‘Breaking Bad’: Meet a Real-Life Saul Goodman Todd Levitt


 In the last episode of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” the attorney, Saul Goodman, never appeared. One criminal defense lawyer, a real-life Saul of sorts, Todd Levitt, says the show would have ended quite differently had someone just phoned Saul.


Photo by Ursula Coyote/ AMC

“Right when Walt was leaving to go out to the desert, he should have called Saul at that time and then Saul would have diverted the whole situation,” says Todd. (He may be a bit partial to Saul, as his actual attorney advertisements read “Better Call Todd.”)

“As an attorney, myself, I would have averted that whole situation,” says Todd. “I would have found Walt and kept him in my presence till he calmed down. I would not have allowed him to go out to that desert.”


Poetic Justice in ‘Ozymandias’

“Ozymandias,” the title of the last episode of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad,’ comes from an 1818 poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The poem’s metaphor for the fall of the ‘King of Kings,’ ”Ozymandias,” is a statue crumbling in the desert. After the hired assassin, Uncle Jack, shoots Walt’s brother-in-law Hank, Walt collapses, falling into the sands of the New Mexico desert.

Merriam-Webster defines poetic justice as “a result or occurrence that seems proper because someone who has done bad things to other people is being harmed or punished.” The full definition adds that usually the punishment is ironically appropriate.

In defending and expanding his crystal meth empire, Walt engaged in international drug trafficking, laundered money, committed extortion and murder. In “Ozymandias,” he loses $69 million of his $80 million drug money profits to white supremacist killers. The neo-Nazis take Jesse to torture him and force him to cook meth, while hooked to chain. Walt’s son learns the truth about his father’s drug dealing and the murder of Hank. Walt’s wife, Skylar, refuses to support and follow him any longer. Walt’s son calls the police on his father. After struggling in a knife fight with Skylar, in a pained, confused jumble, Walt utters, “We’re a family. We’re a family.” But he has lost his family — ironically the initial justification for choosing his path of crime.


For Realistic Legal Justice, Better Call…Todd?


Todd Levitt

Todd comes close to any real-life, ethical version of Saul, whom an actual criminal defendant could retain.  He describes a resemblance to Saul in personality and style. “I’m very flamboyant. I’m outgoing, aggressive and I’m surrounded by different characters, similar to the show.”

But Todd draws the line between legal advocacy and criminal conduct that practicing lawyers would not cross.

“Saul’s involved in criminal activities and I’m not. I don’t assist people in laundering money. I don’t assist people that I know are breaking the law or about to break the law. I have an obligation and a duty not to allow that to happen. In that sense we are completely distinguishable. But we are similar in that I also fight with vigor for my clients and I have a cast of clients who would be stars on any reality show.”

As Todd’s Mount Pleasant, Mich. clients include crystal meth dealers, he has sympathy for Walt and Jesse. He has represented people, who have overdosed or ruined their lives with drugs. Todd doesn’t see street level drug dealers as people to give up on, but as underdogs to root for because they are fighting against overwhelming odds.  Does that sound familiar to any “Breaking Bad” fans?

Watch our Lawyers.com interview of Todd in the video box above to gain another perspective of the worlds that inform “Breaking Bad.” Todd describes a couple of his stranger-than-fiction cases. One involves perhaps a guilty conscience, a more realistic version of Jesse’s throwing millions of dollars out of his car.