Ranking Every Bryan Cranston ‘Seinfeld’ Appearance By How Heisenberg He Was
Although they’re two very different shows, shared similarities do arise between Seinfeld and Breaking Bad, including a shocking number of actors who appeared on both. Bob Odenkirk is Elaine’s “doctor” boyfriend on Seinfeld, while also, of course, filling the role of Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad. Anna Gunn, best known for playing Skyler White, also plays one of Jerry’s girlfriends, who George thinks he sees making out with Jerry’s cousin, Jeffrey. But the most notable actor inhabiting both universes is Bryan Cranston.
Being that most Seinfeld fans’ first experience with the actor was as the dentist Tim Whatley, among the show’s greatest recurring roles, it came as somewhat of a shock to witness Cranston unleashing such a darkly complex and calculated character in Walter White. But beyond the surface differences, Tim Whatley and Heisenberg are more alike than they appear.
Here’s how each of Cranston’s Seinfeld appearances ranks with how “Heisenberg” he was...
How Heisenberg He Was: This episode opens with a scene of Jerry, George and Elaine at Tim Whatley’s Hanukkah party. Whatley, the recent convert, is upbeat and joyful, playfully flirting with Elaine and the other women there — “Happy Hanukkah, Tiffany!” — which is obviously far from the intense, villainous Heisenberg we know from Breaking Bad, which is why it’s ranked last on our list. We also hear that Whatley donated George’s gift to a children’s charity. On Breaking Bad, the only charity Heisenberg ever donates money to is the “Save Walter White” website his son created.
‘The Mom & Pop Store’
How Heisenberg He Was: Much like in “The Strike,” Whatley plays party host, this time on Thanksgiving Eve, as his apartment overlooks the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. Jerry is unsure whether or not he was invited to Whatley’s party, but he decides to attend anyway in hopes of finding a dentist to fix his chipped tooth. Unfortunately, Jerry accidentally knocks a statue of the Empire State Building out the window, popping the Woody Woodpecker balloon and ruining everything. Whatley furiously asks Jerry, “Hey, who invited you anyway? You’re a troublemaker!” This is very much in tune with early Breaking Bad seasons, when Walt would yell at Jesse for pretty much anything, including being “too stupid to follow simple rudimentary instructions.”
‘The Label Maker’
How Heisenberg He Was: Jerry gives Tim Whatley two tickets to the Super Bowl, and Whatley thanks him by sending him a label maker (The Label Baby Junior). When Elaine realizes it’s the same gift she gave Whatley for Christmas, she suspects he’s a re-gifter and invites herself up to his apartment to confirm her hunch. Unfortunately, this gives Whatley the wrong idea. He had invited Newman to the Super Bowl but instead offers the extra ticket to Elaine. After Elaine clarifies that Whatley isn’t going “downtown,” he breaks up with her and gives Jerry the ticket. Jerry sits next to Newman at the game as Whatley and Elaine get back together — “Tim couldn’t make it; he’s in love.”
Throughout, Whatley channels Heisenberg as his behavior is questionable and untrustworthy. As Jerry points out, “I don’t trust this guy. I think he re-gifted, and then he de-gifted, and now he’s using an upstairs invite as a springboard to a Super Bowl sex romp!” Whatley also recalls Heisenberg’s “I am the one who knocks!” speech to Skyler when he yells at Elaine about the defective label maker she gifted him, telling her, “It was the worst gift I ever got!”
‘The Yada Yada’
How Heisenberg He Was: In “The Yada Yada,” Jerry suspects that Whatley converted to Judaism “just for the jokes.” Jerry is offended that Whatley is telling both Jewish and Catholic jokes, which Jerry exposes to Father Curtis. In the process, Jerry makes up his own joke: “You know the difference between a dentist and a sadist, don’t you? Newer magazines.” This joke gets back to Whatley, and Jerry is deemed an anti-dentite.
Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, described Walter White as going from “Mr. Chips to Scarface” to illustrate his full transformation. In this Seinfeld episode, we witness Whatley’s transformation from Catholic to his new Jewish identity. Walter famously says on Breaking Bad, “I am awake,” when explaining to Jesse why he suddenly went from boring high-school chemistry teacher to cooking and selling methamphetamine. Although very different, we see a rebirth in Whatley here, too.
There is also a scene at the end of the episode where Whatley totally embodies the Heisenberg persona. Jerry appears to be in pain while he sits in the dentist’s chair. As Whatley works on his mouth. Jerry asks, “Are you about done?,” to which Whatley replies in a deep, slow, Heisenberg-like voice, as he’s holding a scray-looking dental instrument, “I’m just getting warmed up — because I’m just a sadist with newer magazines.”
Maybe Jerry’s best course of action would be to “tread lightly.”
How Heisenberg He Was: Whatley makes his most Heisenberg-like appearance in “The Jimmy,” where Jerry goes to Whatley for a filling and is put to sleep with nitrous oxide for the procedure. Upon awakening, Jerry sees Whatley and the hygienist getting dressed and worries that Whatley did something unsavory while he was asleep. It turns out that Whatley uses nitrous oxide to drug his patients for his own personal fun, which is similar to Heisenberg’s opportunistic traits, always looking for opportunities to advance his “empire business” through illegal activity.
Whatley’s waiting room also has Penthouse magazines, and his “Adults Only” policy is sketchy and raises even more questions about his character. His mannerisms are different in this episode as well. He wears an earring and takes a big whiff of the nitrous before giving it to Jerry. In fact, Jerry asks Elaine, “Is this guy a dentist or Caligula?” He may as well have said, “Is this guy a dentist or Heisenberg?”