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Vince Gilligan: Astrologically “Breaking Bad”

The hottest Hollywood property these days is arguably Vince Gilligan, the creator and  executive producer of “Breaking Bad,” the critically acclaimed and iconically revered television drama now broadcasting its final eight episodes.

The narrative premise of “Breaking Bad” is hardly mainstream: As the series starts, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a milquetoast-type high school chemistry teacher, with a wife, a child, and a second one on the way, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Highly motivated to provide financially for his brood, he decides to use his skill set to cook exceptionally high-quality meth, and enlists the help of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a chem-inept former student with drug connections.

Describing the series as a tale of Mr. Chips becoming Scarface, Gilligan, who also writes and directs for the series, has now paved the way for his protagonist — currently a drug kingpin who’s created a persona for himself called “Heisenberg” — to take whatever justice Gilligan and his team of writers have decided to mete out.

But for the astrologically minded, perhaps the bigger question is not how “Breaking Bad” ends, but what makes Vince Gilligan capable of descending, via his birth chart, to the hellish depths that Walter White now calls home.

Vince Gilligan, sunrise chart

Here are some answers:

1. Out-of-the-box thinking. As an Aquarian, born February 10, 1967, in Richmond, Virginia (source: Wikipedia; no birth time listed), Gilligan espouses non-conformity. So does White, by virtue of his choosing the anarchistic profession of meth maker and dealer. The Aquarian bent for reveling in decimating old structures and ways of thinking is mirrored in White, who essentially explodes his old self, metaphorically wakes up, and reinvents himself. White becomes a revolutionary, replacing one form of death for another.

Even the show’s title, “Breaking Bad,” smacks of Uranian energy. It’s a phrase used in the southern part of the U.S. and refers to swerving off the moral path. That sudden lurch — White’s decision was relatively spontaneous — is a spot-on description of the archetype.

2. Yod with apex to Aquarian Sun. Gilligan’s Sun is at 21° Aquarius, the apex of a yod in which the planets in sextile are Pluto at 20° Virgo conjunct Uranus at 24° Virgo, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer. Gilligan’s proclivities to turn the expected upside down — his futuristic side had found a nice home writing and producing for the sci-fi series “The X-Files” — gets an additional boost from Pluto’s and Uranus’s delight in life-and-death transformations, as well as Jupiter’s expansive desire to nurture and be involved with family.

The effects of the yod’s energy are a strong presence in “Breaking Bad”: White’s motive for getting into the meth business — the decision (Sun) that upheaves (Uranus)  his life — is to expand (Jupiter) resources for his family in the face of his impending death (Pluto), and a willingness to entertain death (Pluto) and literal explosions (Uranus) to achieve his goal (Sun),

3. Three-planet conjunction in Pisces. Had Gilligan been born at 1:30 a.m., his Moon would have been at 0° Pisces. I’ll assume a later birth time for him, which would situate his Moon in early Pisces, conjuncting his Mercury at 8° Pisces and, by bridge, to Venus at 14° Pisces. {Editor’s note: The chart is set for sunrise.} (Even with a very late Aquarian Moon, the conjunction holds.) This Moon-Mercury-Venus line-up in seductive and illusory Pisces suggests he’s a storyteller with a vivid imagination. He’s unafraid to tackle intensely emotional narrative scenarios, and is comfortable addressing values, deceit, and the mother (Moon) and wife (Venus) aspects of the Feminine.

In “Breaking Bad,” White’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), the mother of his offspring, is not merely aware of her husband’s drug activities, but is fully onboard criminally. She runs a car-wash business as a money-laundering (Pisces) enterprise. Slippery Pisces encourages shape-shifting, an activity her husband excels at. After five-and-a-half seasons, most of the world is still unaware of White’s true business and alter-ego.

Gilligan’s Moon also trines his Mars at 29° Libra, which likes to go after what it wants with a partner. To mount a television series, Gilligan obviously needs a sizable number of cohorts. Similarly, to accomplish his goal, White needs to work closely with another person — Jesse, at first, and later with larger drug entities — but competition (Mars) is still part of the Libran equation.

4. Grand trine in water. Gilligan’s trining planets are Saturn at 28° Pisces, Neptune at 25° Scorpio, and Jupiter at 27° Cancer, which suggests the abilities to blend creative disciplines and to imaginatively explore issues of life and death, as well as a huge generosity toward family. In “Breaking Bad,” White’s desire to be his family’s Santa Claus (Jupiter) allows him to organize and create a business with a product that’s worth the price and to become its chief executive (all Saturn), thereby finding an imaginative (Neptune) solution, albeit one using tactics involving death.

5. Sun square Neptune. This is an aspect suggesting a blurring of ego with a view toward expressing compassion and seeking communion with the Divine, sometimes through drugs and sometimes involving deceit. White takes on (Sun) a fake (Neptune) persona behind which he can cook meth (Neptune), and becomes a father figure (Sun) to Jesse. He also tries to reach God in the best way he knows how — by becoming a deity in his own mind.

6. Six planets in water signs. Gilligan’s placement of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and presumably his Moon, in water signs confers a generous amount of sensitivity toward others. But, as Liz Greene points out in her early book, Relating, “The symbolism of the water signs contains three cold-blooded creatures: the crab, the scorpion, and the fish,” which, she says, are “close to the archaic natural roots of man and very remote from the world of rational, differentiated human thought.” She also notes this type’s acquaintance with the darker side of human nature.” Sounds a lot like Walter White.

Given the absence of Gilligan’s birth time, one can make only a rudimentary assessment about what makes this exceptionally talented and likable man (as reported by colleagues) tick. The pleasure here is that, even with only the basics to work with, the spillover from his personal life to his creative expression in “Breaking Bad” is solid.

As Walter White says on the end-of-series poster, “Remember my name.” Astrologers know it was Gilligan’s to begin with.

Bio: Coeli Carr comments about archetypes in pop culture on her web site AstroLass.


  1. No wonder I love the series so much, only Pisces can be so bad, done so well. Thanks for the info Mary.

    • Hi Julija,

      Yes to your observation of the well done badness of

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