Vince Gilligan

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Vince Gilligan
Vince Gilligan by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Gilligan in May 2018
George Vincent Gilligan Jr.

(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967 (age 57)
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
  • director
Years active1992–present
Holly Rice
(m. 1991)

George Vincent Gilligan Jr. (born February 10, 1967) is an American screenwriter, producer, and director. He is the creator, primary writer, executive producer, and occasional director of the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad (2008–2013) and its spin-off prequel series Better Call Saul (2015–2022). He also wrote, directed, and produced the Breaking Bad sequel film El Camino (2019).


Gilligan's other work includes writing, directing, and producing some episodes of the Fox science fiction series The X-Files (1993–2002) and co-creating its spin-off series The Lone Gunmen (2001), as well as co-writing the screenplay for the superhero film Hancock (2008). He has won four Primetime Emmy Awards, six Writers Guild of America Awards, two Critics' Choice Television Awards, two Producers Guild of America Awards, a Directors Guild of America Award, and a BAFTA Television Award.

Early life

George Vincent Gilligan Jr. was born in Richmond, Virginia, on February 10, 1967, [1] the son of grade school teacher Gail and insurance claims adjuster George Vincent Gilligan Sr. [2] He was raised Catholic but would later describe himself as "pretty much agnostic". [3] His parents divorced in 1974. He and his younger brother Patrick were raised in Farmville and Chesterfield County, where they attended J.P. Wynne Campus School, the laboratory school run by Longwood College where their mother also taught; Gilligan would later use the J.P. Wynne name for the fictional high school where Walter White teaches in Breaking Bad. [1] [4] [5]

Growing up, Gilligan became best friends with future film editor and film title designer Angus Wall. His interest in film began when Wall's mother Jackie, who also taught alongside Gilligan's mother at J.P. Wynne, would lend her Super 8 film cameras to him. He used the camera to make science fiction films with Patrick. [6] One of his first films was entitled Space Wreck, starring Patrick in the lead role. One year later, he won first prize for his age group in a film competition at the University of Virginia. [1] Jackie would take Wall and Gilligan to Richmond and drop them off at Cloverleaf Mall to see films, encouraging both of them to pursue a career in the arts. Gilligan later said, "I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for Jackie. She was a wonderful lady and a real inspiration." [6]

Gilligan was recognized for his talents and creativity at an early age. His father described him as a "kind of a studious-type young man, and he liked to read, and he had a vivid imagination". He introduced Gilligan to film noir classics, as well as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood Westerns on late-night television. [6] Gilligan won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts. After eighth grade, he moved back to Chesterfield to attend Lloyd C. Bird High School. [1] After graduating from Lloyd C. Bird High School in 1985, he went on to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts on a scholarship, receiving a BFA in film production. [7] While at NYU, he wrote the screenplay for Home Fries and received the Virginia Governor's Screenwriting Award in 1989 for the screenplay, which was later turned into a film. [4] One of the judges of the competition was film producer Mark Johnson, who was impressed by Gilligan and called him "the most imaginative writer" he had ever read. [6] Gilligan also studied holography under Jason Sapan at Holographic Studios in New York City. [8]


The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen

Gilligan's big break came when he joined the Fox television drama The X-Files . Gilligan was a fan of the show, and submitted a script to Fox which became the second-season episode "Soft Light". [9] He went on to write 29 more episodes, in addition to being co-executive producer of 44 episodes, executive producer of 40, co-producer of 24, and supervising producer of 20. He also co-created and became executive producer of The X-Files spin-off series The Lone Gunmen . The series only ran for one season of 13 episodes.

Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and El Camino

Gilligan in 2010 Vince Gilligan 2010.jpg
Gilligan in 2010

Gilligan created, wrote, directed, and produced the AMC drama series Breaking Bad . He created the series with the premise that the hero would become the villain. "Television is historically good at keeping its characters in a self-imposed stasis so that shows can go on for years or even decades", he said. "When I realized this, the logical next step was to think, how can I do a show in which the fundamental drive is toward change?" [10] He added that his goal with Walter White was to turn him from "Mr. Chips into Scarface". [11] While pitching the show to studios, Gilligan was initially discouraged when he learned of the existing series Weeds and its similarities to the premise of Breaking Bad. While his producers convinced him that the show was different enough to still be successful, he later stated that he would not have gone forward with the idea had he known about Weeds earlier. [12]

Breaking Bad received widespread critical acclaim and has been praised by many critics as being among the greatest television dramas of all time. [10] Gilligan has been awarded numerous times for writing, directing, and producing the series. The Writers Guild of America has awarded him four times in straight succession, from 2012 to 2014; three as a part of the Breaking Bad writing team and one individually for writing the episode "Box Cutter". [13] [14] [15] He also received two Primetime Emmys in 2013 and 2014 for producing the show. In 2014, he won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for directing the finale of Breaking Bad, "Felina". [16]

In September 2013, Sony Pictures Television announced a deal with AMC to produce a Breaking Bad spin-off prequel entitled Better Call Saul, to focus on character Saul Goodman from the original series, before he became Walter White 's lawyer, and to star Bob Odenkirk reprising his role as the title character. [17] Gilligan co-created the series with Breaking Bad writer Peter Gould, with both of them acting as showrunners. The first episode, which Gilligan directed and co-wrote, premiered on February 8, 2015. [18] He would leave the Better Call Saul writing staff early in the third season to focus on other projects, resulting in Gould becoming sole showrunner. This transition had been planned since the show's debut. [19] Gilligan remained involved in Better Call Saul's production in a reduced role, directing episodes in the fourth and fifth seasons, before returning to the writers room in the sixth. [20] [21] [22]

In July 2018, it was announced that Gilligan had agreed to stay with Sony TV on a new three-year deal. [23] His deal via his High Bridge Productions company was renewed in 2021. [24]

Gilligan quietly developed the script for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie , which wraps up the story of Jesse Pinkman following the events of "Felina", Breaking Bad's finale, ahead of the show's tenth anniversary. Gilligan subsequently led its direction and filming. The movie was released in a limited theatrical screening and on Netflix in October 2019. [25]

Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and El Camino, along with various short-form web series associated with these series, have been described informally by the shows' staff and fans as the "Gilliverse". [26] Following the broadcast run of Better Call Saul, Gilligan said he does not plan to create any more works related to Breaking Bad. [27]

Battle Creek

In September 2013, Sony struck a deal with CBS to produce a new television series created by Gilligan and David Shore entitled Battle Creek . Based on a script written by Gilligan ten years prior, the show follows the partnership of two police detectives who must compete with a seemingly-perfect FBI agent. Gilligan co-wrote the first episode with Shore, the showrunner of the series. [28] CBS ordered thirteen episodes and the series aired on CBS starting March 1, 2015. [29] CBS decided not to renew the series for a second season. [30]


After Better Call Saul finished its run, Gilligan worked on a new show, a science fiction genre piece that has been compared to The X-Files and The Twilight Zone . [31] The show, Wycaro, received a two-season order from Apple TV+ in September 2022, with confirmation that Rhea Seehorn, who played Kim Wexler on Better Call Saul, would be in a starring role. [32] [33]

Other work


Gilligan first had a screenplay produced in 1993 for the romantic comedy film Wilder Napalm . While working on The X-Files, one of Gilligan's early screenplays was produced in 1998 as a film, Home Fries , which starred Drew Barrymore and Luke Wilson. [34] He also rewrote the screenplay for the 2008 Will Smith film Hancock , which was originally written by Vincent Ngo. [35]


Gilligan was hired by The X-Files creator Chris Carter to be a consulting producer on his new series Harsh Realm . After The X-Files, Gilligan wrote an episode of the short lived police procedural series Robbery Homicide Division and an episode of the ABC series Night Stalker . Gilligan made his acting debut in 2014 in "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing", the ninth episode of the fifth season of NBC's comedy series Community . He plays a cheesy actor hosting "Pile of Bullets", a fictional 1990s VCR-based video game. [36]

Unrealized projects

In 2007, Gilligan and fellow The X-Files producer Frank Spotnitz wrote a sci-fi pilot entitled A.M.P.E.D. , which was not picked up for a full series.

In 2016, it was announced that Gilligan would be developing an HBO limited miniseries about Jim Jones and the 1978 Jonestown tragedy. The series would be based on the 1982 non-fiction book Raven , and would be co-produced by Octavia Spencer and Gilligan's longtime collaborator Michelle MacLaren. [37] However, in 2018, Gilligan said that he had slowed down on developing the project. [38]

Personal life

Gilligan married Holly Rice in 1991. [2] [39] They have no children.

Raised Catholic before becoming agnostic in adulthood, Gilligan said of his beliefs in 2011, "I find atheism just as hard to get my head around as I find fundamental Christianity. Because if there is no such thing as cosmic justice, what is the point of being good? [...] I feel some sort of need for biblical atonement, or justice, or something. I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen. [Holly] says this great thing that's become my philosophy as well: 'I want to believe there's a Heaven, but I can't not believe there's a Hell.'" [3]


Gilligan and Aaron Paul in June 2010 Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul cropped.jpg
Gilligan and Aaron Paul in June 2010


1993 Wilder Napalm NoYesNo
1998 Home Fries NoYesNo
2008 Hancock NoYesNoCo-written with Vincent Ngo
2019 El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie YesYesYes


YearTitleCreatorDirectorWriterExecutive producerNotes
1995–2002 The X-Files NoYesYesYesAlso creative consultant, consulting producer, co-executive producer and co-producer
1999–2000 Harsh Realm NoNoNoConsulting
2001 The Lone Gunmen YesNoYesYesCo-created with Chris Carter, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
2002 Robbery Homicide Division NoNoYesNo
2005 The Night Stalker NoNoYesNo
2007 A.M.P.E.D. YesNoYesYes Pilot
Co-written with Frank Spotnitz
2008–2013 Breaking Bad YesYesYesYes
2015–2022 Better Call Saul YesYesYesYesCo-created with Peter Gould
2015 Battle Creek YesNoYesYesCo-created with David Shore
TBA Untitled Vince Gilligan TV series YesNoYesYesUpcoming series

Television episode credits

YearShowSeasonEpisode numberEpisode titleDirectorWriterOriginal airdateNotes
1995 The X-Files 2 23"Soft Light"NoYesMay 5, 1995
1996 3 17"Pusher"NoYesFebruary 23, 1996
4 4"Unruhe"NoYesOctober 27, 1996
10"Paper Hearts"NoYesDecember 15, 1996
199712"Leonard Betts"NoYesJanuary 26, 1997Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
14"Memento Mori"NoYesFebruary 9, 1997Co-written with Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban
20"Small Potatoes"NoYesApril 20, 1997
5 3"Unusual Suspects"NoYesNovember 16, 1997
6"Christmas Carol"NoYesDecember 7, 1997Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
7"Emily"NoYesDecember 14, 1997Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
19988"Kitsunegari"NoYesJanuary 4, 1998Co-written with Tim Minear
12"Bad Blood"NoYesFebruary 22, 1998
19"Folie a Deux"NoYesMay 10, 1998
6 2"Drive"NoYesNovember 15, 1998
4"Dreamland"NoYesNovember 29, 1998Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
5"Dreamland II"NoYesDecember 6, 1998Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
199910"Tithonus"NoYesJanuary 24, 1999
14"Monday"NoYesFebruary 28, 1999Co-written with John Shiban
20"Three of a Kind"NoYesMay 2, 1999Co-written with John Shiban
21"Field Trip"NoYesMay 9, 1999Teleplay co-written with John Shiban (story by Frank Spotnitz)
7 3"Hungry"NoYesNovember 21, 1999
4"Millennium"NoYesNovember 28, 1999Co-written with Frank Spotnitz
20008"The Amazing Maleeni"NoYesJanuary 16, 2000Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
12"X-Cops"NoYesFebruary 20, 2000
14"Theef"NoYesMarch 12, 2000Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
21"Je Souhaite"YesYesMay 14, 2000
8 4"Roadrunners"NoYesNovember 26, 2000
2001 The Lone Gunmen 11"Pilot"NoYesMarch 4, 2001Co-written with Chris Carter, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
2"Bond, Jimmy Bond"NoYesMarch 11, 2001Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
7"Planet of the Frohikes"NoYesApril 6, 2001
8"Maximum Byers"NoYesApril 13, 2001Co-written with Frank Spotnitz
12"All About Yves"NoYesMay 11, 2001Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
13"The Cap'n Toby Show"NoYesJune 1, 2001Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
2002 The X-Files 9 7"John Doe"NoYesJanuary 13, 2002
15"Jump the Shark"NoYesApril 21, 2002Co-written with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
18"Sunshine Days"YesYesMay 12, 2002
Robbery Homicide Division 14"Free and Clear"NoYesOctober 18, 2002
2005 Night Stalker 110"What's the Frequency, Kolchak?"NoYesMarch 17, 2006
2007A.M.P.E.D.PilotNoYesUnairedCo-written with Frank Spotnitz
2008 Breaking Bad 1 1"Pilot"YesYesJanuary 20, 2008
2"Cat's in the Bag..."NoYesJanuary 27, 2008
3"...And the Bag's in the River"NoYesFebruary 10, 2008
4"Cancer Man"NoYesFebruary 17, 2008
2009 2 6"Peekaboo"NoYesApril 12, 2009Co-written with J. Roberts
13"ABQ"NoYesMay 31, 2009
2010 3 1"No Más"NoYesMarch 21, 2010
13"Full Measure"YesYesJune 13, 2010
2011 4 1"Box Cutter"NoYesJuly 17, 2011
12"End Times"YesNoOctober 2, 2011
13"Face Off"YesYesOctober 9, 2011
2012 5 1"Live Free or Die"NoYesJuly 15, 2012
2"Madrigal"NoYesJuly 22, 2012
201316"Felina"YesYesSeptember 29, 2013
2015 Battle Creek 11"The Battle Creek Way"NoYesMarch 1, 2015Co-written with David Shore
Better Call Saul 1 1"Uno"YesYesFebruary 8, 2015Co-written with Peter Gould
2016 2 10"Klick"YesYesApril 18, 2016Co-written with Heather Marion
2017 3 1"Mabel"YesYesApril 10, 2017Co-written with Peter Gould
2"Witness"YesNoApril 17, 2017
2018 4 9"Wiedersehen"YesNoOctober 1, 2018
2020 5 8"Bagman"YesNoApril 6, 2020
2022 6 2"Carrot and Stick"YesNoApril 18, 2022
8"Point and Shoot"YesNoJuly 11, 2022
12"Waterworks"YesYesAugust 8, 2022


2014 Community Devon / Pile of Bullets' HostEpisode: "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing"
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! The CommissionerEpisode: "Lil Jon Wears a Baseball Cap and Sunglasses"
2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Axalon (voice)Episode: "Mr. Rippen"
2018 American Dad! Himself (voice)Episode: "(You Gotta) Strike for Your Right"
2019 What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage HimselfEpisode: “Spoiler”

Awards and nominations

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