James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill, also known as Saul Goodman and Gene, is a fictional character who appears in the television series Breaking Bad and serves as the title character of its spin-off prequel series Better Call Saul. He is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk, and was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. Saul's name is a play on the phrase "S'all good, man."
Better Call Saul revolves around the life of Jimmy McGill beginning around 2002, prior to (and, to a limited extent, after) the events of Breaking Bad. McGill starts the series as a talented but unsuccessful lawyer overshadowed by his older brother Chuck, working closely with his fellow attorney and on-off partner Kim Wexler. The first season follows his attempts to transform himself from a con man to a legitimate lawyer, while cutting ethical corners and facing roadblocks from Chuck. He adopts the alias "Saul Goodman" during the third season of the series, though not as an attorney, but as a TV commercial producer.
In Breaking Bad, the character is introduced to help Walter White launder the proceeds of his methamphetamine production, and later introduces the protagonists to drug kingpin Gus Fring. He is depicted as using tacky television commercials to advertise his practice, which is based in a strip mall office that features a giant rendering of the United States Constitution. Until the final episodes of the series, he is portrayed as a relatively light-hearted character, mainly interested in profiting while other characters are concerned with life and death. By the end of the series, when Walt's drug empire has collapsed, Saul is forced to go into hiding under a new identity.
The season premieres of Better Call Saul open with black and white flash forwards that take place after the events of Breaking Bad, showing that after leaving Albuquerque, Saul relocates to Omaha, Nebraska under the alias "Gene", and keeps a low profile as the manager of a Cinnabon establishment.
The character was originally intended to appear in only three episodes of Breaking Bad, but instead became central to the narrative of the series. The creators decided on the name "Saul Goodman" as a play on the phrase "S'all good, man," as in that even his most simple-minded clients would remember his name when they get arrested.
Odenkirk described Saul in Breaking Bad as a "front" who "seemed to enjoy being a showy cheeseball," while in Better Call Saul, Jimmy is an "earnest, sweet guy whose brain naturally cooks up dishonest solutions to the challenges in front of him." Gould described Saul as a "hermetically sealed slickster."
In 2014, as a publicity stunt for the launch of Better Call Saul, a billboard for "James M. McGill, Attorney at Law" was placed in Albuquerque, mimicking a billboard that appeared on the show, with a phone number connecting to a voice mail message recorded by Odenkirk.
For the first, second, and third seasons of Better Call Saul, Odenkirk was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.