So Long Suckers: Bargaining and Betrayal in Breaking Bad

24 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2016 Last revised: 22 Feb 2016

F. E. Guerra-Pujol

University of Central Florida; Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

Date Written: February 13, 2016


The critically-acclaimed TV series "Breaking Bad" has generated an extensive and growing scholarly literature. By way of example, scholars from a wide variety of academic fields have used "Breaking Bad" to explore a multiplicity of universal and contemporary themes and problems, including human depravity and morality, drugs, drug laws, marriage, family, friendship, masculinity, gender relations, work, vocation, money, and race, among many other topics. For our part, we shall focus the themes of bargaining and betrayal.

Specifically, this short paper explores a number of commonalities between the bargaining game "So Long Sucker" and "Breaking Bad". In brief, "So Long Sucker" has been variously described as "a dog-eat-dog world" (Anatol Rapoport), "vicious" (William Poundstone), "anti-chess" (D. Graham Burnett), and "fiendish" (Peter Tannenbaum). That these dire terms equally describe the meth underworld as depicted in Breaking Bad is no coincidence, for the game "So Long Sucker" and the meth trade in Breaking Bad both share a number of commonalities. In both worlds agreements are unenforceable; double crosses, recurrent; victory, elusive. Moreover, these commonalities raise deeper questions about the nature of morality in such a "society of ruffians," questions we explore in the conclusion of this paper.

Keywords: bargaining, illegal agreements, So Long Sucker (game), Breaking Bad (TV show)

JEL Classification: C78, K12, K42

Suggested Citation

Guerra-Pujol, F. E., So Long Suckers: Bargaining and Betrayal in Breaking Bad (February 13, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

F. E. Guerra-Pujol (Contact Author)

University of Central Florida ( email )

Orlando, FL 32816
United States


Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico ( email )

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