start of Breaking Bad would explain Howard’s absence without his story taking a darker turn.

Howard Could Be Around In Breaking Bad (But Not Seen)

Walter White and Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad

Kim Wexler’s Breaking Bad absence needs to be explained. She and Jimmy are so close in Better Call Saul that the actions of Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad make little sense while Kim is still involved, especially Jimmy’s eventual escape to Omaha through Ed Galbraith. The same can’t be said for Howard Hamlin. Even if Howard survives Better Call Saul, stays out of jail, rescues his career and remains a resident of Albuquerque, his absence in Breaking Bad doesn’t automatically create a plot hole. By the end of Better Call Saul season 5, HHM was already a shadow of its former glory, and the same could be said of Howard as a man. It’s entirely plausible that Jimmy could conduct his Walter White business in Breaking Bad without ever crossing paths with Howard or needing to drop the character into conversation. Jimmy hasn’t been able to shake Howard so far in Better Call Saul, so season 6 would at least need to explain Jimmy’s decision to “move on” from Howard, but the solution doesn’t need to be as game-changing as Kim’s fate.

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